Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Flintstone Palace

Today we observed more boards. They continue to be interesting and a learning experience. We’ll be sitting on our own boards very soon so I look at them with a mentality as if I were making the decision and I try to think through how I would decide.

The other day on the sightseeing tour we visited the Flintstones Palace just next to the Victory over America Palace (remember the one not completed). It supposedly was some play area built for SH’s kids or nephews or something. It looks like a giant zoo area (with fake – rock structures) with lots of pathways and spaces for kids to run around. Now it is completely trashed – graffiti and rubble litter the area. Many of the structures are worn and broken through. We walked around and took some pictures for a few minutes. Then we moved on. You’ll note that these palaces have water around them. I wonder where this water comes from. I know SH put it here originally, but what about now – surely there is not enough rainfall to keep it “full” year-round?? Maybe they pump water in here??? I’m not sure. There are fish living in some of the lakes.

Wings Update: “Pops” the guy who is the “caller” for the wings bar. I think his name is pops because he has written that on his floppy paper hat he wears when serving. Well he must be a TEA reader. Today he called out “105 types of wings tonight…105 types of wings” and just as before there was quite a line for his station. It was very funny to me. Of course he still has the same number/types of wings he had before, but now it is advertised as 105. Sorry – it’s the small things in life that get me.

Weather: Some slight rain in the morning then in the afternoon it hailed. It cooled off after the front came through. Not enough moisture to awaken the mud monster – PRAISE GOD!! But enough to kind of make things tacky/sticky while walking around during the day.

We heard today that we plan to depart the big city on Monday. Of course we have heard that before – and we are all a little hesitant to get too excited. Now that we have seen the boards we are eager to get to our “job” and get to work.

Constant Reader – I saw three Jackals today. We were driving from Victory to Cropper. We rounded a corner and there in the middle of the road was a pack of three shaggy dog/wolf like creatures. I wanted to get my camera out and snap a shot - but they were gone in a flash.

I commented the other day that this was as pretty as it gets. I took a picture of some of the open areas we drive through as we go from camp to camp. Granted all this area is fenced and controlled so the general population does not traverse through here, but it still gives you some insight into what the indigenous vegetation would be like when left alone for a few years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Court TV

Yesterday I was unable to post – I obviously don’t have to tell that to the faithful – so Today I’ll try to add two days worth. Since today was mostly a repeat of yesterday that shouldn’t be too hard.

Some of us traveled over to Camp Cropper and observed some boards. It was quite a learning experience. It was well worth our time just to see the process up close and personal. I can’t divulge any specifics, but it satisfied our curiosity about how real the boards are. When you see them up close and personal you see how difficult it must be to make some of the decisions. Some were clear cut, but others were full of gray areas.

I asked today for some sort of classification guide to help draw the line on what I can tell and what I cannot. Bottom line is there is not a guide. I’ll endeavor to search for an answer so I can get an official response on what I can discuss.
Here is a picture of the building where the task force I fall under is HQ. It’s the office we’ve operated out of while here and where I took that first Baghdad sunset picture. Nothing to really note other than this is the typical building look for those around the palace.

I’m sure I won’t be able to upload these pics until tomorrow, unless I am able to do it before breakfast tomorrow. Silly slow internet connection.

After the boards were over we had a Lt Commander drive us back (that’s the same rank O-4 as I am except in the Navy, for those not up on the military rank). He’s a funny, energetic kind of guy and showed us around a bit. He took us by the Iraqi Navy (also a pic that may not upload till later). I think they are planning to rebuild that part of the Nation’s defense. First stop the insurgents, then train police, then get power and water back, then rebuild the navy. I think I read that somewhere…or maybe that was in the port-a-john next to a CN quote.

We were able to see the Victory over America palace. I’m sure you can read on the internet about it, but the bottom line is it was not completed. It’s still in ruins.

Someone asked “is all of Iraq like this (run-down and scraggly)?” We said well this was the seat of power for the country – SH could pick anywhere in the country to live and this is where he picked. This is as good as it gets.

No word on our movement south. We feel like we are at least learning something by observing the boards at Cropper. We are leaning by watching and thinking how we would decide if put in the same situation. It’s kind of like watching court TV or Judge Judy or something. You get to see the “case” unfold and then you form in your mind the opinion as to how you would decide.

Comments response: Ok who is constant reader? My buddy has a small holster that is almost hidden under his shirt…and he says they always ask him where his weapon is. That is what alerted me to the sign. Same sign says no Photographs. And the Jackal…sorry I’m not going to get a pic of the critters in the dark – without some major luck.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Validation - and some wings

I kind of felt like I was whining about the mud. I'm sure many of you (gwyn) felt like I was. I feel somehow validated with today's issue of Stars and Stripes (maybe it was a slow news day) and the top headline was the Mud at Camp Victory. Apparently I wasn't the only one to find it annoying. It was "news-worthy" at least.

Today was not very exciting. The sun was out and things started to dry. That was great. For work I spent the entire day plugging a 6 digit code (representing a detainee) into a database. The database then told me if the file was active (still being held) or inactive (released) based on that response I put the paperwork into one of two piles. It was mind-numbing. Hours and hours of paper upon paper. Someone had not properly filed these items over the past few years...and we are free labor so they are using us to help catch up on work they have not been able to get to - until we can move south. Some of our team went to an actual review board and observed. The rest of us (including me) get a chance to observe tomorrow.

Since that story isn't very exciting I'll pass along another story I think might be mildly entertaining (standards are clearly high on Ted's E-Adventure blog). The dining halls have a main line and "short-order" line, a salad bar, and then this other place. Sometimes it's a pasta bar, or taco bar, or something like that to offer yet another choice. Well this other bar has a person who likes to work there when it's a "wings" bar. He stands and barks "99 Types of wings today....99 types of wings" Clearly he does not have 99 types of wings. He has maybe 3. But that is his thing. He barks out like some vaudville show caller...99 types of wings...and much to our amazement he draws a crowd. Usually when he is doing this - there is a line. Mind you these same 3 types of wings are usually somewhere in the facility on any given 2-3 day span. But when he calls them out people come. we wonder if he really knows how big 99 is. He speaks some english , but you never know how fluent the workers are. Maybe he heard that somewhere and it was catchy so now that is his thing. I'm not much of a wing fan, but I love a good showman. We often wonder if they intentionally put him there to help draw people away from the main and short order lines since they always back up?
Two other stories to make up for the slow news day:
1. They have non alcoholic beer in the coolers for people to select (instead of juice or soda or water). Well one day we noticed the root beer was on the same shelf as the NA beer. We decided the guy who was stocking came across the A&W and said oh this must go in the beer section since it says root beer. Keep in mind the sodas are in a different section. Funny funny
2. There is a sign outside the d-fac (remember that stands for dining facility - you have to keep up or you'll get lost) that says no ID card, No Weapon, No service - (ok we'll maybe I'm embellishing a little) but it does say you must have your weapon. Everyplace in America is trying to keep weapons out and here you must come in armed or you can't eat. Military Logic.

I saw my first wild Jackal tonight. Looked like a little stay dog running across the road. They were howling for a minute or two as well. More angry critters in the desert.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lazy Sunday

Greetings from Central Iraq. Today was a nice quiet Sunday. Since they still haven't figured out what to do with us we were given the day off. I think we are supposed to be grateful for that, but it's hard not to be frustrated with the whole scenario. Enough crying - back to my exciting life. The big event for me was Chapel. I trekked over to the chapel yesterday (you have to walk everywhere...since we are transient and not stationed here all we have are the bus routes and my two best buddies frick and frack (Left and Right - just so you know). Ok so I tromp over and find out they have some protestant services at 07** something (too early on my lazy sunday) and 0845 - still early but maybe, Catholic Mass at 1030 (another in my group leans that way so I make a mental note to tell him) and then I notice an 1830 Contemporary worship (won-ha! - that's my victory noise - pun intended - get it Camp Victory) perfect for me.

I spent the day sleeping, showering, and just general goofing off (that's farting around for you X) and then off to Chapel. Here's a Pic for your viewing pleasure. As with most buildings around here it was some sort of support building off the main palace grounds. I'm amazed at how much stuff the Chaplains are able to put together for a service. I realize that is their mission - to minister to us, and they get allotments for supplies/equipment/whatever, but the service is pretty much like any service back in the states. In fact I would say better. The two "contemporary" services I have been to here were both better than any "chapel" service I've attended at a base. Maybe that is becuase my walk with the Lord is stronger now, or maybe I just miss home - but that is not my point. My point is the projectors with screens, full band with drums, microphones and the whole shabang. I mean they have a nice setup. I know Camp Victory has been established for years, but the services here just don't miss a beat (oh the puns are flowing now). Can you imagine the deployment plan...pack uniforms, socks, helmet, body armor, oh yeah and get some 30 foot cords for the mic, put the amplifier in that case, and and pack these 2 guitars together. I mean don't they just need a bible? Don't get me wrong - I love the service, it's just interesting to me how the face of war is modern with both weapons and worship.

Ok so the music was wonderful - they played some Third Day songs (because they were just here at Camp V) and even the Pastor commented on how nice the concert was - GRRR. I'm sad I missed it. But anyway the pastor was from the Army and his unit/battalion/whatever is about to rotate out. He's been here for over a year. He's missed 2 Christmas with family, at least 1 b-day, anniversary, etc. That helps me to get perspective. My 6 months isn't soo bad compared to the standard Army 12-15 months.

There was a 10K road race scheduled today for those that like that kind of stuff - but it was canceled on account guessed it - the mud.

Late breaking update - I can't get the pics to upload. I'll add them on tomorrow morning if possible.

Someone has pointed out that sometimes I use the wrong word or spell certain words wrong. For that I apologize - I usually endeavor to have mostly correct writing. I'll blame it on my dial-up like connection and edits are not as easy as they could be.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Living out of a bag

Ok the big news of the day...I'll be your Bagh-Daddy for another week. Apparently the boys down at Bucca are having a hard time getting the facilities set up for us. Yes there are already thousands of people at Bucca and yes it has been there for years, and yes we've known we were going there since early DEC, but no they don't have a place for us to set up shop in. The bosses here in the big city say we should stay here till they are ready for us there. So much for the urgency.

It's just my luck - probably my one trip to Baghdad in my life. I'm expecting the desert and sandy life and we visit in the rainy season and experience nothing but the mud. It rained again today. But I talked about all that yesterday. I know I'll get plenty of sand and dry at Bucca so I am trying to not be grumpy.
This picture is a classic example of life in the tent and the uses of the all powerful 550-cord. For those of you who don't know, 550 cord a small rope with an inner layer of woven strands. It is basically parachute cord. It's lightweight, strong, and part of every AF deployers must bring along kit. The guy next to me hung the cord with my expert knot assistance (that would be funny to you if you knew I have no idea about knots) and poof an instant dresser/closet/valet for our uniforms and such. There are also some towels hung in there somewhere. We don't have much in the tent besides cots and our stuff. Even without any kind of table or stands, it's pretty packed. If we were here much longer I think we would use 550 cord and start hanging sheets to mark off some rooms/space.
On a positive note - they fixed our other heater so our tent is back to normal temperature. Our tent is close to the showers - wahoo but not close to the fixed bathrooms so it's port-a-john living for the most part. Joy.
We toured the Theater Internment Facility (TIF) here in Baghdad today. It was a learning experience in many ways. The facility down south is about 10 times bigger. We got to see things on a smaller scale and get some more insight on how our boards will go. We didn't get to see an actual board as practice, but we learned a little more about them. Since we found out we'll be here for another week I put ina big bag of laundry (I know Gwyn I'm breaking the rule again...)
One last thing. I read in Stars and Stripes how a guy got a care package with the keys to a new Jeep Liberty in it. If you enjoy this blog and are so can send me keys to a new vehicle. It doesn't have to be a jeep liberty, but I would prefer a Titan truck with supercab if you are looking for suggestions.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ancient Rituals

This area has a rich and ancient culture. For thousands of years men have died to control this area. Religion, fame and fortune have motivated them to shed blood and risk it all. Over those years certain rituals have developed and then have been passed down from generation to generation.

I'm lucky enough to be part of that tradition. Those who have gone before me have passed along this right of passage. Each person has his own variation in this sacred dance. There are some tools/props that can be used to enhance the spiritual effectiveness of it. Unfortunately I don't have a picture to share today. Local customs prevent me from revealing the exact nature of this dance, but I'll try to describe it with words so you too can experience the land of Babylon.

Picture a wall...could be short could be tall.
A man steps up to it clothes and all.
He raises one leg with the other standing firm
and beats his boot against the berm.
Some use brushes and bristles to scrub,
while others use wire and curbs to rub.
The mud flys and slings around
And sticks everywhere - but the ground.
He stomps his boot till his toes start to numb
Try as he might - he still looks pretty dumb.

This dance he perfects and becomes quite adept
at keeping the mud and muck away from where he slept
though desert and sandy dirt abound
there's not a dry spot to be found.
And when he is done
and the sky returns with sun
this man know his enemy has been vanquished...he's won!

Seriously - I meant to take a picture of us all stomping and scraping every time we get to a building. The sun is still not out enough to really dry things up. One commented the mud had the consistency of microwaved laffy-taffy, my personal favorite is chocolate cake batter. When a truck drives through it leaves a trail but the mud slowly oozes back over the tread impressions and leaves a flat smooth puddle. We kick and stomp and scrape and still leave mud all over the buildings we go in. It's a mess.

I'm still working on a name for the dance. Feel free to submit your suggestions:
Iraqi Mud Shuffle (IMS)
Baghdad Mud Stomp (BMS)
Desert Dirt Dance (Triple D)
The Clod-Hopper

One commented - we didn't know how good we had it before we started fighting the mud.

Soon it will be hot and we'll complain about the heat
but for now we just stomp and clean our feet.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Cue Ball

You know God gave some people beautiful heads and the rest he covered in hair. Well for years I have been asking K to cut it all off. Now free from her tyranical rule (ok maybe that is exaggerated a little - but she is my normal barber you should know) I had it all shaved off. I expected the conversation to be difficult with the barber. You know they are all non-english speakers for the most part just brought in to do the tasks we don't do ourselves in the military. Anyway - I say take it all off and smile. He says, "Skeen?" I say yes all the way to the skin. And walla - you have the perfect head. Now how to keep up with it - I think I'll just let it grow back and see how long that takes. Oh yeah - then he rubbed it with alcohol (my shaved melon that is)...that was kind of an interesting sensation. The rest of the crew has taken turns touching...I can tell they are all jealous. It's kind of the consistency of a velcro tab, but with much shorter strands. Sadly when you compare the before and after pics you really can't tell the difference. It's much different to me anyway. Think of the money I'll save on shampoo. I may end up eating that savings with shavig the stubs...Back to the day - more of the same today. Some insight into the detainee ops and some experience on how to read the files...but no real work. That comes next week or so they say. I'm trying to keep a good attitude knowing the mind-numbing repetition of our jobs will soon be upon us. These carefree days where we are just waiting for them to get us in place will soon be over. But I am tired of living out of my bags.

Here's another picture of the palace I referenced the other day. The sun was out when I was walking by and I thought you would enjoy another picture. I don't know much of the history other than it is one of his many palaces. There are some fish in the lake. I saw them congregating by the main entrance when my friend showed me around the palace. He said guys come out and feed them.

We saw an armored 18-wheel truck today. The cab of the truck had been covered in armor like many of the HMMVs. It was very different, Oh the other big news of the day - SMALLPOX. I had to get that shot when I got here. I was able to delay not getting it back home becuase of the baby in the house. Here - no excuse. Let me just tell you it is an ugly thing. I had to trek back into the medical clinic today (a week or so after the initial shot) to have them "read" it. It's a gooy yucky mess. Yuck. I might try to watch a DVD movie tonight and break up the evening routine. I read in Stars and Stripes that some company has become very popular like netflix except they mail out games for systems like XBOX and Wii . They said a significant number of clients use APO boxes. The Army guys are all on 12-18month rotations. I can see how that would be worth spending your money on. Well enough of my ramblings. Until next time - c'ya

BTW - I added some of the pics on previous blogs since I had a decent connection today.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Singing in the rain

Today's big story is - you guessed it - RAIN. Remember my comments about the sand and dirt and dust everywhere? We'll it rained last night and most of today. Everywhere is a giant mud-pit. There are some sidewalks and roads and gravel, but since I live in the "temporary quarters" there are quite a few places I have to walk that don't have those luxuries. It is muddy muddy muddy. My picture won't do it justice. I wanted to take a picture of some of the real muddy parts, but I didn't. I was distracted whenever I was outside by trying to stay dry and out of the mud, and then when I would get in I would think I need to take a pic of the mud. Here's the one I took from the balcony of the buildig we are working in. It was a little cold with the rain - nothing too bad, but enough to make it miserable to be out much if you didn't have to be out. All those vehicles I talked about - well they drive fast on the roads and splash mud everywhere. Trying to stay away from them is tough enough. We rode the little bus they have to help move people all around the camp. that helps to keep you from the mud so much. The people stationed here all mentioned they keep 2 pairs of boots for such an occasion. 1 set for the mud and 1 set for the good days. I'm guessing the mud will be worse at Bucca. Less infrastructure/raods/sidewalks and more sand/mud.

On a better note I ran into a friend today. My boss from the base back home is also here. He's deployed here to Camp Victory we left about the same time and he has been in place for a week working his tail off. He's a bit of a work-a-holic anyway, but he mentioned that was clearly the standard and even he feels behind. I am trying to use that as perspective that these crazy days in Baghdad are a small vacation prior to the storm of real work at my deployed location. I have some stuff to do here, but it does not consume me like the job there will. Here's a picture of us on the of Saddams many thrones. Apparently this one was a gift from Yassir Arafat or something life that. This guys works actually in Al-Fawa (SP?) palace. He's a busy guy. We met up at lunch and he walked me back into the palace to look at his office and the "beauty" of the palace. It reminded me a little of the pentagon. Nice big hallways and many people crammed into little offices. Granted the interior is much better than then Puzzle Palace, but the coming and going and hustle and bustle in and out reminded me of that crazy place. We traded travel stories and shared job stuff. It was nice to see someone you actually know.

We spent the rest of the day helping the local legal guys catch up on some paperwork - joy.

Dinner was beef lasagna and garlic bread, green beans, and of course a Dr Pepper.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Life at the palace

Well we're (I should explan the we is 9 people from across the AF who are part of the same tasking. 3 majors, 3 lieutenants, 3 Master Seargents - we are all traveling together and experiencing the same stuff. Of the officers...we are all on our first deployment. The enlisted have some prior deployments, but none of them recent.) at Camp Victory which is situated around one of Saddam's old palaces. The unit we are assigned to is HQ here. We've been meeting in a smaller structure off the main palace grounds. This pic is the view off the balcony from that building. We got some training today on what the larger process is for the review boards and how they are conducted and how they fit into the iraqi criminal system and they kind of stuff. It was interesting. I think I could have gotten the same info reading the briefing from somewhere else...but it was good to see.

Turns out I just missed my favorite Christian Music band - Third Day. They did thier first ever USO tour through here and I missed it by just a day or so. GRRRRR.

Here's some insight into daily life...generators. Everything is run by large generators. They make a ton of noise and eventually go out. Water. It's the desert and so the govt has bottled water everywhere....and I mean everywhere. It's not that big a deal in the winter but I can see how it will be in the summer. Dust - fine sandy dust - everywhere.

Supply and demand - it's a large area and alot of people trying to get around. Many have cars to perform official functions across the bases, but not everyone. Bicycles are the obvious choice to help solve the problem on how to get a few miles away...but where do you get the bike. At the BX they had a rack of already used ugly looking bikes all for $169. I took a picture becuase I thought it was comical (i tiried to upload - but my $26 a week internet is not cooperating). I'll try tomorrow.

It is really crowded here. In my opinion. There are service men/women all over - in cramped spaces and offices. I assume it is becuase there area within the secured zone is tight. There are "civillian contractors" everywhere. They obvisoulsy do lots of jobs to help make life stable here both inside and outside the wire. Most people work many many long hours here. there is not much else to do besides work, gym, eat, sleep. and the offices are usually bigger than your living qtrs so people work more. I wonder if that is what life is like on a navy ship....hmmm. All branches of service here and working together. Truly a joint Coalition. Time for me to brush up on those ranks...senior master chief petty officer....hmmm.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Push North

Ok we moved north...a little farther north than expected. We are in Baghdad. We were brought up here to get some training and insight into the detainee operations. It looks like we'll be here for a few days before going back south. They promise we'll be here for a week or so...and we said yeah we have heard that before. This time it was from the O-6 (Navy Capt) so I tend to believe it. Now if I can just find my real boss from my home base...he's deployed here somewhere. Not sure how much time we'll have outside of work. The other Theater Internment Facility is here and they want to show us that. The C-130 flight here was uneventful and uncomfortable. Body armor and bad netting seats don't make for a comfort ride. Have to pay for internet in the tents here...I pursued the week option. The ride in was interesting...clearly this place is run-down. Also the stark contrast in the "palace" area where Saddam lived and what we drove through to get here. For the most part the base living area seems a lot like the other places we have been so far. The good thing is we are close to the showers and the d-fac.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

barrier pics

didn't work the first time - here's try #2

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Concrete Barriers

Everything here is surrounded by concrete barriers. The buildings, the roads...they are everywhere. at least on the bases. As you might expect military people with time on thier hands like to deface things. Some units have taken to painting them. Some paintings are very involved and actually neat to look at. Others are just covered in tag lines/names - not so much as grafiti as just hey let's all sign this big concrete block. There are many many barriers so no one really cares. I took a few pictures so you could see how they look. I found one with from Arkansas and I also found one from Massachussets. I think this comes from the Army mentality. The camp is much more temporary - dirt roads and all. The Air Force spends a lot more time making things permanent and probably would not look to kindly on someone painting thier nice concrete walls. I wanted to walk around and get some more pics today...but we had to pack up and move again. We left the army camp and are back at an Air Force base waiting to move again. Whow knows when we will get to our final destination. As far as we know our clock started (on the required 179 days) so we are just trying to go with the flow. I was able to work out before we left so at least I had some normalcy for the day. No longer than two nights in any one place so far. Oh yeah - the AF base we moved back to has Dr Pepper in cans in the DFAC. wahoo.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kuwait and coffee

Life in kuwait is not bad. Granted I live in a tent and have a separate "shelter" for showering and the restroom, but It's not all bad. I have plenty of good food available (for free) there is ample shopping at the PX to buy whatever I want (ok...only non-alcoholic beer - but there is beer). The services really try hard to make life nice. They have generators everywhere to power this place. we must use a bajillion gallons of diesel to run these generators. Where are the bio-fuels when you need them hunh brad? Besides the Dining facility (or DFAC as it's called) there are many options to eat...KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Inn, The Great Steak Company, Subway, and a few others...but the one that completely blows me away is Starbucks. The starbucks here looks just like any starbucks in the US. From the countertops, to the tiles on the floor. It is as if they just picked up one and moved to Kuwait. Another funny aspect is it appears as though this is one of the most protected buildings on the base. no posted guards, but the blast sheilds around it are quite large. Maybe it's a designated shelter. Too funny. I myself had to partake prior to training at 0530 one morning...oh BTW they are open 24 hrs. I heard another officer mention he was in there at 0300 and there was a line. If only Kirk could be here now. His advice as the item of choice to barter was Coffee...not so much anymore.

I appreciate all your prayers and support. Things are going well for me. We move north next week, but until then I just get to eat, sleep, work out, and have an occasional coffee. I pray God's gives you peace and rest and the power to do the tasks he puts before you today. (I went to Bible Study at the chapel last night - can you tell).

Chuck Norris

How could Chuck Norris possibly be the subject of today’s entry? Maybe he came to visit and there was a big karate show? Maybe he was here selling his favorite him gym equipment (although most guys would want him to bring Christie Brinkley instead)? Maybe he was here promoting strong Christian values (promoting one of his books/columns)? If you had guessed any of these you would be wrong.

Let me back up, I am at an Army camp close to the Iraq/Kuwaiti border…it is a transition spot for most folks. They get required training before entering into Iraq. I myself did some training here so I could cross the border (more on that later in a different blog). My point is that this camp (I keep wanting to say base) has many many varied units here. All the major services and many coalition forces can be seen on a walk down any of the dusty roads. The thing that strikes me most about the camp…is the youth of America. They are here at this place. They are all very young and all have large guns (as compared to my wimpy 9mm pea-shooter). God-Bless them – they are preparing to head into harms way and seem to be eager about it. They aren’t so quick to engage a goofy major in another service so I don’t interact with them much other than the occasional salute (remind me to tell you about the goofy uniforms) or at meal-time and I ask one of them next to me about who he is and where he is going. Sorry I’m getting off on a tangent…we’ll get back to Chuck in a minute. Anyway it’s striking to see all of them. Especially when I lead a very sheltered life surrounded at work by mostly men over the age of 50.

One of the reasons I notice the youth is the bathrooms. They are covered with graffiti (inside the stalls). It’s like High School. There’s profanity, misspelled words (usually right instead of write), bravado about your hometown/background/service, not so pleasant drawings (often of women)…and last but not least…phrases involving Chuck Norris.

In case you don’t know the “services” have some fascination with Chuck Norris. I’ve seen it at various locations throughout my career. When I was at AFIT many students would use Chuck in their briefings/presentations. HE was the joke to help make things funny. You needed to think up some new system to solve a problem. You always started with Chuck…of course we can’t put chuck Norris everywhere…so we had to think of a better solution. He’s kind of a mythical character to the military. A true American hero. He knows karate and can kick any one’s tail, he knows guns and he works out with models on all those gym equipment commercials. SO you get the picture…he’s the stuff. So finally I’ll get to the point. There are sayings on the bathroom walls about chuck. Here are a few I’ve noticed (I’ll not mention the many many vulgar ones). CN doesn’t sleep he waits, CN visited the Virgin they are known as "The Islands", CN is delta force, The quickest way to a man's heart is with CNs' fists, CN’s tears cure cancer…and then my all time favorite so far. …. Chuck Norris counted to infinity – TWICE. It cracks me up every time I think about it. If only Chuck knew how these guys covet him.

Here’s to Chuck……….…infinity…twice….oh it kills me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tent life

We made it safe to Kuwait. Standard military travel. Hurry up and wait. the worst was the last leg we sat on some buses for a long long time (read 3 hours) waiting for the convoy to form up. uugh. Especially after you have been up for a full day crossing so many time zones.

so we make it to our Air Base and I got all my bags - yeah - but didn't get some bedding for a few hours. so I had a bunk...but couldn't get warm enough to sleep. eventually a blanket, a belly full of hot food (biscuits and gravy) and I was out for a few hours. I made a tactical decision to not bring a blanket (to keep bags as small as possible and easy to travel). We'll see how smart that one was.
tomorrow some more equipment issue and some training. final destination in a few days depending on airlift. Pic is of my 40 square feet. for a few nights.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Travel stop number one

Ok well day one wasn't too bad. A quick flight to Baltimore. Empty flight that was on time...I can't complain. I started a new Ted Dekker book - SAINT. The first four chapters were really good, starts as kind of a spy novel. I'm sure the plot twist on "faith" will soon follow.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The adventure begins

I hope to use this space to document my 6 month vacation in Iraq. I'll work hard to keep myself out of trouble with "The Man" and all the rules and regs of my employer.

The adventure starts 12 Jan 08. Stay tuned for more details.