Saturday, April 28, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
As I have said before, the food here is good. KBR is the company that provides all the hotel services to all the FOB's in Iraq. These services include Dining Facilities (called DFAC), laundry, and a whole host of other services. The chow hall (or DFAC) is almost like eating at a buffet but you don't have to pay. The folks that serve the food always give out WAY too much of a serving size...so you have to be specific when you go down the service line (ie: ONE chicken breast, etc). The DFAC has a main line, Stir fry section, sandwich section, Salad bar, pasta/mexican bar, and of course a phenomenal dessert bar (Cakes, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, sift serve and hard ice cream, shakes, ice cream bars). A person could eat lots of dessert if your are not careful. I try to limit myself to one GOOD desert per week otherwise I might join the 300 club. (300 club: either you'll leave Iraq being able to bench press 300 pounds or you'll weigh 300 pounds.) Oh, yeah, they make us ALL wash our hands before we enter the DFAC. My wife likes that part.
The connectivity here in Iraq is very good. We have Internet (hence the BLOG) and telephones. We are able to use the Defense Switching Network (DSN) to place morale calls back home. It uses Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) and we place a call to an area nearest our loved ones and then either place the local call or use a calling card to make long distance. This really helps to stay in-touch with all of our loved ones. The other piece of software we have discovered is called SKYPE (www.skype.com). You can use your internet connection to place calls at a very low rate. If you have a Web Cam (which my MacBook does) you can place video teleconference calls for free to anyone else that has a computer with a webcam. I've tried to do this on a weekly basis to see my family....It's much better than the ship's connectivity and it's in the privacy of your own home. If any of you have a webcam and wish to SKYPE with me, drop me an email and I'll give you a call (after we coordinate a good time to call). The time here, as you can see from the clocks on the right, is about a 12 hours difference from the West Coast Pacific Time....so most of my calls take place during the weee hours of the morning. We recently got an Internet connection in our room, but there are three of us sharing the connection, so I recently purchased a Wireless Router so we can all share the connection. I should get it by next week. I cannot complain about the connectivity here in Iraq....It really does make the deployment much easier on me and my family.
The picture above is of one of my recent Geocache finds. The cache was hidden under the wooden cover on the end of the barrel. Very cool cache...and it's an old Iraqi cannon. The picture below is one of the Art pieces that my oldest daughter drew for her art class (it was done with colored pencils). She's definitely got some artistic talent (so does my younger daughter!).
That's about all from Iraq. Check out BOB on the FOB for some FOB humor.
Posted by ea6bflyr at 7:05 PM
Thursday, April 19, 2007
He was so into himself and spent way too much money on his luxuries. Some people have monogramed shirts or hankies, but one of his favorite palaces was monogramed. The doorways all had his initials on them. The picture to the right are his initials over every archway in his favorite palace. His people suffered while he was living large. Most of the "food for oil" money was spent on Saddam's luxuries not his people. He has paid the ultimate price for his attrocities and abuse of power.
I've updated the pictures in the previous post. Since that post, someone has already found the Micro Cache that I hid....we call that a FTF or First to Find. Now I have to go and place the second one in this series....I have four that I will hide.
Cat update: We have not seen the cat in the palace for about 4 days. Someone said they saw him somewhere else on the FOB, so it sounds like he's doing okay....but he has yet to produce a dead mouse.
Again, I thank all of you for your support and know that I am safe. Senior O, I have a suprise heading your way....I'm certain you will like it.
Posted by ea6bflyr at 6:57 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
First, I'd like to give a BIG shout out to SENIOR CHIEF O. He told me he was going to send me some goodies and asked me for my address, so I gave it to him. Low and behold, he sent me this HUGE box of GEEDUNK (Navy term for candy). You see, Senior Chief and I were on our last deployment (JAN-JUL 2006) and we'd always have GEEDUNK at our watchstation. The box itself is a work of ART. Besides that, there was enough candy there to choke a horse. I've shared my GEEDUNK with my co-workers and they have been powering through it. The DARK Chocolate Dove eggs were my downfall. Thanks Senior Chief!
Second, I've like to thank my WIFE. She has sent me a couple of care packages. This last one contained my more EVIL Girl Scout Cookies (Evil because NO ONE can pass them up) and my COFFEE PRESS. Last night I ground up some coffee beans my buddy left me and had an AWESOME Cup of Joe. (A little Navy History: "Cup of Joe" origins: When Josephus Daniels became secretary of the Navy in 1913, he prohibited alcohol aboard all U.S. Navy vessels - making coffee the strongest drink that could be served on board. For that reason, sailors started referring to a mug of strong coffee as "a cup of Joe".) She also sent me the 9th Season of the Simpson's and a beautiful hand-made card. Honey, thanks for all you do here and at home! I sure do miss you!!!
Third, I'd like to thank my Mom. She sent me a care package with Colombian and Costa Rican Coffee....yummm!!! Thanks Mom, it's delicious!!
The mattresses here are almost like box springs....lots of springs and not much cushioning. I got tired of sleeping with the springs in my side so for 17 dollars at the PX, I bought a foam mattress and my bed is now VERY comfortable.
Today, I managed to escape the castle and do a little goofing off (me time). I did a little site seeing at a nearby FOB called Slayer. There they have two sites that all must see. First is the Purfume Palace. This was the place that Saddam kept his concubines (it's the one that looks like a juicer). The other one is the "Victories over America Palace" that Saddam had started building...I guess we know how that one turned out. I also was able to do a little Geocaching. I found my first combat cache near the palace at a place that looks like it straight from the FINSTONES. Funny thing is that the Americans named the street "Flintone Drive." (Pic below) The Flinstone house was built for the kiddies and inclues an elevator and multiple rooms. Talk about a great play fort for the kids.....those priviliged enough to visit this place. I also placed my first combat cache near Al Faw Palace on FOB Victory. Then it was back to work, work, work. That's about all for now.....
Posted by ea6bflyr at 2:14 AM
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
The other day I was out jogging (and because I am an old fat guy, I don't RUN, I jog) by the fence-line when Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues started playing on my iPod shuffle. At that time I started to draw parallels about how being in Iraq is similar to being in Prison (but different). Don't get me wrong, doing time in a prison is a punishment for those that get caught breaking the law and this list is not meant to belittle prison, just discuss my thoughts: (the list is not all encompassing)
1. Prisoners live inside walls protected by armed guards to keep the bad guys in; in Iraq, the armed guards are keeping the bad guys out.
2. Prisoners are un-armed and guards are heavily armed; in Iraq, everyone is armed, some more heavily than others.
3. In prison, inmates lose thier freedom; in Iraq, we are protecting freedom.
4. Prisoners wear uniforms; in Iraq, so does the military.
5. Prisoners eat prepared food in a chow hall; in Iraq, so does the military.
6. Prisoners are free to roam the compound during certain hours; in Iraq, the military is free to roam where we wish as long as you have the proper Body Armor.
7. Prison time is considered hard time; so is serving in Iraq.
That's about all I can remeber from the list I made in my head during a 40-minute jog. Feel free to add to the list via comments.
I am proud to be helping out the Army with my job and we see forward progress everyday with what we are doing. When watching the NEWS at home, only believe about half of what you see and none of what you hear. The news at times is so lopsided. If you don't alread know: CNN is a Democratic News station and FOX is a Republican News station....if you don't believe me, sit and analyze each of the stations and make up your own mind. Not that I am criticizing either station, it's just that they tend to put their own spin (or interpretation) on what they see. (Stepping down from soap box) Sorry....didn't mean to rant, but sometimes the News is all we watch and it sometimes just gets you frustrated.
As always, I miss and love you K, J & C. Multiple boxes of love!
Picture above is a stock photo of a typical guard tower in Iraq.
Posted by ea6bflyr at 4:03 PM
Sunday, April 8, 2007
Car & Roads: My job has me traveling to the adjacent FOBs and in order to get there, I have to borrow a vehicle. Unlike some of my buddies, I do not have a vehicle, so I borrow whatever I can get my hands on. Recently I have been driving a Toyota pickup truck. I know most of you think of a nice new truck when I say that, but no, this truck has seen some miles. I'll describe it: White, four-door, diesel powered 5-speed, 4-wheel drive with no radio and multiple dents. Wait, there's more: The seat is locked into one position (short), the inside rear-view mirror has been glued back in place but is very loose (everytime you hit a bump, it shakes like the dickens), the right rear window does not roll up, and oh yeah, the whole rear window is missing...so we always have good airflow when we drive. It rattles, humms and pulls to the left down the road and I think the shocks should have been replaced about 3 years ago. Other than that, it's very reliable and it gets me around (when I can borrow it). So, the other day, I needed to pick up my hard drive from HQ and I borrowed the truck. Remembering that it doesn't have a radio, I thought it might make for a better ride if I had some music. I grabbed my portable Sony speakers and my iPod shuffle. Now that's combat problem solving at it's finest! The ride was much more enjoyable and one of the gate guards caught me rocking out and had a laugh. The roadways over here are horrible. I live about 4 miles from headquarters, but because of the roads, the speed limit and the heavy trucks, it takes anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes to get from here to there. There are potholes big enough to mess up any front end alignment. Some of the roads are so bumpy, it's better to drive on the median. These are just the roads that are on-base....I can't imagine what the roads on the outside look like.
Cat & Rats: The cat has become a true palace KING. He meows loudly to get into any closed door and just the other day she caught a bird outside and delivered it to the Admin folks as a gift. We told him NO, go for the Rats instead. There have been no rat sightings since the arrival of the cat. The guys have been talking about naming the cat "Chuck Norris" that way they could apply all the Chuck Norrisism to him. If you haven't read any of these, you should, some are pretty funny. For example, the guy I am relieving made one up: "Chuck Norris doesn't Sh!t in the catbox, he IS the Sh!t in the catbox." If you have read any of the other Navy Bloggers from Iraq, one of them talks about a Chuck Norris Lattrine near where we did our CREW training. I've been there and some of the posts are pretty funny: "Chuck Norris doesn't sleep, he waits."
Surprises: Yesterday I taught a class at HQ and when I arrived I was told I had a package. I grabbed it and put it in the truck. When I got home there was yet another package sitting at my desk. My thanks to my Wife and my Mother....Not sure how they managed to get both packages here at the same time, but kudos. So, I had a feast of Girl Scout cookies and honey roasted cashews/peanuts. Thank You. I did share some of my Thin Mints and Cafe Cookies with the gang in OPS....the two boxes were gone within the hour. :) I'll share some more soon.
As always I am thinking of my loved ones and I miss you all. Oh yeah, Happy Easter!!
The pictures are of the "Chuck Norris" (the one with my buddies boots are to assess size) and the lobby of the castle.
Posted by ea6bflyr at 2:09 PM
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Computers: Hello everyone. I am writing to you from my recovered MacBook. How sweet it is to have may laptop back in action. I stopped by the HQ building twice on Tuesday and asked multiple people if my FEDEX package had come in....the only response I received was "no." My wife said I should have the drive by the 3rd, but alas it was not there. I asked my wife for the tracking number only to discover that the drive had been delivered on the 30!!!! What the heck...now all I needed to do was track down who signed for it. When I called today, I asked if anyone knew the name and to my dismay, I was speaking to the signatory. I asked him to verify that he did in fact have the drive before I drove 30 minutes to the building. To my dismay, again, he said he had it. I told him to keep it out and I'd come pick it up. I had been asking and asking about my FEDEX package for a week and come to find out that he had it all the time. Instead of being nasty, I just picked up the drive and thanked him. I could have given him a piece of my mind, but I'm bigger than that....We are all away from our loved ones and at times life is trying enough.
Cats: The other day, I was coming down the stairs when I hear a mysterious sound....it almost sounds like a baby crying. I run into a couple of Army Seargents and I ask "What is that noise?" The response was "It's our new Mouse killing cat." So I head down to the basement to see what this cat looks like and to size him up as a mouse killer. Well, he's a cute little orange tabby and he's only about 4-6 months old and he' crying for either company or food. A few folks have been taking care of him and he's adjusted to the "Castle" life. So I think, that this place just might have a few small field mice running around for the little cat to catch.
Rats: To my surprise, last night one of the fellows I sit next to jumps up out of his seat....Startled, I ask what is going on. He says that he saw the "mouse" run behind out work stations and he described the mouse as a large RAT....so it appears that our new cat has his work cut out for him. The mouse is apparently as big as the cat. The folks downstairs are feeding and training the cat to be a real killer using string and laser pointers to hone the cat's skills. I'll try to keep you all up-to-date on the cat & RAT story.
The guy I am relieving leaves on Sunday. I think I have a pretty good handle on the job. Last night he said he gave me the keys and it's all me now. I've posted a story in the upper right corner that was published last month (SEAPOWER) and it describes what we (the Navy) is doing in Iraq for those of you that don't know.......That's about all for now.
K, J & C I miss your hugs.....Love you!
(Pic above is me sitting in the famous chair in the Al Faw Palace holding my M-16)
Posted by ea6bflyr at 1:39 AM
Sunday, April 1, 2007
New Best Friend:
Well, I have arrived at my new job and I have a new BEST friend. He happens to be the guy I am replacing and he has been here since last summer. He is ready to go home to his family and he also knows that his time here is coming to a close. Boy is he happy and I am happy for him. I'm sure I will be the same way when my relief comes to relieve me.
I've finished all my training and now we are doing a job turnover. He is teaching me all the ins and outs of my new job and how to handle the things that will come my way when dealing with Big Army issues.
Best news is that I am living in a PALACE!! That's right, a palace and this place certainly is a nice place. There is MARBLE everywhere along with ornate woodwork. We have a nice view (when you look outside) and I have a bathroom very close to my room. My room is about 40' x 40' with 15+ foot ceilings and I share it with two other people. I've managed to secure enough bedding that I don't have to sleep in a sleeping bag anymore. How sweet it is!
I refer to the Palace as a Castle....and it's very secure and safe, so please don't worry about me. The area is very green and we have those pesky little blood suckers here too (see previous post).
Because of my new best friend, I am getting an electric teapot (for heating water) and a nice french coffee press. So please send me some premium coffee (Starbucks is always good). I'm sure he will throw some other stuff my way as well because 1) 220 volt products don't work so well in America and 2) It is a pain in the butt to pack all that stuff home.
Today we had the first windy day since I've been here. The visibility was terrible and the sun was blocked out of view. Yummy dirt....That's about all for now.....
Hugs and Kisses to all!
and a Special Happy Birthday to my Big Sister....hope you have a great one!
(Pictures above are my closet (8 feet tall), my bed and my bathroom)
Posted by ea6bflyr at 11:46 PM