18 July 2008

Moving Day

The blog has found a new home. I put a welcome message on the door but nothing is unpacked yet so please excuse the sparseness of the place. The new address is: farfromkansas.blogetery.com

Feel free to stop by and visit.

15 July 2008

Stand By For Further Instructions

Well, it seems that the computer system here do not allow access to blogspot.com so I'm unable to access the blog (S is posting this for me). I'll have to find a location that is accessible here (suggestions are welcome if you know a free blogging site...mail to farfromkansas@ymail.com, ymail not gmail).

In the mean time, know that I am here, I am safe and that wearing body armor sucks.

10 July 2008

Shipping Out

Packed, loaded and ready to go. It will take almost 2 whole days to get there.

08 July 2008

Uniform Update

Well, the uniform doesn't fit as badly as I thought it was going to but I still feel like I'm a kid dressed up for Halloween. They got the pants hemmed for me but the lady took them up a little too much. So now instead of being way too long, they're a little too short. You just can't win. I'll get new boots next week so for now I'm clomping around in too big boots.

07 July 2008

Mini Me

So, they don't have pants or boots that fit me. The t-shirts go down to my knees (they said they would shrink...yeah, but not that much!). I could wear the over shirt as maternity. The fleece and polypro are huge. The smallest size available is men's small. It's really big...at least on me.

They have to order smaller boots. Till then, I have to wear ones that are too big (as in, I can slip them off when they're laced up). Between the bozo boots and britches that look like MC Hammer pants, I'm going to look like I'm playing dress-up out of daddy's closet.

06 July 2008

Weather Forecast

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu
109 111 109 105 105 Afghanistan
106 106 108 108 106 Phoenix

Hmmmm, not much difference!

05 July 2008


Yesterday I was confused all day (I know, that's pretty normal for me). Seeing as it was Friday but I was off work, I kept thinking it was Saturday and that I was leaving tomorrow (being Sunday). I was relieved every time I remembered that it was only Friday.

Well, now it really is Saturday and I really do leave tomorrow. I'm no more ready today than I was yesterday. I have a lot to do today.

Once I leave tomorrow, I'll be out of internet access until I arrive and get settled (as far as I know) so there will not be updates for at least a week (unless someone loans me a lap top).

I will have my phone with me so you can call up until Thursday afternoon. Once I get on the plane, the phone goes off. My number will be forwarded to S's phone so you can still call but it will be her who answers.

You can leave me messages here so that when I get there I'll know you've been reading (sometimes I wonder). I'll post as soon as I can to let everyone know everything is okay.


03 July 2008


Today is my last day at work. I leave in 3 days. I'm totally not ready.

Mentally I am. But I'm not packed and don't even have everything I need to pack.

I guess I'm counting on stores being open on July 4th so that I can get last minute things.

In other words, everything is SOP here.

29 June 2008


9 weeks ago, 10 weeks seemed like a long time.

Now it feels like 9 weeks ago was more like 9 minutes ago.

I depart 1 week from today.

I have a feeling that 1 week will be gone in 1 second.

Still so much to do...

11 June 2008


I got my medical clearance today. Basically it means they've deemed me healthy enough to go. I still have to submit a TB test but that won't be an issue.

25 days and counting...

I'll be in Winchester, VA from the 6th to the 10th. On the 10th I fly to Frankfurt, Germany. On the 11th I fly to Dubai. On the 12th I fly to Kabul. I believe I spend a few days there before finally settling in at my final destination.

In the mean time, here are a few pictures a colleague took on her way to a project site...

24 May 2008

Bio Hazard

Bring on the OCD. For the next 30 days I can spread an incurable disease if I'm not careful. How fun! I have to sleep by myself, shower in a different bathroom, wash my clothes separately in hot water and wash my hands obsessively.

I can't touch any babies or people with compromised immune systems. I have to wear long sleeves (so glad summer is arriving) and make sure the dogs don't lick my arm.

1 in 175 people who get the vaccine develop a serious heart condition. Great, now I'm going to be nervous for 30 days and my heart will be racing. Which, coincidentally, is one symptom of this adverse reaction.

The scab that will eventually cover the pus-filled blister can carry the live virus for up to 6 years after it falls off. So basically I have to set up a bio hazard containment center in my separate bathroom for disposal of all bandages and scabs. Fun for the whole family!

All this for a virus that has been eradicated but is still in the possession of the US, Russia and anyone who bought or stole it from one of those two countries. Well, it's a good thing neither the US or Russia has ever sold, leaked or lost anything dangerous to society. Whew!

22 May 2008


Both my arms hurt and I'm a walking bio hazard for the next month.

What could be more fun than having to clean the shower EVERY time I use it, having to separate our laundry and wash mine in hot water, having to avoid touching anything with my left arm?

And I hope none of you ever have to get vaccinated for anthrax because that shit HURTS! Just in case you were wondering. And lovely of all lovely...there's 6 or 8 shots in the series so I have more to look forward to.

Total count to date: 24 sticks, pricks and pokes. Did I mention I HATE needles?

21 May 2008

All I Need to Know

I just got some specific information about where I'll be going. Most importantly:

There is a laundry service,post office, barber shop, beauty shop / massage spa, and Medical Clinic.

I don't need to know anything else.

20 May 2008

7 Weeks

I leave in 7 weeks. Oy vey.

I need to start making a list. Actually, I need a list of the lists I need to make.

  • A list of things I need to pack.
  • A list of things I need to ship.
  • A list of things I still need to buy to either pack or ship.
  • A list of things I need to take care of before I leave.
  • A list of meals I need to cook and freeze for S so that she eats real food at least once in a while when I'm gone.
  • A list of dog and cat supplies that we need to stock up on before I leave.

I'm sure there's more. 7 weeks sounds like a long time. I have a feeling it will be over before I'm finished making my lists!

08 May 2008

New Tasker

New departure date: July 6.

If you do the math that means I'll be gone for S's birthday, Thanksgiving, our anniversary, my birthday, Christmas and New Year's.

But, I should be able to take me R&R to come home for L&H's wedding.

So, assuming the Wicked Witch doesn't interfere, I've got 9 weeks to get ready. Fortunately I've already got my paperwork done.

22 April 2008

An Actual Update

I hope I don't jinx myself by posting this; but I just got word that a new tasker is being issued. Departure in early July. Will post details when I get them.

10 April 2008

Things Happen for a Reason

I believe that. Not necessarily a pre-destined reason; but I believe things generally happen the way they should. It's just how we react that determines whether or not it works out for the best.

Civilians (perhaps just females, the details are unclear) were pulled from the PRTs because the remote areas where they are operating are becoming increasingly unsafe. So even though I was really looking forward to the work (okay, I'll admit it, I was pretty pissed when my tasker was canceled), I'm not unhappy that events unfolded as they did. Things will work out the way they're supposed to. I'm sure of that. And who knows, maybe there was a reason I was supposed to hang out here for a little while longer. You just never know.

I'm still waiting for a new tasker. But now I'm not upset on a minute-by-minute basis that it hasn't come down yet. As always, I will let you know when it does.

28 February 2008

Holding Pattern

My tasker has been canceled. I'm working on getting a new one. It's frustrating. I'll keep you posted.

UPDATE: I wish I had an update but I don't. For those who've been asking...I'm still waiting.

17 February 2008

Book Suggestions

I need a good book to take with me. Something of Atlas Shrugged epic proportions. In other words, something that will last me a while. If you've got suggestions, let me know.

14 February 2008

Voodoo Doll Tree Killer

There appears to be a direct relationship between the number of needles I'm required to be stuck with and the number of trees that I'm killing in order to complete the required paperwork.

09 February 2008

Clarifications and Explanations

I guess I didn’t give nearly enough information in my e-mail. Sorry. I’ll do my best to answer all your questions. At least the ones that I know the answers to (and I don’t know very much right now).

I currently work for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE is responsible for the reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians can not be forced to deploy, however, they are much needed because our military resources are stretched very thin right now thanks to a certain someone’s policies.

Civilians can volunteer for temporary duty assignments in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I don’t have to quit my job or anything. I'll just be doing my job in a different location temporarily; I'll still get paid. I’ll go for 6 months, and then return to my job here. While there I’ll be under the protection of the U.S. military.

Here’s a little more information on PRTs:

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs)

Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) are aimed at promoting the emergence of a strong and credible central government able to extend its influence nation-wide.

PRTs are not intended to function as peacekeeping entities. They are relatively small, inter-disciplinary groups formed to assist local authorities, the national government, nongovernmental organizations, and United Nations agencies, in their efforts to rebuild Afghanistan, reform its security sector and disarm, demobilize and reintegrate its armed members.

While the military component of some PRTs will undertake some engineering work, reconstruction is but one aspect of the PRT mission. Rather than implement change, the PRT’s emphasis is to enable change. By providing security and basic support, PRTs will facilitate the exchange of information amongst various groups, thereby stimulating reconstruction and contributing to the process of normalization. Chain of Command PRTs currently report to the HQ Coalition Joint Civil Military Operations Task Force (CJCMOTF) within HQ Combined Forces Coalition Afghanistan (CFC-A).

Given their relatively small size, the military component of PRTs are intended to provide local security only. Combat operations, should they be required, will be conducted by other forces.
PRTs focus on supporting change to a wide variety of areas, among them education, customs, infrastructure, agriculture, police, the judiciary, and public health. As capabilities improve over time, PRT duties will gradually be transferred to the government or the commercial sector.

You can also check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provincial_Reconstruction_Team

And for info on the overall USACE mission in Afghanistan (a little glossy but some good info): http://www.aed.usace.army.mil/

Since I don’t know what information I’m allowed to share with the world, I’m keeping this generic. My last name will not appear anywhere on this blog. Please don’t identify me in any comments. Once I find out the level of detail I’m allowed to share, I’ll adjust my postings as appropriate and let you know what is okay and what is not.

And I’ll try to answer all your questions, so keep checking back.

The Next Adventure


Yes, that's where I'm going.

For 6 months.

To help rebuild.

I volunteered.

Except this time I get paid.

And I'll have electricity and running water.

Hopefully, I'll do some good. Anyone can build barracks on a military base. I want to do more.

29 January 2008

Up Till Now

When I was in high school, I wanted to be something other than average. In 10th grade I applied to be a foreign exchange student. Based on my understanding of the process, there was no way I was going to be selected. But I applied anyway. I always tried out for, applied for, etc., things that I didn't expect to get, hoping to set myself apart.

Well, I was selected to be an exchange student and that unleashed a restlessness in me that's never been quieted. I spent my junior year of high school in the Netherlands (Holland). As the year was drawing to a close, another exchange student asked what my future plans were. With my head firmly in the clouds, I declared I was not going to college but instead, joining the Peace Corps.

Okay, how was I supposed to know that the Peace Corps generally only takes college graduates? So I reluctantly went to college and then to graduate school but the whole time still planning to join the Peace Corps. I remember my graduate advisor asking me what I planned to do once I graduated. When I told him he said, "then what are you doing here?" At my interview for the Peace Corps the recruiter looked at my education and said, "what are you doing here?" It made perfect sense to me if to no one else.

So off I went to serve for two years in Ghana, West Africa. To be honest, I had to look at an atlas to find out where it was when I got my assignment. And the first several people I told asked, "Isn't that where Jim Jones poisoned those people with the kool-aid?" For the record, it's not. That was Guyana and that's in South America. But I did once get a letter stamped, "misdirected Guyana." It took a long time to get to me but I bet it saw a lot of interesting places.

There aren't too many places in this world that I don't want to go and I'm always looking for that next adventure. I've seen more places than a lot of people and I've certainly been to places most people don't think to visit. I kinda like it that way. Okay, I've seen Paris and Venice and Amsterdam and those places are nice. But to me, they don't compare to a village in Benin that isn't on the map or climbing temple steps in Cambodia with people who must have been 80 years old.

I think I've found my next adventure and it certainly isn't a place most people would think of going right now. And it's nowhere near Kansas.