January 16, 2006

Back Shortly

I'll be back with more posts shortly. It takes some time to deal with Iraqi travel logistics. In the meantime, discuss amongst yourselves in the comments.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 16, 2006 08:43 AM
Comments

I just sent you $100 so no more whining about not being rich. And no booze, women, pricey meals or hotels, or other than steerage class travel on my dollar.

Have a nice trip.

Posted by: Francis C. Bagbey at January 16, 2006 11:33 AM

Thanks, Francis! I'm married, so no worries about the women. Can't make any promises about the booze, though. If I'm gonna be in Iraq, I'm gonna drink. (But I will not get drunk. Not there.)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 16, 2006 12:04 PM

Hi Michael,

Just read your LA Times article about the land the world forgot, Lybia. Wish I could help you out with your trip, but, it's a little difficult to get money out of Iraq, especially when my wife gets most everything I make (the primary difficulty comes from not having any left after the first week of the month).

I sent your article to everyone on my Email list, and, three of them got caught in a filter. After a letter to the administrator, containing a link to your article (and, a little carping, harsh language), they swept on through with a hint that told me the article is spreading rapidly, downstream.

One of the points I stressed is that your article carries a strong message for the people of America: "There is hope for America as long as there are nations where hope is not an option."

Have a good trip. Too bad you're not gonna visit the Greenzone, I'd like to meet you. Watch those Kurds though, they're aggressively building a new country, and, they can probably use your money, whether you part with it willingly or not ("...you're gonna cross my street? That'll be $10 please.")

Gordon Arthur DeSpain
(ex-King of the Punching Bag at Gilley's, one of the real original Urban Cowboys)

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain at January 16, 2006 03:21 PM

Gordon - since Michael isn't posting for a little while can you give us a brief write-up of what life in the Greenzone is like right now? What are your impressions on what is going on - is it getting better/worse/the same? What about the infrastructure projects - what do you see? I'm interested your first-hand view. Thanks.

Posted by: markytom at January 16, 2006 06:33 PM

Hi Markytom,

Living in the "Greenzone" is not the wall-to-wall exciting experience one would think. Mostly it's boredom, like now, with small spikes of adrenalyn surge to fray your nerves.

I work nights, and, before I moved into Camp Hope, I lived about one long block from Checkpoint 1, which seems to be in perpetual assault from idiots who love banging their heads against walls. This made for a lot of strange, sudden noises just about the time I fell asleep every morning. Usually, I would bounce up (turning flips while looking in all directions at once), and, listen for the rattle of small arms. Then, having heard a continuing roar from down the road, I'd fall back and go dead asleep for 5 or 6 hours, reassured by the knowledge that the Marines had the situation in hand.

However, on the morning of the last election, I walked through the Guard Shack at the CAC, and, headed for the Diner about 50 yards away, with 50 or so co-workers trailing or ahead of me. I Picked up a Tray, got bacon, eggs, and, pancakes from the gourmet steam table (heh), walked over placed my tray on the table, and, glanced up at the TV, reading the scroll across the bottom. It said, "07:01, the Polls are now open in Baghdad." and,...BANG. My Tray jumped about 3" off the table as I rebounded off the wall on my right, spinning and looking in all directions, to see if it had hit the DFAC (it hadn't), while diving for the door.

I hit the ground running, spun toward the Marine CAC, and, saw a huge Fireball rising over the T-Walls. Without breaking stride I headed for the Guard Shack, knowing that many of my friends hadn't cleared it yet, and, the Bus I rode might be setting 'in' the CAC at that time (JB's a friend of mine). But, some wiser head grabbed my shoulder and turned me back about 10 feet before I could see around the corner, screaming that I didn't have my armor on...durn.

You never know when there might be a second Bomb 'perkin' just around the corner, or, in this case, another Rocket on its way.

Muttering, I returned to the Bunker outside the DFAC which had about 50 people in it already, so, I stood around outside with several others, and, tried to figure out who wasn't there that might have got caught in the blast.

It turned out that only 3 people were injured, and, those, only shook up a bit. A 1-Ton Flatbed Truck with two pallets of bottled water on it had just left the Marine Check Bunker, when a Rocket hit behind the right rear wheel. It picked the truck up, flipped it up on its grille, then dropped back almost exactly where it was when the Rocket exploded. Strangely, both pallets of Water survived the trip, and, only 3 or four boxes were damaged.

However, the grille was smashed back into the Engine, and, the Rearend was almost blown out from under the Truck. The Driver sustained a sprained Shoulder and the TCN riding with him wrenched a knee while they were turning flips inside the Cab, but, neither caught any shrapnel.

One of the Marines was running around showing everyone his "Boo-boo"...a splinter from the Rocket hit him in the forearm, and, rightfully, that's good enough for a Purple Heart, but, I imagine his ears are 'still' ringing. Judging from the concussion that hit the DFAC, I don't think he'll ever forget the blast either.

But, things have been strangely quiet since then, it almost seems the blast was a punctuation mark, heralding another age. There has been some activity at most of the Checkpoints, but, not like before.

I'm optimistic that this election, when they're finally done counting, will be a water shed in our mission over here. Mainly, because everyone seems ready to accept the results, however, not without a lot of shouting (some of them) over who gets what political position.

Even the Sunni's are co-operating a lot more than here-to-fore.

(there's a lot I can't say, and, things I can't accurately describe, but, that's the way security works, y' know? Sorry I can't answer all of your questions...some I don't know the answer to, yet)

Mostly, 'boring' has become an issue, nowadays...hmmmmm? I may be moving to another jobsite down in Basrah, maybe things will be a little more exciting down there. At least, I'll be standing in the ancient, "Gates of Eden," which is what Basraq has been called down through the ages. I'm a nut on real History, of people, gods, and, goddesses, from ages and time beyond the memory of man.

Gordon

Posted by: Gordon DeSpain at January 17, 2006 03:23 PM
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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