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!