31. January 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I’m in the midst of dealing with a laundry casualty, but first I guess I should talk about how laundry is done around here.

We don’t have our own washers and dryers, we have a “laundry service”. This takes a little getting used to, and I was blessed to have a couple girlfriends over here who could explain how laundry works here. Nonetheless, I STILL didn’t come completely prepared.

You drop off your laundry at a drop off point, not dissimilar to dropping off dry-cleaning. You fill out a form and the attendant counts out the items you have and itemizes them on a ticket. 72 hours later, you can pick up said laundry.

From 2009 01 10 Southwest Asia
From 2009 01 10 Southwest Asia

The already-folded non-uniform clothing, plus uniform socks, fitness gear and t-shirts comes back in a somewhat-vacuum-sealed bag, while uniforms come back on a hangar.

At first I thought, “This is great!” Those who know me know my disdain with laundry. For 90 days I’ll have no worries — clean clothes presented to me! WOW! And it’s the Doha Marriott hotel doing my laundry…that’s a good thing, right?


This laundry service is brutal on my clothes and I’m glad I didn’t invest in much more than Target-caliber undies, sports bras and white socks for this trip. I’ll show you why right here:

From 2009 01 10 Southwest Asia

See that stupid little sticker? It’s a cloth sticker with a number inked onto it. The example you see is on one of my green uniform socks. The fabric on the sticker is similar to a what’s on a cloth Band-Aid, except a little more stiffened. The number sticker is stuck to each article of clothing…somewhere.


Who knows…front, back, waistband, top, bottom, inside the article of clothing, outside the article…

So when I get each batch of clothing back, I go through and peel off the stickers. So I have to undo the folding that someone at the Marriott had already done — just to peel off those stickers…if it’s on the outside of a uniform item then it can’t be there, and if it’s on the inside of the article of clothing I end up annoyed by the little sticker. So I just peel them off…always taking a few sock, underwear, sports bra or t-shirt fibers with it.

In addition, the stickers leave (a) a sticky adhesive residue and (b) ink bleed-through. Since I didn’t bring my best stuff, this isn’t too horrible, unless it’s bleeding through my already-thin AF fitness shirts. And I’m starting to get annoyed by that.

The clothing is boiled during its rinse cycle. So no colorfast or high-quality lingerie. That’s fine, I don’t have anything in either category here with me anyway.

Back to the original topic: yesterday I experienced my first laundry casualty — at pick-up time, the attendant opens up the bag of folded laundry, counts out the items, then carefully puts it back. Yesterday a pair of my AF Fitness uniform shorts were missing. The attendant caught it right away (which is a good thing), marked up my receipt that we were short one pair of shorts and told me to come back in 48 hours. “Strays” go into some pile somewhere and I can check to see if the shorts come back as a stray. Otherwise, they will reimburse me.

And I sure hope it resolves soon. Like I said before, there’s a 72 hour turnaround, and I figured a minimum of 6 of everything (i.e., white socks, sports bras and AF fitness uniforms) would suffice. It does, but barely. I have exactly 6 sets of AF fitness uniforms. So when I’m short a pair of fitness shorts, I’ll run out before the next set of laundry is available unless I keep VERY clean (not likely here, I work out daily)…

Therefore, while I enjoy not having to run my clothes throught the washer and dryer, the laundry service here is so brutal on your clothing — you can’t expect better when they’re processing THOUSANDS of servicemembers’ laundry — I probably won’t be able to use much of this stuff when I get home. The elastic will be decomposed, and they’ll be peppered with adhesive spots and ink stains.

Paul, if you’re reading this: recommend 8 sets of PT gear!!

28. January 2009 · Comments Off on This is Ridiculous… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Is this a “Publishing Fail”?
This is from the Mideast Stars and Stripes…the 5th or 6th example of
bad grammar or misspelling just in today’s edition, the first I’ve
seen as a headline.

27. January 2009 · 6 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Enjoy a few pictures from my trip to Doha, the capital of Qatar. I tagged along at the last minute on a driving lesson (I wasn’t driving), but it was a trip out to lunch, and a windshield tour of the city.

I started snapping pictures as soon as I thought we were off base, but we weren’t quite off base and we got pulled over by the USAF Security Forces (police) because they could see me leaning out taking pictures. As I’ve said many times, they’re quite strict about where I can and can’t take pictures…and if I’m anywhere near the USAF aircraft, it’s illegal.

I thought to myself, “Oh no, I just got this camera for Christmas! Maybe I can talk him into just taking the SD card?”

Fortunately, the SP was kind enough to merely delete all the pictures from the camera and sent us on our way. It was all of a 3 minute setback…phew!

The trip into the city was quite the adventure — the country is in the middle of constructing an 8-lane-wide interstate-style highway and the city’s growth and building is fanning out several dozen miles from the city. Construction everywhere!

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

The driving is much more…um…aggressive? than in the U.S….but I’m not sure if aggressive is the right word. Offensive? Selfish? Cars would just pass us all over the place, whether there was a lane on one side or the other or not! It reminded me quite a bit of Korea, except there were cars of all nationalities around: Japanese (Toyota), American (GMC), British (Land Rover), French (Renault), Italian (Fiat), Indian (Tata), definitely lots of German (Mercedes). Between our base and Doha are many quarries, harvesting for concrete for all the construction I would see in the city. So trucks absolutely DOMINATED the highways, reminding me of I-95 in Virginia!

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

First we stopped at a mall outside of the city to hit an ATM. The mall reminded me of the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, with a gondola ride inside and everything. This mall had many western stores, so it probably isn’t worth it to shop there, I can go to H&M, The Body Shop, and Emporio Armani at home (well, if I really wanted to!).

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

Covered parking for the expatriates’ European SUVs!

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

We then drove into downtown Doha and stopped at a “souk”, which is a traditional marketplace. It was mid-day, so it was rather quiet, and the 3 of us enjoyed a Indian lunch at a restaurant called Royal Tandoor. After a wonderful lunch of hummus, lamb curry, basmati rice and garlic naan (I was so full!), we learned that the restaurant was part of a chain…oops.

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

When we came out of the restaurant, it was after 2pm, and most of the businesses were closed for their “siesta”. One of the guys I was with wanted to buy a necklace for his daughter, so we drove around till we found a jeweler that was open…like any foreign shopping, it took a lot of bargaining till he found what he wanted at the price he wanted. I took a look at some of the pearl jewelry…I’m going to have to find something better quality before I invest several hundred dollars in anything!

After the shopping, we continued a windshield tour and I got some nice pictures. It was nice to pull over at a park that sits right up against the Persian Gulf…I just stood there and inhaled the sea air — nice! Doha is a VERY clean city…so it isn’t like inhaling at, say, Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. You smell the sea, and for someone like me who grew up near it, it was very nice.

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

From 2009 01 26 TripToDohaQatar

Note: Pay no attention to the flag flying on top of this building…I was stunned by the tilework: so beautiful!

I’m going to close here so I can add in the pictures and get this blog out…stay tuned for captions in the next 24 hours in the photo album!

26. January 2009 · Comments Off on Heading Off Base Today! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

It’s a last minute thing, but one of the folks I work with was taking someone out for off-base driving training today, just a lunch trip into the city of Doha nearby, so I will be tagging along, merely for some sightseeing and perhaps some native fare for lunch!

I leave in about an hour, I’m so excited, I promise pictures!

The people I’m going out with also work nights, so hopefully we’re back so I can get at least 5-6 hours of sleep. That’s the minimum for me to be a happy camper while on shift!

25. January 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This is a bottle of San Benedetto lemon iced tea (“the” = “tea”). Good stuff.
I had to smile when I saw this for sale at the local BX. I remember
buying 1.5L bottles of the stuff for just a couple dollars when I was
deployed to Bosnia in 1997. Like Snapple, it has a distinct tea
flavor…not too sweet, like that canned Nestea Brisk stuff.
I also remember all the calories that comes with drinking that much
tea. It’s sweetened tea, so this 1/2 liter bottle will run you about
160 calories.
I think a combination of this tea and way too many Ritter Sport
“Vollnuss” chocolate bars was the reason I didn’t lose any weight in
Bosnia despite the tons and tons of exercise I did!
So I picked up two 1/2L bottles today when I went to go buy a bottle
of shampoo…I promise, I’ll behave myself and try to restrict this to
a once-a-week treat.

24. January 2009 · Comments Off on I Want One!!! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I’ve been sitting in the “Desert Eagle Lounge” where the WiFi is okay, enjoying more from the blog Cake Wrecks. Check it out if you haven’t already, it’s fun and FUNNY!

Anyway, on the big screen TV to my left is SkySports, which airs in Britain (I think) and was showing informercials. I just watched this one with interest. (You can see part of the infomercial at the bottom of the page). It’s called the “Titan Vegetable Shaver” and is essentially a multi-functional veggie peeler.

Were it not that the U.S. dollar is so weak against the British pound, perhaps I’d be willing to shell out the 19.95 GBP + 16.95 GBP shipping + handling to the US for it. What would that all come to? About $50 for a veggie peeler?

But the commercial showed how many amazing things it can do! You can back a truck over it! You can use it for cheese, chocolate, pineapples, giant radishes, other strange British foodstuff…

I have only ever ordered one thing off of a TV commercial in my entire life: Aqua Globes for my Mom this past summer. There were so many problems with the order — they took so long I had moved and changed my billing address on the credit card which resulted in an error come processing time, they were available in stores months before my Mom actually received them. Sorry Mom — I tried!

24. January 2009 · Comments Off on Running Club · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

There’s a Running Club here. But not what you’re thinking: it’s not a group of us getting together to run, but rather a computer with which you get a login/password. You log your individual running during your deployment.

There are incentive t-shirts starting at 200 miles. There are more gifts if you hit 500 and 1000 miles, but I doubt that’s going to happen while I’m here. I might be wrong, but I think I saw a GPS running watch in the glass case displaying the incentives. Probably for 1000 miles!

I’m here for about 13 weeks, so I did some math (again):

200 miles / 13 weeks = 15.38 miles per week. ~2.2 miles per day.

Could I do that?

I think so. I’ve been here 15 days so far and I’ve run 36 miles. That’s 2.4 miles per day, so I’m cruising right along, right?

I’ve taken a couple runs outside, but the weather has been a challenge. The temperatures are great — I do my runs in the morning after work, so it’s typically in the 50s here. It’s the wind and blowing dust that’s getting on my nerves. After my last outdoor run, when visibilities were around 3 miles from suspended dust, there was a film of dirt on my teeth. It was grosser than gross.

For the most part I’m doing this on a treadmill. It’s not bad, about what you’d expect from a decent gym…our treadmills here have “Broadcast Vision”, meaning you can plug in your headphones and enjoy the station of your choice from a bank of TVs. I haven’t talked about the television programming we get here.

So there’s my fitness plan. I still haven’t gotten into eating habits here yet, mainly because of photography challenges. Most of this base forbids photography, including the dining hall I use most of the time, near the facility where I work. I might just have to paint a picture with words.

22. January 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Yes it is!!! My family can’t even get DQ in the wintertime in Nebraska!

22. January 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

My next story is NOT about omelettes and my eating habits. I’m waiting for an opportunity to get a picture of an omelette here, but yesterday I had my meals in locations where cameras aren’t allowed, so I’ll make a special trip to the dining facility where cameras ARE allowed in the next couple days. Hopefully I’ll have that story available soon.
On Tuesday morning I came off shift and met some folks with whom I work the night shift for some beverages at the social tent near the facility where I work. We are given a “ration card”, which we keep with our ID card and places that serve alcohol use the card to track how many beverages we’ve consumed in a day. We’re allowed to purchase/consume 3 beverages per day here.
Tuesday morning was the first time I’d broken out my ration card after having been in country for 12 days. A British officer made me up a yummy gin and tonic.
A very potent gin and tonic.
After that drink and a couple Savanna Dry Ciders, I made my way back to my dorm. First I stopped and had some breakfast, then wandered* back to my room.
*Feel free to gather from this story that I wasn’t quite sober at this point.

From 2009 01 10 Southwest Asia

What you see pictured is an example of two dorm trailers, similar to the one I’m staying in. I don’t live in either of the ones pictured here, but you need to imagine over 100 of these buildings all over the living area. Lined up in sets of 12. Not decorated, brown from the dust, only identified by the placard on the front, reading “Building 12345, Billeting”.
I walk into my building, go to Room 5, insert the key, and can’t unlock the door to get into my room. I really fiddle with the key! After about 15 seconds of this, I look at the name placard** on the door.
Not my room — not my building! Thankfully, the owner of the room was on day shift and wasn’t there.
I eventually found my room, and immediately went to sleep. I’ll be avoiding British-made gin and tonics from here on out, I think.
**We’re required to put a tag on our door with our rank, name, office, phone number, and what time you’re on duty. This is how I know the person in Room 5 of the building next door was on day shift.
Coming soon: Combat Omelettes and my windblown adventure ride across base in the back of a Toyota Tacoma!

21. January 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Now you can see my Twitter statuses, which are also my Facebook statuses!

One Status to Rule Them All!