Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Update from my Brother in Baghdad

This just in today:


I hope everyone is doing well. Things are going good on this end (as good as it can be in a war zone). One month down and only three more to go. Time is still moving fairly rapidly for me, though the last few days were a bit slow (a good thing I guess).

On a good note, the last two weeks we've seen a decrease in rocket attacks. My friend, who is based at another location in Iraq, reports the same. On a bad note, folks are still being taken out by improvised explosive devices (IEDs). We are making great strides in the area of counter IEDs, but I don't see an end to this problem any time soon. That said, we still have a lot of hard work ahead, and for the most part, everyone here is still very motivated and mission focused. We definitely have the best military in the world.

Well, my daily schedule has not changed much from when I first got here. I still get up around 5:30 am to conduct physical training (PT). After which I shower, eat breakfast and then attend a morning team meeting. The rest of the day is spent keeping our unit up to speed. This means coordinating missions, fixing equipment, writing reports, acquiring supplies and equipment, etc. This daily routine is broken up with lunch, dinner, the daily attack(s) and or mission(s).

So far I've found all the missions to be very interesting and rewarding. Rewarding in a sense that I know my team and I are helping keep people safe. Ironic is it not? I like my job very much, but it is too bad we need folks like myself. Sure would be a better world if we didn't need people doing my job.

Take care for now,

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Team Wellsport finishes in the top 20 in the Primal Quest

Just thought I would point out that our superhero team Wellsport finished in 15th place in this year's Subaru Primal Quest - check it out.

Friday, September 24, 2004

When All Hell Breaks Loose

This just in from Suzanne Yack on the scene of the tragedy in the Subaru Primal Quest:

In the face of tragedy
September 23, 2004

By Suzanne Yack

Some people read tea leaves or palms of hands. I read faces.

When I travel from place to place, I make it a game to study the faces of my fellow travelers. At airports, in elevators or on the top floors of a tall building, I sort people into two groups: Helpers and stampeders. In an emergency -- a bomb, a fire, an earthquake -- which of these people that I travel with will reach a hand back to help others, and which will stampede for the exits?

I look for character, selflessness, caring and resolve in their faces.

As a volunteer at Subaru Primal Quest this past week, I played the same game. But where at most places I count 99 stampeders to every one helper, at SPQ every single last person landed in the helper group.

Adventure racers, from all walks of life, have in common the traits of courage and willpower.

These are the people who you can count on in a tight spot, the ones who will strive until every last alternative has been explored, to save the life of a fellow traveler, whether it be a fellow adventure racer or a mother struggling
to free her child from a burning car.

And as I started meeting the racers, I discovered that, indeed, many of them are in the helping fields: Marines, state troopers and even a few massage therapists and chiropractors.

The helper category could not have been more proven than in the swift actions by Patty Lynch, who was the race official at Checkpoint 21. A volunteer, Lynch is also an adventure racer who is currently still recovering from a climbing accident that broke her back in two places.

She is a Santa Clara police officer, and when the call came in that extreme injuries had been sustained by a racer on Mount Illabot, Lynch relied on her 11 years of police work to mobilize headquarters. Familiar with the language and
protocols of rescue operations, she moved seamlessly from leisure into action.

Her previously smiling face grew determined and focused and I could sense the gears turning in her head, covering the territory of what needed to be considered in this emergency that was unfolding.

She also knew that Team Nike/ACG, coming up the 14-mile mountain bike ride from 2,000 feet to 4,000 feet, would be required to pause indefinitely at Checkpoint 21 and would not be able to continue onto the orienteering portion of the course until the situation on Mt. Illabot was assessed. She knew that at some point their delay, too, would become an issue.

Helicopters passed overhead -- one, then another, then another. Team Nike/ACG noted their presence and sensed the situation was serious. They spoke of the injuries they knew must have occurred, and expressed hope for the teams on the mountain.

There was no whining, even as these racers curled deeper and deeper into body-heat-protection positions to ward off the chilly air.

The evening sun was dropping behind clouds, and Nike/ACG didn't have clothing for 40 degree temperatures. Soon, their faces were tensing from the cold and their lower jaws began to chatter. They started jogging in place to stay warm.

Lynch made the call to remote headquarters at Rockport and received the answer she sought; the four racers were hurried into a race vehicle, the seat warmers were turned on and the heater was dialed to high.

The faces of the racers, now realizing that they would be sent back down the mountain on their bikes, a 14-mile retreat in the gathering darkness, showed no bitterness or angst, just quiet resolve and a few squinting glances off into the distance that revealed their concern for their friends on Mt. Ilabot.

There were others who brought quiet, swift competence to the moment. Winslow Passey, a mountain guide knowledgeable about the Cascades who happened to be at Checkpoint 21, stayed on the scene to be available should assistance be needed.

The competent voices from the race's remote headquarters at Rockport telegraphed the quick response of a seasoned and mountain-savvy crew.

Tragedy sometimes happens in all outdoor sports, just as it does at NASCAR or the neighborhood pool. Whenever we venture out of the safety of our houses, tragedy can strike, and sometimes we don't even have to step out the door.

But in an emergency, I'd want an adventure racer at hand. I'd want any one of the 56 teams to be present. They may race for the finish line at Orcas Island this week, but none of them are stampeders. These are the ones that will do
whatever it takes to help a fellow traveler.

They aren't superhuman, but I know this much: These are the people you can count on when all hell breaks loose.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Good news in the PQ

As I thought they would, the Subaru Primal Quest is back running. Hopefully we will have a champion in the next day or so. No doubt, this will the best way to honor them memory of Nigel.

Putting a human face on death in the desert

Check out this Washington Post location to see if you know anyone personally who has died in our glorious effort to kill and be killed.

The land of a million targets

This just in from my dad:

Why ''Homeland Security'' is a joke. ''HS'' is, has been, and always will be provided by the US Army.

How would you like to be appointed Director of Homeland Security for Iraq? I'll write my congressman. The USA is the land of a million targets, defending them would use all our resources, a little like trying to preserve your life by not breathing - wouldn't want to wear yourself out, would you?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Bad News on the PQ

Looks like life is a dangerous sport - and you don't have to be in one of the war torn countries to loose it. The Primal Quest race in Washington State is on hold due to the accidential death of the AROC navigator - Nigel Aylott:. What a tragedy. No doubt, the race will go on, and he would have wanted it to, but it doesn't deminish the sadness of all involved. Including us spectators from afar.

Although, this accident puts these kinds of races in perspective. They are tough, hard and people are durable only to a point. The reality is, someone dies marathon racing, or even just road racing at shorter distances every year - on bikes, etc...death is no reason to stop living, unless of course, it is yours.

The Wisdom of Cross Country Runners

Quote in today's sports section in the SF Chronicle: "Why would you want to practice double-days with a bunch of stinky football players when you can run alongside a nice young lady?"

Monday, September 20, 2004

Wellsport Rocks Primal Quest

Those of you who are not too distracted by the maddness that is the US Political scene might be interested that I have some friends racing in the Subaru Primal Quest up in Washington - yes, the State and not that wacky district suffering from permanent windbag syndrome. Check it out. We are following Wellsport! And they are in 10th place currently.

Monday, September 13, 2004

9-11 was no fun in Baghdad

This just in from my brother:

It has been a busy week plus, I've left the family off a few of my last e-mails. Didn't want the family to start worrying about me. My wife already let me know that she didn't want to hear about my work here in Iraq. I think her exact words were "too much information." She tends to worry a lot. Also, I don't need Mom worrying more than she is probably worrying already. If you want, I can dig up and forward you a couple of e-mails that I sent back to a few friends and coworkers. The e-mail will get you up to speed on life here in Iraq. Just let me know. Otherwise, all is going well here. Things are very busy one day and slow the next. It all depends on the bad guys outside the fence.

This year's 9/11 anniversary was extremely busy. The enemy hit us with multiple rockets (as expected) to mark the occasion. One of the rockets hit within a tent city severely injuring one person. The victim is now in the U.S. and last word is that he may not make it. The guy was hit while coming out of the shower trailer. The blast and frag took off most of the guy's lower half. I feel pretty sad for the victim and his family. Taking this into account, morale took a slight hit on Saturday, but it was only a glancing blow. The Army loses a guy or two every week it seems. That said, everyone here is still mission focused, i.e., get the country back on its feet so we can bring everyone home.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Another instalment from Iraq

Hello all, I just got a bunch of pics and some email from my brother in Iraq. I posted one that doesn't give away position at all. Just see the shot in the prior posting.

Here are the email notes:

Attached are a couple of photos taken within the last week. I hope everyone is doing well. Things here are still great! Still lots of action, which sure makes the time go by fast. As to the photos, the night time shot was taken the same night/morning we got into a firefight (last week). The daytime photo was taken this morning outside one of our Forward Operating Bases (FOB).

The picture below was n Iraqi Nasser Rocket. One of many that have been launched at us. Dug down to the warhead to see if it was intact. It was in pieces with explosives throughout the hole.

Photo 0165 in prior posting: Iraqi Nasser rocket going up in smoke. Fire in the hole!

This is what qualifies for fun in Iraq
All images copyright A.D.A.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Moonrise Over Long Island Sound

The Moon that you see
Looks down on both you and me
And questions what should be
Almost menacingly
Silent, yet for all to see
>All images copyright A.D.A.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Educational Equal Opportunity

It is interesting to hear the politicos chat up the topic of education in the USA. Almost invariably, they never do address one startling fact.

There is a dramatic difference between an equal opportunity for an education, and an equal opportunity for an EQUAL education.