Lowest Common Denominator

Filed under: — lana @ 12:12 pm

Seriously, I am starting to believe that there is something dumb in the water out here.

Today I got a call looking for some help on something that falls well within the realm of our normal daily duties. So I said, “Sure, bring it by, we will see what we can do to help.” Turns out what we needed to do to help would simply be to gain a copy of the item, send it to our higher, wait for a response, give it to the right person. Seems simple enough.

Ah, or so I thought.

I obtained a copy through abuse of another unit who works in our building, because my unit has yet to see the benefit of giving us enough resources to, say, conduct our normal daily duties. The other unit finally figured out a way to assist me once they figured out what I needed through all of my expletives.

Then I called my unit and said, “Hey, we got this. How would you like it sent?” Response of, “Uh… hmm… well, see… uh… well, it isn’t really something we are interested in unless there is something we are directly involved in.” “What? Nevermind. Don’t bother to explain. Well, we don’t know if it is or not, that’s why we are sending it up for some help on it.” “Oh. Well… uh… no, not until you know.” “How am I supposed to know when that is your job to figure that out?” “Uh… good luck with that.” And the distinctive click of a hurridly hung up phone fills the receiver. I have yet to determine if the water out there contains dumb or lazy or just a combination.

So that started my day. I went into my boss and we discussed interesting ways to skirt the system, which we continue to attempt. Then he told me we have to come up with something to put on a public web page for our garrison so people know how to contact us and when to contact us. I told him to use large print and small words.

He argued this with me, saying that he didn’t want to dumb anything down just because I was unsure of the general intelligence of the population around us. He dismissed the events of the morning as an anomoly.

He ceased his arguments when for the third time that day, and it was still before noon, a soldier attempting to see the office downstairs rang our bell instead. The two offices are clearly labeled in large print next to the individual bells. When I pick up the phone and say our unit, I get the response (usually very confused and hesitant, and that is if they answer at all) that they want to see the office downstairs. It is usually all I can do to not ask them why they did not ring the clearly marked bell immediately beneath ours. The names of the offices are distinct. The typeface is bold. Their office bell has only three letters on it. I am considering changing our label to two letters, as my boss made the sign and made it obviously a little too wordy (four words) for the easily-distracted soldier. The bell ringing problem happens at least a few times each day, to our increasing annoyance.

Given the increasing frequency of stupid events, I am trying to carefully extract myself from the general population in case it is contagious. Plus I really need to go out and buy a new water filter…


Sandals in the Rain

Filed under: — lana @ 1:17 pm

My foot modeling days are officially over, so says the doctor. On Thursday I got to go through my semi-annual (or more) foot-opening party, and this time more people were invited.

The doctor thought it would be an interesting opportunity for one of the staff sergeants to observe and partake in the fun that is my foot. Aside from the normal comments of “Oh that’s pretty gross,” I figured he would pretty much stay out of it.

I think at some point they forgot that I am awake through this whole bloody (literally) process, as they sit there muttering about “Interesting” and “Here, want to try?” and “Oh, not quite like that. More in, less up… no, too much in, less in and more up…” and particularly “Okay now twist and really pull.” I opted not to watch the process, though it was offered, but I figured a good training aid would really just lay there, so I opted to do so, getting to listen to the details instead. And of course get offered to keep whatever they removed. I suppose it was only polite.

So now that the weather has turned from cold and occasionally snowy to cold and pelting rain, I get to wear one shoe and one sandal for the next two weeks. The really interesting part should be heading to the range on Friday, since I have yet to attend an Army range in clear weather (except in Afghanistan, oddly, but you always hope for clear weather when shooting in a Soviet minefield), and so if I am lucky it will only be exceptionally cold and muddy. If I am exceptionally unlucky (as I strongly suspect I shall be), the range will include foxhole firing positions. Nothing smells gangrene like murky standing water on a socked and sandaled foot with an open wound!

New earliest estimated time of Big Green Departure is August. Could be May 2008 or later, of course, and this is all at least partially (though oddly not completely) dependent on how much of my foot remains at the end of the day. I really should try to strike a deal for every toe or portion thereof and work my way from there…


Officially Nuts

Filed under: — lana @ 11:14 am

Maybe it’s the general wishy-washy-ness of the Army and my situation therein lately, but I think I am now officially nuts.

The Army does not know yet, and won’t for several months, whether or not they will keep me in until my regular get-out-of-dodge date (or later, what with stop-loss and other lovely tricks) or if they will send me back through the duck-and-run-early process which I have been going through for the past six months until it was abruptly halted a few weeks ago. I have minimal say in the matter, and I turned to my commander for advice. He is good people, and I know he would be more than happy to help me find the best solution to keep as much of my foot from falling off as possible, so I asked what he might have up his sleeve for me.

His offer, aside from whatever classes he could find, was one that even he mentioned might be a dumb idea:

Iraq (again). Undetermined location. Undetermined time frame. Undetermined unit. Support the Iraqi Army. Undetermined safety measures. A few more undetermineds and you get the general gist of the assignment.

I told him I would mention it to my husband, though I was pretty sure I could guess the reaction I might receive. He mentioned that were he my husband, his answer would involve some expletives prior to the “No.”

I know this general sort of assignment. I know that it would be insane to consider it. So why, exactly, am I still sitting here thinking that really it would be a neat mission… and that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad… and I am sure they have improved in the past year and a half… and so on.

The only possible explanation that I can come up with is that I have completely lost my mind. I will try to have it checked tomorrow when I go to have a few more chunks of my foot forcibly removed. Again.

But it COULD be a really interesting mission…


Tragedies of Politics

Filed under: — lana @ 9:33 am

I was reading an article today and was astounded at the Democrats. How dare they try to pass a resolution that would force the military to keep soldiers home for a full year in between combat tours? Really now, I am appalled at their lack of support for the troops… or… something… wait a minute…

In case it isn’t obvious, I read some of the comments in the “discussion” that followed the article. The article was posted on a military site, most of which very few people I know in the military actually peruse and more commonly read by the armchair generals who got out sometime before this fiasco we call current operations. The discussion mostly consisted of people bashing the democrats, how they aren’t supporting the troops, and they are letting the terrorists win, and when are we sending people to Iran, by jove?

I considered posting a reply, but thought better of it, and in fact doublechecked that my account on the site in no way identified who I was, in case someone could read my mind and was on their way to firebomb my house for not being patriotic. I was curious to understand how saying “troops should get a year in between tours” isn’t supporting the troops. Yes, it would make it difficult if not impossible to maintain current troop strength overseas. That, my friends, is the point. Apparently our Couch Admirals believe that this would force those already stuck there to remain for a longer time because there was no one to replace them because those slackers were back at garrison figuring out who their families were and remembering how to do things like go food shopping and relaxing for a weekend without the threat of getting blown up. Actually, it would force the troop levels to come down, troop morale to go up, and thus better focus when deployed to train and support those who really need to (oh the horror) take responsibility for themselves and for the fact that no Arab faction even seems to be able to get along with themselves these days, much less play nice with others. Something tells me the troops that are deployed, upon hearing that they were actually going to get a year off when they finally left that desolate sandbox, would probably feel a lot better and their morale would go up, rather than feeling deserted.

Now when I got back from Afghanistan, there was a welcome home brief from my battalion commander. He wandered in, said, “Hey, good job over there. Good to have you back. Oh, by the way, the brigade is leaving in about three months. We will try to hold you guys back a little bit, but just be prepared to head to Iraq pretty soon.” Then he wandered back out. Needless to say, we were a little stunned, and more than a little disappointed. I went home and said hello to my husband whom I had not seen in six months or so and commented that I might be out again in about three months. Turned out they pulled some strings and my company got to stay home a whole five months before we met the rest of the brigade in Iraq. With the exception of one week seven months into the tour, I didn’t see him again for about 15 months. Then we got two months together, then I moved to Germanistan.

So I have a little bit to say when the anti-Democrats flame Congress for not supporting the troops when they try for resolutions like this. Not to get me wrong, I am an equal-opportunity politician hater, and think both sides need to be bundled up and sent packing until we can find someone honest who wants to give politics a shot, but I also would not have found a resolution allowing me to see my husband for more than a few weeks at a time to be unsupportive. If wanting to spend time with my family is letting the terrorists win, then I believe that we have already lost.


Be My Army Valentine

Filed under: — lana @ 1:10 pm

So let us now examine briefly the track record for my husband and I since our marriage in 2003:

Valentines Day 2004: Husband in Iraq. Day 2 or so of waiting for a plane to take me to Afghanistan (it ended up taking two weeks or so).
Valentines Day 2005: Husband at home packing to go to Afghanistan. Me somewhere floating around Baghdad stirring up trouble.
Valentines Day 2006: Husband gone camping in the hills of Afghanistan. Me in North Carolina considering going to the strip club with my buddies to commemorate the holiday in regular Army Town Style. Rum is expensive, so I get to be designated driver.
Valentines Day 2007: Husband in the field all day pretending he is high-speed infantry in North Carolina. Me in Germany making a sweet dinner for the cat.
Projection for Valentines Day 2008: Husband in Iraq unless some sort of zany miracle happens, me in Germany or Africa or somewhere probably at least one continent away from wherever he is wandering around.

So really, I have given up on spending a Valentine’s Day as a dual-military couple. The track record isn’t doing too well, and I am not a big Valentine’s Day fan anyway, so I tend to forget there is a holiday in February other than President’s Day and that is because if I am not deployed I get that day off. But the chocolates aren’t as good when eaten in the name of George Washington, so I have decided that the Army should be buying me chocolates, since it is clearly my Valentine all year round. To examine the evidence:

1) As soon as my reenlistment window opened, I have heard all kinds of flattery and empty promises galore
2) It would not hesitate to tell me if my butt was starting to look big in those pants and make casual suggetions about how to help my problem
3) No matter how much I yell at it, it ignores me and keeps doing whatever it does
4) It buys me all kinds of neat things, and then takes them back when I want to leave
5) It tells me it never wants to let me go…

Aww. Unfortunately, the chocolates taste like reheated chicken from a small packet and came with a tiny bottle of tobasco sauce and a napkin you need to save as toilet paper for the next time you are stuck in the field for a week.

But it was the thought that counts…


Bad Signs

Filed under: — lana @ 2:20 pm

So the Army, in their infinite wisdom, has decided that several (like six) months ago I should have gone through a different medical process instead of the one they initiated. In order to correct said error, they opted to start sending me through it now instead.

The end result of this process could see me in a new job, in a new location, or possibly out of the army.

I failed to mention I have about a year left in the military at this point, most job changes take several months, most location moves take just as long if not longer, and they bumped me from the process that could get me out so to start it again would take another few months.

So the fun ensues, because since there is little or nothing I can do to stop this steady downward spiral through and beyond the eighth circle of hell I may as well enjoy the ride. The first step, of course, is initiating the process.

Easier said than done. It is a bad sign, I think, when I call my supervisor to tell him of the new predicament and he says, “Oh. What’s that?” when I had been hoping he would provide me with the answer to just that question. It was another bad sign when he giggled a bit nervously and informed me that I was the first person he had met who was going through the process. I asked him if anyone at our company level knew what to do. There was a long pause… which I took as another bad sign.

I called one of the other major commands to get some information and was further disheartened to learn that my unit has to process everything for now. My unit cannot process cheese even if it is already sealed and wrapped for them. Every person I know has a paperwork problem. Everyone. So the plot thickens (though not nearly as thick as some of the skulls I have come across in my dealings).

My supervisor’s suggestion was to send him the single piece of paper I have now. He will send it higher and “we will see what happens.” That’s like being alone in your house when there’s a homicidal maniac on the loose and you hear a noise in the kitchen and decide to go check it out. Cue the scary music.

In the meantime I am thinking of writing all of my reports with superfluous “u”s, just like the British. Colour, favourite, and the like. No real reason why, it just seems like a good idea, and makes about as much sense as trying to reclass me a year from my termination date, sending paperwork to those who we know haven’t a clue how to process it, and just about everything else that has been going on lately. So far, I have sent up three reports this way and no one has said anything. I wonder if that is yet another bad sign…


May As Well

Filed under: — lana @ 2:36 pm

There are a few things you do not want to hear a doctor say. Some of them are, for example, “Hmmm. That’s interesting,” and perhaps, “Whoa. Whoops,” and maybe, “Uh oh.”

You also do not want to go to a doctor and have him say anything along the lines of, “Well, you are here anyway…”

Such was the case this week. Everyone is once again perplexed by the magic of my toe which, despite everyone’s best efforts and several needles in places only heroin addicts find comfortable, cannot seem to grow a proper toenail. It grows back in at the sides. It burrows back under at the top. It may well grow backwards in some spots near the root. It is thought this might have something to do with the infection sustained sometime around this point last year when the Army took six weeks to remove a green and black nail with a festering wound off to the side. Perhaps, but hey, who knows. I, certainly, am no doctor.

Actually, I am having some doubts about the overall doctor-ness of the man in clogs and a lab coat I saw earlier in the week. The American doctors referred me to this doctor, finally throwing in the towel and commenting that it should be permanently removed. This is not a normal procedure at our two-halled, five-doctored clinic, so they sent me out to the Germans to see what they could do. They referred me, in fact, to an outpatient surgeon, or at least that is roughly what the sign translated to.

So I sat in his little office and he clopped in wearing his white plastic clogs and black socks and asked about “Zee toenail.” I informed him that I had been sent there to have it permanently removed. He said he would trim back the sides. I again informed him that I believe the referral is for permanent removal. He said he could do that, but it would grow back. I told him that was why they said “permanent” removal, in that it would in fact not grow back. He said to me that he would trim back the sides. I realized I might be having a communication problem and if he liked I could draw a picture. Something suitable for framing, like a toenail with a skull and crossbones on it. He said no, he didn’t think so, and to avoid confusion since I was there anyway he may as well go ahead and trim up the sides. He then told me to get on the little patient table, had his assistant shoot my foot up with numbing agents, and happily proceeded to “trim up the sides,” a fun process since the sides were not located externally, and excessive bleeding of the foot for the next five days was apparently included at no extra charge.

The following day I hobbled bloodily over to the American doctor and informed him of my experience. He asked me why he sent me to that doctor in the first place if that doctor didn’t do what he had put on the referral. I reminded him that I was no doctor, and he scheduled me for an appointment for next week. To finish the job, apparently, or at least get me one step (so to speak) closer.

I suppose it is for the best, as now the American doctor doesn’t have to worry about the sides, only about what is left. Whether or not he can find a way to permanently kill the nailbed appears to be seen, but he is going to take a crack at it. Hey, he may as well, while I am there on the table with my foot shot up and bleeding anyway, right?

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