Saturday, May 10, 2003

EXPLICATION OF BLOG

Silly me - should have mentioned it sooner.

The term "blog" is an abbreviated form of the phrase "web log"

As in - a diary or series of postings made to the world wide web.

Best I can figure, must have been a phenomenon of the South early on. We've made many lifetimes of dropping letters and syllables we find to be unnecessary or inconvenient.

J'yall 'ready know that?
AND YOU THOUGHT WAR IS EXPENSIVE FOR THE NATION...

Today is the last full day CPT Patti has to herself before beginning the process of heading to Iraq via Kuwait.

As I type she is in the kitchen preparing some wonderful italian dish. Already I can hear the boos and hisses from the masses. "How on earth can you allow your wife to cook on her last night at home?

Did you note the subtitle of this blog? That "sweetest woman on the planet" stuff isn't mere hyperbole. My darling wonderful wife, aka CPT Patti just loves to cook. And she does it well as my girth will attest. She says she has missed cooking since she works so many late hours. So tonight, after initializing the GPS receiver (more on that in a moment) I said "lets go make some dinner". To which the darling replied, "OK, but I'm cooking."

And so I'm blogging.

Meanwhile, though to be certain I'd jump up and down with unrestrained glee if the President were to phone and say "thank you for your willingness, but why don't you, CPT Patti stay home with your husband"...(as if) a small part of me will be pleased when CPT Patti is sequestered in the manifesting room, cut off from contact with the outside world. What small part of me? Why, my check book of course!

Earlier today we went to the PX for the last few items. Miracle of miracle there were 3 handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers there (GIs have been snapping up GPS receivers left and right since learning of the deployment). So, today, we bought one for CPT Patti.

Well, I've been keeping an informal running talley in the back of my head - and the GPS receiver officially put us over the $1000 mark in special purchases for CPT Patti as she prepares for deployment.

Now granted much (most?) of this stuff is stuff that CPT Patti will need to try to achieve some small level of comfort (mosquito netting for the cot) or to prevent pain (did you know sunblock now comes in SPF 50? Chap Stick in SPF 45??) But if the 9 bottles of insect repellent prevent a swarm of Iraqi sand fleas from burrowing into CPT Patti's skin (I'm not the only one who thinks she is sweet...the bugs tend to agree...and they vote with their mouths, if you know what I mean) then every penny is worth it.

So what else does $1000 buy? Well, two foot lockers. A rubber maid basin to serve as a sink/washing bowl (Kevlar helmets replaced the old two piece WWII steel pot - kevlar is better at stopping bullets, but you can't shave or wash your socks in it like the old steel pot, so is this progress? well, depends on the day and its context I think it is fair to say), a veritable pharmacy of over the counter drugs, a slew of uniform items, a new multi-tool/knife set (Gerber), a few snacks, some CDs, at least 800 batteries (hint - next time W looks set to open a can of whupass on some country buy stock in EVERREADY. Just trust me on this.) a compass, the GPS, another knife, 18 pad locks, and goodness me I can't remember what else but of this I am certain. $1000+. Even though the list above doesn't come close (maybe it was 8000 batteries...)

Now my guess is that most folks who have never done this think that come war time Uncle Sam hands you everything you need, kicks in a little hazardous duty pay and off you go.

Fact is, we figure that CPT Patti has to be deployed for 2 months before all the extra pay she gets covers the cost of preparations. Not that there is any way she won't be gone for 2 months.

And this is just one soldier. There are 15.000 soldiers in the 1st Armor Division.

If we come out of the economic doldrums anytime soon thank a soldier.

Matter of fact, go thank a soldier whatever the economy.

Now the downside to this is that soldiers tend to shop the PX first. Especially here in Germany. And shopping at the PX is a benefit because the PX does not collect sales tax (since there is no Federal sales tax...yet). So - state coffers are not going to overflow on account of this deployment. But those who believed in Reaganomics should be ecstatic about now.

Oh - I promised more on the GPS. Now, you know what a GPS does right? It tells you exactly where you are on the planet...accurate to within about 45 feet in the case of CPT Patti's model. Well - when you first turn it on you must "initialize" the receiver. In this process the GPS receiver "acquires" sattelites and downloads data. Took us about 30 minutes even though the book says it should take 5.

Anyway - once it had "acquired" all the satellite data - I was astonished to see that the receiver even had the correct date on it. Amazing! The sattelites tell the GPS receiver the date. Oh...and it also had the time as well.

But there was a problem. The time was off by 7 hours. Exactly 7 hours. Hmmm. Does anyone else see a problem here?

Way back before the day (it was that long ago) every little town and burg and dorf just sort of figured out what time they thought it was there and were happy. But then came the age of railroads and some genius figured out if the train arrival and departure tables were going to make any sense at all then it would be highly beneficial if the timekeeping systems in those towns and burgs and dorfs were synchronized to some standard. This lead to Greenwich mean time, 24 time zones (mostly, except parts of Nepal are off by X hours and 24 minutes, what is that about???)

Ultimately...I think you see where I'm going with this...ultimately what time it was for you came to depend on two factors...the first being the progress of the Earth in its daily rotation and the second being...wait for it...YOUR LOCATION!

And while I is an interesting exercise to know what my latitude and longitude are in Germany AND what time it is in Arkansas...it seems, ultimately to be of little practical utility.

Do you think the software guys sat in a circle and said..."Hey - here's an idea...let's offer an incentive for folks to buy our most expensive model...one that knows exactly where you are and whether you should be preparing for breakfast or just sitting down to Tea.".

But then, I don't trust software guys.

Not kidding before...go thank a soldier.
ITS GOOD TO HAVE SMART SIBLINGS

My brother Scott pointed out to me that this blog could work in reverse...and let folks communicate with CPT Patti.

It would work like this...if you are someone I know - I can allow you to join the editorial team. This would give you the opportunity to post notes on the blog...notes that Patti (and everyone else) could see when she logs in.

OK - I've done this for Br'er Scott...if you are interested, please send me a note. (For that you must have my e-mail address which I will not be posting here for security purposes.)

By the way - it isn't terribly hard to post notes...but I recommend you not try unless you consider your computer skills to be fairly strong.

Of course, you can always just sent your thoughts to me and I can post them for you.

Choices, choices.
OH LOOK Perhaps we can all go visit CPT Patti ourselves!

Friday, May 09, 2003

Hi everyone! I am checking out my new blog. Of course, all the thanks goes to my most wonderful and handsome husband who created and set it up. Right now we are at X-64, which means I will be "wheels up" or in the air in 64 hours. I am solely concentrated on fully enjoying every minute with Tim and indulging in some of my most favorite things. Such as, tomorrow is the day that Tim will take me to Wiesbaden Air Base where they have a Popeye's and Chinese Restraurant that I like. I really want to eat some fried chicken, fried rice, and red beans & rice! Also, we will go to the BIG PX there and I can buy some new CDs for the plane ride and Tim's brand new putter, which is a belated birthday present. So, for right now, I am extremely happy to have time off with Tim and I'm excited about the upcoming great adventure. Take care & God bless all of you! Love you all!!!!
REAL LIFE LAWYER JOKE?

This story amuses me on a couple of fronts.

Not sure if it is the sense that a bunch of lawyers are so happy for good press (even if they had to go all the way to Iraq to get it.) or perhaps it is the princely sum of $1000 they gave him. As I recall he made 4 trips to the hospital, accepted personal risk in drawing maps, walked at least 6 miles to deliver the information. I'm guessing that works out to about $8.60 per billable hour. Is that the going attorney rate in Delaware?
Hi all -

Sitting in CPT Patti's office...she is packing her "A Bag", er uh, will be packing it once we finish laundering the Desert Cammo Uniforms (DCUs). Should we add that to the column of cool things about the Army?...company grade folks tend to have offices near washing machines...

Ever heard the phrase "just in time logistics"? Well, today the supply sergeant came in with the ballistic plates for the new body armor. Just in time. Supply Sergeant said these are a "set". So, we began to insert them into the brand new body armor vest. Problem. Vest has 2 small and 1 large pockets for the plates. CPT Patti's "set" of plates included 2 large and 0 small.

Well, can't be too bad...we still have until Sunday for our logistics to be "just in time".

BAGHDAD BOOT SCOOT AND THE BRINKS BRADLEY

From Stars & Stripes News...

Things havent always been so orderly.

On the first day of the Army security detail, workers fearing for their cash worked themselves into a frenzy. Some tried to scale the concertina wire, ending up cut and bloody.

Troops fired some warning shots, then they fired up the CD player, Cockman said.

"We started playing country music to calm the crowd", said Cockman 30, of Matthews, N.C. "Pretty soon, people were snapping their fingers."

Like Brinks guards in camouflage, the soldiers bring the cash to the bank every day in armored vehicles — either a Bradley or an M-113, Cockman said. At the end of the day, they take it with them to a secure location.

So far, troops have helped 6,000 North Oil Co. workers get paid, Cockman said. Troops will do the same for other companies when this detail is done.

"You kind of feel like you’re doing something nice, helping people get their money,” said Abraham, 24, of Redlands, Calif., “Maybe this will help the local economy."


Read the entire article here
IN CASE YOU DIDN'T KNOW

Most blogs, this one included, read from the bottom up...scroll down to the bottom to see the earlier posts...
Completing the record...this from an e-mail on May 8th, 2003

Hi all -

Just keeping you informed.

In the most specific update to this point we found out that the plane carrying Patti and her company to Kuwait will fly on Monday the 12th of May. They are supposed to be "wheels up" at 10:10 am local time here which is 4:10 am for you on the east coast.

However, as you might imagine it is not as simple a process as showing up at the airport for a flight to Atlanta. The process will begin on Sunday morning our time...and we family members will be hugging our soldiers good bye about 10:00 on Sunday night as they board the bus.

It appears Patti will have Saturday off...for a last little break for a while I am certain.

Please keep praying...

Still completing the record...this post if from an e-mail message I sent on April 21st.

Hi all -

Just wanted to keep you updated on the latest information that we have.

On Friday the commander of the 1st Armored Division, MG Sanchez, addressed the leaders of the division. According to the General the 1st Armored Division is headed to Baghdad to relieve the 3d Infantry Division.

Their mission is likely to be to conduct civil-military operations (CMO), which is a bit more than simple peace keeping. If you would like to learn a bit about CMO you might like to check out this site

Patti's company loaded all their trucks and trailers onto barges on Saturday to be shipped to Rotterdam for transloading onto the ocean-going ships.

Finally, and subject to change almost daily, right now we are expecting Patti and her soldiers to board planes to fly to Iraq sometime between the 7th and 9th of May. That is just over two weeks from today.

Of course, everyone wants to know how long they will be there. All we can say at this point is "up to a year".

But lets hope it isn't nearly that.

Completing the record...this post was originally an e-mail from April 17th 2003

Hi All

Just wanted to pop in and keep you informed.

You may have heard Secretary Rumsfeld say in his press conference on Tuesday that the Pentagon has cancelled some deployments to Iraq. The news is reporting that the 1st Cavalry Division (Fort Hood, TX) will not deploy as scheduled.

There is an old saying in the Army..."obey your last order first". In the case of the 1st Armored Division the last order received (so far) is to deploy to the mid-east. So - unfortunately, as of this moment we have nothing to indicate that Patti's unit deployment will be cancelled. Patti is working nearly around the clock to get her company's vehicles ready for shipping. I'm hoping once that is done she will get a little down-time...she sure could use it about now.

Of course, if the truth changes on this I will let you know. Meanwhile we continue to appreciate the prayers on her behalf.

Love to you all,
Completing the record...this post was first sent as an email on March 31st, 2003.

Hello All -

Just wanted to bring you up to date as to whats going on with Patti and the 1st Armored Division.

Updates one and two went only to family members - for this one I've included some of our closest friends.

If you have listened to the news about the war lately one of the themes you have heard is the media questioning whether we have sufficient ground troops in Iraq to handle the mission.

(Now just a word about that if you will indulge me a moment for my personal opinion - I get a little irritated because I guess I believe if you are going to ask a question then you ought to be inclined to listen to and believe the answer - otherwise, why ask it? In my view the media mouths run incessantly but their ears are highly selective.)

The Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Central Command Commander GEN Franks have all been asked a hundred times each if we have "too few troops" on the ground for this mission. And each one of them has said look - we've been flowing forces for some time and that continues - just as we planned. But still the breathless, vapid so-called reporters can't get off the question.)

Well, as if to try to shut these guys up once and for all the Pentagon made it clear late last week that over 100,000 more troops are on their way. (Just to be clear, all these troops have been under deployment orders since well before the first bomb fell on Baghdad.) You may have heard how the 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood is now deploying its soldiers right now.

Anyway, the point you need to take from all this is that Patti and her company will be among those 100,000.

There is no doubt about that. The 1st Armored Division will deploy.

When? Well, we don't have an exact date...but it may be instructive to think of a deployment as a process instead of an event. And the process has begun, in that everyone is working long hours trying to make sure everything is as good as it can get before they step on that airplane. Me - I'm guessing the troops in our neighborhood are gone in a month to 6 weeks, tops.

Previously we believed that the 1st Armored Division would be deploying somewhat after the fact to perform peacekeeping duties. That no longer appears to be the case. Hostilities continue...and so we must at this point assume that to be the environment into which the 1st Armored Division deploys.

Patti is feeling the full weight of the responsibility of command right now. She could truly benefit from your prayers, and those of any prayer groups you are plugged into.

Matter of fact, so could I.
Grand opening day...the day we set up the blog to keep track of CPT Patti and her adventures as she sets out for Iraq. I beg your indulgence as I learn the technical aspects of keeping the site. Tim