Monday, June 29, 2009

Another week down...

Yet another week has come and gone in the wonderful world that is Iraq.  But seriously, another week down.

In my last post I mentioned that I was applying for instructor duty...  Well I applied, and later that day I was denied.  I was denied because I don't have enough time at Langley.  December is my two year mark at langley, so then I can call up the people who pick instructors and tell them that I am still interested in becoming an instructor.  Hopefully everything will work out and they will give me orders shortly after that.  Instructor duty is something that I have wanted to do since I was in tech school.  Also the San Angelo cost of living is very low, so we could buy a fairly decent house for a good price!

Work is going well, I have been writing operating procedures out to teach the new people coming in.  We got two new people a few days ago and three more are on their way.  We will have 20 people here by then, and of those 20, I have only worked with one of them before...  We have been working some long days, 14 hrs, 15 hrs, all the way up to 18 hrs.  Because of the long hours I haven't been working out.  Then a few days ago, I found out about a 10K on the 4th of July.  I am planning on running it, but I don't think I will be as fast as I was last time.  I think 3 miles is the most that I have fun since the last 10K.  I also thought about signing up for the Richmond Half Marathon in mid November.  However, I might not be home in time for that.  I did find out that I have until the 11th of NOV to sign up, so I can always wait until right before if I want.

Getting up to run before work has been difficult recently.  If I want to get a run in, I have to get up by 4am at the very latest.  And that is just waaaaaaay to early, especially when Im not sure if Im going to have to work 18 hours that day!

Mary and my Mother can both vouch for me when I say that I'm not a huge fan of vegetables.  My roommate said that I should drink V8 juice for the vegetable serving and also for the sodium that is in it.  He said because of how much we sweat here we need to take in more sodium.  So I decided to give V8 a try... it turns out that stuff is pretty damn tasty!  I am drinking between 2 and 3 of them everyday.

One last funny story: This happened on my day off last week.  My roommate's alarm went off, and his alarm is a song that I guess I was getting annoyed with.  While it was going off I sat up and started to reach to turn it off, before I could get to it, he turned it off.  As he did, in my half-asleep voice I said, "This shit has got to change."  Then I laid back in bed, rolled over and went back to sleep.  I knew nothing of this story until he told me about it when he got home from work.  I must have been sleep walking or something, I dont know.  But it was funny to relive the story.

That is all for now from this God-forsaken land.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful week.  I love you all!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Weekly Roll-Up

Since last Tuesday I dont think there are too many stories to tell...

We do have a little ottoman that we built at work, we keep it outside in the smoke pit.  It was designed as a seat/ coffee table/ ottoman.  After a few days a leg or two fell off, when we rebuilt it we put an extra 2x4 on it (it was to set your coffee mug on while sitting on it).  The extra piece made it look like a dog and we all commented on it and decided to name it Otto.  We gave Otto a tail, and put him on a leash so he doesn't run away (we get bored out here).  Also people started moving him around and propping him up so it looks like he is peeing on the building or putting him on top of one of the other benches.  Its something to do...

Mary also signed a lease on a new house!  We are pretty excited about that.  It is a bigger and nicer place than we have now.  Also basically everyone that I work with back home has volunteered to help her move.

I almost finished my instructor package.  The package is part of the application process to become a technical instructor.  If I am selected we will be stationed at Goodfellow AFB, San Angelo, Texas.  It isn't the most happening place in America, but it is in America!  And the housing market is very good down there.

Wednesday:  I woke up around 3 in the morning drenched in sweat.  My A/C had gone out and my room was now a kiln.  I wasn't able to fall back asleep after that.  I got up around 0500 still drenched in sweat, I took a shower and then sat in my room in my underwear not moving and i was still sweating.  For the record that is not a good way to start your day!  I worked from 0600-1500.  When I got to work I filled out a work order to get my A/C fixed, I left it with one of my Sgts who knows a guy.  Around noon or so I found out that I had to be back at work at 1AM, mind you I still wasn't done for the day.  My plan when I got off of work was to go straight to sleep, hoping that my body would let me sleep in the middle of the day with out any notice.  A sandstorm started moving in around lunch time, so that kept the heat down to about 100 or so, and the wind was blowing and it was hard to see.  When I got to my room, my A/C wasn't fixed, so it was about a million degrees in my room (and that is not an exaggeration at all).  Since I had to sleep, so I could work in a few hours, I decided to change into my PT gear and go to work and sleep in the air conditioned tent we have there.  I got to work about 1600 or 1630 and tried to lay down right away.  I think I fell asleep around 1700 or so and woke up around 1930ish.  When I woke up the tent was blowing around like crazy.  The sandstorm had gotten much worse.  I tried going back to sleep but it was hopeless.  Around 2130 or 2200 I decided to go back to my room, and if my A/C wasn't fixed then I would shower and go back to work.  Where I live is about 1.25 miles from where I work, I took one of the work trucks home so that we could all get back to work in a few hours.  I have taken this route atleast twice a day for the past two months, it isn't a difficult trip, so, I shouldn't have had any problems... I got in the truck, started it up, turned on the lights and realized that I couldn't see anything.  It was pitch black and the sand was blowing like Monica Lewinski (bad analogy?)  I drove really slow so that I didn't hit anything or anyone.  This drive is about a 1/4 mile through a dirt field and then about 3/4 miles on a straight paved road, a right turn about 1/8 of a mile on a paved road, a left turn and then the final 1/8 mile or so is on a gravel road.  The trouble started when I was trying to find the path through the dirt field, I didn't find it and just cut across.  Then I got on the paved road, I thought that I would be ok from here on out.  I saw headlights of a car approaching me on the road, I couldn't see the headlights until they were about 30 feet in front of me.  I kept going straight and traveling slow.  I came to a stop sign, (I couldn't see it until I was at the intersection) I couldn't  tell which intersection I was at.  The turn I needed is about a 100 feet after a stop sign and the area is lit by a set of stadium lights.  I couldn't see the lights so I thought that I was at another intersection (I thought that I missed my turn).  I turned right to take a different route, well I was way off... I took the turn 100 feet before my turn.  I turned around and as I was turning back on the main road I could finally see the stadium lights (I didn't see them until I was about 50 feet from them).  I finally made it back to my room.  I laughed at the fact that I got lost on that short of a trip.

I got back to my room and to my surprise, my room was cool!  I was so happy.  I decided that i would wash my face and hands (they were covered in sand) and then try to sleep until about midnight or so.  When I got to the bathroom, I noticed that my clothes, hair, and eyebrows were now sand colored.  I shook off what I could and then washed my face.  I laid down and got about another hour of rest.

I woke up about midnight on Thursday morning.  As I walked to the shower I could tell that the sandstorm was starting to clear up, but it was also still really sandy and windy.  After I showered, I talked to Mary and Maddox on Skype.  Probably the greatest part of my day (that and having A/C again)!!  Maddox was as cute as possible!  She wanted to sing all the songs that she knew, it was really cute.  She started singing 'row row row your boat' and Mary wasn't doing the hand motions, so Maddox stopped and made Mary do them.  It was pretty funny.  Mary was really happy because it was the eve of her last day of school and then she was going to travel for about a week.  Even though I wasn't rested enough for a 12 hour shift, I was lifted by seeing my girls happy and in good moods.  I also got kisses from Maddox!

Work was pretty good!

I am drinking about 2 or 3 mugs of coffee a day, between 2 and 3 liters of water while I'm at work (another 1or 1.5 liters after work) and the occasional sugar-free energy drink also.

It is 1500 on Thursday now, I have been home for about two hours.  In that time I got a hair cut and tried to stay out of the storm.  The sandstorm is still vaguely here.  Funny story, since my body is so tired, while I was getting my hair cut I started nodding off a bit... That is dangerous.  No worries though, no casualties.

I guess that I had more stories than I thought!  Sorry no pictures to show!  I did find this article: 

It is kind of a scary story, but the picture is funny.  No worries, the Gunny's job is nothing like what I do.  I sit at a desk in an air conditioned building.  The worst part of my day is when I have to go to the port-a-potty in the middle of the day (those things turn into saunas)!

I miss you all and love each and every one of you.  But my two favorite girls get the most love!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

7 Weeks

Seven weeks ago today I left VA for Iraq (Friday will be 7 weeks in country).  It was over a 3 day trip to get here...  but I made it.  That first week I think we had two or three instances when the skies opened enough to rain for about 5 minutes.  The second week we had dust storms.  This week we got another dust storm.  It showed up Monday afternoon.  It was bad!  The sky had a yellowish tint and the sun was blocked.  While standing outside, I noticed that it was more humid than it usually is here.  About 10 minutes later, it started to rain.  The only problem was that since there was so much dust in the air, it rained mud.  It was probably the grossest thing ever.  I stayed outside under a shelter, just so I could experience it.  The rain/mud only lasted about 10 minutes.  Then it stopped raining, and instantly everything was dry again!  The air is so dry that it soaked all of the moisture back up immediately.  Today the dust storm was still here and the wind was blowing really hard today.  It makes the wind feel like sandpaper.

Monday night I went to a recording of the the Colbert Report.  I was pretty excited about that.  I ended up sitting in the third row, center stage.  My favorite quote from the show was: "Hi Stephen's Mom!"  I got a few pictures and I am trying to upload them right now.  However, the internet is still moving slow.

Today is Marc and Kris's second anniversary.  Although they have been together since I was 11 years old (13 years), they have only been married for two.  They are two extremely cool people with a nice house down at the beach.  My greatest time hanging out with the two of them would probably be New Year's Eve this past year.  We all went to Mom and Dad's house and stayed up drinking and playing board games.  We had a ton of fun and walked away with a few stories also, I can't say too much about them, but I will say that one of them involved a blender, my wife, magarita mix, and whole lot of tequila.  Kris also used to send me packages all the time while I was in Korea.  She always sent cookies, Maxim magazine, and even a playboy or two (too bad I can't get those things here).

Im looking for another run to compete in.  When I got here I started training for the 5K, then my roommate talked me into the 10K.  I did that, and now I have nothing to work for.  I mean besides getting in better shape.  There is an 8.5 mile bike race the end of this month.  But I don't have a bike, and I have never thought about riding a bike that far before.  Leading up to my run, I wasn't doing as many pull-ups, and last week when I started doing them again, I could tell.  My goals for when I leave here are to run atleast one 10 mile run, and to be able to do 25 pull-ups without stopping.  Right now, the farthest that I have run at once is a 10K (6.2 miles).  And the most pull-ups I've done without stopping is 16ish.  I think I can do it.

Today I did go take a US History CLEP.  If I pass it then I only need two more classes to finish my associates degree!  Also the college that I attended last fall is compiling all of my college credits to see how many I still need for my Bachelor's degree.

That is all for now, I love and miss all of you!  Bye!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Moon

I dont know what it is about the moon, but I have always like looking at it.  I remember driving home from Wilmington late one night, and it almost seemed like the moon was watching me drive, it was seemed to keep up with me.  I could spend hours staring at it, not doing anything else but looking at it.  Last night it was real dusty, the moon was hardly visible.  Tonight the moon is casting shadows it is so bright.

I have always felt like the moon is common ground.  The sun warms everyone up, but the moon can actually be examined.  You can stare straight at it, and you wont go blind.  Everyone sees the moon.  It used to be when I would see a cool moon, like a real yellow one or even a reddish one, I would call people and tell them to look at the moon.  I would call people that were physically near me, to share it with them, and I would call people that were far away, just to give them a heads up that they might have a cool looking moon.

So, even though every morning you wake up in your bed, stumble to the bathroom, get ready, do what ever you have to do, drive to work, maybe pick up some drive through or coffee on the way to where ever you are going, work, go home prepare your own dinner sit on your couch, watch TV, maybe have a beer.  I am here, and when I wake up, I have to get completely dressed to even go pee, take a shower with 8 other dudes, carry a rifle with me everywhere I go, walk around in the blistering heat, sit on my bed or my broken lawn chair if I want to sit anywhere, and I have dust every where... We all still have the moon.  Now don't think that Im upset about what I am doing here, or my living conditions, I know that it could be much worse.  I am thankful to have a bed, running water 40 yards away, and internet (even if it is the slowest thing ever).  I am glad that I have those things, but looking at the moon makes me feel like I am home.