Saturday, July 24, 2010

Been watching a lot of Cricket Lately...

OK, so I have been watching a lot of this boring sport, Cricket, lately.  It has been making me wonder what it would be like if we put together a team of US players to compete on the world stage.  I am pretty sure that we could put together a team of has-been old baseball players and probably win the world cup, so I was thinking of who I would place on that team.

A little background on Cricket.  Cricket is a game played between two teams made up of eleven players each. There is also a reserve player called a "twelfth man" who is used should a player be injured during play. The twelfth man is not allowed to bowl, bat, wicket keep or captain the team. His sole duty is to act as a substiture fielder. The original player is free to return to the game as soon as they have recovered from their injury.  They are, however, allowed to have substitute if you are too injured to run after batting, someone else can be running for you, they just have to be all kitted-up like a hockey goalie, just like the batter.

In order to have a competitive side, you need about 6 bowlers, kind of like our pitchers.  When they are not bowling, they need to be able to field the ball.  A bowler can also only bowl one "Over" in a row, which is 6 balls, so you have to have a lot of them.


1.)  Greg Maddux - Without a doubt, the greatest fielding pitcher in our era, and also a great placer of the ball.  I have no doubt that we could adapt him to the one bounce throw and he would be unhittable.  He would also play a mean Gully or Silly Mid-Off.

2.)  Gaylord Perry - The guy practically bowled cricket while he was in the major leagues.  The way these guys prepare the ball to be bowled is child's play compared to the way he used to doctor up the balls.  In the field, I would put him at Square Leg or Leg Gully.

3.)  Kent Tekulve -  This brilliant submarine pitcher would make an excellent bowler...not sure that his delivery would be quite legal, but I am sure that they could come up with the "Tekulve Variant" or something like that.  Would place him at Slips or Fly Slips.

4.)  Earl Anthony - Ok, so Earl was never a baseball player.  He was, in fact, a Bowler.  A left handed bowler.  And a spin doctor of the bowling ball at that.  He would be what the Cricketers call a leg spin bowler.  Not much of a run up, but the spin he could put on the ball would fool batsmen from Sri Lanka to Australia.  In the field I would put him somewhere like Fine Leg, where his lack of fielding experience wouldn't get in the way much.

5.)  Johnny Bench - Yes, I would put up a catcher as a bowler.  Who gets to throw the ball almost as much as a pitcher?  A catcher, thats right!  Plus, all these bowlers need to be good hitters, too.  Would put him at Cover or Mid-Off when not bowling.

6.)  Carlos Zambrano - Since his MLB career is pretty much over, what would be more intimidating to a batsman as a large Venezuelan with anger management issues?  For that matter, what would be more intimidating to a bowler than having a large Venezuelan with anger management issues as a switch-hitting batsman?  NOTHING!  Thats why it doesn't matter where you put him, these other non-athletes would just be plain scared of the guy!  In the field I would put him at Silly Mid-On so he could really be in their faces!

The Batsmen:

1.)  At Wicket Keeper:  This is the equivalent to our catcher.  I would have put Roy Campanella here.  But I found out that he was cremated, which doesn't really pose much of a threat on the pitch, alive or dead.  So, I would have to put Carlton Fisk here.  A batsman and catcher of the finest order, he would make the rest of them look like little kids.  The Wicket Keeper is a guy who wears aquaman like gloves, and has to handle foul tips all day...perfect for Fisk.

2.) At Long-Off, none other than Sammy Sosa.  That is kinda like their Right Field.  Just to see him knock the ball out for his first 100 would be worth the price of admission.  He wouldn't even need any steroids to do it, either.

3.) At Long-On, none other than Barry Bonds.  Kinda like their left field, and he would be the Yin to the Sammy Sosa Yeng of steroid users gone straight (only because they don't need that abusive power to hit sixes in Cricket).

4.) At Long Stop, I would place the frozen body of Ted Williams.  Frozen, dead, or whatever, he will still be a better batsmen than 90% of the world's players.  I think that he is big enough to deflect balls back into the field of play to prevent the boundaries.  

5.) At Third Man I would put Mark Maguire.  Mainly for his Bat skills.  All we really would need are his forearms.  The rest of him could stay home.  Third Man pretty much just handles foul balls (although there are no foul balls in cricket).  I think that Mark would be up to the task.  The good thing about Cricket, is that unless a Batsmen is put out in one of several ways, he can keep going up there and hitting 4s and 6s forever.  Unless you are playing limited overs cricket, that is.  

6.) At substitute I would place myself, I could sit and drink and watch and hope that no one gets injured, but if they do, I can just go out there, field a few balls, and then resume sipping on my drink of choice.

I am sure that there would be a number of variations to this fine team to include some of our better players, and of course, I meant no disrespect our our honored dead...the disrespect was to the currently "Alive" Cricketers that are currently playing the game.

I must go to work now.  Enjoy the laughter, I hear it is real good medicine!


Monday, July 19, 2010

My very own Wal Mart Greeters!

It has been hot here lately.  So hot that I decided that tonight was a good night for a smoothie.  So I gathered up the requisite supplies (so I thought), and headed back to the CHU for some strawberry banana smoothie goodness.  I had plenty of ice, strawberries, banana milk, banana juice, blender, was all there.  So I make the PERFECT smoothie.  I mean this is the first time that I have been able to get the consistency just right. Then it it hits me as I try to take a drink from the cup...I HAVE NO STRAWS!  I mean this consistency is so perfect that I actually NEED a straw this time.  And I have none.  My Kingdom for a straw!  Luckily I am a lover of the Wendy's Frozen Shake...So I decided just to eat it with a spoon.  But, really, someone send me some straws!

I have the benefit of two of my very own personal greeters when I come into my room.  They are kind-of like the Wal-Mart greeters, but FAR less annoying, and far more reliable.  My greeters, of course, are my two Glade Sense & Sprays...every time I come home and turn on the lights, I get a nice "Hello" from my two pals, and also a nice little puff of fresh linen scent!  They are so good to me.  I have one in the bathroom, I get a little greeting when I go in there, too...but that is just kinda weird to imagine a greeter in your I just ignore that one.  You wouldn't believe what kind of little things that you find hilarious here!  I laugh every time I get back to my CHU, just thinking about these "Greeters."

Is it just me, but when did grown men start wearing capri pants?  I just walked back from the Dining Facility and I saw two Russian dudes, Army Dudes, wearing civilian Capri Pants...some of our Iraqi interpreters wear them too.  I have no idea when this fashion thing happened.  Did I miss something?  I have a hard time believing that there are a bunch of bubbas running around Alabama, wearing Capri Pants, yelling "Roll Tide!"  And I can't imagine it EVER happening.  I will try to snap a picture of this strange phenomenon the next time I come across it.

Not much else going on here, just trying to finish the first season of Stargate Universe...just one more series that is more believable than 24...



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Freezing from the Heat

The temperatures are so ridiculously high for such ridiculously long period of time here, that we just have to do some things a bit different here.  Yesterday I spoke a bit about how the Hot water heater becomes our private "cool" water tank...makes showering, well, interesting.  In order to keep our rooms at a decent temperature during the day, we have to keep them FREEZING at night and in the mornings.  Makes for a cold post-shower. And makes for a cold night, as well.  I turn the A/C down at night a bit, but I have found that if I turn it down too much, I wake up to it being too warm, and then it spends the rest of the day trying to catch up.  Sun comes up early here, earlier than I am willing to wake up, anyway.

What is with the Cubs?  I thought that they may have turned it around...but a 4 run top-of-the-ninth brought me back to reality!  The game was on AFN last night, so I was able to watch 8 happy innings, then one truly sad 9th.  What did Marmol have?  Like 35 walks in that inning?  He doesn't need a pitching coach, he needs a psychologist.  He obviously has the physical skills, but the mental capacity to actually BE a closer...not so much.  IF he ever gets right in the head he will really be dangerous, and probably can be one of the greatest closers EVER!  Somebody get that guy on a couch!

Wrist and forearm are recovering, and wife has forgiven me for the Wii buying caper.  They have tons of bootlegged games here for XBOX 360...but none for the Wii...something about a chip that can't be replicated or something like that.  Anyway, I did get a baseball game called Major League Baseball 2k10.  You can simulate this season...the cubs even do better in the computer than in real life.

I had Madden 2010, but my XO wanted to get his son a game, so I offered to give that one to him...he insisted on paying me for it, so I used the money to get the baseball game.  Madden 2010 was pretty cool, so I will probably get 2011 when it comes out.  I am not good with this extra money.  At least my wife is using the money she spends to improve our beautiful home.

That is all for now...more funny stories of the desert coming soon...

Hugs and Kisses...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Getting Thin...

Today is the last full day with my entire team.  I have already lost one of my NCOs to a transfer, and my XO and Admin NCO are leaving tomorrow for home.  So we will be down to 3 military and 6 contractors.  Not a small team, but not much firepower, either.  It is getting hot hear!

It is so hot, that our cold water is too hot to take a shower with in the afternoons.  I had to turn off our hot water heater so I could have a small "Cold" water tank to thin out the scalding water from the big cold water tank.  It is so weird to turn on the hot water to cool off the flow of water from the shower.  The water does cool off over night, so we have to turn on the hot water to get it to flow through our "hot" water tank to cool it off (the thing is insulated really well, and doesn't cool off just by shutting it down).  Here is the problem...our morning showers will be cold if we don't keep the hot water heater at least at a moderately warm temperature.  We have no control over the thing...within about an hour of turning the thing on, it goes from warm to scalding, I mean REALLY scalding hot.  Great for shaving, bad for showering, especially if your cold water is too hot to shower under.

My wife is going to hate me, and call this "one of the most frivolous purchases since my Mazda RX-7," but I bought a Wii Black edition yesterday.   I see our PX going away within two months, and a lot of boredom ahead.  I figured that I needed something to get me moving...since satellite TV does not really prove to be too interactive.  It came with Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort, so now my right forearm is sore from playing ping-pong on the thing.  Now that I think about it, my shoulder is sore, too.  But it's a good pain, I guess.

Not much else going on here, just re-living groundhog day, over and over...just with noticeably less folks here every day.  Oh, and the picture is a MIG from the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Baghdad...pretty funny that a country that has almost no aircraft can spare one for a monument.

Until Next time...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sad day in Gummyland

It seems that the Gummy nation of Brach's Wild 'N Fruity Gummy Bears has experienced some genocide at the hands of my wife and I (with the Iraq heat contributing).  My wife sent me 12 pounds of the little guys...two whole nations of Gummy Bears.  Now I pretty much have two Extremely large Gummy Blobs, with a few of the lucky stragglers still remaining.  Gummy Genocide!  Two whole nations of Gummy's, wiped off the face of the will they ever survive?  Oh, yeah, Brach's will make more.
What I really need are Chip Clips...does anyone realize how hard it is to find those over here?  Not sure why, they have all kinds of useless crap in the PX, but no chip clips.  How is anyone supposed to keep their chips fresh?  I have been using plastic forks.  They work pretty good, actually, but I don't have any confidence in their longevity.   I guess I could use some tape, but the only stuff I have is the electrical kind, and that black stuff gets messy in the heat (in the unfortunate event of an air conditioning failure).

Well, I need to get to work.  Long, hot day ahead of me.  I hope all of you in the US are staying cool.  Drink lots of water.  If anyone knows where I can get one of those battery operated fans mounted on a pray bottle, please send to me or let me know where I can order it...My Brigadier wants to retire, and since they don't have any over here, he can make those for a living...or I can, or someone else can, for that matter...I JUST NEED ONE!

Later all...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

What for be the Camp Taji

So what has been going on here at Camp Taji?  NOT MUCH!  Haven't really done a thing since getting back from my short trip tot he IZ.  At least nothing worth writing home about.  We had a little blow-out today in the office...I think it must have been Festivus...because today seemed to be the day for the airing of grievances!  Lots of yelling and screaming, but I guess we needed it, since it took one of my guys getting mad at me to realize that it was a communication problem.  This spilled over to our Iraqi counterparts, and they seemed to have a little airing of grievances themselves.  Maybe NOW we can get somewhere!  Hopefully, these Iraqi Officers are starting to get the message that they can't just sit around all day and let everything be done for them, without caring for their soldiers.

Watching the movie Robin Hood.  It was filmed in the movie theater, along with most of the movies that we can buy here for $2.  It has such a weird storyline...I thought it was just a remake of the movie with Kevin Costner, but I was VERY wrong.  So when I failed to pay attention the first time I tried to watch it, I was lost by 15 minutes into the movie.  Trying to re-watch it now.  Picture is not very good, but is better than watching "Channel Encrypted" on my TV.  Yes, the great satellite Caper of 2010 is a never ending story.  Hopefully new codes are the only fix, and they will be available soon.

Got a box from my lovely wife today...she sent 12 Pounds of Gummy Bears!  I am not sure that I can properly lose weight with that many Gummies on hand.  But I will try.  I also got a box with some yummy loaves of bread (Challah) from  Unfortunately, they took way too long, and one of them had gotten a little moldy.  But three of them made it!  They look awesome.  They were donated by a local Kosher bakery in upstate NY.

I better get going, may have to pause the movie soon to watch the World Cup finals.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Over the River and through the Air, to Grandmother's House We Go

I have these Iraqis figured out.  Either they get their fashion sense from the ghost of my grandmother, or they ARE my grandmother.  I have found some crazy coincidences with the stuff that my Grandmother used to have around the house, and the stuff that the Iraqis push on us.

First similarity - Sesame seed candy.  My grandma (on my mother's side - I would tell you her last name, but then you guys could get into my bank accounts) used to have these sesame candies when I was a kid that I absolutely hated.  Now that my palate is a little more sophisticated, I have grown to love them, but, of course I have not seen these things since my Grandma moved to Florida.  I just figured that she took the entire factory with her down there.  I was wrong...She must have given them to some Iraqi guy (who she undoubtedly shared here sense of flare with fashion).  They LOVE that stuff here, and call it Sim-Sim.

Second similarity - Weird candy that is fruit filled.  Ok, I loved these things when I would go to visit her.  But, like the sesame candy, when she left for Florida, I thought that she took the factory with her, because I never saw that exact brand again.  I think that she also gave all that candy to the Iraqi guy, since I saw that EXACT brand that I remember at the conference that I just attended.

Third Similarity - They both decorate with seemingly random floweriness.  This is odd, since they are ALL guys, have no female influence at the office, and don't anticipate ANY females ever seeing it.  I am not sure if she passed this on to the Iraqi guy, or maybe he gave this to her in exchange for all of the weird little goodies she bestowed upon him.  I may be making this part up, because it makes the story fit, or, maybe she DID decorate with random floweriness, who knows?

Fourth Similarity - When you arrived at my Grandma's house (both, actually), you had to spend a half hour going around and hugging and kissing everyone.  When you arrive at an Iraqi meeting...same thing!  Only these are all guys, and it is a little bit weird.  Haven't quite cracked the code on how many times you are supposed to kiss the cheek.

Fifth Similarity - When you left my Grandma's house, you had to start about an hour prior to when you really wanted to leave, just to give hugs and kisses and say your good-byes.  Same thing at an Iraqi meeting, only, once again, it is ALL GUYS!  I really can't figure out why they do this.  My only explanation is that the Ghost of my Grandmother is coaching them on visitor etiquette.

Anyway, I have concluded that a trip to go to an Iraqi conference is actually just a trip to my Grandmother's house...the only difference is that there are all guys there.  The conference consisted of less substance than you got in conversation with the relatives, and there were a lot less boobs to make hugging uncomfortable...but the fact that they were guys that you were hugging made up for that, and may have even made it MORE uncomfortable than trying to hug your big-boobed relatives.  They serve you the same candies that you have NEVER seen before at the store, and probably never will again.  And then all the hugging and kissing just to arrive and leave.

I do have some overhead shots from Baghdad to share, so I will post them here.  Hope you all enjoy.


Friday, July 2, 2010

My New Obsession....

I have no idea why, but I seem to get hooked on TV shows that I have never watched before.  I finished all of the episodes up to this point of Fringe, so I have moved on to "V".  Funny, I still find even V more believable than 24.  I still can't believe they let them use cell phones in such highly classified places...but, I digress.

The way I see our television heading is in two directions...the fascination with the Sci Fi and then fascination with vampires and immortality.  Cross either one with the hint of a love story, and people are hooked.  That, and of course "Reality TV."  Something I absolutely hate...Reality TV.  I watch TV to escape from reality, and then to be entertained.  NOT to live vicariously through someone else's reality.  And then there is Lost...I never really got into that show.  Not sure what category that show fits into.

We had some mortar rounds hit nearby this past week...I never heard them, all I could hear where those damned vuvuzelas!  I was watching a World Cup game when they cam in, and all I can say is that I only heard those stupid horns.  I mean, really?  Those stupid horns could have cost me my life...someone tell the World Cup people to outlaw those things so I can watch the games...I am blowing this WAY out of proportion, so don't anyone go and get your panties in a wad.  I was safe.  I still hate those damned horns!

We are losing one of our NCOs this weekend to a transfer to another location.  In his honor, we decided to have a steak cookout.  Last night I decided to marinate some of the steaks in Dale's Sauce.  I had a little Dale's accident, however, while I was trying to marinate them.  Some idiot (me) left the cap off the bottle and then knocked it over with his two left feet.  I like Dale's Sauce.  Some that know me, would say that I LOVE Dale's Sauce.  But, when you spill it on the floor, it really does stink up the joint.  And that awesome property of Dale's Sauce (its ability to stick to the food that we marinate with it) also makes it a bitch to clean up, especially when it splatters on to the walls, the furniture, and the door.  It was a funny site, and my mirror still needs to be cleaned.

Did anyone happen to catch me on the Arab news on Wednesday night?  I didn't either, I don't watch the Arab media, since I don't speak Arabic.  But I was interviewed for a few minutes.  I can't remember if I gave my speech before or after the media arrived.  I hope that I gave it before they came.  I would hate to have my face plastered all over the Arab media giving some corny speech that I wrote in 15 seconds...yes, that was how long they gave me notice that I was expected to speak.

Well, we are trying our best to celebrate Independence Day weekend here, but it just doesn't seem the same without beer.  And, also, hoping for NO fireworks.  Fireworks would mean BAD things here.  So we won't be hoping to see anything in the air.  But we can have burgers and dogs and chips and all that, just to make sure it feels a little bit like home.  Hope it works.

I need to get some work done...yes, on my day off.  But, oh well.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

It ain't over til it's over...and it's over!

The seemingly endless Iraqi Federal Police Counterinsurgency course is FINALLY over.  Now I know why our school doesn't teach month long courses.  Besides the fact that they really only are there from Sunday thru Thursday afternoon, and Sunday is usually a light day, it just wears you down to have to fight with these guys to keep up the intensity for 4 weeks.  Luckily, most of the school went on ejazza (leave) at least until Sunday.  No Class until Monday, which means that we can somewhat relax for the 4th of July weekend.  Too bad I have to travel over the weekend to an undisclosed location.

I really hope that the Cubs can pull them out of this funk that they are in.  The Pirates?  Really?  The Pirates have exactly 1/3 of all of their wins against the Cubs.  How does that happen?  Not even the Super Fans could pull them out their season-long slump yesterday.  I wish them well, but I am not sure that I can continue to avoid sleep to watch them screw up night after night.

I will write more later tonight before my weekly Euchre game.