Business travel…

The following is an excerpt from an email I received this morning. The worst part, perhaps, is I was well into the discussion on changes to lodging policies before I realized it was supposed to be farce. When you work for Uncle sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between real life and comedy… and even then sometimes real life is comedy.


Please be advised of the following changes to TDY per diem allowances:

TDY/TAD Travel: In keeping with the latest round of DOD budget cuts, changes will be made to the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR). Effective Monday, 11 February the following revised procedures apply:

Lodging: All DOD personnel performing temporary duty (TDY) are encouraged to stay with relatives and friends while on government business travel. If weather permits, public areas such as parks should be used as temporary lodging sites. Bus terminals, train stations, and office lobbies may provide shelter in periods of inclement weather.

Transportation: Hitchhiking is the preferred mode of travel in lieu of commercial transport. Luminescent safety vests will be issued to all personnel prior to their departure on TDY. Bus transportation will be used only when work schedules require such travel. Airline tickets will be authorized in extreme circumstances and the lowest fares will be used. For example, if a meeting is scheduled in Washington D.C., but a lower fare can be obtained by traveling to Omaha, NE, then travel to Omaha will be substituted for travel to Washington D.C.

Meals: Expenditures for meals will be limited to an absolute minimum. It should be noted that certain grocery and specialty chains, such as Costco, Hickory Farms, General Nutrition centers, and occasionally Safeway often provide free samples of promotional items. Entire meals can be obtained in this manner. We realize many of you survive your weekends this way.

Travelers should also be familiar with indigenous roots, berries, and other protein sources available at their destinations. If restaurants must be utilized, travelers should use “all you can eat” salad bars. This is especially effective for employees traveling together as one plate can be used to feed the entire group. DOD Personnel are also encouraged to bring their own food on business travel. Cans of tuna fish, Spam, and Beefaroni can be consumed at your leisure without the bother of heating or costly preparation. Cost of these items will not be reimbursed.

Miscellaneous: All DOD personnel are encouraged to devise innovative techniques in effort to save tax dollars. One enterprising individual has already suggested that money could be raised during airport layover periods, which could be used to defray travel expenses. In support of this idea, red caps will be issued to all personnel prior to their departure so that they may earn tips by helping others with their luggage. Small plastic roses and ballpoint pens will also be available to personnel so that sales may be made as time permits. Proceeds must be turned into the Defense Finance and Accounting Service at the conclusion of the TDY. We welcome any suggestions for further fiscal innovations, cost avoidances, and waste reduction techniques.

No rest for the wicked…

OK gang, just adding a footnote that I’m back on the road for a few days this week. I never seem to end up exactly where Uncle wants me, so I’m heading back to Maryland tomorrow afternoon and will be in Frederick until well before the crack of dawn Thursday morning. Don’t get me wrong, life out of a suitcase can be just fine once you’ve gotten enough practice and a big enough suitcase, but sometimes you just want to sit your ass at home.

Talk to y’all when I get set up back in the PRM.

Going to the well…

Have a six-week road stand starting a week from Monday with a 900 mile drive to Memphis. You might be expecting a rant, but the reality is the only thing I am mildly agitated by is paying $1000 a month rent for an apartment I am going to be using as a glorified storage shed/mailbox while I am gone.

Like before almost all of my long trips, I feel a compulsion to go home this weekend. It’s an almost visceral need to stand, again, on the good earth of my childhood; to go once more to the wellspring to drink deeply and gather strength for the next push, the next campaign in my most recent long slog. I’ll go home and smell the first crisp air of fall and watch the mist burn out of the valley in the early morning. I’ll sleep, peaceful in the quiet home of my family a few more nights before turning out to late nights in tacky hotel rooms. For a few days more, I’ll be home.

I’ve crossed continents, but ultimately, every place I have ended up can fit into the category of “just the place I live.” I’ve had my share of rolled eyes and sarcastic comments about Western Maryland and I can’t imagine living there again, but somehow, I can’t imagine it ever not being home.

Shifting my flag…

In the age of fighting sail, an admiral’s headquarters was identified by a unique banner or pennant, his flag. Hence we have the terms: flagship and flag officer. If the ship were holed or too damaged to stay in the fight, the admiral, and his flag, would be transferred to another ship. In that way, flagship refers not so much to the physical vessel, but to the high-ranked personage aboard. When the fleet returned to port, the admiral’s flag was shifted ashore.

While I’ll make no claim to be a high ranked personage, I am shifting my flag for at least the next two weeks, I am taking this show on the road and will be back in my home-away-from-home at Winchester, Virginia. Same great posts, new geographic location. Possibly even better posts because the group I will be with provides some of the best grist for the mill.