Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The "Army Law of Efficiency" patent pending

If you like nice tidy logical progressions in your reading you may want to skip this blog. This is a satire of the efficiency of the Army.

There's a common phrase in the Army that goes a little something like this. "If the Army wanted you to have _________ they would have issued it to you." You can fill in the blank with just about anything. An opinion, a wife, common sense. You name it and it fits. Things like this lead me to the only logical conclusion there is. Number one, If there is any conceivable thing in life that I need the Army would have issued it to me. Number two, If the Army did in fact issue something then it must be important and it must be used to it's fullest capacity.

There is also a method used by the Army for teaching that involves three parameter. Task, Condition and Standard. As long as you can force your idea to fit into this pattern it must be useful and therefore must be taught to every soldier because it must be valid because it fits the model. For instance the dreaded PT test

Task: Conduct a PT test.

Condition: Given a soldier, a stopwatch, a marked two mile course and a grader;

Standard: Conduct a PT test consisting of two minutes of pushup, two minutes of sit-ups and a timed two mile run.

That's the model. However, according to the Task Condition and Standard all your measuring is the ability to successfully administer a PT test. You aren't showing that a soldier is fit or unfit, only that you can perform the task to the given standard.

So I came up with a concept I call "The Army Law of Efficiency." It started at dinner chow tonight. As you walk out of the Chow hall there are two Third Country National men who stand at the trash cans where you throw your plastic plate and plastic silverware along with any uneaten food into any of the multiple trash cans lining the little walkway. When a trash can is full these guys take it to one of thirteen dumpsters behind the chow hall. As we were walking out today I said, "I wonder how much trash we generate from the chow hall each day?" An understandable question. One of the guys I was walking with has had trash detail before. This is where you escort a garbage truck around and make sure they do what they're supposed to do. So he says' "I don't know about in a day, but after Lunch chow there are always seven full dumpster." According to the Army theory if they issued thirteen dumpsters by God we'd better use thirteen dumpsters. I'm sure there was a committee put to task to find the correct number of dumpsters to place behind the chow hall. If we only needed seven dumpsters then there would have been only seven dumpsters. No more no less. I can draw only one conclusion. We aren't generating trash efficiently enough to fill the required thirteen dumpsters. Being the keen analyst I am I decided I should figure out how we can better utilize the empty dumpster space. After all if we don't fill them then we're just letting the country down. Now all I have to do is force my round idea into the square Army model that must be the best or the Army would have issued a round model for me to use.

Later in the evening while I was perusing the latest port-o-pody nuggets of wisdom scratched on the walls of my favorite plastic cubicle of relief it hit me. Since the Army obviously knows what they're doing in all matters and there is an obvious garbage shortage happening in the chow hall dumpsters, there must be a surplus somewhere else.

At the fuel point we have a certain undisclosed number of fuelers with diesel fuel. It's sort of like a little self serve gas station out of the back of a few big trucks. I know for a fact that we have too many fuelers and some of them go unused. They just sit there with fuel in them. Why did we bring too many fuelers? We couldn't have brought too many fuelers. That's how many fuelers the Army says we need. So, if the Army issued that much fuel we should, according to standards, use that much fuel. Obviously we aren't using the proper amount of fuel. So I figure at the end of the day whatever fuel wasn't put into vehicles and generators should be dumped into the dumpsters thereby alleviating both problems. The total amount of issued fuel is used per day, and the total amount of issued dumpster space is used. The beauty of the Army Law of efficiency is in the simplicity. You really just have to sort of stand back a smile while it works it's magic. A simple solution you would say but faulty on one point. This assumes the fuel is allocated per day. One of the guys I shared this theory with threw the wrench in the works by saying, "What if the fuel is allocated per week and not per day?" This threw me for a second, but I do, after all, have a fool proof model with which to work.

The solution is simple. Monitor the fuel usage for one month. At the end of the month take the average amount of fuel left over at the end of each of the four weeks and divide that by seven. This would give you an average amount of surplus fuel per day to dump into the dumpster. Problem solved you might say. You'd be wrong. As we get to the end of the deployment we would use less fuel as we would go on fewer patrols. This would shift the entire equation. Not a problem though. If you apply the newly invented Army Law of Efficiency you would come up with the obvious answer.

As the patrols dropped off the amount of fuel used would drop but we wouldn't have accounted for this in the previous weeks. The only solution is to have more fuel on hand to make up for the fuel we should have thrown away in the earlier months. However this would probably fill more than the issued thirteen dumpsters. So along with the extra fuel we would need extra dumpsters also. Now don't you feel dumb for not seeing that right away. This would be the most efficient way to deal with the lack of dumpster use that would have gone grossly undealt with had I not applied the simple universal truth of The Army Law of Efficiency.

Task: Implement The Army Law of Efficiency to all aspects of the Army within five years

Condition: given myself, a small handpicked team of experts, one Million dollars a year per person, and 15 years;

Standard: successfully implement the Army Law of Efficiency to all aspect of the modern military within the five year time frame.

Notice I built in an extra ten years in the condition portion for an extra buffer. That's the beauty of the Army Law of efficiency. As long as you can put it into a Task, Condition, Standard format it doesn't matter what you say. It has to be the truth. Of course once the plan is put in place problems will arise and need to be dealt with. That's where I cash in on the Fat government subcontracts to train the Efficiency task forces needed to ensure the Army Law of efficiency is correctly followed. This is gonna be great!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Random Junk About Nothing

Here are a few things I think are funny but the Army doesn't

When saluting an officer it's proper to give the greeting of the day. Some examples are "To the Regiment" or "Courage and Fidelity". If you don't know or can't remember the greeting of the day "What's up my Homey" is not a suitable substitute.

It seems that the war on terrorism is in fact not a sneaky recruitment ploy to boost the numbers for the VFW.

Combat earplugs are for combat and not for briefings.

"That's your opinion" is not a proper response to a direct order.

Even if your Commander is quite a bit shorter than you it seems there is never an occasion where it's appropriate to rub his head and make a wish.

Even if, on paper, you do turn a profit you are not authorized to sell Humvees on e-bay. Especially not in Bulk.

Anyway, Nothing much exciting going on here. It's just been a while since I posted anything and I was sitting in the port-o-pody this afternoon and came up with these so I thought I'd share them. Spring has arrived in Iraq. We topped out today at 103 Degrees. With the wind chill factor it felt about 115. I don't think wind chill works in reverse but you get the idea.

I have almost nothing to say. I will be moving again though. From the time I first deployed until now this will be the tenth time I've moved. Unless you count durations under a week, than it's like the 15th. I kind of like it though. It sort of breaks it up into smaller more manageable pieces. However I get more junk each stop and it gets harder to consolidate it all to move.

You'll be happy to know that I will get my new helmet next week. It's been here for a while but for some reason next Tuesday is the most convenient time for me to get it. The only reason I'm even getting it is because someone else who got here months after I did got theirs in but they had to leave for emergency leave and won't be coming back. So I get theirs. Mine must be in Limbo and I'll get it at my next duty station.

Enough rambling. I actually have things to say but they'll have to wait for a while.

Just know all is well here.

I'm pretty excited about my next move and once I do it I'll tell you more about it.

I miss my Family more than usual the past few days. It goes in cycles. I assume it must be the same for them. It sure makes you appreciate them more.

Oh well, enough babbling there are guitars that need playing.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

A Crazy Lady Lives in Our Bathroom

I've been back at Liberty for three days now. A few trailers down from mine are two trailers that sit back to back. One has toilets and sinks in it, and one has showers and sinks. These trailers are cleaned daily by a 40-50 something Filipino lady who is rumored to give soldiers "Change for a twenty" if asked. Though I've never tested the theory, nor do I plan to, I don't believe it to be true. Early on in our deployment there were two women named Fat Nora and Skinny Nora who would give soldiers "Change for a twenty." They promptly found their way to the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. So if the Crazy bathroom lady actually did give "Change for a twenty" I think she would be gone by now. Anyway, during these three days back the need to use the toilet trailer while in it's immediate vicinity has presented itself exactly four times. Of those four times She has been in the trailer all four times. Odd? Maybe not if I went at exactly the same time each day. However the times have been staggered to represent many different frames of time. Even less odd would be if she was actually cleaning each of the times. So far she hasn't been cleaning any of the times.

The first time I saw her she was just sitting on a stool relaxing. I trotted up the stairs ready to use a real toilet for the first time in about two month and there she sat.

She looked up with a smile and said, "Meester, Meester, is OK. You use. You use." and pointed to the open urinals about two feet from where she sat. With a polite shake of my head and wave of my hand I opted for the port-o-podies at the end of the row.

The second time was later that same evening. There she was again. Cleaning? No. Eating! She was just sitting on the stool with her food spread out on the counter where all the sinks are. Keep in mind that in the next row of trailers is the female latrine trailers. Why, if she wants to live in a bathroom, does she not pick those? Anyway, the same Meester Meester speech. Though the urinals are open to God and everyone there are doors on the toilet stalls so I figure what the heck. If she wants to eat her dinner while I lay my MREs to their final resting place that's her choice. So I went. That was day one.

Yesterday I woke up bleary eyed with an all to familiar pressure on my bladder. I put some shoes on and hobbled to the bathroom. There she was again. Cleaning? No.... Eating? No.... Sleeping! She was just sprawled out on the stool leaning half on the wall half on the counter in full snore. Well, You gotta do what you gotta do. So I went again.

Today, not five minutes ago, last nights lasagna came a knockin'. Do da Do da Do I trot to the crazy lady's house and sure enough there she is just sitting on the stool. I guess it's just going to be that way. I just hope she doesn't take her summer vacations in the shower trailer.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Woo Hoo

I'm back at Camp Liberty. I did have a good time at FOB Mahmudiah though. I haven't had a day off in over two months, and I haven't slept in over 36 hours. I asked for and was granted the next two days off.

Without further adieu I am going to sleep.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


Hello to my new friend at Dartmouth. Hello to L.A. whose husband is stationed at FOB Kalsu here in Iraq. Hello to my friends and family, and Hello to the crazy Iraqi man who keeps calling my cell phone.

Since I posted an e-mail address on my blog I've gotten so may e-mails. I figured more people were reading the blog, I just never heard from them. Most of them say they either couldn't post a comment, or they didn't feel comfortable posting one in the public view. Rest assured I am the only one reading the e-mails that are sent to the link down by the photo album. It's been really cool to "talk" to these new people and know they care enough to take a few minutes to send me an e-mail.

Now, about the crazy Iraqi man on the cell phone. I've spent the whole morning trying to convince this guy that I don't speak Arabic, and he has the wrong number. The first time he called I thought it might be my wife. It would have been the middle of the night for her so I thought there might be some sort of emergency. You know how your mind jumps to conclusions. Maybe my son microwaved the cat. Maybe the house is on fire. Maybe I got orders in the mail recalling me into the Army. Oh, that really happened. When I flipped the phone open and said hello this guy starts in at about a hundred miles an hour. I politely interrupted him, in English, to tell him he had the wrong number. He said something that I thought I recognized but then started in again. I couldn't get him to stop, so I hung up. A few minutes later the same thing. He's called probably 20 times and it's always the same thing. The last time I decided I'd try to carry on the conversation. I have free incoming minutes and he really seemed like he wanted to talk so what the heck.

He starts in with his side of the conversation and I listen until he stops. Then I say, "I don't understand you, I only speak English." Then in slow drawn out English there's the phrase he kept saying that I recognized. "NO, LISTEN!", he says and then goes on in Arabic again. I tried to interrupt him a few times but he would get mad and would yell, "NO, LISTEN!" And then he would continue. I have no idea what he wanted or if I unknowingly committed to something for someone else, but after I listened he stopped calling. Weird huh?

Anyway, thanks for the e-mails. Keep them coming. If you already know me you can feel free to use names in the e-mails. Not comments here on the blog, but in the e-mails. If you don't know me but want to use your name feel free. I won't use mine though.

Thanks again

Monday, April 04, 2005

Alas Poor Magazine, I Knew Him Well

Yesterday I took a little trip back to FOB Liberty or Victory or whatever they're calling it these days. We had a few meetings we had to go to. While I was there I had a little extra time and decided to take a trip to the PX. Ohhhhh real merchandise, real cashiers, real magazines. I was giddy with excitement. I could hardly contain myself. I ran from shelf to shelf looking at all the wears I could buy to heighten the enjoyment of my deployment. There it was, high on a dusty shelf alone and calling my name. The latest issue of Guitar Player magazine. The world stopped, lights shone on the shelf and all the soldiers stopped what they were doing and simultaneously joined in the Hallelujah Chorus. It brought a tear to my eye. It was the only copy. Quickly in a calculated manner I deftly snatched the much coveted copy and popped smoke (military jargon for got the heck out of there). In a rush of reality the solders stopped singing and the lights went back to normal as I found myself in the longest line I've ever been. No problem, I've got a magazine to pass the time. No, I better save it for a more opportune moment. As the line wore down I thought of all the happiness and joy this magazine was going to bring. The lessons I would learn and the reviews of gear and equipment that would make my guitar playing life so much more enjoyable. Finally only a few more people and it would be my turn.

"Attention shoppers, the Debit and Credit machine have gone down. We can only accept cash."

Shot down in my prime. The world went black, my chest tightened. All the soldiers laughed and pointed and chanted, "You'll shoot your eye out, You'll shoot your eye out." Wait, that was a movie, never mind that part. Dejected and down heartened I looked into my cashless wallet, my new wallet by the way because of the port-o-pody incident, and gently place the magazine on a display and walked out to continue my unfulfilled magazineless life.

Later that same day........

One of the guys I used to work with at Liberty needed to get his hair cut. I still had a few hours before our convoy left to go back to Mahmudiah so I tagged along. The PX is right next to the barber shop. There was still a chance at guitar reading bliss.

There it was, just as I'd left it. Jimi Hendrix looking right up at me in all his Rock and Roll glory. The magazine would be mine, oh yes, it would be mine. The line had doubled. The entire coalition force was in the PX that day. At least 300,000 people give or take 299,900. I waited in line, paid, put the magazine into my cargo pocket and stole my exit. Sitting in my old office I couldn't fight off the temptation to read the magazine. However, I really wanted to save it for when I was back at Mahmudiah. There just isn't anything to do but sleep, work and play guitar. I needed something to fill the time between. There was only one thing I could do. Put it on top of the filing cabinet and walk out of the room. I left it next to my Body armor and helmet so I wouldn't forget it.

Even later that day.....

Our convoy pulled back into Mahmudiah and we fueled the trucks back up before heading to the motor pool. We had gotten as many plates of food from the chow hall as possible for the guys at Mahmudiah. The food at Mahmudiah isn't bad, there just isn't much of it and there's even less variety. We walked in to some very hungry and grateful soldiers. We had gotten sandwiches and pizza, two things you can't get in FOB Mahmudiah. Not much was going on so I decided now was the time to read the magazine. I took off my gear, sat down at the computer and reached into my cargo pocket. Not there, Frantically I searched the other pocket and then the truck. Finally I realized what had happened. In my haste to get back with the convoy I'd left the magazine right on top of the filing cabinet in Liberty. I guess it just wasn't meant to be.

Alas poor magazine, I knew him well.

Saturday, April 02, 2005


The comments don't really roll in like they used to. Maybe you're just timid to have everyone read what you have to say. Not a problem. If you look over by the link to the photo album you will see a new link that says "EMAIL ME!" click that and see what happens. If it works like I think it will you should be able to send me an e-mail. I'll check tomorrow to see if anyone actually cares that I'm here risking my life to fight for the very freedom you sleep under at night. Not that you should feel pressured to e-mail or anything.

Tonight I had the best dinner I've had since I've been deployed. They had a row of BBQ pits outside the chow hall tonight and they cooked the most tender juiciest steaks I can remember eating. We also had pecan pie. I think Disneyland has some stiff competition from FOB Mahmudiah for the happiest place on earth.

Anyway, drop me an e-mail if you don't feel like leaving a comment.