Tuesday, June 29, 2004

I Hate Self-Important Sensationalist News-Weenies!

Tuesday, June 29, 2004
I Hate Self-Important Sensationalist News-Weenies!
What a nice start to a new morning. We received one incoming mortar or rocket yesterday morning about 5:30 am. It landed on the west side of the base by the wall in the swampy area. I was getting ready to go run, but changed my mind and went back to bed for another hour after that. Scott had stopped back at the trailer to drop off his bike before taking Allen off to BIAP for leave. He also let me know that full battle rattle was the uniform of the day. To hell if I'm going to don a heavy flak vest and helmet to go run.

Full battle ratttle, again. In this heat, it is less than comfortable. I don't know how the gate guards and the soldiers on convoy detail can deal with it. I'm sure that they are in a constant state of dehydration with as much as you sweat in this stuff and the 120+ degree heat. Everytime you get inside and remove your gear, you are just drenched in sweat.

Yesterday morning we also got news around 10 am of the early passing of the government to the Iraqi people. At this point, it seem sonly very symbolic, but as time passes the decsions made by the Iraqi Congress and government will more represent the needs of Iraq rather than the needs of the US occupier and occupying forces. Of course, rumors were also making the rounds that Paul Bremer just wanted to be able to slip out of country without making a big deal. He really hates big going-away parties, tears and cake!

And if the mortars and battle rattle aren't enough for you, Geraldo is here too. Rumor (again, that's all we live for here) has it that he has a nephew here or at the 3rd Cav on North. He was conducting interviews this morning and would *only* interview soldiers, no contractors. I guess noone has told him that contractors make up a good share of the force insuring delivery of convoys of fuel, food, mail, and supplies to their destinations throughout Iraq. Not to mention that contractors handle a good deal of the vital communications that traverse this country right now. Without the contractor force in Iraq, many vital jobs would not be accomplished effectively. The military alone does not have the manpower to perform all of the jobs necessary to run this operation here.

Geraldo needs to stay here for about six months and see the operation in motion. Maybe then he would see the balance of work provided by the contracting team here in Iraq. Maybe then he would understand that the soldiers AND the contractors TOGETHER are required and necesary to accomplish this mission in Iraq. What we don't need here are some self-important, sensationalist, news-weenies creating a division between the members of our team; regardless of whether they are active duty military, foreign military, guard, reserve, civilian contractor or third country national. Geraldo has spent too much selfish time concentrating on his own greatness to ever be concerned with any team effort. Geraldo, there is no "I" in team!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

A Visit From Jeff and Dan

A Visit From Jeff and Dan
26 June 2004

It hasn't been a particularly interesting week. Mortar attacks and responses aside, it has been pretty ordinary. Okay, even *with* the mortars, it has been pretty ordinary. We are once again in that Groundhog Day existance. Imagine to my surprise Jeff McLellan (www.uberforce.com) and Dan Taxson (www.ilovemyhazardpay.com) come up to the TCF door and ask for me! They have both been chosen for the Multinational Force Support Team and will be departing for Al Kut (a Ukrainian base) by helicoptor this week via Camp Victory.

They arrived on Monday and were supposed to leave here this morning, but their departure got pushed to Sunday. It's been nice having some time to just bs and catch up with them again. I know Jeff back from CRC at Fort Bliss and I met Dan and my current trailer-mate Scott back at Doha, Kuwait when I was enroute to Qatar and spent a few days at Camp Doha back in April for the ISO9000 Boondoggle.

We broke them in good while they have been here. We had a mid-day mortar attack on Wednesday that had a few people fillin their britches. One whizzed over the Defac (dining facility) and hit behind a conex box over by the barber shop. Another flew over building 7 and landed in the open swampy area. When that one flew over building 7, one of our network guys and one of the new soldiers that just arrived were in a shear panic to get inside the building. The soldier pushed the network guy away from the front door when he couldn't get the combo lock open--nearly crawled over him to get in and then damned near knocked over the Colonel who was standing in the entry by the door! Once inside, both guys had eyes as big as saucers and looked like Orphan Annie from the 1930's comic strip! I shouldn't laugh, but the situation was kind of hysterical.

Scott was off last night, so he and I dragged Jeff and Dan along with us over to ISG to do laundry and see the sights over there. We did our usual, the capuccino after loading the washers and then lunch after laundry. Got to see the much talked about gym at ISG. Very nice equipment. Too bad noone was there to use it. THey need to move that stuff over to Victory where it will be properly used. We headed over to North Victory afterward for any last minute things Jeff and Dan may have wanted. Nice relaxing day.

We have had lots of mortars this morning--both at Victory and at ISG. I could tell it has made Jeff and Dan a bit edgy since at Basrah(earlier in the year for Jeff), Camp Doha, Kuwait and Arif Jahn they didn't have any of this mortar non-sense going on. I can tell that the frequency of mortars have even tested Scotts nerves lately. Today we were in the PX at North and two ba-booms went off. The second was much louder than the first and Scott jumped. I jokingly told him to temper his responses. We didn't want to frighten the "kids" any more than they already were. Don't want them to think we're wimps! He countered that he couldn't help it, it was involuntary.

Actually, the mortar noise isn't that much different from hearing the noise from the ICG train yard I lived across from in Carbondale, Illinois back in 1979-80. You'd hear all kinds of booms and bangs and train engine noise from the freight cars being hooked up all through the day and even in the middle of the night. (I was living in a trailer then too, come to think of it). Now I'm hearing mortars and the sound of the helicoptors buzzing so closly overhead you think that they are going to touch your roof as they pass. Like the train yard back in Carbondale, mortars and choppers are just the background noise or background effects of everyday life here.

Monday, June 21, 2004

This 'n That

Sunday, June 20, 2004
This 'n That
21 June 2004
Greetings from Baghdad. Can't believe that it's been a week since I last made an entry. Not too much has been happening, but by the time I leave work, I just haven't had any energy or desire to write. It must be the heat. The weather this week is starting to get a bit warmer now. It's been around 115-120 this week and the past couple of days with winds around 20 mph. You would think that the breezes would cool things off some, but it ends up feeling like someone has opened a 5000 degree blast furnace in your face.

Got an email from my sister, Deb this weekend. My brother-in-law Mark is going thorugh training in Virginia this week and then onto CRC at Fort Bliss next week. He got a job with Dynacorp (or Dyncorp, but not Blackwater) to come to Baghdad. He will be training Iraqi police officers downtown in the city here. Although we will only be about ten miles apart, I don't know if I will get the chance to see him. We will both be in green zones, but there is a red zone between our two locations.

I was at the bizarre next to the Victory North PX on Saturday and found another painting that I couldn't live without. I had seen this one at the same time I saw the other one I bought but thought it too expensive. I've always like it, but wasn't sure if I could find a place for it since it is about 3' X 3.5'. It is of a group of Arabs in at a rug wholesaler with oriental rugs being displayed to the buyers. Other brass wares are depicted very similar to the wares on display here at the bizarre. The vivid colors are what I always like about this painting along with the Middle Eastern feel. I don't have any idea where I'm going to hang this Picasso, but it is just one of those things you know you have to have when you see it! Maybe I'll finally have to wall up an office in the basement for my collection of Middle Eastern stuff I've been aquiring since my stay here.

It's been a quiet week all around. The only mortars we heard this last week were on Tuesday evening. We were in the chow hall around 17:30 when we heard four booms on base about 10 seconds apart. After the last one, one of the KBR guys who had his VHF radio on his belt (with the volume up to 11 (reference Spinal Tap here)) had an excited woman's voice blaring something out of it. Eve looked at us and said, "It must not have hit anything too important. They are still sitting there eating." Kind of like rubber-necking at an accident scene on the way home from work. Pause to see the damage, then life continues.

Speaking of the chow hall, they served up a very nice meal for Father's Day yesterday. After washing my hands, I surveyed the menu posted which read, Curry Chicken, Pork Chop Hockey Pucks, blah, blah, blah. But once we got up to the counter, they had steak, shrimp, crab's legs, and lobster. Now those kind of surprises we can live with!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Happy Birthday US Army

Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Happy Birthday US Army
14 June 2004

Somehow, I pulled myself out of bed at 0515am to run this morning. I've been burning the midnight oil reading Harry Potter-Order of the Phoenix. Another couple of nights and I'll have it knocked out. As I started to head around the beginning of Lost Lake, I finally loosened up and was catching my pace. Half-way around, I heard the call to worship from the mosque just behind the east gate and the dogs were howling at the chanting blasting out of the loudspeakers.

As I came around to road finally making it around Lost Lake, I could hear loud voices. Great! That is all I need to think about now. My mind has whipped up visions of a riot outside walls at the west end of the base. You gotta wonder now what will happen with all the speculation about the government turnover at the end of the month. A story in the Stars and Stripes was just mentioning how all bases in Iraq will probably face more violence as the date of the turnover gets nearer. This is only the 14th, how dare they invade my peace? My run on the west side of the base is my refuge. No or very little traffic, few people and just the birds and the rising sun reflecting over the small lake. I'm not there yet, but just thinking about it.

As I rounded past the back gate onto the north road behind the palace, there was another guy about 1/4 mile ahead of me, so I didn't feel like I was alone in the back side of the base. But the shouting seemed to be getting louder. I passed two Army reporters with cameras on the bridge before reaching the gate, so that should have made me wonder even more what was going on. Just as I got past the back gate, the "riot" I had envisioned was about two hundred soldiers in their individual platoons all running in formation with their respective groups, each group calling their own cadance. Today is the Army's birthday and they had a "fun run" of 5K to celebrate.

The remainder of my run was without any further delusions or worries except maybe the occasional gnat flying down your throat while you're running causing some coughing and dry heaves as you can still feel him struggling, stuck in the back of your throat! With all the lakes and ditches with standing water here, we have plenty of bugs.

Later this morning at around 9am, seems that the Hajis were wanting to get in on the celebrations of the Army's birthday. They shot three mortars onto the base toward the palace. I guess all three landed in or near the lake. No injuries. That was the first daytime attack that I can remember since I've been here.

The rest of the day was pretty horrendous. Nothing seemed to go right today and I had the migrane from hell. I was plenty hydrated, so it must have been sinus' again. What a way to spend your birthday. But, the chow hall had great food today for the celebration. Shrimp--fried and in different dishes with veggies, etc. They also decorated the chow hall with balloons and had a huge 2 pan cake. The cake had the Army shield on it and some other drawing.

The only other redeeming part of the day was finally getting back to the trailer at 8pm and opening the gifts that my sister, Deb sent me. She sent me a great blue Hawaiian shirt, a frisby, some rock candy (which I shared and left at work), a bag of punch balloons (which I really could have used earlier in the day to work off my frustrations as they were occuring!), a best seller paperback, a Calvin and Hobbes book, a Garfield book, a yoyo, and the Jetson's first season on DVD. I will start watching that as soon as I finish the first season of Dead Like Me and Northern Exposure. Good thing I'm off tomorrow. It may take me until midnight to unwind after this day.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

If a Tree Falls in the Forest and Noone's Around...

If a Tree Falls in the Forest and Noone's Around...
08 June 2004

Day off today. Blowing off doing laundry. I'll just do it all at ISG on Saturday. Slept in today until 7 am. I just slept so good, it was hard to get up at 515 to run, so I didn't. Was on my way to the office and as I got to building 8, Allen and Scott were just leaving to take Scott to BIAP to go on leave. So, I tagged along with them since it would be better if Allen didn't have to make the return trip alone. He'd already been up all night. Besides, too many IED's (improvised explosive devices) in the roads these days--good to have a look-out with you. Stopped at the Haji shop too and picked up a set of Iraqi epaulets with ribbons & buttons from an Iraqi officer uniform. Got a set for my nephew too. My sister Deb, had already had a shadow box made for some six or eight Iraqi medals and had framed some old Iraqi currency that I sent back in my last trunk home. She gave it to him on his birthday on the 28th of May. So this will make a nice addition to his collection for Christmas.

I also wanted to go over to BIAP PX, but Allen was looking a little worn around the edges, so I figured that I'd nab a vehicle and head up there later. When we got back to Bldg 8, Ron was there and he asked if I got rattled out of bed by the three mortars or RPG's last night at around midnight. I asked if he was kidding. He said, no. He slept with his flak jacket and helmet on last night. Guess they almost landed as close as that one incoming mortar round the other night at 3 am. In fact, one of the trailers closer to the TMC (troop medical clinic (Thanks Clayton!)) in Dodge South was hit by an RPG last night, but it didn't explode. So now I ask you; if a tree falls in the forest and noone's around to hear it, does it make any sound? Better yet, if a mortar falls in the trailer park at Dodge South and noone wakes up to hear it, does it make any sound?

To continue with my busy schedule here today, I got back to bldg 7, but no vehicle was available. So I checked out my email and my journal and went to lunch with Eve at 1130. Don't exactly remember what I ate, but from what I remember, it wasn't too revolting! (You know that memory loss is supposed to be one of the side effects of these anthrax shots. Better stop them now, or I'll be going home and you'll think I developed Alzheimers while I was here). The food has actually been pretty good lately. In fact, news flash!!...Camp Victory now has a sandwich counter where they will prepare a sandwich for you to order! How's about that? It's almost like our own little Subway here!

Once I got back from chow, still no vehicle, but Hector asked if I'd go with him up to BIAP to pick up Victor. Ha! "You lose Carl Miller!" The bets were against Victor coming back, but he's here now. So, that was my second jaunt to BIAP of the day. Got to see a real cool formation of helocopters on the way back. Six helos were escorting some Iraqi dignitary over to downtown Baghdad at CPA from BIAP. It looked just like in the movies seeing the six of them moving in formation from the airport towards Baghdad.

By the time Hector, Victor and I returned, a vehicle had become available. I signed it out and headed to BIAP (of course) to the PX. I have been wanting to get a "Who's Your Baghdaddy?" t shirt and North Victory nor Victory had any. Also picked up a DVD and some other assorted stuff.

Got back from BIAP and went and got a hair cut. Only three barbers today. One was sick, and one was recovering from an electrocution at work last week. Sucks to be him. I'm betting that AAFES doesn't provide workman's comp to those Indian and Pakistani barbers. They really are great barbers too.

So here it is now 10 pm and I've just finished packing up a box and my trunk of gifts to send home. Maybe I can get that in the mail soon so it will arrive by Thanksgiving. Actually, standard mail on trunks is about 6-8 weeks, priority about a couple of weeks. Even letters make it out to the world pretty fast now. Well, guess I'll read some Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix and turn in. I need to get up early at 5 am and run tomorrow since I blew it off this morning.

Monday, June 07, 2004

These Boots Were Made for Walking...

These Boots Were Made for Walking...

07 June 2004

"The boots were made for walking, and that's just what they'll do. One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you. You ready boots? Staaaaart walking!"

Oh, Nancy (Sinatra), you're a woman after my own heart! Me and my white go-go boots are a-walkin this journal over to blogspot.com starting today. I've had enough abuse from aol's customer dis-service department. So by popular demand (mine mainly!) I'm taking it over to blogspot. I've already (with much hair-pulling over the past week) moved all these files from this site over to the new site.

The new site address for this journal is located at:


See ya at the new location.


Things That Go Boom In The Night

Things That Go Boom In The Night
07 June 2004

This last week has been interesting at best. I have probably called aol every name in the book and then invented some more. Over the past few weeks, I've had nothing but grief trying to access my email and my journal. Finally, last week Monday, I made the decision to move everything.

Before I left home, I had set up duplicate journals in aol and blogspot. Aol initially seemed easier to use until the last month. Over the past week I have been copying and pasting journal entries from the last six months, 100 all total, into blogspot. Oddly enough, today I was reviewing the journal entries that I've moved and found a duplicate entry. When I opened up the duplicate, only a partial title appeared. The beginning part of the writing was mine, but as I read down, it wasn't my writing! It wasn't even my style. It's already hot enough here at 120F, so you don't want to know too much more. Ok, just a little. As I started reading this new addition to my writing, somehow someone else's XXX-rated sex journal was inserted (excuse the pun), alright, it was pasted into my journal entry! Whoa Momma! You could have fried eggs on her sheets!! So let's just say that I'm off to an interesting start with blogspot.

I have also moved my email over to Yahoo. I will send out messages or copy/paste responses into my received email when I return mail. I'm giving myself two months before I pull the plug on aol.

Saturday there was a free concert at the Palace at 10 am. Toby Keith and Ted Nugent played for the troops here. I was going to go, but had forgotten about it and had already made plans to go over to ISG to do laundry and then over to North Victory to the PX. I heard that it was a great concert too. Oh well, I'll make sure to go to the next one.

It's been pretty quiet around here lately, but last night broke that silence. I got woken up a couple of minutes before 3 am by a huge ba-boom! You could feel the concussion of it inside the trailer. I wasn't really alarmed, but the big question after something like that is whether to 1) roll over and go back to sleep, 2) lay awake for a couple of minutes to see if there were more coming in, or 3) get up and take a leak. I chose to get up and take a leak. I saw a few other gophers running around some in boxers and battle rattle, but most were out and about doing the same as me without helmet or vest.

Got to work this morning to find out that there were actually three mortars incoming, but the last one was the closest and loudest. Then I got to talking with the midnight guy we were relieving . He was working with CPA (in downtown Baghdad) last night while they were under attack. He could hear the machine guns, mortars and RPG's over the phone. So I guess that CPA got hit pretty hard last night.

At this point, we are wondering if we should expect more of this as the June 30th turnover date gets closer. As always, wait and see.

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