Home again…

Having made the drive and settled in with 2/3 of my critters leads to the inevitable question – What now? I’m not exactly known for my comfort level with “just being.” There’s always one more thing to do. One more post to make. Laundry to do. Etcetera and so on. You see, as much as this was home for 19 years, it’s still a place other than my own. It’s a feeling somewhere between being 17 again and being a random out of town relative stopping in for a visit. Maybe “unsettled” is the best descriptor even though I’ve done my level best to temporarily reposition all the essentials here with me.

So it’s safe to say we’re now well into the period of sitting around wondering what it is I’m supposed to be doing. With nowhere to be, nothing here to tinker with, and even less on the “needs done now” list, I’ll do my best not to drive myself crazy with a day and a half days marked off with only a vague “to be determined.” I’m glad to be here and it’s always good to be right back where I started from, but it does a marvelous job of making mince out of my routine. And that always makes me just a little extra crazy for the holiday.

Preparations for getting underway…

You’d think after spending four Christmases fighting my way home across 900 miles, a quick hop from on side of a small mid-Atlantic state to the other could be accomplished with a minimum of fuss. If you thought that, however, you would be exactly wrong. Traveling with Maggie and Winston in tow is a task table_3_supply_classesso complex that it makes even the planning for Normandy look like amateur hour. Beds, food, fuel, clothes, sundries, health and welfare items, medication – if I added barrier material and ammo I could cover down on all the classes of supply getting loaded into the truck in preparation for getting underway.

There’s a fair percentage – maybe 30% – of what’s getting packed that I won’t actually use or need. Still, I like knowing that I have it. You could fill warehouses with things I like having along “just in case.” For me, apparently it’s just in case I need to rebuild my life from the ground up starting only with what I have on hand with me in the truck. Almost disturbingly, that’s only a bit of an exaggeration. I don’t travel as much as I use to, but when I do, I travel heavy. After all, you never know what just in case might pop up requiring you to rebuild civilization using only contents of your luggage.

Out of practice…

Once upon a time, I could pack a bag and be out the door in half an hour. That probably has as much to do with spending three out of every four weeks on the road as it did with having any actual skills worth mentioning. When you pack, unpack, repack, keep the bag under 30 pounds, narrow enough to fit in the overhead, wash, rinse, and repeat six times a month, you get proficient if only through the force of habit. It’s apparently one of those skills that atrophy when it’s not in regular use.

The reason I know this is because I had to swap out the bag that use to work for a week on the road for what use to be the “two week” bag. Then I added a backpack for good measure. And then I thought, “Eh, I’ll just throw in a cooler in case I need it at some point.” I’m pretty sure the planner in me died a little bit with that decision. It strikes me that a normal person would be able to know up front if they were going to need a cooler, but apparently now, I just stock one for “just in case” moments. One of the great drawbacks of traveling by truck instead of airliner is that it doesn’t actually force you to make decisions. You’ve got a nearly limitless maw of emptiness just waiting to take on all the junk you might, but probably won’t, use at some point in your journey.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go rent a pallet jack to get my luggage outside.

Archival quality…

It’s Sunday again and I know everyone has been eagerly awaiting their taste of what live was like way back in 2007. I’m happy to present for your perusal, five new (old) posts – the first five from September 2007. From what I can piece together there was alot of travel work work going on during the first half of the month – so interesting that apparently I forgot that September 11th was a thing. Fortunately the drudgery of business travel didn’t keep me from finding something wrong with the neighbors and being sure to tell the whole world about it. Overall, I think it’s a good cross section of the day-to-day mundane thoughts and the more epic ranting that you’ve all come to know and love over the last seven years of blogging.

Without further delay, enjoy your taste of September 2007.

Hippies, sickness, and grad school…

OK, so I’m not going to lie to you guys. I got a good laugh out of at least two of this morning’s archive posts. There’s something about hippies that always makes me want to bash heads together and grad school, well, that experience so very often has the same effect. Still, they make for good blogging so I should probably be thankful.

For those following along at home, over the last few Sunday mornings we have made the transition from my original MySpace blog to the far more “grown up” blog hosted for a while over at Blogger. That doesn’t really change much in terms of style or content, but it does help set the tone and atmosphere of where these old posts come from.

At any rate, go ahead and enjoy this morning’s update from the end of March 2007. Next week we’ll start into April and feature blogs from my last trip to Italy. I know you’re not going to want to miss that… because frankly there isn’t much that makes for better copy than an American in in a foreign country.

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.

ALCON,

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.

Logistics…

Supply Lines As close as I can tell moving me and two dogs from one side of Maryland to the other is the greatest logistical challenge which has faced mankind since Patton’s army raced across northern Europe. At present the packing list includes:

1. Two bags for me
2. Two crates stuffed to capacity with “dog stuff”
3. One Rubbermaid container of Christmas presents
4. Two containers of dog food (they can’t eat the same thing, of course)
5. Two hats
6. Two coats (one light, one heavy w/ zip out liner)
7. One backpack waiting to be stuffed to the brim with computer and networking equipment, a laptop, an iPad, a Kindle, and all the associated power cables
8. Two dogs

I’m sure I’ll be adding to that list throughout the night, but if you’ll excuse me I need to go start working on the load plan for the truck. I think I should have sprung for the extended bed instead of just the extended cab.