31 January 2006

Tap dancing

At 0800 today I went to my usual Tu/Th/Sa projects meeting, but this one was different than every other meeting I've ever been to in my life: I was the guy sitting at the head of the table. This meeting has been held by a Major for at least the last 6 months and now it's mine. The attendants of the meeting are what make this interesting. Sitting along the sides of the table are 6 civillian contractors each with about 15-25 years experience doing their job and here I am, less than 2 years out of college and I'm their manager.

It took every ounce of focus to walk the line between letting them know that I was the decision maker and that I knew I was the new guy. I feel pretty confident that I did so. I got good eye contact from 5 of the 6, the 6th I don't think was avoiding me intentionally, in each meeting that I've seen him in, he's looking down.

I think I got things started off on a good foot. For as long as I've been the attendee at these meetings, I didn't really understand the necessity of having them on Saturday morning since we address the same stuff on Friday afternoon. Now that I'm sitting at the head of the table, I decided to cancel the Saturday meeting. Everyone seemed to be in favor of that.

Making that decision gave me the opportunity to address one of my other concerns, "That's how we've always done it." I let everyone know that if there's some policy or procedure that doesn't make sense or is done because that's the way it's always been done, let's review it to see if it can be done more efficiently or in a way that makes more sense or just do away with it altogether.

When I walked out of the meeting I stopped, took a breath, and went on to my next one.

30 January 2006


... one set of perspectives.

I walk around here all day and see things that I ocasionally think are cool or would be cool to send home, but I see so much of it I've lost track of what actually is cool and what's not. I try to remember back before I saw this stuff day-to-day, when I would be in a restaurant or some other public place and would see someone wearing a shirt that had some sort of reference to something military related and would think, "Wow, that's cool. I wish I had something like that." Well now it seems that I have access to all that cool stuff, but as I said earlier, I've lost track of what's what.

As a result, I'd like it if you guys could send me ideas for what you think is cool since you're the ones that still have perspective on the issue. Mostly, I'm thinking of things that would be cool as gifts or as keep-sakes for my kid(s). If you have ideas let me know and I'll see if I can track it down.

28 January 2006

Returning from the hunt

This picture is a screen capture of a video I took of an Apache Attack Helicopter returning from a hunt. I don't actually know what it was doing, but I like to think that he was hunting bad guys, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. In the background are the Crossed Swords that stand at the ends of the parade grounds that Saddam used to hold all of his military parades. The complete video of the helicopter landing is posted at my Badongo site.

I hope my next assignment is with an aviation unit. A friend of mine moved from the 72nd to an aviation unit just up the autobahn a bit as the battalion S6 (commo officer). From what he tells me it's a piece of cake job and there' s no chance of him getting deployed due to the nature of the unit. I'm going to see if he can hook me up with the same job when I get back.


Today I was looking through some of the stuff that was being sold outside the PX here and came acorss a Bundeswehr (German Army) patch in desert cammo. I started to scoff and snicker since there obviously isn't a (formal) German military presence in Iraq, but it did get me thinking about a German friend of mine, Timon. Timon will shortly be married to Katie's best friend, Jasmin (congratulations by the way!) and since our wives are best friends, we've spent a lot of time together. He's taught me about Germany and I've done what I could to teach him about America. Before I met Timon, Katie had explained to me that Germans weren't a terribly patriotic bunch and, unlike the States, it was rare to ever see a flag hanging outside private homes. This lack of patriotism is due primarily to World War II. The Nazis used nationalism as a vehicle to pursue it's atrocities and Germans are very afraid of being associated with anything that may resemble Nazism so everyone avoids the appearance of patriotism. Obviously I wouldn't last long if I tried to conceal my patriotism in Germany.

Much to my pleasure and approval, I got word that Timon has recently purchased and hung (in his room) a German flag. Way to go Timon!

Today was supposed to be my day off, so much for that. I'll try and take off part of tomorrow at least. I bought one of those folding chairs today, I plan to take it up on top of the embassy and get some sun tomorrow. I'll be sure to get some pictures.

27 January 2006


Iiiiit's FRIDAY!!! And you know what that means? It's Help Desk day! Yep, it's already been a week since I was stabbed in the back. The frusteration that I was having in my previous post was is mostly gone, I just realized that I wasn't going to be held responsible for the suckage, and I wasn't. As they were preparing the brief I got a phone call questioning my methods for preparing the data. I made sure to tell them that any questions they may have could be traced directly back to the suckage they put me through by changing everything without asking for my input and that if I was asked any questions that I couldn't answer I would "drop a dime" on them (that's when you call them out in front of the important people). This was me letting them know that I was getting ready to stab and that they should turn and present me with their chest rather than their back, you know, offering some professional curteosy.

Shortly after hanging up I got another call from the same people asking as many questions that the general may ask that I would have to answer thereby protecting themselves from any potential cheststabbing I may have in store for them. And it worked. The general asked the questions and they gave the answers I gave them. The whole thing works for me.

26 January 2006

While you were out

We took a couple mortar rounds today and as a result I'll have to amend my previous statement detailing what happens when one hears or doesn't hear the mortar round as it approaches. Previously, I had said that I like mortars because if you hear them then you're ok and if you don't it won't matter anyway. Here's the amended version: I like mortars because if you hear them then you're going to be ok, if you don't hear them it still won't matter because either you won't be around long enough to care or you slept through the whole attack.

Yes, that's right, I slept through a mortar attack this morning. I wasn't particularly tired or anything, I just didn't hear the explosions or the sirens. What woke me up was the phone call asking me if we were going to have a recall, that's when everyone shows up at a certain place and we count heads, fingers, knees, and toes - knees and toes... or maybe we just count heads.

My current issue: Help Desk slides. After the last brief, where I had to pull the knife out of my back as we left the conference room, we were supposed to change the brief to give a more historical average for comparison. Now the Help Desk is a part of what it is that I do out here and compiling the brief is something that takes up a healthy chunk of a day so I've done a lot to help streamline it so that I have more time to do the other aspects of my job. For the guys on the other end of the brief at Victory Base, this IS their job. They get paid to make sure that all the help desks are operating smoothly. In an effort to address the requested change, I sent out an example of what I though would be a good solution and my counterpart (who's job it is to do this) was impressed. You can imagine my suprise when I received an email this morning with the new brief and an entirely different slide that in no way beared any resemblance to what I had provided. The problem isn't that my work was tossed aside, although I'm not happy about that, the problem is that the calculations required to provide the information that they're wanting to present would require me to TOTALLY revamp my procedures. Again, I'm not only thinking of myself here, the information that they are trying to collect to present here doesn't provide any kind of insight or a basis for comparison.

As it sits right now, I reworked the slide to show what I thought would be a good middle ground and I'm waiting to hear back. I'm going to be really upset if they push back what they sent out the first time. I'm to the point now where I'm going to tell them if they want me to help out then they're going to have to accept my input, otherwise they need to take over my part since they're the ones getting paid to do it.

Really frusterated.

The picture is one that I took today to submit to a photography contest. The theme was to send in pictures of your office/desk/workstation and seeing as how I'm in a sort of unique situation down here I though this would be quite the entry. Out of about 70 entries, mine is one of about 30 to get any votes, the leader had 7 votes and mine has 2. Not bad for a picture taken with my cell phone =)

25 January 2006

My Sweetie v2.0

I guess I had better explain a bit about my favoritest and onlyest sweetie. I met her in college. We were in the same weight training class and she wore spandex =). It wasn't the first time we had actually met eachother, but it was the first time formally. The first thing I noticed about her was the spandex, a privelage, not a right. After introducing myself to her, I invited her to a party that my brother was hosting at his apartment and discovered that she and I lived in the same dorm only one floor apart. For our first date, the only quiet place we could find was in the stairwell of our dorm so we ordered take-out and had dinner between the 4th and 5th floors. We were together for a year before I proposed to her. I did so in much the same fashion of our first date except that I got a take-out box of rice and hid the ring in it telling her it was "dessert".

I can't remember the order any more, but somewhere along the line we found out that this wasn't the first time that our families had encountered eachother. As it turns out her grandma had worked for my dad in the '70s at a school in Bozeman, Montana and my dad had taken college classes from her grandpa. When my parents met her family for the first time both her gradma and my dad stopped when they saw eachother and said, "Larry?", "Connie?". It was all downhill from there =).

We got married the summer after Katie graduated from college and after I got out of my Army training camp. The honeymoon was up in a cabin in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana and as a result we decided that we're going to one day own a cabin in the mountains. Until recently, the month I was gone at the training camp was the longest I had been away from Katie. Now I'm at about 2.5 months and counting. Most likely this one will end up being about 13 months counting travel time and re-integration and such. We spend about a year in Pullman while I finished up school, then we went to Georgia where I went to Signal Officer Basic Course for 6 months, then we landed in Germany. We were in Germany for about 9 months before I got shipped out to the sand-box.

As of right now, we've known eachother for about six years and by the time I get back to Germany after this deployment it will be closer to 6.5, of which I will have been gone for a little over 1 of them. Not a good percentage in my book. Posted by Picasa

24 January 2006


I spent almost all of today sitting on my butt, it's becoming a bad habit. I send emails and make phone calls like a madman, but never really get out and do stuff. I'm going to have to make an effort to fix that, institute some mandatory "get-up-and-go" time. The problem is going to be when and where. In the last month, I've been off the embassy grounds only once and that was for about 1.5 hours to the courthouse. I'm not getting cabin fever, yet, but I'm looking forward to getting out and seeing a bit more of the zone.

Just to shake things up a bit I rearranged my desk today. I moved my work computer from the left side of my desk to the right so that I wouldn't have to angle my neck to see it. Pretty risky huh?

I'm starting to get into a routine, something I've been trying to do for about ... since I got here. I've also been trying to accomplish this while I was back in Mannheim, ya know be able to say, "Yeah, I'll be home at 6pm," and actually be home at the time I said I would be instead of having to put out one more fire that popped up at the last minute. Now that I actually have a set schedule I don't have access to the reason that I wanted a schedule; Katie. Kinda sucks.

Sunday I'm done at about 1730, Monday through Friday (unless a fire pops up) I'm done at about 1830, and Saturday I'm off (sorta, I come into work, but only to play video games and surf the net so if a call comes in that something's broke I still handle it, I just don't go looking for work). When my day ends I go to the DFAC, on Fridays I get Strawberry ice cream with strawberry toppings and chocolate sauce. After dinner I head back to the office to play some video games or watch a movie, stopping only to pick up some popcorn on the way. I'll stay at the office until about 2230 and then I go back to my trailer to sleep. All I really lack is my family.

The picture I posted is of Brian (one of the afore mentioned family). He was playing a set at a concert in front of a dam, not sure which one, think it was the Grand Coolee. Except for not being able to see him clearly, I thought that this was a great picture of him.

23 January 2006


I spent the first half of the day in meetings and the second half of the day working on PowerPoint briefs that will likely never see the light of day except for the once or twice when a VIP cares to find out what it is that we do here. That's pretty frusterating.

Yesterday I was talking with Katie on her cell phone and for one reason or another the phones cut out. She was on the train at the time so I figured that she had just gone through a tunnel and had lost the signal. I didn't call her back because I figured it probably wasn't a good idea to be chattering away in English on the train so I didn't call her back. Probably a bit too sensative on my part, being deployed and all. Naturally she was a bit worried, but I didn't put it all together until she called me. It sounded like despite the worrying she held up like a trooper, she sounded very cheery on the phone.

This picture is one I took of the castle at Heidleberg. The small trench surrounded by green grass is what remains of the moat. This castle is what remains after hundreds of years of war. One whole column of the castle was destroyed by (amazingly) the French.

Makes me wonder, what relics will my military leave behind? What will be the lasting artifacts that people go to see in hundreds of years while on vacation? As I think about it, probably only the locations will remain. The things that we use to conduct our business don't really get built up and left behind like this. Mostly we bring out what we bring in. Guess I'll have to ask my grandkids when they're studying history.

22 January 2006

... but what if

I had a conversation with my First Sergeant today. He asked how my family was taking the deployment. Over the course of the conversation I was reminded of something that irritated me back in Germany. When people would find out that I was going to Iraq they would all the sudden want to come see me or talk to me or in some form or fashion let me know that they cared about me. While I appreciated that people were thinking of me, I found that many of these people decided to show their concern in such a way that I got the impression that their motive was that they may never see me again. I found it almost insulting at times when people would give me that look that says, "Oh, you poor soul. Leaving your pregnant wife for Baghdad." It made me want to tear my hair out. Treating me like I had no idea of what I was getting myself into, almost predicting that my kid would be born to a widow. If someone close to you is about to get sent to a combat zone, the best thing you can do to encourage them is let them know that you'll see them when they get back. Don't say things in past-tense or that show you're trying to clear your conscience because you may never get the chance again.

It reminded me a lot of when Mom died. Losing her was tough, but having to recount it for everyone that wanted to express their condolences was infinately more difficult. I know people were trying to be nice, but it had the opposite effect. There is no delicate way to say it when you're in the position, but I wish that people would have just said they were sorry and moved on. Talking about their fondest memories of my mom did not comfort me, it made me relive her death over and over.

I've learned that despite my curiosity, the best thing that I can do is let someone know that I'm concerned and if they want anything they just have to ask. That way I'm not putting them through the additional pain I went through. I hate to sound like I'm angry at the people who were trying to reach out to me when I was going through tough times, but in an effort to help those people understand the affect they actually had (and to get it off my chest) I felt that I should say it.

*blink* *blink*

A slow day, and thank God! The last week was pretty busy, productive, but little time to chill out. The important thing is keeping perspective on the whole thing. I'm supposed to be deployed here, it's not like I'm here on vacation, and there are quite a few people who would gladly trade positions with me. I'm not complaining that I'm too busy, just glad to have a break.

The picture here is one that I took while I was in Germany of the organ pipes in a church in Mannheim. The elaborateness of the design in the churches in this area is amazing. I have a bunch of pictuers like this that cycle through on my Google Desktop photo window that I like to keep an eye on to keep my spirits up. In addition to pictures of churches and cities in Germany (all taken w/ my camera phone), I have a bunch of pictures of my friends and family.

This gives me an idea! I'd appreciate if people could send me pictures of themselves or whatever that I could plug into my cycle so that whenever I see your picture I'll be reminded that you're thinking of me.

21 January 2006


We had a sandstorm today, it was pretty cool. Since we're in the city, we didn't exactly have the wall of sand bearing down or anything. People just kept coming in and out of my office and the air smelled funny so after a while I looked outside and saw about 50 yards. I only had my video camera with me so you'll have to suffer a download if you want to see a short clip of what I saw. Also, I found out that my file host, Badongo, peroidically changes file names to prevent linking like I do. So unfortunately if you want to see any of the videos I post you'll have to go to the other site, which I've linked on the right.

Aside from the sandstorm it was a very quiet day. I guess #2 on the list would be me shaving my head, think this is the third time I've shaved it since I've been gone. The first two times I just shaved it in my trailer and swept up the hair off the floor, but now with a roommate there isn't enough space to let the hair fall on the floor without getting it on stuff so I had to shave it in my office bathroom. It's actually easier to do it there since I can look in the mirror while I shave.

I guess it's kind of obvious that it was a slow day since I'm describing the intricasies (sp?) of how I shave my head.

20 January 2006

Stabbed in the back

Well, I have officially been stabbed in the back for the first time. I'm responsible for generating and recently presenting a report that's given to a 1 star general every Friday. This Friday I had trouble collecting my information from one of the sites that is rolled up in the report so I contacted them to see what the story was. They told me that they were having this certain problem that prevented them from being able to get their data. This particular problem is one that we're having too, but it manifested itself in a different way. I coordinated with the remote site to address this issue during the brief so that it could be addressed with the general. When the appointed time came, with the many high ranking officers present, I deviated from the plan to give the representative from the site the opportunity address his (our) issue to the general and was greeted with his response of, "What problem?"

After concealing my desire to punk him out in front of everyone, I managed to get the show back on track and finished it off.

I hate to complain and whine when I know that my friends and family will be reading, but I'm so frusterated that if I don't have some kind of outlet for the anger I'll just be dwelling in it, kind of like a drunk passed out in his own vomit. Trying to look at the bright side here and what I can take away from the experience, instead throwing a hissy fit and pointing fingers at various individuals, regardless of how much I felt it was justified, I dealt with the issue and moved on. What that does for me is it allows me to not have to "pass out in my vomit", so instead of being hung up on this for a day or so, dwelling on how I got screwed, I can complain here, get the frusteration out, and drive on.

The problem that may arise from this, though, is that if I use this forum as an outlet for my frusterations, there will be a disproportionate amount of negative posts making it seem like things are always screwed up to those that care to read on a regular basis. To those that fit this description, please bear with me, I'm not a complainer or a whiner to those I work with and can hold me accountable (my bosses) and things aren't always bad here, I just need a healthy outlet for my frusterations. =) And to those concerned about my drawings, I don't dwell on those either, drawing what I would like to do helps me get it out of my head.

... which brings up another side issue: violent video games. Violent video games are an OUTLET, not an inspiration. When a kid, especially a young male, comes home from a bad day at school, blasting a few pixels on the screen let the kid blow off steam (and if the game is cool, a head or two). If you take away this outlet, kids will turn to the real thing in increasing numbers, not the other way around. Once my kid is old enough, I plan to make these games available to him/her should he/she so choose. Of course, as with anything, too much can be a bad thing, it's not as though I plan to install a chip in the kid's head, I just want to leave it on the table as an acceptable method for relaxing.

I'm off to dinner!

Sorry, wrong number

What we have here is a picture of a failed IED trigger. I wasn't there, I didn't take the picture, I had nothing to do with it. I just found the picture online.

As you can see, the LCD screen shows "01 Call Missed". Incase anyone doesn't fully grasp what the purpose of that phone call was, let me spell it out; "BOOM!"

A bad guy had rigged this thing to some sort of explosive, but he screwed up somehow and it failed to detonate. I don't know the exact story about how it was found or exactly why it didn't trigger the explosive, but it's still a great insight into how these guys operate. Posted by Picasa

(note) Self-imposed edit here, as I thought about it I realized that it probably wasn't a good idea to show the picture of the trigger since it may help show how to make triggers. Just doing my part to get troops home vertically.

19 January 2006

Home ... almost

Obviously not a picture from down-range, I took this picture nearly a year ago now in Heidelberg. I had been in Germany for about two weeks and I took a ride on the street car because I heard that you could travel to the next couple towns on one ticket. Being the tourist that I was at the time, I paid my 1 euro and 80 cents and hopped on board. I had also heard that when in public, and especially on the street car, that Germans were very reserved and kept to themselves which suited me just fine since if any tried to strike up a conversation, I would be at a loss for words, literally, since I didn't speak much German beyond, "Hallo" and "danke".

When the street car came to a stop where I recognized the name I jumped off and started walking. Naturally I didn't just go off wondering, I had my GPS with me. I marked the spot where I got off the street car, then I went wondering. That's fun! With a GPS (spare batteries) and a little knowledge of how to use it a person could go exploring just about anywhere and not have to worry about how to get back. Which reminds me of another, even more fun, trip I took with my sweetie. We took my GPS, a picnic, some euros, and no maps and went for a ride. When we came to an intersection we'd pick a direction at random and go that way. If the lettering for Uberoberstein was prettier than those of Unteroberstein we'd go towards Uberoberstein. We just went driving for about 8 hours and found several small castles that very few tourists went to see. Once we got tired of driving around I turned on the GPS and pointed it towards home. Much like the way out, whenever we came to an intersection we went the direction that most closely matched up with the GPS. It was a great way to spend a day and I look forward to doing it again! Posted by Picasa

My Sweetie

I spent some time yesterday chatting w/ my frau back in Mannheim. It was nice to see her doing well, although the refresh rate of the camera occasionally caught her in a silly moment. She was able to show her baby-belly, it's unmistakably a baby now as opposed to just being a bit "poochy". I wasn't having a bad day or anything, but it really boosted my day to talk with her. She seemed to be in good spirits.

I see that an old friend from my college days has found my blog! Howdy Justin! It's nice to be able to keep updated with what's going on back in Pullman.

As far as work is concerned, today I was assigned my first real project: IHTC Phase 3. We're adding some network drops at the court house, so now I'm officially able to say that I had a direct hand in the Saddam trial, minor as it may be. Unfortunately, this does mean that I'm going to have to start briefing my boss's boss on our progress, that's going to suck. Adds another meeting to my already long list. I also read on a Czech news website that there's talk of moving the trial because the current presiding judge is either calling it quits or thinking about it. I don't know what impact that would have on our project, but it would be frusterating to have put in all this work only to have it go to nothing.

Speaking of news, I read another headline from a news website in Cuba (that seems to be down more often than it's up) that the Green Zone (aka IZ) took some mortars yesterday... I haven't been able to actually read the article yet (site's been down), but I didn't hear any booms or bangs. When a mortar is launched it sounds nothing like what you see on TV. On TV you see a troop drop a round down a tube, turn away, and plug his ears followed by a dainty "THOOMP" ... this is Hollywood. In reality, when a mortar is launched the dainty "THOOMP" is more like a very loud "THBOOOM!" even at the distances that the bad guys launch at us from. It sounds a lot like a car bomb ... if you've ever heard one. It's not like all the sudden you hear an explosion and wonder, "Where the dickens did that come from?" Not to mention the whistling sound the round makes as it sails overhead. The good news is that if you hear it comming (the whistling) it means that you're probably ok because of the way the soundwaves travel and if you don't hear it you probably won't remember not hearing it.

In this picture I hear the mortar, but the building doesn't and wouldn't even if it had ears and the ability to hear. =)

During the last mortar attack (New Years), I was sitting outside at a picnic table with my boss, CPT Grane, when we heard the launch. At first I just thought it was a car bomb and commented that "something just blew up". About a second later I looked up at CPT Grane and his eye's were as big as saucers. Not being privvy to his thought process I wondered why. When I heard the whistling go flying over I thought, "Where have I heard that before...", for a brief second, I had a flash back to my training the day when we went to the artillery show with 155mm howitzer rounds flying over us. In the second part of that brief second I was shook by the shockwave of the explosion, then I saw CPT Grane dive to the ground as another "THBOOM" was heard. Following his lead I rolled backwards off the picnic table and landed with my left forearm on the concrete walkway behind me giving it some good scratches. I heard the following impacts as I went to put my vest and helmet on. I think only two people were injured in that attack.

Anyway, with the upcoming announcement of the election results we're expecting some more unpleasantness from everyone. Those that win will probably celebrate by shooting small-arms into the sky, those that lose will pout by launching mortars/rockets.

I'll try and post again before the day's out. Posted by Picasa

18 January 2006


I was trying to set my coffee cup in front of my webcam here and in the process I realized that I could see myself throught the handle of the cup. In a rare streak of artsy-fartsyness, I thought it was representative of a couple of things, 1) the addiction of coffee (don't worry sweets, I don't yet require it to become human in the morning, it just helps me keep my energy up when I miss breakfast), 2) me being trapped up in the IZ, 3) the possibility that this is just a cool picture and representative of nothing aside from being cool.

I hate it when people try to interpret things into "art". This is why:

Person 1 & 2 are looking at a 1 foot x 1 foot picture with a green background and a red dot in the middle, here is their conversation;
Person #1 - "I think the artist was trying to express his frusteration with his inability to achieve critical mass of his reds and greens."
Person #2 - "Perhaps the artist was trying to portray the daily struggles of the red-butted baboon in the oppressed jungles of South America."
Then Person 3 walks up behind them;
Person #3 - "I think he ran out of paint."

I identify with #3. Posted by Picasa

Great Hunter

Anyone hungry? This is an older picture of a bug that I found crawling around on the wall of one of the buildings out here. I had never seen one like it before and it was pretty big (as bugs go) so I figured it would be safest to use the Gerber to pick him up to avoid any potential stinky-bug-juice landing my my hands. Once captured, this insedious insect waved his remaining limbs in an extremely threatening manner forcing me to defend myself from his menacing posture. I did so by gently releasing him back into the wild and cackeling villianously as the impaired coleoptera limped his retreat. Not only am I applying way too much thought to my encounter with this bug, but I'm concurrently increasing my vocabularial ability to express otherwise simplistic constructs.

Ok, my brain hurts now, sorry.

I didn't squish this bug, I let him live. Although I think the leg I grabbed was broke. Sorry little fella. (don't tell PETA)

In other news, we had two big booms early today. I don't know why, but evidently something needed some blowing up and I was lucky enough to get them on video =) Don't be expecting to see mushroom clouds and fireballs, just a big bang and a bit of smoke over the wall.

Boom 1

Boom 2

You can count on another post before the day's out. I'll try to avoid the fancy talk, it's fun for a little bit, but then it just starts to suck. Posted by Picasa

17 January 2006

Bob Lives AGAIN!!!

For those who don't know, when I was going through Signal Officer Basic Course I made some cartoons featuring this Bob character who went through strikingly similar situations as I did... strikingly similar.
Well I've managed to slap together a preview of sorts for the next installment of Bob's adventure. Enjoy =)

View video here!Posted by Picasa

Good Eats

Ahh Sundays in the DFAC (dining facility, a.k.a. chow hall). Sunday is one of my favorite days to go to the DFAC for obvious reasons; steak, shrimp, and crab with the occasional smattering of lobster tail, not to mention the onion rings (and a salad too sweetie). One of the many benefits of being stationed with the Dept. of State, and talk about morale booster! I'm starting to get my feet under me at work now, I have enough time to ... post to my blog ... and still get my work done.
So far, it seems to me that as a manager of managers, the key is to simply develop policies, procedures and systems that make sense and ensure that the subordinate managers are making sure that they are being followed. One of the great benefits that I've seen so far to go along with this is that as the "new guy" I can talk with the first and second line managers and get their candid opinion about what works and what doesn't. Additionally, I can include them in the creation of policies which not only helps me develop sound logic, but gives them a sense of ownership of the policy which naturally leads to a greater commitment to enforcing it. This also shows that I trust the managers which does put my butt on the line, but here's how I see that playing out; 1) Best case scenario - I go out on a limb, trust the manager to give good advice, act on it, have a successful outcome and develop a trusting relationship with the manager, or 2) Worst case scenario - I go out on a limb, trust the manager to give good advice, act on it, have an unsuccessful outcome, chalk one up to being the "new guy" and now I have proof that I can't trust that manager. Operating from a position of trusting until proven otherwise could quite possibly result in me getting burned, but that risk is, in my opinion, worth the benefit of having things work out to a positive conclusion and building a relationship with the manager. The ideal outcome, as far as I'm concerned, would be that subordinate managers be given enough leeway to operate independently, allowing the senior manager to focus on improving operations and quality of life which benefits all concerned. Instead of focusing on inward operations, the senior manager can focus on expanding and improving operations outward.
It's entirely possible and likely that this is nothing new to the managerial world, but what makes this significant to me is that I've been able to experience this at such an early point in my life and now I can develop this further. Standing on the shoulders of giants don't 'ya know. Posted by Picasa

16 January 2006


So it seems that I'm going to have to wait another 2 WEEKS until I know if I'm going to be having a boy or a girl. Man is that frusterating! It's a good thing that I'm far, far away from that doc or we might be having to find a new one (because after I *ahem* counseled him, he may not want to treat Katie not because I'm a "trained killer"). This is like having to wait to open Christmas presents until New Years.

REAAHHAHRRAGG!! Posted by Picasa

Good News Story

A lot of people put a lot of effort into supporting us over here and believe me it's very welcome! Unfortunately, most of what is heard back in the States, and around the world for that matter, is how many people were killed in the latest air strike or car bomb "somewhere in the vicinity of Baghdad." I'd like to take this opportunity to relay what I've observed so far actually being on the ground.
Since I've been here (2 months now) I've been witness to the inner workings and motivations behind some of the more senior military commanders and after applying much critical though the only conclusion I can draw is that the US is extremely focused on turning over control of Iraq to the Iraqis. In every strategic briefing I've ever been to that addresses the future of the country, the recurring theme is that we and our planners are taking a backseat to their Iraqi counterparts. It's the difference between offering support and expertise to assist in the creation of Iraqi plans and creating them on our own and having the Iraqis execute.
The men in this picture are holding up their index fingers in a show of defiance against the insurgents, offering proof of their commitment to the future of representative government in Iraq. Wether or not it's right for us to be here is irrelevant now, we're here and we need to make sure that the men in this picture and the millions of other Iraqis like them are able to take control of their future and blaze their trail into history. My assessment of the situation as it currently stands is that the Iraqis have one leg underneath them on solid ground and are working to get the other to the same situation. Many brave Iraqis are working hard to make sure that this fledgling democracy succeeds, and until these curageous men and women achieve their goals, the US needs to make sure that they aren't undercut by the anti-Iraqi forces.
The fact that great good that we're doing here is overlooked by the media has little effect on the morale and commitment of our Soldiers. We all see conditions improving. Statistics prove that the insurgents are conducting fewer and fewer attacks and that more and more terrorists are being turned in to Iraqi forces by Iraqi civillians. The Iraqis are winning, and because of that we are winning. It will still take time, but it will work. Posted by Picasa

15 January 2006

Going with the flow...

And here we have a wonderful example of what it is that a signal officer does. What you see here is called a signal-flow diagram. It's primary use is to troubleshoot and explain how a user can, for example, pick up the phone on his desk in a tent and make a phone call to, oh say, the president (or whomever). The occasion for this particular diagram was my technical control facility (TCF) guys were trying to explain to me how a certain link wouldn't work the way it was planned and what needed to be done to make it work. I don't mean to brag, but I've got probably the best TCF guys in country, they've saved my rear from many a chewing many a time. The guys we have working here, not just in the TCF, can do some pretty amazing things, and from what I hear the whole crew out here is a much more professional crew than at some of the other sites. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside =)

Back to the meetings tomorrow. I've decided I'm going to start keeping a meetings score card, try and get an idea for how much time I spend talking to folks rather than doing the things that I'm talking with them about. Should make for quite an interesting powerpoint graphic. =)

Oh, and before I forget ... HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUGAR!!! LUB! Posted by Picasa

Iraqi High Tribunal Courthouse

So a couple days ago I went out to the court where Saddam is being found guilty for his various crimes to do a recon of the ares that we'll be putting in commo. I was lucky enough to be able to actually get into the courtroom where the trial is held. Of course I had my picture taken in the judge's chair and in the defendant box, but I don't know how appropriate it would be to post them online where everyone and anyone could view them. The courtroom is smaller than it looks like on TV.

12 January 2006

Late night

I took this picture with my webcam at about 2315 on Thursday, 12 Jan 06. I had been working for about 18 hours straight at this point. 15 hours is normal, but tonight was a killer. When I went home I still wasn't done with everything, but I had to get some downtime. I'll be fitted for a permenant caffiene drip in the next couple days. Posted by Picasa

Christmas in Baghdad

This was our Christmas tree this year. Plastic of course, but still a nice tree. The M4 nearby was incidental, but I thought it made the picture all the more appropriate. And yes, those are presents under the tree! Posted by Picasa

The Family Flag

This is a picture of me on the roof of the US Embassy in Baghdad. The flag that I'm holding is the same one that we flew over our house in Montana, Washington, and Mannhiem, Germany. Now I can add Saddam's Republican Guard Palace to the long list of places our family flag has flown. Posted by Picasa

Got it working ... mostly =)

Ok, so I think I've figured out a cool and quick way to post my pictures =)
Now I should be able to make nearly daily posts from the IZ. Posted by Picasa

... it begins

Well, this seems to be the best way to get the job done. Setting up the AKO blog took too long so now I'm going to use this. I'll try and keep it updated as I go along.