Saturday, September 30, 2006


Although I’ve tried to stop calendar watching for a while, I couldn’t help but check on my deployment progress today.


The biggest thing to note is that I have now been away from home for 180 days.  That’s significant because it’s the standard length of usual Navy deployments, and the longest consecutive period that I’ve been away from my family.  So I’m charting new waters here, to look at it nautically.  On the bright side, I’m not too far away from my R&R leave, so that little countdown is keeping me focused ahead, rather than how long I’ve been here.


Along with that key number, tomorrow also starts a new month, and the seventh-consecutive month of combat zone/tax-free pay, another new record for me.  At least this one is nicer to think about and sock money away in the bank.  Although, perhaps that extra money and the upcoming R&R leave might collide somehow… we’ll see.


And as a final note, October 1 is the end of daylight saving time here in Iraq.  I’ll get an extra hour of sleep tonight as we “fall back” to only 3 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.  And I’ll be sure to use that extra hour since I’m staying up late tonight to watch Navy vs. U-Conn.  Go Navy!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Support For The Troops

Today our command forwarded us a list of websites which offer support of military member and their families. It's no accident that the list is topped by an organization which support the families back home... they are the true heroes. The rest of us get to have fun doing our military jobs, just in a unique environment.

Please visit these sites and, if you feel led to, give support to a soldier, sailor, airman, or their families!

Free computers for spouses or parents of deployed soldier in ranks E1 - E5.

Official Defense Department site with links to ways to give support

Any Soldier: To sign up for sponsoring soldier care packages for theater.

Free phone cards.

Free shoebox care package.

Free cookies.

Lowest airfare available.

Free care packages.

Free air travel for Emergency Leave, and for the family members of injured soldiers to travel to Medical facility.

Airline discounts for R & R.

Free books, DVD's, CD's.

Free care packages (your family member signs up to have sent to you).

Free care packages.

Get adopted to receive stuff.

Free gifts and care packages.

Free shipping/packing materials for shipping to troops.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Doctor's Orders

I realized (after prompting!) that I haven’t made a post in three days.  Part of that is because life got a little busy on Tuesday.  And just when things started to settle down, I came down with whatever sickness is floating around.  I’ve been pretty miserable for the past two days, but a visit to sick call today got me some nice drugs and I’m feeling much better.  I’m still working on the “plenty of rest and lots of fluids” orders.  It’s not hard at all to follow orders to rest when you’re dog tired all the time.  I’m optimistic that things will improve tomorrow.


Otherwise, life is pretty much the same stuff, different day.  Each day brings small little victories, amidst lots of mediocrity.  But the little things add up.


I’m too tired (assisted by medication… they told me not to drive… I laughed) to write much more, so I think I’ll go back to that plenty of rest routine.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Cutting it too close

One of the first things I mentioned about Al Asad was that it was a Marine base, primarily.  While there’s a significant Army (and even Navy, mostly Seabee) presence here, Marines are plentiful.  And I think they have different haircut standards than the Army.  They tend to cut their hair shorter, the famous “high and tight.”


I made the mistake today of going to the barber, and answering my usual “just trim it short around the ears and back”.  When you’re going as bald as I am, you really don’t put much thought into how to order up your haircut.  You just sit in the chair and take what’s coming.  It’s not like there’s much hair to do anything with.


Well, today’s $3 cut with the above instructions got me a nice Marine high and tight.  Well, at least the tight part, since I don’t have the high part to back it up.  I think it looks a little odd, but nobody else seems to think it’s that bad.  At least it keeps my head more cool as the hot days are coming back briefly.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Ramadan started... or did it?

I’m not sure whether I should be amused or worried, but apparently there are at least two different schedules being followed for Ramadan now.  I mentioned in my last post that the first sighting of the crescent moon in the evening would signal the start of Ramadan the next day.  Of course, it’s tricky to catch it before it immediately sets.  Apparently the Sunni Muslims had the necessary two clerics see the moon and declare that Ramadan began Saturday.  The Sunni, of course, must not have been watching as carefully, and claim that Ramadan starts Sunday.


In other news, Army won their game this weekend and Navy lost, so the deputy commanding officer is going to have a whole week to make fun of me.  At least I can be hopeful that the imminent Bronco game will turn out better.  It hasn’t started yet as of this posting.. .they will be showing it tape delayed tomorrow and I’m debating whether I want to know the results or not.  Guess it could save on a little bit of stress.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

All right, I admit there are still 93 shopping days until Christmas, but the subject refers to the fact that I managed to pick up (free) a lovely 24-inch tall tree from someone who’s getting ready to head home.  I’ll be prepared for the holiday season when it arrives!


Today’s more important calendar event, immediately following yesterday’s new moon, is the first sighting of the crescent moon marking the beginning of the month of Ramadan.  In previous years, this has had an effect on violence around here, so obviously we are paying close attention to it.


It’s been a month since I first found out about shifting bases, and that month has seemed to go by much more quickly than those before.  I guess there’s some truth to the idea that keeping interested and busy helps pass the time.  In that vein I’m getting involved in yet another fun (for me) and useful (for the military) analysis and programming project.  If nothing else, this tour is helping me expand my skills that might be of use later.  Can’t complain too much about that!


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Out of Phase

The last few nights have been very dark, and tonight’s no exception, as it’s the new moon.  A flashlight is an absolute necessity if you want to avoid stubbing your toe on a misplaced paving tile or smacking into a barrier you forgot was between your room and the latrines.  The good news is that once your eyes are adjusted to the light outside, you can see a whole lot of stars.  Makes you appreciate how pretty the night sky must have been before the industrial age and widespread electricity.


Speaking of electricity, I just got my hands on a power converter.  Power here runs 220V and 50 Hz, and can fry electronics meant to run on the US 110V/60Hz system.  Sometimes it doesn’t fry things, but people with electrically powered alarm clocks complain that they lose 10 minutes every hour.  One soldier I talked to had perfected the art of setting the time ahead at night so that it would be exactly right when his alarm clock went off.


Oh, and the power converter is to power my new TV and Refrigerator!  A little patience paid off, when I found a bunch of people getting ready to head home, and offering to sell their stuff.  Back to the comfortable life, and I can even watch Bronco games from my own room now!


The new moon and astronomical objects in general remind me that tomorrow’s the first day of Autumn.  I can mark another whole season off my calendar.  And that means I’m quite close to the halfway mark.  Of course, I’m not counting down to the end, yet.  I’m just counting down to my R&R leave.  Much closer, and getting closer every day!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

At the Battle of Trafalgar (now)

To prove that it's impossible to fight a politically correct war:


Nelson: "Order the signal, Hardy."

Hardy: "Aye, aye sir."

Nelson: "Hold on, that's not what I dictated to the signal officer. What's the meaning of this?"

Hardy: "Sorry sir?"

Nelson (reading aloud): "England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability". "What gobbledygook is this?"

Hardy: "Admiralty policy, I'm afraid, sir. We're an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil's own job getting 'England' past the censors, lest it be considered racist."

Nelson: "Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco."

Hardy: "Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments."

Nelson: "In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the main brace to steel the men before battle."

Hardy: "The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. Its part of the Government's policy on binge drinking."

Nelson: "Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we'd better get on with it. Full speed ahead."

Hardy: "I think you'll find that there's a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water."

Nelson: "Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow's nest, please."

Hardy: "That won't be possible, sir."

Nelson: "What?"

Hardy: "Health and safety have closed the crow's nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder doesn't meet regulations. They won't let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected."

Nelson: "Then get me the ship's carpenter without delay, Hardy."

Hardy: "He's busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo'c'sle Admiral."

Nelson: "Wheelchair access? I've never heard anything so absurd."

Hardy: "Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled."

Nelson: "Differently abled? I've only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn't rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card."

Hardy: "Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency."

Nelson: "Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons."

Hardy: "A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won't let the crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don't want anyone breathing in too much salt - haven't you seen the adverts?"

Nelson: "I've never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy."

Hardy: "The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral."

Nelson: "What? This is mutiny."

Hardy: "It's not that, sir. It's just that they're afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There's a couple of legal aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks."

Nelson: "Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?"

Hardy: "Actually, sir, we're not."

Nelson: "We're not?"

Hardy: "No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn't even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation."

Nelson: "But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil."

Hardy: "I wouldn't let the ship's diversity coordinator hear you saying that sir. You'll be up on disciplinary."

Nelson: "You must consider every man an enemy who speaks ill of your King."

Hardy: "Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest; it's the rules."

Nelson: "Don't tell me - health and safety. Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?"

Hardy: "As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu! And there's a ban on corporal punishment."

Nelson: "What about sodomy?"

Hardy: "I believe it's still allowed, sir."

Nelson: "In that case ...kiss me, Hardy."

Manic Monday

After a relaxing day on Sunday, I guess I was ready to get back to work.  A good thing, because the day seemed to bring a never-ending series of little brush fires to put out.  But nothing was big enough that I couldn’t handle it in a few hours and move on, it just delayed my larger scale plans a bit.  Not that I’m complaining.  It’s nice having work to do to pass the time.


My lovely computer connectivity from my room seems to have dropped off about an hour ago, one of the disadvantages of sharing a connection, so I’m returning to the back-up email method of making my post.  If things work the way I expect them to, it’ll get sent whenever the connection is finally restored, even if I’ve long since gone to bed.  In the meantime, I do have books to read and movies to watch!  Funny how those go to the wayside when I have the opportunity to chat with my wife.




Monday, September 18, 2006

Game Day

I had a very relaxing Sunday. Other than church in the morning, and a couple of meals, I was able to catch up on a few little projects and still have a lot of time to just kick back.

I didn't get a chance to see Navy whip up on Stanford, but the results were definitely pleasing. And although Army lost a valiant effort to win on the last play, I'm impressed how well they did against Texas A&M. I should be worried about my bet.

I had hoped to watch the Bronco vs. Chiefs game, but unfortunately with the time zones as they are, the game is just now starting and it's after midnight. I'll just have to read about it in the morning. Maybe if I'm not watching, they won't turn the ball over as often as they did last week... one can hope?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Dust in the Wind III

Oops. Things have gotten a little busy the past couple of days, and I forgot to do yesterday's post. Ironic that as soon as I get internet in my room and can easily post daily, I end up not taking the time to post.

Today was the first time in the last few months that I've enjoyed a high temperature below 100 degrees. It only hit 98 in the heat of the day. More importantly, it was a quite comfortable 80-something on my trip to and from work in the morning and evening, respectively. It's getting quite dark at night, with the new moon approaching, but the stars are beautiful to look at.

While walking home today, a whirlwhind of dust swirled up right in front of me... a little mini tornado. Quite the impressive sight to see. It blew along for about 100 yards or so and then dissipated. That prompted me to write about a rather famous dust storm that hit Al Asad back in April, 2005. Some pictures are here, although you can locate a few more using Google.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I think it’s a universal problem for any corporation that the information technology folks are not well liked.  It’s not much different in the Army.


I had my government-issued laptop that I had brought here from Balad, where it had been working fine on the network.  Of course, the Army in its infinite wisdom decided that they would run a different network at a different base.  And although I’m sure that they could simply change appropriate configuration settings, the preferred method of setting up a new computer is to simply re-image the hard drive to a “clone” of one that’s allegedly set up properly for the network.


I turned in my computer the day I arrived… 12 days ago, if you’re counting.  I finally got it back today after a series of complaints from various levels of the Department of Information Management (DOIM) that alleged my hard drive was broken.  The story when I got it back was that they managed to “fix it.”  Right.  I’m sure, most likely, they just finally figured out how to access what had been working the whole time.


The good news is that they restored all my high-speed drivers that had been wiped out back in Balad in the previous iteration of DOIM-imaging.  So I actually have a smoothly running machine on my desk again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Inside out, outside in

One of the interesting features of my office is that it's outside. Well, not really... but it is in an area of the building that used to be an outdoor courtyard, but has been turned into a nice, secure indoor room complete with a plywood floor.

The main advantage of such a false floor is that it allows us to do what nobody else can do in the building: have a hole with a cup sunk into it as part of a nice putting green. There are even a collection of golf balls and putters there. I've done my share of practicing (it putts fast). I consistently sink 1 of the 6 putts I try, but the record is six in a row, so I have a long way to go. At least I have a long time left to improve.

I did succeed today in getting internet access wired to my room! Someone a few trailers down has a satellite system that I'm now sharing with 24 people... not bad, really. Slow, but the convenience beats having to hike all the way to the MWR, and I can access all those sites (like my own blog) that the military system blocks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Eyen Al Asad

This morning I had the opportunity to visit an oasis on the base known as "Abraham's Well." Actually, it's not a well, and clearly not the famous one in Beersheba that Abraham dug. A more accurate name would be "Abraham's Oasis." Actually, the local name is Eyen Al Asad which translates to "Spring of the Lion."

Located near the Euphrates, about halfway between the ancient cities of Ur and Haran, the oasis is mentioned by name in Islamic writings, although no specific stops on Abram's journey are referenced in the Bible or Quran. Still, it's one of the few stops for fresh water in an otherwise barren land, and it's reasonable to believe that Abraham stopped here to drink, bathe, and water his flocks.

There were no permanent settlements here until about 1920, although the site has been frequented by Bedoins for the last 4000 years. The local residents were "evicted" by Saddam in 1985 when he built the air base that the US now uses. Up until early this year, the area was littered with trash from visitors, but local soldiers, sailors, and marines conducted a cleanup of the area.

Standing down by the water, with the wind blowing the rushes, hearing the croaking of frogs and the chirping of birds, it was a brief moment of escape from the reality of the air base surrounding it. Too brief a moment, as choppers flew overhead. Still, it was an awesome feeling standing in an area that once may have been visited by the great patriarch.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Every Who in Whoville

One of the interesting differences between Al Asad and my previous base is that they have chosen to name their housing areas. While Balad had H4 and S4 and other letter-number combinations, the creative folks here have "can cities" such as Rock Ridge, Sandlot, and my own little community of Chuville.

Can is local lingo for the trailers we live in, officially called CHUs (Containerized Housing Units), thus the name of our 'town'. At first I thought the five digit number might be a population figure, but it's really just a "building number", something most people ignore. After all, when you're trying to get directions to the finance office to cash your check, knowing the building number does absolutely nothing to help you find the place.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Are you ready for some football?

It's a relatively quiet Sunday here. In commemoration of the first week of NFL football, AFN has been playing football movies all day long. I just finished enjoying the classic "Remember the Titans."

In other football news, Navy is now 2-0, and I have to congratulate my Army bretheren for winning their home opener and increasing to 1-1. Since I'm an Annapolis grad and the Deputy Commander of my unit hails from West Point, we've had fun trading football barbs back and forth. We've already established a wager on this year's Army-Navy game, with the loser having to sing the winner's service song at the morning meeting. I've offered him lyrics so he can practice.

AFN is televising the Denver vs. St. Louis game tonight... live! I definitely will stay up late to watch it. GO BRONCOS!

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I'm killing a few minutes at the MWR, unofficially (or perhaps officially) dubbed "The White Elephant" because it is a large, white building, since I am a few minutes early to practice for tomorrow's church service. Although the Balad team misses me, it seems the folks here at Al Asad were in even more desperate circumstances, asking for a drummer, female voices, and a keyboardist. One out of three isn't bad.

Last Sunday some others and I remarked about the beautiful stained glass windows in the chapel. Being new on base, I hadn't realized that they are a new addition. A very new addition, as a matter of fact. It turns out a Navy petty officer (a Seabee, for CB, construction battalion) volunteered the time, and got donations from home, to make these beautiful windows. You can read about it and see a picture of one of the windows here. It's a great addition!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Flies fly when you're having fun

Al Asad is at a slightly higher altitude (I think about 1000 meters, something above 3000 feet) than Balad, and thus the weather seems to be a bit cooler here. Or, it could just be the fact that Summer is drawing to a close. In any case, it has not been unbearably hot here yet.

mosquitoes have not been a problem here yet, but one thing I am learning to contend with are flies. Not that many, really, just one or two at any given time, but they are very persistent little bugs. They aren't even scared when you wave them away, they just dodge and then zoom back in. I wish I had that bug-zapping swatter that I played with in Baghdad... at least there the flies would run away from you.

Mail came in today, and I got the last of the boxes I sent myself from Balad, as well as a nice little note from Mom postmarked a week ago. (Yep, looks like 1 week is still a good prediction for mail delivery times.) Also, I finished figuring out all the information I needed to at least maintain the "status quo" in my current job. I can finally finish the settling in process and get started on doing things bigger and better. Fun, fun, fun!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Time flies... or swims

It's hard to believe I'm nearing the end of my first week at my new assignment. I've definitely been keeping busy learning all the new things I need to do, and as I've said many times before, being busy makes time go by faster. And that's a good thing.

I managed to locate the pool today, and it's quite close to where I live and work. I'll definitely try to squeeze regular trips there into my routine.

I keep bumping into fellow sailors with my organization who are stationed here, and the staff of my Army group has also been very welcoming, so I certainly feel part of the team already. Hopefully I can live up to their high expectations!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Care Package Backfires

Some time a few months ago, a loving relative sent me a can of Slim Jims. I had been slowly going through them, enjoying them.

When it came time for me to pack up and move last week, I noticed that there was a lot of empty space in the Slim Jim can, and used it to pack a few of my items, one of them something Very Important. Of course, over the days following, I completely forgot about it.

That is, until today, when I began looking for that Very Important item. One for which losing it would potentially cost me a lot of money and maybe worse. Something Not Good To Lose. I was having something close to a heart attack when I couldn't find it, and was calling my old office to see if I'd left it...

Until, finally, I was meticulously going through every item in my room, and I came across a heavier-than-it-should-be can of Slim Jims. What relief! All is well in the world again.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Mail Call

Today's highlight was receiving a lot of mail! Most of it, of course, was stuff that I mailed myself from Balad. Interestingly, some boxes sent last Tuesday arrived at the same time as some boxes sent Thursday. Of course, not all boxes sent Thursday arrived. So I get to look forward to more mail later this week.

I did also get a mini care package (thanks, Slu!). Speaking of which, I really don't think I need anything else, but if you are dying to send me some nice-to-haves, then contact me for my new mailing address.

I'm already staying very busy and enjoying the new base and new job. Some things are better here, some aren't as nice, but on balance, I think I prefer being here. We'll see if that assessment lasts beyond the first week.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Chameleon Boots

I mentioned yesterday about the lighter color of the dust here and how it shows up as white splotches on my boots. As the days have passed, my entire boots have appeared to become lighter in color. In fact, comparing to others, and to some "brand new" boots at the PX, it appears they're actually closer to the original color now. It seems the darker color that they had been was due to the darker sand at other bases. That's a nice camouflage effect.

I tweaked some settings to try to make email posts read nicer for you. If they worked well, this post should be formatted nicely. Unfortunately, most previous posts might appear with paragraph breaks removed, and text run together in a single paragraph. But who needs paragraph breaks, anyway?

I got all my email accounts up and running, and already am working on some crisis management tasks. It's good to be needed! Although I am already missing the more direct involvement I had with the troops at my old job. I'm still doing good things, but mostly from a comfortable desk.

As a final note, the College Football season started this weekend. I watched (tape delayed) Navy defeat East Carolina. It was an exciting game. I was also pleased to see that Army lost their opening game. No doubt this is an example of how the rest of the season will play out. There are a few West Pointers on the staff here, and I've been given due warning of bad things to come when Army loses in December. Note that I said when, not if.

Besides being the lone Navy fan on the staff, I appear to be alone in my support for the NFL's Denver Broncos. Currently I've identified Seahawk, Patriot, and Redskin fans. Fortunately nobody around here is a Raiders fan, and I plan to keep it that way!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bright lights, watch your eyes

Back on submarines, when operating at periscope depth at night, we would always turn the lights out, or at least way down, so that the officer using the periscope could let his eyes adjust to night vision, in order to better see out the scope. Whenver anyone would need to use a flashlight, such as to find a pencil, or even when we went deep and they turned the normal lights back on, they would always call out a warning, "Bright light, watch your eyes." Because if you take night adjusted eyes and suddenly expose them to very bright lights, it hurts.

One of the most noticeable differences between Al Asad and Balad is the color of the sand. It's a whitish color, kind of like chalk. And it has a very fine, dusty consistency as well. Others have referred to it as "moon dust." The biggest effect of the sand is to make things very bright, especially when leaving my trailer first thing in the morning. It also seems to get on everything, and unlike the other dust which blends into the boot color, is definitely noticeable as splotches on boots and uniforms.

Another reason that some people refer to the dust as "moon dust" is a fact of the local topography. Unlike the very flat terrain around Balad, there are actual terrain features visible, including a large plateau nearby which gives us the impression of being in a crater.

As a final note, I'm using an email interface for this post, which in the past has done odd things with formatting and links in the right-hand margin. I may try to play with a few settings, or perhaps even change the entire blog teplate, depending on how well it works out. If you don't see the links to the right... scroll down!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Camp Cupcake

The second time was a charm with my flight, although I had to stay up all night for the early check-in and then short flight. The aircraft I rode is a C-23 Sherpa, a boxy little aircraft that makes you wonder how it can fly. But it does have a nice accelleration rate... annoying when you're sitting sideways in a cargo seat with nothing to support you. I am now at a base called Al Asad. It's in the western portion of the country (Anbar Province) and the U.S. Marines are in charge of this area, so I'm seeing a lot more marines around the base here. I'm told the marines nickname this base "Camp Cupcake" because the conditions are so "posh" compared to other bases. That may be true, but it's still a step down from Balad. Then again, Balad was Air Force territory. Living conditions are similar to how they were at Balad, with 1/3 of a trailer to call my own. Except this time I have two bunk beds in my room (that I occupy alone). Lots of horizontal surfaces, I guess, but I miss the headroom when I'm sitting on the edge of my bed putting on my boots. The DFAC is bigger, and with a slightly wider selection (and I'll be able to get stir fry every day instead of just once a week) and I can walk pretty much anywhere I need to go. I still don't have my official email accounts set up, and the network blocks lots of sites such as updating my blog (24 hours) and my google mail account (during working hours) so I'm forced to use the MWR machines, where I endure a long line and 30 minute time limit. Blog updates might not be as frequent in the future as they were in the past. I'll spend the next day or two resting up and hopefully getting my email set up, and then it'll be back to work.

Friday, September 01, 2006


I checked out of my room, hauled 200 pounds of stuff on and off various buses to get to the air terminal at a very dark hour of the morning, and was finally sitting on the plane relaxing and preparing for my flight to the new base when everyone found out there was a change of plans, and the plane had to go elsewhere. So I had to do the reverse, hauling all my bags on and off various means of transportation to my office. No place to sleep, but it doesn't matter, as my follow up flight is even earlier... early enough to just stay awake for. Since I had already said my goodbyes, and wasn't even supposed to be here, I decided to skip out of all the meetings today. I did catch a nice afternoon nap in a borrowed room, and grabbed not just one, but two movies at the base theater, since the new base won't have one. (I highly recommend Invincible.) So we'll try this again. Maybe tomorrow I'll have more interesting news!