Sunday, January 28, 2007

I'm a Nerd

Oh how sweet it was to soak up the sun and gaze upon the blue ocean in Florida! For two weeks I relaxed, knowing the work ahead in Iraq. But there was a week before I report for training--after which we leave.

Sooooooooo…..I flipped a coin on Thursday: Bahamas or Germany. Ok, so I prayed a little too. But one day later I was crossing the Atlantic ocean once again. Now before you think I am some kind of rich playboy (the first part is not true) if I stay in America too long I lose some HUGE tax benefits. So…it pays to stay out when necessary.

So remember what I said about traveling? I got to the airport in Florida the plane was delayed due to weather in New Jersey! But Continental booked me immediately on an earlier delayed flight that was about to leave and I made my timely connection to Frankfurt.

Two days and I’ve already made some great new friends. One friend could very well be the future German James Bond. Chicks dig him, he cooks gourmet, and has a sleek Euro car (Volvo S60). He is about to get his Masters and may go on to Phd. But nice enough to volunteer me a tour of a castle in Heidelberg--see pic.

Anyway, so far, so good.

The future James Bond, ever conscious of his surroundings, checks over the Castle wall...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It Never Fails

When I travel, great things happen. And miracles are not uncommon. For example, when I arrived in Baghdad a day late, but none the less just in time---I made it right back out the SAME DAY. This has never happened to me there. And there were people that had been stuck there for several days. Some how I gut shuffled through and caught my plane in time to get back to America and promply get hired for the job I wanted...back in Iraq.

But like I said, great things happen when I travel. Here in Boca Raton, Florida I was taken to lunch by Mr. Alan Hawkshaw and his lovely wife along with some young single adults. I am not young, but they think I am.

Anyway, you may not recognize his name but you will recognize his work. He wrote songs for TV, movies, for Olivia Newton-John, Barbara Streisand, as well as performing in his own groups, the Checkmates and Emil Ford. Click on his name to see. Rumors have it he worked with the Beatles too, very cool.

Anyway, he and his wife joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and are now serving a mission in Florida. It was fun to meet the Hawkshaws and hear their wisdom delivered in both the wit and accent of the English. I suspect more interesting things will happen before I leave... Alan Hawkshaw right rear, myself right front, his wife left front. Sushi has already been eaten.

If You Miss the 70s

Iraq is for you!

I was sitting at the Baghdad Airport, which now has wireless internet by the way, if no more than 10 people get on it at once…
But anyway, the greatest thing about the upper class Iraqis here is they are still stylin’…from the 70s! Thin dark brown leather jackets, v-neck sweaters, brown leather shoes. Beige shirts with open collars and polyester slacks with a bell-bottom flare. And what outfit is not complete without a blue and orange horizontal-stripe polo? What about that green and orange plaid suit-coat?

For the ladies, a leopard-print head scarf really sets off that black burqa. Kids run around in faded denim jackets and jeans with sweater vests, little girls from the more progressive wealthy in denim mini-skirts with leggings and boots. It’s Winter here you know. I love it!

Saddam’s palaces are similarly decked out in the finest 70’s interior décor styles and colors. That era must have really done it here. Actually, I still listen to 70s rock and roll, which constitutes the most common-style radio programming in America from coast to coast. But I’m telling you, it’s a blast to step back in time and see it in live color. Brown, tan, and beige, that is.
If I took a picture at the airport though, I would probably be taken outside and summarily shot, so use your imagination.

For now, I leave--back to the future…

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Good-bye Dubai...etc

I had to book…in a Chinook, that is, a CH-47 dual-engine helicopter. Unfortunately it was at night this time and no exciting pics, darn again! A fast bird, it took about 20 minutes to fly to Baghdad, not very long at all. But fog kept us from flying for 24 hours before, and that was after a 4-hour wait! But getting out to go back to America still went unusually smooth.

That's right, I decided to part ways with my employer of about 2 years and join a company that I think will provide me with better opportunities and make better use of my particular skills. I hope to be coming back to Iraq within a few weeks but in the meantime I've decided to hang out at the beaches of Florida!

I visited Dubai again on the way out. Another sad thing is my getting a new company means I probably won't make it to Dubai again. I don't know why for sure, but I really like that place and I will miss it.

Above is a parting shot with my (ex)fellow employees. Good peeps.

I'll keep y'all posted as more details become available!

This here is an amphibious tank. There are huge lakes here (yes, in Iraq) and these things can go anywhere. Here one is flying through the dusty "tank parking-lot" after a mission. Getting to dinner is also an important mission.

Here I am trying not to get bucked off this GM 6.5liter turbo HMMWV engine that we were replacing. Notice we work in tents, or, intense, but sometimes not.

The soldiers like to name their guns, tanks, trucks, etc. This "Get Some" big gun was parked right next to the "Hateful II" big gun.

That's my friend Hill and some of the rest of our crew. We're all waiting for a particular rocket launch--these particular rockets can go very far and they go so fast that even from up close, you see the rocket halfway into the sky before you even hear the launch. Can't show you the rocket or many other things--classified, you know.

Customized turrets and newer armor to react to terrorist threats. We have a nasty sniper around here so bulletproof glass and cover have been added to the turrets to help protect the gunner

Winter Sunrise Camp Fallujah

Getting ready for the evening patrol in Fallujah

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Better Now

An LDS meeting in Fallujah Nov. 12, 2006 at the "Chaplain's Oasis"
I was just talking to Mormon Medic Marine (Captain?) May about casualites this week--it appears they are way down since Saddam swung. The media is wrong again--surprise surprise. We did have one bad day this week but deaths were way down and the medic said he had several unusually slow days. I'm glad to hear when work is slow for him.

We also talked about the wounded Iraqis we treat here and the wounded Marines. The Iraqis, it seems, whine and don't want to move for days because it hurts. The Marines want to be patched up and get right back to work, "I can still shoot with my 4th finger" he heard one wounded Marine say, hoping to go back to do his job.

We are going to do a group Fast for both soldiers and Iraqis this month, a spiritual focus on behalf of freedom this month. Seems that with just a little more the tide can turn even better.

As for me, big changes are afoot. More later...