Monday, November 12, 2007

Any Entomologists Out There?

According to HowStuffWorks,
“All mosquitoes lay eggs in water, which can include large bodies of water, standing water (like swimming pools) or areas of collected standing water (like tree holes or gutters).”
Why are there little pesky culicidae over here? Hello - it’s the desert! You have to add water to even get into the single digits on the relative humidity scale in this place!!!!
Since it started cooling off over here about a month ago, these things have more air power that any third world country.
What am I missing (OK, except for a bit of blood) - conceptually I mean?
Signed: Baffled in Baghdad

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Let’s just ‘shoot the crap’ for a while

Literally. Well, almost literally.

It’s amazing the things you find entertaining over here, and at the risk of sounding cliche, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Where’s this going you ask?

Much to my dismay, someone recently slapped a fresh coat of paint on the walls of the latrines. That’s like taking the paper out of someone’s driveway (well, not really but it makes for a good comparison)!

Let me describe the ‘facilities’ first. There are different levels of ‘facilities’ depending on where you ‘go’ if you’ll excuse the pun. Everything from your standard Nascar event porta-jon to what a friend (and fellow Auburn grad) calls a Cadillac. The cadillacs are approximately 8x20 air-conditioned trailers. There are even different versions of the cadillac - some for showering, some for doing your business, each with about 6 or 8 stalls for the appropriate purpose. You don’t see these at Bike Week - they’re more the Shania Twain outdoor concert style (omitting the shower trailers of course, but I’m sure that would lead to an interesting concert....).

So what on earth can you find entertaining about the morning constitution in a trailer? Graffiti. Yes dear readers, I found myself changing stalls when possible just to change things up a bit - between ‘events’, not during....oh forget it. Over here, different is good. Keeps the mind working. Like bran for the brain, you know?

Remember, it’s all in the name of entertainment.....and it keeps you up on all the local gossip. There are many pearls of wisdom to be found in the most peculiar places. I have to admit, there was a tone of rivalry when we weren’t the only unit on the FOB, but since the other guys left the ‘we’re better than you’ stuff has all but gone away. It’s more of an internal dialog now. For instance, you can find out which sergeants aren’t liked, and which soldiers are - and for what reasons. I’ll leave that one to your imagination.

Some artists are bordering on Van Gogh-ish (it’s all relative ok?), others have relegated themselves forever to the stick figure world. One even looks to have taken an engineering drawing class at some point. My biggest questions: what’s the proper procedure for leaving your mark? Do you toil at a computer (sort of like blog entries), or scribble on a napkin at dinner? Either way, you’ll have some type of notes with you (the napkin can then act as your emergency supply of johhny-wrap if you find yourself a the end of your two-ply rope, so to speak). Or do you just wing it? What’s the preferred marking utensil?

This is truly more thought and effort than I’ve EVER put into this topic (writing about it anyway), but I thought I’d exercise my creative license a bit. Now before you start worrying about my mental well-being......don’t. I just thought I’d throw a little something unique out to the ‘net. I’ll bet you caught yourself trying to figure out the answers to my questions just now, didn’t you? If you did, please raise your hand. As you can see from the picture above, there’s a bit of creativity and original thought, right?

Wonder what this will do to the old hit counter?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

War is not always hell - sometimes there’s Cinnabon!

Remember walking by the Cinnabon in the mall or at the airport when you’re walking to your gate for the “Oh my God it’s early” flight to who knows where? You can’t tell which smell hits you first - the coffee or the honey buns. Either way, your Pavlovian reaction makes you go weak in the wallet and you scurry over for or a tall cup o’ joe and the sticky, gooey, half-pound of heaven. You can’t say you’ve never had that urge!
Our motley crew were headed to the helo pad for our “Oh my God it’s early” flight back to our respective FOBs when someone remembered that there was a Cinnabon at the PX on the way - those are RARE over here! In fact, there are only two in all of Iraq! (Check it out: Cinnabon)
Needless to say, some FOBs have better creature comforts than others, but then again I’ve only been to a total of 5 FOBs so I can’t comment on them all. This one has a Burger King, Taco Bell AND a Cinnabon!!! Granted, each ‘restaurant’ only the size of a utility shed you may find in your back yard at home, but who cares, right? I don’t need to sit inside (‘cause you can’t actually - it’s only a kitchen trailer with a cash register). Just give me my little taste of fast-food home and I’ll be happier for a few minutes.
Back to reality.....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I’m only an EWO, but....

My desk is in the S-6 or Communications Shop (as was my predecessor’s, as well as hers). It’s fun. It’s entertaining. These guys are in charge of the classified and unclassified networks, phone systems - you name it. If it’s IT or commo related, it’s theirs.

So I have a few questions:

First - what good is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) if it can be interrupted? Especially if it powers EVERYTHING in the shop? Just a simple question. You wanna watch these guys sweat? When the interruptible power supply lives up to its name and the little blinky lights on the front of EVERY electronic box in the rack go cold, dark, and quiet.....wait, everything except the now-interrupted power supply which is suddenly beeping pitifully like an EKG.....these guys start sweating and start swapping cords around like an old-fashioned switchboard operator (without the glasses and lipstick).

Oh, and I think I mentioned the phones stopped working too, right? So that means that everyone who lost network connectivity, phones and radios is going to come down to the office and ask the same question: “Hey, do you guys know why my phone/radio/computer doesn’t work?”

My suggestion was to put on party hats and start doing the limbo using the end of the power cord for the UPS. That way we could just look at everyone as they came in the office with a look like “What on earth are you talking about and why aren’t you dancing?” The other part to my suggestion didn’t make sense: have the stereo playing really loud with a bubble machine going. Yeah, that wouldn’t work ‘cause it would have to be plugged into the UPS too.
They asked me to leave.......

Next - How can any country in the world have an internet connection that’s slower than dial-up?!?!?!?! Come on - we’re 7 and a half years into the new millennium. How? Until this gets fixed, there’s not a lot of hope for a stable society over here. Sorry.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lovely Baghdad

Here we are, the old and the new (Ignore the "no photography" sign in the background). We get together every other week just to change the scenery and do a little bonding.

Pictured (L-R around the table): Boyer, Adrian, Liz, Razor, Senior, Flaps, Chris, Spoon, and Juice

Unfortunately this was one of the last pictures my camera took before its Humpty Dumpty fall. I could tell everyone that the camera stopped a sniper round and saved my life....but the truth is, I was going to take this picture again and bumped the a/c unit as I ran around to get in the picture. Doesn’t sound quite as exciting, huh? Canon cameras don’t do well after a 4 foot drop check.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Great Americans!

Our flight left South Carolina around 1:00 in the morning and we were stopping in Bangor, Maine to top off before heading across the Atlantic. It was around 3:30 when we landed - I was only awake because we had to deplane for fueling. I was wiped out after the combo of the in-flight meal and movie: baked chicken breast with rice and veggies, and Blades of Glory respectively.

I was around the last of the people to get off the plane because I had to put my boots back on, figure out if I wanted to take my laptop and huddle around an open outlet and search for a wireless connection like bums under a bridge huddling around a fire in a know the drill while you’re traveling. We didn’t look or smell that bad yet though because we hadn’t made it into double digits on the ol’ travel time counter.

At the end of the ramp I finally got to meet the world-famous Maine Troop Greeters. At first I thought there were just some REAL friendly people at the airport for a painfully early flight who happened to meet the first few people off the plane and decided to shake hands after hearing about our destination. I was right in a few respects. They were very friendly, knew where we were headed, but they weren’t chance passengers. Nope, they WANTED to be there to greet us. I remembered seeing a news article once about them, but my sleep-fog wasn’t lifted until I turned the corner and saw their room:

I can’t say enough about these great people! Most are veterans themselves, or they’re family members of veterans. The value of their sacrifice and service can not be measured, and they STILL continue to give.

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The lingo......

In case you’re wondering, communication can sometimes be a little slow because I hear “Army” then I have to convert to “Navy” then process the info and translate my response back into “Army.”
Here are some examples (check back frequently because I’ll update as I run into more terms):

Battle - Short for Battle Buddy
Battle Buddy - The person you’re stuck to since the ‘buddy system’ is used at all times.
DFAC - Dining Facility
Dirt Dart - Someone who faints during formation or PT (physical training)
Drill - Short for Drill Sergeant
Drill Sergeant
- The person who wears a funny hat and sunglasses and never seems to be happy (21 years ago I was intimidated, now it’s just like having an ex-wife - only he’s better looking and not as loud).
Get Away Sticks - Your legs. ‘nuff said
Hooah - the Army term for anything from ‘yes’ to...well, just about anything. See
Major - That’s what the Army calls a Navy Lieutenant Commander.
Musket - What the troops call my Navy-issued M-16. The M-4 is much smaller and EVERYBODY (unless you’re Navy) has them! Maybe they’re making fun of me?
Muzzle Loader - see Musket
Ricky Recon - He’s the guy who runs around with knives in every pocket (and one held in his teeth), bandoliers across both shoulders, and every other gizmo a soldier could think of carrying (until he actually has to take all that crap in the field) strapped on him somewhere - none of it is dirty.
Too Easy - an affirmative response to just about any question - similar to Hooah. Kinda means everything you want it to.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hello muddah, hello faddah...

This isn’t exactly Camp Grenada, but I’m sure it’s close.
There was a point where I wondered if I’d actually get here. I was able to get a flight from D.C. direct to New Orleans then rode over with Lisa the next afternoon to Pensacola.
The whole clan rode out with me to Ft McCrady today. Stopped at Hardee’s for breakfast. Haven’t done that in a while.
Went to Ft Jackson, got directions to McGrady. Checked in in time to throw everything on a bunk, claim a locker (slim pick-ins since almost all the remaining lockers had broken doors/locks ) and say good bye to everyone so I could go over to the gym for the in brief.
After a couple of hours of paperwork and death by Powerpoint, it was time to break up into groups by Company. We then went over for another company welcome aboard brief then broke up into our platoons. We then got to meet our platoon seargents. Sgt Holmes’ silver-rimmed sunglasses are about even with my chin. He’s almost 6 feet - with the smokey bear. This will be fun I can tell already. Pictures to follow.....
First formation is at 5:15 in the morning. Have I mentioned that I may be too old for this?!?!?!?!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Let the Adventure Begin!

Around the end of May, I got a phone call from my XO telling me I had been ‘tagged’ for an IA. Funny, I’ve been volunteering to go for a couple of years, but when I give up and stop, that’s when it happens. Hmmmm. My orders came in a few days later and I began my preparations to leave.
Over the next few weeks, all those little projects I had been wanting to finish were put into high gear. What were these projects, you ask? Blowing attic insulation and adding Security, Video Surveillance and Irrigation systems to the house.
I can’t forget to mention all the Navy and Army ‘stuff’ I was required to complete before I could leave.