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.