Thad Update, November 2004

Resolutely slouched in a plastic lawn chair, sipping a non-alcoholic sangria, our intrepid adventurer fights bravely to fend off an afternoon nap. His last reserves of strength having been spent futilely battling with the entertainment center in a valiant attempt to make it entertaining, he is left with no choice but to soften his death grip on the remote and succumb to numb-minded unconsciousness after being assailed by a surprise one-two of "Friends" in Arabic and BBCs 'round the clock rugby coverage, in hopes that when he comes to the evil sun will have set, freeing the surrounding country side from the evil grips of Ramadan.

Something more than a month has passed since last time I sent one of these. I've since completed the armor project previously mentioned with some success. No one lost any major limbs, no fist fights broke out, no lives ruined, and no major explosions... but I still consider it a success because I got to drive a 10-ton crane. (Tip: If you want to know if someone is licensed to drive a piece of major construction equipment, make sure you say "Do you have a license for one of these?" not "Can you drive this?" as that's rather open to interpretation. He he he) As a whole, the Army Depot who agreed to put these kits together was not prepared for how extensive and involved this kit is compared to the ones they were already putting on. That made for a rough start, but once underway, things really got choppy. The military's answer to everything is to throw either more money or more people at it... even with you've spent every penny you can and the major stumbling block is having too many people on-hand. (why are we a superpower again?)

So, with all that behind me, the virtue of this project is having gotten to spend some time with a few soldiers who are heading over the third berm for their first time. There are three berms (big earth works) between Kuwait and Iraq. The first at Kuwait's side of the "no man's land" second at the border, third at the end of Iraq's "no man's land," where all the trouble begins. They're all quite nervous, but that's to be expected. I've heard back from a couple of them, and they say pretty much the same thing: "Wow. It's boring here. Except for the mortars and rockets." I head north again, myself, in a couple days. Back to DEFAC three times a day, solitary tent living, and driving a 20,000lb pickup. We should be done with this project around February, maybe sooner if things go well.

For your viewing pleasure:

This is a pieced together view of Kuwait's skyline by night, as seen from our expediter's apartment in Kuwait. The darkness towards the right of the picture is the Persian Gulf, and the bright lights in the center of the picture are from a newly constructed football stadium (Yes, I mean soccer).

These are the Kuwaiti Towers. I guess they're a really famous landmark. Everyone makes a big fuss over them. "Ooh! Did you see the Kuwaiti Towers?" "Want to see a picture of the Kuwaiti Towers?" Well, now you've seen them. Awe inspiring aren't they?

No real idea what this building is. We suspect it's going to be a restaurant, or an auditorium, but it's not finished yet, nor is the jetty that leads out to it, so we can't figure it out for ourselves.. but it sure looks cool at night! The lights on the sails change color every few minutes.

Next is a picture of an under construction apartment building. OSHA doesn't operate in this part of the world. Everything here is made from stone and concrete. It's eight stories tall, and will be hand cased in decorative block work. Please note that all that scaffold there is made from tied together rattan or bamboo, and that the concrete forms used were all made of scrap wood.

Now that you've had a taste of Kuwait... this is where I live. These are the streets of Arifjan. My tent is the third from the back. Now, picture rows of tents like this, 20 tents wide, and columns of tents 50 deep. That's where we all live down here. Mine has "horse stalls" in it. Picture a horse stall, made from 3/8" plywood, furnished with a bed, lamp and end table. That's where I've been living for the last month.

At long last.. Me, the soldiers, some guy named Carl, and a truck. We're doing A-Team impersonations.... well, Hannibal really. The cigars we my thank-you to the soldiers for helping me pull off the really, really difficult. I get them sent in from The Red Salamander in Grand Ledge, MI (open more often than not).

Take care all. Sorry for blowing out your in-boxes, but I figured you'd rather that than not hear from me... and if you'd rather not hear from me, I can always give your addy to the spam-bots.