Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is a cool Iraqi song by Hussam Alrasam and some other Iraqi singers. Sorry I don't know their names. The song is (or was) all the rage when Iraq won the Asia Cup this year for the first time in history.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I like this pic of the palace janitor. It captures sort of how I feel right now. :)

I have very, very little to blog about, and I feel kinda bad about that. It's just that I am somewhat wallowing in self pity right now. It is so terribly boring here, and there is some really gross smudgy stuff on the port-a-potty hand-sanitizer dispenser. So, not even the sanitizer is sanitary. Dang.
But there is a lot to be stoked about here, too.
First of all, I must discuss the wonderful change in weather we are experiencing. The temperatures when we got here were constantly hovering around the 120 Fahrenheit mark. That is, well, really hot, obviously, and we therefore did not like it. Some people like it, and I am not all too delighted to point out that one of those crazies is my husband, Dave, who had hoped to set a world heat record while in Iraq but didn't even come close (nahnahnahnahnah). Temperatures gradually started coming down a few degrees as August turned into September. Now, as we prepare to welcome October with open arms, we are experiencing relatively blustery highs of only 100-103!!! It was so chilly yesterday (at around 100) that I wore jeans and even considered wearing long sleeves in the cool 70 to 80-degree morning! I can hardly wait until we dip below 100 and stay there. I did bring long sleeves and a jacket, and I will be psyched to wear them. I just hope the wet weather holds off until we are all home in the U.S., the greatest country in all the world.
So, let's see, what else is there to tell you....?
Well, I wasn't gonna say anything until after the fact, but I'm in a gambling mood. I might be seeing Dave soon, for a couple of days. We had made plans a few weeks ago, too, but those fell through, so I hope it works out this time. I'll let you know later about the details!
What else, what else? Last night, Melissa and teammate John and I went to the British House for trivia night. It was pretty fun. It made me homesick, though, because, when we are both home, Dave and I go to trivia night at the Dublin Square in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter ever Tuesday night. It's really fun, because I get all possesive of the question sheets, and I get all impatient and mad when Dave let's regular patron Sam hold the sheets for too long, wasting our precious time. Haha. Sometimes I can be a real turd. It's a good thing Dave thinks I'm cute when I do that. Teeheehee. He's good like that...
Anyhow, things are actually pretty good. We're both making great money for our savings. Dave will be home in October, and I'll follow a month later, and then we'll finally be able to enjoy our cute little house in San Diego. Yay! I can HARDLY wait!!!

Me in my new dream car...

My new dream car. Haha. This $250K fully armored vehicle looks cool, but it is a slow, piggy diesel, and it is too heavy to go off road without being totally bogged down. But how sick would it be in downtown LA!? I totally want one. This will be the first in a series I will call, "Ridiculous things Nancy wants now."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Obviously, I still don't have a camera that works. I took this picture of Melissa the day we arrived in Kuwait. We thought it was a rather hilarious "Welcome to Baghdad" article for us. What do you think?
HEY! Guess what?! I got a trailer.
I was at work when I received an email notification that I'd been assigned a trailer and that I was to report to the Dodge City North BIlleting Office to sign for it.
For the past week, I had been very nervous about my impending trailer assignment. Trailer assignment is nerve wracking because you just never know what you're going to get. For the longest time, Melissa and I held onto the hope that we'd get assigned to the brand new trailers opening up near our office. Those hopes were dashed recently when I asked who was getting them and was promptly notified that those would all be for the Army's 3rd ID, only. Bummer. But I still hoped that maybe I would be soooo very lucky as to get a trailer in Red Leg, or maybe Freedom Village, or even Dodge North. But my fear was that I was much more likely to get a hooch way the heck out in BFE, like, near Lost Lake or something.
The last time I was here, I was assigned three different trailers before I finally found one to be satisfactory enough to actually move into it. Actually, the first one I got was way too far away and in the middle of a mud swamp with no internet. After a couple of weeks, I gave up on it, moved back into the tents, and put myself on the bottom of the waiting list. When the second one was assigned, I was sick from eating Iraqi food and missed the 72 hour window I had to pick up my keys. The third one was great, even though I only lived in it for a few months before leaving town.
Well, when I received my trailer notification, Melissa, Shane, and I all went to seek out my fate. When we walked in, I noticed that one of the shower/toilets custodians I used to know had been promoted to billeting. "Nancy!" she exclaimed gleefully as I walked in. "You're back. Nice to see you!" We caught up on old times very quickly while she looked for my billeting assignment. While we were doing that, another KBR lady in the billeting office said, "Weren't you here before?" Yes, yes, I was here before. And I was as difficult then as I am now, so give me a good trailer before I have a coniption fit!
When the billeteer said my trailer was in Dodge City South, I crumbled. Dodge South?! That is the worst, most awful, most desolate, shabbiest trailer park in all of Victory. That's where poor LB lived the last time we were here. The only good thing about her pad was that she didn't have a roommate.
We left with our heads hanging low to go scope out my hooch. Well, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that I was on the end of the trailer park nearest the chow hall, PX, and civilization. Yea! And then we opened the door. NO ROOMMATE!!! Cooool. The only drag would be the long wait for internet equipment so I could get online and chat with Dave at night.
I moved a few items in and rearranged things so that I would have the best mattress and the best wall locker if a roommate decided to move in, and then I went back to the tents. I didn't want to move in for good until the net was available to me. The next day, I decided to spend the night there just to try and get a good night's sleep, as I had been horribly tired (exhausted) and needed some undisturbed rest. After I'd settled in for the night, I tried the internet. IT WORKED! It actually worked great, and without special equipment! (Normally, special receivers/boosters/somethingorothers are needed to fight through the huge T barriers put around the trailers to protect us from indirect/direct fire. Thankfully, my trailer lacks sufficient bomb protection! Yay!)
Well, that settled it. I moved all my stuff in yesterday, and I am never going back to the tents again. I still don't have a roommate, although the billeting lady (another one I know from last year) said a girl signed for the key a few days before I did). Melissa is the very next person on the list, and I hope her trailer is near mine. I also hope she doesn't have a roommate. If my roomie decides to move in, I'll try to convince her to trade with Melissa so that Mel and I can be roommies. Mel would've moved in already if she weren't scared my legitimate roommate would move in later and kick her out.
So, that's that. My new pad is awesome. Life is good. If I want to, I can make it cold enough to snow in there. I love it. I have a new lease on life. The only problem is, I now want to spend all my time there. It's a hundred times nicer than the poo-hole we work in...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Old friends Paul, Ami, and Nancy. The three of us used to hang out when I was here before. Paul and Ami have been here for ages, and Ami is going to a different FOB next week, after nearly 3 years at Victory. Paul saved my life once when I was choking. We're also three of the five original members of Flak Club. I love these guys.


Sorry I haven't written in a while. I have been cranky, and my mom told me, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm not sure why I am cranky, exactly. I think I it is just that I'm sick of this place. For my USNA friends and those who know the vernacular, "IHTFP!" We have been bored lately, and that is a bad thing to be here. It's best to be busy so that time flies by quickly. The days have been dragging on lately.

Anyway, let's see...what's new?

Saturday night, Melissa and I were walking to a party at a friend's trailer, out by Lost Lake, when we heard the incoming alarm. We didn't know where the duck-and-cover shelters were out there, so we kept walking. All of a sudden, off to our left (north), the base's defense system fired a volley of rounds into the sky. We could see the bee-line of rounds go from left to right. Then we saw some sparkles, heard a big boom off to the far left, and a small boom off to the right. I won't way what was fired at us this time, but suffice it to say our defense system did what it was supposed to, and Melissa and I got to actually watch it happen. SOOOO cool. We were all high fiving and slapping each other's backs like we were war heroes or something. Haha. Anyway, I hope I get to see it again, IF if happens again, which it will, but not that I want it to happen again. (I am aware of the grammatical impropriety of that sentence.)

What else, what else?

Last night, I was sleeping very soundly due to a bit of illness I think I am fighting off. I had gone to bed at 8 pm. Two hours later, still sleeping soundly, I think I heard and felt a tiny boom. I can't be sure, though, if I really heard or felt anything, because I was wearing my earplugs and blindfold, per SOP, and kept on sleeping. Suddenly, I was rousted out of my slumber by cries of "GET UP! GET UP!!!"

I groggily removed my blindfold to see the whole tent (except for sleeping and disgusted Melissa) in a tissy to get outside and grab protective gear (reverse that order). I got up and went to the toilet, pointing out the location of the bomb shelter to all who were interested, and then went back to bed. Every other tent was pitch black and sleeping soundly while ours was alit and scurrying about frantically. When you think about it, it's really quite funny. I don't want to make the ones who woke us up feel bad, because they were trying fervently to save our lives, but this is Iraq. Things go BOOM! in the night. The protocol is to just ignore it, since there is nothing we can do about it, anyway. Booms happen all around us, and the vast majority are very far away, so get over it. I remember returning to San Diego after my year here before and hearing a big boom outside of Dave's apartment building. It was a garbage truck messing about with dumpsters, but I defaulted to "mortar or IED" in my mind, casually wondering which it was before realizing that things that go boom in the U.S. are almost always neither. SOOOOOOO, don't worry about us, becasue booms here are just booms, too, and I suspect last night's was a controlled detonation. No worries. We ain't skeered.

What else, what else? Um....Oh yes!!! I know. This is important, and it is part of my excuse for my blogging lull. My camera broke. Yep. It sure did. So, now I am unable to post new pics. I guess I will recycle older pics until I go to visit Dave and steal his camera back from him. Actually, it's my old camera, which I sent to Dave to replace the camera that HE broke. The one I broke Saturday is my NEW camera. So, that's just our luck. Electronics are in danger in our posession...Must be a Salisbury thing...

XOXO

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I don't know what they used to fire the missile at us, but it def. wasn't one of these. I just want you to see what one of these 240mm missiles looks like. Big enough for ya? IT WAS A HUUUUGE ONE! And we know EXACTLY what it sounds like just before it impacts its target.
More about the rocket attack that we witnessed here Sept 11.:


Bergner: Rocket associated with Iran


Posted: Thursday September 13,2007 - 02:57:27 am
By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD - A fatal attack launched two days ago against the sprawling headquarters base of the American military in Iraq was carried out with a 240 mm rocket — a type of weapon provided to Shiite extremists by Iran, a U.S. general said Thursday.

One person was killed and 11 were wounded during the "indirect fire" attack Tuesday against Camp Victory, which includes the headquarters of Multinational Forces-Iraq.
The attack was overshadowed by congressional appearances by Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker in Washington.

But such an attack with a sophisticated weapon against a nearly impregnable compound — far less vulnerable than the Green Zone in the heart of the capital — sends a strong message to the Americans that nowhere in Iraq are they safe, even in the nerve center of the U.S. mission.
It represents a major confrontation between the U.S. and armed Shiite groups the Americans insist are supported by Iran.

Maj. Gen. Kevin Bergner said the rocket was launched from a populated area in the Rasheed district of west Baghdad, which he said was infiltrated by the Mahdi Army militia of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Bergner said Shiite groups "have received" such weapons "from Iranian sources in the past" and "used them against coalition forces." A 240 mm rocket was fired against a U.S. base south of the capital in mid-August.

"The Iranian... rocket is the only 240-milimeter rocket found or fired in Iraq to date, and Jaish al-Mahdi is the only group known to fire that rocket," Bergner said, referring to the Mahdi Army by its Arabic name.

Camp Victory, a huge area located near Baghdad International Airport, has occasionally come under fire, but attacks with such a large number of casualties and with such sophisticated weapons are rare.

On Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad rejected the congressional testimony of the top U.S. officials in Iraq accusing Iran of interfering in its war-torn neighbor.

In an interview on Iranian state television, Ahmadinejad said Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker raised allegations of Iranian meddling solely because of the political debate within the United States over the war in Iraq.


"Iran has no need to interfere in Iraq. The Iraqi government and nation are close friends of Iran," he said.

Bergner insisted the U.S. was certain that such rockets were of Iranian origin based on their color and markings on fragments. He said Shiite extremist leaders under U.S. detention had acknowledged that Iranian Quds Force operatives were providing 240 mm rockets to Shiite militias.

Last month, al-Sadr announced a freeze of operations by the Mahdi Army to give time to reorganize the force.

"There are indications that some of his followers are fulfilling that pledge of honor," Bergner said. "We have seen other indications of others who are not fulfilling the commitment he made. We know there are some that are not operating within the bounds of his guidance."

Bergner said the victims of Tuesday's rocket attack were a mix of American military personnel, other coalition troops and civilian contractors. The fatality was a civilian contractor from a third country, meaning neither American nor Iraqi, he said.

Also Thursday, the U.S. military said a joint three-day operation between Iraqi troops and U.S. Special Forces netted 80 prisoners and killed three suspects in the Hamrin Ridge and Diyala River Valley areas of eastern Iraq.

Among those captured were four suspected al-Qaida in Iraq terror cell leaders, the military said in a statement.

The U.S. said Iraqi troops also seized 40 AK-47 assault rifles and machine gun ammunition. More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers took part in the operation, it said.

Meanwhile, violence continued in Baghdad, with Iraqi police saying six people were killed and 18 wounded when a bomb hidden under a parked car exploded in Sadr City. The bomb was apparently aimed at an American convoy, but missed its target — killing all civilians and setting shops in the area on fire, police said.

In eastern Baghdad, a roadside bomb killed one person and injured two others, police also said.
And near Samarra, 60 miles north of the Iraqi capital, authorities said about 60 gunmen attacked a police station and ignited clashes with residents and police — leaving four assailants dead and two policemen wounded.

The attacks came despite the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began Thursday for Iraq's Sunni Muslims, and Friday for the country's majority Shiites. Tradition requires faithful to abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset during the monthlong observance.

The U.S. military issued a statement Thursday saying it had begun releasing between 50 and 80 Iraqi prisoners a day as a gesture during Ramadan.






Maybe JAM used this guy to launch their rocket at us. He is the RGC-80 GM Cannon with a single 240 mm cannon

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

CORRECTION! CORRECTION! CORRECTION!


Refer to the above slide as you read this blog. [Slide credit to the hilarious, handsome, and debonair Major Olson.]
Here is an important new blog correction from my dear brother, USMC Major Eric Olson:

I do enjoy reading your blog, however, I need to make one correction. I DO NOT fly the Bent Tail Echo trash "Super" Stallion anymore. I fly the venerable old 53 Delta "Sea" Stallion, the older (but smaller) sister to the big, burly prima-donna (no idea how to spell that...) Echo. [I know that, and I tell everyone about how Eric transitioned to Deltas to go to Hawaii, and I do believe, regardless of what he says here, that Hawaii is the only reason he prefers the Delta...hahaha...(Nancy's comments in pink.)]
At first glance, there are not many differences; however, once you look more closely, you will see that they are completely different animals (I share your love for commas, but like the semi-colon as well - Huh huh, I said Colon) [That is an appropriate use of the semicolon, and I applaud you.]. I have enclosed a power point slide for your viewing pleasure.
As you can see in the slides, the Delta has a sexy, trim tail; six main rotor blades, two engines, and a bit of a "hump" back. [I disagree with the semicolon use here.] She is much more fit and trim, sort of a Cameron Diaz of a helicopter. The Echo, on the other hand, has more "junk in the trunk". She has a much larger bent tail. She also has 7 main rotor blades, and 3 engines (presumably required to haul her large "trunk" around). She is much stronger than her "big" sister, and can carry far more cargo at a much faster pace. Her fuel probe allows her a vastly improved range, aswell. She is more of a body builder, but being a 53 still has "curves", sort of a J-Lo of a helicopter. [Olson men prefer athletic builds to the squishier alternative, so this makes sense.]
If the E is so much better, why fly the D you might ask? Good question. You see, when they made all the improvements to the D, they kind of stole her soul. The E's AFCS (automatic flight control system) is much more advanced that the D's. It does a lot of the "thinking" for the pilot and keeps him (or her) from abusing all that extra power and bending the aircraft. The D's AFCS allows (but also requires) the pilot to actually "fly" the thing. To me the D is kind of an outdoorsy, tomboy, girl next door; and the E is a bit of a snobbish, supermodel/powerlifter type (if there was such a thing). She is more capable, but at the same time, far more cantankerous (and much more difficult to get outof the chocks). The D on the other hand, is always ready to go. Her systems are not as complex and actually work almost all the time. Additionally, she's a lot more fun to fly, and is much more responsive. One additional note, the only place where there are still Delta squadrons is Hawaii...[Told you...]

Anyway, I hope this has been informative.

Aloha,
Eric
[My brother thinks he's Hawaiian. How cuuuute.]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now, for a lighter matter. It is CRITICAL that we find an appropriately grand monicker for Melissa's lovely camel.

She bought him from the PX, and he is awesome. We love him and wish to have a name by which to refer to him.
We need your help. If you wish to participate in the naming contest (and thereby enter to win the camel), check out Melissa's blog entry and email her! http://www.whereismelissa.com/?p=49

Thank you for playing.
I don't wish to scare anybody, but I want to let you know that I and my teammates experienced a scary moment a little while ago.

I'm not going to say where it hit, or whether it was a mortar, a rocket, small arms, or what, but suffice it to say I was in a port-a-potty with my pants down when I heard enemy munitions incoming. It was very loud, and it was fast, and it got louder and louder as it approached, and the explosion when it impacted was even louder and shook my perch. IT FLEW RIGHT OVER MY HEAD. As soon as I heard it, I squated down into the fetal position, pants down, hands shielding my head, and waited to be blown to smitherines. God spared me, and my teammates, but there were injuries in the impact area. I don't know the extent.

After it hit, I zipped up and ran outside. I immediately saw the smoke rising from the impact area some 200 meters away from my location. Just after that, I heard the incoming alarm sound. That is the first time I have actually entered the duck-and-cover shelter at the sound of the incoming alarm. Things like this usually come in twos or threes. Luckily, it was a single. I hope we got the bastards; I'm sure we did. We went to see the damage and were told about the injuries. Fire and ambulance crews were at the scene. That's all I want to say about it.

UPDATE: Since it is in the news, I can admit that the attack happened Sept 11, and one civilian was killed. We also saw them working on the many wounded. Here are some of the links that are carrying the story (they all are the same, so if you've read one, you've read them all).:

Attack Kills 1 at U.S. Base Near Baghdad
1 killed, 11 wounded in attack on major U.S. base in Baghdad
Attack kills 1 at U.S. base near Baghdad
Attack Kills 1 at U.S. Base Near Baghdad

One of the girls in my tent had a bandaged arm as a result of the attack, but she is ok.
Sandstorm, 26 April 2007, Al Asad Air Base, Iraq
Hello, boys and girls. With this posting, we are all in for a special treat. My brother Eric, currently flying CH-53 Super Stallion helicopters out of Al Assad Air Base in Al Anbar Province, has sent me a photo and video clip of a recent sand storm. Here in Baghdad, we never see such sand storms, because there's too much stuff around us to block the force of the wind. So, without further delay, please enjoy the following:
First, an excerpt from my brother's email to me:
"F$#@ THIS PLACE AND (deleted items)!!! I’m going home in just 17 days, and this place can kiss my a$$."
Now that we are all acquainted with Eric's true sentiments (echoed by many), here is the video:

video

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wilson Gil fires up the crowd.

Last night, Melissa and I decided to attend a concert we saw advertised on a poster in the baby DFAC (the smaller of the two chow halls on Victory). The rock band Wilson Gil and the Willful Sinners was in town, courtesy of the USO/MWR, and we decided to see what they were all about.

Well, we were certainly pleasantly surprised! We arrived at the Victory outdoor stage area, and there were no more than 20 spectators there waiting for the show. The band was already set up and finished with their sound checks. One of the members, the bass guitarist, was off to one side chatting with the Army MP's and their dog, and the rhythm guitarist/lead vocalist, Mr. Wilson Gil himself, was finishing up some business on stage. His path toward the bleachers intersected ours, and he shook our hands and asked if we were staying for the show. "Heck, yes, Wilson. We came to rock."

The show kicked off in a swirling dust storm, and the indefatiguable band members rocked their hearts out from start to finish. Melissa and I were greatly amused to see Wilson's cowboy hat predictably fly off of his head at the start of each song, when his uncontrollable guitar groove movements would cause his back to arch, his neck snapping backward as he bounded into the air to make the most of his first chords. He was awesome. I took photos and made MPEG movies of him and his band so that I might be able to study his style and memorize some moves for the next time I play Guitar Hero on our XBOX 360. Kick A!

Wilson Gil were an awesome act, and it was super cool of them to come all the way to Iraq from Northern California to play for the troops. They have been in-country for more than a week, touring around to the different FOBs so that the weary troops can relax and rock out. The only reason we didn't have too many people in attendance at Victory was that it was a last-minute addition to the tour circuit, their flight to another FOB having been cancelled that day due to dusty conditions.

At the end of the show, Wilson invited us all out to Bakersfield to see a show, hang out, or even just drop in on them to say hi and talk about "all the crazy $4i+ we did when we were in the Middle East", even going so far as to give out his home address. Haha. Cool guys.

I encourage you all to visit http://www.wilsongil.com/ to learn more about the band. Melissa and I will be emailing them some of the pictures we took (btw, they stayed after the show to sign autographs for everyone who wanted them), and I hope to maybe see them play in Cali sometime. Our favorite song is "Dirty Mattress."

Thanks for coming out, guys. You made our night!


Melissa with lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Wilson Gil.

Nancy and bass man Barry Spry.

Nancy with drummer Tom Rockwell (great surname for a man of his occupation!).

Autographs for Nancy and Dave.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Just trying to show the dust. The Palace is pretty obscured there in the background.

My coolest picture of the dust and sun.


The heat source. When there is enough dust in the air, you can look directly at the sun without damaging your eyes (I hope).


Sunglasses work! (Right) Sun viewed by naked eye. (Left) Sun viewed through Oakleys. (By the way, Oakley, if you are out there, Dave's new Flak Jackets got scratched, and the dealer out here doesn't have replacement lenses; want to send some? If so, I'll give you my address.)
Well, if you have taken a peek at the little "Baghdad Weather" indicator in this blog's sidebar during the past couple of days, you surely will have noted that the temperature has dropped down to a balmy 105, and we have high winds and dust storms. WE LOVE DUST STORMS! Well, we don't always love them, and we don't love every aspect of them, but we do love their cooling properties when the temperatures are in the one teens...like 118, 115...the one-teens.
Our latest dust storm blotted out the sun and dropped temperatures significantly. (No, this has not helped the temperature inside of our office trailer; it is still hovering around 105.) The only problem is, it is no fun to breathe heavily when the air is full of dust, and running makes me breathe heavily. That has become my very handy excuse, lately, for skipping my runs. Actually, I did run in the morning yesterday, and I fully intended to run today, but I accidentally set my phone alarm to silent. Woops. I'm supposed to run tonight to make up for it...but we'll see what happens with that. I haven't skipped more than one consecutive day yet, and I don't intend to. [Incidentally, did I mention that I took first place (woman) in a 5K the week I arrived here? Cool, huh?]
So, even with the nice drop in temperature to buoy our spirits, we are still lucky enough to have the dust itself to complain about. I've never sneezed so much in my life, not even when my dear friend's kitty (real name Cafe O'laitte, but renamed "Mocha" by Yours Truly, in much the same manner that I renamed her grandmother (Mom-o) a much more fun to say, "Mee-maw") rubbed her allergen-ridden pelt across my nose. So don't worry about us. There is still complainin' aplenty to be done by us. We love it!
OH! I ALMOST FORGOT!!! We, my teammates and I, have decided to quit using the EVER-so-awful king of curse words...the "F" word. Boys and girls at home, this is a horrible, ugly, nasty, disgusting word, and I have quit using it several times in my life, the first (or perhaps second) time being when I was a midshipman aboard the USS Pubic Mound---err, I mean Puget Sound in Norfolk one summer and ran across an very disgusting Senior Chief female who used the word quite liberally. I decided I didn't want to be like her and quit cold turkey. It stuck for most of the summer, until my return to the drudgery of USNA brought the word back to my vocabulary expeditiously. But, anyway, I have decided to quit, again, and so have all but one of my teammies. For each infraction, the offender must insert one dollar into our Curse Jar (or water bottle), and the money will be used to pay for a team party in October. If things continue the way they went on Day One, it will be one mother of a blowout! How much would you say is in here?

Yeah, that's a 5 in there...

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Me at the Al Faw Palace. I just realized that if you save something as "me at palace," without spaces, you get meatpalace. Looks like two words. Was meant to be three...
Alright. I am way past due to bang out a blog. Sorry, again. I get tired and then don’t feel like typing when I get back to my hooch. I think it’s the heat. It really does take a lot out of us here, and all we do is sit in our office all day. And we walk a lot. And some of us run. And others walk even more.

That reminds me: Our office is typically about 100-110 degrees inside. That’s right, I said INSIDE. Remember my air ducts? Well, they can’t combat the heat when there is too little insulation and too small an A/C. So at least we still have THAT to complain about.

What we cannot complain about any longer is our lack of automobiles. We were supposed to get vehicles as soon as we got here, and I had two quotes the day after touching down on Iraqi soil, but contracting officials always require three. So, after fighting tooth and nail, I finally got a third, and even a fourth. Then, finally, a fifth company, which was not one of the ones I got a quote from, ponied up the vehicles. That’s very lucky, actually, because every one of the other four were completely out of cars, and we were all pretty tired of walking everywhere in this intense heat. We’re now sharing three vehicles between eight (soon to be 10) people, which is quite a luxury. Last time, we had one car for 19 people for the longest time.

Let me take a peek at my “Blog Topics” list. Ah, here’s a good one. I want to speak at you all briefly on the subject of “being snubbed.”

Snubbing is a rampant disease that seems to have gone gangbusters in the military, particularly in the Army. When you are walking down the street, or through the passageways of your office building, or down the hallway in school, and you greet someone with a warm “hello,” or “good morning,” or “Buenos Dias,” for those of you in California, don’t you expect some sort of a reply, or at least a head nod? My mom taught me to be kind and respectful, and I think ignoring an obvious greeting is the height of unkindness and disrespect.

I realize that it takes some effort to say hello to somebody, and maybe you don’t want to say hi, or you can’t be bothered to acknowledge another human being’s presence, but COME ON, PEOPLE! It’s shitty out here. Everybody is hot and miserable. We’re all in the same boat. Would it KILL you to say hello?

Truth be told, I often substitute a nod or a slight smile for a hello, if nobody else initiates a greeting, but if someone actually says something to me, I feel obligated to respond. If you don’t want to tax your vocal cords or waste your breath, though, then I have one request: DON’T STARE AT ME!!!! This is something that military people, in particular (or perhaps it’s just that I am around mostly military people and have worked with mostly military people for most of my life), love to do. They will be walking toward me, and I toward them, and they will be looking me straight in the eye as they approach. Their faces are blank or stern, but never friendly. As we get within a few paces of each other, and the offender (almost always a male) is still staring at me, I will usually say hi. But the offender NEVER greets me back! I mean, how can you stare at a person and then not greet him or her after he or she offers a friendly greeting? Are you kidding me? At least speak to me if you are going to stare at me! For crying out loud! So, this is for all you mute starers: UP YOURS!!! Learn some manners, you turd burglars!

Ok. Sorry about that little outburst. I had to put up with that a lot at the Pentagon, too, and it is just ever so annoying.

Let’s see…what else…how to end this on a happy note…
Try this on for size:
Another one of my best girlfriends on the planet has just given birth to an 8 lb 2 oz (GEEZ!) baby boy named Declan. Congratulations Jennifer and Sean! I am so happy for you both!!! I can’t wait to spoil my newest nephew. Yay!!!