Thursday, May 08, 2008

Well, I rarely have news to report while I am back home, ie, NOT in Iraq. Here is an acception to the rule: My T-Shirt business partner, LB, has launched our T-Shirt site, and it is awesome. Go to, look at the shirts, and buy something for you and your friends!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Hi. I am home in San Diego. The trip was fine, and CRC checkout was faster than expected. I caught some sort of a flu bug in Kuwait, though, and I am sick. So, I'll blog later.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kuwait. Wait. I forgot to tell you all (ya’ll) that I have reached the end of my contract and am now on my way home via KoooooWaaaaait. Yeehaw!!!

My mission is to go through the wickets here to get onto the Freedom Flight (a charter flight for military and civilian personnel transiting to/from theater), fly to Georgia (USA), out process through CRC at Ft Benning, and fly home to San Diego in time to go to Dave’s SEAL Team 7 Christmas party on the 6th. It’s quite a goal.

Back in Iraq, I spent a few days packing, sending things home, and tying up loose ends to prepare for my departure. I am flying home ahead of the rest of my team to provide forward liaison. My company’s employees are flying home via military airlift, so there are some protocols that must be followed. In other words, mil air is a pain in the ass, so I’m acting as guinea pig.

Flying home from Iraq via mil air requires catching a flight to Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait, waiting around, and then catching a “Freedom Flight” to the East Coast. The thing about all that is, if you miss a single muster while waiting for your flight home, you won’t go home. Freedom Flights depart Kuwait once a week, so if you miss a muster and can’t hop the flight, you have to wait an entire week, doing nothing in Kuwait in a loud, horrible, obnoxious transient tent.

There is usually a muster Saturday morning, and there are no flights (embassy flights aboard USAF aircraft) from Baghdad to Kuwait on Thursdays. Waiting until Friday to hop an embassy flight is dangerous, because if an aircraft goes down for maintenance, the delay could result in missing the Freedom Flight and having to wait a week for the next one. With no flights on Thursdays, the only way to get a buffer is to fly to Kuwait on Wednesday. Flying on Wednesday means waiting around in Kuwait for WAY too long for the Freedom Flight. So here I am.

Ali Al Saleem has a very good MWR, some fast food joints (KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Green Bean, Hole-N-One Donuts), a fairly decent DFAC, a gym, and a beauty salon (where I had a blow-out this morning and will go for a pedicure tonight). There’s also a whole horde of TCN’s here selling jewelry, sports apparel, leather goods, perfumes, moo-moos, electronics, and all sorts of crap that is made in India or China but not Iraq or Kuwait. The MWR loans out DVDs, shows movies on a big TV, has a whole bunch of gaming stations and internet kiosks, and has a phone center. The free internet is slow as crap and doesn’t allow MSN chat, but there is a $5/hour pay internet center that does.

I went to the MWR when I arrived here, hoping to send an email home and place a call to the office to let people know I had arrived safely. Well, when I walked in, I immediately bumped into LtCol Bill Seely, a friend of mine from the 11th MEU. When I deployed with him in 1998, he was a capt/major, and I was a lt/capt. He looks exactly the same, and he has had all sorts of amazing experiences since then. We both had a lot of stories to share. The funny thing is, he lives in Okinawa, and there is a TV program on there that co-stars yours truly. Haha. It’s a reality show filmed during my 2003 drive around the world. Check out for expedition details (LONGITUDE Expedition), and check out the National Geographic show’s website at The series is airing everywhere except the USA, and it has an audience of some 65 million or so! It was cool that one of my friends has seen it. Heck, I haven’t even seen it!!!

So, that’s about it for now. I’ve lots more blogging to do to catch up, and, luckily, I have the time right now. Let’s hope I also have the inclination!

Pictures will follow, hopefully soon.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

They are pushing rocks around in preparation for the rainy season. I wouldn't wish Iraqi mud upon my worst enemy...or maybe I would...

First they put down some fabric, for some reason.

Then they put rocks on top of it.

A word about the weather:
It is FREEZING here! A cold front blew in Monday, and it is downright nipply here! I have to turn the A/C off at night now, in my trailer, and it has been so cold the past two mornings that I have turned the heat on! I actually wore long sleeves the other day for my morning run! I think it has been dropping below 50 at night, and it is 50's/60's in the morning. We barely need our A/C during the day at work.

With the cooler weather comes the threat of rain. November is usually when the first rains fall, and rain in Iraq is a complete mess. The sand is like talcum powder, and adding water to talcum powder creates the world's stickiest, nastiest, slickest mud. I hope I get out of here before the first rain hits. I have my Wellington boots, just in case.

To prepare for the rainy season, KBR has started spreading the gravel around. Right now, it is just in strips, like sidewalks. That means people will walk through the mud in front of their trailers to get to the sidewalks, and then they will cover the sidewalks in mud. Just a prediction. And the bathrooms and showers will be full of rocks and mud because of the inconsiderate people who wash their boots in them like pigs. You wouldn't believe how nasty some people can be.

My boat and oar. I don't have a name for her, yet.

Layer one. I put one more layer on top to make the boat more bouyant.
Das boat is done.

I have had enormous issues with my internet. Once the problem was fixed in my trailer, my computer basically "pooped the bed." It took a while to recover. Since then, we have been handed a stricter blogging policy (a company-specific thing, not an MNC-I thing), and I sort of lost interest in blogging, altogether.
I feel bad about leaving everybody in the dark, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. It's hard to blog when you don't feel like it. I haven't felt like it. I still don't feel like it. I'll do it anyway.

I wanted to update you on the boat-building competition:

Dan and I finished our boats yesterday, and we built our oars today. We are both extremely pleased with our results. We're going to have a team party Saturday, and that is when we will launch the boats for the first time. I hope we don't get wet. I've begged Dan to add one or two more pontoons to his boat for balance/buoyancy, but he's happy with what he has. His boat is quie impressive, made entirely of bottles and tape. Go, Dan!!! Mine is made of sandbats, 550 cord, and bottles. I'm not sure I have enough surface area to keep my butt dry, but I will pray I do. Haha. It will be fun, and we'll bring a change of clothes, just in case.

My Boat Statistics:

25 sand bags
240 water bottles
55" x 41" x 13"
oar = 8'
150' of 550 cord

To make the oar end, I butterflied two water bottles, sewed them together, and then sewed them onto a piece of wood. The tape reinforces the holes I had to cut for the cord.

Here's the end, lashed to the wood. And this is a water bottle, wrapped around the wood for a padded handle.

Dan, taping his bottles together. His boat is cool. It's very symmetrical and aesthetically pleasing.

He's a tall guy...and that's a small boat...

Two rafts, in a head-to-head competition.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Hi ya'll. I have a brand new excuse for not blogging: The wireless has been down in my trailer! Yeah, no wireless in the trailer makes for a very, very grump Nancy and David. No wireless means no blog, no Google, and NO MSN chatting!!! That makes life especially crappy here.

Well, today I found a little USB internet booster thingy at the PX, and then I found a very long USB extension cable at the baby Hadji mart by the baby PX, and I connected the booster thingy to a long pole, put it up outside of my window, ran the cable through to my computer, and VOILA!!! Internet. Now, though, I am actually not sure whether my connection is thanks to my antenna, or whether the net coincidentally started working again just now. You see, I used to have a connection through some nice neighbor who (this is my theory) used to broadcast the signal. Normally, you can't connect to the wireless (Jackal Wireless) here without the special Jackal equipment, and there is a waiting list for equipment. Since I was able to magically get it without equipment before, I took my name off the equipment list. That's why I was so sad when the signal disappeared a few days ago and stayed gone. I figured I'd be without internet until the end of my tour here. But now I have it, and I am most pleased with myself.

I have nothing to update you on, really, since we don't have much going on here, but here are a few tidbits:

1. The kill board on our wall is now almost entirely full of black flies. I have space in my section for two more. Once those are filled, I will be killed out. I don't have it in my heart to do anymore killing. I'll post pics tomorrow.

2. Since the last bad "incoming" report I delivered, we have had about three more scary-ish ones. The most recent was WAY too close to my hooch for comfort. It was a very rude awakening early in the morning to hear big explosions in my neighborhood walk closer and closer toward my front door. Somehow, nobody was seriously injured.

3. I have collected enough water bottles for probably one more 5-sandbag mat. I might sew it tomorrow, if I have the proper motivation. I'm thinking about designing outriggers to add stability to my raft.

4. My puppy breeder appears to have been fooled by a false pregnancy, so no little puppies were born with my name on them. Rats. I'll have to start my search all over again.

5. I have less than a month to go, and then I'll be on a plane heading home!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Niiiice haiiiir! Hahaha.

We are getting closer to our departure date, and that makes me VERY happy. We have to be home by Dec 5, and that means home to our HOMES by that date. And THAT means I will be home in time to go to the SEAL Team 7 Christmas party with Dave. YAY! That was my Number One goal, since I knew I wouldn't be able to make Dave's homecoming. I do get to go to the Christmas party, and that is very good news.

I chatted with Dave this morning, and I asked the poor dear to call A Model Call in La Jolla to get me a hair appointment with my hair genius, Katharine. And some of you thought I wasn’t high maintenance!

I just had my hair trimmed for the first time in about six months, and I let them take off barely an inch. I have trust issues when it comes to hair. There's a strong possibility the girl who cut me has never done a haircut in her life (she kept getting instructions from the Indian man who also works in the beauty shop), but she did a fine job. I also got a deep conditioning treatment, since the water and elements here make my coarse hair feel like wire. I also had her blow dry my hair, which is an extreme luxury. It takes ages, because of how thick and long my mop is. I feel almost human again! [BTW, I didn't have to come in to work today until 1600, because I have the duty from 16-2400, and that is the deal on duty days. That’s why I had time for a haircut.]

So, anyway, I don't have tons to tell you, unfortunately. I did have a couple of extremely scary dreams this morning. The first was a recurring nightmare about cutting off my hair (go figure). In my dream, I had it all cut off. It was long on the sides, like elephant ears, and short in the back, like a duck's butt. And the lady in my dream dyed it white and black, like Cruella DeVille. It was SOOOOO terrible. I was very upset and praying it was a dream. My heart was pounding, and I forced myself awake, grasping for my hair as I came to. It was all still there, thank God.

My other dream was even weirder (more weird?). I dreamt that I went to a midwife to get a pregnancy test. She was a lady recommended to me by my friend and realtor, Kristine, because everybody we hire for stuff in SoCal is somebody recommended by Kristine (our jeweler, our tree guy, my accountant, our yard man, etc.). I was at a bakery in a strip mall, with my college friends (the WUBAs), shortly after my hair incident, and we decided I should go get a pregnancy test. The lady Kristine recommended was at a Greek massage parlour around the corner from the strip mall. Kristine showed us the way, and I went in for the test. Before I knew what was happening, the "doctor" was handing me a baby in a case that resembles those plastic containers the rotissiere chicken comes in at the grocery store. I wasn't allowed to open the chicken bucket, because the baby was still developing (it was only about 5 weeks old), even though it looked full-term and had blond hair and blue eyes. She handed me the baby at the same time she told me I was pregnant, and she said it was a boy. Congratulations.

Geez. So, I walked out to where the WUBAs were waiting, and Lori came up to me first, and I told her the good news, and then all the WUBAs congratulated me. I announced that I was "pregnant" with a boy, and I expressed concern that I had told all of them before telling Dave, and I showed them the baby. I was really upset about having the baby to haul out of there with me, because it didn't make sense. "What am I supposed to do with it?" They said I just had to keep it on the list. "But what does that MEAN?!" I was asking. They meant that I literally had to physically place the baby, in its chicken bucket, on top of a list of some sort and keep it there until it was ready. I don't know what that meant, but I understood that the baby wasn't "ready" yet. The "doctor" specialized in envitro deliveries, so she had delivered it envitro. WHAT??? But I didn't ask for an envitro delivery. I asked for a pregnancy test! Now what?! And what the hell is an envitro delivery???

Suddenly, Lori piped in with how she thought that envitro deliveries were only for mothers who had delivered before, and this was my first pregnancy. The doctor and her employees became very agitated, and they whispered amongst themselves. There was a flurry of activity as they tried to solve the problem, and I thought maybe they were going to stick the baby back in me.

I was really, really upset, because this meant that I wouldn’t get to experience the pregnancy at all, since the baby would develop inside of the chickent bucket. I wouldn’t get a pot belly, and that made me really sad. They did say I could drink alcohol, but that didn’t make me feel better. I wouldn’t gt to be pregnant! In the end, they just sent me home, and I put the baby in the back seat and drove off.

The next thing I knew, we were at the strip mall again, and the baby boy was about 11, and he was with me in a candy store or something. He was a cute boy, with blue eyes, and his hair was blond and black, patchwork style. His name was Dillon. And then I woke up with my heart pounding.

Good grief. That was a very, very rough morning. :) Don't anybody jump to any conclusions about my anxiety dreams, ok? There are several factors that can explain most facets of the dream.

1. I just watched all 3 seasons of Lost in a matter of days. They talk a lot about lists in that show. There is also a lot to do with babies and fertility and pregnancy and birth in that show.

2. I received an email from my friend Naomi last night, sent to all the WUBAs.

3. I just started watching Rome, and the actors, several of them, look Greek to me.

4. I had plans to get my hair cut today, and that always causes some anxiety.

5. The bass guitarist who just performed the other night on Victory had white-blond hair that looked like elephant ears on the sides and a duck butt in the back.

6. I don't know why the baby would be called Dillon but it is a nice name. It's my best friend's brother-in-law's name.

So, that's about it. I hope you all had a nice laugh at my expense.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What the heck is Nancy doing? SEWING!?

Well, sort of. I am sort of sewing sandbags together.

And stuffing them with empty water bottles...

And then sewing them closed.

See my makeshift needle and "thread?"
So, why, you might ask, am I sewing sandbags together and filling them with water bottles? Well, the answer is strange, but simple. I am building a boat. Dan and I are having a raft-building competition, and I am, of course, determined to win. Of course. Competition is my middle name.
We drink a lot of water here each day, and it just seems such a waste to throw out all our empty bottles. We've known for a long time that there must be good alternative uses for these things, but we've never taken the opportunity to explore further...until recently. We work on one of Saddam's many lakes, and we have to walk along a canal to get to our office. Building a water bottle boat has long been a fantasy of mine. What I mean by that is, the idea occurred to me last year, too, but I was too unmotivated to turn my pipe dream into a reality. That was before Dan decided he'd build a boat. Then I decided, "Game on!"
For a while, we thought we might build a bridge. Then I thought about building a cubicle/igloo around my desk. Then we circled right back around to "boat." Competition is fun, and we have nothing better to do with our spare time. Sad, I know.
Dan's technique is to use tape, strapping his bottles into blocks of seven. He's then going to tape those blocks together to build his raft. My technique employes the afformentioned sand bags, laced together in strings of five to form little mats. I'll then sew, I think, three of those mats together to build my bottom layer. Because I figure I'll need more buoyancy, I'll put at least two more mats on top of those three. Then I will add wood, for comfort and balance. And that's it. Right now, I have three complete mats, plus one that is stuffed but needs to be sewn shut. I'll finish that tonight.
Tomorrow, I will continue collecting empties to fill my final mat. I also need to pilfer more sandbags. Heehee. I know where to find hundreds of thousands of them. It takes a minimum of eight bottles to fill each bag, times five bags, which means I need 40 more bottles!!! I'd better get to drinking!!!
I'm not sure when the competition will take place, but it should be pretty soon. Maybe we'll make it into Stars and Stripes! Their offices are in our neighborhood, just a few trailers down. Haha. Anyhow, I'll let you know as the situation develops...