Monday, February 26, 2007

Crappy Day
Current mood: crappy

I'm blue for no particular reason. I'm gonna go play basketball for a couple hours, 'cause getting my ass kicked there will certainly help my self-esteem, which will in turn elevate my mood.

I really need to take laundry in in the morning. My dirty clothes bag sits on the floor and mocks me. It's an evil thing.

Do you think if one drinks enough Mt Dew Pepsi will give you shares in the company?

After passing out mail today I'm fairly certain that Bravo Troop (my unit) is a significant statistic in's balance sheet.

Is there anything else of importance going on in the world besides the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith? CNN needs new feeders.

Is it July yet?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Busy few days
Current mood: melancholy

Well, it's been a hectic last few days, that's for certain.

A month or two before we moved in to our present quarters the area wherein they're located had flooded. We weren't aware of it at the time, but the floorboards in several of the trailers (including mine) had rotted out. A few weeks after we moved in the floorboards between the joists collapsed, and I found myself walking through hills and valleys just to reach the door from my bed. It took a few months to get the base housing office to even look at the problem, and by that time I had thought we were only a few months from leaving, so I told them not to bother with it. Well, once the extension went through I decided to have it fixed after all. Yesterday was the day. The process involved removing everything from my room, and sitting out all day while workmen installed a new floor. The end of this process yesterday afternoon found me sunburned and exhausted, but happy with my new level floor.

I seem to have lost the battle regarding the combat infantryman's badge. It turns out that even though I have been serving in the mortar section of our unit in an infantry MOS (military occupational specialty) for the duration of our activation this was not the case. On paper I still held the cavalry scout MOS. So when my unit needed me to be a mortarman for live fires etc. I was given all the responsibilities of that MOS, but when it came to collecting the reward (the Combat Infantryman's Badge, or CIB) they decided I was a scout. Typical Army bullshit. They'll give you the worst deal possible as long as it makes someone else look good. The problem is the paperwork all lines up supporting their position, arcane though it may be it's correct. The spirit of the regulation would indicate that I should be awarded the combat infantryman's badge vice the combat action badge, but the letter of the regulation says differently. This has me in a bit of a funk.

Only a few more days patrolling, and I'll be back on the entry control point. This also has me in a funk as I've really enjoyed the variety and responsibilities of this mission and don't look forward to the more static and highly structured and supervised environment on the ECP.

I got a package from the folks at Arbor Day today. It was kinda neat since while watching AFN last night I saw a commercial for the Arbor Day Foundation. It puts a smile on my face, but makes me a bit homesick as well.

Hope everyone's well. No word yet on when we'll be going home, but I'm keeping a weather eye on events. I'll want to be able to give the motorcycle dealership some idea of when they should have my bike ready for delivery. I'll let everyone know as much as I'm allowed to say as soon as I'm allowed to say it.


Friday, February 16, 2007

How can anyone be expected to go to school on a day like this?

Mindful of the fact that it's icy, rainy, and about three degrees below zero back home in Nebraska I must say that the weather here in Iraq has been great! Sunny, mild breezes, highs in the mid-60s, cool comfortable nights. It's amazing the effect the weather has on one's mood. Our time out on patrols is coming to an end, we're already working with the platoon that's going to replace us, and then it'll be back to the boring old entry control point. But I've had my fun out here. It would have been a shame to be sixteen months in Iraq and never see anything but the base, or one dark and horrific night on a two lane highway in northern Iraq.

A few days ago we dropped off some school supplies at some of the smaller villages just outside our base. We got mobbed by kids begging for stuff, and believe me these kids can beg. It's kinda cute at first, then it gets frustrating, and then offensive. A couple kids brought a dog out because they thought we'd want to trade something for it. We're not allowed to have dogs, so we couldn't trade with them. The problem was they were really just beating the hell out of this dog. Carrying him around by the leash with a neck collar. Eventually they ended up killing the little guy, but I don't think they realized it. As we were packing up and leaving the village I saw them 'walking' the poor little guy away, dragging him along the ground, his little legs motionless underneath him. That's an image I'm not going to get out of my head for awhile.

My new computer got here, and I've been having a grand time getting everything transferred from my old one onto this one. But job's done now, and it's a blast. This thing is HUGE! The screen on it is almost bigger than the screen on the TV in my room. It's fast as heck, and photos and graphics look fabulous. So, mad money well spent.

So, to sum improving. Iraqi kids suck. New laptop good. And had we not gotten extended we'd be packing stuff up and training our replacements.

Be safe everyone, hope the weather back home improves soon.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Out on Patrol

Patrols in Iraq are definitely more interesting than sitting on an entry control point for eight hours a day, but even with the differing scenery, towns, people, and times of day it can still get dull. One of the ways we keep awake and stay focused is to sort of rip on eachother. I get picked on alot for my choice of 'hairstyle'. Which is to say they give me a hard time for being bald.

Every now and then we take along personnel who are assigned to the entry control point as a sort of 'ride-along'. Let them see a bit more of Iraq than just Camp Anaconda. Tonight we had a Sergeant from the New Jersey unit riding along with us. This particular Sergeant is 55 years old. He's from North New Jersey, and of Puerto Rican descent. He speaks english with a very heavy accent, and it's hard for some people to understand him. But once you're used to him it's really no problem at all.

Well, just as we're pulling out of the gate my driver delivers one of the best rips I've ever heard. So timely, so accurate. "So, Sergeant P., how is this different from patrolling on wooly mammoths back when you first joined the cave army?"

Morale is better than most people would expect. Don't get me wrong, most of the guys would rather be on the way home right now, but we want to do our duty as well. Mostly we just don't want to let down or appear weak in front of our peers. That's a pretty big motivation for a soldier. It'll make them do all kinds of things they wouldn't think they could accomplish otherwise. Go here to see just how far some men will go when motivated by the sense of duty to one's comrades.

Still waiting on my computer, but I'm told by very reliable sources (Hi Mom) that it's been sent and is even now winging its way to lovely Iraq.

Hope everyone at home is well. I know it doesn't feel like it in Nebraska right now (-1 for the high?) but summer's just around the corner and we'll be back soon.


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Groundhog's Day

So yesterday was February 2nd. Groundhog's Day. We've often correlated life here with Bill Murray's same-day over and over again existence in the movie (AFN played it last night).

Fortunately since I've moved over to patrolling the Groundhog's Day syndrome has gone away. Every day is a little different. The challenges and chores are similar, but we do something a little bit different every day.

We had our physical fitness test a couple weeks ago, and while most everyone passed the results were less than stellar. So we started doing 'organized physical training' every other day. A different Sergeant will come up with a PT plan for that day and off we go. Usually it's pretty heavy on the basics, push-ups, abdominal workouts, and running. Yesterday one of my buddies was charged with leading PT. He's a straightforward, uncomplicated and very physically tough guy and he decided we should run. We'd done alot of push-up and abdominal work the last two sessions so his PT was going to be all about running. So....we ran for four miles. I haven't run that far in like forever. We went a little over three a few times at Camp Shelby during training, and managed to get by with it, but honestly I was in alot better shape then. Oddly enough I did way better on our little four mile run than I thought I would. I didn't really stop to walk very often (twice both for very short time periods) and finished in about the middle of the pack, well ahead of several of our 20 something soldiers who seemingly didn't feel like putting out.

So the old man still has it. I'm tougher than I thought I was.

Hope everyone back home is doing well. Miss you all.