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A Variety of Things

 Birds on bridge


I noticed the bird sitting on that structure in the evening.  In the morning, they were still there.  Then I saw why.  They fish and evidently fishing is good.  If you look down in the water, so see loons (or whatever the local equivalent is).   They are fun to watch.  They dive deep and come up fifty meters away.

 loons in Haditha Dam


A company of soldiers from Azerbaijan guards Haditha Dam.   It is good duty for them.  They get good chow and the Marines give them goretex coats.  They take their job very seriously. 

azeri troops

Although they are fellow Muslims from a country very near Iraq, they have a lot more of the Eastern European look.  The Soviet Union was not good at doing very much, but they did manage to impose a certain uniformity that survives after it.   

 Garbage file in Haditha

Perpetual Garbage Fires

Western Iraq has its own versions of the eternal flame.  I noticed this garbage fire when I arrived in Iraq four months ago.  It never is allowed to go out and continues to burn in perpetuity and new garbage replaces the old.  Sunrise over the garbage pile is almost pretty.   Doesn’t smell good, however.

my iraq farm 

A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Until June

I want to grow some marigolds and sunflowers outside my door.  I figure I can keep them growing at least until June.   Then my guess is the extreme heat will wilt them no matter how much water I provide.

Marines walking by were amused by my efforts.  Some of them thought it was not a completely masculine pursuit.  They actually used somewhat different words, ones that in earlier versions of the English language meant “happy” & “unusual”.   But everyone was interested and I expect they will come to appreciate the brief flowering of color in this bleak place.

My office  

My New Rug

I just got a new rug for my office.  Nice.  See, work conditions are not so bad.  That thing with the helmet, BTW, is the armor holder.

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Thank you for taking the time to write this blog...it is interesting to see what is happening without mainstream media spin. Thank you for your service to our country.

After reading the Manuel Miranda report, what would you think about bringing in someone like Romney to take an executive leadership role? His love of country, willingness to listen, briliant mind, executive experience and track record making things work seems like a perfect fit...I'll bet he'd do it too. What do you think?

John Matel responds

I am a USG employee. My internet logs tell me that thousands of people read this blog at least partly because my government employee status gave me the opportunity to come to Iraq, so I avoid partisan politics in my writing and cannot comment on that here.

Thanks for the note.

Good point, I understand completely....thanks for the blog, it is awesome to see what is really happening there. I and several of my friends who also have loved ones in Iraq are reading it.