Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not very busy lately

Well, I haven't been very busy lately.  With only about 2 and a half hours of power at our school, there isn't much need to stick around there in the afternoons.  It gets pretty hot in there without air conditioning.  Even when the power is on, it goes out two or three times in the 2 1/2 hours.  I found out that this is so that the air conditioners that people leave on will shut down.  When they reset the power, the air will be off unless they switch it back on manually...saving some more power.  Yesterday we had a meeting about this, which resembled more of a government organized shake-down for money.  Let me explain...

Each commander is given so much per month for life support based upon the number of soldiers that he has.  From that money he has to pay for food and upkeep of facilities and fuel.  The location commander is responsible for the generator farm that provides base-wide power (yes the 2 1/2 hours of it, anyway).  He has asked all of the tenant units to give him some of their life-support money to pay to have fuel hauled up here (and I don't think that all of the fuel that we receive is consumed by the generators, if you know what I mean?).  He asked my commander for more money per month than he even receives!  Each commander had to commit to sending this guy money for fuel.  A total shake-down.  We don't have a back-up generator, so we are screwed in this deal from the start, anyway.  The Location Commander was nice, though...he said he would make up the difference.  I am not sure how the soldiers are going to eat next month.

So we left that meeting for another one.  But at least this one was something productive.   It seems that we may get the school over on the Iraqi side that I used to live at.  That is good news, since we were going to need a bigger place if we were going to expand, and that place has good plumbing system already in place, a dining facility, laundry, store, barracks, etc.  This could be a good thing.  Anyway, we ate lunch there then headed back to the school.  Was too hot to do anything, so day was relatively over before 3pm.  Or so I thought...

I am not sure what is going on in the IZ, but apparently they needed a lot of information from us last night.  The thing is, the people up there seem to not talk to each other.  ALL of the info they asked us for existed down there in the IZ in one form or another.  Rather than ask the people that HAD the info down there, they decided it was easier to send out shotgun blast email after email.  Only the emails didn't do a very good job of explaining what information they needed.  So we spent about an hour going round and round trying to figure out what they wanted, then they had to spend, I would guess, another hour or two collating the data and submitting it.  They could have just asked the people who were supposed to be the keepers of the data...for said data.  Oh well, it was fun to keep sending them stuff that we knew they didn't need.  And to ask the same stupid questions they ask us all the time.

I can't wait until the Hockey Semi's start.  I will get no sleep.  I think that the Blackhawks will do a lot better against Vancouver than they did with Nashville.  It is a shame about Washington Caps losing to Montreal...NO IT'S NOT!  I am pretty happy that the Caps are out of it.  I was scared of them.  Now they are gone.  I am pretty much scared of all the teams in the East.  Seems like the Hawks don't really do so well against them.  I am finally watching that Game 7, and the end WAS pretty exciting.  I do really feel bad for my Caps friends.  They definitely deserved to be in the finals this year.

Maybe the Cubs start turning it around now?  I really don't like Ariz-z-z-z-z-z-zona.  Well, it is Thursday night, so I think that I will go and try to find a card game.  Hopefully some Euchre, and maybe some Dominoes.  Will have to see.

Night all...  

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Iraqi food, redux

Well, tonight I decided to be bold and go with one of my civilian advisors and my three interpreters over to the Iraqi side of the base to eat at one of the unit's restaurants. This is a small restaurant with questionable cleanliness that also has a small grocery store, a Smoothie Bar, Hookahs, and (of course) Chai. All of which you pay a different person for! So we start off inside the restaurant and get some vegetables and yogurt stuff (along with some dirty silverware). It was all pretty good, then I remember that I got really sick on the local vegetables in Jordan...oops, too late. Anyway, so we get some Falafel, some kabobs, some grilled tomatoes, some flat bread and some water. The only stuff I really trust is the water, but at least the Kabobs and Falafel are cooked. It all tasted pretty good. Then we had to pay. The Iraqi Dinar and the US dollar have a funny relationship. I think that we paid about 8500 Dinar a piece for the dinner. That is just over $7 bucks for the meal. Then a few of us went into the store. I picked up some Sim-Sim. This is basically a wafer made of sugar and sesame seeds. It is wicked good, as one of my NCOs says. Then came time for Chai...which we had to go outside for. By this time, there is a crowd of about 40 guys all sitting there watching some Turkish Soap Opera, sipping chai, smoking their hookahs, and debating the topics of the day. So I have this evil Chai...not sure what is in it, but it is awesome. And has this strange affect on one's bladder. You go from not having to go to DEFCON 5 (about to pee your pants unless a latrine pops in front of you NOW) in about one second. Now I know why all these guys here stay up so damned late! They drink Chai with their late dinner, and they are afraid to go to bed. They would wet the bed every night. Anyway, here are some pictures of us from tonight.

Not sure how all these pictures will turn out on here, it is harder to manipulate these things than I originally thought.  It could just be Google Chrome is not very cooperative.  I couldn't even get the thing to come up last night, so I am continuing while I watch the cubs in the bottom of the 8th.    So far so good on the Iraqi food.  No ill effects as of this point.  That is good.  I have heard that the body just has to get used to the local bacteria...but I don't recommend the "Getting Used to" part at all.  Pretty painful!

So we got some more rain last the time I woke up at 0430, it was completely dry. Not sure if it was because they have done a good job at getting all of the dust and dirt swept away from in front of our CHUs, or because it is getting hotter and dryer.  Whatever the case, it was nice to walk back from the showers this morning and not get all muddy.

I think that my Brigadier may have gotten himself in some trouble with his boss.  I heard that he basically told him that he was going to quit if he did not get any support.  We are still without any real generators, even though the base power is only on for 2 1/2 hours daily.  Supposedly we have a meeting today with the location commander about the power situation.  If things don't improve, we are going to have to go to paper exercises and ditch the much for being into the 21st century!  We will have to see what will happen today.

I must start getting ready for the day...and send my undivided concern rays to a Cubs 8th inning rally.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Deja Vu all over again...

Its been a day since my last couple of posts...and I can honestly say that nothing has changed. Except maybe that the Cubs swept the Brewers in their house, and the Blackhawks pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in history. I get to go to bed early tonight to watch the Hawks game in the morning. Over the weekend I installed yet another cable through my wall, this time with AFN traveling on it. I only get about 8 or 9 channels on it, but it does a better job of covering sports that aren't futbol (soccer). Someone stole our nice ladder, so I we had to use a metal bed frame to climb onto the roof of the CHU to run the cable. That was a fun time... This also meant I had to dig through the foam insulation that I plugged up the big hole in my wall with. Has anyone ever used the stuff before?
Is there no way to clean those spray tubes? It was a 10 dollar bottle of stuff, so I am thinking that is way too much for a single use bottle of foamy sticky stuff. So I start to play with it a little bit...this is the result. Yes, that's a foam-filled bottle!

Last night my interpreters and I decided it was time to change the codes on my descrambler box for my Satellite receiver. This was definitely an adventure in computer/internet searching. Not only did I not know what to look for, but it all of the websites that have these "Codes" are in Arabic. I had to sign up for some of them so I could download these codes, so if the FBI comes looking for me because I got a few Arabic emails, you all know why. I am definitely glad that we did, though. All of the scrambled channels are coming in fine now, and they don't cut out anymore, either! Success! So today it took only about 5 minutes for me to update my XO's decoder box (it took us a good 1 1/2 hours last night).

I am watching 24 again...even skipped dinner, so I guess that 24 Diet plan is working according to plan. I did get to play rugby last night, but the knees were not cooperating to well. It seems that I need to be more careful how I step out of my CHU now that the stairs have been temporarily removed. The knees are definitely taking the lack of stairs harder than the rest of my body.

Hopefully, I can watch some of the Cubs game before the Hawks game starts...I need to get to bed so I can wake up early.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Eureka...I have found the perfect smoothie!

Ah, the simple pleasures in life! Tonight one of my contractors cooked us all steak...I had mine Rare, thank you! And I even had plenty of Dale's sauce for all those that wanted it. Two of my interpreters (Slim Shady and Massey) hadn't eaten yet, so I volunteered to escort them to the dining facility so I could see if they had any pineapple. THEY DID! Awesome. So that was all I got, to take back to the CHU for some snacks while I watch the Blackhawks tonight. On my way to the table I spied some oranges, so I picked up a couple to add to my pineapple to-go box. While I am watching my interpreters woof down their food I hatch a plan for a smoothie. So I awkwardly grab a large foam cup of ice and carry it back to my CHU.

So I get back to my CHU and I change the plan. I remember that I have a little bit of strawberry daiquiri mix left, and some banana milk. So I throw all of this fresh fruit, banana milk, ice and strawberry mixer into my blender and fire it up, not knowing what to expect. WOW. I am sure that I will never again be able to reproduce this specific mixture, but it does taste excellent! I think that it was the banana milk. It added a little stability and smoothness that the Blue Monster never quite could. I really wish I could share it with someone, but I am going to have to be a little selfish on this one, since I only made about a glass and a half of the stuff.

So back to the simple pleasures...Steak for dinner, smoothie for dessert, cigars, cool evenings with the moon out. Not bad for a war zone. I would say that we deployed to a war and a garrison broke out. I hope I didn't just jinx us. Anyway, I have a few hours to kill before I watch the hockey game. I hope that all of my Chicago buddies are sending their concern rays to the United Center tonight. Here Come the Hawks...and a Cubs win would be pretty good, too.

After while, crocodiles

Good Morning Iraq

I decided to make a rare morning post, mainly because I have been up for a while now, and have about an hour to kill. Cubs won this morning, so I am in a pretty decent mood. I finally got my Season 5 disk of 24 to work. Not sure what the problem was, only that it finally started reading it after I watched the movie Green Zone. There was some good action, but I fear that a movie that uses an event that is still happening (OIF) to portray fictitious events, only furthers the conspiracy theories and Hollywood notions that we lied our way into the war. Enough about that. I was still entertained by it.

I think, that after watching 24 for 4+ seasons in such a short period of time, I have a new drinking game...That game would be called "Protocol." Every time you hear the word Protocol, you have to drink. And, I dare say, you would probably be dead by alcohol poisoning by the end of the one hour show if you did so... I have never, in all my years of Government service, ever heard the word protocol used so much. Over-used so much. And I want to know how so many people, in classified areas, are allowed to use their cell phones? There are reasons cell phones aren't allowed in classified areas...and for the most part, don't even work in those areas. I am not saying that I am NOT hooked on 24...just that none, I repeat, NONE of this could EVER happen. Except maybe an incompetent boob for a gots to love TV.

Today should be a short day...not much happens on a Saturday. Especially when there is no class in session. Class doesn't start up until Monday, so even Sunday will be slow. Sometimes I really enjoy the Iraqi pace...slow and not-so-steady! Sometimes living out your own personal Groundhog Day is not so bad, since you get to try what works, learn from your mistakes, and then apply those lessons tomorrow. Small bites...Plebe year trained me well.

I did, finally, get my USB 5.1 sound card, in conjunction with my 5.1 speakers, I now have 24 in 5.1 surround sound thunder! I now need to find myself a DVD that takes advantage of it! You have to love good sound. The music sounds awesome.

I need to get some stuff done before work.

Later all!

Friday, April 23, 2010 - Transcript of Powell's U.N. presentation - Feb. 6, 2003 - Transcript of Powell's U.N. presentation - Feb. 6, 2003

We must be reminded of the REAL reasons that we went to war with Iraq. I watched the movie Green Zone today...disturbing how fiction can creep into the American Psyche and somehow get interpreted as fact.

I beg all of you to read the text of Secretary Powell's speech again, and again. The media and radicals have repeated the mantra so many times (that WMDs were the reason that we went to war) that I almost started doubting my own memory of what he said. It is clear, and up-front. We went to war due the failure of Saddam Hussein to comply with UN Resolution 1441, plain and simple. This resolution did, indeed, deal with WMDs, but it dealt with the acts and failures of the Old Iraqi regime to comply with resolution after resolution. The mere absence of huge stockpiles of WMDs is irrelevant to why we went to war.

Many WMDs have been found, or evidence that they did, indeed, exist. But that doesn't change the fact that he never accounted for the ones that he claimed to one-time have; or, how he destroyed them.

Just read it...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Thursday Night

Just another Thursday night here at Club Taji...nothing like a little rain to get the mud-hole going. Just enough to make things sticky. Luckily, the Pakistanis that have been working on our mud situation have been doing a good job alleviating the mud in CHU problems of old. They are actually going to be putting in sidewalks that are (this time, anyway) elevated above the mud so it can't migrate like a glacier onto our doorsteps. So in order to do this, they had to remove my stairs from the front of my CHU. In order to get out now, I have to repel down the front. I am not sure if I can, safely, without someone on belay though...Almost tumbled out the door this evening.

We are changing the name of our school from the Iraqi Counterinsurgency School to the Joint Training Center...or the Combined Arms Center. Apparently they translate the same in Arabic to Marqez Tadreeb Mushtareq. The school is named in Arabic and my Brigadier translated it to Joint Training Center for me...on the other hand, my Brigadier's Boss' Boss, who speaks mighty fine English, translated it for his US COL as the Combined Arms Training Center...this caused quite the stir a few nights ago. When I tried to explain this to the Izzys (the guys in the IZ), they just couldn't quite wrap their little minds around the fact that the school was, indeed, named in ARABIC! So what we translate it to is completely long as we all agree what to call it. They could care less what we call it. We could call it the Cool School for all they care.

Now I have only about 3 more episodes to go in season 4 of 24. Jack Bauer (who I am now starting to believe is one of the greatest screw-ups of all time) has just tried to cover up a raid that he conducted on the Chinese consulate, and is now trying to apprehend some woman that was hanging out with some guy who slept with the son of the SECDEF...where do these WAVES of terrorist come from? I mean really...they can't even come up with this many terrorist waves in Iraq or could they possibly come up with this many waves of terrorists in the US? Needless to say, I am hooked.

Cubbies get a chance to even up the series with the Mets tonight. Since I don't have to wake up early, I think that I may stay up for the game, then switch to the Blackhawks. The Hawks are scaring me...they better start getting the biscuit in the basket, or they will be playing golf in less than a week! One game in Nashville is all it takes to get Home Ice advantage back. I will listen to "Here Come the Hawks" tonight to get into the mood.

Going to go look for a poker game somewhere.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Great China Wok Drying Experiment

I get to be on the front lines of a grand experiment. That experiment is called Freedom. Just 7 years earlier, the people of Iraq were ruled by a ruthless egomaniac named Saddam. He controlled what people believed, what they saw, and mostly, he controlled their media. Not anymore. This picture is worth a thousand words. There are six Iraqi local nationals in the CHUs you see, and all six have their own dish, and all have the freedom to watch what they want, when they want. There are English Channels, Arabic Channels, Italian Channels, French Channels, even some in Farsi...but the key is, that no information is censored or cut off from anyone who wants to view it, and, if you are willing to pay enough money for it, you can even get as much nasty porn as you could ever want. And I am not talking about that dumbed-down US stuff, either. I am talking about some nasty Euro-trash porn. Anyway, there are all of the Dishes, lined up like a bunch of giant Chinese Woks drying in a rack.

I am about half-way through season 4 of 24 now. Have had to pull some marathon 24 sessions to get there, but I would like to say that although it is the same shit, different crisis...I AM, indeed, hooked. Decided to skip dinner tonight to watch it, too. So I guess you could also say that 24 is helping me lose some weight!

I did get some of these dried up lemon-like things from my Iraqi crush them up, remove the seeds, and then pour boiling water over the pieces and it makes a mean lemon tea! It tastes good, too. I need to get one of those permanent tea bags, though. I figured that the Iraqis would have such inventions, but they boil all of their water they just put a strainer thing in the pot. So I just got a strainer for now. Cost me about $1. I also got this absolutely fabulous sesame seed candy...I think that it is the same stuff that my grandmother used to have all of the time, but in individually wrapped pieces. I wish that I would have appreciated those things more when I was young.

I need to get to bed soon...have to get up early again and watch the Blackhawks game. The only real problem that I have is that since I am streaming the game from home in Alabama, the Predators are my home club...and they black out the Chicago station! So I have to listen to the Nashville announcers, ugh! I also may wake up early enough to watch the cubs, but I am not going to lose sleep watching them any more until they figure out how to keep a lead and win some game. Or, I may just watch them. I am, after all, a hope-a-holic.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Some things just leave you with your jaw open...

Woke up rather early this morning so that I could watch the Blackhawks game.  They did not disappoint!  What a good game.  They have got to be the stingiest defense in the league.  So after the Hockey game was over, I had some time on my hands.  So I start flipping the sports channels.  This is what I see...Yes, folks, it's Camel racing.  And there are cars riding along side of them, too.  For some reason the camels need these cars to ride along side of them to keep them motivated to run fast.  And the guy making the call, I assume, is calling the race just like they call horse racing in the States...accept it is in Arabic, of course.  So he could have been shouting about how stupid this was, but I never would have known.  I have some video of it, which I may and try and upload, but will have to wait to do that until I go to sleep, since it takes so long.

Took a group Photo with some of my NCOs from the school, and one of my contractors got into it...not sure what he is doing here, but it appears that he is either about to go on a date with one of the guys, or he is trying to light the Beret in front of him on fire...

Are any other Cubs fans out there thinking that Ted Lilly isn't going to make much difference if he comes back?  I mean aside from the opening game, the starters have been doing their job...its the relief pitching that is stinking it up.  They need a solid reliever/set-up man.  If they have that guy, Marmol doesn't come in until the ninth and maybe they got out of the game with a W.   Yes, I fell I didn't actually see the 9th and 10th innings.   Not much else happening, except the new guys in charge of the Dining facility have made some changes and for some reason the food isn't as good.  Just not feeling the same love...

I need to get to bed early if I am going to get up to watch the Cubs game.  Maybe I will try and catch the Liverpool match this evening and then just sleep through the Cubs game?  Who knows, just know that I want to get this published so I can lay down.

Miss you all!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles meets Chicken Little

So there I am, innocently walking back into my CHU, not entirely disappointed that we didn't have but 4 people at Rugby tonight (which meant that we just passed the ball around and basically didn't do any running), when I looked at my Computer monitor to see a series of emails...all with one major theme...THE SKY IS FALLING! Imagine getting a message that basically says nothing of detail, except check your "Other" email and call.  The implied tasks are:  Find a vehicle, find a buddy to travel with, drive about 25 minutes, check your "Other" email, hope that you brought the necessary information to answer the questions, make the phone call, and then hope that you don't have to drive back 25 minutes to get more data.

Turns out they could have asked me the question on my normal email, and I could have answered it in about 2 seconds.  They could have had their answer in minutes...but they chose the chicken little route and got the 2 second answer in an hour.  Good call on their part!

It rained again yesterday...for 5 minutes.  Amazing how a 5 minute rain can mess up your life for 2 days!  At least they have put in some sidewalks and gravel...I stress the word SOME.  There was still mud everywhere.  It is getting better, maybe because of the hotter weather or something.  The rugby field looked like it was still wet (which could have been the reason for the no-shows), but it was rather dry and about as good to play on as it has ever been.  Usually it takes about 3-4 days to dry.

I need to get to bed so I can wake up and send concern rays to the Blackhawks...I think that they need to start playing a little better if they are going to bring Lord Stanley's Cup home to Chicago!

Later all...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

How did that happen?

So there I am, laying in bed trying to watch the cubs game over the internet...anticipating another long night of stomach aches and trips to the latrine.  I get a rare moment of the stomach calming itself long enough that I don't want to move, and the cubs give up a bunch of runs.  Looks like they are going to lose.  My crappy internet connection goes out again and I decide that it wasn't worth it to reset the connection and potentially lose my comfy position where my stomach wasn't hurting.  So I go to bed, resigned to the fact that the cubs will still not have won two games in a row.

I woke up early, like 0300, and didn't have to drop a deuce (or a number one through the 2 hole) I was more than happy to make the trip.  Only problem was that when I fell back asleep, I didn't wake up until about 0750, and I had to get to my team before they left for work...I had to make sure that I got all the info out to them, since I would not see them all assembled until Saturday.  I looked like crap, but at least I got the info out.  Glad that they could see me with bed head and missing my sunglasses.  Turns out I may have left them at the health clinic, but that it another caper for another blog.

So it wasn't until about 1030 (yes, I went back to sleep after my 0800 get together) that I checked my email, read the daily news, etc. that I found out that the Cubbies pulled that one out last night!  How the heck did that happen?  I swear that when the cubbies are doing something good, the internet actually slows down due to the multitudes of fans logging on to bear witness, since the cubs have the widest following of any team in the world in any sport.  That's my story and I am sticking to it!  What I really need is a big "W" flag to fly in my if anyone is listening?!?!?

I am starting to miss home a little bit.  I am even missing my small little CHU on the other side with its own latrine in it.  Getting up 20 times in one night to head there will do that to a person.  I actually have only had to head there a few times today.  Rather happy about that.  I have been trying to test out the tummy to see how far I can push it.  I have had some Rice Krispy treats, some granola bars, some gummi bears, some chips and salsa, some raisins, some chocolate chip macaroons, and some peanuts with sea salt.  Still nothing.  Good.  At least I know that I am probably through this.  There are only two other times in my life I can remember hurting this bad.  Superbowl night in 1988 when I ate a bad burrito in the Hamptons the night before and spent the next day in the hospital with food poisoning; and then the time I walked Petra in Jordan...ate some bad lettuce for lunch two days prior and was walking with the emergency breaks on.  I'll leave that one for the imagination...but the donkey ride up the steps was very jarring.

Enough of the crap talk.  I am doing much better, seriously.  Thanks for all that showed some concern.  Not much else to talk about, since I haven't really left my CHU in the past two days.  Have basically been living off all of the goodness that people have sent me over the past few months.  Finally got a chance to really eat a lot of the stuff.  Thanks again to everyone that has sent me stuff.  Must get back to Cubs game!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

When they give you know you are hurting!

Last night was truly the longest night of my life.  I didn't sleep but about 15 minutes here and there.  It ended in an IV with Morphine for the pain, an anti-spasmodic, and a medical clinic with some hilarious stories about a Lieutenant Colonel that came in with severe stomach cramps.

Now lets back up...

Yesterday our school finally had its inspection by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.  This is one of those inspections that they had been preparing for weeks to pass.  Officers get fired over these kind of the past maybe even beheaded.  So it was a Big Deal!  Anyway, the inspection went well.  And, about 1300 (like clockwork) the power goes out for the day.  Anyway, as we say goodbye to the inspectors, the Brigadier invites us to take lunch there at the school with them.  Now when I here lunch with them at the school, I think a bunch of officers standing around the table eating with their hands, bonding...mistake number 1.  This was the normal lunch that they prepare for the soldiers down at the barracks, but, because the inspection went so well, he invited the soldiers and students to eat there at the school.  Now this is a big deal...since he normally only feeds the higher ranking officers there at the school when they are students...definitely NOT the Jundi (privates).  So I had to accept.  It was dark (remember that the power was off), so I didn't really see what I was eating until it was too late...Curried Vegetables with Lamb and rice served with Pita bread.  Now, normally, I wouldn't think twice about eating this.  Usually, when we have the big officer circle and eat with our hands, it is commercially prepared, so no worries.  This stuff was prepared in the barracks...the place who's pumps don't work while the power is cut off.  Who knows how they wash the food, let alone the hands that stir the stuff (yes, I said hands (and maybe arms,too)).

So here I am, about 1800 last night and I decide that it is time for dinner.  My stomach is a little sore at this point, so I decided a trip to the latrine was in order.  All comes out off to feed.  I have a few wings and some potatoes, but by this point, I am not feeling to good.  I decide it is best to get closer to home porcelain (my latrine).  Well, about 30 trips to the latrine later and I am about ready to pass out from the pain in my stomach.  Apparently the stomach and intestines were spasm-ing so bad that my muscles physically ached.  That, plus the crap in my stomach, plus the acid, plus the fact that I could not get comfortable...meant no sleep.  And, just before I decided that it was time to get to the clinic...I get to throwing up.  I couldn't believe that there was anything left in there to throw up!  And, to top it off, it tasted exactly like Chardonnay.  NO KIDDING!  I forgot to mention that I received a package last night from my father that had another 5 pound bag of Gummi Bears in it.  I don't care how bad my stomach hurts...I have to at least have a handful of the yummi little bears.  So I am thinking that Gummi Bears, plus water, plus stomach acid, shaken well = a Chardonnay like liquid.  It smells like it anyway.

So I get to the clinic, and no sooner did I sign in my weapon than I have to get to throwing up again.  Barely made it to a bed pan...more Chardonnay.  I am going to have to figure out how to make this stuff some other way!  Anyway, the specialist that is there actually asked me if I had been drinking, it really smelled like wine!  Anyway, it takes her about 10 minutes to get the IV in me, and there is blood squirting everywhere.  I can't sit still because the pain is so severe, and she can't figure out which arm to put the thing in, all my veins are was quite a site.  I was pretty popular at this point.  I guess everyone wanted to see the Big baby LTC.  But, I knew that I couldn't get any meds until that IV went in, so I forced myself to lay close to still.  It took the morphine about 45 seconds to start taking affect (about 44 seconds too long, in my opinion); and, about 2 minutes to have a calming affect on me.  After that, just trying to draw blood became an issue die the collapsed vein thing.  Anyway, X-rays and blood work later and they are finally hearing horses again.  Doctors always have to eliminate the zebras and the ponies.  Anyway they finally sent me home with 48 hour bed rest, some anti-nausia medicine, some amodium ad, and some Tylenol.  No more morphine.

I feel much better now.  Too bad I didn't have a camera with me, or this would have been funny to post.

I hope that your day, whomever you are, went better than mine!

Later Gators...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bananas, on the other hand, work great!

Not much went on today.  Except that one of my interpreters went on leave, and another is going to be leaving us to take a job as a civilian working at the school.  So we really won't be losing him.  Power issues continue, but they are gradually keeping it on longer and longer.  Seems like they find a way to get things done when we cut them off from the US largess.  They have been relatively lazy for a long time, since they knew that if they drug their feet long enough the US would swoop in and bail them out at the 11th hour.  I guess that they are finally getting the hint that we won't do that anymore.

They had Bananas in the DFAC today, so I grabbed a few.  Made some Strawberry and Banana Smoothies.  I must say, Bananas work SOOOOO much better than Kiwi for a frozen concoction to help you hang on (thanks Jimmy).  Unfortunately, I am still having to use Blue Monster for the "fun" part of the drink.  Not sure it would be worth it to try any of the funny stuff, even though I know the stuff exists can get anything in Baghdad for a $1, or so my Interpreters tell me.

I must get to dinner now, want to get back in time to watch opening day at Wrigley.  Go Cubs!  I still have faith.

And good luck to the Blackhawks on their quest for the cup, too!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Don't use Kiwi in your Daiquiri...

Had a good rugby turnout tonight.  Got 12 player.  6 on 6 is not so bad, a little less running, a little more passing, a bigger field...same amount of ice on the knees afterwards.  At least now I know where to go to get the ice now.  Right there off the side of the rugby pitch.  I am starting to get in better shape, too.  I am not panting as much anymore after training.

I am watching the cubs reds game as I write this, at least I can do that.  End of the third inning.

I am not sure what it is about April, but no matter where in the world I am, I sneeze...a LOT!  Doesn't matter that I take Claritin every day or not.  Only thing that stops it is Benadryl...and then, after about two weeks it goes away just as fast as it came.

Since I have Ice,  I can make myself a Daquiri...I went to dinner and grabbed some ribs to go.  I wanted some bananas, but they had none.  So I picked up a couple of Kiwi Fruits.  Unfortunately,  they don't taste so good with Strawberry Martguerita mix and Blue Monster.   Glad I learned this lesson in Iraq so I didn't try to make these for any of my friends.  Its amazing how many of life's lessons you can learn in a third-world country.

Don't have much more to write tonight.  Have to get my concern rays focused on the Cubbies!

Until I write again...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Iraqi Power Problem

We have a new problem here at Camp Taji, the Iraqi side, anyway.  We have turned over the generation of power, the maintenance of the generators, the refueling of the generators, all that the Iraqi Army.  Only on their side, mind you (I guess we just don't trust them yet with such logistical stuff).  Well that all started today. And, somehow due to a lack of Diesel fuel they only have enough for 2 hours per day of power at the schools here on Taji.  So at 1030 this morning...BAM, power out!  And just when it was getting nice and hot, too!  So from 0830-1030 we will have power to run our computers, our air conditioners, our lights, and our classes.  Not sure how this will impact our training...ok, I am sure.  It will royally screw the student out of much needed time in class.  Especially since we have one starting on Monday.

For those of you quick-thinkers that haven't caught on yet, let me splain it to you.  WE ARE IN IRAQ, THE SECOND LARGEST OIL RESERVE IN THE WORLD.  How is it that WE have enough diesel to run our generator farms here at Taji, and the Iraqi Army doesn't?   I don't get it.  Maybe that is why we are cutting the umbilical chord, so-to-speak, and making them provide their own stuff for a change?  They have oil, it IS getting to the where is it going?  Apparently the GoI doesn't want to give it to their own Army in fear of losing that money we were giving them for the fuel to run the generators to provide power FOR THEM?  More to follow on this caper...

Trying to watch the cubs game tonight.  What is up with them this year?  I have been unable to watch more than an inning here due to bandwidth fluctuations (or falling asleep).  Hey, its working!  Yeah!  Anyway, I am watching Soriano bat in the 2nd inning.  I hope that some of the Blackhawk Mojo rubs off onto the Northsiders.  Would be nice to have two winning teams in town again.  I like watching the commercials.  I really did miss them when the only thing I could watch was AFN.  Except for those annoying eHarmony Commercial...I HATE THOSE THINGS.  My apologies if you found your "Soul mate" on there, but those commercials are annoying.  Not sure why.

Obscure Cubs Trivia Question of the Day:  In this year, the Cubs became the first club in the 20th century to hit four home runs in one inning.  Which one is it?  a) 1906 b) 1918 c) 1930 d) 1969

Good night everyone!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring is in the Air...

It is spring everywhere here.  Our Iraqi counterparts are going through a huge inspection next week, so we decided that this was a good time to do some spring cleaning.  We started by wiping all of our computers...I am not sure the last time this was done, but we had enough viruses on those things to bring down a small country.  Every time we plugged in one of the IA thumb drives, all kinds of bells and whistles went off with virus alerts...and our virus definition files were over a year old!  We used them, mostly, to get briefings from the Iraqi officers and then translate them from Arabic to English and vice versa.  Just about every one of those guys had viruses-a-plenty on their thumb drives.

Speaking of cleaning...I finally cleaned up my floor after all of the mud and rain that we have had over the past few weeks.  The only cleaner was a bleach-based cleaner, so now my CHU stinks of bleach.  And what I thought was a big glob of mud was really GUM!  I had this huge piece of gum that must have migrated into my CHU on someones boot so that it could avoid the rain and mud.  So, of course, I pull out a knife to try and scrape it up...and, inevitably, I cut myself with the knife.  At least I was using a plastic knife, not my Kalashnikov Spring blade...I would have slice the finger right off.  Good thing I had some liquid bandage standing by.

Friday night chapel services were quite thin tonight...only 5 of us.  That translates into about 1 full cup of wine a piece.  Not too shabby!

Didn't eat tonight, since I was cleaning.  I was having a teleconference in my CHU using Skype, and didn't want to have people over to a dirty place.  So that was another motivation to do a little spring cleaning.

Well, I have to get to bed (so I can watch some more 24).

Later all...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

work, Work, Work

A leader's job is never done. Supposedly, Fridays are my day off. You wouldn't know it by the amount of work I usually have to do on Fridays. Tomorrow I have a breakfast to go to at 0700, then a meeting with a high-ranking NATO guy later on in the morning...then a teleconference late tomorrow with our simulation contractor. Just another day at the office...

Maybe, one day, I will actually get to sleep in again.  But it is not all that bad.  At least I got to have some Mongolian Grill tonight with Dale's Sauce.  It was pretty damn good.  Well the rain subsided, but the wet ground continues.  It rained hard last night.  I know that it rained inside my CHU last night, but I have heard it was worse in some other peoples CHUs.  The rain was coming directly from the North at about a 45 degree angle, right at our doors.  It probably rained more last night that it had in the previous two months put together.  Good thing it is warmer now.  Maybe this will dry up in a week.  At least they put gravel down on that muddy road between us and the latrine.

Finally got a working copy of 24...midway through season 3 right now.  If there is an absolutely ridiculous impossible way to do something...Jack Bauer will find it, screw it up, then somehow pull it out in the 11th hour...rinse, repeat...for each season so far.  The first season was the best of the three so far.  I will hold my opinion until I am done with season 8, because it seems to be like a train wreck that you can't take your eyes off of.  I must say that I am, indeed, hooked.

I must get some sleep.  Night night, all.

Later on dudes and dudettes...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When it rains...

Here at Camp Taji, apparently when it POURS, inside my room no less!

I thought that I had seen it all, until the rain came pouring down the inside of my door. I was watching a movie and wasn't really paying any attention, just thought that the rain I heard seemed a bit loud for THE DESERT! So I was going to open my door and have a look-see and I could see all of the water dripping down my door. Not sure how this happened, but I think that the foam that someone once used to stop the dust from coming into the room has now become a water super-highway through the top of the door. Luckily I got a towel down before the water on the floor had time to become migratory.

We got our new NCO in today. Good to see him after these past few months...He was my NCO in Charge back at Shaibah when I first arrived. He was delayed all last night, and finally arrived when I was posting my last gem of a blog entry.

I have still not made it to the barber...maybe by Friday I will get there. We are getting our Brigadier ready for a huge inspection for the next few days, so the work should be light on the brain and heavy on the hands.

Obscure Cubs Trivia of the Day: Who's the only ex-Cubbie infielder with a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?

That is all for today.

Hasta la vista...

So Sorry

Sorry everyone...I have been a bit lazy on the posting front lately.  Been going to bed early and waking up early to get some work done, and have just not had time.  And last night, I was expecting my new NCO to arrive at about O-dark-30 (what's the O for?  Oh my gosh its early...), so I was up watching the Blackhawks game waiting for him to come in when I fell back asleep just after the final whistle.  Good thing they won 5-2.

Well, Passover has officially passed-over, and I still have several of the meals that they gave me...they are actually quite tasty.  I may as well finish them off.  Still have the maztot as well...may as well throw that, or use as additional body armor or something.  I think that they would help my SAPI plates stop a bullet better, maybe?  Who knows.

The great satellite caper of 2010 is finally at its conclusion.  I have about 2000 channels of viewing pleasure.  so now, it takes me about 2 hours to verify that, indeed, nothing is on.  Not like at home, where you can do it in about 10 minutes.  There really are only about a hand full of channels that are even in is finding them that is the trick.  I have a bunch of favorites set up, but it is still a pain to surf through them.  Maybe on my next day off I clean that up a bit?

No new pictures yet...I am thinking of going to a flat-top, will have to post pics of the new 'dew when I do...that rhymed!  GO CUBS!


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Another fine day in the neighborhood...

Well, now that I am back at Club Taji I can relax...except that our email connection to Army Knowledge Online is down...the link I use to connect with my account here.  I hope that no one is trying to contact me...

I did get to play rugby tonight, and it was only three on three...which means that I had to do a lot of running.  We had some good prospects come out and play, and two South Africans.  Still missing the Brits, though.  They have been gone a few weeks now, and Rugby is starting to get a little thin again.  On a positive note, my Margarita mix got here, I found a bag of ice, and now I have frozen Margaritas!  I used Blue Monster instead of Tequila, so instead of going to sleep I will be able to stay awake for the Blackhawks game, I hope.  And, I even got to ice my knees with REAL ice tonight!  What a relief.

I did get to snap a few pictures of the Baghdad Skyline while I was in the IZ, so I thought that I would post them here for you guys to see.  I also received another package from my Cousin Dawn...what was in it was so awesome, I just have to show you.  Just in time for the regular season, too!  I also got an awesome Cubs trivia quiz book.

So now is the perfect time for an obscure Cubs Trivia Question of the day:  How did the great pitcher, "Three Finger" Brown get to be Three-fingered? a.) He had a Birth Defect.  b.) He was hurt in a farm equipment accident.  c.) He was hit by a pitch during a High School game.  d.) He was run over by the caboose of a freight train.

So here are the Baghdad pictures...

The first one is of the clock tower in downtown Baghdad, and the second one was of the skyline over one of the sets of crossed swords, I think. The third is another one of the skyline.

This last one needs a little explanation.  We had our final dinner of the conference at a little restaurant that opened up on Union III where my whole adventure began...  The place is called the Oasis.  I could not remember what I had ordered, but I knew that it probably had something to do with steak, being the carnivore that I am.  I also knew that I ordered some Turkish that is something that I think EVERYONE needs to experience at least once.  Well, when I finally found the sheet that I had placed my order on, I found out that I ordered Pepper Steak.  I like pepper steak, actually, if you ask my mom, I love the stuff.  So since I am one of the last people to get served, my mouth is watering already when it finally comes.  And there it is...a steak and a very large Hot Pepper...I don't think that I have ever laughed so hard.  I had to take a picture just to prove to everyone what I got.  None of us could believe it...I wasn't the only one who took pictures.  At least I ordered a conversation piece...the steak sucked, it was way overcooked.  But I enjoyed the company.

I can't close without sending my sincere thanks to Balls Out! Rugby for sending the Taji Rugby guys three Rugby balls to help us with our training.  Not that we will ever play anyone over here, but who knows?  Many Thanks to Regina and Sharon from Balls Out!

Later everyone...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back in Taji Again...

Well, I finally returned to Taji. It seemed a lot longer than it really was, especially since they put us up in tents. Now these were no ordinary tents, these were magic tents that seemed to produce mosquitoes by the hundreds. Even after we got the temperature down to a nice 65 degrees, the mosquitoes remained. I was swatting at the things even while I was asleep. People were making fun of me.

Anyway, on my way home I got to stop over at Camp Liberty on the Victory Base Complex. What a HUGE freaking place the VBC is! The PX there was so large and had so much stuff that I was in amazement. I couldn't believe that they had so much of things and we have empty shelves...and we are not that far from them.

So I get back into town to find out that there is a bunch of petty little things going on in my team. You would not believe how living conditions, who gets to ride with whom in vehicles, and who talks to whom, and who emails whom causes so much angst. It is really amazing. We will survive, it is so absurd that I may have to demonstrate that fact through my own absurdity. Not sure how yet. Kind of sorry that I missed April Fools day with my team, I heard they pulled a good one on some other members of the team. Told them the big cheese was about 5 minutes out from coming to our school for a visit, and nothing was up and running. So after they squirmed for a few minutes and tried to turn on all of the computers they finally broke the news to them.

Well, I need to get going. So for now I will leave you with this thought: "Don't eat yellow snow!"