Sunday, October 29, 2006

What Iraq really needs

Sorry it's been a bit since my last entry. I wish I could say it was due to being involved in alot of interesting and demanding activities, but the fact of the matter is every day has been full of the same mundane BS as the day before.

So tonight we watched one of my favorite '80s movies 'Better Off Dead'. A few days prior we had watched 'Revenge of the Nerds'. Apparently it's '80s movie week at the south ECP.

We got to talking about the one thing all '80s movies seem to have in common and that's the montage where everything gets fixed. The nerds clean up the house, Lane and Monique fix his Camaro, Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis slaughter a bunch of people.

We decided that what Iraq really needs is a good montage. Pick some appropriate background song (should be '80s music) and then cut to a bunch of Iraqis working on their power lines, picking up trash on the side of the road when a Shiite and a Sunni cross the street, smile and shake eachother's hand.

So here's the contest. From your own imagination compose the best 80s movie montage of Iraqis 'fixing things up'. Theme songs and cut scenes of your own, but following the general idiom. Feel free to include a helpful robot, sassy french girl, nerdy boy trying to get the attention of a girl who's way too hot for him, but let's leave the bloody slaughters in the Tarentino movies. I'm definitely thinking more John Hughes here...

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ramadan winds down

Ramadan is a monthlong celebration of Islam, and includes the practice of fasting during daylight hours, frequent prayer, charity and self-accountability. It's can be compared to the Christian lenten period, but holds the same signifigance western culture attaches to Christmas. But unlike the Christian celebration of the birth of their god, which is a time for peace and fellowship with all men Muslims believe Ramadan is a time when Allah blesses military ventures. So Ramadan for Muslims is a time of combat.

In 1914 during the the largest war at the time ever fought in Europe the troops famously stopped fighting on Christmas. Spontaneously. No cease fire was ever called, and in fact commanders in the rear on both sides were ordering that their troops re-occupy their positions and begin fighting. Instead they exchanged food, sang carols, and played football (we'd call it soccer).

I'm not a Christian myself, but I can appreciate the spirit of the celebration of Christmas. I just don't get Ramadan. These assclowns seem to celebrate it by blowing up more patrols and convoys, and dropping mortars into villages. And let me tell ya', they can't aim their mortar systems well enough to know if they're hitting the police station, city hall, the hospital or the elementary school.

Around here we saw a slight rise in mortar fire and IEDs. My buddies who do convoy escorts got hit last night. Nothing serious fortunately. I was walking to the bathroom this morning when I woke up and the soldier who lives in the room nextdoor to me came limping out with a big bandage on his foot. He took some shrapnel to his foot last night, but he's fine and will be back on duty in a few days. Now he gets free license plates (my personal euphemism for earning a purple heart) for life. I'm just very very glad they're all OK.

On to other subjects. Since I volunteered for this deployment and it put me over the two year mark in a five year period I get a bonus for the last six months of the 18. I just got the notification of the first bonus payment which will get deposited next week. I'm sure I'll be able to come up with something good to spend the extra money on.

Six weeks 'til I get home on leave. I need to get a new cell phone. My best friend Scott is an electrical engineer at Motorola and designs new phones. I'm sure he'd like me to get a new RAZR, and I do like them, but I'm leaning toward a Blackberry. Anyone got any advice on the subject? I'll probably be getting it within a few hours of getting off the plane for leave in Nebraska so I can connect with everyone (I'll advise then what my new .. will be).

Not much else interesting going on right now. Just fighting boredom and counting down days. The guy I share a checkpoint with on nights we work the front of the ECP and I have a little celebration at the end of every shift. One more day down. Of course he goes home on leave next week, one day after his 21st birthday. So he's got extra reason to be excited.

Keep in touch, and I'll be home sooner rather than later!


Friday, October 13, 2006

Rainy Season!

We'll probably be sick of it soon enough, but the rainy season has arrived in Iraq! Of course last night it rained mud, which is what you get when you combine a soft rain with a dust storm. I was washing dirt out of places that most people wouldn't believe dirt could get after we got off shift.

When I was walking to the gym this afternoon it was overcast, and not nearly as hot. Then I heard a crack of thunder (don't ever let anyone tell you it sounds like artillery or mortar fire or whatever, it doesn't). I love thunderstorms, so now I'm in an extra good mood.

Of course I needed to be in a good mood after I talked to one of my buddies about what he'd seen on patrol a couple days ago. Seems a young woman approached them with her three year old son. His entire body from the armpits down was a single large third degree burn. She wondered if the patrol could do something to help the child. Obviously the task was beyond the field medic, he informed her she must take the child to a hospital immediately. Of course even then the chance that the child will survive are minimal. The saddest thing is this is a result of a standard Iraqi form of disciplining naughty children. They dunk them in very hot water. Seems the young mother had just mis-estimated the temperature of her disciplinary bath. What kind of morally and ethically bankrupt culture are we supporting over here? These people suck.

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Current Events

Well, I have to adjust to another sleep schedule, but this time it's a good thing. We just transitioned to eight hour shifts.

I was on duty last night, staring up at the stars thinking that at night most places in the world look about the same. Or at least the stars do. It's cooling off here and it didn't feel that different from a late summer's night back home in Nebraska. Of course this reverie was ruined almost immediately by an explosion in the distance and two Apache helicopters flying about fifty feet overhead rattling me down to my toenails.

We're definitely over the halfway point now, the weather's getting better, and I go home on leave in about two months. I don't know if I'll be back for Christmas. We won't know our exact leave dates until the first week of November, but with my luck I'll end up spending Christmas in some airport holding area on the way back here. C'est la guerre.

Time to grab a shower and go collect laundry and make a quick trip by the PX. Hope everyone's well. Not much longer now.