Thursday, June 28, 2007

26 June, more email.

It must be a relief to get your Hotmail back; we depend so much on e-mail these days (to beat up a cliché). As for spam, which do you prefer: announcements from a UK contest org that you’ve won ₤1,000,000 or an invitation to be the long-lost relative of a deceased millionaire from Nigeria? I get a lot of spam: all types- Nigerian money, contest winner, and all types of medicines and treatments.

Your 126 degrees beats Virginia by a long shot. I was sitting here feeling sorry for myself after a grocery trip with the temperature in the mid-90s (and the interior of the car around 100 before the air conditioner got going). As we move into July and August, I may consider moving to Finland or Greenland - or Antarctica! The heat here is not unbearable. At least I am inside most of the time, with the computers. If you just keep hydrated, and don't over exert yourself in the outdoors, you get used to the heat eventually, after all, people have been living in this part of the world, for over 4000 years.

You’re probably lucky that the generators hum instead of clattering. At least you say that you can get to sleep easily (unless Jeopardy runs late?). The generator noise is bad, but you get used to it, it is the price you pay for having air conditioning. I am able to fall asleep fairly easily. Jeapordy is on Mon-Fri at 1230pm, and I never miss it. Most of the time I watch CNN,FOX,etc.

Too bad the Army doesn’t control your dress code. What’s wrong with loose, baggy clothing? It doesn’t sound short or labeled, and it would make sense to wear something that doesn’t hug the skin. The Army could care less what civilians wear on this base. My firm has put the law down, with regard to clothing, and we live with it.

The idea of non-stop flights between Baghdad and airports in the US surprises me, but I can see that it makes sense politically as well as in terms of convenience. Let’s hope the airport remains open. I haven’t read about any threats in that direction, but that doesn’t prove anything these days. The Baghdad air port has been open, since the US forces took it over back in 2002. The only civilian carrier flying in or out, is Royal Jordanian air lines. It is very important symbolically, and politically, to keep the air port open and functioning. The air port is in the Baghdad suburbs, and the road between the airport and downtown ,is very dangerous. Busses run with blck curtains on the windows, and only under armed escort.

What a convenience it must be to be able to order directly from the States. I’d consider being without books a major hardship. APO Mail is terrific, it is my "lifeline" back to the USA. The little micro-PX here is hardly adequate. I get personal care products from and I also get clothing and other personal items from the on-line stores. There is a fine library here on the post, and several crates of paperback books arrive every week. I order books from and as well. There’s been a lot of talk in the Washington Post lately about a biography of Hillary. Have you run across that? It’s not exactly flattering (though far from an attack), but I doubt that it will make any difference in the elections; so many people have already made up their minds. It way it looks at the moment, Obama has the more enthusiastic following, but Clinton has the stronger backing. For myself, I like what Obama has to say, but who knows how that would play out if and when he has to act according to his stated beliefs (not a reference to religion). Clinton is a little too political and veers too conveniently toward the middle of the road for my fancy. Thompson is making quite a splash, but who knows how that will work out. We’ve had actors in positions of political power before, but not any with political backgrounds, as he has. I have heard about the new biography of Hillary. I read a lot of biographies. I have just finished biographies of Tip O'Neill, Sam Rayburn, and Douglad MacArthur. I have ordered biographies of FDR, Truman, John Adams, and a new biography of Tip O'Neill. I study comparative religions as a pastime. I have just read "Religious Literacy-What every American needs to know about religion, but does'nt". When I lived in Saudi Arabia, I read extensively on Islam. I ordered a new copy of the Holy Qu'Ran, as well as the Hindu Scriptures" The Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Dhammapada.

I’m pretty comfortable in French (with a half Swiss, half Moroccan accent, in addition to my first French teacher being Russian) and have studied German and Italian, but I’d be in trouble if I had to hold an intelligent conversation in either of the latter two. Too bad Esperanto never had a real chance. I have a bunch of tapes on signing, but so far they haven’t gotten off my shelf; I need to find CDs. For reasons I’ve forgotten, I learned the alphabet in sign language back in grade school, but that’s it. Do you have a musical background? I’m supposed to have a talent for languages, though clearly I’ve never pursued it, and I’m told that a musical ear makes a big difference. My mother was a concert pianist (Juilliard graduate) till she married her first husband. I have some musical ability, but I never did much with it. I played the clarinet and the Bass clarinet in the school band. I also learned basic piano.

I wonder how Russian became so noun-happy while Chinese stayed so concise. Also, I wish we knew more about cuneiform worked orally, though languages have diverged so widely since then that I doubt it could tell us anything – back to the tower of Babel. English is such a mish-mash of languages that it’s a wonder there’s any consistency at all. We should all be grateful to Webster. The silent letters are just one more obstacle to logic, not to mention to different ways in which we pronounce the “ough” words and others. If you expect to be back in the States Sept/Oct of this year, does that affect your plans to stay in Iraq for another year, or would it just be a leave/vacation? You deserve to spend a few nights in your new house. I have put in a request for three weeks of personal leave in the Sept 15-Nov 30 time frame. It is a major hassle to get any time off here, because I work alone, and the firm must fly in a replacement to do the work while I am gone.


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