Al Faw Palace At Night

Al Faw Palace at Night
Al Faw Palace at Night

As the story goes, this is the palace that Saddam built following his glorious victory over Iran after the Iran-Iraq War – another victory that never happened, but hey, it makes a pretty picture.

I live about a half mile from this palace on Camp Victory North.

UPDATE: I’ve wondered since the first time I heard the stories, in 2003 about the truth behind this palace. Reader Shawn advises that this palace is actually called Al Faw Palace.

Since my arrival on this palace I’ve heard too many names for this place to be certain what it is named.

  • Birthday Palace
  • Republican Palace
  • Victory over Iran Palace
  • Presidential Republican Guard Palace
    And so on……

UPDATE: 2018-09-17: Definitely Al Faw Palace – named in honor of the victory over Iran at Al Faw Penninsula during the Iran-Iraq war. Changed the title of the post too.

A Silent Stalker

In June of 2002 my mother turned 50. My step-father called me two months before the event and asked me if I was planning to come up to see her for her birthday. I informed him that I had already put in for the vacation time, and I would indeed be in Wisconsin to see her turn 50. Gary asked me if I could keep the fact that I was coming a secret and show up at the party the night of her birthday, not letting her know that I was in town.

Always one wanting to surprise someone, I decided to play along and didn’t tell my mom that I was going up for her birthday.

As time for the party drew near, my mom started getting sick. Three days before the party her doctors told her the cause – her doctors diagnosed her with Non-small Cell Lung Cancer.

After six months of chemo-therapy and radiation she was cancer-free. She’d beaten the reaper.

Last week her doctors again diagnosed her with cancer. This time the tumor is between her lung, the tip of her collarbone, and her larynx.

She starts radiation therapy on Thursday.

UPDATE: 2018-09-17 – As I re-post the original content of Dave’s Not Here… I get to re-read it all. I have one thing to add to this post: No one beats the reaper. No one.

A Wealth of Experience

Working at this job offers me a wealth of experience. Since the day I started working here I can honestly admit that I have performed a multitude of tasks that I thought I’d never do only a few months ago.

Today, I broadened my horizons by performing a rebuild on a Compaq N610c laptop using parts cannibalized from two others. Three months ago I was deathly afraid of even loosening the screws on a laptop. Today I’m more concerned about robbing the broken to fix the not-so-broken, since parts replacement is a sensitive issue here.

My old job was in Long Distance Network Translations and I sat at a desk in a climate controlled office. In the past two months I have learned to run cable outdoors, in the rain, while crawling under a building through the mud. I have learned to put up 2 2.4 meter satellite dishes and one 3.8 meter dish. My skill-set is regularly broadened with the programming of various types of Cisco Switches and Routers.

I have learned how to install, from the ground up, a Nortel Meridian Norstar PBX (no big feat that, but I’d never done it before). I have learned to program said PBX – again, no big thing.

I have become a pirate of the highest quality, locating and acquiring parts and tools from the unlikeliest of places. In fact, today I received an Operation Iraqi Freedom cap with a Jolly Roger affixed to the front panel for my skills in piracy in support of the team.

I’m learning the fine art of building a network from the ground up, not having had any previous experience I am learning, the hard way, all the things that I need to make a proper job of a start-up network.

When I leave here in a year or three, I can’t imagine what my résumé will look like.

3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

3rd Marine Expeditionary Force did a remarkable job of not damaging a religious site when breaking into the Saddam International Airport’s Southern side.

As I understand it, the rubble in my photos below represent what was left of the Elite Republican Guard barracks/headquarters after the Marines rolled through.

Elite Republican Guard Base

Elite Republican Guard Base

Elite Republican Guard Base

Elite Republican Guard Base

Elite Republican Guard Base

Elite Republican Guard Base

One of My Selfish Reasons for Being Here

I have many reasons for being in Iraq at the moment. The first, and most obvious is debt-relief. I want to be out of debt and free.

Another of my reasons is my future. I want to live a lifestyle that requires a bit of money in the bank. I want to make one of these my home.

Call me crazy, but I crave the contact of very few people and it is a life at sea that will grant me the quiet that I crave.

No, They Don’t…

Ken Garfield, a Special Contributor to the Dallas Morning News, writes that Door-to-door missionaries deserve a smile and a moment of our time.

I disagree. While I’ll agree that there is no justification for outright hostility, I also see no reason to allow them to soak up my time proselytizing to me about a faith that I’m not going to adopt in 20 minutes. While Mr. Garfield may have time to divert to the daily attacks on his privacy by Witnesses from any church, I don’t, and I didn’t when I was living in Dallas either.

When I return to the States I will be just as courteous in initially answering the door as I have been in the past, but should they not take no for an answer, out will come the hostility. I don’t like salesmen standing on my stoop trying to insist that I need some new product, especially if that product is their version of God.

Not in the News

Naturally this sort of post from Glenn Reynolds, like a lot of the stuff I post here, will never see the light of a news day. Anything that makes Bush look like a good guy is bad press from all perspectives except Fox News.

Don’t know if you’re reading, but thanks for that post Glenn.

More Checkpoint Fun

Today was a slow day in the IT world for me, so I offered my time to the site manager.  He asked me to escort the host country labor manager, Mr. Hussein, around the base on his many errands.  When Mr. Hussein wishes to move the Army requires that he be accompanied by a soldier and a civilian contractor, so I agreed.

We left the camp to take a dump truck off the airport and then go to another camp to check on the progress with septic tanks.  After dropping off a few welders and a crane so that the work on the tanks could be done at the other camp, we turned back to our primary work site, by way of the checkpoint to pick up a sand truck.

At the checkpoint we were informed that the checkpoint was closed due to the detection, by bomb dogs, of an explosive device five minutes earlier.  We were locked down on the airport.

With nothing to do, we turned back to go to the work site, only to find out that the checkpoints allowing entry to the worksite were similarly closed.

It turns out that two dump trucks had been identified by two bomb dogs as containing, or having contained bombs or bomb-making materials.  EOD was called in and the trucks were cleared, the drivers however were arrested.  I’m not sure about their status this evening, but the trucks were owned by the drivers, and the fact that the dogs sniffed out bomb-making materials, making me think that perhaps the trucks will be at the checkpoint until the Army moves them and the drivers are likely the latest additions to the POW roster.

This afternoon I spent a bit of time thinking about the quantity of explosive load that a dump truck could contain, covered in dirt and camouflaged for a trip onto the airport.  The load wouldn’t be a small one, that’s certain.

A sobering thought…

Long Day Today

I spent the day out at my construction site.  A lot of new stuff has gone in out there, and the construction crew was asking for some support with networking printers, fixing laptop issues, and providing IT support for a third-party plotter.  I‘m still working on the plotter, but I think that for the most part the guys out there are happy with the outcome today. 

Tomorrow I will be back out there, and those guys maximize use of IT personnel when they get us out there, so I‘m not sure what my night will look like for blogging. 

I talked with a few soldiers from the Missouri National Guard/Reserve and they gave me a little more insight into what was going on last night.  While the newspapers were simply reporting explosions, the soliders told me that the fighting included Bradleys and at least on M1A1 Abrahms tank.

I may post more later, but right now, I‘ve got to take care of more issues.