Thursday, June 07, 2012

Kuwait--the first 90 days

So I've now been here for about 90 days, and what a time it has been. In those 90 days, I've been through the gamut--from injuries to entertainment to everything in between! Here's the Reader's Digest version:

  • Toby Keith in concert
  • Ambulance ride to Camp Arifjan for what could equate to bad heartburn, thanks to an overzealous co-worker
  • Studying for certification exams
  • Passing the COMPTIA Security+ exam
  • Weekly dust storms of epic proportions--50mph winds with sand and dust so heavy you can't see your feet
  • Thunderstorms that would dwarf a typical thunderstorm in the US--complete with purple lightning!
  • Sprained ankle so bad that it looks like a broken leg
And that's just the first 90 days! I look forward to what Kuwait has for me in the next 90 days!

As far as things go, it's been moving as fast as I had hoped it would. There is very little to do here, so boredom becomes your worst enemy. They have movies every day, all day long...but how many times can you watch the same crummy movies? Because we're 25 miles from the nearest--anything--you have to find a ride anytime you want to do something or go somewhere. It typically takes many months to get a Kuwaiti driver's license, at which point you become everyone else's chauffeur, which is also a curse. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

I have been studying for certification tests in order to move from Service Desk to System Admin. That's the whole reason I came to Kuwait in the first place, and if my recruiter with ITT/Exelis hadn't been such a stark raving idiot (that's Shelley Haymaker, in case you were wondering). I just told her to get me on a plane and I would do the rest. At that point, after eight months, I just had to get moving before the window of opportunity closed. So, with the COMPTIA Security+ exam out of the way, next stop is my MCITP: Server Administrator, then finally, the MCITP: Enterprise Administrator. The second is the BIG certification--it's the hardest, but can lead to the most open doors. The first certification takes two tests, and the second takes three. It's fortunate that there is a considerable amount of down time here to allow for studying, as there is a LOT of studying to do! I'll just be glad when that part is done.

The dust storms here are absolutely ridiculous! They come out of nowhere, with the worst one hitting in the middle of the night on May 3. Known as a 'Haboob', these storms are crazy! May 3, the winds were hurricane-force (75+ mph), and carried enough dirt to completely immobilize a vehicle in a matter of minutes. The air conditioners struggled to keep the rooms cool, but required washing over the course of the next few days in order to clear the pounds of sand out of the coils that accumulated in just one night. We have since had several "lesser" storms--but don't let that fool you. Even the lesser storms can get ugly fast! Last week's storm shut down the base for two days--the trucks that haul water in and sewage out couldn't drive, so things turned ugly really quickly. The toilet sources here are typically porta-potties (known as 'the hotbox'), and when they go more than 24 hours without a little maintenance, it becomes quite a mess. But we survived once again.

Summer has arrived, even if the calendar doesn't say so. It's been at least 110º-115º here every day since mid-May, with highs reaching as high as 125º so far. It's early for such temps from what I understand, so this summer looks to be beyond 'extremely hot', more like 'deadly hot'. Predictions by the weather team here, you ask? Looks like 140º or more will be common. I'll never complain about Arkansas summers again!

That's it for now. Time to get back to work. Until next time....

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