Sunday, November 14, 2010

The End of The Sand

But first a response to Rae.
I cant wait to see the shirt. I will wear it with pride when I run in my off time. And yes I love being a dad. But that will come later.

See folks, if you write me a comment I will respond. Well maybe… NOW on with the show.







Take off… Ears Pop.
Leg Goes Numb.
Guy 5 seats down gets air sick.
Other leg starts to tingle.
Ears Pop… Landing.


And I am no longer in Iraq. The flight into Kuwait was less than a hour thank god. It is a short little up and down, but in the nasty cramped quarters of the C-130 it feels longer. There were a lot of guys that went to sleep during it, but I did not have the ability. I am not the sleep at anytime soldier. Never had that in my blood. But I am able to stay up for long hours with little problem as long as I am doing something.

So here we are in Kuwait.
We get off the bird and get bussed to our camp. A few welcome to Kuwait briefs and then we are bussed to the tents (really large nice air conditioned tents) that we will be staying in for… well crap. I guess that info will come later. And then we were released with a hard time of 0630 the next day for accountability formation. So I have been up for almost 35 hours. There is a nice hard cot sitting there with my bags on it. This is a great time to go to sleep right. Hell no! The McDonalds on base opens in a hour. It is time for so good ole American Fast food. Okay so it was not as American as I could have wished, but it was GOOOOOOD! We ended up eating there 3 times in our stay in Kuwait. Which by the way ended up being just 3 days. And it was a nice relaxing 3 days. Watching TV at the MWR tent. Eating better food. Taking hot showers in shower stalls that were big enough to actually big enough for me to bend down and wash my feet. A little shopping in the bazaar. I bought my wife her 2nd anniversary gift there. And more relaxation.

After 72 hours and a little bit of work (I was on baggage detail) we were through our customs check and on a plane. I ended up with 3 seats all to myself for the whole flight. Here is a hint ALWAYS volunteer for baggage detail. There were no 1st class seats on the flight this time, but still 3 seats to stretch out on for a 24 hour flight is nothing to shrug at.

The flight for the main part was uneventful. There was a bunch of mechanical problems, that we were never really told much about. We flew back in to Iraq, then off to Ireland for a stop over. Then on to America. We touched down, were welcomed back over the loud speakers, told that we could turn our phones on, and the texting begun. I sent out a big message saying I was home and one to my wife saying that we had landed. I got about 20 messages from the past 9 months of my phone being off. Then we gathered our belongings and carefully stepped from the plane. Then and only then did I take in a deep breath and let it out.
I was home.


Back to the… GREEN!
For now at least.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait… Then wait some more.

Hello there too all of you crazy blog readers. I am sorry that it has been so long since I have last come to you with another exciting adventure. It has been a busy few months for me. Coming home, meeting my daughter and actually being a father, trying to settle in. Whew I am exhausted.
Today I am once again playing Mr. Mom. My wife found a job shortly after I got home and on my days off, I take care of little Samantha (Who is not all that little anymore). But she is asleep in her little swing so I thought I would get a blog done while she slumbers. I have a lot to tell you about, but it will all have to come slowly. Just like when I left to go to Iraq you got small bits in order. That is how it is going to happen again.
So I am going to take you all the way back… Back… Back to when we were getting ready to leave.



The new unit has arrived and we are for the most part done with the TOA (Transfer of Authority). There were a few major bumps in the road to getting the new unit up and going, but it is done. All that is needed now is for a lot of paperwork to be done and then the official transfer day will be upon us. And then there will be nothing but CHUcation. That is the word we have come up with for the “vacation” time that we will have once the hand over is done and we are waiting for our flight to get the hell out of here. Luckily for me I wont have to really worry about all of that. I am on flight one so I will be out of here within a week. I don’t have to wait around for the TOW. I don’t have to worry about being bored to tears during CHUcation. I just have to wait for the flight. And waiting I am.
I have been waiting for 4 days already and boy am I ready to stop waiting. W have already packed up all of our stuff. Our large boxes of toys are gone. And my internet has been disconnected for over a week. Now what to do, what to do? I still have my computer and a ton of movies on my hard drive so that is keeping me somewhat entertained. But I can’t take this all much longer. It is times like now that make me sure of the fact that I would never make it in jail.
On a happy note, we don’t have to move out of the CHU’s and into the nasty hot tents. We were all worried about that, but all the tents are full with Uganda troops. I might later have to talk about them. But for now I will leave them out of this.





Days later…

Well my time here is at an end. I am sitting at the freedom tent. It is the last tent/building that I will be in prior to getting on a plane, and then it is off to Kuwait. Oh boy am I excited. We have all been up for about 30 hours. Some of the guys have gotten little cat naps in, but I have never been very good at sleeping in a chair, and I am not about to lay down on the hard floor. I would rather just stay awake and count every second until that bird lands. Today’s flight will be the same kind that bought me the final leg into Iraq. A wonderful Airforce C-130. Just thinking of it makes me want to break out into cadence. But really I am all too tired for that. Another few hours and I will be on the ground in Kuwait. I here propellers. Maybe that is our bird.


Back To The Sand

Friday, September 10, 2010

Soon

Soon I will be in a different country. How exciting.



More as soon as I get home.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Good Bye Song

Now it’s time to say goodbye to all the Iraqis
S T I… I cant wait to get out of here.
N K Y… Why? Because I hate this country.
I-i R A Q.
Stinky Iraq…
Stinky Iraq..
I hope I never come here again…




That’s right folks I am just about out of here. I should be home in less than a month. The date of our return is still unknown, and as always I could not say if I knew it, but it is getting close. Today is my last day of net access in my room, and most of the websites that I like to visit are blocked at work, so this is it until I get home, or maybe Kuwait.
I would like to put out my thanks to everyone that showed such support for me while I was out here. It really helped me to get through my time.

A brief on my distant time line.
Maria Sam and I will be in So Cal from 21 October through the 5th (or so) of November. If anyone will be in the area and want to get together let me know. I know for sure that I will be at Disneyland on Saturday the 30th of October. I know it will be busy with it being the weekend of All Hallows Eve, but of well. If nothing else I know I will be at the Main Street Flag Pole for The flag retreat that day. It is either at 1630 or 1730, but which I am not sure. If you are around see you there.

So until later here is a list of things that I am looking forward to when I get home.
.



Things I look forward too.


Seeing Maria – I really miss her.

Meeting Samantha – She will be 8.5 months old by the time I see her. Everyone keeps telling me to not get upset if she does not want to be around me at first because I am new. Sure, that won’t bug me.

Green Stuff – You don’t know how weird it is to not have ANYTHING green around here. We watch tv and grass is shown and you are like “What the hell is that stuff?”.

Being Barefoot – I am not barefoot here unless I am in bed or sitting at my desk in my room. Other than that I have something on my feet.

Shower Stuff - Okay this one has a few things to it…
Being barefoot in the shower - I would rather cut off my feet then go into the shower here without shower shoes on.
Touching the walls and curtain - Most of my time in the shower is spent worrying about not touching anything. I mean think about it, how many nasty people are there using these showers.
Dropping the soap – At home if you drop the soap you pick it back up. Here if you drop the soap you hope that you have enough suds on your body to finish washing with. The soap goes in the trash.
Towels – I cant wait to hang a towel up for real and then when I go to use it again it is fully dry because it was hung up on a towel rack and not on a little hook I made in my room because there is nothing else.

Red Robin – The plan is for this to be my first meal home if we get home early enough in the day. Avocado bacon burger, Garlic Fries, and freckled lemonade. OH BOY!

Walking around naked - I know it is a weird thing, but when the only time you have clothes off is when you shower your body cant breathe. I want my body to breathe. And don’t worry, I will keep the blinds drawn.

American toilet paper – I am so tired of wafer thin one ply sandpaper.

My cell phone – Okay so really I don’t miss my cell phone. I like people not being able to get a hold of me. When there is a problem at work in the middle of the night and I am not there, they have to think long and hard about coming to get me. Because it will take at least an hour for them to come all the way down to my CHU and wake me up and then I have to go all the way back. And then they have to deal with how upset I am because they did not remember to flip that one switch that would solve the problem. What I do miss is the ability to Txt my wife and my friends and my parents any time I want to. I love to txt. And more than that I can say hey look at that. That is cool. I think I will take a picture of it and send it to everyone so that they can see it too. I miss that.

Did I mention Green stuff???

Music – It is not that I don’t have music here. I have over a gig of music. All kinds of music. But what I don’t have is the ability to get away from people and sing to my hearts content. Do you realize how much better you can feel after belting out a verse of “Go The Distance”, It’s a small world, or Toes. Well I just don’t get the chance out here. If I am home there is a good chance that my roommate is asleep. If not then the guys that live to the left and right of me are. At work I am told to shut up and be more business like (um hello we kill people here) and if I just walk around and sing there is a good chance they will put me in a padded room. It is so bad that a girl came up to me the other day to ask me why I was singing “Walking round a winter wonderland” while walking to chow. I did not even know I was singing. I need to sing.

My truck – OMG I could go on for hours about my truck alone. But I will just name a few. Lets start with the ability to go faster then 30kmh. That is the speed limit here on base. I can sing while I drive. Did I mention I want to sing? And I can go somewhere. ANYWHERE in my truck. And sing along the way.

Clothes – I miss clothes. All of my clothes. I don’t want to wear my uniform anymore right now. Enough said.

I want to see my house – My wife moved while I was over here and I have only seen through the pictures that my wife sent my new home.

All of you – That’s right, I miss all of my friends. Well friends I am coming home.












Back to AMERICA???? Not soon enough.
Back To The Sand

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Lights Aren’t On But Everybodys Home


This is a picture of my door. As you can see it is daytime. This was taken at about 1630 a few days ago. It was about 123 degrees out on this day. Now you may not find this picture weird, but think about it. It is that hot and my door is open. Is there a problem here. The answer is of course that the power is out… AGAIN!

This is a prety common ocurance out here. And it always seems to be my area. There are about 7 different power zones in my LA (living area) and for some reason the one that I am connected to seems to have massive problems. Either the Genorator dies, the fuse blows, or the people that are paid what I am sure is a huge amount of money to keep the system running are just plain asleep at the job.

We have at least 3 power outages a week. For the most part they really are not that big of a deal. Most of the time the power is off for only a few minutes. Just long enough for me to start to get a little warm. Most of the time my laptop does not even burn through the whole battery. And I am sure that you know thoes batteries don’t last all that long. The day this picture was taken was not a normal quick power outage. It was one of the bad ones. The bad ones happen once or twice a month, and last for hours. Todays power outage started at about 10am. By the time I came home from work the inside of my room was 138 degrees. So we decided to chill out side. Two hours after I got home the power came back on but it took another 2 hours for the AC to cool the room down enough that we wanted to go inside. Outside there is shade and a breeze. Inside the floor is so hot that it heats the room. By 0600 the next day the temp insid the room was finaly below 80 degrees.

So now today I am sitting at work. Thinking about how nice it will be to get back to my room after work. It has been a long boring Sunday. My roommate walks into the office 12 hours early for his shift and I instantly know why. “Powers out!” Gosh I sure love this place. I guess I will work late tonight.



This 2nd picture is of My Roommate SSG Dick sitting in his chair, My Buddy SGT Gholke squating, and Me. Looking at this pic I think you can just feel how hot we are.







Back To The Sand

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

262800 Minutes

Where has the time gone. Oh that’s right it has been here the whole time creeping by, driving me nuts. I can feel the second had on the clock move with every tick. Count out every minute of the day. And that is how I got the title to this blog. For you not paying attention there are 525,600 minutes in a year. So you cut that in half and you get…

Okay so you are all getting the point? I have been here 6 months. And what a fun 6 months it has been. Okay so fun might not be the right choice of wording. I am not saying it has all be terribly bad. I have been to worse places, and have spent harder times in my time in the ARMY. But still, 6 months out here has been a long time. But I am happy to say that we have less than 3 months left in this rotation. And even better news is that I have been told that we will get at least a year and a half back in the rear before we move on to Afghanistan. I was expecting at the most 12 months so that is good. But that time will come soon enough, so we shall leave it for later.

Since I have been in country 6 months, that means that Samantha is now 6 months old. I am shocked and amazed every time I see her on skype or in pictures and videos that Maria sends. She is getting so big so fast.
She is already 2 feet tall, or long. The pictures of her are from her first month of life and then now at 6 months. What a change.





















We are at about the point of time in which we need to all get away from each other. We still get the job done, but if you are around the same people every day you really start to hate everything about everyone. The smallest things set people off, and it almost feels like a lot of the people out here are really trying to mess with other people. Add to that the heat of the day and things can go bad quickly.
And speaking of the heat did I mention that it is getting hot out here. Yet we are all starting to really get accustomed to it. It does not feel nearly as bad as it did last month even though it is just as hot. Las night I went for a walk and thought “gee it is nice out here.” And it was 110. I knew that it was hot and I did break a sweat, but it was almost pleasant. And then last night in my room I turned off my fan because I was cold. I look over at my clock and it is 80 in my room. That is crazy. I am the kind of guy that likes it to be in the 50’s when I sleep. And I was cold in the 80’s. WOW!

On my blog about the sandstorm Rae asked “So when the sand storms come like that do you all have to go in? Do you know when sandstorms are coming?”

It all matters on what kind of storm it is. If it is a dust storm, it is hard to tell when they are coming in. The distant horizon is always hazy and dusty. So you really don’t see the dust coming in. But the sand storms like I pictured are much easier to see. The one that I took photos of I saw 8 miles in to a 10 mile loop. I had time to jog the last 2 miles back to my room find my camera, get a drink and then took the pics. But I got them at the last second. Right after I took the shots I closed my door and within about 20 seconds could hear the sand hitting my room. With both storms you try to stay inside as much as you can, but I think you all know that it is not always possible for us. Some days you just have to eat the sand. And I really do mean that. Today was a light dust storm and I walked my mile to and from chow through it. My food was wrapped, but the dust finds a way in. You kind of get used to it. I just hope it is not hurting my teeth too bad. I have only been stuck out once during a real bad sand storm. And we just kind of hunkered down. You put on goggles and a face wrap and hope it passes soon. But it can be really dangerous. The sand can cut your skin up some times.
The joys of the desert.


How is your running going? If you look at my Running to Disneyland you will notice that I am almost to California. Less then 20 miles to the border. I will be there soon.

Well for now that is all.

Back To The Sand

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Push Up Challenge

Some of my friends and I have decided to take up the 100 Push Up Challenge. The point is to complete a work out over a few weeks with the goal of being able to complete 100 Push Ups at once. Hence the Name. I started the workout last week and even though I was starting at a level that should have been easy for me to complete I almost did not make it. On the 2nd week I was not able to complete the work out. I am at the point where I have to decide to either do this work out or do my normal gym workout, but not both. So starting this week I will go into a cut mode and instead of trying to bulk at the gym I will go for a lot more cardio, and just the work out on the PU Challenge. No weights for a few weeks. I am not really happy about not being able to work out at the gym, but I really want to do the PU Challenge. On the happy side about this, in a few weeks I will be doing the “Freedom Run” Half Marathon, so I guess cutting the weights a little and working on my run is a good idea.


You should check out the challenge.

http://www.hundredpushups.com/


A few of the people that have been taking on this challenge are having problems with their shoulders and I suggested that some shoulder workouts might help. I was asked what some shoulder exercises were and instead of trying to explain on the forum that we are using I thought that I would be able to explain it better on here with pictures. So thanks to my buddy Chris here we go.

The first 3 exercises can be done from a sitting position or standing and with or without weights. Do the reps in a slow steady rhythm. About one full rep per second (without weights) or slower with weights. If doing without weights I would not suggest doing more than 50 reps at a time. With weights I do sets of 15. But as always work out to your own limits. Start out with light weights if you are going to use weights at all and work your way up. Oh and by the way. Being sore the next day is a good thing. As long as it is soreness that goes away over 2 to 3 days. If it lingers it might be bad. I tend to hurt for 3 days when I work out my upper body. 4-5days when I work out my legs.


#1 Military Press ( Shoulder Press)
Starting with arms in a pushup position but with arms pointing up instead of in front of you. On count 1 raise your arms until they are straight up. On count 2 lower your arms back to the starting position. That is one rep. When you come back down do not let your elbows drop lower than the starting point which should be level with your shoulders.





















#2 Overhead Hand Clap or Lat Raise
Starting with your arms at your side. On count 1 in one motion raise your hands straight out to your side and up above your head until they “clap”. Count 2 reverse until your hands are again at your side. It is the same motion that your arms would do if you were doing jumping jacks but without the jump. If doing this with weights (Lat Raise) only raise your arms to the point that they are out to the side at shoulder level. The full motion with weight added has been known to cause muscle damage.





















Top Photos - Over Head Clap
Bottom Photos - Lat Raise


The old way to do this exercise in the ARMY (the over head clap) was to start with your hands straight out to your sides at shoulder level. Count one was to raise your hands above your head, count 2 was to lower them back to the starting position. The motion of stopping your arms at shoulder level instead of lowering them all the way down to your sides caused problems with the muscle group in the shoulders and has been removed from the PT manual. (Note: this is not the same as with the Military Press. As far as I know with your arms being bent at the elbow with the military press there is less pressure on your shoulder so it does not cause muscle damage.) If you do the full motion it still works out the shoulders without the muscle damage.


#3 Arm Circles
Starting with your arms straight out to the side at shoulder level. Make small circles to the front and rear. The circles should not be more than 6 inches in diameter. (I would not suggest doing this with weights.)

Not putting pics in for the next two due to not having time to get to the gym today. If anyone needs help I can come back and put some pics in, but I think they are easy enough to figure out.

#4 Dumbbell Shoulder shrugs.
Start with your arms at your side. Now shrug. Yep just like you are saying “I don’t know!” You can use a straight up and down motion or a circular motion. As the name would suggest this is done with weights. I find that just shrugging even a bunch of times without weights really takes no effort.


#5 Barbell Shoulder shrugs.
Almost the exact same thing as #4 but instead of your arms being at your sides they will be both in front and behind you since you are holding a barbell. Make sure that you do both front and back shrugs.




I hope these help with your workouts. If they do and you would like more let me know what you would like me to talk about and I will work on more exercise blogs.
A big thanks to my friend Patch for standing in for the pics.

And in case you did not know, I am not a professional physical trainer. I am just a 13 year soldier. But I did stay in Holiday Inn Express.
If any of you are professionals and would like to through in your comments feel free.


Back To The Sand

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summers Commin’

“I’m Hot, Your Hot, He’s Hot, She’s’ Hot”
~ Buster Poindexter ~

The seasons they are a changing.

Three months ago the weather was still hanging on to the last little bits of the winter. We had cool days and cold nights. Every once and a while I even had to turn on the heater in the CHU. But not very often.

Two Months ago spring was in full effect. Spring here is a mix of heavy rains mixed in with extreme winds which with rain or not brings in the dust storms. Some days the dust storms would be a lot of light dust over a few days. And by light dust I mean heavy enough to cancel flights, but still light enough were visibility would be up to a quarter mile. It turns everything brown. Or well, more brown.
Heavy Dust storm are more like walls of dust a few hundred feet high that blow in cause a lot of problems and then are gone within an hour or two. The heavy storms bring with them a lot of static storms that cause all kinds of problems with our communication gear, and visibility down at times to feet. And of course they turn everything brown-er. The temps stayed mild for the most part. Some days it got as hot as the 90’s yet still could drop down to the low 40’s at night. Most days the temp would just hang around the 70’s.
Spring lasted about 2 months with really shocked all of us. The seasons here are knows to change from the cold of winter to the heat of summer in days, not months. So two months of mild temps even with the mixed in rain and dust storms was very welcomed. The worst part of it is that when it rains here the ground instantly liquefies and ground that seemed like rock turns into 6 inch deep mud. And it is nasty thick stick to everything mud. But once the sun is out the mud is gone. It is like magic!

This month it all changed. Summer has hit here and it has hit hard. The temperature quickly rose from a 70’s average to highs well in the triple digits. This week alone the high has been over 120 each day. The lows drop in to the lower 90’s yet the nights are already feeling comfortable. This morning the temp dropped all the way down to the mid 80’s and I felt cold.
The rains should be gone for the most part for the rest of the summer, as should the really bad dust storms. That is not to say that the high winds are gone. Every day is windy and the wind makes it feel like an oven as soon as you walk outside. It is so hot that it is painful. Your eyes burn, your skin is on fire. Your clothes heat up so bad that even when you are back inside where there is A/C it takes a while too cool off.
We have 4 months left here and all 4 months will be hot. When we leave here it the temp will still be in the 120 range. But back home it will be in the upper 60’s maybe the 70’s and we will all be frozen. Putting on a jacket is something that I am very much looking forward to.

But for now I will slather on the sun screen, and try to beat the heat.

Back To The Sand.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Remembering Today

We all are here for different reasons, but we are all here to do the same mission. We are the ones that stand in line to bring liberty to those that don’t know of it. To the families and friends that are left behind, our prayers are with you. To the fallen, you will always be remembered.
To the men of TK 135. Rest In Peace. There is a special place for Heroes like you.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

May Update

Another month has come and gone. And here I still am, in the desert. I have been here 4 months so far. Only 5 more to go. Boy is time flying. Or not! But being here 4 months means that my little Samantha is also 4 months old. She is getting huge. She was weighed in at the Doctor and she came in at a whopping 11lb, 13oz.

Thankful Maria has been keeping me up to date on her growth through pictures and videos. Every day she grows cuter. I can’t wait to get home and be able to meet her. Maria always is telling me about how she is smiling all the time and how she loves to “talk” to her toys the TV and the mirror. But every time the camera comes out she clams up and just sits there. I can barely get a smile and can never get a laugh or babble. Who would have thought that my daughter would be camera shy? I sure hope that she will outgrow that one.

The Dogs are slowly getting more and more used to Samantha being around. They still for the most part ignore her completely, but there are times that they pay her a little attention. Samoa stays near her a lot like she is guarding her. She has no problem sitting on the couch with Maria if Sam is also up there.

She keeps trying to lick her feet if she is sitting on the floor while Maria sits on the couch holding Sam. I think for the most part Samoa will do fine with her. Cali on the other hand keeps her distance. Maria did recently send me a video where Cali comes up to Sam when she was on the floor and gives her a quick sniff. But as Maria says in the video Sam had just pooped so I am sure Cali was just interested in what could smell so bad. As Maria says Sam can make a smell that would even beat me. I am interested and even worried about how they will act once Sam starts making her way around and gains the ability to really reach out and grab at things. Before we had the thought of having a kid I would play with Samoa by grabbing at her tail and she would turn around and go after me. Nothing really rough, and it was very easy to get her to calm down quickly if she started to get to into it, but Sam wont have the same control. So she will have to be watched closely. And as always Cali is afraid of everything so I don’t think there is anything to worry about there. If Sam goes after Cali I am sure that Cali will just go and hide. The only problem is if Cali has a bone in her kennel and Sam tries to get it. Cali is very protective of her bones and even snapped at me…Once!

My Running To Disneyland is going well I am closing in on the Oregon/California border. I am at 321.34 miles as of this writing.

Maria is just about finished up on our move. We decided to move into on base housing. I really never liked the idea, but it is so much closer to everything and will help us to save money. The house that we were living in was about 30 min from
base and that put it 30 min farther away from anything. We were living in a very small town and if we wanted anything that was not in the town it was at least 30 min to go. So being closer to the “city” will be nice. Also the house is only 1.25 min from my office when I am home. So that means I will not only have more time at home, but I can come home and shower after my morning PT instead of showering in the gym and I can come home for lunch instead of sitting in my truck. And also it means that I won’t be burning through $200 in gas every few weeks. And as I mentioned we will be saving money. Our old house took almost all of my housing allowance. Then we still had to pay for the utilities and the gas to and from work. With on base housing, we don’t pay for utilities as long as we don’t go over what is considered to be the “normal” amount used. And if we use less than a pre set amount then we get money back. So that should be nice. I have a friend with 3 kids and his wife runs a daycare out of their house and he gets money back every month, so I am hopeful. The best part (at least for me) is that I will have a greater chance of ridding my motorcycle to work now. I can take my truck to PT, and then on days that the weather is nice I can take the bike after. And if the weather turns bad, it is only a mile home. And I won’t have to worry about hitting a deer coming through the forest on my way to work.
I will miss the quiet of being so far away though. And my drive home helped me to calm down from my day.
We were not expecting to be moved into housing so fast. We were #98 on the housing list when we first started, and were told it would be 3-4 months before we would get a house. So Maria was planning on clearing out of our old house, putting everything into storage, and driving home to stay with her parents for a few months. And then if all worked out, she would get the house just long enough before I came home that she could get everything unpacked and ready for me. Then about 3 week before she moved out of the old house she got a call saying that there was a house available if few wanted it. So she took it. The upside is that we don’t have to worry about me coming home and not having a house yet. The downside is that we would have saved at least $2500 a month for every month that she was living with her parents. But oh well.
So our new house is a cute little duplex. It is a lot smaller than our old house, but that is not too bad. It is a three bedroom 1.75 bath. Each bedroom is a little smaller than what we had but our stuff fits nice. The big difference is that the garage is only a one car, so not only does Maria lose her nice indoor parking, but we have to stack the cars into on narrow yet long driveway. Also we don’t have a formal dining room anymore. But that really does not bother me. It just means that we can actually sit at the dinner table yet still watch TV!!! No more sitting at TV trays. Even though it is a duplex we don’t have a common living wall. The common wall is the garage. That is the really nice part. There are some other (nicer) houses on post that we could have chosen from, but they all have common walls that are the Master Bedroom. That is a NO/GO. We have a very small yard that we had to pay to fence in. We had the choice to either rent a chain link fence or pay to put in a permanent wood fence. I wanted to go with the real fence, because then we could get a 6 foot fence to keep the dogs in, but there was no way we were going to pay $2000 to put a fence in to a place that we would not be staying in. So we went with the Chain link. The limit on the height is only 4 feet and I am really worried about her dog Samoa getting out. But we will have to live with it. If she gets out, and gets picked up we will have to get rid of her. I know that Cali (my dog) wont jump the fence. She is too afraid of the world to do that. We might just get a smaller yet taller “dog run” and set it up inside our yard area. We got permission for that. And then if we are going to be gone for the day we can just put them in the dog run. We did that in Barstow and it worked well.

Okay well, that is the update for the month. I have more to put about the weather, but this is long enough for now. So until next time…

Back To The Sand.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Laundry Soap Part 2

I wanted to put up some pictures of all the laundry soap and some of the soldiers here as they got some. So here you go.


All the boxes we got. This is one shipment. And ME!!





This is what is in every box. Two bottles of laundry soap (one large one small-er) and a bunch of travel packs of tissue which come in handy out here. Some boxes have also started to come with books and magazines.




This is SSG Seabolt on the bottom (My first line supervisor and platoon SGT) and SPC Keats, one of my soldiers.





SPC Keats again showing off his muscles





SPC Patachett. My buddy from another platoon.





SFC Whiteside from the other platoon. She is trying to imitate my LT with the smile.





SFC Devore, my old Platoon SGT and soon to be the 1SG, and my battle buddy (Now called Warrior Companion (How gay is that)) and team mate SGT Adams.





My Commanding Officer (C.O.). CPT Frazier. Yes he looks young, that is because he is only 24. And no I do not like him in anyway. He is an asshole that does not understand that everyone is not built to be a PT god.

Sorry. So about the laundry soap.





Okay lets see. Left To Right
Top Row: PFC Reissig; PFC Karr; PFC Scionenux (CNO); SFC Devore; SGT Webber
Bottom Row: SSG Seabolt; SPC Adney


Okay that’s all for now. I am going to go do some laundry now. More to come

Back To The Sand – And clean clothes!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Here in Iraq, for the most part I would say things are not all that bad. Compared to my last year here this place is a cake walk. It is generally harder for me this year for many reasons starting off with my new family that I am no able to be with. But over all this is really not a bad rotation. We are not under daily attack. We live in so what comfort. We get up to 4 hot meals a day for free, if you can eat that much. We have Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and a few other smaller eateries. We have a PX and places to worship if you want. Other than the heat and the fact that we are far from home, it is just another day in the world.

But recently things did start to get a little dirty. And a lot smelly. Here at COB Adder there are two ways to get clean clothes. There are a few laundry turn in points around base where anyone can come and turn in up to 20 articles of clothing a day and 72 hours later go back and pick them up. Or in every LA (living area) there are multiple laundry shacks with washers and dryers. Most people around here like to do their own laundry. Sometimes it is hard to get a machine and you end up waiting around. But it is a little bit of home in a way. Plus most people are really not that into having someone else wash their underwear. If you do your laundry yourself you get to use whatever laundry detergent you have and get to do it at your own time and speed. If you turn your laundry in again it is a 72 hour turn around and they use a laundry detergent that leaves clothes smelling “a little like diesel fuel”. So again, most of us do our own laundry.

Well about 2 months ago the PX (Post Exchange) ran out of laundry detergent. And this is when the problem started. Slowly people started to run out of their store of detergent. Fights started breaking out over bottles of soap. Laundry stopped being done. People started to stink. And everything went to crap. Wash was being done with Axe body wash, with ground up bars of soap, and with nothing but water. And people continued to stink. I getting very tired of all of this sent an e-mail off to my father to see if his rotary club could give us some help, and he said he would work on it.

Two weeks later I received a shipment of 11 boxes from the Rotary Club. Each box containing 2 bottles of laundry soap, and 10-12 packets of travel tissues. And then two weeks later I received another shipment of 15 more boxes. This time in addition to the laundry soap there were books and magazines. And now, we have clean clothes. I watched the attitude of the soldiers skyrocket. And I am extremely thankful. So I would like to put out this thank you to the Orange Rotary club for their help with our problem. I know there are a lot of people out there that care a lot about the military, but not a lot that will go to such lengths (and money) to help us over here. The club has been sending out boxes to soldiers here in Iraq at least since my first deployment back in 2004. They have sent out a lot of boxes. The Program is called Operation a bit of home! If you want to go and check out the website. I don’t know what is on it. I can’t get our slow net service here to go to the page. They are at:
http://www.abitofhome.org/


Back To The Sand

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Shower


Don’t you just love the feeling of a good shower? You are in a shower that you can just stretch out in. 2 foot by 2.5 feet, I mean big! You take a relaxing long shower. The kind of shower that could just go one forever if not for the 10 guys yelling at you to hurry up 60 seconds after you turn the water on. A real nice “hot” ice cold shower. Who cares that the water heater went out a month ago. You step out and feel the nice cool 104 degree air against your skin. The kind where you are all alone. Just you and the other 11 guys getting in or out of their own shower, and the
10-20 other guys standing in line waiting for you to move. Oh yea baby. I love me a good shower.


It took me 7 trips to the shower to get a pic of the shower empty. There is always someone in there. Today the water is off, so no one in there.


Back To The Sand

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Life In Tan And Green Is…

The Life in Tan and Green is exciting.

You can be terrified, happy, sad, even giddy. And all at the same time. Seeing new things, meeting new people, going to new places. The ARMY has taken me to 9 countries, 11 states, over 4 continents. I have felt weightlessness, and extreme positive g’s in a C-130 performing a combat landing into Iraq. And the same in a not so controlled crash in a civilian 747 over Alaska’s ice bank. I have cowered as close to the ground as I could possible get and fired my rifle at the enemy all with a white knuckle grip. I have run to the point of exhaustion in the mountains, and relaxed in a pool at one of Saddam’s palaces. No matter what, even when bored out of my mind. It is exciting.



The Life in Tan and Green is scary.

Through Bombs going off in the distance, Rockets landing within feet, and bullets zipping by in the air and combat landings in a land of war, you are sure to be scared. But it is also things like going to a promotion board, your first time stepping into a new country or maybe being on a boat with a broken engine in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. There is rarely a day in this life where I find that I am not scared by something. The funny thing is that everything that makes it scary makes it exciting.



The Life in Tan and Green is painful.

In the past 13 years I have broken 12 different bones with a total of 19 breaks over those 12 bones. I have had 3rd degree burns 4 times. I have been indirectly struck by lightning 2 times, been shocked by 220 volts twice, and 110 volts so many times I can’t count. I have dislocated 6 joints, one of them 8 times. Sprained both of my ankles at least 5 times each. Had to have my skin stitched or stapled back together over 15 times. Been hit in the head by a round casing so hard that I could not walk straight for 3 hours. And been knocked unconscious 25 times before I stopped keeping track. I have been diagnosed with both PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and have such bad memory loss that most of my youth is not known to me, and if you tell me something now there is a good chance that I won’t remember it in 2 min. Oh and all of my friends. I am sorry I don’t know your name. I have fallen off of a 30 foot cliff. Been in 2 major vehicle crashes, and been shot in the face by a powder (or blank) round causing temporary blindness. This all in the line of duty. Painful? Maybe just a little.



The Life in Tan and Green is satisfying.

I have fed the homeless, fought fires in Colorado, helped to build a school, brought internet to people that recently had never seen a computer. I have had my hand in the freeing of the population, the bettering of a country, and the cleaning of a state. Years ago the men on the Iraq Olympic soccer team knew that going home without a medal meant the death of their families. Now, no matter how well they do they go home heroes of a nation. I helped do that. I was never the one doing it, but I was one of the thousands.



The Life in Tan and Green is lonely.

I have never felt so alone in my life. Standing on the deck of the USNS Bob Hope in transit to Iraq. Looking up at the sky at 0300 and feeling that I am the only person in the world. Driving down the MSR from Balad to Baghdad when a “stray” round hits the side plating. Walking a perimeter in Wyoming on guard duty without a building or another person in sight. Or the same thing on an empty airfield Christmas Eve watching water freeze. Or even sitting in a barracks room in the middle of a building full of people. Struggling through the hours of night, the day that a divorce is finalized. Or celebrating your 18th birthday stuck in a foxhole slowly filling with water for a South Carolina summer storm.



The Life in Tan and Green is almost over.

My goal was to make my 20 but it seems that this goal will not happen. All throughout my carrier I have had to fight to stay in. PT has always been a weak point, and I have always been right on the edge (and sometimes over) the weight limit. No, that is not true. It should read body fat limit. My max weight allowed is 195. I don’t remember when I last weighed that little. As of right now I am hovering in the 220’s. But the ARMY says that I can be over my max weight as long as I fall under a certain amount of body fat %. And that is where I fail. Three months ago I was 3% over my limit. Since then I have lost almost 30 pounds, but due to the way that they measure I am still at 3% over. And that is a no go. The AR (ARMY Regulation) says that due to my struggle with weight it is time for me to go home. So that is what they are going to do. So after 13 years of great service without ever once being in serious trouble I am out. I consider myself to be a great soldier and a tremendous leader. I take a lot of pride in what I do, and I really don’t want to have to stop. But after fighting all that I can it is out of my hands. There are two things that can be done. I can either be removed from service once we get home from deployment, or they can wait until my current contract runs out in two years. But after that the “Life” will be over. I have been barred from re-enlistment, so there is no continuing. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. So what comes next? That I have no clue. I have never had a “real” job. I have never gone to an interview. I have been doing this since I was 17. I truly for the first time in my life feel lost. I am in the dark. And my flashlight is fresh out of power.



The Life In Tan And Green. Thank god there are thin people that can carry the torch.



Back To The Sand

Friday, March 12, 2010

Update 2010 03 15

“Oh the weather outside is frightful….”

And snow is in no way the reason. Mother nature has changed her color and her son B.O.B. is being brutal to us here. We had a few weeks of Iraqi Spring, but that seems to be over and we are moving into what is soon to be hot. For the past few weeks, heck almost a month, we have been having a fun up down up down with the weather. Some days were just downright cold, while others were chilly nights and nice sunny days. And then the wind has been here today gone tomorrow. We are fine without the heavy wind since that brings the dust storms, but the light breezy days are nice. But “nice” will soon be a word that is not in the vocabulary of a lot of us. Yesterday I really started to notice. At 0800 when I was waiting for a bus I noticed that there was a nice bit of sweat dripping down my back. Then at 1400 when my bladder woke me up it was 101 outside. Yep, that’s right. It’s our first day in the triple digits out here in the sand. And the sky is the limit on this one, or that would be the lack of limit. Soon we will be thinking how nice it is at night when it is only 110 outside, just because it was 140 during midday. It’s time for us to really start chugging the water throughout the day.

The Family is doing well. Our little Samantha is two and a half months old and growing like crazy. All of the books tell us to expect a one week growing spurt per month. Well she seems to be going through a one week growth spurt 4 times a month. She is over 8 pounds and over 20 inches tall. I know it is considered long and not tall at this age, but I prefer tall. I have been getting new pics and videos a few times a week from Maria. Every new pic is a great thrill. Really it is what I live for right now.
Maria will be taking Sam on a trip down to see the grandparents at the end of this month. Maria’s Birthday is the 4th of next month and both mothers said they would
come up, but with her not working it is a lot better for Maria to just hop a flight down there. I just hope that Sam does well on the flight. I have made Maria promise that she will not take Sam to Disneyland without me. But I did say that she could go to Downtown Disney and buy her some stuff. But no pictures of her there and no characters.

I have not really had a lot of time to talk to Maria all that much. The time I have available to be on skype in my mornings is a time where there is a lot of internet traffic because most of the people around here are just getting off of work so everything slows to a crawl. And really it all just fails. So for the next 3 months I will not get much face time with the family.

I have a PT test tomorrow. I am not very happy. I don’t feel ready for it and I really don’t think that I am going to pass. And if I fail it might be the end of my military carrier. Yep no more life in Tan and Green. And well if that happens…
Well I have no clue. I have been doing this for 13 years and really have no clue what I am going to do for a pay check. And Maria is still not working because of the baby, so things might end up getting really tight around here. But we will see. Wish me luck and maybe I will be able to stay in for a few more years. I was really hopping to make 20 years, but every day it seems to get further and further out of my reach. We will see.


Back To The Sand

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things I have learned…

Just about every woman standing nude and viewed from the side is always sexy.


This does not work the same when I do it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Home...

Home is where your hat hangs,
Home is where your heart is,
Home is you lay your head,
Home is where your wife is,
Home is where the ARMY sends us.
Home Sweet Home


Or for now that is CHU Sweet CHU. My CHU is my home. CHU stands for Containerized Housing Unit. Basically it is a rail car made into a room, or set of rooms mattering on which model you live in. Where I live now is the single style room system. My room is about 6.5’x 20’, feels like a hallway, and it sleeps two. It is not luxurious or spacious, but it is home.





This is my CHU. My door is the one on the left.


When I first got here I was living with another guy from my unit who I have an extreme dislike for. But living with him has made it even worse. He is very rude and frequently shows that he does not care about anyone but himself. I do my best to try to be quiet and polite when he is asleep. I don’t turn on the lights or do anything that will wake him unless I have no other choice. He on the other hand is not polite or quiet. He turned on the lights while I was asleep at least once a day. He would turn on his stereo and made sure that he slammed the door every time he came in or out. It was just a great pleasure to share a room with him. Thankfully this past week he moved out so for now I have the CHU all to myself. Sadly that will not last for very long.









I live in sleeping area 6, but the rest of my unit lives in area 7. So I soon will have to move over to be near the rest of the group. It is not a bad thing. The CHU’s in 7 are a little bigger and have a better design. They are shaped less like a hallway and much easier to live in, and not disturb your roommate. The down side is that I will end up with a roommate again. But I guess that is unavoidable. Once I get moved I will get some pictures of my new “Home”.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Diet and the Crash

FYI: This took place 6 days ago. I am eating again, somewhat better, and am running again. No worries.

Kids, don’t try this at home.

As I have discussed before I am not in the best of shape. I am always struggling with my weight and fitness. The ARMY says that I have to be at or below a certain body mass index to be physically fit for duty. If I don’t stay within the range I can be released from duty. And with over 12 years in so far I really don’t want to have that experience. So I push myself and try to eat right and really pay attention to my weight. But sadly it my body does not always work for me on this issue. Over the past year while I was stationed in Korea I was on the injured list and was not able to do very much PT and it really cost me. And then add in a honey moon and eating all the things that I really like prior to leaving the country for a year, my weight went up and my fitness went way down. And so it has all caught up with me. So I decided that while out here I would do everything I could to improve my PT and drop some weight. So I started to do just that. I lost about 3 pounds in the first week and thought that if I could just continue with that I would be doing just fine. But after the first week I was notified that we would soon be having a PT test. That put me into panic mode and I started (knowing that it was not all that good) a crash diet. I started to eat very little other than dry salad or salad with non-fat dressing. I cut my food intake down to around 100 calories a day. And the weight started to melt off. I have since lost 20 pounds and am thinner than I have been in years.
And now in this story we hit the bad news. Well as I said I knew the diet was not really the best idea. Dropping down to such a small amount of food every day is not all that great for you and even worse when you all of a sudden start to increase the amount of PT that is done. And in my case two wrongs definitely don’t make a right.
Today it all came crashing down. I went out on a 4 mile out and back. My plan was to walk a mile to the 2 mile PT Course, run the 2 miles and then walk back. So I made the first mile and started to pick up into a run. I was feeling good for the first mile and then all of a sudden everything just started to feel all wrong. I started to feel very dizzy and weak and could not keep my run going. I slowed down to a walk but even that seemed too hard. And then all of a sudden down I went. I did not pass out, but I was not able to stay standing. Luckily for me a guy was running by. He helped me back to my feet and walked me to the Aid Station. The Doc put me on an IV but I really was not all that dehydrated. He decided after talking to me for a while that I was just depleted of fuel. So I have been order to stop my “Crazy” diet and go to a more healthful eating plan. I really don’t want to because I do need to drop some more weight before the PT test, but I guess there is no point in losing the weight if I don’t have the energy to make the run. So tomorrow I start to eat. Something that I have not done much of since getting here. We will have to see how it works. I still feel kind of blah right now, almost 12 hours later. But getting better. I have to take tomorrow off from running and rest, but then it will be back to the grind. So wish me luck.

Back To The Sand

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Running To Disneyland

Yep this one is about that funny set of numbers at the top of my blog.

In case some of you are not aware of this, the ARMY along with the rest of the Armed Services are very into (PT) physical fitness. For the ARMY PT is just about a daily thing. Even here in Iraq we are running and doing other things for PT at least 5 days a week. And for me, this is a struggle. I have never been what can be said as “in shape”. Unless you are going with the whole “round is a shape”. I struggle everyday in every aspect of PT. But I cannot and will not give up. The worst part is my run. And that is what I work on the hardest. But other than being able to pass our PT test I have never really had what I would call a goal. For the PT test I have to Do 40 Push-ups in 2 min, 50 Sit-ups in 2 min and run 2 miles in 17min. I am good on the Push-ups and sit-ups, but on the run I am dying.
Also, in case you did not know. I am a huge, HUGE Disney freak. I was an annual pass holder all through High School and then for 2 years while stationed in California I again had a annual pass and went on just about every weekend that I had 2 days off. It did not hurt that I grew up and my parents still live only 5 miles from the park. For part of my addiction to Disney I listen to a few choice podcasts. One of my favorite being the All About The Mouse Podcast. Both of the Hosts of the Show Bryan (Please note he spells his name incorrectly) and Jonathan are runners. Over the past year Jonathan and I have become friends and he has helped to motivate me. Jonathan one day decided to work towards losing weight and made a goal to do the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. And he made that goal. Congrats Jonathan! Well that goal has now become my goal. I have never been to Walt Disney World and I have decided that I will not go until I am going to participate in the WDW Half marathon. So now I have a goal. The one big problem is that I don’t see a chance in the near future to be able to afford the trip for my wife, child and I to make it down to WDW. So I had to start looking for a new goal to push toward. And once again I was able to look to Jonathan, and a few of the Team Voice members. Wait a tic. “What is Team Voice you ask?” Well team voice is a group of people who talk about running and well run. And one thing they run is the half and full marathon at WDW. And team Voice is named for Jonathan. On his show he is called Jonathan the Voice. Cool huh. So anyway Jonathan and Team Voice have this challenge going on to “Run To Disneyland”. A bunch of people are tracking on Map programs from their home to either Disneyland or Walt Disney World. And every day they update how far they have gone. And so now I have my new goal, and I would call this a big one. I am running (Virtually of course) from Yelm Washington to Disneyland. It is a total distance of 1,108 miles. So now that you know what is going on you can come back and track my progress.
And, if you are a runner or have ever thought about getting into it you should go over to team voice and check them out. They have a blog at http://www.virtualvoiceevents.blogspot.com/ and there is a forum where you can discuss anything and everything about running. The forum is part of the All About The Mouse Forums. And that can be found on their website at http://allaboutthemouse.com/. And of course you should go over and give the podcast a listen. It is filled with magic and mayhem. It is really all that good.

A quick note before I end this. I finally got my camera in the mail today. I only ordered it a month and a half ago. So coming soon here on the blog I will have pictures of the area and blogs about what they have here.

Back To The Sand

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reader Request

Oh the weather outside is frightful, and the heat is not delightful.

My first reader request. I feel so special!

So the question came up as to how the weather is. All I could think about at the time that I read the question was the show from the Canada Pavilion. “And it snows 365 days a year”. But obviously that is not what it is like here.
Iraq is known for its heat. But right now it is what is known as the “nice” time of the year. Otherwise known as the rainy season. The temp is in the 60’s most days right now and drops as low as the 30’s in the evening. The wind is bad just about every day, so in the evenings it feels even colder than it really is. And then there is the rain. For the most part down where we are the rain is not all that bad either. It only rains or twice a week, and so far it has not ever been a very large amount of rain. But it does come fast and hard. It does not sprinkle. If it is raining it is a downpour. I got caught out in it one day on my run and I thought I was going to end up with bruises. And it is always loud enough to wake me up no matter deep in sleep I am. We live in metal buildings and it sounds like rocks hitting the roof and side. As soon as the rain starts to fall everything turns to mud. It is really weird how fast it happens. The ground goes from very solid to deep mud. The roads turn into a mess in no time with all the trucks going from the mud to the street. It was so bad that one day on my bus ride to work the bus started to fishtail going around the turns. That was fun! The good thing about the rain is that it keeps the dust down for a few days. And that my friends is a great blessing. The last time I was hear the rain was constant for about 3 months. Everything was covered with at least two inches of thick mud. But it did give you a good leg workout. It got so bad that we had to get water pumps to keep the water out of the hospital that I was working in. Thankfully it is not like that this time.
Soon enough the rainy season will be gone, and it will be hot, hot, hot. As of march 1st we are not supposed to be in winter gear, so that is the date we are looking at for when we start to die of heat stroke. I will let you know when that happens.

See folks. Ask questions and I will try to talk about it! If nothing else it helps fuel the blog.

Back To The Sand

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sand, Sand everywhere and not a drop to drink

I know, that is not how the line goes, but there is not water everywhere. And really having a drop to drink is not the problem. When it comes to drinking water there are pallets of bottled water just about everywhere you go. But when it comes to water for any other reason, now that is where we run into a problem. You see we live on the side of the Euphrates River. And that is where we get our water from. River water goes into the ground water table and we pump it from there, clean and filter it and then it is put into holding areas to be shipped out to all of the bathrooms, laundry facilities, and dining facilities. It is all potable water so it is safe to drink, but it is far from limitless. Right now we are getting good rain, but in a month or two that will all dry up and water will be short out here. And when that starts to happen we really have to watch how much water we use. And come summer that leads to a water ration.
Now the way the ARMY sees it, we need about 15 gallons of water each. That is for everything. Shower, Toilet, Clothes Wash, and cleaning stuff in the DEFAC (Dining Facilities). Now 15 gallons a day might sound like a lot, but really it is a very small amount. We are talking about as little water as you can use. Almost no water to shave. And turning the water on and off while in the shower. The toilets use a lot of water (1.5 gallons per flush) and everything else goes to laundry and DEFAC. It really takes some getting used to. And you tend to get really upset when you walk in to the showers and hear water just running and running. But I guess I can’t really complain all that much. I mean we do get daily showers. And that is saying a lot. Just a few years back out here we were happy for weekly showers. And at least they are hot. Oh wait… That is big problem number two. Since I have been here I have had one, that is”1” hot shower. Most days it is at a temperature slightly below warm, and at least once a week there is no hot water at all and showers become slightly painful. But again, at least I do get to shower. We just might have to change that little ditty to “Shave and some frostbite, two bits!”
And speaking of. It’s time to scrape my face.

Back To The Sand

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Introducing Samantha

And here she is Ladies and Gentleman, and the rest of you. My brand new daughter. Samantha Rose was born on 3 Jan 2009, so she is almost 1 month old. It is such a minor milestone, but such a big one too. Her name is a mixture of “Sure that sounds good” and a joke. My wife brought up the name of Samantha and we both thought that sounded good, but we were really stuck for a middle name. My father told us to name her after the richest relative on Maria’s side and that would be her aunt Rose. And well it kind of stuck. I think it is a good name. And I get to tell everyone that we named here after Briar Rose from “Sleeping Beauty”. Yep my Disney geekness won out. I really wanted to find a name that had a Disney connection. I am (in case you did not know) a HUGE Disney freak. But like everything else we will get into that later. The real funny thing is when I was about 20 I read the “Myst Trilogy” and one of the main Characters was named Ti”ana. And ever since I really wanted to have a daughter and name here that. And then as I am about to have a baby girl Disney comes out with a princess of the same name. It must have been the stars lining up. But of course Maria did not like that name so it was out.



So anyway Samantha is doing well for the most part. We are going to have to have her tested for an allergy to dairy. I have had to stay away from milk my entire life, and had to really limit any dairy. My wife loves dairy and it seems to be messing up Sam a little. The Doc told my wife to take in no dairy for a week and see if it helped any and then to start eating dairy and see what happened. So she did not eat any dairy all week and Sam started to get better. Then yesterday she had a quesadilla and some ice cream and the next day Sam started to get sick again. So we might have to keep her off dairy. If that happens then we will have to work hard to get her enough calcium. I have had a lack of calcium my entire life and it has made a negative impact. I have a lot of broken bones.




Sam is already rolling over. Everyone is shocked so I guess it is really early. I doubt she is really doing it on purpose, but she is doing it anyway. Everyone is joking that she will be walking by the time I get home. So I told Maria to tie her to the floor if she looks like she is about to walk. That is just not allowed.

Oh and please note that her name is Sam or Samantha. I will not allow anyone to call her Sammie. I am the only one who gets to call her that until she is 18. I feel sorry for the next person to try to call her that.


So that is my Daughter. She is perfect as far as I can tell. And cute if I do say so myself.



A few technical notes. In case you missed it there are a few things added to the blog. I put in a countdown to the freedom bird and my millage for Running to Disneyland. The freedom bird is the nickname for the plane that takes us home, and we should be on that around the 1st of October. And the running to Disneyland… Well if you don’t understand it you will just have to wait until later.

Back to the sand.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Sand Box

Welcome to Iraq. It has been 5 years since I was here last. Well not here as in this base, but here as in Iraq. It all looks the same. I am on a less built up airfield, but I believe it is a bigger airfield than last time. Last time I was at LSA Anaconda. There they have a theater where they show a few movies daily. A Olympic size swimming pool and a full size track. And what I believe is the biggest and best PX (Post Exchange) in Iraq. The downside of Anaconda was that they get attacked with rockets and mortars a lot. As in a few times a day at least. When I was there, the longest time we went without getting attacked was 17 hours. That sucked!

But that was then and this is now. Here we don’t have a pool. We don’t have a theater. We don’t even have a track to use for timed laps. And the PX here. Gee how can I put it. Ummm… I think I will go with crappy. Sure that is a good word. They really don’t have anything good in it. At least nothing that I use. But they do have pretty girls pink and purple thongs. WTF! There are a few extra local run shops in the PX area. There are a few electronic shops, a tobacco shop, a rug store, and an art store that sells pictures and paintings done by locals. And then of course they have the Barber and women’s hair salon. There is one really big difference from the last time that I was here. We have food choices other than the Chow Halls. There is a Burger King, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut. Wow. And you all thought that we were suffering over here. The Taco Bell you can smell from about 2 miles away if you are down wind. I have tried it and it made me very sick. But I think it was more of the fact that it was the first food with grease in it since I left America. But it could have been the food. Most people say that it is very good. It did not taste bad, but you could tell you were not in America. I am going to try Burger King, and Pizza Hut later. I am allowing myself one bad for me meal a week. Next I guess will be Burger King, but not sure.

If you are not into paying for food then there are 3 Chow Halls or DEFACs that we can go to. But I will talk about them later.

And other than all that I have talked about here. Well it is still Iraq. Sand everywhere. Very little green at all. And what plants are green, you can’t really tell because of the large amount of sand and mud that is on everything.


And that ladies and gentleman is Iraq.



Back to the sand

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kuwait

“Ladies and Gentleman you might have noticed that we are descending and will soon be on final approach. Please raise and lock your seatbacks and tray tables and thank you for flying with us.”

“Ladies and gentleman this is the captain speaking. I just wanted to say that it has been an honor to be able to fly you into Kuwait and on behalf of the entire flight staff I would like to thank you for your service to our country. Please be safe and we hope to be your freedom bird when your rotation is over. Good Luck.”

And then we were on the ground. The flight took 24 hours 3 min from the time we took off for the first time until we were back on the ground in Kuwait. And in that one day my life had changed forever and would never be the same. Before my daughter was born it was all a game to me. I was reading an article about plane crashes. After knowing I was a father the article made me sick. Before I was just going away for a few months. After I was going off to the worst place in the world and thoughts of not making it back were flooding my mind. As we landed in Kuwait all of a sudden I was not only nervous, but downright scared.
Thankfully for the most part that went away quickly and I very easily put my mind to what was going on around me and what was going to be going on.
After a nice little bus ride we were at the Camp that we would be at for what we thought would be 6 days to 3 weeks. The normal time for a unit incoming is 3 weeks or familiarization, acclimatization and training. But not us. We spent 72 hours at the training camp. We did a few little bits of training, but most of what we were there for we had spent the last month back in the states doing. So we were very quickly back on a bus and heading to Ali Al Salem Airport for the flight into IRAQ.
Once we got to Ali, we were assigned tents for the night and released to relax. And we did, at least as much as we could. We had our last McDonalds and played horseshoes and rested a little. But not much sleep was going to happen. We were all too restless and excited and ready for our trip into Iraq.
Wake up was 0200 and after a briefing and even more waiting we boarded the bus that would take us out to the C-130. We loaded up the plane (the most uncomfortable way to fly) and took off for our short jump into Iraq.
The flight for the most part was uneventful. You are seated very tightly packed in and there is no moving around. As we came in for our combat landing (lots of heavy banks and a great weightless plunge out of the sky) the guy across from me started to turn a nice shade of green. I reached up and grabbed him a vomit bag and prayed that he would not lose it all over me. The tightly packed in comment includes knee to knee. Thankfully we made it on the ground and off the plane without any vomit.
We are off the plane and into the terminal… Welcome to COB Adder, Iraq.

Back To The Sand!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

LEAVING ON A JET PLANE


My bags were packed and ready to go. And away I was going. We had a nice and early 0300 wake up for a 0445 formation. Put the bags on a truck and then just a few minutes to say good bye. I kept thinking why can’t Maria go into labor now so that I can stay home for another month and meet our baby. But that was just not the way it was to happen. But almost. After saying goodbye we sat in the THA (Terminal Holding Area) for about 4 hours and then finally got to board the plane. And then wait again. Another hour sitting on the ground prior to take off.


And then finally… here we goooooooooooo!
The flight to JFK was uneventful. I ended up with a set of seats to myself. We had so many bags that they had to put some on the plane so I was sitting next to a window seat that had a ruck sack on it. Or on the floor in front of the seat that is. It was nice not to have to sit next to anyone for the flight, but part of the ruck frame was sticking me in the leg the whole time. I even ended up with a bruise about the size of a tennis ball due to it.
As soon as we landed in JFK I turned my phone on to give Maria a call and a txt msg pops up from her. “Please don’t be mad…my water broke…sorry.” It was time stamped 55 min after we took off. If we would have been delayed another hour I would have been able to be there for the birth of my first child. Damn what timing she had. I called her and was able to talk to her a little. She was hurting a bit so a conversation was not going to happen. I called my parents and told them it was coming and then we were in the air again. Really if felt like we were on the ground for about 10 min when really we sat there for almost 4 hours. But we never go to get off of the plane. The busses that we going to take us from the terminal never arrived until it was too late.

And off to Germany we go.
That had to be the longest flight in my life. Not being able to be there and not knowing what was going on. We landed in Germany got a bus ride to the airport and I literally knocked 3 people out of my way running to the phone to call Maria. She answered and told me that she was okay and resting. The Doc had her on pain meds but she was doing fine. Her mom was outside taking a breather. “Oh and the baby is trying to nurse.” Wait a tic. We are 2 min into the conversation and you now think to tell me that the baby has been born? Gee that took long enough. So yes, after 15 hours of labor Samantha Rose was born. She was born at 0312 on the 3rd of January. She was 5 pounds 10 oz 19 ¼ inches with lots of dark hair and 3.5 weeks early.
And again we fly on. This time landing in Kuwait. But that will come later.

Back to the sand.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

THIS IS HOW IT ALL STARTS

Hi there,
My name is Brian. I like long walks on the beach and girls that… Crap this is the wrong page for that huh.

For any of you that are not one of the many, many, many fans of my podcast. WHY THE HELL NOT? I mean don’t you want to be one of the cool 8 or 9 people who listen to me ramble on about crap? So really for those of you that don’t know me all that well I will start this off a little basic. I am a 30 year old Sergeant in the ARMY. I have been in for 12 years which means that I should have been a Staff Sergeant about 5 or 6 years ago. But I am fat and slow and that means that I am a dirt bag soldier. It has nothing to do with my work ethic or my drive or anything that actually has to do with my job. Just my fat.
I am in for the long haul if they let me stay, but as of right now I will be out at the 15 year mark. And all of my past time will have been wasted. For me to be able to stay in I will have to loose a bunch of weight, better my PT (Physical Training), go to an ARMY school called WLC (Warrior Leader Course), and then go to the E-6 board and get promoted. And that all has to be done by the time that my current contract runs out. And that will be in March of 2012. If I don’t get it all done than I will be homeless, my baby will hate me, and my wife will leave me. Okay so that might not happen, but it I don’t see things being very good if I don’t make the grade so to say and earn the right to re-enlist.

On the non-ARMY side I am married to a very wonderful and beautiful woman named Maria. We knew each other for about 3-4 years before getting married December of 2008. And most recently we (meaning my wife) gave birth to a beautiful little bundle of joy. We named her Samantha Rose and I can’t wait to meet her. But more about that later.

And that is me in a nut shell. (Thinks about “Austin Powers” and giggles)

And now on with the show.

My first few posts will most likely come somewhat fast or at least regular while I catch you up with what has been going on over the past 2 weeks or so. And then after that, Well who the heck knows. I am doing this blog as a replacement to my podcast, that I did not do on a regular basis. And my podcast was done for a few reasons. Things like to keep my friends and family updated about my life, to keep a living journal of sorts, and to share the oh-so interesting story of my life in the ARMY. Again not so much to talk about the ARMY, but more to talk about my life in and around the ARMY. And once again there will be no cool secret squirrel stuff here so if you are Achmed or some other rag-head you can just go somewhere else to find secrets about us. I am sure that so dumb fucking private is tell it all somewhere around here. And when you do find it, please blow his dumb ass off and not mine. I have an extreme need to get back home. Oh and fuck you, you stupid fucking terrorist.
Okay sorry about that. Just had to get it out of my system.

BACK TO THE SAND