Thursday, March 13, 2008


As I mentioned in my first deployed post, the desert in this part of the world isn't particularly sandy. In fact, it's not sandy at all. Somehow, God in His wisdom decided that the Iraqi desert should be completely devoid of particles between the grades of corn flour and brussels sprouts. Which is to say, there's gravel. And dust. But no sand. Chalk it up to divine irony. Oh, and corn flour is the coarsest grade of dust around here. It goes down through cake flour, to powdered sugar, and all of it in an uncharmingly drab khaki color you're probably more familiar with from suburban vinyl siding. And for two days now the sky has been completely full of it. Last night the wind really picked up for a few hours, in what I suppose counts as my first real dust storm. Pretty awesome, except for the fact that you can't open your eyes in it without goggles. And the way the wind drives the grittiest dust deep into your ears, and how you blow mud boogers out your nose. And then it started raining. Of course, rain falling in a dust storm doesn't come down as water. It falls as mud. Mud rain. Worth seeing, just once.

The finest grades of dust, of course, have the most incredible ability to infiltrate the tiniest of crevices. You can't get away from it, so you just have to accept it. If you thought of the dust as being 'dirty', I'm pretty sure you'd go insane. Though it's still troublesome. It's limestone dust, so it's chemically reactive enough to wreak havoc on electronics and engines and such. Nice, huh?


Elephantschild said...

Can any of your electronics be operated thru ziploc bags? I've done that w/ Dad's old Minolta camera a few times.

Ziploc even makes some big, over-sized bags, presumably for storing camping gear and sports equipment.

Melody said...

See, EC, I suggested that to my soldier boy. He didn't think it would work. Then again, it was Mom's suggestion, and those NEVER work...the first time. Give it a try, BCP. Let me know how it works; I'll pass it on to my boy.
And, EC, how was the focus through the plastic? That was discussed for about 5 minutes; I said, "Just TRY it!"

Elephantschild said...

The focus thru the plastic was a little bit like using a soft-focus filter -but different bags have different textures. It wasn't perfect, but perfectly adequate for alot of things.

You could make a clear area using clear packing tape; two pieces stuck sticky-sides together, then cut and taped into a whole in a larger plastic bag.

I was thinking mostly though of testing equipment, recording equipment, and radios and the like - things that don't need a clear lens.

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

Well, I'm not really too worried. My laptop's a good two years old, so if this trip proves its swan song, it could be replaced. And I'm going to go with a pretty low-end camera for the same reason.

For a while I was religious about putting my computer back in its case, but then I thought about it, and the dust that'll kill it is the stuff getting sucked in the vents while it's running, not the stuff that collects on top when it's sitting turned off. So I just turn it off when I'm not using it and hope for the best. I do need to get some canned air, though. That stuff does wonders.

Bi-Coloured-Python-Rock-Snake said...

Oh, and as far as equipment goes, well, we're the US Army, the only piece of equipment that's not disposable is the soldier. Beyond that, we just use a LOT of spray-foam insulation to seal up gaps around the shop. And spend a lot of time dusting.

Elephantschild said...

Go! Go! Great Stuff!

Gimme a S!
Gimme a T!
Gimme a U!
Gimme a F!
Gimme a F! Greeeaaaaaaaaattttttttt!

STUFF! YAY! Whoo - Hoo!

(Just think what those pesky Romans could've accomplished with expanding, closed-cell polyurethane foam.)