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    ********************Southwest Washington Surplus, your prepping supply store********************

    Thursday, December 14, 2006

    Back online

    We got the new site functional this afternoon, so I have Internet now. It's been an interesting couple of days. We couldn't get here direct, so we took a flight to Basra, then the flight we had sched from Basra to here got diverted to Balad, for a medical evac mission. So we came not quite as far south as you can go in Iraq, to further north than Baghdad, then back down south again.

    We left on Sunday evening, and got here Wednesday mid-morning. The whole south of the country has apaently been getting rain for the last few days. The ground is mud soup- and the mud here in Iraq is the worst I've ever been. These camps look like something out of the old west, with boardwalks to *try* to stay out of the mud. It doesn't work.

    Got to ride in an Aussie Bushmaster- armored personnel carrier. Which was pretty cool. Also, on the multiple flights to everywhere, chatted with some Scots from the Royal Army, and ended up field stripping our weapons on the plane, handing them back and forth and comparing. (Hey, it's boring in a C-130 after hours in a canvas sling-seat!)

    We're staying in an Iraqi camp this time with no coalition personnel permanently assigned here. The Aussies patrol, and we're being most graciously hosted by them in a shack they have out here, but they aren't here 24/7. We're dining on MREs and have access to the Iraqi chow hall for the basic training recruits. Boy, do those guys stare when they see us walking around. Half of them look like they just got off a camel from old man Achmed's farm. Ate there for dinner last night- not too bad, some chicken, some cucumber/tomato/vinegar salad, and some macaroni with Arab tortillas. I asked about the names of stuff in Arabic, and they were surprised to learn that Macaroni is the same in English, lol.

    We had the typical crap about no one being around with keys, and the power going on and off unpredictably, but managed to make quite a bit of progress today. Strung a extra cable over to the next buiding, so I'm writing this from the dubious comfort of my aluminum framed army cot.

    So, in the life-changing events category, I have now seen the ziggurat at Ur, the biblical city. Local rumour has it the oldest structure in the world. :)

    Chatted with one of our co-workers, the one I'm closest to, a little bit about the war, and Iraqi perspectives on Americans, the first war, this war, what we're doing right and wrong. Nothing conclusive, but interesting in the personal life experience category nonetheless.I ased him what he thought about my opinion that we did a poor job in the first war and we should have continued to take Saddam out of the picture. He said, "My English would be very good now." Our marine gunnery sgt asked him today why he doesn't pray 5 times a day. He said, "Got work to do. I'm just go to hell later." This guy is someone I would like to see get out of the shithole country and make somethng of himself and hs family. He's one of 4 brothers, all of whom have worked for this company, and 3 of whom still do. They're all decent cats- the three that I've met. They work frickin' hard- harder than the American guys on my team, including myself. They support their mom and dad and ther wives, and have a non-nonsense attitude about work. They get paid a pittance by American stadards but it is a fortune for an Iraqi- and they deserve it, because they risk their lives every day that they come to work. They're at more risk than I am, because they have to go out from the IZ into the red zones every day to go home, and going in or out of those gates makes you a target.

    Still no word on contract extensions, so I'm just making my plans to go home in January. starting to ask my personal contacts for referrals now, so I'm getting into the territory of not wanting to burn a brudge, even if a job here comes up. If I accept an offer back home, I won't renege. I've had good interest, but no offer letters yet.


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