Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Operation Squishy Santa

Today I launched my first military operation titled Operation Squishy Santa. We work two 12 hour shifts in my section in order to have 24 hour operations. When I came in to start my shift today I could tell there was some pretty thick tension in the air. We work in a room about 10 foot by 6 foot and there's usually anywhere from 2 to 6 people in there at a time not to mention all the equipment. Oh yeah, there aren't any windows either? Anyway, it's not hard to get on someone's nerves after 12 hours of that. Sensing the tension at the shift change I decided to implement Operation Squishy Santa.

Over the Holidays everyone and their brother sent care packages which were greatly appreciated. One item that has been floating around our office, and I use the term office lightly, is a little foam Santa ball. You know the little foam balls they give you to squeeze when you give blood. It's like one of those. I thought it would lighten the mood if when someone wanted to talk to me they had to talk to Squishy Santa and he would relay the message to me. As Operation Squishy Santa unfolded it quickly became an abysmal failure. However, the Squishy Santa ball is now a highly coveted item in my section. I thought in this blog I'd share some of the failures of Operation Squishy Santa with the hope they might help anyone wishing to plan their own military operations in the future.

Here is a list of failures associated with Operation Squishy Santa.

1. My superiors do not think it's funny when Squishy Santa answers questions directed at me.

2. Just because you have a Squishy Santa in your pocket doesn't mean you can ask everyone in the chow hall if they'd like to sit on your lap.

3. Trying to explain to the people in the chow hall that it's O.K. because you have a Squishy Santa in your pocket does not help the situation.

4. Offering to show them the Squishy Santa in your pocket helps even less.

5. The MPs don't think it's funny if I sit in the passengers seat and let Squishy Santa drive the Humvee through the check point.

6. Squishy Santa is not authorized to declare Jihad on the infidels.

7. Although the real Santa may be Omniscient, Squishy Santa is not and therefore should not be used for predictive analysis.

8. "Hey man, would you like to see my Squishy Santa?" is not the proper salutation for my Brigade Commander (a 1 Star General).

9. "Hold on, Let me ask Squishy Santa" is not the proper response to the question, "Sergeant, have you completely lost your military bearing?"

10. Squishy Santa is not authorized to relieve me of guard duty even if I do leave my weapon for him to use.

11. "What Would Squishy Santa Do" is not the new Army Motto.

12. "Come here and tell Squishy Santa all about it" is not an Army approved medical treatment for battle related stress.

13. I still have to listen to my superiors even if I do think that my Squishy Santa can beat up their Squishy Santa.

14. Bouncing Squishy Santa off of my lieutenant's head is not considered P.T. (physical training)

15. Nor does it have anything to do with "sharpening my marksmanship skills"

Unfortunately there weren't really any successes I can share with you. It did make the day go by quicker and got a few laughs. Hopefully you learned from some of my mistakes in this operation and are better prepared to plan your own in the future.

Squishy Santa Posted by Hello

Monday, December 27, 2004

Merry Christmas and Welcome To My Trailer

This is the first blog from my very own trailer in Baghdad Iraq. I got my internet connection up and running on Christmas eve for a few hours and it has been down ever since. As it turns out the Cat 5 cable I told you about in the last blog was an old one I didn't know was there. "How in that monumentally large trailer could you have missed such an object" you say. Well, I mentioned in an earlier blog that my room mate was leaving because of some back problems he was having. Well, he had just tucked it away behind a box he had. When he left it was just sitting there so I assumed it was new. It wasn't. So I stopped by the dudes room that's putting all this fancy stuff together. I said, "Hey dude", really I just asked him when I could expect the internet to be up and running. He told me it already was. I asked when I could expect a cable. You know the old adage be careful what you ask for. Well, he hands me a bulk roll of Cat 5 cable. I had really meant when could I expect the other end of this cable to be sticking through the wall in my trailer. Oh well. I stuck one end through the hole in his floor and started unwinding cable until I got to my trailer. Then, as if by an act of God, a guy comes out of nowhere and asks if I need the ends of the cable crimped. On the surface this may not sound odd but you have to consider the situation. The entire network of cable, and when I say network I mean completely unorganized strands of cable running across the desert floor from room to room, had been set up a few weeks before. Also, It's about 1:00 in the morning. But here is this guy with the special crimping tool and a pocket full of the little ends that go on the cable. Have I wowed you with my command of all these technical terms? So, I get the cable hooked up and a few hours later I'm up and running on the internet. We tried all night and into the next morning to get the web cam to work between me and my wife (who is at my parents right now) to no avail. I'm not really sure what's wrong, but that's a problem for a different blog. Anyway, that was the last time the internet worked in my room until now. For some reason it's been down since early Christmas morning. Contrary to early touting the connection is slow as molasses in January. But, it's still an internet connection in my room in the middle of the desert, in the middle of a war. I don't have much I can complain about. As far as wars go I'm pretty comfortable. I almost feel ashamed when I think of the guys from the World Wars or Vietnam or Korea. You guys had it much worse.

So, after that meaningless paragraph how would you like to hear about my Christmas. Christmas fell on a Saturday which is, on the schedule anyway, my day off. As it turned out it was my first day off since I've been here that was actually a day off. I got off at midnight Christmas eve and fiddled with the internet like I explained in the first paragraph. I ended up going to bed about 7:00 a.m. Christmas morning. I slept until about 3:30 p.m. and then woke up to go to the Haji shop to buy some phone cards for my cell phone. When I opened the door it was pouring rain. It doesn't rain that often in Iraq but when it does it's miserable. Picture that fine dusty black dirt that's really fine and gets into every crack and orifice of your body. Now put a couple of inches of water on top of that for as far as you can see and mix it up really good. Now drive really big trucks and tanks all over it. Then live in it. Oh well, I thought, it's Christmas and I wanted to buy some phone cards so I could talk to my family. I tried to buy them on Christmas eve but it was Friday, the Holy Day here. All the Haji shops were closed. Well, I walked to the entire other side of camp in the ankle deep mud to find the shop closed. No phone cards today. There are two ways I talk to my family. Usually at the phone center with a calling card because it's cheaper, or on the cell phone with a pre paid card. The phone centers are 16-19 cents per minute depending on what card you have, and the cell phones which are supposed to be 35 cents a minute are really 50 cents a minute. Truth and time are two thing in Iraq that don't really hold to the same standard we have in America. However, you don't have to walk far to use the cell phone, and you don't have to wait in line. I did have a couple of regular phone cards because a friend of our sent me $100.00 to buy phone cards for Christmas. I can't believe how much people are helping us out through this. Thanks for the phone cards.

It was about 4:30 now and I was near the tents where the PX is so I walked around in there for a while to get out of the rain and kill a little bit of time before chow. Chow was supposed to be at 5:00 so I showed up at 5:00 to find a huge line and a sign saying it would start at 5:30 Well, it actually said it would start at 1730 but we'll just say 5:30. So I stood in the freezing rain for 30 minutes. It would have taken that long to walk back to my room so I figured what the heck, I'd stick it out. The Army really went all out to make it feel like Christmas that day. There were white silk cloths on all the chairs with red sashes wrapped around them. They had a gingerbread village set up in the middle of the chow hall. There were probably 10 little buildings and they were each two or three feet tall and decorated with all kinds of cookies and candy. They had a jazz band made up of a group of soldiers playing Christmas Songs. And the lights were all off and they had candles everywhere. It was really nice. They had an old man with a white beard and a Santa suit set up with a nice chair and a backdrop so you could get your picture with Santa. The officers were serving the food and it was great. I had honey backed ham, stuffing, green beans, and something else I can't remember but I remember it was really good. It wasn't until this point that I started to feel sad. Up until then it was just another day in the desert. This whole thing has just been a matter of waking up and doing what I had to do and then going back to bed. But seeing all of this made me really miss my family tremendously. When I walked into the chow hall it was like I was really missing home. Everything was so nice and Christmasy but I couldn't stay there. I ate as fast as I could and got out of there. I had to fight back the tears the whole time I was eating. It came as a complete surprise. I wasn't sad going into the chow hall, but seeing all the Christmas stuff really did it for me. I think you go to a place mentally here where you can deal with all the stuff going on and that place has nothing to do with home or the things you're used to in your real life. I never really thought about it until those two realities collided. I just knew I needed to get out of there as quickly as possible. There's nothing more pitiful than a man wearing body armor carrying a loaded M-16 crying. I wanted to stay and listen to the band but I couldn't. So I made my way back through the mud to the phone center.

I ended up in the longest phone line I've ever been in. Usually they don't have anyone monitoring the phone center but it seems to run fairly quickly. On Christmas they had someone there that would let you talk for 30 minutes. (which I found out during my conversation). I never talk that long anyway. We usually talk for 15 to 20 minutes. So 30 minutes sounded like a long time. I also figured it would take forever because the line was so long. It ended up running faster than normal. I guess most people talk longer than 30 minutes on the regular non Christmas days. Anyway, I talked for 30 minutes and when they tapped me on the shoulder I got up and went out to the end of the line and waited to talk another 30 minutes. It was good to talk to everyone. My wife and kids are at my parents house for Christmas. My brother and sisters live in the same area so they could all get together. It sounded like they were having a good time. In real life I live where it doesn't snow, so my kids don't really get to see snow. Their Grandparents live where it does snow. It sounds like they're having a blast. They built snowmen and went and looked at Christmas lights. I'm sure the opened about a billion presents. You know how Grandparents are with Grandchildren. Some of my wife's friends surprised her a mailed a bunch of presents to my parents house for her. I know she was surprised on Christmas and I know it really meant a lot to her that they took the time and thought to do that.

So that brings me up until now. Not much going on with regular life here. We've all been a little more on edge since the attack in Mosul. Death is an ever present thing here in Iraq. I feel so terribly bad for all the families that get calls or a visit saying their son or daughter, or husband or wife has been killed. I hope you can find God's peace in all of this.

Anyway, that's what's going on here. Sorry for the negative tone of the last blog, I shouldn't have said some of the things I said. This place really gets to you sometimes and I should have waited a day before I posted that. I apologize. Everything always seems a lot better the next day.

Next blog I'll share the list of the twelve days of Christmas my wife and friends put together for me. Now that I can get on the internet I'll try to post more frequently. I've missed dong it, it gives me an outlet to release some stuff. Thanks for reading and feel free to pass the address on to anyone you'd like. I love to get comments (hint hint).

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Random Thoughts With No Particular Focus

The Army, Ah what can you say about the Army. If the Army wants to do something their not supposed to do they simply title the action something else. For example; (I'm not sure a semicolon is the right thing to use here) If something goes wrong in a mission we don't retreat, the Army never retreats, instead we perform retrograde maneuvers. If they want to physically punish you for something they don't put you through physical duress or anything, they perform corrective training. Let's pull a purely hypothetical situation out of thin air. If they (read someone in particular higher in rank than I am) plans poorly, for multiple weeks in a row, they don't actually take away your day off, for multiple weeks in a row, so you can fix stuff, they just move your day off to a new day to be determined later. And when that day is decided upon, they move it further.

In this blog I would like to share some seemingly random thoughts. In order to make it easier to follow I'll start out with a brief outline of the contents. There will be times that none of it makes sense but just take the good with the bad and hopefully you'll fell a little more informed on the other end. I know I'll feel a little more relieved having shared it.

Part 1. Thoughts about a song I like.
Part 2. Thoughts about my boss.
Part 3. News about my internet connection.
Part 4. Being in a foreign country.
Part 5. Christmas so far.
Part 6. Update on my roommate
Part 7. Differences between church back home and here.

Part 1. Thoughts about a song I like.

There is a band I like called Third Day. I got to see them in concert a while ago and they are great. On one of their albums they have a song that talks about the old saying "If you can't say nothin good don't say nothin at all".

Part 2. Thoughts about my boss.

This part left intentionally blank.

Part 3. News about my internet connection.

A cat 5 cable showed up in my room through a hole in the wall someone drilled the other day. It runs behind the row of trailers where I live. I only noticed it because I tripped on it in the dark after walking back from the shower the other night. I plugged it into my computer but it doesn't recognize that there's a network on the other end. Today as I was walking to the computer lab to post this blog I traced the cable to it's source. There were a couple of guys working on some satellites so I struck up a conversation with a black haired flaminco dancer....Wait a minute, I struck up a conversation with them and found out the network should be up in the next two or three days. That will be very cool.

Part 4. Being in a foreign country.

Everything about this place is foreign. In my job I deal with a lot of information about the local populace. I expected this to be a foreign adventure but there are many things I didn't expect, everything is foreign. The smells, the interaction with the people, the plumbing, the electricity, everything is so different. Some of the electrical connections are a British type of a three pronged plug kind of like our 220 volt plugs. Some of them are a different type with two small round barrel type plugs. The toilets don't actually flush like our do. They just fill with water and eventually flows out of the toilet. So if you have to use more than one square of toilet paper the toilet won't be useful until the cleaning people come in and do whatever it is they do to clear them out. So if you have to do anything besides pee your better off in the Port-o-podies. Regular readers will know that I actually prefer the port-o-podies, but it is still winter, we'll see when it's 140 degrees out. I'm not sure what the news back home says about the upcoming elections but they aren't anything like what we think of as elections. Back home we have to major parties and only a handful of parties that don't actually stand a chance, and it's a good bet that the loser won't just kill the winner after the elections. Well, here there are basically three major sects that break down into about 150 different parties. Most of these parties would just as soon kill the members of the other than to lose an election to them even if they are in the same sect. It will be interesting to see how the elections go off and then see how the results play out.

Part 5. Christmas so far.

I think I already mentioned that my wife and some friends back home sent me presents to open one each day until Christmas with some clues about the gifts. The clues had to do with the Lord of the Rings. The first clue "Treebeard" was a small Christmas tree. The second clue "Treebeard's jewelry" was some lights and decorations for the tree. The third clue "Helms deep's beginning" had me confused. I figured the first two out no problem but couldn't get the third. In case you've been off planet on vacation for the past three or four years and aren't familiar with the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Helms Deep is a large fortress used for protection. Well, Helms Deep's beginning turns out to be bricks. More specifically in this case Legos. They sent me some little Star Wars Lego ships. I really enjoyed these. I open the gifts when I get off of work and I've put one ship together each night for the past two nights. I've got one more to put together tonight. I know it may sound silly but it's been great. This war isn't terribly demanding on me physically, but mentally it is non stop. There are times I get off of work and call my wife and I can't even connect sentences because my mind is numb and I'm so tired. To have something as simple as Legos, that have nothing to do with this war, to spend some time on is great. The fourth clue was "Scrolls" I figured it was a book and I was right. The book is called "Black" and it's by an author named Ted Dekker. I read another book by him recently called "Three" and it was great. I would highly recommend it. When I get the internet access in my room I'll try to figure out how to put a list on the side of this page so I can list the books I've read while I've been gone. Even though your dead tired at the end of your shift you have to populate your mind with something other than the war. Reading works well. Today's clue is "Elfish Tunes" which, coupled with the shape of the present, is probably a CD. I'll let you know how the rest of the trail unfolds. I'm really happy with the idea they came up with to string Christmas presents along for 12 days. It really gives you something to look forward to each day. Also, Some friends and family put some money together for me to buy a guitar while I'm here. They do sell them here but they're very expensive and very poor quality. It was cheaper for me to order one from one of the online music stores and have it shipped here. I ordered the guitar and some other little gadgets to help move along the idea of having an albums worth of music by the time I leave Iraq. That may be a larger task than I have time to accomplish. We'll have to see.

Part 6. Update on my roommate.

I took my roommate to the TMC (Troop Medical Center) the other morning for him to ship out to Germany. He'll be there for a while while they treat him for some nerve damage in his back. So, for the time being, I once again have a room to myself.

Part 7. Differences between church back home and here.

The differences in church back home and here are purely physical. God is still God here or at home. The difference here is I go to church in a tent surrounded by concrete bunkers to protect us from mortar attacks while we're in church. Our Chapel shares some real estate with our Paladin Guns so during service the ground shakes as we send artillery down range. And I don't know who coined the phrase quiet as a church mouse, but they aren't really all that quiet. Oh yeah, everyone has a loaded weapon. They are building a permanent building for the chapel and they hope to have it done by Christmas Eve. I'll post some pictures once I get the internet access in my room.

Well, If you followed all of that you should be commended. Once I have a little easier access to the internet I'll try not to use the shotgun method of communication and try a more focused approach. But with time being of the essence there you go.

Thanks so much to the people back home that have sent cards and packages. That's a morale booster the effects of which you'll probably never understand. Also thanks to the people and organizations that send boxes and cards to units to distribute to the soldiers. The delivery of the mail is the happiest time there is. The sacrifices you've made to give some cheer to the soldiers here is appreciated by everyone here without exception. Thanks aren't enough to communicate how this makes us feel, but Thanks.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Second Day Off

I guess since my last post was titled first day off and this one is second day off that means it's been a week since I posted. The days don't mean anything here. One is just like the next. I knew it had been a few days since I posted last but I didn't realize it was a week. I guess time flys when you're liberating a country. Let's see what happened this past week.

Yesterday LT Hook Me Up got everyone's room numbers so they could start running the cat 5 cable to the trailers for our internet access. I can't wait for that. I'll be able to post a lot more then. I also got three packages this week.

One from my wife and kids and some friends back home, one from my mother-in-law, and one from my Mom and Dad and sisters and some friends where I grew up. It was great to get these.

My wife and kids sent Christmas presents that are numbered. They go along with the 12 days of Christmas. Each day I get to open one present until Christmas, then my kids sent me a few presents I can't open until Christmas day. There is also a list that goes along with the presents. They picked the Lord of the Rings as a theme. The first two gifts are called Tree Beard and Tree Beards jewelry. Using my keen analytical skills and judging by the shape of the boxes I'm guessing the first two are a small Christmas tree and some ornaments. Honestly I haven't even had enough time to look at the rest of the clues to guess what they are. I think I'll look at the later today.

My parents and family sent me all the snacks and junk food you could want. In fact I didn't even go to dinner last night. Instead I ate cashews, honey roasted peanuts and my all time favorite "Monster Cookies" If you haven't had monster cookies they go a little bit like this. About 50 pounds of peanut butter, a small wheel barrow load of butter, oatmeal, and M&Ms. There's probably more to it than that but I've never actually made them. I have, however, eaten more than my share over the course of my life so far.

My Mother-in-law sent me a box with a stocking and nuts in it. When I say a box of nuts I don't mean a box of nuts. I mean a BOX of nuts. There's probably 10 pounds or more of assorted nuts. She also sent a nut cracker. So we have a box of nuts sitting in our room and we eat a few here and there. You know the typical story about mother-in-laws, but I got lucky. She's a great woman and I'm glad to have her. Even though I'm not supposed to peak I saw in the stocking a copy of the movie "It's a Wonderful LIfe". I'm glad she sent it because I don't think I can remember a Christmas where I didn't watch it. It's one of those stupid little qwirks that don't really mean anything but it's just one little unexplainable piece of home I'm glad to have. It was very thoughtful, thank you.

Usually my room mate comes and picks me up at the end of my shift to go eat dinner. Last night he didn't show up. It wasn't too odd because there are days he works late. So I walked home with the plan of Monster cookies for dinner in my head. It got to be about 9:00 p.m. and he still wasn't there. I had to go to the supply guys to get some stuff and they asked me if I heard about my room mate. When some one in a war asks you if you heard what happened to your room mate that usually means about a week later there's a building named after them somewhere on camp. This sort of freaked me out at first but this is what happened. His back had been bothering him since we got here. He went to sick call a few times but all they did was give him motrin. Well, yesterday when he woke up he couldn't move. I had already left for work so all he could do was yell and throw things at the wall whenever he heard people walking by. I guess this went on for a couple of hours until someone heard him. They had to get the ambulance to take him to the TMC (Troop Medical Center). So at about 9:00 I walked down to the TMC to see if he needed anything. He was asleep so I went home. AT about 6:00 this morning he knocked on the door, I guess he forgot his keys, and got some clothes. They're going to take him to a hospital we have set up somewhere else in Iraq for an MRI. I hope he's O.K.

Well, I'm going to go enjoy my day off. Everything here is fine. Contrary to a rumor that I understand is going around I don't believe our camp was bombed last week. My wife said she heard that. If it was I must have missed it. But I think you would notice something like that.

I'll leave you with a few thoughts from Murphy's Law of Warfare.

Friendly fire isn't

The cost of a weapon has a direct correlation to how far away you have to send it to get fixed.

Field experience is something you don't get until ten minutes after you needed it.

stay tuned for more.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

My First Day Off

Welcome to my first day off. I thought I'd share the day with you so you could see some of the things that go on over here. First some administrative information.

I have to move out of my room. So far I've had a room to myself and I thought as long as I kept quiet about it I'd still have a room to myself. However, in an effort to make the soldiers happy and comfortable the Army decided to switch out the one inch thick foam mattresses on our beds with a very well meaning but much more uncomfortable version of a regular twin mattress. In order to do that a guy from KBR (Kellogg Brown and Root, they run everything over here) came around to see how many mattress were needed. Bada bing bada boom my evil plans were foiled. However, the room I'm moving into, though occupied by another person, is larger than the one I'm in now. It's the same size trailer, but instead of being divided into three rooms it's only divided into two. I'm surprised they don't make us put three guys in it. I hope no one from KBR reads this and gets any ideas. All in all I think we're probably the most comfortable soldiers in Iraq. Notice I said Soldiers and not Airmen. The Airforce is historically much more comfortable than the Army. If you're thinking about enlisting and you enjoy comfort keep that in mind. Also do a little research on the IRR, you might change your mind. Anyway, I'll be moving today.

Woke up about 10:00 a.m. My 12 hour shifts 6 days a week have turned out to be more like 13 to 13 and a half hours. For some reason known only to God and the Army my noon to midnight shift starts at 11:10 and ends about 12:30. I guess it's just easier to say noon to midnight.

Showered and shaved and headed to breakfast (lunch). On the way I dropped off my laundry. KBR has little trailers around where you can drop it off. A nice lady helps you inventory your dirty laundry and fills out a receipt for you to come back in two days to get your laundry. Not a bad deal really, it's free. They take the laundry off in your laundry bag to some laundry fairies somewhere and they magically reappear two days later clean as a whistle.

Got to the chow hall a few minutes early along with about a thousand other people. I stood in line behind a soldier talking about how she couldn't pass her GED or the ASVAB but the recruiter let her in anyway. She seemed pretty proud. Had Pizza and cranberry sauce with some red gatorade and a glass of ice tea. On the way out I grabbed two oatmeal raisin cookies and saw some guys I know. I told them about having to move and asked if they got new mattresses yet. After I told them the story they both, not having room mates, decided their imaginary room mates would be out on patrol if anyone asked.

Next on the agenda was a call to my wife. I don't usually call her this time of day because it's middle of the night for her but I had an important financial transaction pending and it needed immediate attention. More on that later. The phones and internet have been down for a little while for various reasons and I really needed to get in touch with her because she has all the money, Oh yeah, I love her too, can't live without her, I'd give my life for her, but she has all the money. I woke her up and got the proper approval to pursue my plan further. With a smile on my face and a spring in my step I hoofed it to the finance building conveniently located about 1000 miles from anything. Right next to the post office. You can eat and get shot at just about anywhere you want, but if you need money or mail you'd better have a vehicle or a free day of walking.

Money is an odd commodity here in camp. Cash rules the world but everyone has direct deposit so nobody actually has cash. The PX takes credit and debit but you can only get $20.00 back. If you need money you have to go to finance. You can draw $350.00 casual pay per month that is taken out of your next check, or you can cash a $250.00 check I think once a week. I never need this much money except on this wonderful momentous occasion. I got to finance in a little under a week and a half, really more like 30 minutes. Signed in and waited in line. There were so many people in line you'd think they were giving out money or something. When it was my turn I took out the maximum $350.00 and folded it safely into my black nylon wallet with handy Velcro closure. Velcro is on everything but it's not really all that tactical. You better hope you're not trying to sneak up on someone and realize your extra magazine of ammo is in it's little Velcro pouch on your body armor. Anyway, money in hand I went to find the man we'll call lieutenant "hook me up". He works in our brigade HQ. Which is about half way back from "1000 miles from nowhere".

Found the LT and handed him 300 cold hard cash in exchange for a receipt. LT "hook me up" struck up a deal with some hajis to get us a satellite with internet access. It's supposed to be 512 up 512 down for those of you who know anything about bandwidth. I have my doubts about the 512 up part though. Anyway, it's going to be a ton faster than the dial up service I have back home. I still can't believe I'm in Baghdad fighting a war and I have a cell phone and will soon have internet access in my room. If you didn't get shot at, and they paid worth a darn I might think about sticking around. And if it wasn't far from home, and you didn't have to run, or listen to people 10 years younger than you with no education tell you what to do, or if it wasn't the military. On second thought, I think I'll come home when this is done. Anyway, I paid my 300 for my share of the equipment and the first three months of service. Actually this covers me and my new room mate. He's going to give me his half later. I believe he will because when I was talking to him I was holding a loaded weapon. Who lies to a man with a loaded weapon? After that the fee will be $30.00 per month per room. A paltry sum. The plan is to be able to talk to my wife and kids over the web cam. It won't cost anything for that. Opposed to anywhere from 30-60 cents a minute elsewhere.

After the exchange I stopped by our company HQ to pick up my Humvee license that was supposedly ready two days ago. No big surprise, it wasn't ready.

I'm not sure if I'm getting used to a level of dirtyness or if they really keep things clean here, but I made the following observation. After leaving the Company area I stopped off at one of the port-o-podies to drop the kids off at the pool. Before I could stop myself I thought, "Wow, this one's really nice." No sooner had I thought that than I looked at myself, figuratively of course, and thought, "did you just say this port-o-pody is nice?" In all actuality it was one of the more satisfying port-o-pody experiences I think I've had. I think I'm going to vary my walking pattern to work so I can pass that one more often. Maybe when I get internet access in my room and there's any interest I may even post some pictures. We'll see.

Well, That brings me to the computer lab where I am now. I checked my e-mail and started in on the blog. It's only 3:00 p.m. so I've got a lot of time left today. I'll probably get a haircut and pick up the laundry I dropped off a few days ago. I didn't get it when I dropped off the other because I didn't want to carry it all over camp. Also, I'm not sure why, you're not allowed to bring any bags of any type into the chow hall. That's unfortunate because it's in the same area as the PX. So if you buy anything at the PX you have to carry it back to your room and then walk all the way back to the chow hall to eat. I'm sure there's a good reason. Wait, no I'm not.

After that I'll pack all my stuff and move into my new room. I've been going to the gym every night after work but I think I'll skip it today. I've really been working hard on my upper body, and I'm really seeing results. Have you seen the movie Troy? Well Brad Pitt plays the part of Achilles. There's more than one time when he takes his shirt off and flashes his big pecs and rippled abs. Yeah, mine don't look anything like that. I usually get home about 12:30 or 12:45 and go work out in the gym until about 2:00 a.m. Then I shower and go to bed. I'm not sure what my room mates schedule is but I'm sure we'll work it out.