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Archive for September, 2007

Sep 30 2007

Family Fun

Posted by Mugs @ 3:01 am in Family Print This Post Print This Post

Last night the school hosted a family fun night for the middle school kids to get to know each other through game playing. Social events are so successful with a bunch of preteens who wander around aimlessly and don’t talk to each other. Everyone started out having ice cream in the cafeteria and then moved into the gymnasium to play games. Gabe went into the gym ahead of me while I was talking to some of the other parents in attendance. When I finally got into the gym, I found Gabe sitting forlornly by his game and he told me, “I don’t know why they named this family fun night.” Where are the Briens when you need them? I saw Josiah talking to a kid in his class and got my hopes up that he had asked him to play a game. But no, why would he do that? Josiah’s teacher set up a game with her son and I made Josiah go over to join them. I finally found a little girl to play a Spongebob version of Life with Abby, Gabe, and I, but the length of the game proved too long for her. Abby’s teacher pulled the large jump ropes out and Abby went over to twirl them, so kids could jump double dutch. She was doing great when her teacher was on the other end, but then a boy in Abby’s class insisted he could do it just as good and took the teachers spot. For the next 30 minutes, the kids attempts to jump in were futile because he couldn’t get the rhythm of the ropes. Some other kids were playing a form of keep away with the only ball in the room. There were three adults playing Dutch Blitz who needed a fourth, but I was stuck as the Spongebob banker and couldn’t join. By the time the kids gave up the Spongebob game, the Dutch Blitz cards had been put away. “I don’t know why they named this family fun night,” I thought. The only one enjoying himself was Zeke who had found the Uno Attack game and was busy pressing the button and shooting cards at himself. On the way home, I instructed my children that they had to be more willing to go and talk to kids and ask them what game they wanted to play. Abby replied, “That’s just not my personality.”

Feeling that we had not had enough family fun, I decided that today we would go on a family bike ride. I was not deterred even though I knew I had to put air in the tires, straighten the handlebars, put the foot peddles back on, and teach Gabe to ride without training wheels. I thought, “How hard could it be?” When Dale called for his weekly chat with the kids, Zeke was sobbing into the phone in between statements of “Mommy mad angry”. Hard for other people, no. For me, oh yah. I did manage to get the bikes road worthy with some help from my neighbor. The hammer isn’t actually helpful during bike repair, but it made me feel better to bang a bike with it. Gabe had his first bike riding lesson and survived the sticker bushes and wipe outs. Five years ago, I taught Josiah and Abby to ride a bike when Dale was going to Korea. Now, I’m teaching Gabe to ride with Dale deployed to Iraq. I’m hoping that when Zeke is old enough to learn, Dale will actually be here to enjoy all this Family Fun.

Sep 29 2007

Al Shura Village

Posted by Dale @ 8:58 pm in Deployment,Outside the Wire Print This Post Print This Post

Last week, I went on a site visit to a project south of Mosul. The nearest town, Al Shura, is about 7 kilometers away from this water compact unit (WCU) that is being built. Although the site is only about 30 miles south of Mosul, the drive lasted about 2 hours. The trip there was worth it. This WCU is going to provide clean drinking water for 5 small villages in the area. The WCU draws water from the Tigris River, purifies it, and then pumps it into the water distribution network for the villagers. While we were visiting the site, there were some local kids swimming in the Tigris.

Al Shura

Of course after inspecting the status of the construction project, we still had a 2 hour drive to get back to FOB Diamondback. My Project Engineer for this site, Gene, didn’t enjoy the ride at all. He was feeling a bit quesy by the time we were done. In the picture above, Gene is standing with his back toward the camera. He is wearing his Desert Combat Uniform (DCU) with body armor and kevlar helmet. When we go outside the wire, the Department of the Army (DA) civilians wear the DCUs; while we are on the FOB, they generally wear civies. Gene has been working for USACE for over 44 years now. Gene’s an inspiration. He’s pushing 70 and volunteers to deploy to Iraq!

Sep 27 2007

New Antenna Ball

Posted by Dale @ 8:30 pm in Deployment,FOB Life Print This Post Print This Post

I’m sure all of you recall my riveting post concerning the antenna ball on my vehicle. If you are a visitor to this blog, you can search for “antenna ball” in the sidebar to find the post. I know everyone else has already saved a link to that post in their internet favorites or bookmarks.

Mugs automatically understood my distress at being forced to display an antenna ball that looks like a sailor. Sensing my discomfort, she quickly jumped to my aid and sent me a new antenna ball. So in a small, intimate ceremony, Sailor Antenna Ball was replaced by USA Flag Antenna Ball. The photo below captures the moment in the ceremony when the outgoing and incoming antenna balls changed positions.

New Antenna Ball

Notice the smile on Sailor Antenna Ball’s face as he anticipates being reunited with Mrs. Sailor Antenna Ball.

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Sep 26 2007

Rally Cap

Posted by Mugs @ 10:50 pm in Family Print This Post Print This Post

I am a bad fan of the Chicago Bears or I am a fan of the bad Chicago Bears. Pick either statement, they both apply. However, my dear husband is an obnoxious fan of the Dallas Cowboys or a fan of the obnoxious Dallas Cowboys. Both of those statements apply as well. For all you Aussies who understand only footy (Rugby or Aussie Rules), I am talking about gridiron football. Why I let a football game and football team matter to me so much, I can not explain. When the game is on I am transformed into a mad yelling nutcase complete with chants, boos, jumping up and down, and yelling obnoxiousness. Zeke decided that this was a fun game that Mommy was playing and he would join in: “Watch da foobal Mommy?” Soon he was chanting “Defense…Defense”, jumping up and down and telling me, “Give me high five, Mommy!” When the game started to look dire, I ran upstairs to get a rally cap. A rally cap can be any hat worn inside out or backwards or both. Wearing this on your head helps your team to come back when behind in the game. I am a great believer in the rally cap, but my husband is not. Our current home had been sitting on the market for quite awhile with no action. When we put in an offer to buy the house, I had a peace that this was the house for us and that everything was going to go smoothly. Well, someone was lying in the weeds and put in an offer soon after ours. Both offers were being presented to the seller at the same time and our realtor was going to the negotiations on our behalf. We prayed and called my family to pray. The realtor called and it didn’t sound good. Dale and I were watching a baseball game and it was in the bottom of the 12th, 2 outs, with a runner on second. The tv cameras scanned the crowd and I saw a guy with a rally cap on. “That’s what we need to put us over the top,” I told Dale and stuck a rally cap on my head. 20 minutes later, the realtor called to say we got the house. If that didn’t get him to believe in the rally cap, I didn’t know what would. I was convinced he would accept the rally cap’s validity, but he didn’t. He likes dominating winning teams, he doesn’t want the game to be close. I, however, like to think that all is lost and be miraculously delivered from misery. The change in emotion is fantastic. However, my rally cap did not work during the Bears/Cowboys game partly because my eldest son was sitting across from me with Cowboys gear reminding me that I had failed to win him to my side and mostly because the Bears quarterback once again played awful. My gloating, obnoxious Cowboy fan husband called me after the game. The one time, so far, I was glad he was thousands of miles away and he has to call me to rub it in. But, today, good news: our quarterback is benched and my rally cap is back on my head. I’ll see you in the playoffs where payback will be sweet!

Sep 25 2007 Redesign

Posted by Dale @ 8:02 pm in Blog Design Print This Post Print This Post

Over the past week or so, I’ve spent my free time working on a redesign of the blog. Free time for me is basically from 2000 to 2200 each night. The time I spend working on is a means of relaxation. My other outlet is running. I usually go for a run at about 1900, take a shower afterwards, and then watch some TV, read a book, or work on the blog. All of this week has been devoted to the blog redesign.

One of my favorite parts of this design is the cubic globe in the header. To create this, I downloaded some satellite imagery from NASA’s Visible Earth project. I then used GIMP to tile the imagery into 6 tiles. Finally, I used GIMP to create a cube and paste the appropriate image tiles onto the cube faces.

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