30 July 2006

Clothing and gear, part 2

Some additional rants about clothing and gear...

How many t-shirts and pairs of socks and underwear do you need?

This is largely a question of your FOB's laundry cycle. Here at Ashraf its pretty quick, anywhere from several hours to a day and a half. So conceivably you could drop off your laundry in the morning and pick it up that night, or if it's not done then, anytime the next day.

For me, six of everything works just fine. So basically I'm dropping off laundry once every three days, which keeps my laundry loads down to a manageable weight! Beyond six of anything would begin to be a waste of space, and given the fact that everything needs to go home with me in four seabags, space is a premium. Beyond that, you'll probably need to mail things home!

Ah yes, mail. How long does it take?

I generally get mail in six or seven days. The longest I've waited for anything was 10 or 11 days. That's pretty quick considering the package is travelling from somewhere in the states to the Army Post Office (APO) in New York City, then taking a trip across the pond. Once it gets to Iraq, its a bit more tricky, because we (meaning we here at Ashraf) don't actually get mail here every day. So it might sit somewhere for a day or two before it gets picked up. But, as I said, that's pretty quick considering.

What can you send in the mail?

Anything your heart desires, of course, but be wary--anything that can melt, will melt. So chocolate is not a good idea! Dry foods are the best--I especially enjoy triscuits and wheat thins (and Easy Cheese), wheat on cheese crackers, and beef jerky. Also remember that anything you receive in the mail that isn't perishable will also need to go home with you in those four seabags unless you mail it home, or leave it here!

(the above paragraph was in no way intended to guilt you, yes you, into sending me anything) ;-)

What other "stuff" do you have?

I wouldn't survive very long without my laptop. In fact, I just replaced my old laptop. It's a good way to stay in touch with home, via chat and email. The bandwidth is probably decent enough to use VOIP (i.e., Skype) and yes, I'm working on that too. A lot of soldiers and sailors have their own laptops, and I'd definitely recommend you get the warranty or protection plan, as the dust and dirt gets in everything. If something breaks, no problem, get it replaced. Play Station Portables and all versions of iPods are also popular with all soldiers and sailors.

Finally, I like to make my time away as "home friendly" as I can. When possible, I bring things from home (a pair of slippers or something like that) just to make my routine a little bit more like home. I love getting pictures and other reminders from home to hang up in my room. It will never replace home, but if it helps just a little bit, then all the better.

Your questions and comments are welcome, as always!

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