Thebastidge: 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
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    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Nice

    Yesterday I was told I'm pretty smart, just for sending someone this link. Hey, I'll take it.

    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    Gift suggestions

    I'm a big fan of promoting self-reliance, independence, and competence. No better time to start than with kids.

    I've bought the following books for my nieces and nehpews:

    "The Daring Book for Girls"
    Andrea J. Buchanan

    "How To Be The Best At Everything (The Girls' Book)"
    Juliana Foster

    "American Girls Handy Book: How to Amuse Yourself and Others (Nonpareil Books)"
    Lina Beard

    "The Boy Mechanic: 200 Classic Things to Build"

    "211 Things a Bright Boy Can Do"
    Tom Cutler

    "The Dangerous Book for Boys"
    Conn Iggulden

    "The Boys' Book: How to Be the Best at Everything"

    This kind of learning doesn't stop at childhood though, I try to learn something new, and encourage others to do so, all the time. I also encourage people to seek out experiences which will boost their competence and confidence.

    To that end, any suggestions on Christmas gifts?

    Thursday, November 22, 2007

    Happy Thsnksgiving

    It was nice to be able to call home and talk to family last night. The modern communcications age is a truly amazing thing when you think about it. Even more excellent is that it was a purely commercial call. People in Iraq have the ability to talk to anyone in the world who has a telephone. That's pretty cool.

    Things that made me thankful on my second Thanksgiving in Iraq:

    Even though they aren't that good at carving, ranking officers here followed through on the tradition of serving the troops personally on this Thanksgiving Holiday. Good on you, guys.

    Soldiers sitting in the chilly night air, on the ramps of their Strykers across from the CSH, eating DFAC take-out. Even though their Thanksgiving turkey was undoubtedly not as hot as one might like, they were still cheerful enough to shout out bright "Happy Thanksgiving" to random passers-by. Our young soldiers are still quality.

    Ladies in AF PT gear, leaving the gym- again with the cheery hellos and "Happy Thanksgiving". Nobody really wants to be here, away from their families and homes, but morale is pretty good, even though we had our first major set of incoming mortars today in quite some time. (Ironically, right after I sent some emails home praising how quiet it had been lately, lol).

    The mortar which landed in our compound yesterday, hit a T-wall at an angle and broke off its firing pin instead of detonating.

    Power was out at my trailer when I got home, but I hadn't even finished my phone calls home before KBR was out there and had it fixed. Thanks, guys.

    My uncle who is dying of cancer; is still hanging on, in good spirits, and feeling well enough to help me with a personal project while I'm home on leave next month. More than anything else, that will give us some time to spend together.

    My sister's family, her two boys and husband are all doing well, happy and healthy. The little one is talking now and might even warm up to me again while I'm home on leave, but tho he doesn't remember me, will be loads of fun getting close to again.

    I'll be home for Christmas and New Year.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    In the "Funny-cuz-it's-true" category

    Noted today in the line of Iraqi day-labourer coming into the Embssy: a T-shirt rthat says "Same Shirt, Different Day."

    I've made the point in conversation many times; the TCN guys that work security here are generally pretty professional, easy going, etc. We have Peruvians, mostly, guarding the actual Embassy compound. We've had Fijians guarding other military FOBs, and now Ugandans.

    But come right down to it, they make about $12k/year. Some less. This second point is significant. How much would it take to bribe somebody to be let in? Not everyone is bribe-able, no matter how much or how little they're paid. But in a large group of people who aren't paid very much, there WILL be some people who can be bribed.

    And apparently among the Peruvians, all it takes is showing a pair of tits, not even cash money. Not even particularly large tits. Now unfortunately, I didn't witness this event myself (draw your own conclusions why I consider that unfortunate- hey, maybe I woud have put a stop to it!), but the young lady in question was unabashed about telling us how she had gained access to the embassy without a badge. At least she was obviously an American, and she actually does (or did, she's apparently leaving in the next day or so) belong in the IZ.

    It has gotten to be actually cold now. At least to those of us who have spent all year here. People were shivering at their guard shacks and bus stops this morning on my way to work. I am actually at the point where failing to wear gloves on my morning bike ride is uncomfortable. It's still quite warm during the day, of course, but now it's in a pretty comfortable range of warm. Apart from those first couple days where it became obvious the weather was changing, it hasn't rained at all.

    I've been getting together with a bud and playing some bass to his acoustic guitar, putting together some acoustic sets so he and I can play some gigs after we're both back from leave. Mostly just to play at private get-togethers, and to kill some time in a semi-productive, enjoyable way.

    Mainly I'm just looking forward to vacation in December. Watch out, downtown P-town!

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    American Vacation, take II

    Well, I have made my reservations for a second attempt at taking vacation at home. I should be home a few days before Christmas, for a month. I'm not super pleased with US Airways at the moment, their reservation system for overseas flights leaves a little something to be desired in the way of ease of use, getting email confirmation of itineraries etc. But their schedule works with what I'm trying to do, so such is life.

    Really looking forward to so many things on leave. I haven't left the IZ since April 1st. That's a long time in this environment.

    It was a busy week in the social life of the IZ, what with Halloween and all. Any chance to get dressed up in costumes and forget yourself for a while seems like a good idea.

    Between this and that I haven't been to the gym in a few days, gonna have to get back on that horse soon.