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Archive for 2007

Dec 31 2007

New Year’s Eve in MAO

Posted by Dale @ 11:54 pm in Deployment,FOB Life,Outside the Wire

As I’m writing this, it’s about 2320 on 31 December 2007. I’ve been trying to clean out my email inbox while waiting for the New Year to roll around. Earlier this evening, I celebrated by having a cheeseburger, cheese fries, and hot wings at the DFAC. I even had peanut butter cake and ice cream for dessert (thanks to Glenn for pointing out the peanut butter cake).

I started the day by visiting a project site in downtown Mosul. The project is a relatively small repair of a drinking water treatment plant in the Dandan neighborhood. Driving to the site was a little interesting this morning. The street we took leading away from the FOB was packed with pedestrians. I think they were mostly pilgrims returning from the Hajj to Mecca. There were some return flights last night to the passenger terminal on FOB Diamondback. The site visit itself was very quick; we just needed to verify that the contractor had completed the work as reported.

The rest of the day was devoted to planning future project visits. This means I got to play around in FalconView plotting project sites on the electronic map. I also washed my laundry today; I even remembered to get everything out of the dryer this time. However, I just remembered that I haven’t made my bed yet. I guess that’s the first thing I’ll be doing when the New Year rolls around shortly! While I was carrying my laundry back to my trailer, I saw this note posted on the outside of the laundry trailer.

Lost Slinky

In the move from Diamondback to Marez, I apparently lost one box. I remember packing my slinky in a box when I was cleaning off my desk. But when I unpacked in my new office, my slinky was nowhere to be found. I think Sarah and Glenn are tired of me whining about my missing slinky. Oh well, 6 minutes until midnight. I guess I’ll go make my bed now instead of waiting until next year!

Happy New Year!

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Dec 30 2007


Posted by Mugs @ 6:57 am in Family

Last Saturday, Josiah was invited to attend a birthday party for a girl in his class.  He would not normally consider such an invitation, but it involved a movie ticket to National Treasure II and free pizza.  He and his buddies (mates) agreed they would all go together thereby making it an acceptable occasion.  The difficult part, of course, was the gift buying.  Abby informed Josiah that the girl liked webkins, and that Josiah could purchase one at Hallmark.  Abby loves Hallmark with all its bric-a brac and girly things.  Josiah was a bit apprehensive when we set out.  We arrived at 0855 and the store opened at 0900.  We sat in the car and began to watch our fellow Hallmark shoppers.  They were all men.  It was the Saturday before Christmas and these men were forced to go out and find a gift for their wives.  My brother-in-law Rich was shopping on Saturday, but had to finish up a few purchases on Christmas Eve.  He didn’t want to break with the tradition of buying the gift and wrapping it on Christmas Eve.  This year, Dale was unable to adhere to this Christmas Eve shopping tradition as a result of his distance away and the speed of the Army postal system.  I received my gift weeks in advance.  I will no longer be able to grumble about him always shopping on Christmas Eve.  Anyway, back to Hallmark…One guy was peering intently in the window with the hopes that he could spot something before hand, so that when the clerk opened the door, he could dash in, purchase it, and make a quick get away.  Another guy, who was clearly military, was walking back and forth not directly in front of the Hallmark as if to fool anyone who happened by that he wasn’t actually waiting to go in.  He threw something away in the rubbish bin down the sidewalk, he wandered around on the street in front, and constantly looked over his shoulder in case a friend happened by to accuse him of Hallmark shopping.  The smart guy stayed in his car and made a quick dash for the door when the clerk finally unlocked it.  Josiah and I went in to join our fellow shoppers.  I began to find various things and hold them up for Josiah to see.  I then noticed a glaze come over his eyes and I thought of Dale.  When in a store like Hallmark, Dale will wander around in a daze.  He can not relate to anything in the store and the choosing becomes a torture to him.  I said to Josiah, “You won’t feel comfortable giving any of these gifts will you?”  He replied, “No.”  To his great relief, I let him escape.  So, down the sidewalk we went to the bookstore where he purchased a day to day calendar and a journal.  He brought the gifts home, wrapped them, and even made a funny card.  When I dropped him off in front of the movie theater, he realized to his dismay that only the birthday girl had arrived.  I left him on the curb and drove away laughing as the dazed look came back over his face.  

Dec 25 2007

Christmas in Mosul

Posted by Dale @ 3:06 pm in Deployment,FOB Life

Since I was so upset about not getting to put up lights this year, I decided to decorate my wall for Christmas. The first time Mugs visited my family in Natchitoches during Christmas, she was utterly amazed that Mama had decorated the bureau instead of a Christmas tree. So in true Manry tradition, here’s my Christmas wall:

Christmas Wall

Last night, some of us got together for a white elephant gift exchange. Sarah had printed out mistletoe and taped it to the ceiling, so you had to be careful where you stood. I was able to give everyone that came a homemade Christmas card from Gabe’s second grade class at Fredericksburg Christian Schools. In the picture above, notice all of the cards on the white paper. Each kid in Gabe’s class made me a Christmas card. They also made extra cards addressed to “Friend”.
CDR Charles Kliewer joined us for the festivities. He is a US Navy Submariner assigned to the US Army Corps of Engineers for a 6-month deployment to Iraq. He is here on FOB Marez attached to the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) as the liaison officer (LNO) for USACE. He’s still looking for his submarine! Here’s a shot of Charles and Rick unaware that mistletoe is lurking above.

Under mistletoe

This morning, I slept in until about 0800. After making some coffee and checking email, I just lazed about most of the morning. I got to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” on AFN. For lunch today, we decided to go to town. So we drove over to the DFAC on FOB Diamondback. The display wasn’t quite as extravagant as Thanksgiving, but they did have a giant Frosty appropriately covered in frosting. Santa Claus was also at the DFAC, so we had one of the DFAC workers take our picture with Santa and Frosty.

MAO with Santa

The DFAC worker liked it so much, that he asked me to take a picture of him and his buddy with Santa. The he had his buddy take a picture of the two of us with Santa. Next it was a picture of just his buddy with Santa. Then it was a picture of me and his buddy with Santa. Finally, it was a picture of just him with Santa. Here is picture number 2, me and the first DFAC worker.

DFAC Worker and Santa

For Christmas this year, I got a deluxe care package from Richard, including homemade peanut brittle. No one is allowed to tell Howard that I got homemade peanut brittle.  He never reads this blog, right? From Abby, I received the Grumpy ornament, and from Gabe I got silly putty. Zeke gave me a Santa Pez dispenser, while Josiah sent a coffee cup where you can design your own decoration. Mugs gave me a desktop bowling game and a stress-relief football to squeeze. It feels like Stretch Armstrong, if you remember that toy. I guess it feels like Stretch Armstrong even if you don’t remember that toy!

Merry Christmas from Mosul!

Dec 24 2007

Gift Wrapping

Posted by Mugs @ 6:59 pm in Family

One unattainable goal I set each year is not to be wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve. I have the gifts, wrapping paper, scissors, and gift tags ready. I have to search the house for each of the three rolls of sticky tape that my children have left in various locations. When I find it, I’m all set…if only I’d actually wrap the gifts. At this point gift bag people would try to win me to their gift bag cause, but I’m someone who likes the look of wrapped gifts. If they are wrapped as pretty as my sister in law Michelle wraps them, even better. My gifts don’t look anywhere near as good as Michelle’s, but I give it a go. This year I once again made the unfortunate decision to buy the cheap wrapping paper. It is so cheap, the coloring actually rubs off. I wrapped my brother Howie’s gift in that cheap paper and I’m sure by the time he received it, it was colorless and ripped. He was probably thinking it would be best if I moved on to gift bags. So, I kept telling everyone I was almost ready for Christmas, I just needed to wrap gifts before Christmas Eve. I really dislike spending Christmas Eve wrapping gifts. Procrastinate…Procrastinate…Procrastinate. Well, I started last night, but since I finished at 0130 this morning, I was technically wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve. Oh well, I’ll try again next year.


Dec 23 2007

Project Visit at Al Shura

Posted by Dale @ 11:23 am in Deployment,Outside the Wire

I went on a site visit back to Al Shura to inspect the water compact unit. The contractor reported that he was finished with construction at the site, so I wanted to verify the status. We rolled out from FOB Marez at daybreak and were treated to a beautiful sunrise.


We’ve been having some cold nights lately. This week, the lows have been right around freezing. I guess last night must have been below freezing. On the project site, I noticed ice in the puddles. Unfortunately, the puddles are a result of leaks in the water line not rain.


When we were driving up to the site, a local villager came over to unlock the gate to the facility for us. The Project Engineer, Mike, had some questions about the site. He wasn’t able to get the answers he needed from the villager, so Smudge from the security team asked for the local sheik. When the interpreter asked the villager about the sheik, I picked up one specific word in the villager’s reply, “ibn”, which means “son of”. So I was able to pick up that he is the son of the sheik. Pretty soon I’ll be fluent. In the picture, the villager is talking to the interpreter, Robert. Smudge has the Union Jack on his uniform, and Mike is on the right.