Some Product Reviews and Packing Tips
Date Published: 29 August 2004
Still love all my UnderArmour stuff -- I don't wear anything else for shirts/underwear now.
Got a Gilette Mach3 razor from my wife a few days ago to replace my Gillette Sensor (figured I'd give the new one a shot and see how I liked it). The difference was amazing - there's no way I'm going back to the Sensor. I know it's a pretty simple thing, shaving, but seeing as I'm doing 7 days a week now I really appreciate having the better razor.
I've read a couple of books since I've been here, both by Tom Clancy. One was Red Rabbit, which I think I started back in the states, and only finished maybe a week and a half ago. It wasn't one of his better books, IMHO. The entire story line was something he might spend a chapter on in a one of his more wide-reaching books, and too much time was spent on minutia.
The other book, though, The Teeth of The Tiger, was excellent. I think I started it Friday and finished it last night (Saturday). Maybe I started it Thursday. But any rate, it was a real page-turner, and apparently one that will have a sequel following the same storyline and characters. Cost me some sleep last night, finishing it did, but I can make that up today. One minor thing I notice is that Clancy really likes to use a couple of phrases in all of his recent books. One is 'travel shock' to describe jet lag, and the other is 'Been there, done that, got the t-shirt' which I think I read at least 5-6 times between these two books alone, and I know he's used that line in a couple of others, too.
Camelbaks -- if you're going to be in a mechanized unit, don't fret about them too much. The water in them gets warm quickly, and they get in the way when you're riding in a vehicle. All our tracks and humvees have coolers in them and we stock ice from the mess hall before going out each day, so while we're out we always have cold bottled water and/or gatorade. No need for anything more on our backs (the IBA and basic load are sufficient). Pretty much everything you drink will come from a sealed plastic bottle, either bottled water (usually in 1.5L bottles) or gatorade (from the chow hall - 20oz bottles).
Boots - I was issued some Bellevilles at Camp Doha in Kuwait as part of an additional combat issue. They're much nicer than the basic issue Altamas I got back at Ft. Bliss, and I've been wearing them since the day I got them 2 months ago without complaint (and without blisters).
Oh, another tip - my watchband broke off while I was putting on or taking off my IBA (indiv body armor), either in Kuwait or just after getting to Iraq. It's been frustrating as hell not having a watch on my wrist, but there's no watch shops around here, and all you can buy from the Iraqis are fake luxury watches (rolexes, etc.). So, bring a few sturdy watches or at least a few extra watchbands/pins if you're coming over here. A battery operated or mechanical alarm clock is a must, too. We keep having power outages (and also water outages), so anything that depends totally on AC power (like a clock radio) is not going to be too reliable.
Also, I've managed to fry a clock/radio that was sent to me from home and a small stereo I bought at the PX by plugging them into a 110V power strip that was plugged into a 220V wall outlet via a $1.25 plug adapter. Lesson -- the plug adapter doesn't step down the total power coming through to my accessories. I've noticed that none of my appliances that have big brick plugs or connectors (like laptops have) have been damaged, so I think it's only a problem for electonics that get power directly from the wall current. Anyway, I picked up an 'Automatic Voltage Regulator' that puts out actual 110V current (and even has a little dial showing you how much load you're putting on it), rated at 1000W (or Volt-Amps as they use here, it seems -- I think that's the same as Watts). It cost $60 but since I'd already fried that much worth of stuff I figured it was worth it not to fry any more.
I'm still doing fine here. Time's passing. Temperature's cooling. Today the low/high is 81/113 (back home in Kent, Ohio it's 61/76). Low 80s actually feels cool here -- going back home in the winter time is going to be a shock.
Steve is an experienced software architect and trainer, focusing on code quality and Domain-Driven Design with .NET.