Friday, September 28, 2007

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

28 Sep 2007

What the heck happened to the summer here? While it has still been hot here, I guess I thought that I was still on summer vacation from the blog. I wrote an email to some friends of mine yesterday and got an email back, “I would hate to see how long this email would have been if you were not bored with life and writing.”

So I guess I can’t use the excuse that I’ve been bored with life here and writing!

Guess the best way to catch you all up would be exerpts from my emails home over the last few months. I will say that while life has been so boring here in Iraq, at times I’ve been living vicariously through others back home.

Let’s pick things up from 28 June:

7/6/07
I had been keeping in touch with Miss Z about my bicep reattachment. She contacted me after reading the blog and had a number of questions about my recovery, etc. prior to his operation. Her boyfriend/fiancé ended up having to have the same operation after his bicep blow-out. He is doing well and will start phys therapy soon. I’m sure all is going well by now.

The other two AFS kids that I liaisoned have shipped out and back home. I’m sad to not be there to see them off, but with email and the way I travel around the world, I may see them sometime in the near future. Great kids with great futures. You have to remember that these kids are the cream of the crop to start with. I wish that the US took seriously how important learning a foreign language is to our future international relations and business. The world is so much smaller now than when we grew up. The AFS program really prepares these kids for a future in the real world. If you’re interested, check out http://www.afs.org

7/12/07

Hey guys,

Hope all is going well at your end. Things are going alright here...hot as hell, but about normal this time of year. Been back to running the past six weeks and have lost some weight and a few belt loops. Can you believe we're almost half-way to August already?

My niece moved out to AZ last week. All drama, all the time on that front! You'd think she was moving to Greenland or something. And no, I haven't done Greenland...yet!

Well, I'm off to breakfast. It's almost 9pm by you, but its 6 am here. Time for a some yogurt and an English muffin with peanut butter. Hoping that they have bananas, haven't seen any in about four days. Take care and I'll talk to you again soon.


7/18/07
Back in touch with my second cousin who works for P&G in Frankfurt. We lost touch for a few years there after the funeral in Chicago of my great Aunt.

Summer still the same in Baghdad…hot and dusty. At least I’m working nights, so I sleep thought the worst of the heat in the afternoon.

You can tell that I’m at the end of my workday, can't you? I'm getting psyched to get outta here today and go running. 12 hour shifts can really be a drag 5-6 times a week. Running has really helped me to relax and leave that all behind before I head off to bed at around 1030am...gotta love night shift. Still trips me out when I wake up at 4:30 pm and wonder why it is so bright out through the curtains this early in the morning! Duh!


7/23/07

Tony and Ang are working on adopting number 3 from China.

Congrats to Carl’s cousin on his recent wedding. Carl and family headed out to Washington State for the festivities. “We attended my cousin’s very, very earthy (environmentally friendly, vegetarian, clothing optional at times, and decidedly un-Lutheran) wedding retreat while there, which was interesting to see and also interesting to see how my Aunt, Uncle and parents handled it.”

We want to see wedding party pics at the next group meeting. Okay, I'll just blurt it out...so did you and your wife end up doing the buff thing for the wedding...She should have been easy to convince…since it wouldn't have required all the shopping and such of looking for shoes and a bag to match the dress! ;)

I’m thinking that *this* would have been the wedding event of the summer to attend! I’m sure the bride saved a bundle on the wedding dress. Just a few properly placed bows and some body paint and things are all in order! Why don’t I have relatives like that?

7/24/07

Re: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Lots (maybe up to 3/4 gallon) if you live in a trailer at the other end of the trailer park (because we don't have private individual "wet" trailers) from the bathroom trailers and are too lazy to walk, thus filling up previous used water or Gatorade bottles. Do I get a prize for properly answering that one? We had army people counseled for throwing the full bottles of urine in the dumpster in the morning because it is considered haz waste!

One of the medical guys I know here was telling me about two nurses that were hit by a mortar round on their way from the gym at the Embassy Green Zone last week. They never knew what hit them. Guess if you have to go, better to be quickly like that. They have always said that if you heard the boom, you've got nothing to worry about. It's the one you don't hear that completes your closing of and "buying of the farm."

Nothing too interesting goin on here otherwise. I've just been studying, running, working and sleeping. What an existence, huh? I wish the weight came off as easy as it went on. I wonder if the blood pressure meds haven't slowed down my metabolism too. It is a real job trying to undo all that ice cream I ate last year! I must say though, I enjoy my runs around Lost Lake. It is a great way to unwind after the day...even if it is at 930am when it is 90 degrees. It is that or wait till 1730 when it is 100. The joys of working nights. The only good thing is that two days of the week when I'm off, I can run at 0530 when it is nice out.

7/25/07

Sorry about not keeping up the blog. Not too much going on and when there is, it isn't exactly stuff that I can post up on the blog in any timely fashion. With the very negative mood of the public and press back home, I'm not going to risk getting shut down for something I've written, if you catch my drift.

Caught another cold that has been doing the rounds here. My head is pretty stuffed up tonight. I still felt okay yesterday, so I ran yesterday morning, but tonight is complete head cold stuffiness. Oh well, what can you do? It doesn't feel like it is as severe as the one I got when I first got back, but an annoyance all the same

The new HP book was supposed to arrive at the PX on the 21st, but never made it. So no, I don't have the book and no hope of getting it in the near future unless you buy it for me and send it....hint, hint. But don't pass me down yours, I want my own hardcover. And I did finish To Kill A Mockingbird. It was a surprisingly good book.

Learned a new phrase today. Don’t know if it’s origin comes from Lucent-talk or not, but the new term of the week is “UPAMs ( as in; unknown persons above me). Apparently, these UPAM’s “are making decisions about my business, and since I don't know who they are, I can't communicate with them to understand where all the disconnects are and how their decisions are going to impact the US telecom business. Every day is a new adventure in misunderstanding and confusion.” Thanks to Cheryl and the completely dysfunctional business environment at Alcatel-Lucent for this enlightening new acronym. Probably the oldest corporation (Lucent being the brain-fart of the Ma Bell breakup) with more acronyms than the US military.

7/29/07

Although you guys have always made fun of my eating/chewing habits (you know, counting my chews...which I really don't do!) I can’t help it, I’m a slow eater. I like the taste of my food!! Anyway, MSNBC.com had an article about “Chewing too Little” After all, we're not talking about how many licks it takes to get to the chewy center of a tootsie roll pop...which, if you remember the commercial, is 3...according to the wise old owl!

This cold I have has been a wimpy one. Mostly has been just minor congestion and sniffles from going from A/C to the 120 degree heat. I've been running in the morning when I get off at 930 and it has been around 95 out and I don't have any congestion then. Only when I go into the a/c do I get stuffy. Strange.

Looking forward to getting the HP7. I'm reading a book right now called Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa by Peter Godwin. He grew up in Rhodesia in the 1960's before it became independent Zimbawbwe. With all the stupid crap Mugabe has been doing over the past five years ("repatrization" of land from white farmers (with no compensation) to black indigenous Zimbabwians and only those of his political party who don't know shit about farming), all he has done is bankrupt the country, cause 60% or greater unemployment of his black indigenous countrymen and cause 5000% inflation and shortages of all goods. Very sad to go from the richest country in Africa to one of the poorest.

8/5/07

I just had coffee for the last time with my old friend from Kalkar. He left today back to the States. It had been 20 years since I was stationed with him in Germany and we've been having coffee mostly every week since I got back, catching up with each other like 20 years was a couple of weeks! With him it was less of a surprise because I received an email first from him telling me that he got to Victory while I was back home with my operations.

On that note…So I'm at the chow hall tonight. I'd just woken up an hour or so ago since I work mids. The damned chow hall as usual doesn't have crap worth eating and they don't have my regular salad dressing out. So I'm not exactly in a pleasant mood to start with. Out of the blue, some clean-cut looking Asian guy in a major's Army uniform walks up to me and says, "Dave, how ya doing?" like he's known me my whole life or something. But you know what? I have no idea who this is...I was clueless (okay, more clueless than usual) and left speechless (and that doesn't happen too often either!)

Well, he reintroduces himself...you know, John from Tellabs. Oh, now I am vaguely starting to remember him. That's right, he worked in the 5500 maintenance side and his cubicle was on the other side of mine and Bryan’s. His reserve unit is deployed here. Don't know for how long, but I looked him up on my local email global list and sent him off a message. Asked him if he wanted to meet for coffee. How strange is that?!

I've lost probably 15 pounds and was told by one of the seargents that I needed to get some clothes that fit me. He said that I've lost so much weight that the ones I have look like a potato sack on me! I guess the running and watching what I'm eating is paying off. While I was down with my back pain, I really couldn't do too much of anything but eat. So I really packed on the pounds. I'd say I'm back around 187 now and into 33’s.

One inch and about 10 more pounds to go. I've been running nearly every day and am comfortable doing 4.5 miles probably two or three times a week depending on how hot it is and whether there is a breeze or not. The shoes I have had made a difference too. I'm wearing a very light Reebok shoe. Just enough support but light enough that I don't feel like I'm running in boots!


Got an email from my niece today. She was asking about how to choose a mango at the grocery store. How does one tell their 19 year old niece that the best thing about mangos is having them fed to you! Sticky, sweet and much better than strawberries and whipped cream! I had never had a mango until I was 29 years old. I feel so naive and sheltered!

8/8/07

Lots of rain back home. We haven’t had even a sprinkle here in months. Not that I’m beggin for it either. The rain usually starts around November with some occasional showers here and there in October. Rain=mud. Sun good…rain and mud, bad!

8/15/07

Gotta love Courtney!

In are recent interview, Courtney Love (former wife of Curt Cobain and former drug poppin, "drink till your bathed in vomit" bad-girl of the band Hole who by the way was all insulted when someone suggested that she did heroin while pregnant...to which she responded something like, "jees, it isn't like I did it in the last trimester or anything!") discusses how she cleans up and "cleans out"....

"My daughter and I were kind of going for it because the dessert's fantastic," the former Hole frontwoman said of the macrobiotic diet she was following beforehand. "I put on 30 pounds and I put on another 15 out of emotional depression. Then I finally get an Italian Vogue cover, and I'm 182 pounds."

While she still indulges in macrobiotic edibles, the now 139-pound Love balances it out with fish and two meal replacement shakes per day. She also fasts several times a year and visits a clinic for those figure-friendly colonics.
"By the way, I hate reading magazines where the actresses are saying, 'Broccoli and fish, broccoli and fish,'" said Love, who appears on the Harper's cover clad in only a hat, shoes and strategically placed jewelry. "You liars. You bulimic liars."
Now *that’s* class!

8/21/07

Joke of the Day:

A guy goes to the supermarket and notices an attractive woman waving at him. She says hello. He's rather taken aback because he can't place where he knows her from.

So he says, "Do you know me?" To which she replies, "I think you're the father of one of my kids."

Now his mind travels back to the only time he has ever been unfaithful to his wife and says, "My God, are you the stripper from my bachelor party that I made love to on the pool table with all my buddies watching while your partner whipped my butt with a riding crop???"

She looks into his eyes and says calmly, "No, I'm your son's teacher!"

8/31/07

So I’ve decided to waylay the CCNA for now. They are changing the test in Nov and I don’t know that I can accomplish the second part before the deadline. I’ll come home for now and order the new books and start back at the books again when I get back in November. This of course, will open up my schedule some for lunch dates while I’m home. I actually look forward to catching up with a bunch of my friends that way.

I have continued to run about six days a week, roughly 4 miles each time...unless I'm feeling lazy, then I'll only do 2-3/4 miles or 3-1/4 miles. The heat even at 0930 in the morning prevents me from putting in any more mileage than that. Once it gets cooler in late September, I may be able to make one more circle around Lost Lake which would add another 2 miles onto the two laps (4 miles) I currently do. I have managed to drop about 1.5 inches off my waist and about 15 lbs, so I'm feeling better.

I guess people can see it in my face too, although I don't notice it much. I do notice that clothes are fitting better. The bicep and the back are both doing great too. It is hard to believe how much pain I was tolerating with the back for so long. I can truly say that I am again taking for granted, not living with pain every day.

The mood here is sketchy. Some days, more booms than I'd like to hear. But most days are fairly quiet. I don't think our presence here is all that welcome. At some point a realistic decision has to be drafted as to reducing by significant numbers the amount of soldiers and foreign civilians here in Iraq. I suspect that those decisions won't be made till after the next election. Bush is pretty adamant on that point in spite of public opinion.

I think we need a change but none of the candidates to date are exactly impressing too many either. I wish Colin Powell would reconsider. Now there is a man how knew the score and knew how to lead. Bush should have fell in line with him but was too busy grinding the ax for his father's failures in the Middle East.

9/12/07

Imagine my shock when I saw an article in MSNBC.com on a scientist that I’d worked with when I was at Palmer Station, Antarctica! Bill is still doing penguin studies there through Univ of Montana. Great article if you are interested.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19918376/

And here is the article from MSNBC today about the rocket that landed in our backyard on the 11th. If we made a big deal about everything that flew through the air here, we'd never get anything accomplished in the day! Although, this one did break a bunch of windows with the concussion of the explosion and it was confirmed to be a 240mm imported from Iran. Rocked me out of bed. One of those that made the walls of the trailer "breathe".

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20754571/

9/28/07

Back to where we started. So there you have it…What I Did On My Summer Vacation!

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