Round 3

Posted: 12/03/2012 in vacances

 

Round 3: Libya

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Posted: 22/12/2011 in daily life

In a seemingly perfectly coordinated move, I left Iraq last Sunday, at the very same time as the last (official) US soldier

I was welcomed home by family, friends, SNOW :-), and… the usual post-assignement “looking back_thinking over_re-assessing my life kind of blues”… Only a little exacerbated this time, considering the 2 years spent in Iraq!

Anyway, now I’ll give myself a little rest, and focus on all the nice people around me rather than think too much of all those I left back, or shall meet later! (And that sounds like the smartest thing to do after being so long away!)

For now it also seems the next news from me will come in February, from (or on the way to) somewhere on the African continent (I leave some space for speculation here!)!

Meanwhile, I thank you all for reading me, it does actually feel nice to think that I am not doing (and writing) only totally uninteresting things! So really, THANKS for that!

Hoping to see you around,

D. OUT! ;-)

– EOT –

WTF?!

Posted: 09/12/2011 in daily life, depressing

“Yeah, I knew there were mines there, but if I tell it to you, you will blame me for finding an excuse and not being willing to show you the works…”

That was yesterday, and pretty much concluded my last field trip in Iraq, checking on some water supply systems in the Kurdish mountains, close to Iranian and Turkish borders…

That also pretty much concluded 2 years of fuzzy logic in Iraq, and means that we will never get an answer if this was, yes or no, a minefield. Nevertheless; thank you eng. K. for this generous last opportunity to lose a leg, or worse… And thanks to the workers we sent there with no adequate information and measures!

 

Tomorrow’s Sunday; after a week off for Eid we will be back to work a 100%!

The new guard has arrived too; miss eng. M., bright and sharpshooting. Together we’ll tour projects and visit Iraqi partners and then she’ll take over our Baghdad activities!

As for the old guard, me, I will do as the Americans do… discretely disappear from the Iraqi landscape!

(interesting enough, and although I agree it’s not very politically correct to say so, I do actually get a kind of nostalgia feeling seeing the Amies leave like that… Kind of sad really! 8 years of war at a massive scale, (hundred)thousands of deaths, bajillions of dollars spent (and wasted), much destruction… for what exactly? The future of Iraq is not yet very bright or clear and the Americans leave with a pretty demoralizing outcome at the end… But, well, anyway, I’ll leave this topic for long winter eve’s discussions!

And now, let’s get ready for that last tour!

Today morning, relaxed weekend breakfast, we were evoking some tough story and how a few years ago one of my dearest Baghdadi colleague tragically lost her son to brutal and pointless violence…

The story was not new but today I felt it really hard… personal in fact! Maybe because after 2 years here my Iraqi colleagues are a kind of family.

The indignation, and that rage I felt inside also reminded me of the many discussions I had with my fellow, engineer O.! He’d been asking me regularly “why are you here, what brought you out of your nice country to such a place,…”? I think I went through most of the potential reasons; the will to help, the guilt of living in comfort while others suffer, the adventure, the thrill, the usefulness of engineering work in crisis, humanitarian values, the incomparable beauty of Iraqi landscapes,… The only thing missing actually would be God speaking to me and ordering me to go to Iraq to do some water projects! Eng. O. however never seemed totally satisfied with my answers (and we still have to conclude this conversation indeed)!

Well, such stories; a mother losing her son in the most awful way, just because the most abject and disgusting persons decided so… That’s one of the reasons why I’m here I guess! And although waterworks do not directly answer such blunt and purposeless violence, they must be part of my personal answer to it (I’m thinking about armed struggle more and more seriously though… Maybe I should become a revolutionary or a modern days superhero) ;-)!

Today though I could not just build a hospital or a water treatment plant in the garden, so I had to resort to another typical coping mechanism; sport! But 2h30 of hitting the bag, going up and down the stairs wearing flak-jackets and other similar self-inflicted torture did not succeed to free my mind!

Neither did a glass of wine and a nice diner…

So I hope maybe a good night sleep will!

KLONG!

Posted: 17/10/2011 in daily life, depressing, not too serious

What is it they say about explosions already…? Ah, yeah… “go down and look up!”

Seems to be a good advice… second car bomb within 300m of the office in a few days; something fell in our car park…

The “plomp” was close enough, the explosion of the other day a bit too near (after we drove right through the spot), so I was happy to be sitting in office and miss the “klong”(1) for this time!

.

(1) Since I wasn’t right there, I can only assume that it was a klong, and not a schloonk or a kluk!

fuzzy logic

Posted: 15/10/2011 in daily life, not too serious

In order not to stay on a sad note and exposing my EoM blues too much, let me react in a standard way; with some cynicism and bad humor! I had written this last week but forgot to post!

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I have been planning to write about control theory for a while… but I never quite got the enthusiasm though. I mean, control theory is an interesting field of engineering and one that became fairly complex too! To make it really short it’s all about the methods you can use to regulate a process, based a variety of signals… It can be anything from the simple “float switch” that stops water flowing into the tank of your toilets (another dull example, I know…) to really nicely complicated algorithms that use real-time signals from a bunch of high-tech sensors to automatically regulate all the functions of a wastewater treatment plant (but that would be in Switzerland, not yet in Iraq)!

But, as I said, the topic’s a bit to nerdy for me right now… So I’ll tell you about the “October Tipping Point” instead!

Temperatures started to drop seriously in Baghdad recently! Within a few weeks from 50° to 40° and now even somewhere in the 30°+! I also noticed last week that many of my dear Iraqi colleagues fell ill to cold and flu! Now, I am not quite sure of the link yet, but I guess this has something to do with Iraqi fuzzy logic and the October Tipping Point!

Let me explain. In summer my Iraqi fellas usually set the controller of their A/C at the minimum… 18°C, 16°C,… Therefore generating distinct polar microclimates inside any building with a decent power supply! In winter, thanks to the magics of control again, the heaters can be set as high as 30°C, hence creating perfectly realistic pockets of tropical climate in the office (for example)!

But now! In October! With temperatures that may pass from 28°C in the morning to 38°C in the day, the situation is very puzzling? 18°? 30°? Cooling? Heating? Stopping the A/C? What to do? And whatever the response, it seems the confusion also reaches respiratory tracts, resulting in running noses and nasty coughing!

I’m actually probably wrong, and as my colleague Mohammed stated between two nose-blows, “it’s because of the severe and sudden temperature drop”! (From 45°C to 35°C I guess)