Thursday, January 27, 2005

Sunset In Iraq

Sunset In Iraq
Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
This is my brother, Tim, stationed at Krabtown, otherwise known as Kirkuk Regional Air Base. Kirkuk is north of Baghdad and southeast of Mosul. There is generally more of a Kurdish population there. They are a lot friendlier than the rest. He says, "Off in the distance you can see the low, long smoke cloud that's always with us. Car bombs are starting now. Elections thing I guess."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Not A Typical Day

Oh boy, where do I start?

I left Orlando to visit friends, Stewart & An, just north of Ft. Myers Saturday morning. Stewart and I have been best friends since early high school in New Jersey. Got about 150 miles away, about 30 miles from their place. All of a sudden, the car started to lose power. I turned off the engine and as I was coasting to a stop along the shoulder, I saw steam eminating from under the hood. Now, bear in mind, when you're traveling 75 MPH down I-75, you don't get to see that steam. The car gave me no sign whatsoever that there was a serious problem going on underneath that hood. Temperature gauge showed nothing unusual. No bells and whistles went off. Nothing. What happened, though, was that the top radiator hose burst. Unfortunately, when the car started to power down, it was due to a major malfunction. Minimally, I blew a head gasket. It only gets worse from there. Warped head. Broken camshaft or a combination of all of the above. No compression. When the towtruck came and raised it onto the bed, fresh antifreeze was coming out of the tailpipe. Not a good sign. I had called my friend from where I broke down and he stopped and picked up a new hose and coolant and drove to where I was. So, here I am. No car and 3 hours away from home. We left it at a Publix shopping center in Venice, with the manager's permission, so at least there won't be a storage fee. My father says he can rent a hitch and come and tow it back, so that's good. I put new tires on it last week and changed the oil. The new tires are now worth more than the car they rest on. My father is going to talk to his friend, a retired Ford engineer (mine is a Mercury) about my options, but, even so, I think I'm in a mess.

But it gets better...

While standing outside of Stewart's pick-up, I called my folks to let them know what was going on. All of a sudden, I started getting that ooh, ouch, yikes! sensation of fire ant bites. I must have had 10,000 of them on me. I was covered in them from waist down, inside and outside. They sneak up on you and, I have no clue how, they emit a silent signal to strike. All at once they all go into action. You don't even know they're there, until it's too late. Fortunately, I've never had a really bad reaction to any insect bite or sting. I have no allergies I am aware of. I got a little light headed for a few moments. My right hand got pretty swollen and is still sore. My legs got it the worst, but my hand bothers me more. Go figure.

Yet, throughout my day, I remained the eternal optimist.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More From The Captain

Humvee Armor
Originally uploaded by Marinade Dave.
My brother has been in Iraq almost a month now, so, he's had time to adjust to the lifestyle. We e-mail each other several times a week discussing what is going on in our lives. We have always been close, so this back and forth banter is very good for both of us. Being a specialist in his field, he probably will not venture off base, since his work is confined to that area. Hopefully.

The most disheartening thing, where he is, is the rocket attacks at night, rockets that can land anywhere on base. Everyone lives with that fear of not knowing if your time may be up.

The best thing there is the ice cream. He says, "Yup, the food is quite good. They have the creamiest, smoothest ice cream I've ever had. In fact, they also have the best eggs, sausage and hashbrowns, too. Lunch and dinner is regaled with fresh veggies and fruit. The dinner entrees themselves are not noteworthy, however they do have a large variety...There's an abundance of low quality desserts as well (except for the ice cream!)" I wonder if the ice cream isn't sent in from Russia. Russia is well known for having the best in the world, believe it or not.

"The food gives us much gas which can be a real joy at night. I've never had so much gas. I think it's because we don't chew our food as diligently as we should in hopes of getting out of the ever so populated chow hall in a rather quick manner - high density means high target value. It's always, always on everyone's mind." I told him it was always rumored that the military put saltpeter in food to keep one's libido in check. Maybe they switched to something else to keep them from getting any strange ideas about each other.

The temperature ranges from the low 30's at night, to the low 60's during the day. Not too bad, for having to spend time where you'd rather not be.

There has been news about the lack of armor on Humvees and other vehicles. This photo should help disperse some of those rumors. My brother brought this to my attention. This photo was posted today at a military website, which I then uploaded to my blog post. Of course, I blurred the faces. Here, these men are in Iraq to install protective armor on Humvees and other vehicles, in this case, installing an armored roof. There is probably a lot going on there that we don't know about. Stuff that normally wouldn't be reported in the press. I've found from other blogs that many, many Iraqi people are appreciative of our efforts. I'm not trying to take sides about being pro or anti-war, but always be aware of what is actually going on in the world. We tend to view the press as being open-minded, but I think they can be pretty closed when it comes to espousing their own views. Especially with this war.

I would love to hear from people who would like to send their wishes and thoughts on to my brother. These soldiers really do appreciate messages sent from anyone. Any and all words of encouragement mean an awful lot to them. E-mail me at or add a comment here and I will forward every one of them to him. Thank you very much.