Thursday, October 27, 2011

Laptop Arrives!

Less than two days after sending an email full of doubts concerning the specifics of address I had sent, the package arrived here! It's a Hewlett-Packard ProBook 4525s with a classy dark brown aluminium body. It runs very cool and has a functioning battery (something my Dell Inspiron failed at rather early). The HP is about an inch wider than the Dell but about an inch less deep.

I am still getting used to the off-center touchpad and keyboard as well as getting all programs, settings, and such back to what I prefer. I had forgotten exactly how much better Chrome is compared to Internet Explorer.  I'm sure there will be more technical observations later, but for now I am just really stoked to have a nice laptop I don't need to worry about.

Images from
Enough of that gushing, though. I want to say thank you to Brandon and Sarah for putting this together and especially to every one of you who donated to make this possible. I will try to do something for each of you to show my appreciation. Letters or knicknacks from Kuwait? I don't know what sort of "free" time I will be afforded, but I will work something out. It was an unpleasant week or so moving from one base to another while the old Dell refused to function or cooperate, but I was completely surprised when Sarah told me that there was already a computer ordered and on its way here. The jpeg "advertisements" she made made me smile each day. BC, you picked a classy machine. Thanks again everyone; I don't deserve you all.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Mail and a Presidential Announcement

I have been hearing some contradictory things about mail right now.  For example, I was first told mail would be shuttled up to us until we leave.  I found out that the last day for outgoing mail was the 12th, on the 13th.  Later it filtered down that all mail postmarked after the 14th of October would held for us in Kuwait.  Two days ago we received a big load of mail, but none of it seems to be for my company.  I doubt anyone knows for sure, especially considering how plans and schedules to leave the country may be changed:
Photo from CBS News, AP/Susan Walsh
Many of you probably noticed that recently President Obama said that All US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year and "home for the holidays."  Pretty exciting to hear from the commander-in-chief himself, but unfortunately, I have not heard the same through concrete Army channels.  Our orders have not changed yet but then if/when they do, I'll probably be one of the last to know.  As of right now, I expect to be back in the United States for the Superbowl (first week of February for you non-football types), but I have no specifics concerning dates or the amount of leave we will be allowed to take.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Army Terms to Know Part III and other things

PC: Patrol Cap.  Basically a pillbox-style baseball hat; rank on front, name on back.
RPG: Rocket-Propelled Grenade
RKG: Ruchnaya Kumulyativnaya Granata.  A Russian-made anti-tank grenade.
IED: Improvised Explosive Device
UXO: Unexploded Ordinance
EOD: Explosive Ordinance Disposal
NTV: Non-Tactical Vehicle.  Civilian vehicles used to move people/equipment around base.  Usually American-made trucks and SUVs.
JBB: Joint Base Balad, formerly Logistics Support Area Anaconda
Kiowa, Blackhawk, Chinook: Helicopters are generally named after Native American nations.
Bradley, Abrams: Tanks are generally named after Generals.  While the Bradley follows this naming convention, it's really more of an armed/armoured personnel carrier and some Bradley crews take offense to being compared to "death before dismount" tankers.

This is coming from another location in my tour of Iraq; new roommate and new routines to learn.  The laptop had a bit of a frightening fit recently, but it's working once more.  Internet connection here is less reliable but quite welcome after an absence.  Scrabble on the Kindle became rather popular in the interim, so much so that I visibly disappointed folks when I chose to read a book on it instead.  I have an as-yet-untested mailing address here, but email is still the most reliable way to contact me.

So you've probably noticed that I've changed the look of the website around a bit.  The old background was alright, but just one of the defaults offered by blogger.  This background is a picture I took during my first semester at Pitt of a lamp above a door to the Carnegie Library in Oakland.  It's been flipped and resized, but the colors are unchanged.
The header/title is based off of Brandon's over at  Just taking the size/simplicity from him, really; I don't think I'm completely finished fiddling with mine.  This has the wrench lotus from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and a unique Cavalry patch as well as a more accurate/specific spelling of Arete.  One day I'll have the time, perspective, and research I need to do posts on those.