Saturday, April 19, 2003

I just upgraded to blogger pro and now I can upload pictures directly into my blog. Not sure how useful it's going to be, but what the heck... Here's a picture of some M1 Abrams tanks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Another quick post. We saw a line of M1 tanks on our way to get breakfast this morning - prepackaged "Breakfast, shelf stable"; basically a box of cerial, some UHT milk, a fruit cup and granola bar. I got a couple of good pictures of the tanks, and after breakfast I went out back to the banks of the Tigris river and took a few pictures. Watch out, the panoramic one is a real monster again, even though I reduced the size. The cafe'teria is the best thing we've found so far in these houses. Thank god I brought my expresso maker and a good supply of Bustelo....


I also made the news - put a link to this blog on their page. Nice. I wish they would have made their link to my main page, but it's a review of weblogs, so what the heck.... Here it is

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Moved again, this time just across the street a bit. We're now "unofficially" guests of the palace. I took some pictures of the new mosque that was being built before we left. We also went and checked out 3 lions that are in the palace. They are currently being cared for by some special forces guys, as the sign indicates. The SF guys found another private zoo full of lion food, so at least the lions will eat well... I also took some pictures around our new location - can you find the satellite truck?


Saturday, April 12, 2003

Malcolm Campbell. That's the name of the kid who died doing pushups in my boot camp class. We were having an inspection of some sort, and everybody was "on the line" at attention, when Malcolm had something wrong with his gear or uniform, something - it doesn't really matter - because the standard correction was "push-ups, FOREVER" at that time. Now, when you're 18 years old, with a shaved head, with a company commander screaming at you most of the time to teach you that you don't REALLY know everything, that's a serious punishment. It didn't matter that FOREVER usually only meant about 20 to 40 pushups at the most, the point was always made, and it certainly seemed like it really was forever before you were done. Malcolm was a very fit guy, built like a wrestler or football player, and until that day, it was concievable that he was one of those guys who could possibly really do push-ups forever. Instead, in the middle of the 4th pushup, Malcolm collapsed in a heap on the floor. The company commander reacted immediately - within a few seconds after he figured out Malcolm wasn't working some ploy to get out of doing the push-ups. He began CPR, and got the other company commander to get medical help on the way, but within a few unbelievably short minutes, Malcolm Campbell was dead. I don't know if I ever found out exactly what Malcolm died of, possibly a blood clot, or pulmonary embolism like David Bloom did, but that's not the point of this. The entire boot camp class attended his memorial service while still in boot camp, and as will always be part of military honors, "Taps" was played somberly on a lone bugle. Since the day of Malcolm's memorial service, I have not heard "Taps" one time without remembering his name, and that day in boot camp as though it just happened yesterday.

Today, I remembered Malcolm Campbell, a kid I never even really got to know, and the 3rd Infantry division of the US Army remembered 2 of their own, and a news reporter they chose to make one of their own. Sergeants Stevers and Marshall died while ensuring that their fellow soldiers could continue in the vicious battle that claimed their lives. They were both killed while delivering fuel and ammunition to the rest of their group, who were dangerously low on both, and most certainly would have lost many more had the fuel and ammunition not arrived to re-supply them. David Bloom, of course, died last week of a pulmonary embolism while travelling with the 3rd Infantry. The 3rd Infantry held a memorial service for the three of them this morning. It was a very nice service, considering the circumstances. The chaplain, the commanding officer, and several troops spoke. It was very touching to see how the guys who worked with the 2 sergeants remembered them and how David's collegues remembered him. The troops all spoke well of David as well, because he, like the rest of us embedded with the 3rd Infantry, had truly become part of their "family". I didn't know David at all, as far as I am concerned, my relationship with him was similar to that of all my "normal customers" on the ships. I do my job the best I can, but I don't go out of my way too much to really meet people. David was a mixed box to me - he was very nice when not on camera, but when he was on camera or preparing for it, the focus he had was really something to see. His passion for his work shone through in everything he did that I saw, and I am glad to have had the chance to work with him. One of the things one of the NBC shows mentioned in a memorial to David was a quote from Babe Ruth, I think. It was his reply to a reporter's question about why he played so hard in every game. His reply was something like, "because there may be one person out there who hasn't seen me play yet". The impression I'm left with from David Bloom is that he lived that quote. He was truly amazing to see work, he was at the top of his game, so to speak, and he was very good at it.

Godspeed, Sgt. Stevers, Sgt. Marshall, and David Bloom.

Today, I remembered Malcolm Campbell.

Some pictures

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Oh yeah, I forgot - those pictures also have my debut as a low-buck cameraman for the Today show in there, too.
Well, we finally made it into Baghdad today. We saw a lot of people looting on the way up here, and waving to us as we drove past. We also drove through the scene of the firefight that Craig was in and filmed. The entire area was a total mess - burned vehicles, including even an M1 tank, littered about a 1/8 mile square. It was certainly a nasty mess. I didn't get any pictures of that because I was driving at the time. I did manage to get the camera out a bit later and take some pictures while I was driving - Bob was running a video camera at the time, so he couldn't take still photos either. The photos with the statues and the mural are at the Baath party museum, right next to their headquarters. The big building with the arched gate is one of the palaces. We hope to get into the palace tomorrow sometime for a tour.


Sunday, April 06, 2003

We moved to another location today. I took lots of photos of the Medina division complex, and as many pictures of things I saw along the way to our new location. We are closer to Baghdad now - that's all I'll say. There were at least a dozen tanks that had been taken out by air strikes along the way (all Iraqi). Yeah, that's a picture of cows, too. The last few are at the new location - my new neighbors are 4 M1A1 Abrams tanks and 4 Bradley fighting vehicles. Looks like our property value is secure. Pictures are here
David Bloom passed away shortly after my last post. We're still in shock about what happened. It happened so fast that we still don't really have a grasp on it. He will be dearly missed by us here. God bless him and his family.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Exciting morning, but not in a good way at all. David Bloom just got evacuated on a stretcher. He wasn't drinking enough water yesterday, and he passed out on the way to the other vehicle. Fortunately for him, Craig, the cameraman saw him go down, so they were able to begin first aid almost immediately. It took a couple of minutes to find a medic, but they were able to give him an IV and got a vehicle to take him to the medic's location within 10 minutes or so. We still don't have a clear idea of what happened exactly, but he's in good hands.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Well, guess I spoke too soon again. We left the other location and the antenna broke again. It was really a good one this time, though. The main support of the antenna is made of square aluminum tubing, with a cast aluminum base. The 2 parts are welded together and the 90 degree bend is part of the casting. The casting itself shattered, possibly from a pair of screw holes that may have had a crack between them. It ended up in 3 pieces instead of one, so we have again spent the last couple of days chasing welders down and getting it all put back together. We got the aluminum welded by one guy, then we went back to our old standby, Dallas, to help us build a steel framework around the whole thing. It's working so far, but we're keeping a close eye on it none the less... It's hideously ugly now, but hey, at least it's working for now. I'll try and get pictures up soon.

Got the pictures up - they're Here.

Saturday, March 29, 2003

Not much going on right now - we have been sitting in the same place for a couple of days now. There's been lots going on around us, we have been watching artillery from two sides and rockets being launched from a third. Saw a few large aircraft passing overhead a couple of hours ago - probably B-52's headed northwest of us. Somebody's in for a bad day soon. We are supposed to be leaving here soon, and I hope that's the case. Pretty dull in this area, the view sucks and I'm ready to go somewhere else.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Added more pictures about this trip to another page here: Iraq pictures 1. They are mostly of the first day's drive into Iraq, and the repairs of the carnage that our antenna suffered during the first night's travel. It's a shame it was too rough to hold the camera, I would have loved to get some pictures of the crap we were driving through. We probably could have ended up on the cover of 4WD & Off-Road magazine. LOL!
That was fun. We left Kuwait on Friday, I guess. Drove all night, and are still driving when they tell us it's time to move. The very first day / night in Iraq, we were going over these roads that were usually just a set of tracks through the desert. We hit one ditch that had such steep sides that the bed of the truck bottomed out as we were driving out of it, crushing the exhaust for the truck's engine and breaking a 1/4 inch steel plate that was the main mount of the antenna. We didn't realize that the antenna was totally dead at first, we were struggling to keep up with the convoy. We ended up getting separated from our group and following another army convoy to the same meeting place later. The correspondent and camera guy didn't seem to give a crap that Bob and I had just been effectively lost for 12 + hours, they just wanted to know when the antenna would be fixed. Assholes. Not even, "hey, nice to see you're not dead" from them. That point really didn't hit me until I heard that some of the guys from one of the other maintenance groups got separated and ended up being ambushed. I didn't know who they were, but the situation is just a bit close to me right now... After we ended up with our group again, we had to find a welder to help us repair the damage. It took nearly 2 1/2 days working between movements to get the part re-welded, but we were able to get it fixed yesterday afternoon. The antenna is really beat up now, and there's a hole in the radome, but it's one tough little sucker. I'm more and more impressed with the system as a whole the more we use it out here in these rough conditions. Point is, Bob and I are now safely with our group, the antenna is working again, my boss got interviewed on the local NBC station and they did a brief feature on the truck. Apparently, one of the other bosses is to appear on the Today show and talk about the technology involved with this project. Sounds pretty cool to me, but for right now, it's just another perfect day...

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Well, I guess the Army has started their little party now. We are still here in Kuwait, near the UN demilitarized zone, waiting for our orders to move north. I did see the vehicle that David Bloom was in this morning - they left our location last night and we were out of contact with them for a while. I guess they didn't cross the border yet, or if they did, they came back. Dave did a live shot at ~11PM Eastern and we saw it here at our truck. I didn't pay any attention to it, so you probably know more about it than I do. I was trying to get the video of the president's last address up on the internet while they did the live shot. From what I understand, we are going to be waiting here for a couple of days before we move again. Kind of a dull war - not that that's a problem for me. :-) I'm fine with sitting here where it's safe. LOL.

Monday, March 17, 2003

If you're on my e-mail list to let people know I'm still alive, this is a re-run... If you want to be on the list and aren't, drop me an email.

Everything is still okay here. I know it has been a few days since I emailed or put anything on my website, but I really haven't had much opportunity to use the computer. Since the president's speech last night, it looks like we are on a very short time line before this happens. I can't give any information about what's going on, but I'm going to be off of the computer for the next few days, then hopefully we will get settled in and I'll be back up soon. Since I got out here to the desert, it's been a pretty rough time because the antenna was getting beaten up pretty badly by the rough ride of the truck. We (myself, Bob from NBC, and a lot of troops) worked for a couple of days straight trying to both soften up the ride of the truck and firm up the antenna so it could survive. We believe that we are at a "happy medium" point as of right now, but Bob and I are both planning on driving like we had a truckload of loose eggs just to be safe. We did the Today show from here this weekend, and have done several live shots, including one right before the president's speech, so I think the NBC folks are satisfied with the results so far. I suppose we truly won't know until the "show" actually starts how well it's going to work out, but at this point I think we are ready for whatever happens.

I will do my best to check in with at least the M&C room during the next few days. Any chance I have available, I will be checking my email at both and and if I am on the computer, I will be connected both at on MSN messenger and MTNJKooser on AOL instant messenger.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Bob and I (and the antenna) survived the "today" show this weekend. Both shows went pretty well, with the exception of a bad fuse on one part of the antenna. We may be leaving soon, so I have to make sure everything is cool with the antenna. We've had to make some pretty drastic modifications to the antenna to get it to survive. I just got some parts in, but I'm going to leave the antenna as is for now, so I will have spare parts in hand if anything happens.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Gallery: IDR 3
Gallery: Iraq truck preparations 2 - click on this to open
Gallery: Iraq truck preparations
Still in Kuwait - waiting now to get deployed with the army (maybe marines?) that we're going to be travelling with. There are hundreds of media people here in Kuwait city right now. The dude in the hotel room next to mine is from the L.A. Times. We have been doing as much last-minute preparation as possible, myself and my boss Richard. We have everything working as it should, and the antenna is performing pretty well, considering it's way outside what it was originally designed to do. We worked with the manufacturer and have things mostly sorted out. It's still going to require some attentive driving to make it work well, but we have done lots of testing and I'm confident that it will do the job. Not much else going on here now, Richard just left this evening, so now it's just me and the truck here. I found out the driver is going to be this guy named Bob from NBC. He seems pretty cool so far, I suppose we'll see after we're essentially living in a truck together for a month or more... Still haven't had a chance to upload the pictures. I may get to tonight, but I'm never sure.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

2 days in Kuwait City so far. I finally figured out the time difference and fixed the link to (Thanks Mom, for pointing out that it wasn't working). We recieved our truck yesterday and made the repairs to the antenna. The truck has been painted sand color overnight, so we should be able to go build the radome this morning and start testing. I took some pictures yesterday, and will try and get all the existing pictures I have uploaded and on this page soon. At least this hotel has fairly high speed internet VIA ethernet, so I won't have to explain huge phone bills on an expense report later.... LOL

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Made it to Dubai, United Arab Emirates tonight. We are several hours ahead - I'm not sure how many, and too tired to calculate it right now. Just wanted to update the site now that I've told everybody it's here. Check for Kuwait City if the time difference bugs you, it doesn't bother me right now. I'm updating this from the lounge at Emirates Airlines in Dubai, so I don't have full internet right now, so no instant messenger yet. I should be able to connect tomorrow some time from the hotel in Kuwait City.