08 November 2008

Army humor

There's still a lot of bitching going on about the Army Combat Uniform. It wears out too fast, it doesn't blend in with anything (except that one guy's couch and possibly gravel parking lots), the zipper sucks, etc etc.

A special point of emphasis for all that bitching has been the Velcro. Excuse me - the hook and pile fastener. Sticks to everything, wears out, makes too much noise...

There is a positive side to all that, though. It means we get patches. You got your standard unit patches, you got your morale patches, and then you got your sarcasm tabs.

I saw this one on, of course, a gentleman of Mexican descent, the other morning. After some further observation, it was on several gentlemen of such descent.


You gotta love military humor. Given the somewhat...indelicate nature of how we address things, you can only imagine how the recent election has played out.

06 November 2008

CA Stuff

Another day, another excruciating meeting. Today's focused on a local contractor who appears to be building a water purification station in a location and manner utterly divorced from those specified in the Scope Of Work.

This is, of course, a no-go.

These days, we spend Iraqi dollars (through the Iraqi Commanders Emergency Relief Program - ICERP) through city councils, but we still provide contract and procedural oversight.

So when we heard the contractor was not purchasing actual real filters, but instead building them himself with his own two little hands, that required visual inspection.

So off we trudged. Up the road, through the market (abnormally tidy), through the critter-slaughtering part of the market (only mildly disgusting, through the machine shop part of town (where they did not appear to be manufacturing IEDs).

Until we found the "filters."

That's one of our terps (interpreters), serving as a size reference.

So, yeah. Giant, rusty, badly welded, slightly misshapen pipes.

So guess who came back to FOB, got an interpreter and phone, and arranged a little meet-the-bitchy-new-CA-sergeant meeting for Mr. Substandard Contractor?

Sometimes, I love this job.

05 November 2008

So...about that election

Well. That was a little more...definite than I had thought it would be.

I spent most of the morning in a room full of Sons of Iraq leadership, watching Al Arabia's coverage of said election. Explaining the electoral college through an interpreter is, in case you've never done it, kind of an adventure.

03 November 2008

The Daily Routine

So there are two kinds of days here - there are days when we go outside the wire, and days when we don't.

You all know that our "official" mission outside the wire involves hanging out with the civilian populace, trying to ensure they're using decent local government practices and trying to teach them to do stuff for their communities without just stealing all the funds available. That's the official mission.

In truth...

Mostly we just go outside the wire to feed dogs.

That's Daisy. She lives at one of our regular stops and actually seemed pretty excited aout MRE Jambalaya.

On days when we don't go outside the wire, the mission remains home improvement. We finally found nails and a hammer.

And no - I did not tumble from the beams. Although my roommate did suggest perhaps I should don my helmet.

02 November 2008

Just saying...

Have you ever been to a municipal meeting? A city council type of thing?

I sat through one of those today. With a less-than-motivated interpreter and the usual representatives from all 37,429 district-level Ministry offices. Water, Water Sourcing, Irrigation, Youth, Culture, etc etc.

And, unlike almost every other meeting I've been to in this country, nobody smoked during this meeting.

War is hell, I tell you. Hell.

In good news, fruit tree saplings will be available in January, at probably a little over 2,000 dinar per. This was, I kid you not, the hit news of the meeting. I guess everybody really likes fruit trees.