Tuesday, November 29, 2005


They say that when a man who’s dying of thirst sees a mirage in the desert he believes it is water not so much from the optical illusion from the heat, but because he wants so desperately to believe it real. Thus was the case yesterday. Apparently what I flipped out about was not the kindhearted computer police, but a computer glitch which temporarily brought the site-blocker software down. I’m going to try to convince either my mother or sister to post pictures to the site that I manage to take and send to them—I guess we’ll see how that works out.

I’m starting to wonder how this whole experience is going to change me. It’s kind of like if you lose weight no one really notices that sees you every day, but someone that hasn’t seen you in a while notices huge differences in you. I definitely feel like I’m a different person, though I can’t put my finger on it if it’s a good change or a bad change. I’ve gotten emails from friends that went home—some had no problems whatsoever, some had hairline cracks in their marriages that burst wide open when they got back. I keep playing the scene in my head when I get home—kids happy to see me, dog not having any idea who I am and barking at the stranger in the house. I’ve already made a list of things I’ll be doing different at home—walking outside with the kids more, spending less time at the gym and more time helping Emily. We have such a long list of things that we have wanted to do together as a family that we keep pushing off—and I’m not talking about going to Disney World, I’m talking going camping. Our lives have been so hectic for so long that we’ve gotten used to disappointment when it comes to family activities. That will change.


Early Present

Great news...I'm not sure why, or how, but out of the blue today the computer police suddenly gave up access to blogs here in Qatar. Not only that, but I now have access to my OWN blog, so I can upload pictures and make things a hell of a lot more interesting (at least to me) on here. I've already gone through and added a bunch of photos that I've come across in the past few months, and started my Blogroll to recognize those who have recognized me. What can I say...when you don't have a whole lot to keep yourself occupied, little victories such as this become HUGE. I'm going to take my camera out today and snap as many pics as I can to get them out on here as soon as possible.

The pic for today is the main courtyard outside the rec center, what we affectionately call "the bra." This is where we have any type of big function or concert, and when its not being used for that it's a place for people to go outside to drink their daily quota.


Monday, November 28, 2005

Standing Ovation

We had our “Operation Season’s Greetings” visit last night. The Air Force reserve band started great but kind of fizzled, and the New England cheerleaders were, well, cheerleaders, but there were only four of them there. I stayed for John Popper, former lead singer of Blues Traveler. Even though his band only had a couple of big hits he was phenomenal. That guy can make music with a harmonica like nothing I’ve ever heard before. When he played the National Anthem I got chills down my spine. Not wanting to ruin that I left before Trick Pony came onstage. I hear they're good, but I haven’t listened to country music for quite a while.

At one point in the show the MC came out to talk and give the standard “we’re proud of you, God Bless America” speech. She pointed out that we had some distinguished guests filling the first three rows—soldiers that had been injured up range and were on their way back home. The crowd (us, the non-injured soldiers that have it good here in Al Udeid) went nuts. We gave them a standing ovation that lasted about 10 minutes. It brought tears to my eyes.

I’m working my way up to going full-speed again in an effort of getting in great shape before I leave (remember, that goal I had 2 months ago??). I’ve managed to start running again and the leg seems to be handling it ok so I’m going to up my distance today. Keep your fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Christmas at the Citadel

Christmas décor is now going up everywhere. Unfortunately our compound isn’t exactly a neighborhood out of a Rockwell painting, so people have to improvise with where and how they hang their stuff. It reminds me a great deal of college. I went to The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina. Every holiday season we would hang decorations around each living section in the barracks (if you haven’t seen pictures, they are huge square sparse buildings that are open in the middle). Each company would be voted on as to the best décor. Again, it was pretty much up to the imagination of the cadets as to how to decorate and we usually got pretty creative. We’d have freshman cadets (we called them “knobs”) go room to room singing Christmas Carols, care packages would suddenly flood the mail room, and everyone was generally in a great mood for 5 weeks. When I think back to those times what I remember is more excitement of what the Christmas holiday would bring—a trip home to my parents and a break from the prison that we called school. I think that’s what generated the buzz. Short of when I was a kid, I have never been as filled with Christmas spirit as I was then. I think that’s kind of what may be happening here.

Christmas for us brings us within a month of going home. Given that I get to go home on the 15th of January, I have 50 days left as of today. When I showed up for my freshman year in August of 1990 I had 54 days until parent’s weekend, the first real happy time of those 9 months of hell. It seemed so long then, but doesn’t seem so long now. Especially seeing as I’ve already put in 80 days here so far.

The decorations on the CAOC Ops floor are particularly interesting because the lights are off here 24 hours a day (the picture is an unclass photo from AFLINK, with an arrow pointing to where I sit). The more that go up the cooler it looks since it is perpetually night in here. Just like at school, there really isn’t any rhyme or reason to it—everyone has decorated their own desk area in a different way. But it certainly brings spirits around here up a bit.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Bird

I normally don’t send more than one post per day, but I witnessed something right after I sent my last one that warranted two.

Something I always thought strange here was the lack of life. Vegetation, trees, animals, anything besides the little lizards and occasional rat or mouse (incidentally, the rats are roughly the size of squirrels). I first really noticed this when it occurred to me that there weren’t any birds around. Every once in a while I see one, but not that often.

As I was making my hourly hike to the bathroom this morning a group of officers were standing in a circle around something in the rocks and sand outside the CAOC. Above me on the roof were more birds (like maybe 4) than I had seen so far. When I went up to them there was a little baby bird, too small to fly, scared to death standing in the middle of them. He was the same color as the sand and had they not been there I doubt I would have even seen him. As I watched these four grown men were trying helplessly to coax this tiny bird out of the path and into the shade where he would be safer—the whole while the bird’s family screaming at the top of the roof. Eventually I think they got him to safety.

One thing that’s different for me here is a sense of purpose. I know the job I have at home is important (working strategy issues for South America) but it doesn’t really inspire meaning very much. I get the feeling from everyone here that there is an overwhelming sense of purpose, a feeling of doing something noble and right, and getting the job done. No one likes being here—but no one complains because they know that what we are doing here is vitally important to the rest of the world. As such everyone here has a giving mindset—that they are here to protect those that cannot protect themselves, whether they are American or Iraqi.

Or even a baby bird that can’t fly.

Care Package

Got a care package today from Emily. Along with some really good food we can’t get out here (like Hickory Farms stuff) I got the entire set of “Narnia” books by C. S. Lewis. I’d like to read them all before I leave so that I can go watch the movies with the kids when they come out sometime later this year. Sammy wanted to put something in, too, so he put one of his little spacemen action-figures in there, along with pictures that the kids had drawn or written. I know how attached Sammy is to his little spacemen so he sending this to me brought tears to my eyes. Also in the box was a letter from Sarah saying how she wanted me to come home. They sound so different on the phone when I talk to them.

Going back, I’m starting to think, is going to be a challenge. I’ve heard that some people have issues with it. Its going to be difficult to make the transition from working every day for 122 days straight (ok, I had one day off) working wartime issues to working my normal 0700-1600 Monday-Friday job and being a husband and father again. I, by no means, desire anything else but to do that—it’s just starting to present a little apprehension to me.

The base did a good job on Thanksgiving—we had the full spread in the chow hall: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, the works. It even cooled down a bit to feel a little more like fall instead of the middle of the summer. And I got to get out of here early enough to spend it with my friends. Instead of football I finally got to finish watching “Alias.” Only problem is now I don’t have any more TV series’ to watch. Guess I’ll start reading “Narnia.”

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


At home (or at least at my brother-in-law’s, where Em and the kids are) there’s a turkey probably in the sink defrosting right this second because they were late buying one like I am every year. For us? Just another day. I mentioned sending some congressmen out here for the holidays in a previous post and I should caveat that with “all” of them—since some do and are coming out into the theater for the holiday. But again—for the vast 99% majority of us, it’s just another day. At least I don’t have to brief the generals—it is a holiday, you know.

The Christmas decorations are starting to go up around here. Seems a little out of place considering that its currently 92 degrees outside. Looks good though. The busses started playing Christmas music while I’m going to work the other day. It’s funny, because at home I start to see Christmas stuff go up around 1 October now (I remember when you saw nothing until Thanksgiving, and then slowly things started going up) and think nothing of it. Everyone on the bus that day looked around as if the driver was nuts. It just doesn’t feel like a holiday out here. I guess that probably helps a bit—if it doesn’t feel like a holiday then you don’t miss it as much. But in my heart I know that Emily is probably watching the Macy’s Day parade with the kids waiting to see Santa come down the street.

This weekend they have some activities planned—the country group “Trick Pony” (never heard of them but I hear they’re good) and my favorite football team, the New England Patriots, has their cheerleading squad coming out. Should be fun. But I already got Sarah her signatures from the Washington Redskins when they came out in September. To be honest I’m not sure why they send cheerleaders out anyway—it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, but I think guys out here (myself included) need something to laugh about more than stoke hormones that are already out of whack from being stuck in a combat zone. So send us Drew Carey again (he was here last summer).

My attitude lately has sucked and I think you can tell from my blog so I apologize. I’m not really sure why. I need to work out more I think. The fact that all my buds are still on night shift and I’m now doing the day-shift thing doesn’t help.

Sending props out today to the uber-blogs that have posted/linked some of my posts on their sites: Blogs of War (http://www.blogsofwar.com/) , BlackFive (http://www.blackfive.net/), and Camp Katrina (http://www.campkatrina.typepad.com/) . Thank you again for all the email I’ve gotten recently. I think today as a Thanksgiving Day present hopefully my site will go over 1000 hits. About 950 more than I ever thought it would get.

For those of you reading my blog on Thanksgiving turn the computer off now and go watch some football. Or call a family member. Eat as much Turkey as is humanly possible to fit into your stomach and then go on a tryptofan power nap. If you’re from my home state of Massachusetts it’s currently 28 degrees and snowing so go for a walk. We’ll stay here, doing what we do.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In Children's Eyes

A common thing that gets sent out here are pictures drawn from children. The current batch is from a group of grade-schoolers from Aviano Air Base, Italy. The chow hall right now is lined with crayon-colored drawings of turkeys. It never ceases to amaze me what goes through the minds of children. Most of them are of turkeys begging for their lives, but some are all dressed up like Uncle Sam, one is of a “hulk-turkey”—a green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle looking thing with swords. Quite a 6-pack as well. Friends have had entire classes of kids mail them letters and drawings of encouragement. On the wall here we have two giant 15’ long sheets of paper covered with handprints and signatures saying “stay safe” or “hurry home.” All of these warm the heart.

Sarah and Sammy still only really understand that I should be home and I’m not. They don’t grasp anything about why I’m here or what I’m doing. I have a little R2D2 figure on my desk that I found here (no, I have no idea what it was doing in the CAOC) that is the same toy that Sammy carries in his hand or pocket everywhere he goes along with his stuffed dog he renamed as “Odie” when Emily got pregnant. He understands that. But even if I explained the things I’ve seen on the giant video screens here to them, I doubt they would ever really grasp what Daddy’s been doing.

I was looking at these the other day in the chow hall. Some had glimpses of war on them (planes flying overhead, camouflage, etc.) but they really have no idea. I was wondering when war becomes a reality for them. What are the kids up range doing or feeling as they have had war around them for pretty much their entire lives? Sammy was one year old when Operation Iraqi Freedom started. I can’t fathom having to protect him from insurgent attacks or falling bombs, without my own weapons of war to do it for me.

Man I’m bumming myself out here.

On a better note—I got quite a reaction from my post the other day. Honestly I just got tired of watching constant news reports of the “efforts” congress was undertaking. I got nothing but great emails and words of encouragement. I even had an offer to have a care package sent to us here in the CAOC by Mrs. Davis from Wisconsin (her blog: "One For the Road"). I think the majority of the traffic came from being mentioned on SMASH’s milblog ”Military Outpost." I appreciate both of them for recognizing my blog, and from the many readers that sent me email regarding that last post.

I broke my promises to you to make this more light-hearted. Maybe I’m just going through a phase.


Monday, November 21, 2005

My Views on the War (Rant)

Ok...before I begin I need to reiterate that this is strictly my opinion (like everything else on here) and my opinion only. I’ll surely hear from someone higher ranking than me about this one.

I’ve been watching what news I can about what is going on back home. In particular the political battles that have been waged over the past few months over how long we’ll be here, how many troops have died, what the original reasons were for us getting into the fight, etc. I’ve mentioned a few times on here what my overall feeling is about the American politics and how it seems to have been working for a long time, but I won’t go into depth on that here. What I do want to offer is my view as to why we’re here, when we need to go home, and how much the political wrangling has helped us over here.

I have honestly no idea what happened with the Intel issues or whatever it is that the media and politicians seem so hell-bent on focusing on before we got over here. I don’t know, or care, if Iraq had WMD in theater before we showed up. What I do know is that Saddam Hussein was a very bad man. He did very bad, unimaginable things to people. To women and children. To celebrate he would go out on his porch and fire his rifle in the air in a display of his power. To this day, he is still an arrogant, delusional, psychotic killer. That was enough for me to go to war over here. What a lot of people seem to forget is that after the first Gulf War, we never left. My buddies and I have been deploying over here, flying over here, and getting missiles shot at us over here for 15 years. With really no end in sight. So to hear that we had finally had enough and were going to go finish what we should have 15 years ago was a relief to me. WMD? Added bonus in my eyes.

The media hasn’t really gotten on board with the whole Global War on Terrorism issue. What they seem to not understand is that this isn’t an “Iraq War.” It is a front in a global war. People think that if we just up and go that we’ll be happy and safe at home and the reality is that that’s probably not true. These psycho’s are everywhere in the world. And we are going to have to find them and get them everywhere in the world. If the bullets stopped flying in Iraq today my guess is that we’d be off to somewhere else real soon, to fight the same war, against the same enemy, on a different front. During World War II there were many fronts, but you didn’t see politicians protesting the war in Japan, or women chaining themselves to the White House’s fence because they’re son died on Iwo Jima. They understood that we were fighting a battle that needed to be fought, and because we were the only ones that could do it. It wasn’t about American pride or arrogance or money, it was much simpler than that. Bad people in charge equals a bad world. I am not bragging about the US Military (as I will occasionally do)—I am merely stating a fact that we have the largest, most hi-tech, sophisticated fighting force on the planet. And as such, it is our moral obligation to fight the bad guys in this war. That’s, in my opinion, why we came here in the first place and why we’ll go on to the next front when it pops up.

Timeline for us to leave? That’s an easy one. I’ll start by disclaiming that again, I’m sitting in a cold CAOC hundreds of miles away from the marines (man they are so badass) fighting up range. I am, however, thousands of miles from a family that I love very much and miss with all of my heart. Every soldier up there has his opinion, and I would imagine that a few of them would really like to go home today. But I really think the vast majority of them, including the ones that have fought and died in this war (global war—not just Iraq) so far, would say the same thing I would to the president if I had the chance:

“Mr. Bush, I miss my home and my family. Bring us home when the job is done, and not one second sooner.”

Ok. The political wrangling. I saw somewhere that people believe in Washington that slamming the doors of congress for a closed session, or holding an emergency “should we come home today?” vote portrays to the American soldiers over here the undying support and loyalty of congress. What it actually makes me want to say is “grow up.” You want to support us? C’mon out here and say hi on Christmas Day when it will be just like every other day for us instead of staying with your family. Donate as much money as you can to the thousands of young guys up there that volunteered to be here even though they barely make enough money to feed their wife and baby waiting back home. I am so tired of seeing CNN, Fox, MSNBC, broadcasting whines and complaints about how much they know what is right for us. Think about it guys. How much do you think a guy wearing combat fatigues, a 60-pound rucksack, covered with mud and carrying a rifle gives a sh*t (sorry) about a bunch of people bickering and complaining in suits and ties? What cracks me up is that, like always, their opinions are conveniently split exactly down party lines. What a coincidence. You want to support us? Stop fighting. Unify like we claimed to have done after 9/11. I was never prouder of my government than when I saw all of them unite behind the president after the terrorist attacks. Where is that unity now? Drop the whole party line issue and vote/speak your conscience. Watching this on TV from over here is heartbreaking because it doesn’t portray support, it portrays a divided group back home that can’t decide if what we’re fighting for is worth it.

Sorry for the ramble—didn’t mean it to go on this far. I’ll cheer it up a bit for tomorrow.


Saturday, November 19, 2005

In the Hot Zone

Yahoo has picked up following a journalist in Iraq as he wreites his blog about it. I’m not sure if I’ve already mentioned it but it’s called “In the Hot Zone." It’s a pretty amazing website. Here’s a quote by geer1472 posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2005 3:46 PM ET:

I speak of first hand knowledge for I am here, in the middle of a desert that has little change from that which was once Babylon. The days are hot and long. The missions
seem to come one right after the other. I still wake up every day with the same
drive and determination to do my part. We fight our battles on foreign soils so
that freedom has a meaning. I am proud of who I am and of the selfless service I
feel compelled to give. I left a beautiful wife and 3 boys at home to come here
and fight on this ground so that my children and their children will not have to
come here and do this. Democracy will prevail. Once it is in place you will see
that it will spread. With democracy comes freedom. Before I step off this post I
promise to you that both Afghanistan and Iraq will have a democracy in place. We can not sit on our haunches and protect our borders from terrorism. We have to be here doing what we are doing. Support your troops and they will do great things by you.

This is from a guy who is there in the heat. He doesn’t have a comfortable bed or rec center like I do, and words like this come from him. This is why we’ll win this eventually. Because there are people up there like him. Any time I, or anyone else, consider complaining about conditions or being away from family, I need to read that quote again.

God Bless America.


Friday, November 18, 2005


When I got up this morning in the dark I looked out and saw probably the most ass-kicking thunderstorm I’ve seen in years somewhere out over the Persian Gulf. It was one of those Christmas-tree like boomers—the ones that just never stop flashing. It was pretty ominous, especially out here in the desert. The wind was blowing pretty good and the temperature had dropped significantly. By lunchtime I saw something that haven’t seen here before.


The last time I saw rain was riding my Harley home from work for the last time before I left. I had managed to go for four months without getting a drop on me but Mother Nature took all four months worth out on me at once. That was September 10th. Today is November 18th. 69 days without seeing a drop. I’m fairly certain that’s a record for me. The rain that finally came down here today was more of a mist than a rain, but it was big enough to leave small craters in the sand everywhere. From what I understand the rains here create a lot of havoc on the base. Since it never rains, people get pretty used to it. There’s posters outside, cracks in the buildings, some places even have gym equipment set up outside. You would think that if it rained pretty well here, it would just run-off or sink in like it does in Texas. Nope. It sinks about an inch below the surface, creating the nastiest mud and muck. This in turn gets tracked everywhere, especially inside. The cracks in the buildings that usually no one cares about suddenly become a major issue.

Sounds like another great argument for Gatorade bottle use.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


To those of you that have written me out here thank you very much. It’s very encouraging to know that there are people back Stateside that are paying attention to this stuff, especially with the political environment that is in existence right now. I haven’t a clue as to how many hits the site has gotten, or how many people are reading, since I can’t access the site from here. But an occasional email sent my way has been very uplifting. The novelty of having a family member overseas (except for Emily, who I talk to almost every day) has worn off as the rest of my family is pretty involved with their own lives and problems right now. As a result, I don’t get much word from home. In case it’s not on here, my email address over here is:


Thanks again—I really appreciate the words of encouragement.


Moving into the new job as Deputy DCO has its perks—hours slightly shorter, get to see the sun once in a while, people in high places getting to know who I am (not sure if that’s actually a perk or not). But it certainly had a price: screwing up before, all I had to do was answer to another Major with a “my bad” and it was taken care of. The other day I briefed a room with a lot of rank in it: a 3-star, 2-star, four 1-stars, twelve Colonels, about 15 Lt Col’s, and me and the other Major I brief with. Going with a “my bad” in that situation is not really an option. Another downfall is lack of interaction with anyone else. My buds and I on the night shift had become very close over the last couple of months. Now I’m in my own little cubby hole with not a whole lot of people to hang out with. So after work I go to the gym, and then go home for about 6 hours. Gets kinda boring.

To combat the boredom I’ve come up with a few activities—primarily watching TV series on DVD. My sister is in love with “Alias,” which I don’t get to see at home much due to the kids schedule and the fact that the 53” widescreen TV that was originally bought for some serious Playstation games now has “Spongebob Squarepants” and “Catscratch” permanently on it. So I started off by watching that and in the past couple of months have managed to see every single episode of the series (yes, that 126 episodes). To get me out the enlisted guys I work with convinced me, finally, last night to go out with them to the rec center for a game of Bingo.

Now I’ve never actually played Bingo before. They have it here like 6 times a week and they actually hand out some decent prizes. I heard they were giving away Playstation Portables, so I figured it would be worth a shot. The only problem is that, in my arrogance, every time I’ve seen a game going on (as I pass through to get my 1 of 3 gin and tonics of the day) I have always been amazed at the level of dorkness that permeated the room. So until last night, I avoided the activity like the plague. But in the interest of not becoming permanently attached to my bed (we don’t have chairs) I caved last night to the peer pressure. Good call.

I truly had a blast. First of all, my buddy and I had a great time making fun of the guy up front calling out the numbers, a Latino elderly gentleman who had a lisp. So when he would call “O Thixty Thix” we almost couldn’t mark it off because we were falling off of our chairs. Or when another guy would say “N, dinner for two,” and I would ask what number it was to find out that it was, in fact, “N 69,” the immature humor started to run rampant. In the end, I ended up winning a boom box on my first time out. I think I’m going to donate it to Toys for Tots, but it may have only a 220V plug on it. Maybe they have Toys for Tots out here in the desert.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


One of the more frustrating facts of life around here is the availability of the common bathroom. The nearest one to my desk at work is a 5 minute walk away, outside and across the street. The nearest one to my room is about 200 yards outside the front door of the trailer that I and 35 of my closest friends call home at this point (small building on the right in the picture). It can create for interesting ways to avoid the walk, but they tend to be pretty gross. So…I try to suck it up and do the walk of shame at 2am when I need to.

The showers are in the same little hooch, so in order to shower you have to get your crap (glow belt, ID card, towel, flip flops, toiletry kit, sunglasses if its sunny out, cell phone if you get lost) and wander down to the communal facilities. You would imagine that they’d be particularly clean, since the cleaning crew (locals dressed in blue jumpsuits—I always joke that they look like a NASA shuttle crew—cue “Right Stuff” theme) pretty much LIVES in these places. I’ve tried mixing it up—2100, 0300, 1400, it never fails. Just as I turn the water on, I hear the banging and “Ayyy ya yaaa” of the locals beginning their cleaning ritual. Doesn’t matter. The place is still nasty anyway.

When I head to the showers, for ease of changing, I wear just gym shorts…ala “commando.” This one particular night I wake up in the dark, and I gotta go…bad. So I go through the motions, glow belt, snack for the trip, etc. and wander down the hall. About halfway down the hall I realize that I am already “commando,” which I didn’t remember setting before crawling into bed. I look down and I’m wearing my black gym shorts, so I’m good. About 30 feet out the door and down the steps (standing on the sidewalk) I realize that I didn’t actually bring any black gym shorts. Yes, I am standing on the sidewalk, glow belt and all, in my underwear. Serious calls to nature aside, I humped it back inside, and down the well-lit hallway, rather quickly. Maybe all those guys peeing in the Gatorade bottles have a point.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Celestial Bodies

Well apparently I will never be an author. I think it would take me my entire life to write a novel. Since I am officially half-way there, I thought it would be a good time for an update.

Occasionally here there are moments that I feel further away from home than I ever have been (which geographically, I am, but that’s not the point). I was walking the other day during my shift and the moon above was brighter than I think I have ever seen it. Like every other night, I said “hi moon” to it like my kids have done since they could speak. When the sun and moon are near the horizon though, they appear very ominous. I witnessed a “moonrise” some time back, which I don’t think I have ever done before, in which a deep orange moon that looked larger than a planet slowly rose above the desert. It was awe-inspiring. And the sun, when it goes below about an hour before sunset, gets a huge halo that virtually blocks any view of the sun and sets the entire sky on fire. I think it might be the dust in the air, I’m not sure. But I have seen sunsets all over the world and nothing looks quite like this.

Over the past month or so a lot has happened to me here. I hurt my leg, which kind of nixed any running that I was doing. This, in turn, took a toll on lifting weights and finally working out altogether stopped. Combined with a constant sleepiness and a new addiction to watching TV Series on DVD, this doesn’t bode well for the 190 pound stud that I wanted to be when I got home. The leg appears to be healthy now so hopefully I can garner up enough motivation top get back in there in the next few days. My job changed dramatically, too—first the night shift reports cake-walk that I had was discovered and I was threatened with a move to day-shift which would take me away from the relatively close friends I’ve developed over the past 2 months. So I buckled down and turned it into a “real job” in which I actually was involved in the day-to-day operations in the war. Though it was significantly more work, I was really digging it because I was doing a more important thing than just cutting and pasting numbers for a few hours a day. Unfortunately, what normally happens to me when I do this happened—I was moved anyway since I was doing a good job. So now I am where I was trying to avoid going—day shift. Its definitely a promotion; I’m 2nd in command of the entire CAOC floor, working for the Director of Combat Operations. I get to brief the generals every day (which can be a bit unsettling), and instead of making slideshows now I edit and brief them. The job should only last for roughly a month, when the “real” deputy DCO comes back from his R&R in the States.

On the family side quite a bit has been happening as well. I got to hear Odie’s heartbeat over the telephone. The doctor thought that Emily was going to be having twins (which I was really excited about) but that proved to be false. We did, however, find out that we are having a boy—two days before my sister Katie found out that she was having a boy as well. I feel bad for Sarah, who out of 5 siblings and cousins only has one girl to play with, but she got over the initial disappointment relatively quickly. My parents have finally completed their move to St. Louis and seem to be doing well, with my Dad firmly set in his new job. The kids have started playing soccer again and Sarah has become a full-fledged brownie with the girl scouts. All in all, with the exception that Emily seriously needs a vacation, things seem to be going well on the home front.

As for me, I am ready to get out of here. I still have absolutely no room to complain, as the set-up here is very nice in comparison to anywhere else I could be deployed to. Time was going by very rapidly until around 1 November, when I first realized that we were almost half-way there. For some reason since then things have come to a sudden halt and I feel like time is dragging slowly by. I just miss my kids very much, that’s all.

I know I’ve said this before but I’ll try to make more regular updates. I’m not sure if anyone is even reading this but the point is for Odie to have an idea of what I was doing while he was in his Mom’s belly. Emotionally I’ve seen a lot here as to what we’re doing uprange and it makes me sad that there’s a war going on. I could get into some big political discussions about it but I’ll save that for another time.