Monday, July 30, 2007

Shir Zai chow hall

The new mess hall right here on Shir Zai is due to open today. I'm very much looking forward to that. Having it right there will make guard duty less onerous, make it easier to do my workouts after eating, and give us a place to sit and relax in the evenings.

I've read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was pretty good if you just take it as another Harry Potter book. It was kind of disappointing if you consider it was the culmination of something like 5000 pages of storylines. Still, it wasn't as terrible as I expected it to be, so kudos to JK Rowling for that one.

I read another Terry Pratchett book (thank you, Lynn, for sending me Thief of Time. I never would have read TP otherwise), and found that, yes, ALL of his books are funny and most of them are easy to read. This one was called "Wee Free Men" and I really enjoyed it.

In addition, having been on several missions this week, I have some new pictures of Canadian bases in the Kandahar area. They're called Moshwen Ghar and Sperwen Ghar, and they're both pretty much on top of rough mountains. Which, of course, makes for some excellent scenery. From Moshwen Ghar, I could see a LOT of greenery, which is pretty surprising. The route to Sperwen Ghar actually travelled over a deep, fast-flowing creek, which was even more astounding. Oh, and there was a LOT of marjiuana. There were fields on both sides, and the plants were six to eight feet tall. (I wouldn't have known it was marjiuana but for the people in the vehicle with me. I know nothing about pot.)

Today is pretty much a day off, which we really needed, since we were on missions every day for the first four days of our mission rotation. We didn't expect that and were starting to get concerned that we would have been better off staying on guard duty for rest. You know how the Army is, they like to keep you guessing!

I don't think I've mentioned it yet, but back when we went to Alizah Kalay, Sgt. Hall (our supply Sgt) bought two chickens from the locals. They live on top of the boxes of bottled water next to the laundry room. He's hoping that they will lay eggs for him, but they haven't yet.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anderson and his CIB

Specialist Anderson was in a firefight at some point during his 9-day-long mission, and will be getting his CIB for it. Congratulations to him.

Also, our temporary dining facility is almost complete, and it's RIGHT OUTSIDE MY DOOR! This is big, very big. I will literally have to only put on my uniform, and take about 50 steps to be INSIDE the dining tent, once it is up and running. It's supposed to be cooking by the end of the month! I'm so excited.

I've started keeping a journal of missions, books I've read, Correspondence courses I've completed, magazines I've read, movies I've watched, and of my workouts. It helps pass the time. The internet (or the Timmy) gets old after a while.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Dust storms

Saturday, 21 July, there was a dust storm. Actually, from what I understand, it started Friday night around 11pm. It has lasted through today, although it's not as severe today. Yesterday, the visibility from the towers was MAYBE 600m. Really, you couldn't see much past 300 meters.

Today, it's much better. I could probably see out to about 1500 meters. Large targets, anyway. For point targets, I probably couldn't have spotted anything beyond 800m. It was a lot like a foggy day, only the fog was dry and yellowish, instead of damp and gray. Still, the meagre shadows and the smell of burning wood somehow reminded me of being at The Citadel in the late winter.

Today should have been my last day on guard duty, although if circumstances require it, I will be pulling guard duty again next week. We'll see how that goes.

I saw Specialist Nelson today. He and I have talked several times about the predestination issue (he's a studious man of God), and he advised me today to read carefully Romans 6 and 8. I think I will finish Romans and then go back to the start and read it over again, and see what I think then.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Construction begins!

KBR has begun construction of our temporary dining facility, and of our permanent facility. Hopefully, the temp one will be up and running by the middle of next month. Then no more 1.5 hour-round-trips to KAF to get lunch or dinner!

I've been on guard duty this week, 0600 to 1300. Nothing much has happened. I've spent some time studying Romans, and I can see where the doctrine of predestination originates, but I think that it stems from a misunderstanding of what Paul is saying. I've spent a lot of time talking to a soldier named Nodine about spiritual things, and psychology.

From what I understand the troops are due back tonight. Godspeed to them.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What a difference 15 days makes...

Well, in the 15 days since I last posted, I've been rather busy.

I was on guard duty for another 5 days after my last post. Then another day or so of 1 6-hour shift per day, and then I was rotated to missions. I spent the last week going on missions every other day, and have been on 3 missions this week.

We went to FOB Apache, outside of Qalat, and back, twice. Once we were given info that there was a potential IED site along the way, but we made no contact. We've been on the lookout for specific threats that have been mentioned in convoy briefings, but have not seen any of these specific targets.

On Friday we went south a bit to a village named Aliza Kalay, where a Village Medical Outreach was taking place. There were over 20 vehicles, and over 100 personnel participating. We provided security for the mission personnel, and even deployed our mortar in case of dedicated attack by the Taliban. We have heard, from people who allegedly are in the know, that the Taliban are making a big push in the area this summer, and that they would like nothing more than to be able to claim that they have control of Kandahar City.

I've been doing a lot of work on the vehicle, becoming more familiar with the various systems that we have now. I've also pressure-washed the radiator, which has reduced the engine heat a little bit, and made the vehicle run a little smoother, I think.

I've only been gunner on one mission, and that got me into a bit of hot water with the company CO. He disapproved of the TC's method of conveying to bus and jingle truck drivers that we want them to come to a complete halt when our convoy is passing them. Hopefully I'll get to gun again, because your rear end doesn't go to sleep as easily when you are gunning.

We had a big barbeque for the 4th of July. Anderson and I were able to attend and get lots of food. I even managed to acquire half a case of orange soda for my personal use. And, even better, the Supreme meals are actually pretty good (well, except for breakfast). Although, the KBR mess halls are still operational. At least, two of them are. Frequently we go to those chow halls, since take-out is much more readily available from them.

Finally, I have just today finished watching all of Season 3 of Stargate: Atlantis. I was pleased that they focussed so much on Rodney McKay, because that character is by far the most consistent and entertaining in the program. I do hope that the Dr. Weir character is replaced in Season 4, and I miss the Dr. Beckett character already. That character was frequently a really good foil for various other characters in the show, and I think the lack of that variety will be a bad thing for the future.

Not much else to say. Will try to update again more frequently in the future.