A few changes to note – I have put links into the header images. The only one that actually takes you somewhere is the files tab. I’ve set up a semi-primitive photo gallery with which you can browse my collection with great ease. The template is probably about as developed as it will get (it matches the color scheme, displays fine, and reads fine, good enough).
The wedding trip was good. It caused a lot of trouble as far as school goes, which I’m only just now recovering from. All of my teachers have been unhappy with my attendance record thus far. And I’ve failed more than one test. But, I’m getting back on track, so I expect things to go back up.
We left Friday morning, had an uneventful 9 hour drive, got to the town “Chelsea, Michigan” at about 9:00 PM, had some nasty pizza, greeted our host (don’t know their names, they were a little odd), and sprinted off to the theatre to catch the 10:15 showing of Serenity. My friends, if you have not seen this movie, do yourself a favor, and see it. It was extremely good.
If you are unaware as to the nature of Serenity, it’s a movie based off the series Firefly. Firefly was one of Fox’s ‘create and cancel’ swarm, lasting only 10 episodes because every episode occured on a different day at a different time each week. It’s a sci-fi thing, but it’s not an in-your-face type in which each character’s personality is defined by the hyperbalinrakonater in their respective weapons. If you know what I mean. It’s good stuff, go watch it.
Saturday afternoon we ran off and visited Josh, John (I forgot to take pictures of them, sorry), and my Uncle for a few hours before the wedding. I had some good talks with all of them, and as always, that good old Froehlich thing makes it all a lot cooler. The wedding itself (that is, the wedding of my Uncle, and I guess my “Aunt Pat”, as of now) was short and sweet, lasted about 15 minutes, occuring in a tiny Methodist church in town.
The coolest photos come from the ride back. It was at night, and I was bored, so I took photos with a 2-second exposure time. The bumps in the road and a little manual jittering gets some cool effects. Here are a few of my favorites.
The rest can be seen here.
And now for story time. He’s got me some pictures and told a handful of stories and stuff from his experience in Iraq, but I’ll start from when he got home.
Mom and Dad got to see him arrive while I stayed back for school. Upon getting home a few days later, he handed me this, a product of his layover in Ireland. Much happiness ensued, overall, and Mom made lots of really good food.
Anyways, we were sort of in touch while he was in Iraq – we talked on the phone two or three times, and exchanged two or three letters. He didn’t have much access to a phone, limited access to a computer, so letters were the main form of communication. Basically, his day was something like this (get ready for a bulleted list here, guys):
- Wake up in the afternoon.
- Clean up, eat.
- Work from evening to morning (12 hours).
- Eat, do something recreational for an hour or two (basically either play guitar or play cards, or maybe work out), go to a meeting, clean up.
He always ran 12-hour shifts, but they’d change the time of them every 2 weeks, so he could never adjust to them fully. He would work 6 days a week (days off on Sunday), but couldn’t go anywhere on his day off. The only time he left the camp was for an escort every few months, basically meaning he’d sit in a Humvee for the majority of a day. And the camp is not an exciting place to be. Just look.
Not exciting. It’s a very bleak place, completely surrounded by walls. Of course, if you put 3 different groups of people that all hate eachother almost as much as they hate America, then you have a little more excitement. The detainees in the camp are all mostly worthy of being there (estimated at a little over 90% were true threats to the American presence in Iraq, note I say in Iraq), and more than that portion hated the soldiers. But, interestingly enough, there were three factions (names escape me) that hated eachother and would be at eachother’s throats any time they weren’t fighting to break out or kill the soldiers.
Riots would generally break out about every week or so. These consisted of one compound (basically a fenced in area where the detainees stayed) screaming, chanting, and generally making noise, and then proceeding to burn anything and everything they can. “Wait!”, you ask, “How can they burn things?”. Thanks to the morons at Abu Ghraib, “the safety of the soldiers is being sacrificed to the media gods”, as he put it. This means an inspector comes in every week to make sure that the detainees have everything they need – this includes a mosque, a Qur’an, prayer mats, portojohns, beds and tents, clothing, hand sanitizer, cigarettes, and a lighter.
Every one of those items were actively used by the detainees to kill the soldiers or eachother. The American (stress the American here) soldiers are not allowed to enter the mosque, the Qur’ans, or the prayer mats. This means whenever they do shakedowns they are not allowed to search there. A translator would go with them to make sure they did not touch a thing. Dozens of times, they would find knives (they’re fond of the knives) pouring out of this stuff, but they couldn’t do a thing about it.
Here’s an example riot. This is how they begin, with a big gathering. It looks less intense because you don’t see them jumping up and down and screaming in Arabic. The picture in the center is some religious leader (trr’rst), not of importance.
Here’s where the other weapons come in. Most of these guys are issued jumpsuits. These jumpsuits come with nice, large, elastic bands. Combine that and fist-sized rocks taken from the ground and the cinder blocks that make the foundation for their tents and beds, and you have unbelievably destructive weapons. These things go through 4″ bullet-proof glass like paper.
To disperse the crowd to make them easier to manage, they use helicoptors. It’s pretty smart – they bring them in about 30m above the ground, at which the force from the blades will easily knock a guy over, as well as any unstable structures. Like portojohns.
Here’s where the lighters, tents, and hand sanitizer come in. Meet the Purell bomb.
These are makeshift molotov cocktails, made of their headdresses, hand sanitizer, and thrown at anything. Highly explosive, and pretty darn destructive.
The hand sanitizer is mandatory, too. As for the tents, they’re just massively flammable. The canvas is usually coated in kerosene or some other sealant to improve durability, resist insects, and weatherproof it all, but obviously makes the entire thing a disaster waiting to happen. After burning the tent down, they make some more permanent holdings. Meet the ramparts of the desert.
All these do is protect them from the barrage of rubber bullets. That’s right. Through all this, the soldiers get rubber bullets, and some CS gas. Neither of these come close to stopping any determined detainee. What happens if they climb the two barbed wire fences? Oh, no problem, they just request ammo from the ammo dump outside the camp. The Americans aren’t allowed to bring live ammo into the camp unless it’s a hostile situation. Again, I stress the American part, not because it’s not an American camp, but because whenever the British or Australian troops stop by, they have live rounds. In fact, they’re not allowed to enter inside the compounds because of incidents with them killing inmates.
After all is said and done, the compound is pretty much wasted.
But of course, it’s all back up in the same day, just like it was before. Pretty efficient, I say.
And that’s a prison camp for you. There’s not a whole lot else to tell, really, except for a few amusing stories.
Portojohn graffiti is a standard in the armed services, and one such example was a soldier’s infamous mother. What was she infamous for? Nobody knows. But apparantly “V’s Mom” is etched in every portojohn in the entirity of Iraq. There is no exaggeration here.
Some of the world’s worst enter the military out of sheer inability to do anything else. One such soldier found his way into an Airborne unit at the camp. This man’s lack of personal hygene was astounding – his seargants had to escort him to the shower every morning to make sure he showered, and had to routinely check to make sure he had washed his clothes. This guy always failed his PT tests, was generally just a completely unreliable guy. Now, on his uniform, he had a patch on his arm that said “Airborne” below his rank, signifying his status. After having enough of this guy’s crap, a few guys snuck into his bunk, took his unforms, removed the “Airborne” patch and replaced it with an almost identical patch, stating “Shitbag”. This guy never noticed his new found status, and the highly ranked officers in the camp were too baffled by his incompetence to correct him. And thus it stayed on.
Many of the worst detainees in the camp are those who are friendly, speak English well, and fluent in their actions. These are usually the ones who reported directly to known trr’rst leaders. One such trr’rst was known for being a complete jerk, starting fights constantly, always out to make as much trouble for the soldiers as possible. He was constantly in and out of the isolation block, as well as the median between the two, a small fenced area seperated from the rest of the compound. This guy doles out a lot of grief on the soldiers, so he was generally hated more than the others. One soldier found him particularly bad, and felt the need to express this. He expressed this by entering his isolation area, dropping his pants, and spraying the inmate with urine in the manner of a helicopter.
The camp is a pretty big place, and empty compounds are steadily getting filled up by more inmates, so more units come in to handle them. The first night after a compound had been occupied, a controlled fire was seen within the camp, it was large, but not spreading, and no chaos was evident. The next morning, it was revealed that the new unit had gone through every tent and burned all the Qur’ans, prayer mats, weapons, hand sanitizer, lighters, and cigarettes that the inmates had, in one big pile.
Anyways, that’s about all I have for you guys. I hope you enjoyed it.