Tuesday quickly became Wednesday and then Thursday, almost as fast as a blink of an eye. Thursday I spent the morning with Vicky reviewing embassy issues. Thursday afternoon I was back with Ching Lee reviewing the progress at Oklahoma State. A few things had been done this week but by end of next week a lot of things will happen.
Jenny had identified ten individuals who had advanced computer skills, either from the military or federal agencies. Yes, we were now getting applicants from federal agencies.
There were several from the DHS and the FBI. When questioned why they were leaving, ”Sick of politics interfering with investigations and preferential treatment for certain groups.” Some things never change I thought.
Ching Lee, Vicky and I were planning on flying back to the college next Thursday. The new people chosen were getting a crash course on facial scanners and the college security program. One of Andy’s drone operators was going there to operate the drone.
The two new drones were bigger and had better cameras. The controllers for them were a two joystick control box. The cameras could be operated one hundred and eighty degrees when the drone was set to hover in a fixed position with one joystick.
Another good thing was there were over a dozen different styles and types of cameras already programmed into its controller. Cameras could be mixed and used at the same time; long range, wide angle, infrared, night vision and a laser pointed homing camera.
The laser homing was a great addition; just put the dot on the object and the drone positioned itself to follow and keep the object in center of the view, all the while still maintaining altitude automatically. With the newest advances in batteries it could maintain station for several hours.
Still there were a lot of things that needed to come together before next Thursday.
Friday I spent the early morning with VCATS with Biff in a conversation that made my decision to fly to Portugal Sunday night. I was planning to leave Monday night for a joint PACT meeting but there were several issues I needed to address first.
Friday afternoon it was spent on VCATS again with Raymond Underhill at Polokwane. The next few weeks were going to be busy there. The first of the three C5 flights carrying the DOD radar was to leave early Monday morning. The flight had been finished out with several of those big tents used in hurricane recovery, along with food, army cots and blankets.
Raymond had been thinking ahead for all the manpower that was to arrive. He had found a sewage truck and two portable bath trailers; one was shower stalls and the other was hopper stalls and porta-potties. They were 300 miles away and JBG paid plenty to get them trucked to Polokwane.
The sewage truck could empty all of them. The sad part was the only thing we could do with it was spread it out in a field several miles away from the town for now. A better method of dealing with sewage was coming. At least it would be better than dung pits at the end of each street.
Manure was manure; all over Asia and in other parts of the world human crap was used for manure to improve crop output. In America we call it sludge; at least we treated it before in was injected into the ground on farm land.
I had read that New York and Massachusetts had a state approved process to dry it out and use it for mulch around your house. I could just imagine the smell after days of damp and wet weather and then stepping in it.
I wondered if the water from the plant could be used as irrigation; maybe we could grow something useful on a few of those desolate acres after manure had improved the soil.
The flight was also carrying twenty men from J&J construction. Raymond had worked to get a majority of the equipment on site. Jake’s men were going to put it in place and test run it, possibly use some of it. Also going were twenty more for the security team.
A second C5 was leaving Tuesday morning with more of the same and 200 cases of MREs (meals ready to eat); not military surplus but fresh from the supplier. This was not going to be a picnic and they were told so up front.
I called all the mates on a conference call to see who was going with me with the change of plans. Jenny still needed to go because of contract changes and additions.
They decided that Marcy and Cindy – if she wanted an out of the office experience and one clerk to take notes – would accompany me on this trip.
At our meeting one more issue was addressed. On all of our help wanted ads they had – for a long time – specified that we required at least two languages or more. We also gave temporary grace to those who promised to learn a second language prior to the end of the probationary period. If they didn’t, they would be terminated.
We were having difficulties with it. We had provided self guided language programs on the company computers. It helped some but not enough. It was decided that we would hire language teachers in the eight languages we specified.
They would work in conjunction with the computer programs and be part of the regular recurring training program. They could even conduct class using the VCATS system when space was available. All we had to do was find eight foreign language teachers willing to travel.
Cindy and Mary Ann were excited to go to Portugal. Neither was married but both had long time boyfriends. It seemed like today’s generation has no interest in marriage. I had no interest in marriage for different reasons, the largest reason; I simply did not need a man to be my better half. I had my mates and we had married each other in a private ceremony amongst us, even if that marriage would not be recognized anywhere. They understood all my female quirks and I theirs, we were happy and we loved each other. Now we had four little ones to carry on after we were gone. What more could you ask for?
Jenny and Ching Lee drove Cindy and Mary Ann to Annapolis to the fancy dress shop. I didn’t know what kind of high-end clothes they had but I was sure they didn’t have any elaborate ‘top of the line’ evening dresses. Every time I went to Europe I ended up at an affair that required the very best. I expected this trip to be the no different.
Saturday we watched the Morton crew unload the trucks with the first shipment of radar parts. The load masters carefully moved the loads back and forth the get the center of gravity of the load in the right place.
The load had to be balanced so that as the fifty thousand gallons of fuel burned off, the plane would not become nose or tail heavy. Either one of those would cause the plane to become harder to control and maybe crash. It was something that was done on every flight that carried freight – on all planes.
On passenger planes it was not so complicated. The passenger seating solved some of the problem and placing baggage from one end to the other in the cargo bay settled the rest. With weighing the baggage and average passenger weights it all worked out in the end.
We packed Sunday morning after breakfast; fancy dresses, jewelry and the likes, just to be prepared. The afternoon was family time, getting ready for the goodbyes that were coming.
I had to explain to JJ and RJ why they could not go this time.
“Mommy is going to be busy. Pop-pop and grand pop have a lot for you to do while we are gone,” I told them. After hugs and kisses they ran to be with the family.
Marcy, Cindy, Mary Ann, Shannon, Gordon, Sid Ortel, Ziva, Abra, Farah, Jenny and I boarded my G5 for the trip. We were sharing the trip with as much freight as the plane would carry for the Loures site. The wheels left the concrete at 2000 hours. With flying time and time zone changes, we would arrive at 0600 Monday morning.
We were staying in two of renovated private resident houses at the new Loures site. Since they were for adult guests, one of the changes we had made was more rooms were made into bedrooms. The den was removed and turned into a bedroom. All the bedrooms had two twin beds. More savings for Marcy.
With Loures basically up and running, things were a lot smoother. We could do two meals in the cafeteria – no running to and from a motel. That also meant MTAC, VCATS and the command center were just a few feet away.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.