Showing posts from February, 2010

Riding The Midnight Bus

This is a Big post. Not really a lot of places that are withing walking distance of each other. We are fortunate to have our own truck, but the majority of the people here on COB Adder get around via one of the many buses that constantly make their way around the base.

I had to ride the bus for about 2 weeks when I first got here. I didn't really mind too much though. It was actually a great way to learn my way around the place. Have you ever had those quick tours in a car, where the dude who's been here for 6 months is showing you all the important places? lol, you don't remember a darn thing the next day. To make it even better, they gave me a map of the base that was most definitely NOT to scale. I only got lost 4 or 5 times before I began to figure out what some of the street names were ... and more importantly which bus route took me to work, the chow hall, and my CHU.

For the most part, the buses are driven by TCNs (Third Country Nationals), although there are…

Totally Tubular

Nothing profound to say tonight. I got too caught up watching the coverage of the Hawaii tsunami to come up with a good blog post. I used to live right on the water in Ewa Beach, and still have plenty of friends in Hawaii. Glad to see it looks like they dodged a bullet. Now time to focus back on Chile. We actually sponsor a child, Manuel, from Chile ... I hope that he and his family are ok.

... and now I need to get off of here ... do a bit of homework and get some sleep. Catch up again tomorrow.

Art Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

You know what's cool about being a "photographer" ... as opposed to just "some guy with a camera" ?

I can post up a picture like the one above; tell you that it's "Art" (who's deep meaning, I'll leave to you to interpret); and you might just have to believe me. ;-)

Todd, the "guy with a camera" probably could have just taken the easy way out and gone with the helicopter picture for his project365 today:

But every once in a while, it's more fun to step outside the box, shake things up a bit, and try to make people think (darn, wish I knew a few more cliches) :-D

So, did I make the right decision?

Is "funky cool colors" more interesting than "boring old helicopter"?

Either way, it's too late now, I'm about to hit the publish button on this post.

I hope you enjoy my "art" (whichever one you chose).

Will This Dust Ever Go Away?

Do you remember that dust storm I talked about a few days ago, in the background of my dramatic bridge picture? Well, it still hasn't gone away. Our visibility has been 2 miles or less for 3 days now. Don't worry though, I decided not to bore you with pictures of the dust (because let's be honest it's not very exciting).

But, I did want to take this opportunity to share a picture of what a typical weather briefing that we do looks like. In the scene above, one of my forecasters (Kevin), is delivering the news to a helicopter pilot that he's going to have an interesting flight tonight, because the dust just won't go away ... and we don't know why.

Seriously, sometimes being a weather forecaster can be a bit frustrating. Normally at this time of year, when we get a dust storm, it clears out sometime the next day. It's pretty unusual to have light winds, which we've had for the past two days, but still stay as dusty as we are. Now, during the …

I Miss Having A Cell Phone

If you've been following along with my pictures and stories, you're probably aware that we don't have it all that bad over here ... certainly not compared to some troops in other parts of Iraq, and definitely those in Afghanistan. But, human nature being what it is, of course I've still got a few minor gripes ... mainly about my access to the Internet (cue: wife Ana rolling eyes as she reads this).

In some ways, being over here is almost like a flashback to the 90s. I'm truly thankful to have Internet in my room, but I also forgot how frustrating VERY Slow Internet can be ... seriously, it's like I've got dial up AOL again ... except thankfully without having to listen to the modem trying to connect (or worse, the dreaded busy signal).

With just a little more than a month left here, there are a couple things I am really looking forward to when i get home.

The first is obviously seeing my family. BTW, with the winter storm at Fort Hood yesterday, the kids g…

Busted For Speeding

Would you believe that even here on our little deployed base, we've got traffic cops? Seriously. I've never been pulled over for speeding, like these unfortunate gentlemen. However, I did have the "pleasure" of dealing with one of these young Airmen a couple of months ago, when I first got here.

I was driving one of my guys back to his room after his shift was over. About half way there, he realized that he'd forgotten something he needed, so I did a "Ueeee" and turned around. About a 1/4 mile or so later, I noticed the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I wasn't speeding or anything, so I figured the cop was going around me ... I realized I was wrong, when he pulled up right behind my truck.

So he walks up to the truck and asks "Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I said "No, what did I do?"

Him: "There was a stop sign back there. You didn't come to a full and complete stop."

I swear, it took every ounce…

One Antidote For Dull and Ordinary Pictures

I very rarely; ok pretty much never; just save/share my pictures straight from the camera (it probably has something to do with the fact that I shoot everything in RAW). But really, a fairly large part of making a dramatic picture, happens in the post processing stage ... back in the film days, this "magic" took place in the dark room ... now in the digital age, having some photoshop skills are every bit as important as a "nice" camera and a good eye.

My personal preference is for a "high contrast" type of finish on my shots ... especially landscapes. If I'm going to make a picture look significantly different than the original, chances are pretty good that it's going to be more contrasty and more colorful.

That's just how I roll.

I am by no means a photoshop "expert". Heck, I'm probably not even an "advanced amateur". One day, I will get around to taking an actual photoshop class (I just noticed that they have one in…

Ok I Guess I Won't Talk About Jock Itch

But if you're a guy, and you take a trip somewhere really hot, the LAST thing in the world you want to Forget is your bottle of Medicated Body Powder.

... I'm just sayin ;-)

A Pile Of Sand On My Front Porch

I remember when I deployed in 2007, my mom (as moms are wont to be) was all upset that I was going "off to war". I explained to her at the time that in all likelihood, I would probably be relatively safer during my time in Iraq than I would at home ... simply because I wouldn't have to drive back and forth to work every day (on Kunia Road).

That prediction proved to be very true in 2007, and is basically the same here this time (although I do drive more here at Ali AB than I did in 2007 at Tal Afar). I don't go off post, and I don't do a whole lot of flying in helicopters. For the most part, my "view" of the war isn't a whole lot different from here than it was back home in my living room in Texas.

That being said, I don't have a big wall of sandbags right outside my front door back at Fort Hood.

... it does make me think every once in a while.

p.s. with about a month and a half to go, I think I'm just ready to be home already. :-)

But I Don't Want My Picture Taken

Tough, I'm taking it anyway !

I swear some people will go to such great lengths not to have their picture taken. Seriously if they'd just stand still for even a couple of seconds I might be able to create a seriously cool portrait for them. But NOOOOO ... instead they have to go moving around, and trying to cover their face with their shirt. Well hey Mr "you're not getting MY picture", the joke's on you this time ...

If I look really, really hard, I can't almost make out your face. :-)

... and even though it's all motion blurry and everything, it's actually still kind of an interesting picture. lol, and since I honestly didn't have anything better to use for my picture of the day; behold, I hereby proclaim this my 19 Feb 2010 masterpiece!

It's all good though, it's less than two months until I get home, where I'll have at least two little girls who really, really like to have their pictures taken:

Jaiden counting to 10 (with …

My Macbook Pro Got A Bath Today

Today was cleaning day. My room finally got to the point where even I couldn't take it any more. So I turned in my laundry, changed the sheets, swept and mopped the floors, and dusted all the furniture, and last but not least broke out the wipes so I could clean my laptop and extra monitor. And then, because having a nice clean room is a relatively "special" occasion, of course I had to commemorate the event with a picture ...

And how do you like that product placement? I wonder if Endust has an affiliate program? ;-)

Catch you tomorrow.

p.s. Even though my computer is nice and clean, I do sort of feel sorry for it ... because I have to admit that it's not in nearly as good a shape as it would be had it stayed "Ana's Macbook Pro". Why do women treat their toys so much better than we do? :-)

p.p.s. update: lol, ok this is really just for shits and giggles, but since my picture looks so much like an ad for Endust, I might as well put the Amazon link …

Young Soldier Reenlists In Iraq

We have to go to a lot of meetings and ceremonies in the military. Of all of them, reenlistments are probably the ones the I like the most. It's always fun to see people, especially the young troops, who like their jobs enough to want to keep doing them. Today it was Specialist Kennedy's opportunity to extend her time in the Army.

... and it was an opportunity for me to take a few of my favorite kind of pictures: semi-candid people shots. ;-)

At Least I Got A Ripe Tomato

We have a pretty nice sandwich line at the dining hall. There are 4 or 5 different kinds of bread, various meats and cheeses, and of course egg and tuna salad. Then, just like Subway back home, you get to choose your vegetables. This is were it matters who's working the counter that day. There's one guy who is very meticulous. He'll make sure everything is neatly on the bread, dig through to find the perfect leaf of lettuce, and even make sure all the grill lines stay straight when you get the sandwich toasted.

But then, there's another guy who really doesn't seem terribly happy to be there. We actually came up with a nick-name for him. We call him "Green Tomato Guy" ... because unlike Mr. meticulous, this dude just grabs whatever happens to be on top of the pile (even if it's totally green) and plops it on your sandwich.

So this afternoon, when I went through the line to get an egg salad sandwich to bring home for dinner, I was none too thrille…

Spring Comes Early In Iraq

I noticed we have a lot more birds flying around the past couple of days; Spring must be almost here. Actually, it kind of already is. The high temperature has gotten up in the 80s for the past two days, and is even forecast to climb into the low 90s by the middle of the week. I had to turn on my air conditioner.

I can't say that I'm terribly disappointed about missing the winter in Texas this year (Ana said it snowed the other day), but in some ways, the weather here is kind of "Texas-like" ... the 90 degree highs this week, are coming only about 7-10 days after our coldest 3 day stretch since we've been here ... earlier in the month the wind was blowing, and the lows were in the 30s almost every morning.

This week is much better. But hopefully I'll be out of here before it gets too hot again. It is "a dry heat" ... but I'm sorry, 125 is Hot no matter what kind of adjective you put in front of it. ;-)

In other news, apparently I have a mou…

She Has The Key To My Heart

Well, since my Valentine is thousands of miles away, in a totally different country, February 14th is really just another day this year.

But even though we won't be together today, I can't help but to reflect on how fortunate I am to have found someone who holds the key to my rusty old heart.

I love you my wifey.

Is This The Men's Room?

So on my way back to work this afternoon, I have to take a quick pit stop at the bathroom. As I'm standing there taking care of business, I happen to glance to my right and notice these nice pink curtains on each of the shower stalls.

Uh Oh ...

Did I accidentally go into the woman's bathroom by mistake? (it's happened)

Wait ... no, I'm standing here at a urinal ... it must be a men's room.

But pink shower curtains ... really ???

lol, perhaps we're jumping the gun a bit on this whole ditching don't ask don't tell thing?

Or ...

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. Maybe we're just getting in the spirit?

I don't really know. But either way, it was my 5 second head scratcher of the day. :-)

Keep havin Fun!

How Forecasters Really Guess The Weather (Humor)

For some you non-weather people (most who read this blog actually), this joke may be a little "inside baseball", so I apologize in advance. But I know at least a few of my facebook friends are fellow Air Force weather forecasters, and might appreciate this. Then again, I bet most of you actually suspect that this is how we come up with our weather guesses anyway ...

The following is taken from the picture above:

Forecasting Dust 101

by: SSgt Kevin "KJ" Johnson

Acquire one regulation dart board
Write the numbers 0, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 on sticky note sheets
Place above mentioned sticky note sheets on dart board
Place blindfold over eyes
Place forehead on end of baseball bat and spin around in circles for 5 minutes
Run as fast as you can into a wall
Get up and realize you are a total idiot
Pick up 3 darts and throw them (at the same time) at the dart board
Lowest value is the visibility in miles. If you fail to hit anywhere on the dart board, repeat steps 4-9

My Favorite Lens

I got my first dSLR about 5 years ago. Like most people, I started with the kit lens, a 50mm, and a cheap 80-200mm zoom lens. Shortly thereafter, I learned about "quality" lenses, and went on a buying spree. The lens that's on my camera most of the time is a Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 (I took this picture with that lens). But my favorite lens, is the picture's subject ... my only "pro" lens ... the Canon 70-200 F4L. I bought it used on the buy and sell board for I think $450 (which was a pretty good price).

Over the years, this has been my main portrait lens ... especially since I'm very fond of "candid" type portraits ... it's much easier to do with a nice telephoto lens. I have another long zoom; the Sigma 50-500mm; that is a lot of fun. But, that sucker weighs almost 3 lbs, so it's not my favorite.

Anyhow, I'm just rambling. I found out yesterday that I'll be going up to Baghdad next week; and staying ther…

Who Is Manning Your Control Tower?

Do you sometimes feel as though you're going through life on auto-pilot?

That's it ... "deep thought" Tuesday.

p.s. I hope you like the picture ... kinda reminds me of Christmas

Super Bowl Monday In Iraq

The Super Bowl party over here took place overnight, into very early Morning. If you wanted to see the game live, you had to stay up all night, and go to your unit's designated "party" area. But for many it was worth it ... not only to see the game, but because this is the one time of year where we get Real Beer. Every person got to have two beers of their choice to eat with their dinner of chicken wings, pizza and assorted other fried goodies. A good time was had by all.

lol ... I am a typing zombie right now. I stayed up all night to work; slept a couple of hours this morning; and am now just trying to eek it out until about 7:30pm, so that hopefully I can sleep all night, and get back on schedule.

It's all good though, the sacrifice was worthwhile ... my guys got to watch the game ... and after I got off work, I even got to stop in and have my two beers too !!!

"See" you tomorrow ...

Not The Goodyear Blimp

Since it's Super Bowl Sunday and all, I just couldn't help thinking that this scene reminded me of driving towards the stadium on the day of the big game. Only thing is, that's not the Goodyear blimp, and it's not taking pictures of a sporting event. Oh well, the imagination can be a wonderful thing sometimes.

Speaking of the big game, it starts at about 2am over here. I will not be watching it live though. I'm actually just about to hit the rack, to try to catch a nap so that I can work the mid shift for one of my forecasters. We actually get 2 real beers while we watch the game tonight ... and since my guys work harder than I do, I figure it's only fair that they are the ones who get to go to the party.

That being said, I do intend to find a way to try to get some images of the Super Bowl Party for tomorrow's picture/blog post of the day.

p.s. If any of you want to email me with "updates" during the game, I'll be up ;-)