Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Gummi's are IN!

Today was not such a great day.  Meetings postponed, tons of slides to complete, Rugby was a no-go, was told we have to move to far worse accommodations, and then...the Gummi Bears arrived.  All is well with the world now.   I am truly addicted to the things.  I hope that I can ration them off to myself so as not to finish them all off in one night.  I also received a big bottle of Pub Mix from Sam' other (un)healthy addiction.  Had some B-R again today, still feeling the calories burned off of me from watching people run a half-marathon.

Rugby didn't go so well tonight...I showed up, my NCO showed up, but we didn't have a rugby ball...and no one else showed up so we were out of luck.

Much thanks must go out to my parents and to my golf partner, Mick, for the boxes full of goodness from home!  Mick sent me the Pub Mix, and he also sent a HUGE bag of peanuts salted in the shell...I cannot get those things here.  My parents sent the Gummi Bears...lots of them.  And a HUGE bag of Pistachios, another one of my favorites.  I now have lots of wasta amongst my peers.

Love to all, and to all a GOLD night.

Fasting over...

Well the B-R fast is officially over.  I did watch one of my guys finish a half-marathon today, so I think that I earned it.  Been slacking off way too much today.  I curse at the show they call 24!  I can't stop watching the damned thing.  Busy day tomorrow, basically have to convince a General that he doesn't want our school underneath him.  Trying to get partnered with their war college.  Anyway, just wanted to write a little before I go to bed.  Thought that I would paste a few pictures from the old soviet style equipment graveyard they have here.  It is pretty huge, but I hear that it used to be bigger!

Hope all is well in the US, and that we win gold in hockey tomorrow.  And, hopefully, Huntsville Rugby pulled in the big "W" against the Renegades today.

Later all...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder

The Mud is officially here.  I think that today was the rainy season.  It is muddy beyond belief.  I think that we got all of their annual rainfall today.  There is a half-marathon tomorrow...good luck to all that try to run in this stuff.  Not me.  Breaking in a new computer tonight, so I will keep this short.  Many Challenges with slow internet connection.

Much love to all.  Much Love.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lost in Translation...again

Well, today I had to prepare a briefing for a Brigadier (General, that is...the Brits call them Brigadiers)...sounds easy, right?  Well, this briefing is for the guy that I advise from the Iraqi Army.  But there's a twist (there's always a twist).  My Brigadier wanted to see what I was going to brief him first.  It seems as though I have a rather high visibility job.  We had a jolly-good (another Brit term I picked up from my NATO friends) time trying to take the guidance we got from our IA Brigadier and create some advice for him and then translate both the intent and wording so that our Brigadier (the American) could under- GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! stand it (Sorry, was watching the US Soccer team, and, since there is very little excitement during a soccer game, I had to generate a little excitement when we got the equalizer).  Where was I?  And if that wasn't difficult enough, I had to originally send it to my COL to review and make him understand it.  Lots of perspective.  It took myself, a small army of contractors, several Rip-Its (have you ever tried that stuff?  It is pretty good, and I am not just saying that because they give them to us for free...they are actually pretty good.  I like the calorie free one, but the other 2 are good as well) and 12000 re-writes, and a good 2 hrs to get the words right...and I still don't think that we are translating the intent to our Brigadier right.  I mean, I understand it, and my IA Brigadier will understand it, isn't that enough?

I have gone at least 4 days without the B-R evil in my body.  Don't know what to I sick of it, or am I really trying to lose some poundage?  I don't think that I could EVER get sick of it, so it must be the latter.  Or, the third option, I am just to darned lazy to get up and get it...or fourth, I am too full to eat any?  Who knows, but I do miss it.

Sunday I am going to try and play a little touch rugby here on Taji with the boys.  Seems we have a little touch rugby club here.  Should be good to toss the ball around once a week.  No grass, but that's ok.  Just to get my hands on a ball will make me feel right again.  Just hope I have time to get there on Sunday.

I am sure most of you have question about conditions here, or whatever.  Feel free to ask by commenting to these posts...I will feel free to answer or not answer, based upon whether or not it will result in me getting killed or such.


P.S.  Huntsville "Wild Turkey" Rugby Rules...Gobble, Gobble, GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL! (Yes, USA Soccer scored again in the middle of a [sort of] sentence).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Seriously...I hate it...I really hate Hiller!

In all seriousness, I hate sending reports to people who sit at desks all day.  I don't like keeping those that have no clue informed on my day-to-day activities.  I especially don't like it when someone who sits at a desk, has access to both sides of the net sends me emails with a "Check your SIPR" immediately on it...especially when they know I just left that computer 10 minutes ago.  I have both computers, I even have them sitting at desks...but they are a 10 minute walk away from each other!

Today was all about togetherness for my team.  One of our guys brought in local food from home, which was awesome, and then we had our first team dinner.  I am trying my best to bring together a team of guys that has a mixture of experiences and backgrounds...and so far we aren't trying to kill each other.  I am still trying to assess each persons comfort levels on the tasks I give them.  Part of what I am trying to do is let people naturally slide into the comfort zones and then I can see where they will operate at peak efficiency.    Then I can start to challenge them.

The Army has pretty much cut off all of the funds that used to be available for us to help out our counterparts, so I, as well as my team, have resorted to the Army's version of garbage pickers.  There is this lot called DRMO (Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office) where units go to turn in the crap that they don't want before they redeploy.  Then we go in there and see if their junk is our treasure.  We have found two server rack mounting systems, 4 shelving systems, many (many) tools, an entire phone system, a high-powered Windows Server, plenty of UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) systems, cases of paper, boxes of office supplies (but no sharpies), and power strips in every variety.  We are, after all, putting together a simulation center and need lots of stuff.  The thing is, they should be getting this stuff for themselves...only it doesn't exist in their supply system yet - and we don't have money anymore to buy it for them.  We did find a case of deep-woods Off, though, so at least we got something for ourselves!  I almost forgot the best part...there is this CPT there that does nothing but sit in an office and run the place...and run.  I guess he is a big time runner, so that is about the only thing he does besides sit in that office and sign people into the yard.  He is like Fred Sanford, only lazier on the job, and more active away from the job.  I wish I had his job.  I wonder if he has a wife named Elizabeth?  Anyway, I suspect he is going to become my most visited person.

Time to watch hockey.

Go U.S.A!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Loneliness of Command

It's not that you are lonely in command, but it kind of feels that way.  I have taken the approach that if I say to do something, and I keep up my end of the people will come through.  So far, so good.  It is also nice to be a LTC this time around.  I remember when I was in Battery Command, and I would tell guys to do things, it might have gotten done, and it might not it seems like either I have more clout, people are more scared of what I will do if they don't do something...or I am making some sense and they agree with me.  I'd like to think it is the latter, rather than the first two, but whatever accomplishes the mission, right?   I finally have my two phones, though!  World domination is right around the corner.

Has anyone ever seen a show called Army Wives?  Have any REAL Army Wives ever seen it?  Just wondering.   I still will never watch it, but was just wondering how well it captures real Army living, or is it just a bunch of staged hooey?

I am going to start watching 24 tonight, and, as the title up there implies, I am going it alone.  Not because command is lonely, but because I am the only human left here that hasn't watched the thing.  I keep getting answers like, "Let me know when you get to season 4..."  Anyway, I embark on my Jack Bauer adventures tonight, so see you guys in a few weeks.

Better get going now, just spotted a family of dust bunnies running across my dare they interrupt my 24!


Monday, February 22, 2010

If you think it's a desert, but it's's IRAQ!

I have heard a lot of names for this place, most of which were while I was still in the states.  People referred to this place as the sandbox, the desert, etc.  All unverifiable while in the states.  I pictured sand dunes and Lawrence of Arabia crap.  I pictured camel riders and beach like sand dunes that were impossible to drive and walk on.  Instead, what they have here, is what I call neglected earth.  It rains for two days in a row here and green stuff starts sprouting up.  Imagine a clay-like substance mixed with some sand that dries in about a New York minute after it rains.  The footprints literally harden as you step out of them, making leveling of this stuff damned near impossible.

We had one of our first dust storms tonight.  I had to put on glasses to go outside in the dark.  Luckily they give us these absolutely fabulous looking clear sunglasses...we would of killed to have these things in shop class, but now...not so much.  I finally bought a coffee mug yesterday, and dividends were paid off immediately.  Since I was up for breakfast after watching the Hockey game, I was able to fill myself a double cup and take it with me to work.  Today's work was spent talking around in circles with the general.  It was kind of funny, as the advice I gave him this morning became his brilliant idea of the afternoon.  I guess that is what I am here for.  Any way I can make them see the right answer for them, I feel rewarded.  Still haven't gotten the phones to work, but crossed fingers may bring resolution in the morning.

I have all of the episodes of 24 sitting in front of me, just can't get started.  Almost want to get someone to commit to watching it with me, kind of like a lifting partner (only lazier), someone to push me into watching it.  I hear it's good.  I think that I am one of the only people left on this earth that has never seen 24, ever.  Just got done watching every episode of the 4400.  The series was good, but the lack of a conclusion was rather disappointing.

I have stayed away from the B-R monster for the whole day...yeah me.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Out-of-Phase Hockey Watching

For those that don't know me...I love Hockey!  I love everything about hockey, now that they have gotten rid of the two line pass and the tie.  I just can't actually play hockey.  So I guess that Hockey is my favorite sport that I never could play.  I am afflicted with the "can't ice skate to save my life" gene.  So I will be going to bed early tonight so that I can show my dedication to the sport and wake up at 0330 to watch the game between Oh Canada and my beloved Team USA.  I have been to the ice in Lake Placid, its about time we win the gold again.  That made no sense, but I am keeping it there.

Today was a frustrating day for communications.  Not the easy reliable kind, like Skype; but, the even easier kind, more reliable kind, like a freaking phone!   We have these VOIP phones that have stuff in them that have a unique code on them that allows us to plug a CAT 5 or CAT 6 cable into them that allows them to connect to a machine that should go bing, but doesn't...and that thing sends a signal to another thing that routes it someplace past the moon and then back down to another machine that should go bing, but doesn't.  And, after all that, a phone should ring and I should be talking.  I found out that it isn't that easy.  Supposedly there are these guys who are more difficult to deal with than the phone companies that everyone is used to, that have control over which unique codes get to connect and which ones don't; and, we have to convince these guys that have nothing better to do with their time than play softball and flag football to enter our little code in a computer somewhere so that our phone will be allowed to make phone calls and receive phone calls, and whatever else that you will do with a phone.  All I want is for when my boss calls, it can be to a phone that I am 1) in the same building as, and 2) able to answer within 5 minutes.  Currently the closest phone is about 5 minutes walk away.  Luckily, these phones aren't ones that normal people can call, only ones that military people can call.  It seems like it was easier in the days when all I needed to do was fill some form out in triplicate...

Some people have been asking for more photos, so I will try and take a few over the next few days and then ration them off to you people.   There is a great Desert Storm/Iraqi Freedom graveyard of destroyed tanks and such here where I am at, and I will get some of those pictures posted.  May even post some of myself if your lucky.  With luck, my grand plan for world domination through the acquisition of a military phone system will be complete by tomorrow.  Will keep you all posted.

Until USA beats Canada...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Respect the Pineapple!

Just when I thought that I had the whole dining facility "Procedure" all figured out, it backfired on me.  You see, they have this awesome little station that carves up the gourmet selection of the day.  Almost the entire week they have been serving these delicious smoked ribs and some thick cuts of Prime Rib...only problem, it lies in the middle of the facility, and I have never remembered to look to see what they have there before getting in the main line to get the meal of the day.  But today I was ready.  I didn't even look at the main line and went right to the special little carving station, only to find that it was CLOSED!  I felt like an idiot getting back into the main line, but the pepper steak was just wasn't prime rib or baby back ribs.  I did, however, resist the B-R temptation tonight.

However, over this deployment, I have discovered my Kryptonite.   I am rendered completely powerless by fresh pineapple.  There must be something in my DNA that compels me to stand in the long line for some freshly cut pineapple.  I mean FRESHLY cut...there is a guy there cutting the stuff and shoving it on your tray with the knife he cut it with.  I have always loved fresh pineapple, I only like the canned stuff...don't love it, just like it.  The canned stuff has no power o'er me, though.  I, however, respect the pineapple.  The kind of respect I have for pizza.  The kind of respect that will not allow me, under any circumstances, to place pineapple on my pizza.  To me, that is disrespectful to the wonderful goodness that each brings to the world.  They should have the undivided attention of my pallet.  Not something jumbled together where I can't tell where one starts and the other begins...Respect the Pineapple (and the Pizza)!  (One pineapple did have to be killed in preparation for the writing of this Blog).

Now if I could only get a decent Pizza here...
(I don't consider Pizza Hut decent pizza)


Friday, February 19, 2010

Mmm, Baskin Robbins...

Here in Iraq...everywhere, I might add, lurks a certain kind of evil.  I have found that evil in every desolate dining facility I have visited in this sandbox, only to succumb to its delightful temptations, night after bloody night (a little British lingo I picked up over the past few days whilst meeting with the NATO guys).  This evil has followed us all from the US, and, because we are trapped here like captive heathens, we are forced to walk by it, meal after meal after meal.  Why does the Army, weight conscious as it is, allow an evil like this into our dining facilities and then force us to parade by it on our way in and out at every meal?  Why?  Because Baskin Robbins ice cream is FREAKING DELICIOUS, that's why!  I prefer one scoop of Cookies and Cream after lunch and Dinner, unless, of course, they are out.  Then I have to have a scoop of Jamoca Almond Fudge (my mom's favorite).  I must say, eating ice cream is not something that I do very often in the states...but then again, I don't have to look at, in all its goodness, at every meal.  We definitely have some happy soldiers here, and some would say that Baskin Robbins has something to do with it.  (This was not a paid advertisement for Baskin Robbins, and no ice cream was hurt during the writing of this Blog)

I miss the states, but I miss it less and less with every yummy scoop of ice cream!

Thanks B-R!

Later on...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

3 Days until I am on my own

Only a few days and I will basically be on my own.  Luckily, two of my NCOs are going to stay another year, so they know what is going on.  Should be a challenge this year.  From the looks of things, I will be spending my first month or so rebuilding bridges that have previously been burned, while maintaining those bridges that are currently hanging on by a thread.  Good news, though, a friend from Baghdad should be coming up here to visit soon.  Will be good to see friendly faces.  Also, looks like I will be able to enjoy one of my first Iraqi dinners this weekend.  So I guess the gastro-intestinal odyssey begins!

For those of you that don't know, I have had stomach troubles since, oh, about the time Motrin came out...only they weren't aware of all that stomach trouble it would cause if you weren't eating or drinking anything for weeks at a time.  They used to give me the stuff by the bottle-full when I was wrestling at West Point.  I was losing 20-30 lbs a week, so I wasn't eating or drinking anything...all the while the Motrin was working magic on my knees and havoc on my stomach.  I have been taking Prevacid or Prilosec ever since they were prescription only drugs.  Only difference now is I have to pay for them...and they don't have any remaining at the base I am on.  Hmm, should be fun.  Luckily I have about a weeks supply left.

A funny story about Arabic translations.  One of the Generals I was working with couldn't come up with the phrase "They can't look past their Noses" in he decided to just say that they were cross-eyed (from looking at the tip of their noses).  Also, the idea of Combined Arms to describe all of the branches of the Army working together does not translate into Iraqi culture and language.  It takes about a 2 paragraph statement and a matrix to describe what we say in two words.  Supposedly, if you translate it, it turns into mixing your mixing as ingredients  in cake batter, and your arms on your body....pretty funny.  Another phrase they don't understand is "If I were in your shoes..."  They would reply, "But I am in my shoes" while looking down at their feet.

Except for a couple of meetings tomorrow, I am basically off for a few days to collect my thoughts and figure out a plan how to accomplish all of the tasks we need to do, while keeping the peace amongst all of my people so they don't kill each other.  Should be a fun experience.  I guess I am in a Battalion Command-like position...all of the responsibilities, without any of the fringe benefits!

Until the next time...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Advice to the Iraq Traveler

Words of advice to a Senior Officer traveling in Iraq.

1.  Pack light.  You don't need everything when you hit the ground.  A month without your stuff is not that big a deal.  You may be living out of your bags for that long, so the less bags you have, the less you have to pull apart to look for stuff.

2.  Pack in stages.  Pack what you immediately need for one night in a backpack along with your computer.  I would put one pair of socks, one t-shirt, toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant in your back-pack.  Also, pack a travel razor, a micro-fiber towel, and a washcloth (and zip-lock bag), and all the medicine you need for a week.  Next, pack what you need for staying in one place in your large ruck-sack.  Your shower-shoes, small travel soap and shampoo, PT Clothes, running shoes, change of uniform, a sleeping bag, your fleece jacket, a poncho liner, small camping pillow, wet weather top, and another 2 t-shirts and socks.  After that, pack what you absolutely need to live for two weeks in a duffle bag.  All the rest of your t-shirts and socks, extra towels, linen, extra medicine, major toiletries, stuff that you would like to get at if you are in temporary living conditions for more than a couple of days, and the rest of your uniforms.  In your second Duffle bag, pack your Chemical gear, the parts of your body armor that you will never use (shoulder stuff), your knee pads, elbow pads, some civilian clothes, cold-weather gear, cold-weather gloves, and anything else, but leave room for another duffle bag.  In your third duffle bag, pack your Body Armor, Helmet, Gloves, Goggles, Sunglasses, anything that you will need to get to quickly once arriving in theater.  After you arrive in Kuwait, empty that duffle and place it in Duffle #2.  You will wear the Body Armor from that point forward when traveling.  If you have to stay over night somewhere, you can always find someplace to store a dufflebag or two so you don't have to drag it to your hooch, so packing this way will help you not have to drag stuff you don't need pretty great distances if you don't need to.

3.  Things that I consider a "Must" have:
     a.  Micro-fiber towel.   This has been my most used item in theater.  It is light, drys quickly, and folds up into a very small area.  Plus, it drys you extremely well.
     b.  Personal Computer.  You will go crazy without a personal computer that can play the cheap DVDs that you can pick up.  The smaller the computer the better, but your computer doesn't count for the size of your backpack as a carry-on.  Plus, you will most likely be given a camera that you need to download pictures from that connects via USB...something you can't do on a Govt. laptop...hmm.
     c.  Gold Bond Medicated Powder.  You will be hurting without it, trust me.
     d.  Crocs.  I hate these things...nevertheless, they are absolutely necessary here in theater.  You will have to inevitably walk thru all kinds of crap to get to the latrine/shower in this place, and normal shower shoes just won't do.  If you already like them, great, if not...get used to wearing them, they will save your feet from all kinds of stuff.
     e.  Hand Lotion and Hand Sanitizer.  Get the hand sanitizer with Aloe, and then use the lotion.  You will wash your hands ALL the time.  Your hands WILL dry out, and they will hurt when they crack.
     f.  iPod Touch or iPhone, or something small that has WiFi capability.  You wouldn't believe where there are hotspots, so take advantage of them to send an email home.  A netbook DOES NOT serve this purpose, trust me.

4.  Don't count on anything.  If they tell you that you will be in an office, you will probably end up working in the field.  If they tell you that you have a Wet CHU, you will not.  If they tell you that there will be Free Internet, you will have to pay for it.  If they say that you have AFN, they mean somewhere that you can never get to.  If they tell you to train for one job, you will get another.  Plan for not getting anything, and be happy with what you get.  Its a job AND an adventure.  So enjoy it.

5.  This really only applies if you are an individual augmentee...if you are deploying with a unit that is a Battalion or Higher, your mission will probably be what you trained for.

Oh, and wear sunscreen.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Long Day...Lot's of Dollars

Long day today.  First day for this exercise that we are running.  Still closer to a Chinese Fire Drill than the Kindergarten variety.  But better.  Much Better.  Sometimes you feel like Mel Gibson in Braveheart trying to get these guys (the Iraqi Officers) just to Lead their soldiers and other officers.  Small victories in this arena so far during this exercise.  I have actually met some great Iraqi officers that have graduated from our Army War College in PA.  We finally got all of the communications problems fixed, and now have to just worry about VIP visits over the next few days.  Soon, I will be the senior guy on the ground, and have no idea what I will do with that kind of clout (like I will really have any).  At least my contractors are staying behind to help me.

I signed for all my property, lots of dollars worth of property.  Luckily, I have a great supply/admin NCO that can keep track of it all.  Tonight was wings night at the Dining Facility, and they had Smoked ribs as well.  They were all good, many flavors...someone please send me some DALE's SAUCE!  I am going thru Dale's Sauce withdrawals.  That is really the only thing that I miss, food-wise.

Later on...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Class is in Session

Our students are now back from the weekend and we had them organized to start their battle simulation.  When I say organized, I mean slightly more organized than a Chinese fire drill, but less organized than a kindergarten fire drill.  It was kind of fun, but I had to pull out some of my computer geek skills to make some stuff happen.  I didn't mind doing it, just kind of feel a little over-paid to load mapping software on 6 computers...but someone had to do it, right?

Ate dinner over on the American side tonight...they have more variety in their big mess halls, as opposed to our small one over on the Iraqi side.  Don't worry about my safety, we are on an American Camp, but on the Iraqi side of the base.

It's Sunday night here, Valentine's Happy Valentine's Day to everyone, especially my lovely wife, Susie.  I hope the Olympics are over soon, I feel compelled to watch them, and they are on all night long here!  I am getting some sleep I bid you all a fine farewell for the evening.

After While, Crocodiles!  

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Running the Gauntlet

Tonight I decided that in order to learn my way around here, I would have to run the gauntlet between my place and the main post here.  I have to travel over a bit of Iraqi army base to do this.  The risk was great, but the reward was Taco Bell and a triple white chocolate mocha!  Also, I found out (after the fact), that I was supposed to bring someone with me at night.  Driving here is kinda weird.  There are no streetlights, but lots of people walking on the streets.  They all have reflective belts on, but that doesn't mean you can see them until you are right up on them.  The speed limits are also like 20mph or 10 mph.  Driving 10mph on a long stretch of road reminds me of trying to drive 30mph down Landmeier Rd. in Elk Grove when you are late for something...Nearly impossible, but, if you can believe it, the MPs are worse than the Elk Grove cops for writing tickets.

New Dining facility here, they have real towels to dry our hands...they also have the toilet paper-like stuff, so I get to maintain my useless super-power...small victories!  Anyway, just wanted to let everyone know that I miss you.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Say Hello, Shappy...Hello Shappy!

Got into Taji yesterday morning after a marathon 26 hours of traveling throughout Kuwait and Iraq.  It ended with me rolling into Taji temporary billeting around 5:45 in the morning.  I then plopped down and slept until noon.  After waking up I noticed that not only did I have a huge room, but it had a shower and a toilet as well!  Using war lingo it is called a Wet CHU.  Worth its weight in gold.  No more having to put on clothes and shoes to walk to the latrine at 3am!  Yeah.  Well, I had to move out of there this morning and move into my more permanent quarters...another Wet CHU, but this time about 1/2 the size.  And the bathroom is about 1/3 the size.  Will have to see how long this lasts.  Kind of stinks a little bit, too.  Now I know why there were air fresheners everywhere in the place.

Just wanted to let everyone that cares know that I am safe and sound at Taji, just North of Baghdad.  Hopefully, I will be able to reside in someplace long enough now to receive some mail...more adventures to follow...


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Say Good Bye to That One...

Said my good-byes to those that I could today.  Kind of sad that I couldn't say good-bye to everyone.  Will explain more at a later date.  This assignment, albeit short, was a great one.  Although we did not have the same amenities that you would find on some of the other big places, we had a small village feel to our little camp.  I will miss Camp Savage, and since it will be closing soon, will probably never see it again.  The dining facility was small and inviting, and everyone knew everyone else...kinda like cheers, but without all the beer, and no Norm.  We did have a Marine Major that could have been Cliff Claven, though.  Anyway...good-bye, good-bye, good-BYE!  Yeah, I know, I am no Julie Andrews...I shall never forget Shaibah Training Center, the site where I honed my first useless superpower.

Later, much later.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dry Skin Troubles

Yesterday, my hands were so dry that a small cut on the tip of my thumb has turned into a crack the size of the Grand Canyon...the dry skin just keeps tearing and re-tearing.  Unfortunately, I forgot I had a bottle of liquid bandage, so it went on for a day.  Stuff does well to keep the skin together...just gets to looking kinda nasty after a while.  AND BURNS LIKE HELL WHILE IT FILLS IN THE CUT!  We are talking HOLD YOUR BREATH AND PASS OUT Pain.  Which I almost did.  You never realize how much you use your fingertips, especially your dominant thumb, until you get a gash of this magnitude.  The rest of my fingers are just dry.  I have pretty much emptied a trial size bottle of lubriderm in the past two days.

Well, I had my two beers last night watching the superbowl...and finally got to sleep at about 0630.  Slept until about 0900, then got up for the day.  It is 2216 now, and I need to get some quality sleep.  But I swore I would write every day if I could, so I am, damn it.  I guess I am a little cranky, too.  Glad the Saints won.  Can I get a Who Dat?  Didn't get to see any of the commercials, were they good?  Since AFN gets all of the programming for free, they aren't allowed to show any commercials, EVER!  If anyone has a good link to where they all are, please send it to me!  Maybe in a few days I will be somewhere with a faster internet connection that I can stream some of them.  Best get to bed now.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Sunday

Well Super Sunday is finally here...only for us it is Super Monday, actually.  The Chow hall served us Lobster Tails for dinner, and now all we have to do is wait around for 0200 to roll around and we can watch the game LIVE.   We even get to drink two "special beverages."  The lobster was actually pretty good.  The clam chowder, not so much...but edible.  They are going to be serving us hot wings during the game...I know what everyone is thinking, but these wings are actually pretty good.   They make Turkey wings as well, sometimes, which are equally as good.  The mystery right now is if they will show the commercials during the superbowl here...we are watching it on AFN, and they don't show the normal commercials.  We shall have to see.

Been getting massive amounts of emails all day from the guy I am replacing at the new place I am going.  Cryptic, yes, but I don't want to put myself in harms way unnecessarily.  I can talk about it once I get there.  Loose lips sink ships, and all that jazz.  Going to catch a few zzz's before the big game now.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is this your final Answer?

Just got the word today that I will, indeed, be moving to a new location next week.  Seems like I just got here to Shaibah Training Center, and off I go again.  The Air Force really does need a frequent flyer program.  Hopefully all of my baggage will be allowed to go.  They "Say" that I am only allowed two bags.  Anyway, got up early for a COB run to Basrah.  Uneventful, but did get a slice of Pizza Hut pizza and a Blue Monster to drink while I was there.  I still like our dining facility better than the two giant ones at Basrah.  At least I will get to watch the Superbowl here with the guys that I have come to know over the past week or so.  It would have sucked to watch the game in some air terminal somewhere...and missed out on my two "special beverage" provisions.

Not much else to write about today, except that I learned how to book plane reservations in the Air Force system.  Pretty easy once you get the hang of it.  That's it for now.

Later Gators.

Friday, February 5, 2010

First Real Day Off

Today was my first real day off...only had two meetings and a telecon to participate in.  I did, however, get to sleep in until about 1000.  So I guess it was a morning off.  Just found out that I will be taking a new job further up North in the next few weeks.  Not sure if I will be staying at my current location much past next week, so if you haven't sent me anything...please hold off until I get a new address.  I have a feeling this won't be my last move, either.  I hope that the Air Force has a frequent flyer program.  The sad thing is that I may not get to say goodbye to my TC Commander, who is on leave right now.

I am getting impressed with my rather useless superpower of being able to dry my hands with toilet paper.  Another bathroom tidbit of note, it has been at least three days since I have smelled any mothballs...maybe they are running out?  I also find it rather amazing how the days fly by here like lightening, yet the weeks keep dragging and dragging like they aren't going by at all.  Strange deployment phenomenon.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Home, Home on the Range...

     Well, kids, we finally went to the rifle range today.  Not the kind I am used to.  No Pop-up targets, no marked left and right limits, no paper targets with silhouettes on them, no loudspeaker, no safety officer, and no numbered lanes.  We did a short safety brief, walked down to whatever structure was near the berm, and stapled some white paper on whatever was there, placed some water bottles, walked back to our firing points and started shooting.  I am a horrible shot, by the way.  Of the first 15 9mm rounds I shot, only about 6 hit one of the 8.5x11 sheets of paper that I had.  But I had fun with the M4.  At least there is a laser dot you can put on the target and be somewhat accurate.  I splashed a few water bottles with it, and burned some wood with a few tracers.  But, the best part, was putting the thing on three-round burst setting and emptying the magazine.  Not too accurate, but very fun!

     Tonight I am going to watch the whole X-Men series.  I watched Wolverine:  X-Men Origins today, and it kind of got me fired up to watch the whole series.  No work tomorrow, so I can sleep in.  Just hope I can remain awake for the whole series.  The copy of Wolverine that I got was a pre-final release, apparently.  I have never seen anything like this.  You could still see the wire-harnesses, some of the Computer Generated Graphics weren't colored in yet, and you could tell when these used the Green Screen, because they hadn't refined it yet.  Totally bazaar, but cool at the same time.  Well, tomorrow is my weekend, so I will start it off tonight with a fine Cuban Cigar and then the X-Men Marathon.

Later Gators.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Mysterious Training Holiday...

We showed up to work today...unfortunately, the Iraqis were on a training holiday.  Seems as though they let the students go early for the weekend so they could celebrate one of their holidays.  Would have been nice if they let us know yesterday...

It was kind of funny watching all of the officers mill about at the dining facility.  You see, their commander is on leave, they gave all of the cadre off, and they were all kind of trying to be seen by each other before they, themselves, made the exodus.  Kind of reminds me of a normal workday for a FISTer back in my Lieutenant days.  To catch you all up, I spent my junior officer days on the shores of the Monterey Bay in California.  And I was also a Fire Support Officer (FISTer).  Basically we were officers with almost nothing to do on a daily basis. So we would show up in the morning and basically make sure we were seen, then put the feelers out to make sure that no one was looking for us, then disappear until after lunch, when we would just rinse and repeat only to find ourselves at the beach or golfing by 1400...ah, the life.  And, yes, that was EVERY least until Manual Noriega f-ed it up for all of us.  But that is another story.

And now for today's lesson on life in a third world country:  Just because your workday is over by 0900, doesn't mean that you have to turn your reports in before they are due.  The guys at HQ are expecting those reports to start rolling in at 1600.  If we turn our daily SITREP in at 1000 when we have it done, we do two things.  The first is that we alert them that maybe we aren't working as hard as them (they are required to be at work from 0730 - 2000 including some food breaks).  And, two, it would just mess their daily routine up for gathering reports.  So, actually, we are doing them a favor.  Lesson over.

That is all I can think of for now.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I have a new skill!

As of today, I now have perfected a new skill. This isn't something that you can teach another person, instead it is a skill that you have to learn all by yourself, by trial and error.  I have been here for about three weeks, so it isn't something that you learn right away.  And you can't let your guard down, either.  Once you learn this skill you must still pay attention to what you are doing, or you will fail.  Miserably.  This skill, of course, is drying your hands with toilet paper.  They don't actually give you toilet paper to dry your hands with, they instead give you a paper towel like dispenser that dispenses stuff even thinner than toilet paper.  And we wash our hands here A LOT!  I think that in the first three weeks I have been here I have already increased my hand washing by a power of three.  The toilet paper we get to wipe our bums is actually thicker than the stuff they give us to dry our hands.  I am not kidding.  The embarrassing danger here is not having a toilet paper trail on your boot, it is having toilet paper remaining on your hands in the lunch line.

Today I experienced the first bit of help from a bunch of guys sitting around in a Headquarters somewhere with absolutely nothing to do...but 12-14 hours in which to do it.  Received a lot of help on a training set-up that is out of our control...lets call it a Sh@t House...that isn't what it is, but the help I am getting is about the equivalent as the help a person a thousand miles away can give to building a sh@t house.  At least I can put the problem off for a few days since I think the commander may by on leave.  Anyway, I think that I will watch a movie...maybe.  Anyway, I have written enough for one evening.

Later Taters.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Just because it fits...doesn't mean you should stick it in there!

Well, today I had my first "Blow Out" so to speak.  The difference between 220V and 110V finally came to a head when I thought, hmm, I have this american power strip and an adapter, why can't I just plug it in?  Well,, you can't.  All you get is a warm pop, and then your outlets don't work...the smell is better than moth balls, so I can't complain too much about that.  But now at least two of my outlets don't work.  I may have to physically move my desk to where the outlets work, otherwise I see myself tripping over the cords at night.  Basically, I have just learned that just because it looks like it will fit, it doesn't necessarily mean that you should stick it in there.  Don't mess with power, it can be your downfall kids!

Anyway, we had a visit from a General Officer today.  Not just an officer of a general nature, like me, but a real Brigadier General!  (That is a picture of me with a Captain that came over with us)  Stayed a couple of hours and had a few office calls with us and our Iraqi counterparts.  Good stuff, but raised our stress level a bit today.  Should be back to normal tomorrow.  Anyhow, I will feel better if the training we had going on today is continued tomorrow...that will mean that it wasn't just a show for the General.  Fingers crossed!

Time for Chow.