Sunday, July 26, 2009

Journal 20-24 July

SHANK July 20, 2009

July 20 – Monday, already? Every day is Monday. Hard to believe I have only been at Shank a little over a week and in country just three weeks!! The days actually go fast, but the weeks, slow. Why is time so relative? Guess it depends on which relative you’re with just how slowly or quickly time flows.

Morning routine: wake around 0500-0530 (no alarm). PT gear. Call Lora & tuck her in for her night. Hit the gym: 30 mins on a cardio machine (elliptical, bike, treadmill, stairclimber) then weights: alternating between chest/arms and shoulders/back ending with sit-ups. I usually see this DOD civilian (Tom? Rick?) at the gym. This morning he asked me if I had settled in. I retorted, “I hope I never settle in. I hope I never get comfortable in this place.” He laughed and agreed, having been here only a month, himself.

Then, breakfast: oatmeal with yogurt blend. I usually see Cpt Richard Gonzalez of Mee-ahm-mee, Florida. His family is from Domican Republic. Then there is Master Sergeant Gonzalez, no relation, of Manhattan, NY. He’s Puerto Rican descended. Great guys. I keep them both laughing. The other day, Rich was talking about aliens and area 51. (I think he really believes.) He was asking another civilian, Steve, who lives in my B-Hut and is a network engineer at the S2 Fusion Center, whether there are actually craft at Area 51, knowing Steve has some connections. Rich also wanted to know what kind of alien spacecraft were there. I jumped in and said I heard that there were Ewok gliders still loaded with bags of Wookie manure and Bic lighters for setting the bags alight prior to lobbing at the enemy aliens. No one knows what happened to the Ewoks. Some say they moved to the cooler North (Coer-d’alane, Idaho) from the Southwest where they joined a neo-nazi skinhead group, but were quickly laughed out of the area after the head-shaving initiation. Perhaps the kinder, gentler Canadians are looking after them.

Anything, solid or liquid that may have been in Rich’s mouth or craw was propelled from his body. He laughed so hard, he cried. I think he needed the laugh. He has not stopped talking about it, yet and wants to make a slide with that visual imagery for briefing since he is the ISR officer (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) in charge of all airborne operations for Task Force Spartan.

Went to my first targeting meeting. I am finding a vast gulf between what this brigade would like to accomplish and what they actually can get done with the limited time and resources. But that’s war.

July 21 – Afghan Threat Finance Cell members, 1Lt Frazier and SPC Berry are with us for the rest of the week. They are providing us there database and tools for monitoring and analyzing Threat Finance operations in the area. CWO4 David Slyman (HUMan INTelligence supervisor), Cpt Reagan (Acting S2), CWO2 Fleshman (TGT Lead), SSgt Tia Williams (new Threat Finance lead for TF Spartan) and Frazier, Berry and I met to discuss the future of Threat finance for the AOR (area of operations.)

July 22 – I am realizing a role I did not expect to have over here, but why not? Mentoring young soldiers in all kinds of ways, mostly dealing with professional issues, such as how to write a Data Collection and Analysis Plan. How to develop a charter for establishing a new operations cell, how to work magic using Microsoft Excel. It’s refreshing to be around this group of polite, professional, young soldiers.

July 23 –
Breakfast: oatmeal w peaches and peach yogurt mixed. Grapefruit juice x 2. Coffee.
Lunch: Roasted chicken, black-eyed peas, steamed broccoli. V-8 & Grapefruit Juice. Dinner: General Tso’s Chicken, Steamed Cauliflower, succotash. V-8 & Grapefruit Juice.

Had dinner w a bunch of Aggies from the Texas National Guard. 2 are HUMINT resources and the 3rd is a psychologist. Jeff Kinney, Clint and Tom. We reminisced about College Station, etc.

Bible Study this evening covered Chapter 24 in The Purpose Driven Life: Transformed by Truth. “Many of our troubles occur because we base our choices on unreliable authorities: culture (“everyone is doing it”), tradition (“we’ve always done it”), reason (“it seemed logical”), or emotion (“it just felt right.”) All four of these are flawed by the Fall. What we need is a perfect standard that will never lead us in the wrong direction. Only God’s Word meets that need. Solomon reminds us, “Every word of God is flawless,” and Paul explains, “Everything in the Scriptures is God’s Word. All of it is useful for teaching and helping people and for correcting them and showing them how to live.”

Bible Reading today: Genesis 45-50. Can anyone explain to me what Jacob is saying to his sons in Genesis 49? I’m not sure if he is blessing them, cursing them or telling their fortunes.

July 24 – Rough night. Got only 3 hours sleep. Lora and I had a tiff. She went to bed mad at me, while I had to spend all day ruminating about things. Stupid reason, too. Aren’t they all?

Breakfast was a bell pepper, onion, ham and cheddar omelet, 1 biscuit w sausage gravy and strawberry yogurt, 2 x grapefruit juice, coffee. By far the biggest breakfast I have had in a while. I think I needed the comfort.

Lunch was chicken quesadilla, tossed salad, V-8 & Grapefruit Juice with the Gonzalez boys. Dave the TERP supervisor joined us late. TERP means “interpreter” The topic was racism in America.

Read Chapter 2 of The Purpose Driven Life: You Are Not an Accident. God never does anything accidentally, and he never makes mistakes. He has a reason for everything he creates: even me! Why did God do all this? Why did he go to all the trouble to create a universe for us? Because he is a God of love. This kind of love is difficult to fathom, but it is fundamentally reliable. We were created as special objects of God’s love. God made us so he could love us. That is a truth to build a life on.

Bible reading: Exodus 1-7. Every time I read about Moses, I think about the movie “The Ten Commandments.” So, Jacob had Levi who had Kohath who had Amram who had Aaron and Moses with Jochebed (Amram’s aunt.) Question: why did God allow Yul Brenner’s, I mean, Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened and the Hebrew people to suffer more before he finally delivered them? And why so many plagues?

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