Thursday, February 26, 2009

Nits and Noids

I finished a new painting last night.  It's in acrylic, about 30"x24", more or less (I don't have a ruler), and based on a watercolor painting I did a while back.  I discovered that I do not like working in acrylics.  At least here - with Iraq's low humidity, I usually had less than a minute to use any color I mixed up.  Even then, it was like painting with tar.  The acrylics just wouldn't flow or blend or anything.  I felt like I was fighting the paint most of the time rather than thinking about the image.  It just wasn't fun.  As for the image, well, I think it's not bad for somebody that hasn't been in the studio for months.  

The painting was one of the things that I needed to wrap up before leaving.  I got everything at work done, so last night I dove into the painting and finished it.  Today I spent most of the day running around doing the checkout sheet.  It took me over a week to get checked in when I arrived, but almost all the checkout was done in just over two hours.  The rest can't get done until I'm actually ready to head out the door.  

After finishing up most of the checkout sheet, I went for a jog.  We had a really beautiful day here, fairly clear skies, temperature this afternoon in the low 70's.  It was too nice to waste, so off I went for my slow plod around the compound, waving "bueno' tarde'" to the Peruvian guards at all their posts.  (I noticed that they drop the "s" off the end of a lot of their words - took me a long time to be able to do it myself, dunno why).  Now I'm cooling off from the run before grabbing a shower and heading out to my farewell dinner.

There are three of us leaving the office permanently in the next two days.  I was working with the Corps of Engineers on their job offer rather quietly, and about the time I was finally able to announce that I was leaving, another guy in the office (who's been here for a year and a half) announced that he had decided to head home, too.  Then just a few days ago, one of our military officers, a reservist who was here on six-month orders that he was trying to extend, found out that not only was his extension not going to be approved (due to an odd technicality), but that he had to be physically home by the time the orders were up.  And when they started looking at everything he had to do with travel, outprocessing, flight availability, all that stuff, they realized, "oh, you have to leave on Friday" (this was on Monday).  Nothing like a little preparation, huh?  So our boss has NOT been in a good mood this week.  

I've written a good bit about how things have been improving here in Iraq.  Overall, it's quieter now than even when I first arrived in September.  But this morning we got a reminder that all is not yet well.  I was walking to breakfast at the DFAC when there was this ungodly loud POOOOOM from across the river, loud enough to shake the buildings, followed by a lot of rattle from AK-47's.  A lot of rattle.  One of the old hands in our office said it sounded like a 240mm mortar explosion.  It was a very sharp sound, certainly different from that of a car or truck bomb (which are usually a deep "thud").  Baghdad still gets several explosions a day from car bombs or suicide bombers or roadside IED's.  They're mostly targeted against other Iraqis, such as politicians, police, army, or judges.  There haven't been any attacks on the Embassy the whole time I've been here.  

I was picking up a few items in our little PX the other day and got to wondering about some of the things they carry in there.  Now, consider: here we are, a small group of civilians and military, living in a pretty nice compound in a war zone.  You'd think that they'd have a somewhat inadequate selection of the basics.  Well, you're mostly right.  But why would they have a whole bunch of Mad Dog 20-20??  Yeah, they have beer and wine and hard spirits because this is the State Department and not subject to General Order #1 like all military people are (General Order #1 prohibits drinking alcohol and having sex, among other fun things, and applies to all the hormone-crazed young men and women running around Baghdad in uniform).  But wouldn't you think that State Department people would want to give a somewhat better impression to the non-alcohol-drinking Iraqi natives than to have a large stock of Mad Dog??  And over on another aisle, they had a selection of quarts of motor oil and automotive paste wax.  This in a town where nobody has a private car and all the vehicles are maintained by KBR.  The only thing I can think of for the paste wax is that a lot of the military guys shave their heads these days, so maybe a coat of wax would add that final sheen.  Can't think of any use for the motor oil, though.

'Nuf for now.  Gotta get rolling.  Have a nice day!


David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 02/27/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

Shea said...

That's a very good painting, depicts life, and I agree about the acrylics, not so bad when there is extreme humidity, like 90 percent or more, but otherwise, dry so quickly