Life in the TOC (tactical operations center) can be very slow. First off, the TOC is basically just a glorified office with radios and lots highspeed Army computer and technology things (by highspeed, I mean you could pick them up at Best Buy for $49 and they would actually work). While there is always something to do, it can be on the monotonous side and it closely resembles the movie Office Space. Instead of the TPS reports we have the PERSTAT (a list of where everyone is). We hear about the PERSTAT throughout the day and attempt to work through the various reasons why it doesn't have the correct cover sheets or doesn't match the memo that came out. Occasionally important people come in and we have to yell special phrases and stand in certain positions until they order us to stop. I suppose it is humorous through an outside perspective.
In order to keep ourselves from devolving any more rapidly than we already are, we find various ways to amuse ourselves. Recently, I have found the lovely temperatures in Iraq are perfect for making tea in the giant, dirty bottled water containers we get. With the climate here, it's possible to have it steeped to perfection in about 15 minutes and through the miracles of refrigeration we can knock it down to about room temperature in about 24 hours. It's exciting because its a deviation from water, water with half a packet of Gatorade, or water with a full packet of Gatorade. We also have Rip-Its a Red Bull knock off, but I have to slow down on those as I think I start to annoy people after 3 back-to-back. It's probably not exciting to anyone outside of here, but the prospect of being able to do anything that even slightly resembles cooking is entertaining.
As far as the iPods go, I have heard more Lady GaGa on this deployment than I thought physically possible. Admittedly, she occupies some space on my iPod as well, but she gets a lot of play time and invokes much thoughtful discussion (usually involving her gender or how she looked in specific videos). The unit that we replaced was generous enough to gift us iPod speaker docs, and I don't know what we would have done with out them. The TOC runs 24 hours shifts and the iPods really never stop playing (they do switch as different shifts come on to accommodate varying music tastes). It's interesting the mixes that get played as well as the common ground that everyone agrees to. Bob Marley seems to be the median.
Care packages have started to come in. Our parent unit gave us several boxes sent by an elementary school in California. The TOC is now decorated with a barrage of Policy Memos, letters from school children, shift rosters, maps, radio frequency lists, and other assorted important paperwork.
That is all for now...
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