Archive for December, 2007

Happy Christmas

December 25, 2007

I hope everyone has had ample opportunity to spend time with their families and friends this holiday season. Just because I am missing out over here in Southwest Asia doesn’t mean that anyone else should have to. I’m not a jealous guy that way.

We are having fun and making the best of the holiday here in Iraq. We ate a huge holiday lunch, have been playing games on the “office Wii” and I did half a day’s work this morning. There are many other soldiers that don’t get the day off, the ones on patrol and who are closer to the actual bullets than I am, so please remember them and do not worry about me this holiday season.

In fact, I want to make a special request this Christmas. This is the traditional celebration of God’s gift to mankind, and so in that holiday spirit, I ask that if you send me a package with anything in it, send toiletries and useful things, like wipes and such, and I will send them on down to the little COBs, FOBs, and JCC and such, where guys don’t have working showers or are only there for a few days at a time because the conditions are so rough.

Anything I receive over the next few months will go to these people who need this stuff much more than I do, because I have a PX I can catch a shuttle bus to if I run out of soap, or razor blades. Some of these soldiers don’t have places to even use soap, but are still expected to use razor blades. So please remember them, they are the real freedom fighters here; all I can do is make sure I support them at the division level as much as possible.

On a side note, I have shaved my head. It is, in a word, drafty. Many comments have been made about my sudden resemblance to Lex Luthor. I don’t know, but you be the judge. We took some pictures the other day, so when I get a chance, I will upload them so you can tell me whether I need to start storing up the kryptonite.

Happy Christmas and Merry New Years!

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Sand Storm

December 14, 2007

So, occasionally I take a day off from saving the free world and propping up democracy in the middle east to relax and try to run some errands. One of my favorite past times here is to be able to sit in the patio area of the one coffee shop on post and not have anywhere to go for a while. I sit, sip my java of choice (usually whatever is least expensive), and read my latest Economist Magazine, if I have one. I watch people as they go by, and just enjoy the warm afternoon air in the shade.

Today it was very windy. In fact, when I went running earlier, I was making great time out on the first mile and a half, but the other mile and a half back I was slowed by the wind to almost a stand still at points. Where I was running, there is not as much sand as some portions of the base, so I was comfortable just running in shorts and a T-shirt.

I walked to lunch, and it was getting windy. I ate, and headed to the PX area where the coffee shop is. I couldn’t see 100 meters the wind was blowing so hard and so much dust and sand was being kicked up in the air. I had to keep my eyes squinted, by head down, and lean forward to make sure I didn’t get excessive amounts of sand in my eyes. This is why people wear even clear glasses during night here.  

I sat down. I had to put the coffee cup inside my patrol cap so it wouldn’t blow off the table. It was warm this afternoon, but the wind would swirl around me and I would feel cool on the one side. Time passed, I finished my coffee, and eventually couldn’t handle any more news or analysis. I grabbed my rifle, noting it looked rather dusty and that I was going to have to clean it later. Then I stood up and a cascade of sand fell off every crease in my uniform, off my shoulders, and when I ran my fingers through my hair, wafted out into the air. I gaped. I looked like a walking mudslide, the non-alcoholic kind.

That was me sitting for one hour outside, just to give you some perspective. I think if I had stayed in place all day, I would have just looked like a sand dune. Then I imagined what it was going to be like once the rain started turning all this mobile sand into mobile mud.

I can not wait for R&R.

Holiday Ethics Exam

December 6, 2007

In case you hadn’t heard, I am in Iraq, and while I do not have it as bad off as the majority of the soldiers here in theater, I do not have all the amenities of a normal military post or civilian city. I do have internet, of course, so I suppose I could purchase things on Amazon or other websites and have them shipped, but that is only a stop gap solution for what I want to do.

I want to send out a family letter, or at least a letter from me since we haven’t had the opportunity to be much of a family for half of this year and most of next. I bought some blank cards from the store to mail out, but pictures usually accompany things like this. I have taken a very limited amount of photos with my digital camera, but operational security must be maintained, so they are few and far inbetween. Plus, being the conservative minded man I am who believes in as small of a footprint as possible for government, I would balk if another agency of the government was printing personal color photos out using government ink.

With those prefacing comments, would this blog with a picture or two make do? Of course, part of sending gifts is that you either took the time to make something, or spent money you worked hard for to purchase the gift, so there is thought and effort behind those. And the letters and pictures are for everyone to hang on their refridgerator so other people can comment how handsome your family member or friend is.

I need feedback. Will people weight the fact that my temporary lodging in Tikrit, Iraq offset the completeness of observing a holiday tradition, or am I completely absolved of any responsibility, and I’m just doing good by thinking about it? Or, more frightening but possibly more true, will anyone want a letter from me without a picture of Luke included?

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