Sunday, July 12, 2009

Random Thoughts

It's a scorcher today. We're getting into the full-blown heat of summer, with highs around 115 and lows in the upper 90's. Its the kind of heat that makes your metal eyeglass frames burn when they touch your cheek. Sunglasses are mandatory, or else you'll be blinded by the transition from indoors to out. Those of us who are office slugs almost never go out. I've shifted my jogging from tootling around the compound to pounding the treadmill in the air-conditioned gym. When its 100 degrees at 9 pm, I'm not going to jog outside!

Walking over to the DFAC in the morning, I usually pass by a line of Iraqis waiting to go through security. I always say "sabah al khair" ("good morning") or "sala'amu aleikum" (peace be with you). You should see their faces light up! I guess they're used to Americans passing them by, or ignoring them, or something, but give them a greeting in Arabic and they're surprised and delighted. It's always good to start the day out with a smile.

The Washington Post has an excellent article today on life in Baghdad. It's a very well researched, composed, and written look at the competing tensions in Iraq. The balance between security and freedoms, coupled with nostalgia for a cosmopolitan Baghdad that hasn't existed for decades, is a delicate one here. The writer, Anthony Shadid, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his coverage of the Iraq conflict.

We lost four Marines in Afghanistan today. Ever since my two friends were killed in Fallujah, I feel these losses personally.

I was able to shed two big jobs today. They were time sumps that pulled me away from a couple of really important tasks. Now I should be back down to 12-hour days.

Ever hear of Clif bars? They're one of those energy bars and are very popular over here. One of our DFACs has cornered the market on the Black Cherry Almond versions. Every night, they have boxes of the things out, giving them away. Unfortunately, they taste like mud pies. However, you gotta pay attention, because every now and then the DFAC will put out something really good, like the Crunchy Peanut Butter ones, without telling anybody. I can eat a bunch of those. But not tonight. Tonight they had the mud pies. Sigh.


  1. I love black cherry almond clif bars!!! of course, I'm not eating them in the desert...

  2. Hola Skip, I remember Bagdad's 2003 hottest day (at least for me) was a 145 dF on 18 August, with no Clif Bars. I will stay tuned, "sala'amu aleikum", "la paz sea contigo".

  3. Hi Skip. I thought you might like to know that after several weeks of working with the Senate Foreign Relations staff, Chairman John Kerry has placed a remembrance into the Congressional Record regarding Maged Hussein and Terry Barnich, your two friends who were killed on Memorial Day 2009 when their vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb outside of Fallujah, Iraq.

    Kerry addressed the memorial statement to President Obama during the July 7, 2009 senate meeting in Washington, DC.

    I am sure that Maged’s and Terry's many colleagues and friends, both at Embassy Baghdad and around the world, are grateful for this honourable tribute.

    I have copied a summary of the CR page below.

    [Congressional Record: July 7, 2009 (Senate)][Page S7189]
    From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


    Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I would like to say a few words about two brave Americans who were tragically killed in Iraq earlier this year. On May 25, 2009, Terrance Barnich of Illinois and Maged Hussein of Florida died when an improvised explosive device detonated near a construction site outside of Fallujah.

    Terry Barnich was the deputy director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office in Baghdad. He had signed on for multiple tours in Iraq and was the senior American expert responsible for expanding the generation of electricity across Iraq. Dr. Maged Hussein was the senior adviser for water resources in the Iraq Transition Assistance Office and a civilian member of the Army Corps of Engineers. He, too, volunteered for multiple tours in Iraq.

    These two men represent the very best America has to offer. Both gave up the comforts of home to live in trailers in Baghdad in an effort to help provide a better future for Iraq. Countless thousands of Iraqi civilians have access to electricity and potable water as a result of Terry's and Maged's efforts. Along with the personal tragedy, their loss represents a serious setback for American reconstruction efforts
    in Iraq. We mourn their passing and offer our deepest condolences to their families.

  4. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 07/13/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.