Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: halloween

Over Here – Day 433

Happy Halloween, everyone. Guess what I’m going as this year? A soldier! Yeah, pretty original, don’t you think? This time last year, I was on the first day of my four-day pass to Phoenix. One year. Three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days. The time it takes for our little blue, wet world to travel around the Sun. In a few days, I will be on my way home. Physicists and philosophers have long tried to understand the perception of time. But neither arcane equations nor metaphors have actually been able to fully explain the human perception of time. I have come to understand that over the past year. It is strange when a year can seem both interminable and fleeting at the same time. I remember the day I got here, like it was yesterday. It was a cool December afternoon and we were waiting at Baghdad International Airport for the old unit to pick us up. I guess the date of our departure was so far off in the future, obscured by the clichéed “mists of time” so to speak, that I didn’t even think about it. Or, maybe it was because it was so far off, that I didn’t want to think about it. Whatever the reason, I did acknowledge our departure was a very long way off. I set myself little “markers” during the year. Chronological mile-markers, if you will. Some of them were totally random, meaningless to others, but of great import to me. For example, on my second day in Iraq, we made our way to the International Zone, to go to FOB Union III where we thought we would be staying. As I grabbed my stuff and made my way to our living quarters, I caught a glimpse of some writing on a dry-erase board. It said, “10 weeks”. 10 weeks – a nice, round number. Although it seemed like a long way off then, I remember thinking how it would feel when we were down to 10 weeks. My next “mile-marker” was my leave date, which was in the first week of May. My leave was situated nicely in the middle of my deployment and so it was a sort of halfway point too. The marker after that was for when we were down to a hundred days, because after that, we would be down to double-digits – woohoo. Then I had “83 days”, because that’s how many days our SSA had left (they had come to Iraq a month before we had) when we were at a hundred-and-something days. My second-to-last marker was for 10 days, because after that, we’d be down to single digits. Now that’s a REAL reason to celebrate! And last, but by no certain means, least is our actual day of departure. Suffices to say that it’s only a few days away! Now when I look back, the whole year looks like it just sped by. I think a year seems like a year because of the different things we do. Different things that happen. We set up “mile markers” in our head so we can think back to “the totally crazy party back in February where I got totally wasted”, or “oh man, Spring Break”, or “Oh yeah, that’s when I went up to meet my family” and so on and so forth. But over here, there really isn’t much to distinguish one day from the other. I did the same thing over and over again, and so there was absolutely nothing to mark the passage of time. I do remember the individual moments when I would wistfully stare at the “Time Tracker” spreadsheet that we had, wishing that time would move faster, but at the same time it does seem like it sped by. The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” doesn’t really seem to fit here. I can’t really say I “had fun”. It wasn’t all that bad, but it really wasn’t “fun”. Oh well. At any rate, I’m just glad that it’s almost over.

The past few weeks haven’t been all that bad, really. The new unit came in a few weeks ago and we slowly started handing over ownership and responsibility for our various missions, to them. I also started doing something that I should have started a long time ago. They have Latin Dancing on base at many locations. They have one (and by having one, I mean in the most liberal sense of the phrase) at the Division MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) Center. It’s on Thursday nights, and there never has been a huge turnout. I went to this one because it was close to our pad. But the really good one, was the one on Camp Slayer (Saturdays at 2000. 8 pm for you civilian types). It’s a bit of drive from where I live, so I never really tried to go over there. But I decided to try it out last month and I didn’t regret it at all. The only thing I regretted was not going there earlier. There is a huge turnout – the dance floor is positively crowded. It reminded me of the old “Bash on Ash” (A club that used to be on Mill and Ash in Tempe) days! It also gave me a chance to unwind and do something different. Usually, when I tell my fellow soldiers that I enjoy Latin Dancing, I am met with humorous intrigue, quickly followed by a few lighthearted jabs. As a result, I am not really in the company of a lot of people who really enjoy the activity. So it was pretty neat when I met new people who enjoy dancing as much as I do. Never did I realize that there would be this much interest in this activity in Iraq. In fact, I was expecting a year of no dancing at all. I guess I was wrong. I was mistaken for a Puerto Rican more than once. It usually happens when someone approaches me and rattles off something in Spanish. When I tell them I don’t speak Spanish, they are often confused. I guess they don’t meet too many Indians who can Salsa or Bachata! I had my last “Latin Nite” last Saturday, and I felt a little sad but then I realized that I’d be doing more than enough dancing when I get back. In fact, Johanna told me that I’d have to dance so much that I wouldn’t be able to feel my feet. Making up for lost time, I guess.

Right now, almost all of us are in the Tents. We moved in two weeks ago. I sold all my stuff, and shipped a bunch of stuff home too. It’s not too bad in the tents. Since we don’t have too much to do now, we basically sleep in, read, or watch movies. I think it’s rest that all of us deserve!

That’s about it for now. The next time I write, I will most probably be in CONUS (Continental United States). Oh, and here are the pictures I promised:

Amber and I
Amber (SGT Brinton, USMC) and I at Camp Slayer on Latin Nite. She’s an excellent dancer; a great follow. Definitely one of the better ladies I’ve danced with.

HQ Ammo
A bunch of ammo!

Comforting Embrace
A really touching picture I saw in Stars and Stripes. Insurgents (so-called “freedom fighters”) killed the baby girl’s father and mother, before shooting her in the head. She’s slowly recovering in the hospital keeps crying and moaning all the time. The Air Force Chief Master Sergeant in the picture is the only one who can comfort her.

Customs
Waiting for our boxes to get inspected by Customs personnel.

Dora and I
Dora. One of the people I met while dancing at Camp Slayer.

Halloween Skeleton
Our Halloween decoration at the Motor Pool.

Camouflage Humvee Cover
Camouflage Cover for our Humvee

Card Page One
We get a lot of cards from kids. SGT Laning gets some strange ones…

Card Page Two
Like I said, strange…

Motorpool Mouse
We had a rodent problem in the Motorpool. They were getting fat off our food and off creamer. We finally caught one of them.

Palmer and Dahlseid
SGT Dahlseid and SPC Palmer installing the camouflage cover on the humvee.

Latin Nite at Slayer
Latin Nite at Slayer

More Latin Nite at Slayer
More Latin Nite at Slayer

Slayer Salsa Crew
Slayer Salsa Crew

Mmmm Steak
We look forward to Seak Night (Tuesdays) with great anticipation.

More Steak
Mmmm… More Steak!

Titty Twister
Ouch.

Sunset
Another Iraqi Sunset.

Another Sunset
As you can tell, I really like taking pictures of sunsets.

Tent, Post Storm
We have thunderstorms here, just like the ones in Arizona. This tent didn’t fare too well after a particularly strong one.

The Plane
SPC Ortiz: “The Plane! The Plane!”

Over Here – Day 75

This is going to be a bit of a long one, with a bunch of pictures too! I’ll start off with where I left off last time. We got to Yakima on the 21st, which was a Friday. It was good seeing everyone in my section after a week and of course, they were giving me crap about having an easy time back in the barracks. The maintenance section didn’t have much going on other than Weapons Guard, it seemed, and the shifts were six hours long too. The rest of the week was pretty slow. I didn’t have much to do than updating some Excel spreadsheets, and driving around Humvees. We weren’t allowed any alcohol at all, except for three nights where the commander let us have some at the Oasis Club that’s on base. The last two days were a little hectic, with us having to pack all our stuff up, clean vehicles and equipment and turn them in. Yakima reminded me of home, because the weather was cool and dry and the area was essentially a desert. Never have I been happier to see desolation. I had been getting sick of trees.

While we were at Yakima, we were informed of a new “Leave policy”. Apparently we wouldn’t be getting any leave at all to go home, before we left for Iraq. Needless to say, we were pretty bummed out. However, things in the Army change by the minute, and so the next day we were informed that we would be getting a four-day pass, where we were authorized to go home. I booked my ticket that same night.

Once we got back to the barracks, we unloaded all our equipment. That same night, we were driven over to the airport. There, Sergeant Eagleman, PFC Silva and I first checked out the USO, but decided against staying there. We actually decided to get a hotel since it would end up being pretty cheap with the cost being split amongst the three of us. We left all our stuff at the hotel room, grabbed something to eat, and then headed out to Downtown Seattle. The first club we headed out to was closing down, so we headed to another bar across the street. We had a couple of beers, met some pretty ladies and then took the “Party Bus” back to the airport. From the airport, there was a free shuttle to the Hotel. We took an hour-long nap, and then headed to the airport to take our flight to Phoenix. I’d say about 50-60 people from our company were on that flight. The pilot even welcomed us on the plane through the intercom since they could tell we were from the Army by our distinctive haircuts.

I reached Phoenix on the morning of the 31st, and my sister was there to pick me up. It felt absolutely great to be back home. The weather was just gorgeous and it was just nice being in good old Arizona again. My dog Honey was elated to see me again, and she was going crazy with happiness. First we ran some errands, and then headed home. There, we got ready to go to Josh’s place in Tempe, so that we could all go to Mill Avenue for Halloween. I didn’t have a new costume, so I wore my Star Trek costume from last year. We met up at Josh’s had a couple of beers, and then headed over to Mill. Mill was crazy as usual, and there were some pretty neat costumes this year. One I saw, was a pretty good imitation of Johnny Depp‘s character in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow. We headed to The Tavern, where more beer and shots of Tequila were had. The night was pretty crazy, and I ended up crashing at Josh’s place. The rest of my trip in Phoenix was pretty hectic – my sister and I had to take stuff at the house our parents just bought, and then I had to run around and meet all my friends. The days went by pretty quick, and before I knew it, I had to go back to Ft. Louis. The entire trip was bittersweet, because I knew that going to Phoenix meant I would have to leave. However, it was completely worth it. I got to hang out with my family and friends and got to see Arizona one last time before I head out to Iraq. I had a really great time, and I was very happy while I was there. I want to thank everyone for showing me a great time, and showing me that I am loved and missed.

The trip back home was alright, and I spent most of the time watching the in-flight movie, and listening to music. I got back to base to be greated by really unpleasant wet, and cold weather. It was a complete letdown from the gorgeous weather in Phoenix. In fact, yesterday was the only day it didn’t rain. It rained for every single day since I got back until the day before yesterday. I’ve been bundling myself up in all sorts of cold-weather gear to get through this absolutely disgusting weather.

The training we’ve been going through for the past few days has to do with Detainee Ops. This means anything having to do with handling Detainees, such as your interaction with them in a Detainee Camp, searching detainees, Riot Control, and things of that nature. The Army has put a lot of time and money into this program to train soldiers so that another Abu Gharaib doesn’t happen. The training is pretty good, and I probably wouldn’t mind it as much if it wasn’t for this beastly cold.

The other major information that I have right now is our date of departure. I found out about this barely a few hours ago. I’m leaving on the 19th to Kuwait. We should be there for a while, and after that we’ll go to Iraq. We should be there for about a year, and then head back about the date we left, next year. Mark your calendars! I’m actually pretty excited because the sooner I get there, the sooner I can get back. I’m pretty sick of Ft. Louis (the terrible weather doesn’t make it any easier) and I just want to go downrange and get my job done. I’m not sure when we will get internet access, or access to phones and such, so I’m not sure when I will be able to contact you all again. Rest assured, I will contact you as soon as I can.

Oh yes, and I have to say this. I’ve got Mysql, PHP and Apache installed on my laptop, and I took a complete dump of my website and set it up on the laptop. So I can continue to develop even if I don’t have internet access. Woohoo! Oh yeah, and if you’re wondering about the ungodly time of the journal entry, it’s because I’m on guard duty.

This is all I have for right now. The next time I write, it will probably be from Iraq. Take care, and as always, here are some pictures. I will be adding some more to this entry since I haven’t downloaded them all from my camera yet, but this is what I have for now:

Yakima Motorpool
Motorpool in Yakima. The hill in the background is called Squaw Tit. No joke.

HQ Platoon
Headquarters leads the way HOOAH!

Roughnecks
1/180th FA Roughnecks!

Me with 240B
That’s me, holding a 240B.

The next few shots are my, ahem, “artistic” shots.

Pipedream Clear
Pipedream: Clear

Pipedream Cloudy
Pipedream: Cloudy

Pipedream BW
Pipedream: B&W

Pipedream Sepia
Pipedream: Sepia

Rochelle and I
Rochelle and I in downtown Seattle

Halloween Group 1
L-R:Me, Nasser, Shareen, Yasmin, Keerthi

Rachna and I
Rachna and I

Sakeena, Johanna and I
L-R: Me, Sakeena, Johanna

My sister and I
My sister and I

Hemina and I
Hemina and I

Halloween Group 2
L-R: Josh, Loretto, Me, Daniella

Daniella and I
Daniella and I

Loretto and I
Loretto and I

Halloween Group 3
Top L-R: Laura, Michael, Carlos
Bottom L-R: Lance, Keerthi, Me, Jenny, Andreas

Work, Moving, Halloween, Unknown Girlfriend

So it’s October. I should be moving to my house this month if everything goes well. I am not looking forward to moving. I hate moving. I really wish we had Star Trek transporters. I could just transport all my stuff over there. Seriously.

What else? Work is cool. I am writing some neat perl scripts and pretty soon I think I might get to do some C. Sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t enjoy my job so much. Most people don’t. What if this means I will hate it a lot later? I really should stop being so paranoid and suspicious. Yeah so that’s pretty much what’s happening at work. It’s fun and I work with a great bunch of people.

I can’t wait for Halloween. I don’t know if I posted this before, but I got myself a Halloween costume. It’s a DS9 Star Trek Costume. Captain Sisko’s, so it’s the command uniform (red shoulder). I even got a communicator that beeps and says “Bridge Here, Status Report” when you press it. It sounds like Worf, or some dude who’s voice has been slowed down, or maybe the battery on the thing is dying. Yeah, so this whole thing screams “NERD!”. I don’t care. Hey, I enjoy it and it’s fun for me. If it pisses you off, then I don’t give a crap.

I have an unknown girlfriend. I have no idea who this girl is. If any of you see her, please tell her to call me. Or maybe she expects me to call her seeing as I have never called her. Everyone seems to think I have a girlfriend. They keep asking me about my “girlfriend” or “girlfriends”. I can only give them a blank look and go “Uhhh… girl… who?”.

That’s pretty much it.

More Photos

I’ve added more photos to the Halloween 2003 Album and also some to the Garba 2003 album.

New Album

I’ve got pictures from Halloween uploaded. Biggest album ever. 34 pictures! Enjoy!

Sadhana… happy? 😉

Halloween

Halloween was okay. It didn’t start off good. My roommate Michael was in an accident on his way to work. Thankfully, he’s alright. But he doesn’t know if his jeep is going to make it. Which really sucks, coz his jeep is awesome, and it means a lot to him. Should have gone out on Mill… there were a lot of hot girls there… me and my buddy Suhrid went down there at about 1 in the morning. It was still fun.

For the hell of it, my buddy Omar and I (actually this was all Mustapha’s idea) went trick or treating to two houses with paper bags on our heads. Omar went first and the guy there was like “Aren’t you too old to be trick or treating?”. I went to this other house where the lady looked at me all wierd and asked “What are you supposed to be?” so I was like “Umm… Paper uhh… Bag Head Man.” It was pretty funny. However, the lady only gave me one lollipop. How lame is that? I have drill this weekend. My CSE421 homework is hard as hell and it is due on Monday…

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