this past week went by fairly fast. (a good thing)

yesterday was the lunar eclipse. i went outside to watch it for about 1/2 hour as the last sliver of the moon was blanketed in the earth's shadow. one of the girls watching it with me apparently had no concept of astronomy and was shocked when i said the eclipse was because we were between the sun and the moon... she asked, "so the sun is directly behind us then?" it was cute. she was amazed, and maybe she'll pick up an interest in astronomy from now on.

the really neat part of the eclipse was that the mosques started singing loudly, which was both beautiful and eerie. it seems that having a lunar eclipse during Ramadan is a big deal, and if you're a jihadist, it's a great time to pick a fight (guess you get to Paradise quicker or something). we were somewhat expecting mortars or a firefight, but it was relatively quiet. just the moon, and the shadow passing over it... and a few bats, swooping across the orb. (it really did turn into an orb -- no longer the silvery disk, it looked like an orange balloon not too far in the distance.)


I lost a co-worker yesterday in an attack. He was like an uncle to those of us who knew him here. He was just shaving in the shower trailer.... it was very sad, and we miss his gruffy smile. When I went home, sleep was nearly impossible. I kept seeing his face in my mind, and every little sound I heard made my heart race. We all got a sense of reality on Sunday.


Yes... I'm doing fine. Work has just been super busy and I haven't felt like updating this. (Still don't, really.)

Back to running....had to quit rugby due to too many twisted ankles (not that I have more than the usual amount of ankles, but that the pot-holes on the helo pad were dangerous). We run around Lost Lake, which is about a 2 mile loop, and then sometimes add in another loop around the trailer park. It's getting fun (can't believe I just said that). The hard part is waking up at 1700 (that's like 5am for day-shifters). It's definitely interesting though... we run just as the sun is setting, and the Mosques begin calling out prayers for the end of the day (and the start of the Ramadan feasting). It reminds me of the end of "Blackhawk Down" when the guys are running while they're being shot at, and there's Islamic music in the background. (At least, that's how I remember it.) It's very surreal, and sometimes eerie. Especially like tonight, when we could hear shooting just outside the wall (we decided it was US doing the shooting, not THEM). Anyhow, it's a good run. :-)

Gotta get back to work!


Two strange things happened to me tonight.... 1) As I was walking back to my trailer after a (cold) shower, I heard something strange. Waiting for my eyes to adjust to the darkness of a cloudy, moonless night, I saw something move. It was like a small, long shadow. Eventually I saw it was a fox -- bushy tail, long nose, and staring at me. I froze, and it froze. I moved, and it moved. Having the fox standing there in front of me was a little surreal. I had only seen them in zoos and along highways, scampering into the woods. I walked towards it, but it walked away.
2) I was riding my bike to the MWR to use this computer, holding my little light on the handlebars to keep it from going all over the place... riding in the dark is serious business. Anyway, I suddenly noticed, a little too late, that they were doing construction in the road and had strung one of those plastic "police lines" across -- just as it smacked me in the chest and wrapped around me. I am still amazed I didn't fall off my bike.

Ok -- on Tuesday, I got my first Blackhawk ride (my first helo ride). We went to Tikrit. It was AWESOME! I was sitting in the middle facing backwards, but I was still able to take lots of pictures and see the Iraqi people waving at us excitedly as we flew over them at about 100ft in the air. It looks a lot like Illinois -- flat farmland, with lots of corn. I had no idea Iraq was full of corn... Anyway, the people live in houses that look oddly similar to those found on Christmas cards -- I guess the architecture hasn't changed in thousands of years. We flew over manshions too...there really wasn't anything in between. In Tikrit, I spent the day with the 1st Infantry Division and talked to my cohorts there. The topography there was interesting -- hilly, and the Tigris runs through it, carving a canyon. I saw people washing their cars in the Tigris. Isn't that something? Blown away by it all, and extremely exhausted, I still managed to soak as much of it in... it was the first (and probably only) time I was able to get off this base and DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. I'm sorry I'm squashing this all into just one paragraph, but I have to get going now. :)


In the Army, commanders will usually say, "As you were" when letting their soldiers know to go back to what they were doing...
A man was reading from the Bible in church yesterday. He was either nervous or having trouble with his eyes, but several times he fumbled over the verses. Each time, he said, "As you were." I nearly laughed. Leave it to an Army Major to say, "as you were" while reading from the Bible.

I'll try to write more often.

Oh, I finished the first season of Alias yesterday. It is one of the best diversions I've discovered here. Most of the others on my watch floor are obsessed with it.


I'll write more later... I just wrote an incredibly detail, long entry and the internet connection went out and I lost everything. I am very frustrated, so I'm going to leave now.