Tuesday, September 30, 2003

2nd official baby picture...

Ok, I'm getting closer to a point where I can actually start uploading pictures. Unfortunately, it won't be with this post, since it's 3am and I will be back to work by 9am.

However, I will leave you with THIS picture:

Shelley said the video shows him flexing his arms and dancing around with no shame, further proof that he's mine (oh yeah... it's a boy, btw). I said that bears no resemblence to me, since I'm so quiet and introverted...

The geeks out there will notice that apparently this kid takes up 131GB of HD space. Damn... guess I better start looking into a file server now... Fortunately he's only running (currently) at 4.0MHz, so processor upgrades should be relatively inexpensive!

Speaking of geeks, if there's anyone that can help Shelley get that video into digital, I'll put a link to it here. I suspect they gave it to her on VHS, so will need someone to transfer and encode to RM or .avi.

ok kids, I'm going to bed... obviously I need the sleep (based on the geek humor).

Love to all, especially to our newest little software.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Where am I?

Ok, things have been too hectic to post the details of the concert, but for now I'll just say this: WOW! I've got so much more to say, but I just don't have the time right now. I swear, I'll post more details, with pictures. The pics didn't turn out very well though. I just couldn't convince the camera to use a faster exposure, so too many of the night shots are blurred.

I had to scan a local map today, and I made a copy to show some area details. Click HERE to see it! The picture is HUGE, and will open in a new browser window. After it's downloaded, your browser will probably reduce the size of it. If you're using Internet Explorer, just maximize the browser window (F11 for full screen), then hold your mouse over the image for a few seconds, and you should see an icon appear for maximizing the image. You will have to scroll aound this image, but it gives you a much better idea of where I am in relation to some of the OTHER vacation spots in the area...

Sorry that's all I've got the time for right now. Things are kinda slow at the port right now, so we're taking advantage of the lull to do some clean-up.

Before I forget, you've just GOT to check out Bruce Willis's website. It's very well put together, and is very personal. Needless to say, I was amazed by his performance last night, and I'm even more impressed with him after seeing the site. Bruce, you are my new hero! Thanks for everything!

Love to all!

Sunday, September 28, 2003

"... I'll post later today, I promise!"

what the hell was I thinking? Oh yeah, that I might actually be able to stick to a schedule... not happening!

Before I launch into a long-winded description of the Dewaniah, I want to think EVERYONE for the happy birthday wishes and cards! You should see the "care package" I received from Shelley. Lots of goodies for me, she's so good to me!

I also found a great website for learning about Kuwait: http://www.kuwait-info.org/. It's fairly well done, and very informative!

As for my recent adventure: being invited to the Dewaniah (I'm still not 100% sure of the spelling. I've seen it spelled so many ways... I liked "dinner thingy" better...), words cannot describe how incredible of an experience this was for me. I met some of the most interesting people, and talked at great lengths with them. Up until then, my exposure to the local people has been passing them on the streets and in the stores, or dealing with business owners/salespeople. No real insight into the true nature of the Kuwaiti citizen. That was the best part of me.

As I understand it, this Dewaniah serves it's purpose for nine other households, all owned by relatives. They own the entire neighborhood block, and gather there nightly. I spoke with several of the family, but spent the majority of the time speaking with one of the brothers at great length. He (as well as most of the other family members) made a point of initiating the conversation, as I'm sure they are cognizant of how overwhelming the whole experience is for most people. As most of you know, it didn't take much encouragement for me to babble on ... and on ... and .. ok, shut up.

The picture that was below in my earlier post wasn't just a picture of ANY Dewaniah, it was taken in this one! I wasn't expecting that when we walked in the door... but I recognized the corner of the room right away. I sat and spoke with Bader Al-Jassim (I have his card in front of me... I'm not THAT good at remembering names) while we drank three different coffees and teas, none of which I could tell you the names. One was made with oregano, and was actually quite good.

After about 45 minutes, we moved to the basement for dinner. There was a buffet style table set up, with more benches and cushions around the far corner of the room. The first thing when I turned the corner walking down the stairs was a poker table. That struck me as funny, because now the place just seemed like a big clubhouse to me! =) There was also a big screen TV, and a computer downstairs. I spoke with one of their younger sons about computer games (anyone surprised), and I think he was amazed at my knowledge of gaming. I'll explain why a bit later.

Dinner was delicious, with chicken and beef "kabobs" (I think is their term), which seems to be chopped and rolled, then roasted with spices. There was also some wonderful lamb, falling off the bone, as well as a rice (seemed to be like a vermicelli), but it was cooked with sugar, and had egg omelet over the top... interesting, but not my taste.

Desert was two cheese treats, one was a pastry with a mild cheese, the other a bit harder to describe, but with a bit stronger cheese. They both were served with honey, making for a very interesting and rich meal.

After dinner was more conversation. One of the relatives is a local journalist, who has his own newspaper. Mr Al-Jassim called him "Elvis", because of his sideburns and thick black hair, and also called him "nuthead", for his stubbornness. He was very loud and boisterous, and was definitely someone I would enjoy talking with... =) His paper has just recently been shutdown by the ministry for 10 weeks for printing things that weren't flattering to certain officials. I didn't get much detail on it, but it's something I would like to learn more about.

That's all I've got time for right now, I'll post more next time. I've got a few things I need to work on before I leave for the concert. Hopefully I'll have some great pictures!

Love to all, take CARE of each OTHER!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEEEE....

No real plans on what I'm going to do for my birthday... I just woke up, and now I'm going to head to work to finish some projects. I guess Sunday will be my "special treat"...

The Dewaniah was amazingly cool! I've got so much to say about it, but not enough time right now. I'll post later today, I promise!

Thursday, September 25, 2003

You won't see this on CNN

Here's something you don't see everyday... at least I HOPE not:

Also, another story that I don't think I've related to you all yet... this one comes from one of our guys working a site "up north" (everyone just says "up north", no one around here just says Iraq... dunno why).

Anyway, this guy has been working in Iraq for the past 3 months. He's been in and around Bagdhad the majority of that time. His impression of Iraq is a bit different from what you hear on CNN (or so it seems to me). He felt comfortable enough to bring his wife and child to visit him, and spent a couple days playing tourist. Everywhere they went were people smiling and waving to him and his family, some even yelling "America!!!". Places that he visited that normally would charge an entry fee (like parks and zoos), let them in for free, because they were obviously Americans. People would shake his hand, and though a lot of them don't speak english, it was clear to him they felt gratitude for what the USA had done, not the hatred the media seems to want to only portray.

Another thing he described was an advertising campaign that was seen on all the city buses and billboards. It was a picture of an Iraqi citizen hugging a US soldier. The caption read: "WE will NEVER forget!"

Just another POV, ya know?

More later, love to all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

".... we're off on the road to Dewaniah... we certainly do get around..."

Ok, it's been a long day already, and I just got the details on the Dewaniah. What? You don't know what that is?? Sheesh, you people are SOOO uneducated... (yeah yeah, I just found out what it's called myself... until I got the email I've been calling it a 'dinner thingy')

Dewaniah, the gathering place
In every Arabian house, especially in the GCC region, there is a room called "Dewaniah" or "Majlis" for guests gatherings. Most of these Dewaniahs are for male visitors only. The Dewaniah is usually located close to the outside main entrance, away from the rest of the house. Women guests gather in a room inside the house and sometimes get to their gathering room from an outside entrance specifically assigned for female visitors. In some parts of the Arabian region men and women who are not directly blood related to each other or not married to each other don't mix. That's why there are often separate guest gathering rooms for both genders in the same house. In some Arabian houses this rule of gender separation is not followed. This regular gathering is a chance for relatives, friends, and invited guests to check on each other and converse in many subjects. It is a form of socializing where people communicate the latest news about other relatives, economy, business, sports, politics, etc. Tea, coffee, and sometimes a light snack are served.

When Invited to a Dewaniah

If you are invited to a Dewaniah, you are not expected to bring food, drinks, or gifts. Muslims pray 5 times daily where each prayer lasts for about 15 minutes: at dawn, midday, mid-afternoon, sunset, and nightfall. Prayers are usually held at the Islamic worship places called "Mosques". Regular gathering in Dewaniahs usually takes place after nightfall prayer and sometimes between the sunset and the nightfall prayers. Upon entering the house as you approach the Dewaniah notice the Dewaniah's door. If shoes and sandals were left at the door by other guests, then take off your shoes. It is customary when entering a Dewaniah or an office to greet everyone there by saying "Alsalamo-Alikom", which means "peace be with you" and it is the equivalent of saying "hello". The reply to this greeting is "Wa'alikom Alsalam".

Once inside the Dewaniah, everyone will stand up to greet you and shake your hand. Start with the person standing on your right side or the one who is approaching you. If you are a first time visitor or elderly, most likely your host and the attendants will offer you a seat at the head of the Dewaniah as a sign of respect and honor. Some Dewaniahs are furnished with couches; traditional ones don't have couches and attendants sit on the floor. The floor is covered with Persian rugs and against the walls of the Dewaniah there are pillows to rest your back against. Notice that in both modern and traditional Dewaniahs, attendants are seated in a circle to ensure that no one is facing someone's else back. Also, remember the rule that the soles of your feet should not point directly toward someone else.

In office or Dewaniah visits you might be offered Arabian coffee, which is served in small cups without sugar or milk. The coffee server will keep filling up your cup until you signal that you are done by slightly shaking your empty cup and either saying "Bass, Shokrann", which means "no more, thank you", or by covering the cup with the palm of your hand while returning the cup to the coffee server. Remember that you should always use your right hand. It is advisable that you accept at least one cup of coffee as a way of honoring this traditional hospitality.

It's quite an honor to be invited to this thing, and all I've really done is helped the new Col. with his computer issues. It helps that I'm sitting directly across from him, and every time he gets this confused look on his face, I'm there to lead him out of his computer conundrum.

Anyway, that will be something interesting to post on Friday. These things usually last until midnight (so I'm told), so I doubt I'll be up for posting anything on Thursday night. Who knows...

Ok, that's all I've got for now, get back to your lives!

Back in Kuwait...

...But it looks like .blogspot is not up at the moment. I'm able to post, but not able to pull up the site. Could just be a problem on this side of the world, but since there doesn't seem to be any comments or tags, I have no way of knowing for sure... (I can check those, without going to the website)

I'll be back later!

Monday, September 22, 2003

How's this for ironic?

Those of you that know me FAIRLY well know that I've always liked Bruce Willis. Not just as an actor, but also as a musician. I've been a fan of his albums since high school (Jamey Garner can attest to that... he and I spent hours listening and wailing along with Bruce)

Anyway, isn't it ironic that I had to travel half-way around the world to see him in concert?? He's going to be here Sept 28TH! How cool is that?

Another thought occured to me this morning, and I don't know if I posted it or not? When I was in NYC at the Kuwait embassy, waiting to get my visa, I bought a sandwich at some deli, and walked down to a spot by the UN that had a lot of tables, benches ringing trees (read that a few times, it'll make sense), and a big rock wall with water running down it. A very peaceful place.

I had bought a book at a street vendor (Wyrm, I forget the author's name, but if you're a geek, it's very enjoyable), so I ate my sandwich, read my book, and laid back on a bench (ringing a tree). I had been there about 10 minutes when a guy walked up to me and asked if he could bother me for a minute. I happened to be on the phone (which he couldn't tell because it was a headset), and I held up my hand and indicated that I was on the phone by showing him the headset. He nodded and waited for me to be done. When I finished, he seemed embarrassed, but asked if I happened to be homeless. He apologized for asking, but he said it was his job to make sure that indogent (sp?) people didn't camp out there. I showed him my DoD ID, and he was really embarrased at that point. I told him not to worry about it, and that I would "sit up and act respectable" if he thought it would be better. He assured me that it wouldn't be necessary, and shuffled off to avoid further embarassment.

Just thought I'd share that with you all, in case I hadn't done so already. (Plus I just wanted to prove Jason wrong... I'm posting WELL before the 25th... so bite me)

Love to all, even you J (you doubting fool)

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Still here...barely!

Ok, sorry it's been so long since I've posted. I was doing SO good there for a while too, wasn't I? I actually attempted to post something a couple days ago, but the 'net connection died, and the post was lost, and I just haven't had the time or energy to put something back up.

Basically, I got to work Monday morning around 7am, and have been in crisis mode ever since. The virus definitions on several of the systems here were very outdated. I had assumed everything was current, but that's a bad assumption to make. So since then I've been working about 18 hours a day trying to get all the systems uniform and current. Should be a lot easier than it has been, but last night was the first night I got more than 6 hours sleep in the past 96 hours.

I have to fly to Bahrain in a few days, something to do with my visa only being good for 30 days before I need to renew my entry stamp. It's a bit of a R&R trip too, since they actually have alcohol and pork (two forbidden things in Kuwait). I'm planning on having several large pork chops and a few beers. =)

That's all I've got to report right now. I'm still planning on getting those pictures up, really I am! I need to get it done so that I don't have to spend hours uploading stuff.

Here's something to appease you all in the meantime:

I'm sure it's too big, and will cause most of you to have to scroll to the right, but that's just too bad! I'll get it fixed this weekend!

Sunday, September 14, 2003

...just been busy!

Just been too much going on to post lately, and since I didn't get to put up the pictures yet, I just haven't been all that motivated. I'm really going to make the effort this week. REALLY!

Moved into my new apartment. It's in the same building, but it's a 3 bedroom, so that my team can all be in the same apartment. Makes things a little easier logistically.

I got to walk on one of the HUGE Navy freighters today. Words and pictures just can't describe how big these things are. Imagine a warehouse... now imagine stacking four or five of those on top of each other, then wrapping all of them in steel, and floating this out to sea. They have huge ramps inside so they can change the loading levels, and this one (the USNS Dahl) has a "weatherdeck", Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, and Golf decks... all loaded with trucks, humvees, tanks, APCs, etc... it's just amazing.

I'll try to post more later when I'm at home.

Love to all!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Two years later... and a day.

It's 7am here, but that means it's midnight on the east coast, and 9/11/2003 has passed without incident (as near as I can tell). Yesterday was a bit more tension-filled than our typical day here, but there were some bright spots that I wanted to share with you.

The chaplain for our post organized an impromptu gathering, to coincide with the exact time the first plane hit the WTC. About 50 military men and women were gathered, as the events that took place 2 years ago were described by Col. Hagan, our interim Port Commander. There was a moment of silence, then a huge man. whose name I didn't catch, sang "I'm Proud to be an American". It was hard to see some of the big tough military guys struggling not to shed a tear, but it also seemed to reinforce their belief in what they're doing here. Some of them have received orders that their tour of duty has been extended, so they won't be home for Christmas like so many had hoped. But at this moment, that was completely forgotten of course. From where I stood I could see two huge naval transport ships unloading and loading their cargo, as people milled about and noticed our gathering. Those that realized what it signified stopped and put their heads down for a minute, then continued their work.

I really wanted to post this earlier, but there were too many people in the apartment already using the TV, and I couldn't get to it until this morning. That's ok, I needed the sleep!

I was looking for this column all day yesterday, but i was looking in the wrong place online. I found it this morning, and I wanted to put it here for anyone that hadnt' read it when it was originally published September 12, 2001, by Leonard Pitts, a columnist for the Miami Herald:

We'll go forward from this moment

It's my job to have something to say.

They pay me to provide words that help make sense of that which troubles the American soul. But in this moment of airless shock when hot tears sting disbelieving eyes, the only thing I can find to say, the only words that seem to fit, must be addressed to the unknown author of this suffering.

You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.

What lesson did you hope to teach us by your coward's attack on our World Trade Center, our Pentagon, us? What was it you hoped we would learn? Whatever it was, please know that you failed.

Did you want us to respect your cause? You just damned your cause.

Did you want to make us fear? You just steeled our resolve.

Did you want to tear us apart? You just brought us together.

Let me tell you about my people. We are a vast and quarrelsome family, a family rent by racial, social, political and class division, but a family nonetheless. We're frivolous, yes, capable of expending tremendous emotional energy on pop cultural minutiae -- a singer's revealing dress, a ball team's misfortune, a cartoon mouse. We're wealthy, too, spoiled by the ready availability of trinkets and material goods, and maybe because of that, we walk through life with a certain sense of blithe entitlement. We are fundamentally decent, though -- peace-loving and compassionate. We struggle to know the right thing and to do it. And we are, the overwhelming majority of us, people of faith, believers in a just and loving God.

Some people -- you, perhaps -- think that any or all of this makes us weak. You're mistaken. We are not weak. Indeed, we are strong in ways that cannot be measured by arsenals.


Yes, we're in pain now. We are in mourning and we are in shock. We're still grappling with the unreality of the awful thing you did, still working to make ourselves understand that this isn't a special effect from some Hollywood blockbuster, isn't the plot development from a Tom Clancy novel. Both in terms of the awful scope of their ambition and the probable final death toll, your attacks are likely to go down as the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States and, probably, the history of the world. You've bloodied us as we have never been bloodied before.

But there's a gulf of difference between making us bloody and making us fall. This is the lesson Japan was taught to its bitter sorrow the last time anyone hit us this hard, the last time anyone brought us such abrupt and monumental pain. When roused, we are righteous in our outrage, terrible in our force. When provoked by this level of barbarism, we will bear any suffering, pay any cost, go to any length, in the pursuit of justice.

I tell you this without fear of contradiction. I know my people, as you, I think, do not. What I know reassures me. It also causes me to tremble with dread of the future.

In the days to come, there will be recrimination and accusation, fingers pointing to determine whose failure allowed this to happen and what can be done to prevent it from happening again. There will be heightened security, misguided talk of revoking basic freedoms. We'll go forward from this moment sobered, chastened, sad. But determined, too. Unimaginably determined.


You see, the steel in us is not always readily apparent. That aspect of our character is seldom understood by people who don't know us well. On this day, the family's bickering is put on hold.

As Americans we will weep, as Americans we will mourn, and as Americans, we will rise in defense of all that we cherish.

So I ask again: What was it you hoped to teach us? It occurs to me that maybe you just wanted us to know the depths of your hatred. If that's the case, consider the message received. And take this message in exchange: You don't know my people. You don't know what we're capable of. You don't know what you just started.

But you're about to learn.

Read his other columns. I'm especially looking forward to what he has to say today.

Well, that's all for now, I need to get into work. I'll post something a little later today, hopefully I'm going to be moving to our new apartment, more details later!

Love to all!


Obviously it didn't happen. The connection died shortly after I posted that last message, and didn't come up until I was falling asleep. I did spend that time getting the pictures ready, so they're closer now than ever! =)

I'll try again tonight...

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ok... so... Tonight's THE night... maybe...

I'm home early, cooking dinner (I am SOOOO sick of eating out), and I'm going to make a real effort to get some pictures uploaded. The 'net is working, but as I've said (and bitched, and whined about ...) numerous times before, it's not reliable. But I'm wide awake, so the odds are good.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

I don't believe this...

Wham-O Inc, the maker of the Slip 'N Slide, is suing Viacom over the movie "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star".

In one key scene that appears in Paramount's trailers for the PG-13 film, Spade's character launches himself belly first across a dry Slip 'N Slide -- not realizing it's supposed to be wet first -- then rolls over with red welts on his chest, crying "Oooooh, it stings." In another scene, Spade lubricates the toy with vegetable oil, then slides into a fence.

"Wham-O is concerned about the depicted misuse of its product in the film and its advertising, particularly the potential for injury to children and even adults who, after viewing the scene, might use the product in the same reckless manner," said Peter Sgromo, marketing director of Wham-O's toy division.

He said the movie "violates all safety guidelines that are clearly marked on the product and the packaging." Those guidelines limit the slide's use to children aged 5 to 12, weighing less than 110 pounds and under 5 feet tall. In addition, the product must be inflated, wet and connected to a hose before being used.

The suit goes on to say that advertising for the film may leave the public with the false impression that Wham-O in some way authorized or sponsored the Slip 'N Slide scenes.

Pardon my language, but give me a friggin' break. If it's "clearly marked", what are you worried about Peter? It amazes me that you can still function with your head that far up your ass.

When people wonder what's wrong with the way things are done in the US, I can use this as a perfect example.

Read the full story

Lithium for God... hehe ... I'm going to that "special Hell", aren't I?

SCI FICTION: Periodic Table

I have no idea how I found this, but I've been reading it for a few days, and it's very interesting. Almost all of the elements have been used, so if you started reading now, you'd probably be able to read all of them. They're very short stories, and if you're a sci-fi/fantasy buff, you'll appreciate them. Here's an example, I hope you find them as funny as I do:


Lithium for God
God sits weeping in the corner. His seraphim gently try to coax Him (God can't be made do anything He doesn't want to do, so He has to be coaxed) into taking His lithium. He requires five gigatons a day, just to function.

The Big Guy's bipolar disorder is the worst-kept secret in existence. Everyone knows how in a fit of mania he created the Heavens and the Earth in only six days. Everyone knows how, in depressive mode, he fell into such a slough of despond that he let that cretinous little toady, Morningstar, torment Job, who was the most faithful of His servants.

The problem is, God just won't admit He has a problem. He blames it all on Adam, for the apple, or on Eve, for tempting Adam. He blames it on Herod, on Hitler, on the Trilateral Commission, on anything but Himself.

"Open wide," sing the Seraphim, cheered on by all the Heavenly ranks and powers. "Take your nice medicine."

God buries His face in His hands. "Such children I have," he weeps. "Oy gevalt, what did I do to deserve such a family?"

"Why don't you try a little smiting?" the seraphim urge. "Wouldn't that be nice? Bangkok! It's the sexually transmitted disease capital of the world. It would be a great way of getting the Word out."

But God doesn't listen.

Meanwhile, the Kid comes slouching into Heaven (He's having a difficult adolescence), holds up His pierced hands, and says, "Look what they did to me down there! I am, like, so bummed out."

The Archangel Michael casts a jaundiced look his way. "So's your old man," he sneers.

The End


I guess I missed a little bit of action here last night. At some point, people that were leaving the port were turned around because of a report of shots fired (3-5 round burst). There was an investigation, but never found the source. It's suspected that it was just an over-eager soldier (US or Kuwaiti) discharging his weapon. Brilliant, considering the amount of storage of volatile cargo and chemicals around here. I would imagine a few well placed rounds in the wrong place would make things rather unpleasant for a bit.


OH!!! I almost forgot!!! Shelley called me around 4:30pm her time (1:30am mine), but I slept right through it... She had just heard the tadpoles' heartbeat! It was 140bpm, which is average (120 - 160 is expected). I wish I would have been awake to hear the excitement in her voice! When I called her back this morning, she was half-asleep... Her next appointment is 9/29, so hopefully we'll have another "baby" picture up here soon!

Love to all!

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Happy Happy Joy Joy....

'Firefly' lands in film afterlife

I heard about this a few days ago, but keep forgetting to post it. Most of you know of my obsession with this show... I've managed to get several of the soldiers over here hooked on it too. hehe

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Sunday mornng = Tuesday... ?

In Kuwait, Thursday and Friday are the equivalent of Saturday and Sunday in the US. Wednesday night is a madhouse around here; you have to make reservations for dinner at most places, and the traffic is quadrupled. You can hardly find anything open on Thurs/Fri, so you have to plan accordingly. Of course, sometimes we have to deal with vendors in other parts of the world too, and they have their "weekends" on Sat/Sun... Needless to say, it sometimes takes planning to coordinate all this....

So today is Sunday (US equivalent of Tuesday), and I've got to run down to Nerdvana (Hawalli) to pick up some computer supplies. I went to the Sultan Center (Kuwaiti version of Wal-Mart... seriously people, I don't make this stuff up...), and spent WAY too much time explaining to the people what I needed. I would venture a guess that NONE of you have ever had to describe "canned air" to an arabian... Picture me pantomiming a spray can going "pfffffft" to five different people.

I want that thirty minutes of my life back!

So, I'm posting this from my apartment, hopfully it will actually stay connected long enough to post and download my bloated mailbox in Colorado. I've been using a web interface to look at my mail, but it's very slow, and has no real way to sort the crap from the stuff I care about.

That's all for now! Hopefully the connection will still be up when I get home and I can actually get some pictures up here!


Friday, September 05, 2003

Reality intrudes on the surreal...

The past couple of days have been fairly hectic, and I've really only got to summarize. This is the second time I've posted this, because the first one got sent to the void when I hit publish... I've GOT to get into the habit of copying my posts before I publish, in case it dies mid-post...


Just to name a few of the events that have been going on here: Losing our satellite link sporadically, causing all manner of unhappiness for us. Our backup link not available due to a security key being inadvertantly destroyed. Siren testing for the entire area (all the different sirens: NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) attack, SCUD attack, industrial accident, etc). Discovery of a UXO (UneXploded Ordinance) in the area (there was talk of just exploding it, but didn't happen during my shift...). Can you imagine the uninformed person hearing the sirens and explosion? Never happened (to my knowledge), but I can just picture some poor guy in some remote corner of the port hearing all this...

Then, last night, there was a fatal accident on one of the ships. It was a TCN (third country national), and he worked on the loading docks. He had apparently unlashed a vehicle that was on a ramp, and was pinned between it and a 5-ton truck for a while before anyone found him.

This morning, at the morning briefing, as the details were related to day crew (most of them had already heard), I looked around at the assembled staff (all military), and couldn't help but feel a bit of wonder and awe. None of the people here had any responsibility in the accident, but I couldn't help but feel that everyone here felt responsible in some way. I doubt anyone here knew the man that died, but they each felt a sadness. It may seem like that's just human nature, but I couldn't help but wonder if the TCN's would feel that same sadness and responsibility if it had been a soldier that had died because of an accident. I'm not saying there's animosity between the locals. More like an "indifference". I could be wrong, but it's just the sense I get...

Anyway, I'm going to post this and get back to work. I just wanted to put this here while it was still fresh in my mind.

Take care of each other, love to all!

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

More Surreality...

... so after we finally got out of here last night (this morning... umm.. a few hours ago), I was running one of my teammates to get something to eat, because he had to go back, and he just couldn't bring himself to eat another MRE within a 24hr period... (he's ex-military, so I guess he's had his fill...)... ANYWAY ....

We're sitting in a KFC (open 24 hours), and I'm eating a "chicken strip combo meal", and another wave of surreality hits me... there's islamic music (basically a singing prayer or something, no actual musical instruments), and I'm looking at the equivalent of my "biscuit" : a hamburger bun ... seriously... looking at wallpaper of Colonel Sanders, surrounded by Arabic lettering ... looking at grown men holding hands or wrists (I'll explain that sometime too... definitely WON'T be a PG-13 post).

Ok, back to some semblance of normalcy:

Another Classic Calvin

Appropriate for my current locale

The Calvin Decade

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

My Surreal Life (Part 2)

Today (actually... my "today" started about 16 hours ago... and still going... so it feels more like YESTERday...) was another interesting one, so I haven't had time to really comment on all the wonderful comments by the two most important women in my life (who supposedly love me, but it's hard to tell from their unabashed bashing of me...)... so we'll just ignore them, shall we? hehe

I've spent most of the day troubleshooting our network, which has refused to cooperate. Hard to believe that a bunch of electronic gizmos could be so stubborn, but none of them really seemed interesting in all working at the same time, making my job infinitely more interesting. As you can tell, it's around 11pm my time, and I got here around 7am...

But I remembered another factor in My Surreal Life (c) that I forgot to share with you the other day. In all this "dirty yucky" country, I have found a little slice of Heaven... TRUE NERDVANA. (Dilbert fans are smiling and nodding, n00bs are looking up the word).

There's an area that is just PACKED full of computer stores of every imaginable type. It's in Hawalli, and there is literally 2 malls, right next to each other, and EVERY store is a computer store. Imagine walking through your mall (whereever you live...). You don't see a Bath & Bodyworks, or any other "girly" store... No Gap, Old Navy, or LL Bean. No stupid kiosks in the middle of the floor selling your family history, or glass baubles, etc.... JUST GEEK STUFF. I was only in one of the malls, and I was only able to visit a few of the stores, but I saw no less than 30 stores... ALL of them computer stores. And to make things even WORSE, copyright laws do not apply here... think about that... here's how it works:

You walk into pretty much ANY computer store, and you ask to see their "book". They all know what you're asking about, and most of them have right there on the counter. So... you flip through the book, and you can immediately tell what it is you're looking at... Playstation, Xbox, DVD movies, PC games, whatever... in the corner there is a number. You tell the guy what #'s you want, and he disappears somewhere, and comes back with your choices, in a plastic bag, and a printed copy of the software or movie cover. A CD or DVD (game) usually has a hand-written description on it, while the movies usually have a nice printed label (similiar to the original). And these aren't always just copies from a DVD... for example, the book I last looked at included Bad Boys II, Open Range, S.W.A.T, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc... all movies still in the theatre. These works of art are filmed in the theatre (usually quite poorly), and just copied to DVD. What's really funny is if you watch one of them long enough, and you get into the movie, then all of a sudden someone (in the theatre that it was originally filmed) walks in front of the camera, and you realize that you're alone in the room.... your first thought is usually somewhere along the lines of "what the hell...?".

Anyway, back to my little piece of Heaven in the middle of Hell. Some of the prices are really good, some are really outrageous. Add to that the challenge of figuring out KD in USD, I'm going to be very cautious in there... but I did see some things I really wouldn't mind having... Sorry Shelley, but it's true... I'm really curbing my urges (do I need it vs. do I want it...), but I'm going to breakdown eventually. hehe I'll justify it by claiming it's to better prepare our progeny for the world of technology he/she is being born into...

Speaking of offspring, Shelley is doing good, in her 17th week, and sounds good when I talk to her. I know a lot of you talk to her on a regular basis, but would you please just call her and say "hi"? You can even call her and tell her I told you to, so I'll score some points too. I just can't call her now as often as I could when I was in the States, because of the time difference. She's asleep when I'm awake, and vice-versa. Anyway, just do it, will ya?

Well, that's all that I have time for, thanks for all your comments! I want to see 10 comments (from different people) on one of my posts one of these days. I guess I'll just have to post something REALLY interesting... =)

Love to all ... but especially to Shelley (and the BIG tadpole)!