Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween

31 Oct 2005

Happy Halloween to all. Haven't written anything in some time now, but not too much to write about. Nothing too too scary happening here...unless you count some of the haircuts given at the AAFES (Army Air Force Exchange Services)Barbershop or hair salon. Poor Mary wanted bangs the other week, so she went over to the AAFES Hair Salon. When she came out, she was about in tears and still was that night when we saw her. They apparently cut it crooked and really hacked her up. She wore a hat as often as possible for the next two weeks until it grew back enough to pull it back again.

Remember a few weeks back when I was hinting about AAFES being money-grubbing, monopolistic jerks that "we go where you go" only because they know where they can make a good buck fleecing the soldiers? Well, true to form, they've kicked off all the haji stores off of Victory since they don't want to give AAFEES their 25% cut of the profits. That's some shock, huh? They try to convince you how much they care about customer service and all, but we know better.

The only other scary thing going on might be issues with management and another employee here that I'm not at liberty to speak about. Not that I'd want to. But you'd think that if you'd lied on your resume, don't have a clue about the job you were hired to do and are the intentional cause of discontent among the other staff trying to pull your load; one would assume that management would be trying to remedy the situation instead of coddling the perpetrator. As we've discussed before, it's all who you know. It's all politics. Now that's some scary Halloween crap!

Well, the Sox did win the Series last week! Wooo-hoo! Unfortunately, I've lost out on the excitement leading up to it and the euphoria afterward. This is when it sucks being an ex-pat. I was in the same situation when I was stationed in Germany and the Bears won the Super Bowl back in '85. You almost feel cheated, having been home during all the losing years and missing out on the good stuff when the moment finally arrives.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

“Sox Win! Sox Win!”

17 October 2005

Long, long ago around 1980 and 1981, before broadcasting for the Cubs, Harry Carey used to broadcast for the Chicago White Sox. He would be so proud and excited today that one of his teams finally made it back to this position. It’s great that the Sox have made it to the Series. Now if only Chicagoans will finally rally around the White Sox (formerly known as the Black Sox ( )) and forgive them their sins of 1919. As you know, aside from Chicagoans not being too quick to forgive anyone of anything (it's always been far more pleasurable to get even than get mad), Chicago doesn’t get a winning team all that often. Maybe it’s time to forgive and forget and get on with the real job of partying down now that the chance presents itself...even though it *is* the south side team we're talking about here. Okay, I confess; deep deep down, we all keep this eternal belief that this event was really intended for the north side team instead of the south siders. But back to reality; Go Sox! Wouldn't it be great if they were to go against the Cards?

I’m feeling pretty random this morning, so bear with me here and follow close. I’m about to take you on a little trip through my scattered thoughts. Be brave!

For starters, we had clouds this morning! I can’t remember the last time we saw so many clouds in the sky. But accompanying them was a steady 10-15 knot per hour wind. So we are either in for rain or in for another sand storm. Smelled like rain at 05:30, but that doesn’t mean anything. If you have ever been fortunate enough to have signed out a vehicle in this kind of weather, odds are that you’ve experienced what you thought was going to be a downpour, but which only turned out to be enough rain to convince you to turn on the windshield wipers. Then to your great dismay, all you end up with is a mud-streaked windshield. That much anticipated storm never develops past the twenty-five raindrops on the window which tricked you into smearing up your windshield, erasing any hopes of driving back without sticking you head out the window!

By the time I ran this morning at 9 am, no rain. The clouds cleared and the winds increased and the visibility reduced from the sand blowing around. I’ve been here too long. I already had guessed that it’s too early for rain.

A couple of us were at Green Beans (the coffee shop here) last night discussing what a sorry-ass MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) division the Army maintains here. It’s not bad enough that they couldn’t even see to scrape up the cash to have any of Saddam’s pools open this summer (as they did last year), the computers and access at the MWR buildings are spotty at best. For soldiers who don’t have computer access during their normal shifts, this can be their only lifeline outside of this godforsaken crap-hole. Having served in the Air Force, decent MWR was one thing you can say they always made sure to provide the airmen. Guess that’s why I was in the Air Force. They took care of us.

But then again, soldiers and their families still aren’t getting reimbursements for proper body armor purchased out-of-pocket how many months or years ago. It is a real crime that this issue has fallen to the bottom of Don’s (as in Uncle Donny Rummy) “To Do” list of things to get done before 2008. Maybe he is hoping that attrition of soldiers is on his side and if he waits long enough they will forget about the personal expense made by the families of the soldiers over here and they’ll be happy enough that they got their loved ones back from Iraq and Afghanistan.. Haven’t you noticed that since the fervor has calmed from last year, his smiling face hasn’t been seen much over here. You know what they say? It’s either “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” or “politics as usual.” Take your choice.

Well, the ballot for acceptance of the constitution seems to have gone nearly without a hitch. Not to mention that except for some stray booms here and there, very quiet. Not to jump the gun (or the shark), but maybe they are getting the hang of this democracy thing. Don’t know if the lessons will stick, but maybe eventually the Iraqis will find their own version and interpretation along the way. Baby steps. You can only feed a baby so much oatmeal before they start spitting it out and creating a mess. Give them a chance to digest what they’ve started into.

One of the guys I work with got a bit of a scare the other day. A stray round apparently found its way through his trailer skin and into his locker. It rattled around some inside the locker and then rested. With all the gunfire we have had over this weekend, it’s not too much of a surprise to have episodes with stray rounds. I can remember not so long ago when I was over in South, a guy in a trailer a few down from mine got woken up midmorning by something lodging itself in his trailer roof, sending white tile dust onto his face. Just a lost round coming to rest in his outer ceiling. What goes up, must come down.

“Colonel Ellis sets the standard for Fraud, Waste and Abuse”

It must be true…Alex read it on the porta pottie wall. Just like everything you read in the National Enquirer. It *must* be true! He happened upon these nuggets of wisdom (what better place to find “used” nuggets of wisdom?) when he was looking for secret messages under the porta pottie toilet seat from the Dead Poets Society or some obscure secret organization. At least he wasn’t digging out a Leatherman tool or a flashlight from “out of the blue” (porta pottie water that is.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

AAFES Goes All the Way, Baby!

06 October 2005

Well, another Ramadan is upon us here in the humble war-torn country of Iraq. As always this time of year, we are expecting celebratory incoming mortars and rockets and such. The insurgents fast all day from sunup to sundown and then after sundown, once they’ve got a full belly, they are off with the boys and a trunk full of party favors to send our way.

A few days ago, seems like our side started the celebrations a bit early. Some of the “newbies” that weren’t here when we were experiencing all the incoming last year were a bit unnerved at the sound of about three hours of outgoing. It’s easy; if it is booming in fairly regular intervals and no smoke and dirt is rising from anywhere on base, it’s almost a safe bet that it’s outgoing.

Incoming is usually in fits of three or five (this is only an example; your own mortar reception may vary depending upon location and degree of taunting from the locals). Besides, if it was incoming, you would have helos in the air like mosquitoes at some point and time. Since we have had the blimps up, these kinds of attacks are noted quickly and any remaining burning desire of said knuckleheads will be soon extinguished (along with their burning carcasses and get-away vehicles).

Sometimes this explanation still doesn’t settle the questions of the newbies and I have to tell them, “Look, what the hell do I look like, the frickin’ Shell Answer Man?” To which I get a screwed up look back at me if they’re under 40 years old. It’s what my Ma used to say to us when we’d ask too many questions. We just exist here; we don’t know every noise that goes on here…although Eve had the $1,000,000 answer the other night for her roommate.

As you probably know if you’re reading this, General Order #1 strictly forbids anything that might be pleasurable here in Iraq. This might include drink, fraternization and any said activity that might relieve everyday frustration. If the Mayor’s Cell could muster it, I’m sure they would have their very own fleet of Dementors…if only to borrow them from Azkaban for the remainder of this military action. Let’s just suck any happy thoughts completely out of your mind!

Eve’s new roomie having not been here long enough to have heard the whiz-bang sounds of incoming stuff, pulled her headphones off because she thought that she heard booming and such. Well, it was booming and such of a sort, (hopefully, even some rockets red glare if they were lucky), but from the other side of their 2X2 paneled wall-partition in the trailer. Bet *that* was a surprise, huh? Her only remark was something to the effect of that she thought she left those sounds behind in college!

Later, a group of us were contemplating that for such a rabidly forbidden activity, the PX certainly makes sure to provide for those moments when two consenting individuals carnal needs can no longer be chained back. There is probably a better selection of condoms in the PX than selection of hand creams and sanitizers!

Maybe the next trailer they open here on base shouldn’t be another fast food joint, but a “Lover’s Lane” trailer. I’m sure the strawberry or banana flavored edible underwear would provide better nutrition than some of the crap that is passed off for food at the chow hall! Or maybe some chocolate body paints? Mmmmmmm. Then maybe some canned whip cream and maraschino cherries to top the evening off. Beats the hell out of a bad pizza and a case of heartburn topped off with a couple of Tums for dessert!

Besides, they’re the ones that are trying to fill “the needs” of the soldiers here. “We go where you go,” is AAFES motto. Guess maybe they may need to change their banner “We go where you go…All the way, baby!”

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