Saturday, April 30, 2005


So, some of you know that after 2 weeks of trying to get a Blackhawk flight to northern Iraq, I finally made it. Got here, did my work and began waiting for a flight back. Been waiting for 4 days now. So my work is done, I have nothing to do except wait. This morning we were in the 'living room' here watching TV. BAAAAM!! My first mortar attack, shook the building. We looked at each other, said "cool", then went back to watching TV. So is life at Speicher.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Anatomy 101

So there I am the other morning psyching myself up to take a PT test. I am in the zone, focused and ready to do the required excercises. My mind is clear and sharp; nothing but pushup, situps, and the run is on my mind. I am playing back each scenario over and over in my head like all successful athletes do.

Then I happened to catch sight of someone's shoes as I was milling around. It wasn't really the shoes that caught my attention, it was the abject lack of ankles that I couldn't get my mind around. Sure I've heard of women having 'Cankles' before but hardly ever get to see them this close.

In my horrid disgust, my eyes were naturally drawn upwards to find the start of her calves. But something eerily strange happened; my eyes kept rising up. That's when I realized that there was no pucker where the knees should be! For Richard Simmon's Sake man! There were no knees either, the thighs melded directly into the shoes! What I was looking at here folks was the first ever known sighting of a woman with THANKLES!

the horror.......the horror.........

Philosophy 101

Anyone that has been in contact with me knows that I have been sitting, relatively patiently, for a helicopter flight to another base. It has been essentially 2 weeks of living with my rucksack packed. So I sit and talk to people.

"Ummmm MMmm mmmmm Ymmmmmm, ya want some? Mmmm, Ymmm"
"No thanks.....what is it anyway?", says I.
"Mmmmmmmm Ummmmmm, raisins...MMMm..Chocolate covered raisins."
"Man, how do you know ants didn't get in there and covered with chocolate?"
"Yummmmmmm, mmmmmm. Don't care, as long as they taste like chocolate. Mmmmmm, Ummmm.", said the wise philosopher unto his awe-struck student.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Thank You

Today I didn't expect much, typical Sunday. Usually I sleep in and try to lay low so I don't get stuck doing any work on what is supposed to be my 'day off'. So, I was sitting here watching some Monster Garage and Sopranos episodes when I got a mail delivery. I didn't expect anything, so I was quite surprised.
As it turns out, Sally DeWitt saw my name on the web page (link on the right side of this page). Out of the kindness of her heart, she showed her support for us soldiers with a generous gift. I was overwhelmed and so appreciative that someone I have never met is concerned about me here. You see, it gets rather boring being isolated, living in tents or CHUs, in the middle of Iraq. Though many of us have PS2, Xbox, computers, DVD players, we tend to run through our supply of movies and games quickly. Fresh DVD movies, games, and books are always welcome; any kind of entertainment to distract us from our daily grind. So I urge you all to participate in the program. Use the link to the right and pick some soldier, I am sure he or she will appreciate the support more than I can even explain.

Thank you very much Sally!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

For the Linux & Toshiba Communities

In my previous post I stated that I had 2 minor problems with Linux on my Toshiba Satellite Laptop. Well, since I didn't get to fly to Camp Speicher as planned, I spent the last 5 days obsessing of finding a fix. I now can run my laptop at its native resolution (1600x1200) using the 3D accelerated nVidia driver. Most of you figure, "Big deal, geek." You're right, but hey, I found the fix myself. I scoured the forums and no one had an answer. So, for the sake of completeness, here is a link to the xorg.conf that makes everything work. Now I am happily hacking away on Ubuntu Linux getting ready to switch to Kubuntu.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Unbeing dead isn't being alive.

There are roughly 500,000 people in the Army. I went through Basic Training with about 28 of them. So far, in my military career, I have surprisingly ran into 3 of them. Two were stationed at the same base, different units, in Germany. Today I ran into my Battle-Buddy from Basic. See, in Basic, you are paired with another recruit for several different reason. Over the weeks, you develop a strong relationship with that person because of what you both go through. My Battle-Buddy, Hancock, went on to be an officer in the Tennessee National Guard. Imagine my surprise as I see him making an ice cream cone in Iraq.

He was shocked to see me too, and we spent the next hour catching up. He had a better story than I had. I am envious. Understand my experiences here so far and what his experiences have been. This is a story that was not televised.

2LT Robert Hancock just got done with schooling to come to Iraq 2 months ago. He became Battle Team Commander and trains the Iraqi Army. His first mission, just a few days ago, was to go out and sweep for weapons caches near Balad Ruz. This was around the time we had our on base 'scare'. They reached their sweep point and were ambushed by an unusually large number of insurgents. Hancock was in charge and called his gunner to lay suppressive fire while his other team members pulled a flanking maneuver. Special Forces and the Iraqi Army joined in. The Iraqi Army fought for 15 minutes and expended roughly 12,000 rounds before retreating. They lost 12. Hancock's team and the SF continued to fight while calling in air support. At one point, he needed to call in the MedEvac helicopters but the landing zone was still hot. He brought them in successfully anyway. A mortar hit a few meters behind the one bird, next to Hancock, but failed to go off.

After losing 1 of ours in 30 hours of fighting, the insurgents were wiped out; blown to bits by our heavy fire, Apaches, and bombers. Hancock also was involved in clearing the battlefield. He found several layers of fall-back; areas the insurgents had set up to regroup and rearm to continue fighting. In his words, "They were there to fight until they saw Allah." Hancock and his team helped them with the introductions. The mission revealed many many caches of weapons and explosives and a possible training grounds. He stated that all the training we did together at Basic was what he relied on in battle; the calling in reports, suppressive fire, etc.

You may ask why am I envious. Easy. While this was going on, I was sitting here unbeing dead.

(without using Google this time, $0.11 to the one who gets the author of the quote.)

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I had watched a good movie called Revolution OS several weeks ago. It had given me a new perspective on software and computers. I have long been a Linux and FreeBSD fan, and have that general angst about Microsoft. But this made me reevaluate, once again, my choices in software. So, geeking out, I decided to ditch my beloved SuSE and look into Ubuntu. Why? Simple. Because everything in Ubuntu is classified under a license from the GNU Project which is driven by the Free Software Foundation. That means all the software is free and open source. I wrote this entry on a system devoid of any Microsoft product, which I spent $0 (legally) to install and use. And so far it meets almost all of my needs.

I could and would never go back to using Windows again if I could get Ubuntu (or any distro for that matter) to:
  • Edit PDF files, not just view them
  • Be able to read, possibly write MS Access database files
  • Play more popular games.
Other than that I have only found 2 very minor annoyances that I can live with but if someone knows of a real fix, please let me know.
  1. My external Maxtor OneTouch drives aren't being seen when using the firewire interface, works with USB
  2. My Toshiba laptop display is an nVidia GeForce 4 440 Go 64M with a native resolution of 1600x1200. The 3D accelerated driver only allows me 1400x1050.
Now, for all my friends that I chat with on Instant Messaging apps, might I suggest using Gaim since it allows use of all the IM's under one interface.

Of course, most all of you will not switch from Windows. That's expected, but you can enjoy the same software I am using. Many Open Source Software have Windows versions....such as Gaim. Look around, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of the free stuff these days.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Little has happened to be interesting around here. These are the months when the deployment will seem long and repetetive. I have several important things on my mind but still find time to be bored.
I started my Master's Degree program in MIS. I am finishing off the Army Correspondence Courses needed for promotion points. I have my promotion board coming up in June. And I have a PT test coming up in less than 2 weeks. On top of all that I run the C&E shop daily. The days do go quickly, thankfully.
A few nights ago, we had a 'scare'. Somehow a message came down that 4 Iraqi insurgents made it on base with fake IDs. We were supposed to react to this, many did in an overstated way. It was funny to see the Rambos appear from our small Signal unit while the Special Forces and Combat Arms soldiers from the other units continued to mill around in their PT uniforms. Funny, too, to think how they knew just 4 got on and that the IDs were fake. If they knew, why did they get on base? Crazy rumors.
It may have not have made the news but the SF unit we support ran across a possible training base for insurgents a few nights ago. Long firefight, many casualties - mostly insurgent. Can't reveal many details but it interesting to note what gets publicized and what does not. How much to we all accept what the media pumps to us as complete and true? I get to watch much of it first-hand now.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

"Wars have never hurt anybody except the people who die."

(This time a dime for the author of the quote)MOPP suit
A reader and friend (JL) had requested me to do a piece on what Americans take for granted. Seeing that I am currently sitting in a tightly controlled and hostile environment, I thought maybe I would give it a shot (no pun intended). Then I started thinking how it would be received. No one wants to read how great their lives are as they are wasting away right under their noses. Plus, there have been literally thousands of troops that have had it far worse than I do now. Many of my friends and fellow soldiers were deployed as part of the initial war and Operation Iraqi Freedon 1 (OIF 1). Conditions are much better now than then. I don't want them coming up to me telling me stories of, "Oh, so you think you got it hard? Well, let me tell you what hardcore really is!" So, out of a real respect for them and an appreciation of how good I have it now, I realized the proper entry would be to compare how much I now take for granted in OIF 3. Compare your daily humdrum if you wish.
gnats and mosquitoescamel spiders
buildingstents that blow away with people and equipment in them
Dining Facilities (DFACs)MREs
and field chow
2-day free laundry servicewearing a MOPP suit for 30 days straight
Soldiers with personal computers asccessing the Internetproviding phones and net
with no room for soldiers to carry personal computers
Trailers with showershomemade gravity-fed
showers months after deployment
plumbing / latrines
digging catholes along the perimeter or dung burning detail
Air conditioned offices and living quarters some air conditioning in certain equipment shelters.
Ready phone access for personal useregulated and restricted usage
All the tap and bottled water we needOne Bottle of water per day to drink and use for hygiene
A "Peace Keeping Mission"A Declared War

The only disadvantage we suffer now is the lack of a clearly identifiable enemy. The difference between a Haji working on base as support and that same Haji turning terrorist is a mere $1.

This entry is dedicated to my Uncle Don McCarthy, who recently passed away. He was a proud veteran of World War II. His outstanding patriotism called him to misrepresent his age to enlist in the Navy during a time when many felt the sting of the draft.