Tuesday, November 29, 2005


This is the kitten that I found hiding under my car this morning, she's about 6 months old, not afraid of dog(s), has a bit of a cold and is looking for her human! I'm going to see if she's tagged tomorrow, but if not, and if anyone's interested, please send me an e-mail and I can see about linking you two up!

Monday, November 28, 2005

On the last day/night of thanksgiving break

The GF and I were talking about $ the other morning and it seems like we'll be pretty low until we both get paid again. Thank God that we are not "broke" yet, we still have our savings and worse comes to worst, I can always sign my happy ass for another 6 years of active duty service, to which I've heard that the sign-up bonus is something like 15 G's.

Most of the time, I just wish that neither of us will have to worry about $ matters. Not to worry about bills, you know. I know that's the dream of a lot of people. At least we are alive and healthy,plus our immediate families are all around and well. The in-law's and nephew were here with us for two days, and I'll have some photos up later, there are nothing like a cute 4 year old boy snuggling up to you and telling you that you're his best bud!

The dog could have looked a bit more excited with the nephew being there, but maybe he's getting a hint of the winter blues.

Thanksgiving at my friends' house was great! We were there from 4 in the afternoon to two the next morning! Chowing and chatting about everything under the sun. I really enjoyed that sort of social interaction, and maybe one day we'll get lucky and have more people to enjoy that kind of social interaction with. No heavy drinking, good foods, and exchange of conversations.

I am excited for the GF as she gets ready to take her phlebotomy classes and see if she likes this new endeavour. I hope she'll like it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Later this afternoon, a whole bunch of us who are in uniform and working for this particular place will be summoned to this sort of "come to Jesus" meeting, where they folks in charge of this place will tell us whether or not they've got enough $ to keep us working.

Just from the hush-hush statements made by some of the folks here, the vibe that I'm getting is that it may be a hard road ahead for those of us who have gotten comfortable working here, and we may either have to tighten our belts a bit to make ends meet or to look for new gigs altogher.

A bit unsettling but if any of the above happens, I've got to say that I've had a good run and I've been more than lucky to have worked this gig.

Today the in-laws are coming, along with the cute nephew, and we are going to attempt to cook the holiday bird, so wish us luck!

Happy thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Thursday night

The GF is mad at me tonight and she's not talking to me, for plenty of good reasons, reasonable reasons. I went indoor biking after work, since it's pretty much the only thing that I can do as far as exercise is concerned. I got back late, not talking about midnight late, but about maybe one hour than I should have been home. She' usually home around close to 4, since she shows up for work around 6:30 AM. She'd like for me to goto work one hour early and get off one hour early, and so far, it has been really hard to do, I'd either get off of work later, or I'd get caught up with this indoor cycling thing. I'm not good at this sport, don't get me wrong, you should see how much more I suck at team sports! It's a meditative sort of thing, I don't know if I'm explaining it correctly.
I think the GF is getting the message that I don't really care much about time with her, and that's not true. What sucks even more is that I'm not having such a easy time showing her that it's not the case. Over dinner last night, she said that my experience in Iraq hasn't made me a more appreciative person, you know, kind of like more emotional, with more passion, and just basically living as if everyday is like my last day on earth. I told her that the "Thank God I'm alive" feeling comes and goes. Or just maybe I need to be in a more of a world of hurt to more fully appreciate life and all that's in it. I don't really know.
Whatever that has been slowing me down, making me dull, or not a better person, I'm "pedaling" it away somehow. (Starting by having a better control of my body and its movement.) It's probably not the best way to go, but for right now, it's a start.
I'm trying to talk more with the GF, and so far, I don't think she has been too happy with the results. I guess she thinks that I've got a lot to hide from her, I don't, but it does take effort to tell her some things sometimes without her getting irritated or vehemently disagreeing. There are a lot of things that make me feel the same way too, I guess I'm just not very good at explaining myself.
It must be hard for her, I know that it's hard for anyone who's all about communications to live with someone who's not doing so well at it...for 6 years and counting!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It has been getting colder and colder in the last few days, bottoming out at mid-20's farenehit. I like the cold, don't get me wrong, but I like it even better when I'm prepared for it. Last night, I went out to walk the dog and even though I was bundled up, my fingers were still freezing in my gloves. Gloves are always hard to get right, you could have these thermonuclear devices in them and your fingers would still feel that drafty coldness!

The dog, on the other hand, loves it! He's built for winter conditions, lots of fur, and just the right amount of fat to protect himself.

The GF is in her last week of temp work, and is looking forward to taking off some time to enjoy the holidays and visits with the nephew. The nephew and the in-laws are coming up to see us next week and we'll have a mini-thanksgiving before we have a bigger one with some friends. I've never spent thanksgiving with friends before so I'm looking forward to that!

I just completed some required tests for this job that I'm trying to apply for in the Northeast and I've no idea how it's going to turn out...I hope it'll turn out well, there are a lot of toys and life neccessities that I can get if this propective job could work out.

We'll see though, you know the song lyric "...you can't always get what you want..."? I think it's to make people more grounded.

Friday, November 11, 2005

What is a vet?

What Is A Vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times over in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She -or he- is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another, or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose Presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow- who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded. Two little words that mean a lot, THANK YOU. Remember November 11th is Veterans Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I got to see my ovaries today!

I had left work early to see a "reproductive specialist" at KU Med. Center. We are hoping to spawn sometimes in the future, so one of the first steps to getting this done is to see the doctor who will facilitate the procedure that'll make me "with child".

The doctor was this chubby lady in her 50's, blond and kind of bubbly. She explained how the procedures are done, how many tries it can take for a person to get preggars, and the last thing to do was to look my reproductive system on a ultrasound, to make sure that everything is there.

The doctor had a rod-like instrument, to which she lubricated the tip with some ky jelly, and proceeded to insert about an inch into my private. Not trained to view the insides of the body with ultrasound, I thought my uterus looked like a rocky cavern (kind of helped that everything is in black and white), the doctor rotated the rod and searched for images of my ovaries, and they both looked robust and full of eggs...guess that means that I'm ripe for reproduction!

I've got to pick sperms, that's a dilemma in itself.

Make sure that we can bring the kid(s) safely into this world.

Be patient, resourceful, and try to be ready to protect the kid from the stigma of having two mommies.

Love the kid(s) and pray to God that he/she won't shoot you because you gave him/her a curfew.

The GF got into the phlebotemy program that she wanted to get into, and I'm really happy for her! I just hope that she won't use me too much to practice her newfound skills!

You know you've been in Iraq for too long when....

This was from Sgt. Lizzie's latest entry, and I must agree....

You Know you have been in Iraq too Long "When "

When mortars land near your compound and you roll over in bed and think "still way off, I got another 5 minutes"

* When you start humming with the Arabic song playing on the radio on the shuttle bus

* Every woman that reports to your unit starts looking attractive

* Every guy that reports to your unit starts looking attractive

* You walk an extra 6 blocks to eat at the KBR (contractor run) dining facility to have the exact same food they are serving in your dining facility because you think it tastes better

* You actually volunteer for convoy security duty because you still haven't seen the country yet

* You start picturing your wife in traditional Arab dress

* The contractors have more fire power than the military combat units. (This is true)

* You take the time to add your lines to this list

* You've spent $200 dollars at Haji mart on DVDs buying Basic Instinct, 9 and ½ weeks, and Body of Evidence just for the sex scenes

* You drink the water from the tap because you want to drop 20 pounds in two weeks

* Driving around in SUVs with weapons pointed out the windows and forcing cars off the road seems very normal to you

* You can put your body armor and helmet on in the dark in under 5 seconds

* When the organization you work for has changed its name more than 3 times

* When you can actually talk to people in the United States on a cell phone, yet you can't get people on their cell phone a block away

* When you actually spend more time writing e-mail about the dog in the compound versus how to conduct the fight in Najaf

* Your idea of a fun Thursday night is to go to the Palace pool to watch the State Department folks get drunk, naked and try to pick each other up

* When you actually get excited to get a package that contains 3 pair of socks, 12 bars of soap and a Victoria Secret Catalog

* When you start to enjoy the rocking of the trailer every time the MEDEVAC choppers fly over

* You memorized every episode from the 4th Season of Sex in the City

* You enjoy the audience commentary while watching a movie bought at Haji mart

* You see celebratory fire going over the compound at night and think, "wow the colors are so pretty" and want to fire back

* Your thinking of buying real estate in the green zone

* Your idea of sex is 20 minutes of Instant Messaging with your wife on the computer, OK, 10 minutes, who are you kidding?

* You wake up and think Baghdad, I am still in friggin Baghdad

* You make the new guy show you his count down timer just to make you feel better about your time you have left in country

* You're in the Army and you start saying Ooorah

* You're in the Marines and you start saying Hooah

* You're in the Navy and you realize you are in the middle of the desert, the exact opposite of being in the middle of the ocean, where one might normally find the Navy.

* You're in the Air Force, and you're on the plane home because an Air Force tour is too short to have been a long Iraq tour. Ignore this list, zoomie, you won't get it.

* You only notice the stench of Haji funk when its not there

* You plan on removing all trees and grass in your yard when you get home so it will look more natural

* You forget there are other colors than brown that can be found in places other than power point slides

* The temp drops down to 102 degrees and you shiver while reaching for your Gortex jacket

* You have noticed a change of season, from long, hot and dry to short, cold and wet.

* When you call home and your kids ask "Who is this?"

* You call home and your wife says hello Bill (your name is Sam)

* When you go on R&R, you duct tape your child to the roof of your car, hand him a pellet rifle, and assign him a sector of fire for the ride to "The Olive Garden."

* When you can comfortably shave and brush your teeth using bottled water, but don't mind showering in the "non-potable" local water.

* While on R&R, you look out the window and find Nature, which leads you to wonder who stole your sandbags.

* When some of the contractors wear their DCUs (Desert pattern camouflage uniform) more properly than some of your soldiers.

* When 12 hours is a short work day

* When, During the BUA, "DIV asked MNSTC-I for the FRAGO that MNC-I was supposed to publish, but couldn't because MNF-I hadn't weighed in, since they were too inundated with MOD and MOI war-gaming the JCCs
within the ISF to square us away!" is a valid comment and generates no questions.

* When you start using words like G'day mate, Cheers, and Bloody hell as part of your normal vocabulary

* When you have your opinions printed in the STARS and STRIPES more than 3 times

* When the palace catches fire and instead of helping to put it out you grab a bag of marshmallows and start roasting

* When you step into any office and there are 6 colonels, 12 lieutenant colonels, 15 majors, and 8 captains supervising the work of 1 sergeant

* When you end every phone conversation with "Out"

* When you're ordered to get an air mission together on short notice because it's a "Hot priority" only to have the Major call back once he is in the air to ask "Does anyone know where I am going?"

* When the weapon buyback program has become so successful that you have issued the same AK-47 to the Iraqi army 3 times

* When you can actually tell the difference between the sound of an exploding car and an exploding mortar

* When on R & R you tell your wife that your weapon status is Red and your looking for the clearing barrel

* When on R&R you go to Church and wonder why no one is wearing body armor or carrying an automatic weapon to the service

* You see an indirect fire attack take out a generator and get angry at the enemy for not hitting the one that powers your computer

* You see an indirect fire attack take out an air conditioner and your vigor to fight is renewed

* You yell at the FNG for shouting incoming when the rounds don't impact close enough to hit your tent with dirt

* You know that you need to run inside immediately after any win of an Iraqi sports team to keep from being hit by celebratory fire

* You decide for that for poops and grins - lets take a run around Lost Lake at Camp Victory to see if we can get shot at by the sniper

* You never worry about oversleeping because if the morning call to prayers doesn't wake you, the daily 0430 mortar attack will (most mornings)

* The highlight of your shopping experience at the PX is to see that they got in a new shipment of Schick Tracer razor blades

* When you send out your laundry and your whites become grayer, your blacks become grayer and your DCU's become grayer - makes it easier to sort loads...

* You get offended by people wearing clean, pressed DCU's

* You decide that it is a better course of action to pull your blankets over your head than put on your body armor during a mortar attack - the woobee will save you and at least you are comfortable

* You make a contest out of seeing who can wear their uniform for more days before becoming entirely disgusted with themselves

* You wonder if the fish served at dinner really was carp caught out of the Tigris or Camp Victory's lake

* You find it completely acceptable to pick your nose while talking to a complete stranger or member of the opposite sex

* A rocket or a mortar really isn't a big deal until the crater it leaves is big enough to trip over in the dark on the way to the latrine

* You go to a social gathering and intermittent gun fire or explosions don't even cause a pause in the conversation

Monday, November 07, 2005

For Hakim

إلى الحكيم :

أكتب فقط لإخبارك عن كمّ أخطأتك . هو كان بعض الشّيء أكثر من سنة واحدة منذ آخر مرّة قد قلنا إلى اللّقاء . لم أعتقد أبدًا أننيّ لن أرى أبدًا أو أسمع منك ثانية بعد أن عدت من الموصل

آمل أنّك الآن في الجنّة, حيث يسعى كلّ الرّجال الجيّدون بعد أن قد أبلغوا, مهمًّا كان مأساويّ و عنيف السيركومستا آمل أنّك الآن في الجنّة, حيث يسعى كلّ الرّجال الجيّدون بعد أن قد أبلغوا, مهمًّا كان مأساويّ و عنيف السيركومستا

آمل أنّك الآن في الجنّة, حيث يسعى كلّ الرّجال الجيّدون بعد أن قد أبلغوا, مهمًّا كان مأساويّ و عنيف السيركومستا

آمل أنّك الآن في الجنّة, حيث يسعى كلّ الرّجال الجيّدون بعد أن قد أبلغوا, مهمًّا كان مأساويّ و عنيف السيركومستا

آمل أنّك الآن في الجنّة, حيث يسعى كلّ الرّجال الجيّدون بعد أن قد أبلغوا, مهمًّا كان مأساويّ و عنيف السيركومستا


Saturday, November 05, 2005

My first bike race

For thoese of you who might not know, I like to ride my bicycles from time to time. I've got a purple road bike, and I've also got a hybrid, purchased for me by my GF, back a few years ago. I'd take the purple bike out on road rides, and I always ride with some people so that I wouldn't get lost.

There's a bike shop in downtown Leavenworth and the owners of the shop have been very nice to me, and they are true lovers of the sport of cycling. Many of his customers are the grad. students at the officer grad. school on post. These officers and very competitive and going on rides with them would always end with me finishing last. Not being competitive in nature, I didn't mind it, what I did mind was that most of the riders were sort of stand-offish, if you said hi to them, no gurantee that they'll even pay attention to you. So I stopped riding with them for a while.

Shift forward a few months, another class of army grad. students have started class, and the weather is also getting colder as fall approaches. I went back to the bike shop to say hello and get my bike tuned. (I've been riding around the military post from time to time, by myself, it's lonly, but I don't really have to deal with egos.)
The owner of the shop then planted the seed in my head that I should try to at first, ride 25 miles with another group of people (You could read about that in the previous entries), and then enter myself in a cyclecross race, since it'll be "fun" and "easy".

I dragged my GF and the dog after breakfast this morning, and we headed to the local high school. We got there and saw so many racers, all well equipped with their thousand dollars bikes and cycling attires. I've got my cut-off bdu shorts, long sleeve shirt and helmet. I hastly got registered, paid a small fee (the cycling federation has to find a way to make some $), and ran to get my bike to the starting line.

There were only two people in my catagory, the beginners, while the rest are experienced racers, and from what I've heard, they came from just about everywhere, not just Kansas and Missouri.

What did I do on the first downhill? I flipped over my handlebar and hit my head, knee, thigh, and ab on the grassy ground. The GF saw everything and wondered why didn't I just quit, I thought that might be too melodramatic, so I opted to stay in and finish the race, even though my bike was wrecked and I had to carry my bike or walk most of the course, taking the bike downhills and riding the flat part.

I thought that I was bledding from my head, since blood and sweat sort of tasted the same, of course, I didn't have time to care, there were a lot of panting and re-tasting of breakfast to do, aside from trying to finish the race.

I was done after 2 laps around the course, and at 23 minutes, there were pretty much no more time for me to do another lap (are you kidding?) I grabbed the free water and gatorade from the sponsor's cooler.

I did get a medal, not because I was fast, not because I had the most spectacular fall (there wasn't a catagory like that), but for the very fact that there were only two people in my catagory.

Still I was proud of my battle wounds, and gaining the knowledge of what a cyclocross race was like. (Like a cross-country bike race) Would I do it again? Maybe, eventually, and this time with my bike better tuned.


This is my lovely forehead.


My knee.


This is on my thigh.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

In the midst of preparing for the holidays, please don't forget those who are still out there....

Luck runs out in 'Triangle of Death'
Unit commanders shared great responsibility, greater worries
By Cal Perry

Monday, October 31, 2005; Posted: 10:03 p.m. EST (03:03 GMT)

Editor's note: CNN producer Cal Perry is embedded with the U.S. Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Forward Operating Base Falcon.

NORTHERN BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq (CNN) -- The two men were good friends at Forward Operating Base Falcon in Babil province, each commanding units at the base in what's called Iraq's "Triangle of Death."

Col. William Wood and Lt. Col. Ross Brown exchanged gifts recently, said Sgt. Kim Bradshaw.

He couldn't say what the gifts were, just the kind of things soldiers with great responsibility and even greater worries share on a battlefield.

That's why the events of October 27 hit so hard.

Northern Babil province is vast farmland divided by a series of canals with narrow roads running alongside.

The members of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment patrol in Bradley fighting vehicles and Humvees, wary of the roadside bombs that have taken so many lives in Iraq, including those of four members of the 3rd ACR who died when an explosion knocked a Bradley into a canal.

Those were just four of the 14 deaths suffered by the 3rd ACR in 45 days during the summer.

On October 27, Brown led a patrol of two Bradleys and one Humvee along Route "Tampa," a highway in the sense that it is wider than the paths that pose the biggest danger for roadside bombs. "Tampa" links Babil province to Baghdad.

As he prepared the patrol that day, Brown asked his soldiers what they carry out with them for protection -- not meaning the usual flack jackets, Kevlar helmets, M-16s and grenades -- but pieces of so-called "luck" from home.

Among the pieces brought out -- a Bible, a folded prayer, pictures of loved ones, the patron saint of soldiers and the ever-present "charm" candy found in MREs (meals ready to eat).

Three bombs had exploded along the route the day before.

Shops line only one side of the road. They are tiny and poor -- hastily made of splintered plywood and nails, the better ones with an overhang for shade, all with little or no business to speak of. The business plan seems to be the hope that traffic will back up so much that frustrated motorists will stop by for a drink or a snack.

The makeshift shops had closed before the previous day's explosions, an obvious sign to Brown that the shopkeepers knew the attacks were planned.

As he talked to each shopkeeper -- making his way methodically down the road -- it became obvious that he was not going to get any answers to help protect his soldiers from further violence. Each shopkeeper told Brown they weren't present the day of the explosions.

Brown knew better. Bradshaw was among the responders a day earlier, and he had seen the shops were closed.

Brown walked back and forth with the owners, threatening to shut down the shops, all the while continuing to catch the shopkeepers in similar and equally questionable statements. Finally, he walked away from the shops and spoke to Bradshaw.

"How can I make them fear me more than the insurgency?" the commander asked.

This question is at the center of the problems faced by the U.S. military every day across Iraq.

Bradshaw responded, "They're all lying -- and they're scared to death."

"Of course," Brown said. "And they know that -- unlike the insurgency -- we're not going to take them out into the street and shoot them. They know we're here temporarily, and they have to live with these people forever."

Getting back in the Bradleys to move out of the area, Brown said he didn't know if he was going to shut down the shops.

"I need to think about it some more," he said, shaking his head in near disgust as he climbed back into his Bradley.

Brown is a firm believer that his men are making a difference in Iraq, that they are true heroes. But he's not without his superstitions.

Later that day, after much prodding, he begrudgingly brought out his personal pieces of "luck" that protect him on missions -- two personal notes from his son and daughter. In a small plastic bag, the note from his daughter reads, "come home ASAP."

Moments after Brown shared these personal items, the bad news came across the radios.

Wood had been killed about a kilometer south of Brown's position. Wood -- a regular Army officer assigned to command the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, a National Guard outfit from California -- was directing his men on a road that had been a bombing site moments earlier.

He was giving orders when his luck ran out. A secondary explosion killed him, blowing him backward into one of the canals.

At the time of his death, he did not know that he was about to be promoted -- from lieutenant colonel to colonel.

Wood was the highest-ranking U.S. officer to die in combat in Iraq