Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Marathon, anyone?

Last post, I wrote about my participation in a 10K run and how fun it was to leave the Army guys to choke on the dust kicked up from my shoes. Despite the comments of the older and wiser, who thinks there could be nothing fun about grueling heat and physical exertion while battling through sore muscles and aching joints, I have decided to take on a greater challenge - the half marathon.

"Now, why not a full marathon?" you ask.

Well, my friend, that would probably hurt. Besides, who's to say the marathon isn't half completed? All of you half-empty types out there...well...I would like to see you out there, running the full 26.2 miles. Then do it in the desert...while low-crawling through a mine field, while sneaking up to an insurgent hideout, armed with nothing but your K-Bar knife whith which you plan on unleashing your mayhem in the name of truth, justice, and the American way!! Hah! Didn't think I would have any takers!

Seriously, though, people often ask me why I run so much. "Why do you run so many miles?" My simple answer? Because they're there. My long answer? Because they're there. See, running for me has turned into kind of a therapy. I didn't mean it to turn out this way. Rather, I wanted simply to rid myself of a few pounds that attached themselves to my otherwise thin midsection. In the process of so doing, I learned that I really do enjoy strapping on the running shoes and hitting the pavement (or treadmill). It's relaxing. And I'm not fat anymore. And it keeps me from allowing my turrets syndrome to break through to the surface when dealing with the rediculous Army horse hooey.

Well, folks, wish me luck. I'm off to hit the pavement.

On a serious note, please keep my sister and her husband (and the rest of his family) in your prayers as they have suffered a terrible loss. Sis #1, I'm sorry and I'm praying for you guys.

A, E, L, I love you!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


Last weekend, I had the honor to take part in the annual Audie Murphy association 10K fun run. I don't know if this event is held everywhere or just here in southern Iraq, but 6.2 miles is 6.2 miles no matter where you are. The Audie Murphy Assn. is one of those organizations that allows only the finest non-commissioned officers to join its ranks and claim membership. I thought it was special that they invited me to run with them. I was truly surrounded by greatness...

Until I left all that greatness in my dust!!! WOOOOHOOO, there were maybe 20 people in front of me out of about 300 who took part in the race. Meet army standards??? Hell no! I exceed them!

The title of this post is my time. I didn't think it was all that special of a time (actually a bit slow) but I later found out that whoever laid out the course miscalculated and 6.2 miles in this case was actually 6.4 miles. Oh well...can't trust the Army to count either.

I shouldn't be so hard on the Army, actually. After all, these guys are some of the finest young men I have ever had the pleasure of serving with. They have to be in order to put up with the Army's crap all the time.

In other news, I managed to find time to take part in a poker tournament on Thursday. I came in third place. Pocket jacks and an "all in" call got me the third place trophy. Stand by for a picture of the glorious statue. It's pretty comical.

Well, folks, I am sorry I haven't been posting as much as some would like, but I have been really busy running races and playing poker. Seriously, I do have a job, and it's a pretty involved one at times, so bear with the lack of posts.

A, E, L, I love you!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Ahhhh Vacation...

Hello, everyone. I would say that I'm so sorry for not posting in a while and that I have been so busy that I just couldn't take the time to post updates, but neither of those statements are true. The truth is, the Army has a wonderful program called "Rest and Recuperation" of which I was recently taking advantage.

The view you see there is what I woke up to every morning. I would say it's a marked improvement over the desert sand and the 130 degree temperatures as well. Even better than the view, though, was the fact that I was able to wake up next to my beautiful wife every morning and then I could go and see what my wonderful kids were doing. That is what made the whole vacation for me. Fifteen glorious days in New Hampshire's Lakes Region with my family. Unbeatable.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and such is the case with my R&R. I am now back in Iraq, coping with the inordinately hot temperatures, mediocre food at best, and an understocked PX. Joy.

Well, I only have a few more months left here and it's not all bad. I do a job that saves soldiers' lives and that's what I keep my eye on. These guys are the greatest asset America has and they're certainly worth me giving it my all to make sure they come home alive.

A, E, L, I love you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's So Dang Indirect About It?!?!?!


I am sorry it has been so long since I have written. I have really been slacking in that area. Funny thing called the war and all…You know how it goes…

Well, it’s business as usual here in southern Iraq. Memorial Day has come and gone, and unfortunately, one of my guys was one of the ones being memorialized this weekend. Please take a moment to remember his family in your prayers. He was a fine soldier and a great man. He will be missed by all who knew him.

As for me, I am nicely toasted and seem to be taking on a darker tinge to my skin. Yesterday, I saw the earth open wide and Satan himself came up, walked into my office, turned on a fan, looked at me and said “Man, it’s hot as crap out there!”

I got a bit of an education last week. I learned that “indirect fire” does not mean the enemy is not aiming at you. Way back in the Civil War (War of Northern Aggression, Second American Revolution, etc.) there was an artillery battery that was forced to move its gun behind a large hill. See, at the time, it was customary for cannons to be aimed directly at the opposing line of troops. The hill caused a bit of a predicament for the young Rebs who were manning the gun as it was the only thing standing in the gun’s line of sight. One of the soldiers quickly pulled out his Texas Instruments graphing calculator and calculated the arc that would be necessary to hit the line of Northern infantry on the other side of the hill. Such was the birth of “indirect fire.” In order to hit a known spot on the ground, one aims at a known spot in the sky, allowing gravity to take its course and guide one’s precious projectile safely to its target.

Last week, that target was ME! I took personal offense to this action, though I was not equipped with the proper munitions to counter said “indirect fire” (it’s IDF if you’re a cool Army guy). Alas, no matter how loudly I objected, the rounds kept whistling in and violently slamming into the terrain around me. Al Kut is definitely off of my “Places to Vacation” list.

Well, folks, I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. Thank you to all who sent me packages. Everyone here is benefiting from the lift in mood they brought about. A, E, L, I love you!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Hello all! I don't know how many of you keep up with the weather, but it's been hot here. When I say hot, I mean HOT. The temperature has reached upwards to where you can actually turn your oven on and have it cooler than the ambient temperature. The average temperature here for this past week has been about 110-115 degrees. There's usually a breeze out there, but instead of making things feel cooler, they tend to make you even more miserable. It feels like someone has a hair dryer and is blasting hot air right in your face.

Now, I don't mind the heat, but it sure has put a damper on my running cycle. I have since taken to running indoors. I usually don't favor the treadmill. I tend to feel like a hamster on his wheel, running with all of my might, yet actually traveling nowhere. Futility at its finest.

No, give me the open road and 75-degree weather over that horrendous rodent-inspired contraption any day. Alas, there are no more 75-degree days to be had. For now, I will deal with the heat and press onwards toward the gym, where I can exercise in air conditioned comfort. At least until October, when it should start to cool off a bit.

Well, folks, I am sorry this was so short. Like I've said before, every day here seems like the previous one, so it's hard to come up with a new and intersting topic every day. Thank you to all who send me letters and packages.

Also, happy Mother's Day to all of the mommies out there. Mom, I love you. I know I'm playing with guns and running indoors over here, but I'm sure you understand.

To my wife, a special happy Mother's day. You are a true hero and my children are especially lucky to have you as their mother. A, E, L, I love you.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Observations from the Road

Hello, folks! It’s so wonderful to finally have some down time to sit and focus on my blog. Last week’s entry was a little hurried and I rushed to get something on the page to let you all know I’m still alive and well. As my friend Max used to say, “I’ve been busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kickin’ contest.”

This week, I welcome a member of my favorite (dripping with sarcasm) service, the mighty United States Air Force, to my realm. He comes to me with 18 years of service and is dedicated to excellence. MSgt, welcome…Now, get to work.

I went out with some of the guys on a local mission and got some interaction with a few of the locals here. It’s amazing that a few pens and pencils doled out with a smile can make a kid’s day. I have attached pictures of the outing for your viewing pleasure.

Also amazing to me is how different this culture is from ours. In America, we have a government and we trust that government (sometimes) to provide certain services for us, such as promoting the general welfare and providing for the national defense. Well, here, the local tribe will take care of most of these issues. For example, the Sheik will have his people and all business that deals with his people will go through him. Business deals between the locals and the U.S. go through the Sheik and he sees to it that his people are taken care of. He is the negotiator and executor of all contracts dealing with his people. So, in exchange for water or use of a certain piece of land, or whatever, he ensures that the people on that land or who have right to that water are tended to. The Sheik has an incredible amount of power – more so, in most cases, than that of the government.

Another thing – Mark the Euphrates River off of my list of things to see. I find it incredible that this land used to be known as the Fertile Crescent. While there is vegetation directly on the banks of the river, there is literally nothing growing farther than 200 meters from the water line. It’s gotta be the global warming…Dang Babylonian kingdom with their chlorofluorocarbon-laden hairspray! What on earth were they thinking?

Enjoy the pictures and take care. A, E, L, I love you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A week of farewells...

I must apologize for the length in between my posts. I have been extremely busy here. First, I must bid fair winds and following seas to my friend and coworker, Rob. He did his fair share of time here and it's time for him to go home. He will certainly be missed.

Next, I must bid farewell to Sir Boris Yeltsin. Though the press hails him as the champion of reform and democracy of the Eastern Bloc, there are those of us who remember things a bit differently. Were it not for folks like ol' Boris, I would have been unemployed throughout much of the 1990s. Thanks, Boris! Your neglect for your liver and subsequent mishandling of nuclear weapons, which led to a large portion of your inventory being LOST, sure kept the previous decade interesting for me.

Third, I must say good-bye to my beloved Navy-mobile. Other than the finicky starter and the horrendous outward appearance, it now has no power steering capability, nor will it stop by simply pressing the brake pedal. The emergency brake works, thankfully, or else I would have been a grease spot on the side of an Armored Security Vehicle today.

My first clue that something was wrong was the gushing liquid that filled the floorboard. It smelled like hydraulic fluid. It was hydraulic fluid. "Dangit!" I thought. "Why can't I steer anymore??? Oh Crap! Why can't I stop anymore!?!?!?" A few glimpses of my life before my eyes later, I had brought the vehicle to a halt. I guess the lowest bidder did build the Humvee...Problem is, mine was built by the lowest bidder about 20 years ago. They don't build 'em like they used to.

Well, I don't have much more to say this week. I am doing well here and people back home really love me. Thank you all for the packages, those who sent them. I can't tell you how much I appreciate them.

A, E, L, I love you!