Friday, December 26, 2008

At Forward Operating Base Tillman

Well, after almost a month at FOB Orgun-E, we finally got a chopper ride to FOB Tillman. I tell you, this place is bleak. The team leader got into a heated discussion with the base commander, and I wanted to fall into a hole! One thing I learned, since I have been working here in Afghanistan and Iraq, is you gotta "play nice" with the Army. Especially junior officers! Put a pair of captain's bars on a man, he thinks he is God almighty.

I got a shower, I was able to scrounge a bar of soap, from the Air Force. I am getting some scale and crud on my toes, so I scrubbed my feet until they were raw. I also got a close shave, with an old razor, and brushed my teeth vigorously. I want to keep my teeth for many years, I have spent a blue fortune on crowns and dental work, I try to keep my gums healthy, they are about the only part of my mouth that is natural!

The chow hall here is primitive, and all the cooks are Army, no foreign nationals or USA civilians. Tonight, they had polish sausages and sauerkraut. I got a huge portion, and ate it all up. (I did not get breakfast nor lunch today). They also had Dr. Pepper in the fridge, I have not had a Dr. Pepper in over a year. I will have to do without Baskin-Robbins for the time being.

My bed has a real mattress! After over a month of sleeping on a military cot, a real mattress, what luxury. It is strange what people find important at the roof of the world. Decent food, a decent bed, hot water in the shower, is about all takes to be happy here!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Stuck at ORGUN-E

Got up this morning at 0700am, to get a chopper ride. Waited for some hours, but found out the chopper ride was cancelled. So I went back to the barracks, and unpacked my stuff, and fell asleep on the cot. I will be stuck here through Christmas.

It is not so bad here. The Chow Hall is excellent. Tonight, I had excellent prime rib, with Bernaise Sauce, lobster tails, and fried scallops, and bread dressing. For dessert, I had a fruit smoothie. It is the only way I can get fruit, is if it is pureed.

It was beautiful today, sunshine, about 60. There is plenty of hot water in the shower, but I only shower every two days. I like being clean-shaven, but I do not like shaving.

I found a three-pound Claxton fruit cake, and ate it all up! I love fruitcake, people make jokes about fruitcake at Christmas, but I like it. I also found some chocolate, and Reeses peanut butter cups!

The Rec Hall computers are fine, very fast connection. I watch some TV, today I watched "It's a wonderful life" with Jimmy Stewart. Two days ago, I watched "White Christmas", with Bing Crosby. There will be holiday films on for the next couple of days.

I will just have to wait for a chopper!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ten reasons NOT to become a Freemason

The Top Ten Reasons *NOT* to become a Freemason.
(1) You have too many friends. Let’s face it, you have so many friends you can’t imagine trying to juggle any more. Half of the time these so called ‘friends’ are more trouble than they are worth; constantly inviting you to social events, inquiring about the health of your family and personal life, and offering their wisdom and guidance. Sometimes a man just needs to be alone.

(2) You like to lie, cheat, and steal. The reality of the situation is that you are good at what you do. You know how to tell people what they want to hear and have never found a situation where a lie, or half-truth, wouldn’t offer you some advantage. The thought of joining an institution that requires you to be ‘square’ and honest in all of your dealings with your fellow man is fundamentally contrary to your character.

(3) You are a nonconformist. You hate every fad, trend, or anything that anyone else is doing in the world. You are so much of a non-conformist that that your are literally a conformist to the non-conformist lifestyle. How could you be a ‘joiner’ of a club and follow their rules? Even if you consider that these are rules you completely agree with, you would still be ‘joining’ something and conforming to a particular code of ethics. This action would be so contrary to your personal identity that you could never join a group that limits its membership to men of good character and encourages them to live their lives by the highest standards of morality.

(4) You are a stingy bastard. The fact of the matter is that you worked hard for your money and see absolutely no reason to spend one penny of it to help anyone else. Senior Citizens, burn victims, children with birth defects, widows, orphans, youth, all deadbeats. Not only do they not deserve any support or help, there is nothing you would get out of either. In fact, even if all they want from you is some of your time, who has that any more either?

(5) You are a religious fundamentalist and believe the dogma of your faith is the only one true path to salvation. You believe that your only duty in this world is to convert other human beings to your faith, or **** them to hell if you fail. You have no room for 'so called' religious tolerance, and this idiotic ideal of ‘freedom of religion’ is a liberal commie plot by those pot-spoking hippies in the American Revolution.

(6) You are a material reductionist. You believe that there is no such thing as God. Not Spinoza’s God and not any one definition will suffice. You believe that anyone stupid enough to believe in a God is a damnable idiot. You believe that the Universe is a Netwonian tick-tock world of billiard ball atoms and molecules, that there was no big-bang, and that human consciousness is a random glitch in the random process of selfish-gene evolution. You believe that life itself is meaningless and serves no higher purpose beyond self-gratification.

(7) You hate the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. You think the American Revolution, and the Enlightment in general, was a scam. You believe the world ran better when men were uneducated, lived in fear of religious persecution, under Monarchies, dictatorships, and that free thought was a concept reserved for dreaming kittens, not the working class of a society. You do not believe all men are created equal, nor do they have the right to pursue happiness. You do not believe in justice, liberty, equality, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or any form of representative government. Since these are all of the core tenets of Freemasonry, established by Freemasons in the American Revolution, there can be no doubt that this institution would disagee with you most heartedly.

(8) You are too busy. Once again, let’s face it. You have too much TV to watch. You have a two hour commute every day. You have soccer practice, swim-team, World of Warcraft, XBOX, Playstation, and many other critical demands on your time. In fact, it is completely outside of your power to change your schedule and priorties to engage in social interaction with your community. You don’t know who the people are in your community and have no reason to become involved. It is literally impossible for you to ‘make time’, ‘shift priorities’, or re-evaluate for yourself just what really is important in life. You have a job to go to, you have a video game to play, and Netflix and Tivo to get caught up on. How in the world could you attend five, six, ten meetings a year? How could you go to a charity fund raiser or support a youth group? This is all simply crazy talk at this point.

(9) You hate tradition and history. Tradition is stupid. History is stupid. We are in the modern world now. There is nothing worth preserving. Not buildings and, certainly not, oral traditions. Does it matter that a tradition has been around in human civilization for hundreds (if not thousands) of years? Not one bit! Let it die! Remember when people used to try to only speak Latin in the Latin quarter in Paris? What fools! Remember when your Grandfather, Uncles, and other relatives were involved in Masonry? What a bunch of old doddering fools. Why would you want to sustain and support an anachronistic, outdated, and pointless ritualistic ceremony that has long since outlived its purpose? In today’s society there is no point in carying on a tradition such as this, or any other.

(10) You have no intention of ‘improving’ yourself. You are perfect just the way you are, in every way possible. There is nothing you could do to improve your social skills in public speaking, mentoring youth, charitable service, making conversation, or keeping your mind sharp. Your character is impeccable and there is nothing you could do to make it any better than it is today. Were you to join Freemasonry you would merely have to teach others the great skills you already posses, thus making the entire exercise pointless.__________________

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fri afternoon

Still stuck at ORGUN-E. Cold, damp, muddy, lonely. I got an interesting e-mail, asking about life here. ORGUN-E is about average for a mid-size camp in Afghanistan.

There is a gym, about average.
The Chow Hall is KBR run, decent food. Every Friday there is grilled steak and crab legs/lobster tails.
There is satellite TV in the Recreation center. There are computers and phones in the Rec Center. I do not thnk there is any wireless internet on this post.

We got our first snowfall, just enough to make everything all muddy. It is about 200 yards to the shower, so I only shower every two days. Laundry is a two-day turn around.

I will just wait until I can get a chopper ride.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday afternoon

Sunday afternoon. COLD here in Orgun-E. The chow hall served polish sausage and potatos tonight. I walked out of the chow hall, and it was very dark. The moon is at its closest point to the earth in 21 years, and the full moon is now on. When the moon rises, it is spectacular.

I am waiting for a chopper flight, it may be another week here, before one can be had. What a hassle. In the meantime, it is just wait for the chopper.

I am reading James Michener's "Hawaii", and also "Space". I watch TV, I got a lot of football last week, all the football I can stand. I wish the military TV had more educational programs, and A&E, and history,etc.

I am glad that I brought enough clothes. Snow is expected soon. At least I have thick boots, and walking on the gravel does not hurt my feet so much.

I am still getting over a cold. I cough up a lot of mucus, and my chest is sore from all the coughing. I got some tablets from the Army doctor, and they help.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Interesting E-Mail

I get some interesting comments:

I have just red your blog and I can't wait to see that movie. I like the movies on that theme. I watched National treasure part I and II but I didn't like the idea that everything is in USA.
I'm strongly convinced that many masonic secrets i.e. "treasure" is hidden in all the members who are dispersed throughout whole the world and everyone carries a little piece of that "treasure" which for me is not a phisical one but spiritual.
I don't know how do you see this things.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Ill but recovering

This past week, I have been sicker than at any previous time overseas. I picked up some lung crud, and it has knocked me right down. I am at Forward Operating Base Orgun-E. I arrived here on Monday, (it is now Sunday night). I have been coughing and hacking, and delivering all kinds of mucus. I went to see the Army doctor, and he said, a lot of this is going around. When you live in a group living environment, you share all of your germs with everyone in your barracks.

I am sleeping on a cot, with a sleeping bag. The barracks is COLD, and this does not help my illness. The last two nights, I fell asleep on the sofa in the Recreation hall, at least it is warm here. I could not eat any solid food on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday afternoon, I went to the chow hall, and had some gumbo. I also drank a strawberry/banana smoothie. My diet here is a train wreck, and with the small amount of fruits and vegetables, my immune system has taken a nose dive.

I only take a shower every two days. It is so cold, you do not sweat. I was taking a shower, and I lost control of my bowels, fortunately I was able to clean it all up. If you are going to have an accident like that, the best place to be is in the shower.

All I can do is take the tablets, I got from the Army doctor, and rest up.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The decline in Membership in Masonry- and what we can do about it.

Here is the state-by-state breakdown as of the end of 2007:(This data is for the mainstream lodges, and does not include Prince Hall, or any other Masonic group, nor co-Masonry) is the last year, in which statistics are available. We can be assured that 2008, will be worse. Only Delaware and Massachusetts showed any increase. The numbers are B-A-D. Not shown here, is the average age of Masons, which is creeping upward every year. We can take some solace, is that some Grand Lodges are addressing the problem. The Masonic Renewal Task Force ( ) has been developing literature, programs, and plans to reverse the decline. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, won the Nobel Peace Prize. Her organization has a rule, it is forbidden to say the word "problem". You must say "gift", instead. I think that Masonry should take a lesson from this soon-to-be Saint. If we are serious about reversing the trend, and keeping Masonry (and the appendant bodies) healthy in the 21st century, we need to look on the trend as a gift and act accordingly. I am appalled that every lodge in the USA does not have a website. They can be had for FREE, so there is no excuse why every lodge does not have one. The quality of the Grand Lodge websites varies all over the map. Some are excellent, some are mediocre, some are an embarrassment to Masonry. Every grand Lodge website should be state-of-the-art, with precise instructions on how to petition Freemasonry, how to locate the nearest lodge to your residence, a sample petition, that can be downloaded, etc. We live in the internet age, and the first knock on our West Gate, is most often an electronic knock. Every Grand Lodge should have a toll-free number, for information, so that individuals who are interested in Masonry can call in! Every lodge should be having regular "open houses", where the lodge is open to the public. People can visit, get a cup of coffee, obtain literature on Masonry, and learn about the Craft. Massachusetts has two (2) statewide open houses every year. EVERY lodge in the entire state is open on a Saturday morning. The event is publicized on statewide media (The Boston TV stations and newspapers are state-wide). People visit the lodges, some lodges have Ben Franklin impersonators, and music. Massachusetts had an increase in membership in 2007. HELLO!We can do other things. We should strive to keep all of our current membership active and participating. One way is through "Rusty Nail" nights. Virtually every Mason has male relatives, we should be looking to them as our new membership base. We should reach out to Masonic widows- They have sons and grandsons, who are our future membership.We should be pushing hard to have Masonic youth groups, especially DeMolay, in our communities. Over 90% of DeMolay graduates go on into the Masonic lodge, when they reach the age of Majority. The working tools, to save this Craft are in our hands. It will take courage, and hard work, and sweat, to get our craft growing again. Masons will have to "think outside the box", and apply new techniques and methodology, to get Masonry relevant to the 21st Century. We will have to have the backbone, to apply ideas and techniques from other organizations, and not be afraid to experiment. "The dogmas of the quiet past, are not relevant to the stormy present" - Abraham Lincoln"If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got' - Cromwell"It does not take a Majority to effect change. But an irate and tireless Minority, to light brush fires in people's minds" - Samuel Adams"We live in a world, in which the only constant is Change" - Heraclitus, Greek philosopher 4th century BC. --------------------

Not all churches are seeing a decline in membership. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons) are seeing an explosion of membership. This church, which started 170 years ago, in a farmhouse in upstate New York, now has over 12 million members. The LDS church sends out over 50,000 missionaries per year. They have a huge media program, to get their presence out in front of people, worldwide. There are many reasons why the Mormons are exploding. They have an extensive person-to-person outreach program. "Every member a Missionary", is one of their fundamental beliefs. Their public relations program is modern and state-of-the-art. Each new member is meant to feel special and welcome. They have a program, where every church member is visited in their homes on a monthly basis. The church has vibrant youth and women's programs. I call this a combination of "high-tech", and "high-touch". The church operates on a "local" basis, where every member can participate, with as much involvement as their situation permits. This "tailors" the church experience to the individual. The LDS retention rate, is around 95%. There was an obscure religious sect called the "Shakers". Their rules forbade any missionary work, any discussion of the religion with outsiders, and required strict celibacy for all members, including married members. The Shakers died out.Who do you think we should imitate? The Mormons or the Shakers?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New Film with Masonic theme

There is a new film soon to be released: "Brother's War". It is about two men, a British officer and a German Officer, who are Masons. Here is the link:

The director, Tino Struckmann, is a Mason. I wrote him a fan letter, and he is sending a Director's Cut of the film to me here in Afghanistan.

Here is the letter:

it will be in the mail my brotherhell Id bring it myself if the military would let me;-) be safe out there tino
From: cemab4y@hotmail.comTo: tinostruckmann@hotmail.comSubject: RE: Brothers WarDate: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 00:51:17 -0500

Brother Struckmann, I am way too old and too fat for military service. I am a video systems engineer, working on a military project. This is my fourth contract in Afghanistan. I was in the Air Force 1973-1978. I am certain that all of the brothers would be delighted to see the film. If you wish to send a DVD, we will be more than grateful. My address: Charles E. MartinBETTS-C ProjectFOB SALERNOAPO AE 09314 My blog about masonry in Afghanistan and Iraq I cannot think of anything else I need at the moment. But I will give it some thought, and get back to YOU!!
From: tinostruckmann@hotmail.comTo: cemab4y@hotmail.comSubject: RE: Brothers WarDate: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 02:11:24 +0000

My brother I take it that you are sitting there because you are in the military? I spent 10 years in the ARMY, but now Im just sitting back here feeling bad Im not there! you send me an address and Ill send you a private screener of the film, and if there is anything else you need out there you just say the word fraternallytino struckmannJD Sunset Lodge 369 Santa Monica
From: cemab4y@hotmail.comTo: tinostruckmann@hotmail.comSubject: Brothers WarDate: Tue, 2 Dec 2008 11:33:34 -0500

Your film looks fantastic. When can we expect a DVD release? I am on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, and I cannot get to a cinema, for some months!! I am a Freemason. I keep a blog about Freemasonry in Afghanistan and Iraq, we have lodges here at the "roof of the world." Keep in touch!!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Arrived at Orgun-E base

Got up at 0700am. Got to flight line at 0800am. waited until 12noon to fly out to Orgun-E. I arrived here, and I am in the transient barracks. Army cot, six men to a room. There is nothing to do , because there is no equipment here. We will wait until Friday, and then fly on to FOB Tillman.

Decent chow hall here. I ate roast beef and fried fish for lunch. The chow hall is run by civilian contractors from KBR (Houston Tex corporation). The Army is pretty much out of the food service business, no more "KP" for the soldiers. It costs a lot to bring US civilians here to do the cooking, but that is how it is.

There are many Afghans working on this base. I do not trust them. Anyone could be carrying a bomb, they could put ground glass in the food. They all report back to their friends where they are, and they could be providing information to the terrorists.

Sometimes, I tell myself, there has got to be a better way to make a living!

Additional policy on comments

I need to explain the policy on comments more fully. Here it is:

There will be NO criticism of Freemasonry, nor of the appendant and concordant bodies of Freemasonry on this board. This policy is absolute, and non-negotiable. Any individual who attempts to post any comments that are derogatory, will find those comments deleted.

I will be more than glad to discuss any aspect of Freemasonry, with any serious inquirer. The purpose of this blog, is to serve as a personal log, of my experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, both professionally, and with respect to Masonry.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My policy on comments

I welcome comments on my postings. I have a very liberal policy, and I publish nearly all comments received, both pro and con. Most posters use their real name (or handle). Some individuals choose to post anonymously.

I will post all comments that I deem appropriate. Racist, vulgar, and obscene remarks will not be published. Libelous and slanderous remarks will not be published. Anonymous comments will be published, if and only if the comments will be of interest to the readers of this blog.

When I first started the blog, I had an "open comments" policy and all comments were published. The comments quickly got obscene and racist, so I had to begin moderating comments.

I will not publish any comments that are in any way opposed to Masonry, and the appendant and concordant bodies of Masonry. There are many other venues for people to vent their spleens about Masonry. Do not waste time, telling me that Masonry is "pagan" or "satanic".

So- Keep it on point, or else.

About Masonry

I received an anonymous comment:

"Masonry is so fantastic, and I have always enjoyed it, no matter where I am."What, exactly, is so "fantastic"? BY the language and tone you use to express yourself, it would sound as if Masonry is a festivity.What, exactly, is so "fantastic"? How are you "participating," and what exactly does "participating" mean? "

This is an interesting posting, and it sounds like the individual is interested in Masonry. I have lived all over the world- Germany, Mozambique, France, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan. I have worked from Maine to California. I enjoy Masonry, in virtually every place on earth. My participation varies- some locales have no organized lodges. I attended a German-speaking lodge in France, and I attended a Russian-speaking lodge in Moscow. Anywhere on this planet, I am welcomed as a brother.

Is Masonry a "festivity"? Well, in some instances it is. Many lodges have a "festive board" which is where they serve refreshments. This can be anything from barbecue sandwiches on paper plates, to a four-star gourmet meal, served in a Paris restaurant. To fellowship with good and decent men, from many economic and social backgrounds, is indeed a festivity.

The level of participation varies widely, depending on my personal situation and the means available to participate in Masonry. I lived in Columbus, Ohio for one year. While there, I went to Masonic lodge meetings only a couple of times. I did however, participate in the Shrine. I was in five Shrine clubs, and president of one of them. I was doing some Shrine activity every weekend.

I lived in Al Asad, Iraq for one year and four months. There was no working lodge there, but I did start a Masonic "Square and Compasses Club" ,where we met twice a month, and discussed Masonry, and we fellowshipped. We did not do any degree work in the club, but we did assist several of the Marines and civilians, with locating lodges back in the USA, so that they could pursue Masonry, upon their return.

When I return to the the USA in 2010, I intend to participate in Freemasonry, and the appendant bodies. I will join a lodge near my residence (Alexandria, VA), and I will participate in the Alexandria Scottish Rite Valley (chapter). I also intend to re-activate my Shrine membership. I was made a Shriner, at Kena Shrine Center in Fairfax VA in 1988, and I have always had a fond memory of the Shrine there. (The Shrine is NOT a Masonic organization, but it is a a club of men who are Masons.)

I also plan to establish an "affinity lodge". I want to set up a "Lodge of the Arts" patterned after a similar lodge in Seattle, Washington. I plan to set up a lodge that meets on Saturdays at noon. We will stress education in the arts, and the arts in education. We will hold fund-raisers, and support various arts programs in the Northern Virginia area.

Masonry is like the "ink-blot" test you take in the psychologists' office. You see in it what you want to see. If you wish to learn more about Masonry, and how much fun it is, I suggest you contact your nearest Masonic lodge.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saturday night

I will never get used to this country. Today it was fair and pleasant. Warm enough to wear short pants. I have been through two winters in Afghanistan, and believe me, they are cold. I have to fly up to FOB Tillman, and do an installation, then fly on to Orgun-E. I spent ten days at Orgun-E in October 2007. What a dump. No quarters for transients, and I had to sleep on a cot. A decent chow hall. The Chaplain there was terrific, plenty of free time, we would chat about various stuff.

Went to the chow hall for lunch, could not look at the food. No appetite at all. I just got a small spoonful of spaghetti, with some meat sauce, drank a soda, and ate a cookie. Went back to the tent, and watched a couple of movies. One good thing about this job, is that you are traveling a lot, and you do not have to spend much time with any one person.

When I worked in Iraq, I had my own trailer, a 75 foot paradise, wall to wall carpet, and cable TV. Shower house next door. fabulous. Here I am in a tent , and it is 200 yards to the shower house, and then climb up the stairs.

I would like to participate in Masonry in this country, but the opportunities are not there. Most of the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases) have no lodge, and the few lodges that are operating here, are not recognized by Kentucky. I see no reason to antagonize anyone. I have never attended a clandestine lodge, and I never will. If I go and have a plate of fried chicken with some American heroes, someone will "fink" on me. Best to just leave Masonry alone in Afghanistan.

I intend to participate very much, when I return to the USA. I want to get back in the Shrine as well. Masonry is so fantastic, and I have always enjoyed it, no matter where I am. I wish the Grand Lodge of New York would issue a charter for LSA#1, but the Grand Lodge of New York doesn't even answer my mail.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Took some muscle relaxers to help me sleep. They helped, I had a peaceful night. Got up this morning, and had a peanut butter sandwich, using the bread that I made in the bread machine. I am still sore from falling down, lips first in the gravel. My knee had about 5 square inches of skin scraped off, and my left shoulder is bruised. I hit that gravel square on the lips, and my upper lip is sore.

I have been watching some educational video disks, I sure like to study about the American West, and the pioneers. I have a mini-series of John Adams, on the way, I like to study the American Revolution as well. I am reading a book about the war in the pacific "Eagle against the Sun". I lived in Germany 1976-1978, and I visited many of the WW2 battlefield sites, like Bastogne. I used to have my hair cut, by a former SS tank commander, who fought in the Battle of Stalingrad.

The WW2 battles in the pacific are fascinating. This conflict here in Afghanistan, will intensify. I think the new administration, will not pull us out overnight.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Back at Salerno

I was able to secure a seat on a C-130 flight back to Salerno (My home base). I was carrying my luggage, and wearing my helmet and flak jacket. While walking back to my tent, I tripped on a cable, and went flying down, face first into the gravel. I smashed my knee and shoulder, and tore some skin off my knee. I went mouth-first into the gravel, and my lips are sore.  I do not have enough strength to even go get a shower. I am going to rest, and try to get some strength back in my knee, so I can walk. I am going to see the medics tomorrow.
More Later!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stuck at Bagram

Unable to get on a chopper yesterday. Next flight maybe Friday, so I will sign up on Thursday. With luck, I can get back to my home base of Salerno Friday. I sure need some clean clothes. At least here, I have a decent bed, and a good chow hall. All I can do is "cool my heels"!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Stuck at Bagram air base

I have been stuck here at Bagram air base. I am flying to Salerno, my home base, as soon as I am able.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Cool last night. Bright and Sunny this morning. My co-workers got more mail today. I got a video disk yesterday. Lunch today was pretty awful. I was not in the mood for meatloaf or turkey wings. I got a cheeseburger and a bowl of chili. I ordered a bread machine, it is on the way. We will have fresh homemade bread every day.

This election is interesting, I admit that I am hooked on politics.

Daylight savings time runs out in the USA this weekend. Afghanistan keeps the same time year round. I will have to wait another hour before I can call anyone in the USA. It looks like it is going to be a cold winter here in Afghanistan.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday 27 Oct

Had a good weekend. Generally quiet. For the last two nights, the Afghans have gone out at night, and shouted and hollered, in high-pitched voices. It sounds like Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". EEK-EEK-EEK. This is a strange country.

Went to church on Sunday. It fascinates me, that there is so little church attendance here. With soldiers facing death, and the boredom of this isolated post, you would figure that there would be more church attendance. It is said "there are no atheists in foxholes". Maybe there are more atheists in the Army than you would realize.

I got some mail this morning. A package of jelly beans from Jelly Belly, and some soap and toiletries from I ordered some additional snacks from and some items from a middle eastern grocer as well. I like to eat stuffed grape leaves and olives. When I lived in Saudi in 1991, I got hooked on "hummus" which is crushed chickpea paste, the peanut butter of the mideast. I ordered some cans of hummus.

The work goes on. I will be very busy in the future.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday afternoon

Got up and went to the chow hall. They were serving meat loaf, and jagerschnitzel. I decided to have canned ravioli. Tonight, the chow hall will serve TBones and fried shrimp. If four-star cuisine is what you like, then FOB Salerno is not the place. I will be getting busier, from now on. Life here is all right, but I miss Iraq. The quality of life is just better in Mesopotamia.

I am anxious to get back to the USA, we get a break every four months. Frankly, I will enjoy it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Setting the record straight.

It is a matter of public record, that I am suspended from the Grand Lodge of Kentucky. This suspension is for a period of one year, and it expires April 2009. I intend to be reinstated at this time. Since I am up on a mountaintop in Afghanistan, where there is no Masonry, this is not a real sacrifice.

I graduated from Western Kentucky University in June 1983. I completed 197 undergraduate hours, and completed all of the requirements for my degree. This is also a matter of public record.

I am working in Afghanistan, on an unclassified project. I work with a team of installers, installing video cameras and infrared cameras. I also assist in training soldiers on how to use the equipment. My job title is "New Equipment Training Officer". I prefer not to list the name of my employer on this blog.

I am not interested in being any kind of a "savior". But I am very interested in Masonry, and I intend to keep studying the Craft, and keeping tabs on the state of Masonry, back in the USA, and overseas. One of the tenets of our Fraternity is Truth. I only tell the truth on this blog, I have no reason to post anything that is false. If anyone finds a posting here, that is not truthful, please leave a comment, pointing out my mistake, or email me directly. I will gladly publish any corrections.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

9 Oct 2008

Been here on FOB Salerno for a week. It is DARK at night. The base requires all lights to be off. I have to carry a small flashlight, so I won't bump into concrete barricades. At least the cable TV is working properly. Tonight at the chow hall, there was a mongolian barbecue. You select vegetables like shredded green peppers and onions, and the cook stir-fries them with shredded beef, then you place it on rice. My diet is a train wreck here. At least my feet and ankles are toughening up some, getting used to the walking.

I turned in some laundry, and the laundry is supposed to process it, and I can get it back in one day. We shall see. Today, the main shower house was closed, so I went to the smaller shower house. I got a HOT shower, with plenty of soap. I am glad that there is HOT water here.

I still have not received any postal mail here. I should be getting some mail soon.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Why I became a Mason, and what I have received.

Your question is quite valid, and important. Nevertheless, it is difficult to answer. Men join the Gentle Craft for many reasons. Family tradition, is one. My father and both of my Grandfathers were masons, my uncle (deceased) was a 33rd degree Mason.

Masonry offers men many things, a chance to associate with good men from many different religious and educational backgrounds, fellowship, brotherhood, and a chance for self-improvement. While not a charitable organization, there are opportunities for charitable service. Masonry and the appendant organizations affiliated with Masonry, contribute about $2.6 million dollars per day, to various charitable and philanthropic causes in the USA.
I joined, because of my family tradition, but most especially because men I knew and respected were Masons. Most masons do not realize it, but they are the best advertising the Fraternity has.
During the last 26 years, I have received many things from Masonry. Camaraderie, instructions in ethics and morality, great frienships, and meeting some of the finest men I have ever known. I have sat in lodge in Paris France, with men who risked concentration camps for being Masons. I have sat in lodge in Moscow, Russia, with men who risked being sent to Siberia, for being Masons. I have attended lodge in the very room, where George Washington was made a Mason, in Fredericksburg Virginia.
Masonry enabled me to join the Shriners, and I have transported children to our hospitals for medical treatment. I transported a child, who was born with spina bifida, and his family had no medical insurance. He had to have twenty operations before he was two years old. The costs exceeded one million dollars, and the Shriners paid the entire costs.
Different men receive different rewards from being Masons. We refer to these rewards, as the “wages of a Master Mason”. The wages vary with the individual, and his particular Masonic experience.
I am now assigned to a desolate mountaintop Army base, in Afghanistan. Myself, and the Masons here, are going to establish a traveling military lodge, and continue on with the Masonic tradition, here on the “roof of the world”. Dictators and tyrants have sought to crush Masonry, for centuries. Our lodge will meet, in the very face of terrorism, continuing on with the tradition of religious tolerance, and freedom.
Masonic lodges have met on US Army posts, since Valley Forge. Our lodge has met in the trenches of France in WW1, and on the battlefields of Germany in WW2. We met in Korea, and in the jungles of VietNam. Our lodge met in the desert of Iraq, and now we continue, here on this rocky escarpment, under the mortar fire of the very terrorists who planned the attacks on September 11, 2001.
Hope this answer is helpful to you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Brotherly Love" and "Tough Love"

To say that I cherish Masonry is an understatement. I have been a Mason since 1982, and I will be a Mason all my life. I will be buried in my Masonic Apron. For the past quarter century, I have done everything I can, to live up to my Masonic obligations, and to serve this Craft to the best of my ability. I have no apologies for my service to Masonry.

I have been enriched by Masonry, solely in the symbolic sense, as I have been paid Master's wages. I have never profited financially from any of my Masonic activities. I have donated many hundreds of hours to the fraternity (including the appendant/concordant bodies).

I have never "used" Masonry for my own purposes. I have worked with many other individuals, in trying to bring Masonry to Iraq, and to the soldiers and civilians who risk their lives in that wretched country. I am now in Afghanistan, and I will continue to do what I can, to bring Masonry to the civilians and military personnel who are on the "roof of the world". If any Masonic brother comes to me for assistance, I will give it. I will help, because I am a MASON.

I believe in the value of Brotherly Love, as much as any true Mason. But I also believe in "Tough Love". There are many problems with Masonry, because it is an institution, run by humans, and it is susceptible to all of the problems and difficulties inherent, when humans are involved.

I will continue to criticize any policy, any regulation, any action by any lodge or Grand Lodge, anywhere, that is acting in a manner, that is not in line with the best interests of this Fraternity. Masonry is NOT a religion, and its leaders are NOT infallible. The situation in West Virginia, is one glaring example. The on-going scandal with the Royal Order of Jesters is another. If a Mason had spoken out, earlier, a lot of scandal and heartache could have been avoided. All too often in Masonry (and I include the appendant/concordant bodies here), men are just willing to "go along", and not speak up, and not offer any criticism, and not step in to help our cherished Fraternity. We are reaping what we have sowed for the last twenty years.

I will never be silenced, nor gagged, when it comes to Freemasonry. This institution can always benefit from change, and change will come! The recent situation in North Carolina, is one example of positive change. All masons nationwide, should take a look at the courage and foresight of our North Carolina brothers, and emulate their example.

So in closing, let us all continue to work together as brothers. Let us examine the problems and difficulties in our midst, and work together to find appropriate solutions. Let us be free to speak our minds in internet forums, and in person, in our lodges and Grand Lodges.

"Tough Love" is the only way.

Letter from the Grand Master of Masons in KY to me.

(This letter is an EXACT copy of a communication from the Grand Master of Masons in KY. It is published VERBATIM)

(Small portion, not related to the text has been deleted)

you have again tried to mask your situation and use the cloak ofthis fraternity for your own betterment. You continue to berate, insultand generally to fault everyone and every Grand Lodge or Grand Lodgeofficer be it Kentucky, New York, etc. You use masonry for your ownpurpose! You have here again tried to mask your actions and get theapproval through everyone else rather than looking at yourself to see ifyou really are a mason or just a man using masonry for himself. In you blogs you have continued to throw everything and anyone that doesnot do or say what you want to them say about Masonry to the side asbeneath you and your brothers. You use Masonry, rather than practicingMasonry. Masonry is not a item or a card it is a belief that we as brothers canwork together as a band of brothers cemented by our obligation to upholdthe Constitution practice Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth! Our Honorand Integrity before all else. You Sir, have, in my opinion, used thisfraternity as an item for your own discussion and advancement in trying toprove yourself something you or not! This is a shame that a man of your ability has tried to take thisfraternity and put it on display for his own amusement or advancement. Inall of your blogs, you always refer to "I" rather than "we". It is alwaysyou that stands to do battle with the Grand Lodges. This Sir is not abattle it is a love that each of us has about the fraternity and eachother. Sir, if nothing else remember this......"You represent this fraternity inthe world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year! Does youractions each day prove you to be a Mason? Remember someone each day willsee you for what you are in this world and does your actions representthis fraternity?" Keith DreierGrand Master

Thursday, September 25, 2008

status of Land, Sea. and Air Lodge #1

An individual has expressed interest in the traveling military lodge, Land, Sea, and Air Lodge #1. The charter has been in existence since 1917 (World War 1). The charter is currently on display in a Masonic Museum in New York City. The last time the lodge held a meeting, was in the Fall of 2005, at Speicher Base, in Iraq.

You can learn more about the lodge, by contacting the current Worhshipful Master, E. Dan Walther IV, who is resident in Buffalo NY. If you wish to contact the WM, please send an email to me at ( and I will forward it on to Bro. Dan.

There was an excellent article written about the lodge in Empire State Mason magazine, fall 2005 issue. see

My feelings about Masonry

I have been criticized for some of my postings in my blog. I want to state for the record, that I stand behind every word. Masonry is NOT a religion, and its leaders are NOT infallible. If Masonry needs to be criticized, I will criticize it. If the fraternity is taking a position, that is not in the best interests of the craft, it needs to be criticized.

The recent events in North Carolina show one point. It took courage, and integrity, to "buck the trend", and move North Carolina Masonry into the correct decision, to recognize Prince Hall Masonry. Bravo to the Grand Lodge of North Carolina, and the members!! I have written a letter to the MW Grand Master of Masons, praising him for his courage and leadership.

I use the pronoun "I", in my posts, when I am referring to myself. I am the only one person, working with the Grand Lodge of New York, to get a charter for Land, Sea, and Air Lodge #1. When I work with other people, I will use the pronoun "we".

Remember- "Only a dead fish goes downstream 100% of the time"

A week here

Been getting my inprocessing done. The Army needs the paperwork completed. I am not so comfortable here. I am in a tent, on a cot, the airport is next door, and the planes roar in and out all day long. I still have some jet lag, I get worn out by 4pm, and I must sleep. Then I get up at 0200am, and I cannot fall back to sleep.

The food is good here, no problem in this area. I get only short periods on the internet, so I cannot write long missives on the blog.

I have received some very nice comments from people back in the USA, for this I am grateful.

Man, it is good to be working!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

First night on the ground

Flew into Bagram. COLD COLD COLD. I am in a tent, sleeping on a cot. Shower tent about 100 yards out the front door. Unlimited HOT water, thanks for this.

Chow hall is a large tent. Food is good, about what I remembered. I ate chicken jamabalaya last night. Breakfast this morning, eggs, grits, french toast. Wish they had bagels.

I could really use some cold weather clothing, my size is not obtainable in Afghanistan. If any one has something they could send, I would be grateful.

Back to the roof of the world at last

I am at Bagram Afghanistan. I am on the roof of the world. Jet-lagged, and feeling pretty miserable.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Flying to Kyrgyzstan

I am in the Baltimore Airport. I checked my baggage through to Manaus, Kyrgyzstan. Tonight, I will get on the plane, we have stops in Europe, and we will arrive Friday afternoon. We will be stuck in Kyrgyzstan for a couple of days, and then fly on into Afghanistan.

I am glad to be done with the preparations, and I am looking forward to an exciting time on the Roof of the World.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The ides of September

I am about to wrap it up here in Huntsville. I took my equipment, and winter clothing down to the office today, for shipment on to Afghanistan. I had lunch, and went back to the hotel, to finish packing.

I will fly to Baltimore on Wednesday, and then on Thursday, I will leave for Kyrgyztan. I do not know how long I will be in Manaus.

The housing for civilians in Bagram is very tight. There may a "No Vacancy" sign hanging out. I may have to stay at Salerno, which is 25 miles from Bagram. The situation is "fluid".

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


10 Sept

The phone rang June 15, and the man asked me if I was interested in a position in Iraq. I interviewed by telephone, and then I was offered a position. I was directed to report for training in Huntsville, and after a short orientation, I was informed that my assignment was changed to Afghanistan.
Last month, I was directed to spend a week in Fort Benning Georgia, for orientation, and equipment issue. I picked up a gas mask, body armor, a helmet, and a sleeping bag. Then my firm sent me to an outdoor outfitter, where I was issued winter pants, and combat boots. Now that all of my gear is with me, I can leave for Afghanistan.
I will be flying to Baltimore, and then on to Manaus, Kyrgyzstan. (Every time I read that country’s name, I think they need to buy a vowel). Our team will remain in Manaus for a few days, until we can catch a ride to Bagram, Afghanistan. I first saw Bagram, way back in 2004, and it was primitive. The Army has spent a lot of money on the place, and now the housing is modernized, and they have a modern recreation center, and the dining halls are first-rate. Bagram is a major hub for Afghanistan, and many of the fixed-wing and helicopter flights change/originate/terminate at Bagram. Bagram is the “Atlanta” of Afghanistan.
I will be working on an unclassified video security project. I have worked in broadcast and cable TV, as well as closed-circuit TV. I am excited about installing security cameras on military bases in Afghanistan. If you want to see the cameras we will be using, just check out any Wal-Mart.
There are other countries with higher elevations, but Afghanistan is called the “roof of the world”. I spent three months on Sharana base, at 7400 feet above sea level. One of my lungs developed a blockage, and I was definitely oxygen-challenged. The doc checked me into the M*A*S*H, and after a chest x-ray, the doc prescibed an inhaler.
Afghanistan is an unusual country, to be sure. I have worked on three other contracts in Afghanistan, and the country is definetly an “acquired taste”. The principal languages are Dari and Pashto, but I have no fluency in either of these languages. I speak electronics, and that is enough!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Comment policy clarified

Once again. This is MY blog, and I have the final say on what is posted. I intend to publish ALL views, both for and against. I want to be fair, and present a balanced view of the situation.I normally require ALL posters to list their name (or handle). If you are man enough to make a comment, you should be man enough to list your name (or handle). I will, often publish "anonymous" comments, if the contents of the comment are of interest to the readers. But the final say, on what goes on this blog, begins and ends with me. I reserve to right to edit, publish, or reject ANY comments for ANY reason, or for no reason.To be fair, some comments have been sent in, that are supportive of my position. These comments have contained really vulgar and disgusting remarks about people in masonic leadership positions. I feel, that in spite of our differences, and this sad situation, that we are all brothers, and we should treat each other with respect and kindness. I, therefore, have decided to delete all comments in support of my position, which contain objectionable and vulgar material, that is not in the spirit of Masonry.I will NOT publish racist, bigoted, obscene, vulgar, lewd, or other objectionable material. I get all types of name-calling, and really disgusting comments sent to me. One man sent an entire page of "n-----" to me, every day for a week. If the fact that such disgusting comments are not published on this blog, is a problem for you, then that is your problem.If your comments do not make it to the board, please try to remember the policies, which are clearly presented here. Blogs can be had for free, so start your own, if you like.

Furthermore: ALL comments will be free of personal attacks on any individual.

For the record

Just for the record. I am a CIVILIAN, and I am not in the US Military. I have not been in the military for over 30 (thirty) years. I have worked for the US Government as a civilian, and I have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a civilian technician.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Going on a new assignment.

Thanks to everyone for their kind comments. I am feeling 100% better, and I checked out fine with the docs here. I have accepted another overseas posting, this time, I will go to Afghanistan, at least initially.

I hope to return to Iraq, soon.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

In training school

Been feeling 100%. Training school is underway, fortunately some of my training has already been completed, through my work in Fort Wayne IN, back in Jan/Feb 2008. I am learning some new systems, video mostly. Looks like a great project.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Medical tests

Delivered more samples to the lab here. They all checked out fine, and I am feeling 100%. I had a colonoscopy exam this morning (25 June). Not the most enjoyable experience, but there is nothing wrong with my inner workings.

I am going to a training conference in July/August, and it will be good to get a break. Then back to work. I love working in Iraq.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Feeling better. More medical tests

I am grateful for everyone's kindness and good wishes. I am much improved, and feeling better every day. I am not 100% recovered yet, and I must go in for a medical test on Weds 25 June. I am having some more laboratory tests run this week. The results are slow to return.

I am changing to a new employer, that I do not wish to disclose at this time. Once my employment is official, I will post the information here.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Feeling much better.

I am feeling much better. I am going in for more tests, and the lab results look promising. Please do not send any packages here just now, maybe later. I am grateful for everyone's good wishes. Iraq is an unhealthy place, and the medical care is substandard.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Still no lab results

The little clinic at Taji, ran out of the reagents necessary to run a white blood cell count (CBC).
I have been able to see a more advanced medical facility. I turned in lab work, and they drew blood (etc), on Wednesday. By Friday 30 May, the results had not been completed. The preliminary results showed me to be dehydrated ( no surprise), and that my tri-glyceride level was high (been high for years).

I am too ill to work, and I am not going to work for some time.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

24 May 2008

Been feeling some better. Still not 100%. The Army doctor had some tests run, but the lab here is inadequate to run sophisticated tests. I read on the internet, how some US Soldiers are coming back to the USA, with parasites. I hope I do not have a parasite. There are sand fleas here, and a bite can give you leishmaniasis. They call it the "Baghdad Boil". You get red spots and inflammation on your skin. At least I have not noticed any of that.

Still hot and dusty. Fortunately, there is unlimited water, and I can get a shower daily. I must force myself to drink water, I am up to about a gallon a day. I will keep taking it easy, and get myself well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Still on sick leave

Been feeling bad. Only able to eat once a day, just no appetite. This is one good thing, maybe I can lose some weight here. The dining hall (American) has unlimited baskin-robbins ice cream, and soda pop. There is tons of fried food, french fries, etc. All the stuff that goes right to your hips.

HOT here, make no mistake, when the sun goes down, the temperature drops to 90. I must drink a gallon of water per day. The sweat evaporates so fast, you dont even notice. At least I can sleep easily. I usually do not need the air conditioner.

I miss cable tv. I sure enjoy CNN, and history channel. I also like having a daily newspaper. When I was in Fort Wayne, I bought two newspapers every day, and read them. Here, the military paper is hard to locate, but it is free.

I miss Freemasonry. There is no way to attend lodge, and it is impractical to set up a Square and Compasses lodge. I have never been to a lodge meeting in Iraq, but there are lodges at some of the bases. Once in a while, I run across a Freemason, there are some in the US Army. But it is seldom.

When I return to the USA, I want to get back into the Oriental Shrine. I had a ball with the Shriners, when I was in Columbus OH, back in 1990. I was in five Shrine clubs, and president of one of them. Maybe when I get my vacation, I will be able to attend lodge. I got to attend a lodge in Moscow Russia, and it was terrific. The lodge is not wealthy, they have no lodge building, so they meet in a meeting room in a hotel. This is in our splendid Masonic tradition, when we used to meet in taverns and inns.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Still feeling sick

I got so sick, I had to go to the American Doctor. The Army runs a clinic on the American side, and the doctor there saw me right away. The Army does not have to help us, but they give us medical care on a courtesy basis. I have been given some powerful antibiotics, and I had to give some blood,etc. so that the lab could run tests.

Being sick in this country is bad news. I work outside in 110 degree weather, and I must run to the porta-john often. One good thing, I cannot look at food, maybe I can lose some excess weight. When I was living at Al Asad and Tall'Afar, I ate too much. Unlimited Baskin-Robbins ice cream will pack the pounds on.

I put together a package of my winter clothes, I am sure not going to need them here! I will send the excess clothing back to my home, and if I need any warm clothing, I can get it here, or from an on-line store.

I did not stay up all night, to see the Preakness Stakes. But I read all about it, on the Daily Racing Form internet page. It looks like Big Brown, is on the way to racing immortality, he might have the right stuff to win the Belmont Stakes, and then retire undefeated. What a horse!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday afternoon

Been feeling a bit ill. There is a virus going around, and I have it. The nurse here, gave me some antibiotics, and started me on one a day, then increased it to two a day, now the med-tech wants me on three a day. My appetite is gone, food is impossible. I sip water, and juice all day, just to keep my fluid balance up.

A dust storm blew up quickly, ths afternoon. There will be a slight dribble of rain, which is not a problem, the dust will settle, and the air will be a bit cleaner. Aircraft cannot fly in these storms, so it will be quieter. I must say, I do not like the choppers flying over my trailer at 0500am, and getting woken up!

One of the team here, has a birthday, so there will be a little celebration, they set up a charcoal grill.

Work is slow, the team rotates their day off, and I get Tuesday off today as well. Work will pick up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My address

My precise location is not disclosed. I do enjoy getting comments, and emails. I get some bulk mail, and books, etc. through a forwarding service in the USA. If anyone would like to email me, my email is if anyone would like to send books and reading material to the troops, just email me, and I will provide you with the address. The troops love to read. (So do I)

Sunday afternoon

Sunday. It has been unseasonably cool the last couple of days. Last night was very clear, I actually saw some stars. It is hard to believe that astronomy began in Mesopotamia, the nights are so dusty, that it is difficult to see the stars on most nights.

Work is excellent, I am so grateful to be working here. We have some slow days, but we will pick up soon. I have been picking up junk parts at the junk yard, and recycling them for use. Now, the resource is about depleted. I went to the wash rack yesterday, and collected some junk parts there. Scrounging is part of life in Iraq.

Still trying to lose weight. I would love to drop 10-20 pounds while I am here. If I can stay away from ice cream and soda pop, I might make it. Last night, there was shredded beef stir-fry with onions and green peppers. They feed us good here. Today for lunch, some of the work force went to the American chow hall on the American base, and ate T-Bones and lobster tails. I don't like to travel all the way to the main base for lunch.

I hope that I get some mail today, the APO has mail almost every day. I could sure use some books. If you like to read, this is the place. I got a bunch of paperbacks at Al Asad, and read every night.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

7 May my day off

Slept in late this morning. Got a shower, and a shave. Picked up my laundry, and ate a small beefsteak for lunch. Temperature not too hot, around 90. The environmental dust, is not too bad, but the high-level dust has blocked out the sky for weeks. I have not seen the stars for some weeks. One thing about Afghanistan, is that being up in the mountains, away from any light pollution, the sky was clear.

Biggest problem here , is the loneliness. I do not have TV in my trailer yet, but soon. Only leisure activity is surfing the net.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Monday morning 5 May

I was sad to hear about the euthanizing of Eight Belles, on the track on derby Day. Horse Racing is the king of sports, and the sport of kings. Sometimes, the sacrifice has to be made. Big Brown, looks like a real champion horse. He may go all the way, in the Preakness and Belmont.

We had two more engineers arrive from the USA last night. These two guys look to be real fine men, I will not work with them, but I wish them well.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Morning, 3 May 2008

Cold this morning. The desert does not hold the heat, so by 0500am, the trailer is cold. The firm wants us on the job by 0700am, not a problem. I like getting to work early. This morning, I went down to the junk yard, and I picked up some parts.

The desert winds, sometimes cool the place down. By noon, the temperature was 75. The chow hall served grilled prawns (shrimp) and beef fried rice. The chow hall food is fine, no complaints from me, except that I eat too much.

The Kentucky Derby is tonight, I may stay up and watch it on the CNN. The greatest horse race in the world.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday afternoon

Got up at 0615am, same as every day. I prefer to take my shower in the morning. Ate a breakfast, eggs, chicken sausage, pepper bacon, tea, mango juice. The mornings this time of year, are cool. As long as the dust is down, the mornings are the best time of day. I went to the salvage yard, and collected some parts.

Back at the office, then I found out about some more parts, so I went over to the recovery yard, and collected some more parts.

The afternoons are getting hotter, I have been through two of these summers, and they are HOT. We had a drill today, they sounded the sirens, and we all had to run to the concrete bunkers, and wait for the "all clear", then we had a head-count.

I need to collect my clean laundry, but the laundry has been closed all day. I have enough surplus clean clothes to last for a week.

I spoke with my mom on the phone, she asked if I was reading. I told her, I did not have much appetite for reading. I read the newspaper here, and keep up with the news on line, and watch CNN in the dining hall. We are getting TV run into our trailers, but it is not on yet.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Monday afternoon

Very busy on Saturday/Sunday. I got a set of coveralls, and worked with the guys, installing the equipment. Hot, and dusty, but I enjoy it very much. The work here, will help the American forces come home sooner. Been feeling rundown, I have some kind of virus, I went to the medical clinic, and he gave me some tablets.

In Iraq, you have a whole new "family" of bacteria, and germs, which you ingest everytime you breathe or eat. I drink only bottled water, but you still get bacteria, from the environment. Without going into too much detail, I have had to keep a straight line for the men's room. You have do drink extra clear water, just to build up your fluids.

Since we are ahead of schedule, today is a bit slow. Wednesday is my scheduled day off, but I am on call, so I will probably have to do some work, I don't mind. Work is very good here, and I want to remain in Iraq for some years, if possible.

We got a very bad duststorm on Sunday. You could not see 100 yards. All of the helicopters were grounded, so it was quiet and spooky. Imagine the worst fog you ever saw, and everyone wearing surgical masks, that is Iraq in a duststorm.

Last afternoon and evening, the sky was pretty clear,we thought the storms were behind us, but the air is getting dustier by the hour, and we will probably face the storms for the next two days.

Just found out, about the tornados in Suffolk VA. I worked in Suffolk 2001-2002, and I lived in nearby Franklin. I really liked that job. I supervised 5 cable TV systems in two states, and some days I drove 300 miles in one day. I was on call 24/7, and I got a lot of call ins. Cable TV is an interesting industry.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Writing to me directly

I posted my email elsewhere on the board. If anyone is interested in writing me directly, please send email to:

I am always delighted to answer any questions, if you leave a question or comment, and you want a direct response, please leave a return email address. I will not disclose either the question, nor the address.

Another Hot Saturday

This morning started out fairly cool. I got up at 06:15am, and ate a small breakfast. I drove over to the junkyard, and picked through some equipment racks, that had been stacked in a pile. I recovered some parts, that may prove useful.

By 10:00am, it was getting hotter, so I just started drinking more water, and trying to keep cool. In this climate, you have to drink 3-4 quarts of water per day, just to keep even with the perspiration. I used to take extra salt tablets, but I think I have enough salt in my system, because we eat so much canned and processed food here. The dining hall has packets of powdered gatorade, if you need to keep your electrolyte balance up.

Keeping clean in this dusty hot environment is a challenge. I keep a bottle of hand sanitizer on my desk, and I use it frequently. There are plenty of places to wash your hands, and with the solar heat, the water is always hot. I got one of the Iraqis to give me a haircut last week. He did a tolerable job, but I just hope he keeps the electric razor properly sanitized, so that he does not spread head lice. The Iraqis are great people, but they do not practice Western standards of personal cleanliness and hygiene.

When I was at Al Asad air base (Aug 2005-Nov 2006), I kept my hair very short. In this climate, and this dust, and the outdoor work that I do, a military haircut is more serviceable.

The work flow here goes in "waves", there will be a large amount of work, and we are all very busy, and then there will be some days, where there is very little to do.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back to work

I have decided to hold off on most postings. Life in Iraq, goes on. My scheduled day off is Wednesday, but I work if needed. The mornings are warm, the heat really builds up in the afternoon. Nights are warm, but I can sleep without the air conditioner. The camp is getting television cabling installed, and we will have TV in the trailers. The dining hall gets CNN, and couple of English TV stations. If you want to give up TV, this is the place.

I am very impressed with the food here, the dining hall is excellent, but some of the guys hop over the American side, and eat with the troops in the Army dining hall. There are some fast-food operations, Burger King, Pizza Hut, taco bell, Popeyes, etc. I ate the Popeyes chicken one time, it was excellent.

I am very impressed with the men I work with. They are all kind, and work hard. I have been in Iraq for two years, and I never worked with Iraqis before.

For the record- I am not in the "green zone", I am out in the boondocks, in a very safe area. I am forbidden from traveling to Baghdad, I have no wish to go there at all.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Freeze on new postings

I have decided to freeze any new postings, on the situation, and delete all comments. I do not wish to embarrass anyone. I will read all comments, but in the interest of fairness, I have decided to hold all comments from publication.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Comment policy further clarified

Once again. This is MY blog, and I have the final say on what is posted. I intend to publish ALL views, both for and against. I want to be fair, and present a balanced view of the situation.

I normally require ALL posters to list their name (or handle). If you are man enough to make a comment, you should be man enough to list your name (or handle). I will, often publish "anonymous" comments, if the contents of the comment are of interest to the readers. But the final say, on what goes on this blog, begins and ends with me. I reserve to right to edit, publish, or reject ANY comments for ANY reason, or for no reason.

To be fair, some comments have been sent in, that are supportive of my position. These comments have contained really vulgar and disgusting remarks about people in masonic leadership positions. I feel, that in spite of our differences, and this sad situation, that we are all brothers, and we should treat each other with respect and kindness. I, therefore, have decided to delete all comments in support of my position, which contain objectionable and vulgar material, that is not in the spirit of Masonry.

I will NOT publish racist, bigoted, obscene, vulgar, lewd, or other objectionable material. I get all types of name-calling, and really disgusting comments sent to me. One man sent an entire page of "n-----" to me, every day for a week. If the fact that such disgusting comments are not published on this blog, is a problem for you, then that is your problem.

If your comments do not make it to the board, please try to remember the policies, which are clearly presented here. Blogs can be had for free, so start your own, if you like.

Letter from a friend


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Comment policy

This is MY blog, and I control ALL posts and comments. In the interest of fairness, I take a very liberal view, and I post nearly all comments, even those I do not agree with. Especially those I do not agree with, because I want all sides to be presented.

I get a large number of very bigoted and obscene comments. I once received a comment that was an entire page of "n-------". I once set the blog to automatically publish all comments, but the vulgar and obscene remarks just got out of hand. I had to put a stop to it.

In the interest of fairness, I normally do NOT publish "anonymous" comments, whether I agree with the individual or not. I feel that if a man has an opinion, he should have the manhood to list his name. However, I review ALL comments for publication, and if the anonymous poster has merit, and his comments will be of interest to the readers, I often publish the comment, regardless.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Masonic Temple construction underway in Baghdad! No Joke!

I get the most interesting E-Mails! This one arrived today!

Hello mate,

Sorry for the late replay we're busy for the last 2 weeks up in north building new school.

We're 5 personals planning to build the temple here in Baghdad we're not starting yet the construction we found the land but we're waiting for the right time, there is an old temple here in Baghdad and there is another one down in Basrah but every body knows the situation out in the red zone so we moving carefully.

deleted ( Logistic and property manager fordeleted owner )
deleted ( deleted owner )
deleted ( deleted partner )
deleted ( Owner of deleted company )
deleted ( Attorney )
We trying to coordinate with the Iraqi government to get the property certificate for this 2 temples if we not ganna get any answer we will start our own one.

There is couple question please:
1. we need to be a free masons, how and where we can do that ?
2. who can help us to build a temple here in Baghdad and did we need to get a permission from a specific temple so our temple be a Certified.

All of us we believe in free masonry and need some body to lead us there is lot of my friend they wanna convert but still waiting for the right time if you have answer for my question please replay if not let me know please so I can try a different way .


Cell: + deleted( Iraqna )



(Charles Martin's comments)

(Names, emails, and cell phone numbers have been deleted in this post. In some countries, people can be killed if it is known that they are involved in Masonry. I have the contact information for the men who are working to bring Masonry back to Iraq. If anyone has a legitimate need to contact the men, please send an email to me, and I will provide the information)


My comments:

I am bowled over, to find out that there are men in Baghdad, who are interested to become Masons, and build a temple here. There is not much I can do, I am out in the boondocks, and I am not permitted to travel to Baghdad.

I wish there were an international fund ,and "team", set up to assist individuals in getting Masonry into new countries. Sort of like "Habitat for Humanity" or "Constructors for Christ".

What do you guys think?

Nepalese New Years

We have several Nepalese Gurkah guards working for us here. Today is Nepalese New Years Day. They bought a goat, and brought him here to the camp. Then they took him out behind the chow hall, and performed a ritual slaughter. They first gave him a name "Osama Ben Laden", and then they held him down, and took a machete, and slit his throat, ear-to-ear. They took a steel pan, and collected most of the blood, which the Nepalese will use in cooking.

They are going to butcher the meat, and chop it into nuggets, and mix it with curry. Tonight, we will have a celebration, and eat curried goat meat and rice. There will be a stereo set up, and dancing with Nepalese music. The Iraqis will set up the hookah-pipe, and smoke flavored tobacco all night.

Life in Iraq! I love it!!!!

Comment from Ed, a Masonic friend and brother


Thursday, April 10, 2008

11 April

Not much to report. This is the best time of the year to be in Iraq. The days are warm, but the real heat of summer is still some weeks away. The nights are cool, I have to put on a sweater sometimes. The dining hall food is improving day by day. Today, I had an excellent shredded beef and green peppers on rice. I would really like to lose some weight here, I would love to go back to the USA thinner.

The work flow is just beginning. The work here is all unclassified, we install radio sets in Iraqi vehicles. But when there are no vehicles, we have to slow down.

A new American engineer arrived today, Merrill Evans, he seems to be a fine upstanding man. I hope he enjoys this lifestyle.

This is an interesting time to be in Iraq. I miss the USA, but I can cope with it here.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday in Iraq

Cooler today. The morning dust was thick in the air, and it gave the place an eerie amber glow. The wind has not been strong enough to blow it away, so aircraft are all grounded. Got up early, got a shower. Ate eggs and cheese and french toast for breakfast. The dining hall is serving South African orange juice, and it is good. Had a bowl of Apple Jacks for dessert.

Worked this morning, drove over to a recycling yard. Stood around for a while, and tried to get some scrap metal. Left the yard, and returned back to the camp for lunch. Cheeseburger, fries, diet soda. I plan to lose some weight here. If I can avoid the baskin-robbins, I can go back to the USA thinner.

Back into the office. Bought a few bits online, I need some large styrofoam cups. Work over soon.

Tomorrow, I will go back to the salvage yard, I could really use a conex container. You cannot be too rich, too thin, nor have too much storage space.

There is some confusion about Military lodges. "Land, Sea, and Air Lodge #1" is a traveling military lodge. It has no lodge building, nor fixed address. It is a real, working lodge, and the charter is from the Grand Lodge of New York, F&AM. You can see the story of the lodge, and see the charter at fall 2005 issue page 32

Land, Sea, and Air lodge #1, is able to do degree work, make new masons, conduct funerals, and do everything that a fixed "bricks and mortar" lodge can do in the USA. LSA#1 has no officers, no elections, no dues. The lodge exists only to serve the needs of military masons, during time of war or international conflict.

I am a member of Master Builder lodge #911, Kenmore (Buffalo), New York. I was approached by the Grand Lodge of New York back in November 2005, and asked to take over the operation of the lodge. The charter is sitting in a museum in New York City, and the lodge equipment has not even been unpacked, since I received it in November 2005.

I have made repeated requests to the Grand Lodge of New York, to obtain a charter or other authority to operate. The Grand Master and Grand Secretary, will not answer my mail.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Getting hot in Iraq. Both in climate, and in military situation. The city of Baghdad is still under curfew. Much fighting in Balad, as well. This war is going to take many years, before there is a successful conclusion.

Today, the base dining hall, served T-Bone steaks and crab legs. Our whole crew got into vans, and rode to the other side of the base, and ate with the soldiers. There was a young female soldier across from me, and I asked her "What is a nice kid like you doing in a place like this?", and she cracked up laughing. The other soldiers were hysterical.

My co-worker wanted to visit the PX, so we went. All I wanted was a newspaper, but the PX was out of papers. I may get a subscription from a USA newspaper, and just get them by mail. The political campaign is underway, and I miss being part of it. Most of these guys are not interested in the campaign.

I got a headset, and now I can call the USA by internet. I called my friend RB Hooks, Jr. last night. I also called mom and dad.

I got my first shipment of toiletries from I was on my last cake of soap, and my toothbrush is so old, that it is almost useless. I brushed my teeth for five minutes, and massaged the gums. My brother has lost all of his teeth, but I have spent many thousands of dollars on my teeth, $1200 just last January! I want to keep my teeth until well into my late years. My mom and dad have been able to keep their teeth, so I stand a good chance.

After supper each nite, I relax with the Iraqi men here. We talk, some of them have good English language skills, but I cannot speak a word of Arabic, it is totally incomprehensible to me. I lived in Saudi Arabia for one year, and Iraq for two years, but the language is beyond me. And I cannot read even one letter, it is just dots and squiggles.

I miss television, I need my daily dose of "Jeapordy". I miss chocolate, cooking my own meals, taking a tub bath. I miss Freemasonry, and going to church on Sundays. I miss driving. Such is life in Iraq.

Friday, March 28, 2008

On our way

Life here in Iraq, is artificial to some extent. I sleep in a trailer, and the shower house is about 75 yards away. Fortunately, there is unlimited hot water. My soap supply is getting low, so I will have to run over to the PX, and buy some more items. The food in the dining hall, is getting better all the time. Now we have cheese for breakfast. The guys are still learning how to fry an egg properly, they usually have the heat on the griddle too high, and the egg white is leathery.

The CNN channel here, is the international version, which is different than the USA version. I need my daily dose of politics, and keeping up with the presidential campaign.

The mail is starting to catch up, I got a package last week, only took a week to get here from the USA. I have ordered a few small items from vendors in the USA, and I expect delivery shortly.

The weather here now, is the best it ever gets in Iraq. Cool evenings, warm days. The 120 days will begin soon. May as well enjoy the good weather, while I can.

Some of the guys are heading over to the USA base today, frankly I just do not feel like making the trip. Some of them are interested in going to the gym, but I have no interest in that either. I miss having my books, and my own cable TV in the trailer.

I finally got my expense reports submitted, the staff back at the home office in Fort Wayne have been terrific.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Two weeks

The firm decided to move our day off to Wednesday. Not a problem. It is only March, and the heat is building. The firm gave me a pair of industrial-grade sunglasses, and believe me, I need them. My personal items that I left behind in Afghanistan, are here in Iraq, but I have not yet been able to get them here. My old firm is trying to locate the items. I hope not too much was pilfered.

I went to the American side of the base tonight, and had a decent meal of imitation crabmeat salad, and beef stroganoff. A dish of vanilla ice cream with maraschino cherries, was enjoyed!

Still do not have decent television here. We get the international version of CNN, so I can keep an eye on politics, I am trying to stay with the elections. I applied for an absentee ballot, when I was in Fort Wayne, but I never got one, so I did not get to vote in the Virginia primary. I registered in person, when I was back home, and I will definetly be able to vote in the November election, whether I am here, or in Virginia.

Been smoking the hookah, with the guys. They enjoy to smoke apple-flavored tobacco, and discuss politics and all about living in Iraq.

Today, we were presented with a phone, and soon we should be able to call the USA directly. I hope so.

I must keep my fluids up. Sounds strange, but you must force your self to drink water, when you are in the desert. I do not feel thirsty, but there is a color chart in the mens room, and if your urine stream is not clear, then you must drink more water. You perspire so fast, and it evaporates so fast you do not notice it. You stay bone dry all day, even though you drink a gallon of water per day. Weird.

My feet and legs were sore as hell for the first week. I had been sitting in the office in Fort Wayne for two months, and not walking. Here, you walk everywhere. My feet have toughened a bit, and there is very little pain.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

19 March 2008

Been in Taji for about a week.

I found out today, that there is a working lodge on Taji. They have a MM degree scheduled for April 6. I am excited about attending a lodge in Iraq, for the first time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

17 March 2008, Taji, Iraq

Arrived in Iraq last Friday. Slept in transient quarters, iron rail bed, and I got the worst backache of my life. Got some tablets, and I feel much better.

Got my computer and balance of my luggage yesterday. Bright and Sunny here, the summer is going to be HOT!!

I will not have much free time to enter comments here, but I will keep up when I can.

Friday, March 07, 2008

7 March, kuwait City, kuwait

Flew in from Washington DC. arrived in Kuwait City. Staying at the Crown Plaza. Midnight flight to Iraq tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

5 March 2008 Lorton VA

Flew in Monday 3 March. I am in Lorton VA. I will be flying to Kuwait on Thursday night, and will be at my duty station in a couple of days after that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

13 Feb 2008

Fort Wayne Indiana. Cold here, 3 degrees yesterday morning. I am still on a hold, waiting for paperwork, travel authorizations, etc. On Friday, I must get another vaccination. I am ready to go, I am getting a little tired of sitting around the hotel, just waiting to go.

I got my flak-jacket (bulletproof vest), last week. I got a helmet, but I had to turn it back in, and I will get a new one soon. The firm still needs to hire a person.

Not that much to report, but Iraq will be very busy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

23 Jan 2008. Fort Wayne Indiana

I am in a training school in Fort Wayne Indiana. I will be returning to Iraq, sometime in February. Fort Wayne is OK, I am staying in a hotel, and eating in restaurants. There is a lot of Masonic activity here, meetings and degree work. On Saturday, I attended a Masonic lunch downtown, and there was a discussion of a new National Masonic library. This is a terrific project, and I am glad that I could contribute.

On Saturday night, I went to a masonic dinner, ate some pie, and chatted about Masonry.

Tonight, Wednesday, I have been invited to a Master Mason degree, I will be picked up at the hotel, and there will be a meal served at the lodge. Man, do I love Masonry.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I am not looking for work at this time

I was unemployed for about three weeks. I am NOT looking for work at this time. I am working for ITT industries in Iraq. (I am in a training school in Fort Wayne Indiana now)