My Weather

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I am so glad people have their priorities straight

In Pensacola, there is a great Irish pub and restaurant called McGuire’s. We even convinced them to allow us to have our wedding rehearsal dinner there. It is a fantastic place with great food, drink and atmosphere. There is a moose head that has been kissed more than a time or two, thousands of dollar bills hanging from the ceiling, and great Irish music. Part of the fun and games are the signs for the restrooms. As you can see, it basically says “Ladies Room” and in smaller print: “that way”. I remember watching many unsuspecting souls walk into the wrong room. Rumor has it, I actually saw the inside of the ladies room once, but that is something I cannot confirm or deny. Harmless, silly fun. Well some overly sensitive, whining, moron that couldn’t read a sign decided to call the Health Department and complain. After much negotiations, they reached a compromise where McGuire’s will install an inner door to the restrooms so the poor, misguided, illiterate ultra-sensitive, won’t feel like the true idiots they are. I am so glad people have their priorities straight

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Just another one of the typical sights here in Iraq. Dirt, dust, pallets of water and walls--yep, that's about it for around here.

Well, if the Navy sticks to the plan (not holding my breath on that one) , I have 3 more months to go. So that means I’ve been gone for 6 months now and I’m 2/3rds of the way through my tour. There were times when the days really dragged by, but for the most part, time flew by. I realized lately that I’ve been setting small milestones for myself along the way. So instead of looking forward to a date 9 months away, I was looking forward to Tuesdays, when my favorite TV show comes on and to Fridays, the day I can sleep late since I don’t run on Fridays. I once heard a saying “Yard by yard, life is hard…inch by inch, life is a cinch”. It really applies to here.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Things that go bump in the middle of the night

The other night, something work me up around 0130. I was half awake when there was a huge flash of light that lit the inside of my trailer and a loud “BOOM” that shook the dust from the rafters. That woke me up. Running to a bunker crossed my mind, but my floor was cold and my flip flops were on the other side of the room. So, I just pulled my mortar resistant comforter over my head and went back to sleep. A few hours later, I got up and went for a run long before the sun came up (it was already 95 degrees outside). Things didn’t look right. A tent was knocked down and half of it was hanging over a wall. A tree was knocked down. My first thought was “wow good shootin’ Hajji”. When I passed the 10th down tree, I figured that we had a pretty big storm. The funny thing was it was a dusty as ever.

When I got to work, I found out that we had 75 knot gusts during a freak windstorm. It did a fair amount of damage—but not a single port-a-potty blew over.

Memorial Day

Today is a sad day for me and a lot of the guys I serve with. In the past, Memorial day was a day off from work filled with BBQ, family reunions and long drives. Sure, the intent was to honor the fallen, but they were a bunch of dead guys from a long time ago that died in some far away place. The biggest tragedy always seemed to be how much gas prices went up on just in time for Memorial day.
This year its different. It is more personal. We are honoring guys that were just here—some of which haven't finished making final trip home yet. It has been a bad couple of weeks. We have taken some bad losses lately.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Where is the civility?

Sorry, today's post has noting to do with Iraq,
but something I came across in the news.

Today, I read a story about a 12 year old Alabama boy that killed a 1100 pound wild boar. His proud dad put up a website: On the website there is section for comments. As you can imagine, some people have issues with hunting and they said as much. One comment really stood out. Remember, the boy is only 12 years old:


My only question is; where is the civility? I can understand not approving of what the boy did, but to attack him with such hatred and foul language? That is simply inexcusable. He is a child after all. I simply don’t understand how someone could have such compassion for an animal yet such disdain for a person. I thought liberals were kind and compassionate?

The real hero

There is nothing heroic in what I’m doing over here. I’m here, I go to work and hope that by the end of the day, I’ve made a difference. Noting special-- just doing my job.

The real hero in our family is my wife. We had very little notice that I was deploying, and suddenly she was left with a house to run and 2 kids to take care of—all on her own and during a very difficult time in our lives. She didn’t have the option to take a “down day” or to sleep in if she was sick. She was faced with real challenges and took them on head on. From replacing a faulty water pump in our truck to painting the garage floor—she has done it all. Just yesterday our oldest daughter finished her first year of school by earning an award for being the best overall student in her class. I’m extremely proud of our daughter and all she has accomplished. So much of the credit has to go to my wife as well. She has spent countless hours helping our daughter with her schoolwork and fostering a love of learning. The results of her hard work are evident every time I look at our kids.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A sight for sore eyes.

Since they days are getting longer, it is getting lighter and lighter when I go out for my morning runs. As a result, the iPod and shirt Nazis are becoming an ever increasing threat. So to compensate, I’ve been running off of the beaten path on dirt roads—away from prying eyes. When it rains the roads become pretty muddy. Baking in the 115 degree sun, they dry unevenly and are as hard as concrete. The uneven surface has been wrecking havoc on my ankles lately. I was about to give up and start living by the rules, when I saw a road grader smoothing the roads down.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pimp my ride

In the Navy, I seldom knew which jet I would be flying until maybe a hour or so before launch. As a result, all of the jests were very standardized.
Not in the Army however, guys are assigned to a truck and that truck is the one they roll in. If that truck was to go down for a maintenance problem (which rarely happens), they wouldn’t swap trucks, another truck and crew would take their place. These kids get attached to their trucks, and inevitably they “pimp their ride” with custom light bars, sirens, bumpers, loudspeakers—not quite Road Warrior, but pretty cool. The best thing I saw, or rather herd, was some guy rigged up the music system from an ice cream truck. So the other day, I was walking along and I heard “It’s a Small World” blaring down the street in downtown Camp Victory, Iraq. It was great! Just hearing that sound brought me back to a simpler time and place. I think it made quite a few people’s day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What to do...what to do?

If all goes according to plan, I should be coming home in September. I would like to go on a family vacation. I wonder where we can go??? Some place the kids will enjoy and Braye and I can relax and watch the kids have fun. A real family kind of place...I’m sure something will come to mind one of these days. I just don't have any ideas right now...


This is the BX here on the base. Technically it is the AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) store. There motto is “we go where you go”. That part is true, every FOB has at least a BX trailer. Think of it as a Wal-Mart whose inventory is managed by a couple of monkeys. For some reason the sell 42” plasma TVs, but can’t seem to keep anything else in stock. You can’t be choosey wish it comes to shopping there. If you have a favorite brand of something, you might be better off having someone ship it to you. The other day, the only shampoo they had was Island Coconut. OK, I secure enough in my manhood to walk around smelling like Pablo the pool boy.
One of the nice features is that they take debt cards and you are allowed to get $20.00 back for each purchase. There are no ATMs in theater, so it is the easiest way to get cash. Right before I left on leave, I bought quite a few $22.50 sodas.
In addition to the BX, there is a Green Bean Coffee shop, a Taco Bell and Pizza Hut Trailer. There is a local “Hajji mart” there as well. Half of their goods are made in China and most of it is junk. I did buy a holster there—it is 6 months old and is now held together with wire ties and tape. Someone mentioned that, in the picture I posted the other day, the musicians didn’t use sheet music. Since they don’t know how to play, I don’t think that it would do any good.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Another Day

Another day here in Iraq. The temp is over 105. The bad guys are still out there doing bad things and we are still here doing our best. Our guys keep getting blown up and certain politicians back home celebrate another “Bush Failure point”. My meeting tonight was canceled--again. Just about the only thing that overrides meetings are memorial services. We’ve had quite a few meetings canceled lately.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

So, this one time at Band Camp…

OK, I normally go with the flow about certain things, but I hit my limit with this one. Each Army Division has their own band. So, when it comes time for parades, they have their music to march to. No problem there. But, someone along the line came up with the bright idea that band music is motivating for the troops, so everywhere you look, there is the band. One day I was out running at 0500, and there was the band (Stetson hats and all) playing in the middle of a field. Strange, but no harm done. Today, when I was going into the BX, there is the band playing along (in 105 degree heat) . Goofy, but more power to you guys.
The thing that puts the ass into asinine, however, is then they bring the band into the chow hall. OK, the flute section by itself can add a little ambiance. But about once a week, they bring in the big horns. The music is so loud you can’t even think, let alone talk. It would help if they could actually play. I know, I have often said to my wife: “Hey honey, let’s go out for dinner, I know a restaurant that has a great tuba player!”

Saturday, May 19, 2007

My intellectual equal...

Well, it took me 6 months to find my intellectual equal over here—a fence post. OK, maybe I’m giving myself too much credit. One thing that stands out is the fact that they use concrete fence posts over here. I don’t know if it is because of the extreme weather or if because of the lack of timber. Just one of the many things that make this place so different.
On a happier note, I was told that I have to turn in my Fitness report for all the things I’ve done while I was here—think of it as a report card. They are due way in advance, but it is still the first step in heading home.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Green Zone

This is a picture of a street in the Green Zone. For a Baghdad street, it is pretty clean. All kinds of people are out and about. Of course, you have Soldiers everywhere, but also embassy employees, contractors, Iraqis, private security guards. You name it-- a total mix.
Somewhere in the Green Zone there is the “Baghdad Country Club” a real pub where you (unless you wear a goofy digital green uniform in the middle of the desert) can get a real drink. Where do they get alcohol? Well, right outside the wire in any Iraqi liquor store. Maybe Iraq isn’t the fanatical Islamic country that some people think it is. True you have your “Bible”… er.. I mean “Koran thumpers”, but I guess some folks bent the rules a bit.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I hope it isn't so...

I just read yesterday that the Senate failed to cut off funds for the war. By a vote of 67 to 29, they voted against a measure that would have cut off funding for the troops and essentially ended the war. I hope the real reason is that they decided that cutting and running isn’t the way to go. I have a feeling that the vote went the way for a more ominous reason. To me, it seems like one political party views this as “Bush’s war” and any failure in the war is a victory for them. Just look a Lou Dobbs on CNN, he almost gleefully announces the war dead each and every day on his TV show. Why? To keep the drumbeat alive that the President has failed. I have a suspicion that many political figures secretly want the war to continue (and for the body count to keep increasing) to help their chances in ’08. Could it be that they don’t want victory?
But hey, what do I know? I’m just a guy on the ground.
This is a picture taken in the Green Zone in Baghdad. The dome ahead has a name that escapes me. To the guys, it is known as the Golden nipple.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More Flamingos

No, these are not my flamingos. Rather, someone else had the same idea. This is a courtyard in front of Saddam’s military museum in Baghdad. At first I thought my flamingoes were bad luck—now I know they are all evil. On a lighter note, finally some good news to report from the war front. Things definitely seem to be turning around in Ramadi. Stars and stripes had a good article here. Funny, I didn’t hear about this on ABC or CNN.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I know that they are hard to see, but these geese are mean!!!

The other day, my wife sent me a clock radio for my iPod. Since then, I have started listening to the BBC news. It is an interesting perspective. It is clear that tat news isn’t an entertainment industry in England—I haven’t heard a thing about Anna Nicole or Natalie Holloway since I’ve starting listening to it. The BBC isn’t as anti-American as I was led to believe. Most of the stories are very informative and offers an interesting perspective on the world. Too bad they have drunk the “global warming cool-aid”. Every other story is a bunch of whining about the plight of pigmy shrimp or how global warming raises the risk of post partum depression. I have yet to hear a balanced discussion on the subject.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Real Heroes

Here is one of the guys shortly before a patrol. Despite the dangers of going outside the wire, he was able to catch a few Z’s beforehand. These are the real heroes over here. All of us receive our pay tax free while we are out here. It doesn’t matter if you are driving down the street in Baghdad or living in a 5 star hotel in Dubai. Personally, I think these kids that go outside the wire every day deserve more; I think they should get 2 months tax free for each month they are over here. I’ve seen it from both sides—from a boat in the middle of the gulf to here on the ground. It is something that we owe these guys .

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Honest, the bird is fine...

Actually, there are 4 falcons hanging around the palace. They are normally very docile, but the other day, they were fighting each other. This one particular guy allowed me to get within a couple of inches of his face. (So close he tried to peck at my camera) Urban legend has it that they used to be hunting falcons, so that is why they are used to people. Who knows, maybe they belonged to Saddam himself—word has it, that he was a big animal lover. Whatever the case, things get monotonous around here and it is nice to see something new from time to time.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


No, I didn’t write that, but it is a sentiment I’ve seen written on quite a few walls. Every now and then, I’ve seen similar things written about The Army, but that graffiti is short lived. Someone erases it in short order. Is it leadership? Pride in service? Who knows? The Navy graffiti seems to stick around for a while.
If the Navy were a county, it would be the 3rd largest collation partner over here with over 5,000 Sailors.
I would venture a guess that the majority of the navy guys over here are individual augmentees—guys that were plucked from shore duty on very short notice and sent to Iraq to work in jobs very far from what they normally do. We have quite a few disgruntled folks over here. To listen to some of their tales of woe is pretty depressing. I lucked out, however, I have a job that is rewarding and I work with truly outstanding Army unit.

Friday, May 11, 2007

My 15 minutes of fame

This little guy has been hanging around the palace for a couple of days now. He was so tame I took this picture without a zoom. In fact I got within a foot of him and he stayed perfectly calm, I then realized that he was too calm and had to be up to something—so I shot him.

I was interviewed on a Pensacola radio show today. My 15 minutes of fame. With Mother’s day so close, I figured I better toss in a couple of shout outs in. As it was, Braye missed it. Oh well, now I have to hurry and send a card.

Ok, so I didn’t really shoot the bird.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


I think it says "Happy Birthday infidel!"
Holidays can be difficult over here, they tend to remindyou of all the things back home that we are missing. I recently had a birthday. My family were great and I defintly did not feel forgotten. It occurred to me that mine will be the last family event that I will be away for. As I like to point out to my oldest: “I’ll be home for your birthday, and your’s is next” As soon as we get to double digits, I think I’ll put a countdown timer on this blog.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Something else I never thought I'd see..

There are several man-made lakes around here. One of them has not one, but 2 sunken house boats. Well, I guess they really are party barges. They look like something from Aladdin. Good ole Saddam liked to compare himself to leaders from the ancient past. You can see that in the architecture of the buildings and some of the art work. The Roman emperor Caligula had 2 giant party barges on a lake in Italy—I wonder if Saddam got the idea from him?

Monday, May 07, 2007


This is one of the ceilings inside the old Presidential palace

Most of the pictures I sent have been from an exclusive part of Iraq—where the privileged members of the Baath party worked, lived and played. There is another part of the country—one that is trashed and derelict. It is difficult to take pictures in those areas, since I have other things worry about.
Interesting, the quality of life hadn’t diminished for the elite of Saddam’s regime. Saddam funneled money from the UN’s oil for food program and spent it on palaces and other luxurious items. His people suffered. I guess the suffering of average Iraqis didn’t matter to the anti war crowd—if it were up to those folks, they would just keep giving the UN another chance. To them, results don’t matter, only the appearance of doing something does.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Well, would you look at that…

I didn’t know those things went into triple digits. I would say it is getting warm around here—I wouldn’t say hot yet since I’m sure the best is yet to come. Right now it is very windy outside, so it feels like a hair dryer blowing. At least it is a dry heat. Running is a bit more difficult, by bearable so far…

½ Half Marathon

We had the Baghdad ½ Marathon the other day. I thought about running it, but I didn’t—that was way too long to go running without an iPod. Funny, for a service that prides itself of physical fitness, they can sure make running difficult.
Speaking of running, while I was over here eating Bon Bons and watching Jerry Springer, my wife actually placed third in a race back home. So she is officially “Googable”. I'm so proud of her

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Great Dictator, but…

The grounds in front of one of Saddam’s palaces

I spoke with one of our interpreters today. He had a similar opinion ofSaddam Hussein that I have heard several times before: "He was a greatdictator, but a terrible person". He did keep the trains running and thewater flowing. He also killed anyone that was a threat to his power.He told me that Saddam wouldn't kill innocent people (unlike his sons),but the problem was that a lot of people threatened him. He then told mean interesting story. The guy I was talking to is an Iraqi Christian.One day, a gang of Muslims broke into his church in Baghdad andthreatened the Priest (Apparently they were upset that the infidelPriest was allowing women to enter his church). Saddam gotwind of the trouble and told the leader of the crowd to leave the Priestalone or he and his family would disappear,

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Boys will be boys...

The other day, I was riding along in a convoy when I saw some teen age boys standing on the side of the road. One was bigger than the rest and was standing a little closer to the road than his friends. He then throws a rock at the truck in front of ours.
An insurgent in the making? Nah, just boys being boys. I’m sure he was trying to show off to his buddies how tough he was by throwing a rock at the big truck with big guns. I guess it is the Iraqi equivalent of throwing an egg at a police car. Our guys did noting—it was no big deal. His buddies were patting him on the back and he was strutting like a peacock. Still looking to impress his buddies he then gave my truck the Middle Eastern equivalent of the finger. I just had to smile back at him—boys will be boys.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Love me wall

Like most aviators, I put together an impressive “love me wall”. All of my squadron plaques, awards citations and pictures of planes I’ve flown were proudly displayed on a wall in my house. Well, it lasted for about 2 weeks after we were married. Since I’m alone here in Iraq (and presumably in charge of my new “home”) , I started to assemble a new “love me wall” Except this time most of it is made with finger paint, magic markers and the only airplane pictures on display are of the Koala Brothers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


The other day, I came across something that really bothered me. I can mention it now because the military released the information to the media. You can find the Stars and Stripes article here.
Al Qaeda decided to plant a bunch of artillery shells and other explosives inside a building that was under construction—presumably to detonate them when the building opened later this month. It wasn’t a military facility or a government building—rather, it was a girls school. They wanted to kill a building full of school girls. Girls no different than mine. The only difference is, to these girls, monsters are real.
These are not Freedom Fighters” or “Holy Warriors”. They are a bunch of evil cowards that are only brave enough to take on a bunch of little girls. It would be a disservice to call them men—they are pigs.
Evil is like a cancer—you can’t reason with it or sympathize with it. There is no rehabilitation for these people. They need to be eliminated. I don’t care what made them they way they are or why they do the things they do—all I care about is making sure they don’t hurt anybody again.
Now that this story is out in the media, where is the outrage in our country? We wept over Virginia Tech and rightly so, but I predict that this story will not make the main stream media. Even if they were successful in their attack, I doubt this story would make it past the scroll on the bottom of CNN.
We have a responsibility. If we ignore evil, then by our silence, we condone it. By turning a blind eye, we encourage evil doers. I would like to think that we, as Americans, are better than that.

Did I mention…

I don’t like Baghdad. War aside; this isn’t a very nice place. It seems like everything is brown and covered in either mud or dust (and sometimes both). Outside the wire, it is trash covered with mud or dust. It occurred to me that if you painted everything grey instead of brown and replaced the dust with black soot—this place would be a ringer for one of the cities in Eastern Europe. At least that is what it reminds me of. I guess when you live under an oppressive regime , aesthetics go out the window. Maybe that is why the last time I was in what used to be East Germany, I saw that they painted a bunch of grey buildings purple, yellow and blue—just to lighten the place up a bit. I wonder if place will have some color in a few years.

Oh well, at least I’m not in New Jersey