Monday, October 30, 2006

Back in Iraq

Landing in Baghdad we were surprised to be greeted by heavy rain! And it continued on and off for several days. It is a month or two early for the rainy season but the mild weather here is always welcome, in fact, it was downright beautiful here in Iraq!

Yes, I finally made it back. It's good to be here and see what new experiences might be waiting. Already in camp Balad I understand they only hit the bunkers once or twice a month. When I arrived first two years ago, we would hit the bunkers 3 or 4 times a day! Quite a change.

In Fallujah I will be working with the Marines. I understand they are a slightly different breed...if internet is readily available, I'll let you know soon. But what I'm really excited about is, I get to travel via Blackhawk helicopter!!! That's a very cool First. Sadly, my digital camera still is not with me...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Where's the Brains?

Another stop on my wine-and-dine trip is Sharjah. It is one of the more conservative city-states of the UAE (United Arabic Emirates). It’s a dry country, and by that I mean no alcohol; although it’s location by the Persian Gulf paradoxically doesn’t lend it much humidity either (mostly just heat). Today it was a mild 85 or so. But keep your shirt on and no shorts in public, please, modesty is required.

The locals are from many countries, India, Pakistan, and Egypt I guess, to name a few. But they all have olive skin and black hair, pretty much the same cut. Sighting a woman is unusually rare, and the men with their hand-holding, hugging, and cheek-kissing would make the denizens of Hillcrest (home of Gay-Mart) in San Diego blush.

At my hotel I got fancy dinners paid for, did the hotel work-out room and pool, and made it to the beach! Don’t worry, soon the honey-moon phase of my employment will be over and I will be in a figurative hell, K? So just let me enjoy this. Speaking of dinner, I had chicken, steak, lamb, and desserts galore! However, there was a dish named…Brain Salad.

I looked, and sure enough, it had plenty of sliced brains in it. I asked, “who’s brains are those?” The waiter didn’t know for sure but guessed it was “beef brains.” Now I enjoy sushi without much problem but I just wasn’t in the mood for something that interesting. Besides, I’m going to Iraq, why in the world would I have any brains???

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Don't Try This at Home

foto from 04 training

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Anti-Terrorism: It's a gas!

We completed Anti-Terrorism Training this week and NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) training, the one where you put on a gas-mask, a big yellow suit, and duct-tape each other. Among other things. I learned that when you get a hotel, especially in a foreign land, take the third floor, back side, by the fire escape. That way if a bomb goes off in the street, you are far away enough from the blast but not too far from where rescue ladders can get to you. (Stay below the 10th floor)

Speaking of deluxe accommodations, it’s been nice staying in a hotel room paid for by the company. Every day someone makes my bed, cleans my bathroom, vacuums my floor--the works, and I don‘t even see them! Including 3 full meals with all the cooking and cleaning done. It costs $8-$10,000 to process each potential employee for this week and may I say; I enjoyed it!

But, we’re just about done here in Houston, flying out about 24 hours from now. First off to Amsterdam and then parts unknown (to you). I even boxed up the skateboard and sent it back to San Diego. (sniff*sniff*)

The cool thing is that we are taught the soldiers Code of Conduct and told that we, as civilians serving the Client, which is the soldier, that we should try to follow their creed. I particularly note Section VI for you:

United States Military Code of Conduct:

Article VI
I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America

Yes, where the bullets hit the sand, political correctness stands down and true patriotism shines forth. I would just like to add…AMEN.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Life in Iraq

"hey honey, can you hold down the fort while I run out for some groceries?"


The skies of San Diego wept as I left, but the rain soon followed me here to Houston as I prepare for Iraq. But the fun never stops. Waiting for an elevator with a potential future fellow-employee, I noticed him trying to push the elevator-lock control above our heads.

This does not call the elevator, although it kinda looks like a button. I refrained from smiling and pushed the "up" button that actually calls the elevator. If he makes it out of Texas, I secretly hope he is assigned to a different base...

Speaking of which, I have been assigned to Fallujah. I am excited to work at a place with significant history and with the Marines, even if the place has been relatively quiet since they cleaned it out.

But first I must endure endless paper-work, long seminars, lots of needles and pokings, and my familiar "colorful" friends. Did I mention we got 6 inches of rain last night and it is still pouring down? A total deluge! My skateboard is useless. In other news, I forgot to pack my digital camera. At least the food and lodging is free…and above is an old archive foto from my original Iraq blog: Ernest Goes to Iraq