Sunday, May 27, 2007

Movin' on out!

Time's flying by now! We're out of our old pods and living in temporary housing (open bay barracks again, but not for too long). Things are going well, and we should be on our way to the next step in our Oddyssey soon. Not real soon, or very soon, but soon.

Hope all's well with everyone back there! Stay in touch, and we'll see you all sometime next month!


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Are we there yet?
Current mood: geeky

Einstein told us that as an object approaches the speed of light in relation to its starting point that time compresses, and the perception of the passage of time is lengthened for the object traveling at speeds approaching c.

Relativity also tells us that as an object approaches the speed of light it gains mass. So is the distorted time sense a product of mass itself? If so, does time pass at a different rate outside the gravity well of a planet or a star? Since mass creates gravity, and causes space to warp, does it also affect time and cause it to warp as well?

Does that mean that events that have a great deal of gravity (like us getting the hell out of here) also alter our perception of the passage of time as we approach these events?

I need to study some more physics. Maybe that'll tell me why it seems to take forever for events like Christmas mornings, dates with pretty girls, and plane rides out of a combat zone always seem to take longer to arrive than events like physical fitness tests, doctors visits, or performance evaluations at work.

Oh well.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Winding Down

The end is most definitely nigh.

Guys are selling off their TV sets, DVD players, refrigerators, microwaves, and other miscellania. We're also trying to sell our satellite system. If it goes for the price we want it's going to most likely be grabbed and sold right off. I'll try and put a last post out before I disconnect it all and pack it up.

Some of the guys and I are talking about going to a motorcycle 'rally' in Iowa at the end of June. We couldn't get hotel rooms, so we'll probably just spread bags out and camp.

After that I'll be packing up and heading to Vegas for a few days. I'm sure I'll spend some money at the tables, see a few shows (Monty Python's Spamalot is playing there somewhere, as well as Penn & Teller), and just relax by a pool.

Eventually I'll find myself back at my desk, going to Starbuck's every morning on the way to the office, and resetting people's passwords. That's going to be a mental gear shift that I'm honestly sort of nervous about.

I'm also planning to go back to school at Bellevue University. Their website is more than a little confusing, and a degree program that I had been interested in suddenly isn't on the curriculum any more, so I imagine I'll have to sit down with an advisor there and plot my course. I've got alot of education benefits that I can use up, so I might as well put in some work of my own and get something out of it.

Tomorrow is the dedication of an IED training area here on the base. I'll be acting as the master of ceremonies, and one of my buddies will take a few pictures for me. I'll post some as soon as it's all over. Now there will be both the Tricia Jameson Troop Medical Clinic and the Germain Debro IED Training Lane on this post. That's two facilities on this base alone named for Nebraska National Guardsmen. It's an honor certainly, but I'd still rather have DB coming home with us.

I've got my final blog entry from here already written, I'm just waiting for the time to be right to post it. When you see that, you'll know we'll be home soon!

Miss you all and see you soon.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Morals and ethics of a secular guy

As many people know I'm not a follower of organized religion, not very spiritual, and could probably best be described as agnostic or humanist.

I was asked during a discussion the other night from where I draw my morals if not from an organized faith. I responded that I'd made my own ethics/morality up based on my own life experiences.

Here they are:

My moral/ethical codes:

"And it harm none, do as you will." – The Wiccan Rede

Do your duty as you perceive it, don't shirk, don't whine.

Every day is a new day, every challenge a new opportunity to do the right thing. The right thing is typically to do the best work you possibly can. Don't despair yesterday's failures, look ahead to today's opportunities.

Smile at people.

Do not corrupt the innocent.

Punish the guilty.

Protect the weak.

Do or do not, there is no try.

Around the survivors a perimeter create.

Be brave.

Do SOMETHING, anything. Inaction can still lead to a solution, but if you don't participate in the process how will you know if it's the correct solution?

Make a sandwich and enjoy the sunset.

That's it. No other news to report right now. Every day gets us perceptibly closer to coming home. It's a happy thing, but man it's frustrating. Like a kid waiting for Christmas morning, we want to be on that big airplane right NOW! Oh well. See everyone soon.


Monday, May 7, 2007

Another entry about nothin'

We're sitting in temporary billeting now. Twenty-five guys sleeping elbow to elbow in a not very big room, all of us with too much time on our hands. It's amazing we haven't gotten ourselves in any real trouble yet. Those planes had better get here soon!

Nothing much earth-shattering to report. It's a long walk to the shower, the food in this chow hall isn't as good as the one on the other side where we used to live, and I'm trying (and failing) not to spend too much money at the PX in my boredom.

We have an internet connection available, but you have to walk about 3/4s of a mile to get to it, and that's kind of brutal in the heat of the day. We usually wait until after sunset to make our way over here. Definitely not as convenient as having one at your bedside like in our old hooches.

It's going to get kind of strange having both a bathroom, cable TV, internet, and a kitchen all in one place. Lots of things I'm sure I'm going to need readjusting to, but it's the little stuff that I can't even imagine right now that I'm certain will cause the most stumbles.

It's been interesting as well boiling everything I own down to few enough items to fit into a ruck sack, a duffle bag, and a carry-on backpack. I also have a pelican case for my laptop, but since I can't fit much in it besides my laptop I'm not sure it counts. Underwear and t-shirts become disposable in such circumstances. There's a towel, and a pair of desert boots that also aren't going to last past the final pack-out. Nothing like getting out of a combat zone to really make you evaluate which stuff is important. The answer seems to be 'not much'.

It'll probably be close to the end of June for our homecoming. Family and friends I'm sure have already been invited to my Mom's the following Saturday for BBQ and beer, and probably showing off the new motorcycle. I can't wait to bounce the nieces and nephew around a bit, and just sit around in shorts and a t-shirt.

Not much else to say right now. I just realized I hadn't posted in awhile, and thought that even no news would be good news. It has to be better than nothing at all, right?

I want a lightsaber!

Yay, I have four days off from work in a row! Due to the extension we all get a four day pass in addition to our 15 day R&R leave. I elected to take my four day pass here rather than pack a bag and live in a tent in Qatar for four days.

I'm starting off my pass with a six movie Star Wars marathon. I've just decided that the one material possession I believe I would prize over any others is a lightsaber. Not one of these flashlights with the plastic tube, or a Hollywood replica. No, I mean a real functional lightsaber. How cool would that be?

Geez, I'm such a nerd.

I'm going to pack out a couple footlockers tomorrow. Then I may take a nap around two, followed by something tasty (or at least as tasty as is available here) for supper, then an extended nap later in the day.

I'm practicing for my first couple of weeks after I get home. I'll be sure to let everyone know how the relaxation goes.


Friday, May 4, 2007

Here it comes

Getting out of here a little early may actually mean we're getting out just in time! Oh, I don't mean heavy duty insurgent activity or anything like that. From what I can see things are relatively calm around here in that regard. No, I mean the dreaded Iraq summers.

Here's the weather underground page for Balad, Iraq. As you can see it's already getting up close to 120 by the end of the week. At least I work nights, so I don't have to be out in body armor anymore during the worst of it (I was on day shift last summer).

Of course we'll still have plenty of day time work to get done to get out of here on time, but we'll just drink water and muddle through like always.

See everyone soon!


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Interesting News

I can't give out any real information yet, but I can say this.

Do not send any mail to me here in Iraq after May 15th. In fact probably better if no one sends me any more mail here from now on.

No word on exactly when we're out of here, but it's likely to be sooner than we had expected.

Temptation you evil wench

Well, I have tonight off duty.

Every time I have a day off I always go buy a pizza to sort of celebrate. Today was no different. The little pizza hut (shack) is right next to the PX so I wandered in there while I was waiting on my pie (medium supreme with extra cheese). What should my weak-willed eyes behold? A shelf full of Playstation 3's. Only ten were left.

I wandered around, grabbed a movie, a magazine, some snacks and then wandered back by the shelf of PS3's. Only 5 were left. I am weak. I brought the number available down to four. It was $600, but I'm pretty sure I'll use it when I get home. The only problem is since my room is already overloaded on electronics (our satellite modem and all our network switches run from there) that as soon as I plugged in the PS3 before it was even powered on it kicked over my circuit breaker.

Well, maybe I can find a different circuit to run it on. No hurry, no worries. I can feel some stress evaporating already!


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Things to do before one dies

Apparently there's a rather popular book making the rounds titled something like '1001 Places to see before you die'. There was also a credit card ad I happened across in a magazine listing some anonymous Joe's goals he wanted to accomplish in his life.

I thought it sounded like a fun topic, so I'm stealing guiltlessly and doing the same thing here.

In no particular order:

Finish a college degree

Ride a motorcycle across the US

See a sunset or sunrise from the Grand Canyon

Play in the World Series of Poker

Go hang-gliding at Kill Devil Hill's, NC

Run in a 10K race

Own my own home

Write a book (doesn't have to be published although that'd be nice)

Bench press 300

Swim 1600 meters

And lastly to spend as much time as I can reading good books and relaxing in the sun, and never getting blown up again.

There are probably 10,000 things I'm leaving out. I'm an ambitious guy. My dog tags say 'Jedi' under religious preference, but I don't really possess the quiet mentality necessary for serious reflection or meditation. Still, who doesn't like to sit beside the pool reading a good book and looking at pretty girls?