So all I've been hearing about recently is how Iraq is teetering on the brink of civil war. Talk about overkill. Yes people got pissed off when their mosque blew up, but as has been shown, the political and religious leaders of Iraq have managed to convince their followers that knocking eachother off like flies is the wrong way to go about airing their differences. Sure it still happens, but understand, this is the only way that things have been happening in this country for the last 20 plus years. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that there isn't a civil war already can be chalked up as a victory for Iraq, the US, and democracy and the fact that it's been averted after terrorists blew up the Golden Mosque only proves the shared success of the coalition and the new Iraq government.
Now for politics back home: the port deal. I'll start off by saying, we NEED to do this. Doing it will not compromise our security, all that changes is logo and name on the paychecks. Not doing it sends a messege to Arab nations that we don't like them because they look and sound like people who don't like us. This may suprise some people who know me, but we need to be winning hearts and minds right now. We've won the war in Iraq and we're winning the war on terrorism. We have the ability to win any war that we engage in, that's not the point. The point is winning the war before it starts. We can do that by showing how successful things can be in Iraq and how we're open to working with Arabs. This can't be a "love-'em-and-leave-'em" kind of operation. I'm not suggesting that we run their government for them, just that we Americans don't isolate ourselves from the Arab world and remove their options for airing their grievances with us. What I'm getting at is that we are, and need to continue to be, able to win wars, but if we can get what we want without compromising this ability or our national integrity and security or sending military force into the fray, why not?
I had a lot more on my mind, but I'm having trouble getting it out clearly so I'm just going to call it good. Maybe trying to think on this level this late in the day isn't a good idea. =P
Man, the last couple days out here have been absolutely gorgeous! Sunny and warm, but not too hot, clear blue skies (once you look above the refinery smog and dust). I went for a walk today after lunch. It was the first time I've really just gone out and about for a stroll for no particular reason. It was nice to see people other than those I've been working with daily out here.
It was strange to see how many "contractors" there are here. I guess I should be used to it by now, but walking to and from the PX area during lunch I got to see everyone coming out of the wood-work. Of particular interest was the array of weaponry that they carry. Mostly the contractors carry M4 variants, but mixed in is the occasional AK47, a cut-down version of the SAW, or my personal favorite, a long rifle. It takes every ounce of self-control to not go up to the guys with the long rifles and ask about them, but I'm sure they'd really rather not talk about it with someone they don't know. Of course when I say "contractor" I mean mercenary. I think I'll start taking pictures of these weapons, I don't figure they'd object to just taking a picture of the weapon and not them.
Firstly, let me apologize for not posting anything in a while. The whole registration thing kinda bummed me out. Since the last time I posted, ... I'm having trouble remembering how long ago things happened. I realized this on Saturday when Katie called me saying that it had been a while since we last talked. I said that it had only been two days since we had last talked on Thursday. Long story short, she was right, we last talked on Tuesday. It got me thinking, though, about my perception of time and I came to the conclusion that I'm not keeping good track of how long ago things happened. So if I seem to have dropped off the face of the planet, chances are that I'm just wrapped up in work and haven't realized how long it's been since you last heard from me.
Interestingly, in a lot of the emails and chats that I have been getting lately I've noticed that people seem to be more concerned about me recently. Perhaps the tone and content of my posts and emails lately has been a bit more down than usual and while I appreciate the concern people are showing, please don't worry about me. I may get upset or grouchy, and without Katie to kep me on the straight and narrow it's easier for me to get grouchy, but it's nothing to worry about. I may not be the biggest, fastest, strongest or smartest Soldier in Iraq, but I certainly am able to hold my own when it comes to perserverence. I spent 11 years in Barrow, remember? =)
It's really interesting how similar this place is to Barrow. You're confined to a very small area. You see the same people every day. Everyone cheers when one of your buddies tour is up. Although the type is different, the amount of weaponry is about the same. You're surrounded by people who probably don't like you. In fact, if you inverted the temperature and added or removed the mortars it would be nearly impossible to tell the two apart!
Also, and I don't mean to add feul to the worries, I came to the realization today that I don't really have a peer here. Everyone is either senior or junior to me which naturally leads to socilization barriers. Now I was never a really sociable guy to begin with, but I just find it interesting that I'm in yet another situation where I'm more or less alone socially. Makes me wonder if it's self-imposed or if life just happens that way for me. Again, please don't worry, I'm not depressed or angry, just making some observations =)
A few (?) days ago I was given the honor of re-enlisting one of my Soldiers. He decided that he wanted to go out to Saddam's Crossed Swords to conduct the ceremony. Of course we got pictures =)
On a more interesting note, I recently re-kindled my interest in geocaching. For those who don't know, geocaching is a hobby where one person goes out into the world with something to hide, hides it, records the location on a GPS and posts the location to a website for other people to find. About four months ago now I hid one of these caches in the mountains in southern Germany and I just now got around to posting it on a website (www.geocaching.com
). Unfortunately, it seems that they have a policy that they won't post caches unless the person who submits it is able to revisit the cache on a regular basis to ensure that it's maintained. Naturally this excludes this particular cache of mine since I'm in Iraq and it's in Germany. So now I'm looking for a new website to post my caches to, but it seems as though this particular site is the only one out there that covers my parts of the world =(. So until I find a good site that doesn't have silly rules let me post it here.
If you want to see where I hid my very first geocache, you can use Google Earth. Just type the following into the search box and you should get flown to the spot: n47 24 37.69 e10 58 24.24
Again, please don't worry about me, I'm doing ok! I'll try not to let so much time go again between posts. =)
Over the last couple months an issue of dispute on network management policy has arisen between my site and Victory. The guys at Victory (not in my unit) think that it should be managed one way and we think it should be managed another. Unfortunately, the Victory guys are able to force their point of view on us and we're feeling the pain. These guys are either well above my pay-grade and/or experience level so naturally they carry a bit more weight than I do, just means I have to hit a sensitive spot when I throw a punch if I want to get my way. Over the course of the last few days I've been putting together a paper that outlines exactly what I'm dealing with as a result of their forcing us to work their way and today I was Mohammad Ali. I found some data that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that their way is flawed and is severely impacting us and made the case for a good compromise that I think everyone can be happy with.
Sometime before the end of this week I should be able to see if I've managed to hit them where it hurts and what they're willing to do about it.
Also, today something kind of interesting happened. Up until about 1600 I was feeling like crap, both physically and emotionally, to the point where I was having a hard time focusing on a single topic for more than a few seconds. A little after 1600 I put my headphones on and turned on some of what I like to call, "wake-up" music. It's basically very loud and angry music, lots of yelling and growling involved. I call it wake-up music because back in Germany when I was on my way to PT in the morning I would play this music as loud as I could without disturbing those still asleep along my route. Today when I put my headphones on I searched my playlist for the loudest and angriest music I could find and just stared at the Windows Mediaplayer designs dance across the screen for about 5 minutes. Whooee, did it ever work like a charm! After the yelling and thumping bass quieted down I felt much better and I was able to finish off a bunch of work in very little time. Makes me go, "hmmm..."
As for registering, yes, I am going to register it. If the leader doesn't follow higher's guidance, why should those that follow that leader. It's the right thing to do to protect troops. I'll have to hold my tounge on various issues knowing that subordinates and superiors will be reading what I write, but if that means one troop is more likely to come home vertical, I'm all for it.
It used to be that my day off was Saturday, but it would seem that time off and being responsible don't go hand in hand. Sure, things would still get done without me being at my desk, but since I'm still a little new to the whole being in charge of the network thing I have to be involved with it. Saying, "Sorry, I can't make that meeting, it's my day off," just isn't the mark of a good manager and I don't feel like I've done enough yet to qualify as a good manager. Wouldn't want to cut my own legs out from underneath me. I guess I feel like I'm still in the "honeymoon" phase and I need to show that I intend to be involved and productive, not just the military rubber stamp.
There's been a lot of talk over here lately of having to register Soldier-run blogs because of operational security interests. For some reason the though of people I know and work with reading what I write kind of ruins the whole thing for me. I completely understand and agree with the logic behind it, we're in a place where saying the wrong thing could result in someone getting killed and there needs to be some kind of control in place to help prevent that. OPSEC hasn't ever been an issue with me, I've always screened my own stuff to make sure that I was in line, my problem is knowing that content that is intended to be read by people who are close to me or whose opinion doesn't matter is being read by people who I don't necessarily confide in AND whose opinion of me DOES matter puts me on my guard which defeats the purpose of the whole thing. It's frusterating because I know that registering blogs is the right thing to do, but it means compromising something that I've come to really enjoy. After a tough day at work I could vent here and be done with it.
Before I got set up with a blog I was writing in a diary of sorts that Kaite gave me right before I left. I type much, MUCH faster than I write though and my handwriting is horrible, plus I'm more of a computer guy than a book guy so blogs made much more sense to me than a diary. Unfortunately it would seem that I'm going to have to resort back to that for a lot of my more personal ... things.
I hate that it makes so much sense (I can't even use my patented response to battalion of, "that is rediculous"), but it's the right thing to do to protect troops.
I called Katie today after she got out of the doc's office to find out what the verdict was and it seems that our first will be a boy. I had really been hoping that this would be the case since I really have no idea what I'd do with a girl. I mean, I was a boy, I know what I thought was cool and I know how to deal with boy type issues. If the kid were a girl I'd not only have to learn how to be a dad, but how to interact with a girl.
Now I'll get to teach my son how to spit and play catch and video games and all that other cool stuff.
Woah, wait a sec ... my son. That sounds weird! My son. Wow.
I left Germany for Iraq on 14 November 2005. The picture here is one that I took on that day of my sweetie. After I was in country for about a month and a half, I got an email with a countdown clock attached to it. You put in the day you arrived and it's supposed to show how much longer you have left before you go home. I remember opening it up on day 60 and day 70, but I can't remember exactly which days that was on. What I'm trying to do is check the clock every 10 days or so, I figure that if I look every 10 days that means that I'll only be looking about 35 times, hopefully to make the time go faster. The problem is that since I've lost track of the last time I looked I don't know if I'll be looking on day 80 or not, wouldn't want to ruin my streak. I think what I'll do is wait until Saturday to look, that should be at least day 80 by then. I'd rather see day 84 when I'm expecting day 80 than the other way around, kind of like when you go to work thinking it's Thursday and there's one more day until the weekend when it turns out that it's really Friday. That's always fun, unless you have a meeting early Friday that you don't have on Thursday so you missed it because you thought it was Thursday ramble ramble...
On a side note, I've been putting a lot of thought into pro/anti-war politics and support-the-troops-not-the-war people lately and came to a crossroads that I think will help the debate turn from a random stampede into something of an organized race. I was discussing this with one of the contractors that works for me and he told me that he opposes the war and thinks we shouldn't be here. When I called him on the fact that he is opposed to the war, but clearly benefitting from it he replied that he supports the troops, but not the war. Over the course of the conversation I was able to make a distinction that I think will help clear up some of this confusion. The troops are
the war, without troops there is no war so if someone supports troops they support the war. What I think people mean when they say that they support troops, but not the war, is that they support the war effort, but not the reasons behind the war. Now that we are in fact at war, these people support our troops, and thereby the war-effort, but they don't support the reasons behind the war. This I can understand and abide by. In fact, this showcases what makes the States so great, people argue and debate, but in the end pull together and make it happen. This guy thinks that President Bush is one of the worst presidents in our history, but now that the chief executive made the decision to send troops to the fight, we (Americans) need to do what we can to win the war and get home. To this I say, "Hooah!"