Posted by Michelle on May 21, 2003 in Michelle
More from Robert:
Major Raphun, my Command Judge Advocate, gets about 2 care packages a
day, full of food. Because of this, our office is littered with food.
We damn near have a pantry in the corner.
This has become an attractive nuisance. Hungry people from all around seem to come here and want food. Most just give you that uncomfortable pause. You know, they say things like “Wow that is a lot of food … (pause) … I sure am hungry … (pause) … I could really tear up some food right now … (pause)
… You just have to let them talk, disappoint them, and then let them
We actually had a Captain come in and just ask for a container
of our ‘Crystal Light.’ I was not even nice. I said “NO, WE ARE
HORDING IT!” He looked real disappointed and wandered away. The funny
thing is it wasn’t my ‘Crystal Light.’ I don’t even really like the
stuff. It is just this weird survivalist mood we have lapsed into here.
We are all like this. A riot will break out if we get an ice truck and
someone outside our unit tries to get a bag. It would be akin to
committing suicide around here. We are slowly devolving out here. I
was nice to people at the beginning, but few seem to reciprocate. So
now if you are not in my unit or section, don’t bother asking for
anything … unless you have something to trade.
Posted by Michelle on May 18, 2003 in Michelle
It is about 0009 on Sunday and I am having trouble sleeping, so I though
I would write an email about my day.
Yesterday, for those of you who didn’t know it, was Armed Forces Day.
It was suppose to be a holiday of sorts around here. We have not had a
day off since we arrived in Kuwait 7 weeks ago, so we were looking
forward to today. The first fun activity was a 5k run this morning.
The idea was that there is nothing to do that is more fun than getting
up early to run in the desert. I did not participate in this event.
Instead, like most people do on Saturdays or holidays, I went into work.
Around midday we heard there was a health fair going on near the PX.
They would weigh you and tell you how much weight you lost since getting
here and how to avoid getting malaria. This sounded like great fun, so
me and my Command Judge Advocate walked the half a mile to the PX to
participate. I was real excited because with the half a mile walk in
110 degree weather, I was sure I had lost some more weight. To our
disappointment, when we got there the health fair was already closed.
We ventured back to work where we learned two wonderful pieces of news.
First, there was no mail for the unit. This was the third day in a row
that there was no mail. And second, there would be no ice. This was
for the fourth day in a row. Lack of ice does not sound that bad until
you try to live in the desert. You see, you dehydrate from the moment
you get up in the morning to the moment you go to bed at night.
Consequently, you have to drink liters of water all day. If there is no
ice, you end up drinking hot water all day.
Later on in the day, one of my soldiers came into the office, needing
someone to drive her to the hospital for what she called the “butt flu”.
I went to dispatch the JAG vehicle and meet one of our cooks in the
office. She was also sick so I drove both of them to the hospital and
waited for them. They gave my soldier some medicine and keep the cook
overnight for observation. By the time we got back, it was near the end
of chow and there was nothing left. This is usually not a big deal,
missing one meal, except the unit decided that since the cooks were
dropping like flies in this heat, there would be no more hot meals until
we got some ice on a regular bases. So I missed the last hot meal for
who knows how long.
While I was at the hospital, an engineer I was sitting near told me that
a method of cooling water and drinks was to put the bottle or can in a
tube sock and soak the sock in water. He said it would not make the
liquid cold, but would cool it off some. Being at the end of my rope, I
decided to use a pair of tube socks, a cooler, and some Pepsi I had
boiling under my bed, and try this idea. To my surprise, it works, with
only the slightest aftertaste of tainted water and Hanes.
A new bed for Rob, they found the frame
It was about 10pm and I was getting ready to shower. Behind our tent,
one of the soldiers in our tent had built a makeshift shower. This
makes life a whole lot easier, since the shower point is about a quarter
of a mile away. Just before I went our to take a shower, I was talking
to the guys in the tent about what a terrible day it had been. I said
to the guys “You know what would make this perfect right now, you know
what I would love … a sandstorm”. Not 10 seconds after I said that,
we got hit with a sandstorm. Within seconds, the tent was filled with
sand. As we began to zip up the flaps of the tent, I began to go nuts,
cussing and screaming. About that time, the one light bulb we have in
the tent (the other shorted out a long time ago) began to dim. And the
it went out, the fan stopped, and we heard the generator die. So now we
were sitting in the dark when we hear a crash. It was the makeshift
shower crashing to the ground into a million pieces. I decided that I
was going to give the storm, ten minutes and then, storm or no storm, I
was walking to the shower point. I began to announce this loudly to
everyone in the tent, as I paced up and down looking at my watch with my
mini mag light. After 10 minutes, I grabbed my soap, my mini mag, my
towel, and my washrag and walked to the shower point. I covered my face
with my washrag and went up to the sign-in table. I signed in and took
After the shower, I put my washrag in the middle of my towel, rolled the
towel, rapped it around my face, and began walking back to my tent. I
had my flashlight out when I heard a dog barking. This base has packs
of wild dogs around that will attack humans. I thought to myself “This
can’t be happening, somebody is out there messing with me, pretending to
be a dog as some kind of joke”. But then I thought “Who in the hell
would come out in a sandstorm, sit near the burms, and hope someone
would come in that direction from the shower point so that they could
pretend to be a dog”. I shined my light over in the same direction
again, and then this time heard multiple dogs barking. At this point I
started walking back to the shower point, when I decided to brave the
dogs and try to get back to the tent. The moment I shined the light in
that direction, I heard multiple dogs barking and running. Hearing
this, I took off, with my towel rapped around my face and took the long
way back, behind the mess tents and near our main buildings. I made it
to the tent unscathed, but dirtier than when I left for the shower.
So I am now I can’t sleep in our tent because it is as hot as a sauna.
This has been a bad day, even for Iraq. Hopefully tomorrow will be
Followup from the next day:
We had a memorial service this morning for our comrade who did not make
it through the sandstorm last night … our field shower. He gave his
life so that others could be clean. Buddy, we hardly knew ya.
Posted by Michelle on May 15, 2003 in Michelle
My good friend Rob from college is an Army reserve lawyer stationed in Iraq. We email as often as he can – more now that the hostilities are down. I asked him to take some photos and he did!
I put on my full battle rattle, chambered a round in my
weapon to go meet with the most vicious Iraqis in the area, the lawyers.
We set up a meeting with some Iraqi attorneys in Al Nasiriyah to discuss
some real property issues which had been coming up. One of the guys we
spoke with was the president of the local bar association. There
practice of law is actually remarkably similar to ours. He basically
told us that all the claims we have been receiving are bogus. It was a
very helpful meeting.
The funny thing is that these guys were all Ba’ath party members, but I
think they have completely abandoned that now. There are now more than
happy to help Americans, believe me. The whole thing about Ba’ath party
membership will always be an issue. We will have to deal with former
Ba’ath party members. They are the only ones who are educated and could
actually rebuild the country. As long as we clear out the war criminals
and show the others the … error of there ways, I think it will be OK.
It would be like trying to run Russia without former communists. Just
can’t be done, so do the best you can with what you have.
These are pictures from my trip to Al Nasiriyah today. The hospital is
the hospital where the POW Jessica Lynch was being held before U.S.
Special Operators stormed the place and got her. The statute is one in
the middle of the street. The ‘Al Nasiriyah 3′ is from the streets in
the business district. Marines control the Nas, so it is a real dump.
The mule picture is just a picture of a mule I saw. We were stopped for
traffic and the mule looked at me, so I took his picture.
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Posted by Michelle on May 14, 2003 in Michelle
Rob emails me about how they are trying to figure out if anyone can really own commercial real estate in Iraq.
This is actually a pretty pathetic meeting we are having. In the JAG Corps, there are a lot of active duty JAG. The problem is that there are very few who bother to come here. And the few that are here are in Doha and Arifjan, eating at the Burger King and Pizza Inn, while sleeping in air
Up in Iraq, I have seen nothing but other reservist, like myself. So we have all these claims come up, where this person claims to own this building we have taken over and the like.
The real question is whether an individual could have owned private property in the previous regime. The Ba’ath party were socialist. Therefore, if the property were owned by the government and the people were just ‘leasing’ it, then there is no claim.
This is a big question and I felt stupid for asking the guys in the rear. Turns out I should not have. We have waited two weeks and they still cannot answer it.
So we have taken matters into our own hands and got a couple of Iraqi attorneys to talk us today about real property law in Iraq. I guess we will find out the answer today and email the those in the rear.
Posted by Michelle on May 12, 2003 in Michelle
Rob and I exchanged some emails today
Thing are ok. I was eaten alive by bugs yesterday. I went up north and the mosquitoes ate me up. Other than that, I am just trying to stay cool. It was over 110 again here. Damn this country is hot. Now I know why your average 25 year old looks 45.
Are you interacting with the locals much?
Sometimes more than we like. I do some claims, but mainly I work within the wire here. Some POW work. Whenever you drive anywhere, your vehicles are inundated with beggars and kids trying to sell you stuff. You have to just ignore them.
Are they happy you are there?
Good days and bad days. Lot more mood swings than in the states. There is absolutely no privacy here. People are everywhere you go. That is hard to get use to and make it hard to live. I, for example, live in the same tent as my boss. I am glad I like him and we get alone well, because if I didn’t I would go crazy. He is everywhere I am.
Is it just you and he in the tent, or do you have more roommates? How long do you think you’ll be there?
I have 8 people in my tent. That beats Arifjan where I was in a warehouse with, I don’t know, 500, 800, 1000. How long we will be here is the $64,000.00 question. We talk and speculate about it all the time. I really have no clue to be honest. The sooner the better. The summer is going to be real h
Posted by Michelle on May 5, 2003 in Michelle
Hey, we just got the internet back up today. It was 108 again today. You would think, now that I was at a base I would get more mail, but it rarely comes. The postal service here is about 10x worse than the us postal back home. Scary.
I wish I had a clue how long I will be here. At least through the summer is a good guess. After that I have no clue.
What have you been up to? What is going on in NC? Nothing that interesting here. Lots of military justice issues. Lots of bad boys and girls losing stripes. Other than that nothing much. I have got to do some work with POWs and I am in charge of the Ziggurat of Ur. That was the birthplace of Abraham and is about a mile from here. Cool place.
Write if you get the chance and tell me how things are going.
Posted by Michelle on May 4, 2003 in Michelle
A friend of mine has been after me to take some photos of my house. I finally did and I thought I’d post them here as well.
One of the reasons we picked this floor plan was the way everything was open and flowed – either french doors or arches with no doors between most areas. The rooms are huge to begin with and coupled with the “flow”, it gave the house a very comfortable feel.
It was originally a three car garage but since we don’t have kids and it’ll be 16 plus years before they drive, we had it changed to a two car garage and the kitchen/living room expanded. So your eyes don’t deceive you, this is about the biggest kitchen you’ve ever seen.
We’ve lived here almost three years now. Later, I’ll post photos of the four bedrooms upstairs and the bonus room that is a memorabilia room.
Front of house on sunny day
library with the wallpaper we made from book pages
Dining room – every photo turns out bad. But the art and chair pads are sage, the walls white. I got the table last summer from Workbench and it has sliding leaves that make it so it can seat 10 comfortably.
hallway from library and dining room (thank you Martha Stewart mirror kit). That table opens up as a CD holder but I fell in love with since it was narrow and I needed a hall table.
Hallway with two magazines framed (ESPN and Entertainment Weekly) that one of my websites has been in
my messy office (laptops are in living room right now)
Living room view into the kitchen/breakfast table. to the left is a great B&W photo from NYC
Huge print I love (it is five feet by 3 feet)
my sweet 40in sony vega TV and fireplace (sorry for all the messy cords, Jeff was playing xbox and I’ve got 2 of my laptops in the living room changing machines). Above the fireplace is an awesome shot of City Lights bookstore in SF that we visited on our honeymoon.
kitchen view one
kitchen view two
kitchen view three (sorry, still haven’t packed up the mosaic stuff)
breakfast area/bar/craft corner
corner before outside. I found those boxes at an close out furniture store – they are fake leather covered with a map pattern on top.