What a day it has been. What a day is still to come. When it started, I got up and joined the army for the morning. As I write this, I am in the Austin, TX airport waiting for a plane to Vegas.
I've been working on a project for the past month for which I passed a big milestone today, so I'm going to start blogging about it. If it wasn't going to happen, there wouldn't have been much to write about. As it is, it will dominate the next month of my life. You see, my traveling database consulting job is taking me to Camp Liberty in Iraq.
That is why I spent the morning with the army. I was concluding the process of getting approval to ship-out. They don't want anyone over there that will get sick, get in the way, or just generally be more of a burden than an asset. They now feel that I won't be that burden.
The process today was really interesting. I won't say much about the specifics as I don't know how much they want to let out. Out of 300-400 people going through this process, I may have been the only civilian. I was the only one with a bright shirt (Home Depot orange in my case), or a ball cap, or facial hair. I may have stood out just a little. The funny thing is that it felt really comfortable. The instructions were clear. The questions were mostly precise and easy to answer. All of the lines were orderly and there was no breaking in line or messing around that I often see in the real world. They could use some reallocation of their resources as one line took and hour and 45 minutes to navigate while other stations were idle. Maybe standing that long was part of the test. When I left, the line had grown to probably 3 hours so it could have been worse.
Over the years, I have had many opportunities to associate with military people. In almost every case they have been polite, smart, and helpful. Today was no different. I didn't know what the hell I was doing half the time, but they understood and quickly put me on the right course. I know there are some bad apples and bad situations in our army, but more than once while standing in line, I was amazed to think that I was in the midst of the best military in the history of the world. We should all be very proud of them.
So I got through the entire process in about 4 and a half hours. This was the last step before I get cleared to go overseas. The plan is for me to leave next Saturday and return on Saturday, July 5th. I expect the three weeks will seem to be very long until I'm back. There will be many 10-14 hour work days with probably 2 or 3 days off during my stay. Maybe I'll catch the bus tour of Baghdad.
I have a ton to do to get ready to go and to get ready to tackle the technical issues that I will see. But I've still got my priorities. I'm going to meet up with the bloggers who have already started gathering in Vegas. There will much more on Iraq in the coming weeks, but the next post will probably be a Vegas trip report. Stay tuned.