Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hey, ya'll.

I just want to start generating a buzz by letting you in on a little venture LB and I are partnering on. Very soon, we are going to launch an online T-shirt shop where you can buy some really cool, really funny shirts. A lot of the initial designs will have something to do with life here in Iraq, but we have plenty of others on the way that will make sense to a more global audience. We just became too disgusted with the lack of good T's available for purchase here, and we decided to take matters into our own hands.

Our business will launch soon, and you can be sure I'll post an announcement right here as soon as it happens. You won't want to miss out! We won't make you wait more than a day or three.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

LB and Nancy see some serious combat action in Baghdad. Get some! (Photo courtesy of CajunTiger)

OK. Here's the latest with our contract:

The task order, as we know it, is pretty much finished as of 31 August. Our team will cease to exist in its present form. There could be a few jobs in the new task that the Corps designed, but only a few. We have three teammates qualified for the new positions. SO, most of my teammates have to find new jobs, and if they don't want to leave Iraq in the interim, they have to find new jobs by about 1 Sept.

Luckily, it looks like most of the team will be able to work their way into something else here, because not one of us actually wants to go home yet.

My status: I don't want to jinx it, but it looks like I'll be able to transition into a position on another contract here. If it works out, I'll be doing a lot of writing (yea!), and I'll also handle some logistics issues such as vehicle maintenance and equipment accountability. It's all right up my alley, and I really think it would be a nice change of pace. I would stay in Iraq just beyond my original deadline, perhaps through about 27 October. We shall see. Fingers crossed!
Thanks for all the good thoughts...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We are in the midst of a contract issue. We are all praying that we won't have to head home at the end of the week. It's that time of year, I guess, but this was sprung on us rather suddenly Friday, and we are just getting over the shock. I'll keep you posted on the outcome, but I emplore you to send happy thoughts our way. Not one of us is ready to leave our lives in Iraq. We have all set goals, and we won't meet them without a near-miracle to keep us here.

I'll update in a couple of days.

Happy thoughts.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


I KNEW I shouldn't have written about my roommate situation. I got cocky. I was feeling unstoppable. I thought I was untouchable. I got too big for my britches...and now all my hopes have been dashed. I have been cut back down to size by a shiny, new, pint-sized little roommate.

She seems nice, and I think we'll get along great, but, well, I am mourning my privacy. My little sanctuary has been violated, and I do not blame the roommate, but I will be disgruntled for a little while. I am very lucky, actually, because she seems very cool, and she is very respectful of my space. She has good noise and light discipline, and I certainly appreciate that. She is also engaged, which means I won't have to worry about fellers coming over all the time. Whew.

Anyhow, I thought I'd let you know. I would also tell you I think the internet situation is moving along in my favor, but I don't want to jinx that, too!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Still no roommate! (Knock on wood.) Keep your fingers crossed. I walk in every day expecting to see gear on the left-hand side...but nothing yet (knock on wood, again).

No internet yet, either. I think that will be solved soon enough, though. The Jackal wireless folks have the service up, and I think I'll get connected as soon as they let me come and get the equipment I need. Fingers crossed for that, too!

That's about it. I'm super tired. Oh, and I won a little Diversity Day 5K here Saturday. That's always fun. There's a fast Aussie chica here who likes to give me a run for my money. I had to use tactics and some Guts to come out on top. It was really fun. My little running buddy, LB, ran too. So did Raja. We had a lot of fun. I'm going to miss my running buddies when I leave here.

See ya.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jesus and Habibi

An Iraqi American friend of ours lost his ID holder in the bathroom today. You see, Habibi (name changed to protect the guilty) is a devout Muslim, and he removes his badge carrier in the bathroom to wash up before he prays. Well, today, he accidentally left it behind, and he was in a panic. It contained all his important documents, including his palace badge, his CAC card, his passport, and other choice items. We inquired at the security desk, but nobody had turned one in. We asked in Room 300, but nobody had turned one in. Finally, I suggested that he should check his email, because if I had found a badge, I'd email the person whose name was on it. Lo and behold, he had an email from the finder of the badge. And the name of the guy who saved Habibi from pain and ridicule? Jesus, of course (with the Hispanic "hey, seuss" pronunciation). We all got a kick out of that. Thank you, Jesus. Both of you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This is my mom and Bentley. He's a 135-lb Newfoundland, bred to swim and to perform water rescues. He's the sweetest, most gentle, quietest, most loving pooch in all the world. Since I will be moving to California, where it is hot, I can't have a Newfy. I think I'll get a wire-haired pointing griffon. They are active, smart, and can run with me. I cannot wait to visit my folks in Boise so I can squeeze Bent.

I have a theory, and it goes like this:

Any country that doesn't love dogs is doomed.

Any country that doesn't keep dogs as pets is doomed.

Any country that doesn't at least utilize dogs as working animals is doomed.

All the great and prosperous nations love dogs and keep dogs as pets, even those which also eat dogs.

Iraq does not like dogs. Iraqis hate dogs.

Any comments? Iraqis? Would you like to refute this or explain it? Why do you hate dogs? I am not condemning you. I am just saying I think your country will be crippled until you allow the canine species into your hearts. I am looking for insight. Am I wrong? Don't hate. Educate.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My new neighborhood: Freedom Village. It's beeeeyoootiful! Or something.

I had weird dreams last night. I dreamt that I was getting a roommate…and I am afraid it could actually happen today, for real. Right now, I live alone, but they will give me a roommate soon. The living situation is as follows: Each trailer is divided into three separate rooms, each with a door to the outside. The rooms do not connect. Two people occupy each little third of the trailer. So, each trailer houses 6 people. In each little 1/3 room, KBR (Kellogg, Brown, and Root) has placed two twin beds, two little wall lockers, and two bedside tables. If you’re lucky, you will also find two little lamps. If you are REALLY lucky, your lamp will be 220 V and will actually work in the little room. This living situation isn’t too bad (the A/C is kickin’), and it is actually unbelievably superduper if you happen to NOT have a roommate.

I’ve been in my trailer for a few weeks now, and I have yet to be issued a roomy. For a while, I had completely taken over both halves of the room, and I was ever so comfortable. I recon’d a really cool desk from the palace, and I had it in the middle of the room, against the wall with the window, and I had both beds made and half of my junk stowed on the non-roommate’s side of the place. I was so comfy that I even took to referring to my trailer hole as an “apartment”, even boldly calling it a “flat” once or twice. I figured the two previous occupants moved out, and one of the girls must’ve forgotten to sign out at KBR. I thought I might be roommateless and happy for the remainder of my 2.5 months in country.

One day, I walked in to find a horrifying message on the floor of my flat. It was a memo from KBR requesting that both occupants stop by the billeting office to provide information that was missing on our check-in documents. “That note surely spells doom,” I thought. I took the most appropriate action I could think of, which was to ignore the message entirely. I knew they would enquire about my roommate if I went in to see billeting, and I knew I couldn’t lie to them if asked a direct question. I never have had the ability to tell bold-faced lies (white lies, when appropriate, have been applied very strategically at times); just ask my mom. I decided that avoiding the situation would be the best course of action.

Well, I was only able to withstand the pressure of not knowing for a couple of days. On the third day, I went to billeting. I told them I had never seen or met my roommate, but I certainly didn’t know whether or not she actually existed, and they said they’d send someone over to rummage through our things. Anything left on the roommate-in-absentia’s side would be confiscated, and a no-kidding roommate would be assigned. I went back to my shrinking apartment with my tail between my legs to reposition my gear.

I have a complete inability to sleep when somebody else’s face is in the same room, so I knew I had to position things into a more “feng shui” arrangement if I planned on making it through my final 70+ days, so I got right to work. Typically, roommates position the wall lockers in the middle of the room to provide a sort of boundary. Well, our lockers happen to be the teensy, skinny, crappy kind that provide little to no cover and concealment, so I had to find another way to win. I went to the PX to search for appropriate materials with which to build a wall, but there was nothing suitable. I went around to the back of the building where they receive shipments and stuff, and I asked for the biggest cardboard box they had. I got a big one! I also recon’d a 2X4 and brought everything back to my hooch.

I put the lockers in the middle of the room, and I cut the cardboard to fit between them perfectly. I pinned my extra quilt to the 2X4 and hung it between the lockers, in front of the cardboard. I moved all my stuff, and suddenly I had a small-but-livable, and very private, 1/6th of a trailer. I will post pics of it for you as soon as I remember to take some.

Anyway, life, as always, is good. As soon as I get internet access here, it will be even better.

P.S. I forgot to mention these details of trailer life in the above narrative:

-- It is about 100 yds to the nearest toilet.

-- There is a stinky port-a-potty just steps away from my hooch that I can use when “little potty” is required.
-- I feel lucky to have a stinky port-a-potty so near to my hooch.
-- The super-sweet pull up bar that I had outside of my tent is now outside of my trailer, courtesy of a couple of “President Jackson’s” and my Phillipino friends.
-- The shower, too, is about 100 yds away and isn’t too crowded.
-- My friends live just across the street in another trailer park known as Dodge City North.
-- I never thought that I’d live in a trailer…not that there is anything wrong with that. On the contrary, I am starting to really love it.

I am relieved to have my pull up bar just outside my door.

This is my home. My hooch is the one in the far back.

This is my room. Notice the lovely homemade wall on the left.

Internet Status Report (ISR):

LB and I were going to stay up until midnight to be the first to sign up for internet access from our trailers, but we discovered a snafu. The internet gremlins created some sort of problem for the Jackal Wireless folks, and they have delayed the "grand opening" of the network for new joins another week. We will have to wait until the 14th of August and then pray for all to go smoothly.

Background info: After 8+ months in a tent, LB (Little Barbara, our graphics artist and dear friend) and I got trailers. Ants and rats forced me to vacate the tent, and I cannot receive my usual portal, Freedom Wireless, in my new neighborhood. I live in Freedom Village, where Freedom Wireless doesn't work. Go figure. Soooo...I have to use Jackal. The thing is, Jackal remains very high-quality by limiting the number of subscribers, and I am one of the sad several who have to wait for them to increase their bandwidth and invite new subscribers. The good news is, Jackal will be faster and better than Freedom. The bad news is, I have to wait for it. SO...I won't get to chat regularly for yet another week. Waaa. But good things come to those who wait.

Wish me luck!