Monday, August 23, 2010

I went to bed in Taji, and woke up in Kampala...

Haven't had much to write about lately, and I was quite busy with the Battalion and Brigade Commander's course that we were teaching.  So I have been quite delinquent in my writings.  I found an old picture of a street corner here at Taji taken in 2006.  I was determined to find out where it was taken.  All I could make out was the cross street, Hoosier.  Not all the street signs still exist, and they have done some major re-work (apparently) to some of the buildings, but I was able to locate and snap a photo of the street corner in 2010.  It was actually quite hard to find the right corner, since the street sign is no longer there, and where that corner is located is not a place that we would normally go anymore.  The only way I could really even tell it was the same place is from the tree way off in the distance, and then the power box and shelter.  The building is nowhere near the same as it was just 4 years ago, and they have completely removed the curbs  Just one little piece of the curb remains.

Well, we are in the middle of Ramadan.  And of course no one is eating during the day at the school.  We have to go hide in our office just to get a drink of water.  It is considered bad form to eat or drink or smoke in front of anyone who is fasting...unless, of course, you are a Muslim that isn't fasting!  Then you just blow the smoke in your compadres' faces!  The guys who aren't fasting are horrible to those that are.  Anyway, if you are in America and someone tells you Not to eat in public during the day because it is Ramadan, tell them to get stuffed...the Muslims don't care, why should we?  At least why should we in our OWN Country, anyway?

Last week I went to sleep on Monday night...not too early, not too late.  It was a good night after a long day of training.  I left my CHU to go to work on Tuesday, just like any other day.  I returned to my CHU to find that I was no longer living in Iraq.  Apparently my room did some time-warp thing and ended up in Kampala, Uganda!  All of the guards here in Iraq are from Uganda, and here at Taji, they work for a Company called SOC.  Not sure what that stands for.  Well, anyway, these guys and gals move into my Pod and every piece of outdoor furniture that I have accumulated over the past two months is now GONE!  Also, these people are absolutely fascinated with my satellite dishes.  Yep, you guessed it, they try to move them...making me completely lose the signals again.  Anyway, all is good after I put signs on them to not touch and they belong to a US LTC.  They are scared of me now...not because of my physical ability, just my ability to tell their supervisors (who will send them home).  These guys come over here for 3 years and work 12 on 12 off 7 days a week, no days off.  I guess they get paid more in those three years than they would make in a lifetime in Uganda, so it is worth it to them.  They also, apparently, so not believe in letting anyone else do their laundry.  They use anything they can find to hang up their drying live Internet wires, my air conditioner, their air conditioners, whatever.  Its actually kind of funny.  They also ALWAYS leave their flip-flops on their porches, which leads me to believe that they do understand that someone still owns something even when they leave it outside, well, maybe only if they leave it on their stuff was next to my porch.  Had I actually purchased any of it, I would be mad...but it is not worth ruining their lives (over getting sent home) just for a few pieces of outdoor crap that I accumulated through scrounging myself.

The picture to the left is of us getting ready for the end-of-course exercise for the Brigade and Battalion Commanders.  We had 34 Brigade and Battalions Commanders from around the Iraqi Army and Federal Police come to our school to learn about Counterinsurgency and then conduct an exercise.  It was pretty fun, but a lot of work.  Ramadan kind of got in the way of things, since most of the social things that we would do with them involved eating, so we didn't get to have the traditional after class meal with them.

Not much else going on, except us getting ready for a new month-long course in October.  This one will be dealing directly with simulations.  It should be interesting, since they really want my contractors to teach it, and we really want them to teach it.  It takes twice as long to get through a class when we teach it, since we have to wait for the interpreter to translate for us, which means a lot less can be taught.  Anyway, we shall see how it goes.

I must get going, have to get ready to watch the Liverpool game.


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