12 September 2009

The showers in Iraq still a danger

On September second, Adam Hermanson was electrocuted while taking a shower in Camp Olympia in the Green Zone in Iraq. He leaves behind a widow, and grieving family who never expected to lose their 25 year old veteran and patriot in this way. The story strikes close to home because the couple had been building a home in a community near our town.

Mr. Hermanson was an employee of Triple Canopy, which has taken many of the security contracts vacated by Blackwater. Before 2009, he served 6 years in the Air Force in Iraq and Uzbekistan, enlisting so young that he needed parental consent.

To add insult to injury, his family was given conflicting reports of how he died. A Triple Canopy represented told his mother he had collapsed by his bed and there was no explanation of how he had died. It was an embassy representative who told his wife that he had been electrocuted in the shower. Triple Canopy dismantled the plumbing in his room shortly after his death.

Since the electrocution death of Ryan Maseth, 20 months ago, there have been countless hearings and investigations with operation SAFE attempting to protect troops. There is no excuse for these preventable deaths. My thoughts and good wishes go out to his family.

An in depth article at the Nation:


Ms. Sparky as always has the most information on the topic, including an interview with his family:


09 September 2009

Water, water.

Got to read a good article about current life on Joint Base Balad today:

The pics brought me right back. Some things sounded just the same. I'm sure they are still lining up for Mongolian BBQ night at DFAC 1 every THU night. It sounded like the same pirated movies and crappy souvenirs are for sale in the Iraqi Bazaar.

A few things seemed different. The article described a new sewage treatment plant. When I was there, they used to collect all the poopy water in a big pit (near DFAC 1) and then pump it into tanker trucks to be spirited off base to an unknown destination in the night.

I read how the water treatment plants produced 1.9 million gallons of water each day for washing, and bottled 7 million bottles of water a month for consumption. That fast fact reminded me of how I packed at least a liter of water no matter where I went over there. Whether it was in my Camelbak bladder or just a bottle I grabbed on the way out of the DFAC, constant hydration was a way of life.

It's actually taken me a long time to break this habit here at home. I always have a bottle of water in my vehicle when I head out. Whenever we go out as a family, I fill up a one liter bottle of water for each person on the trip as my kids are pulling their shoes on. For longer trips, I fill the Coleman 5 gallon collapsible jug and pack it with the gear.

A month or so ago, we rushed out late and I had forgotten water. I got about 50 feet past the driveway, and it hit me like a shock. I mulled it over for a mile or so as I drove, and I realized that I was obsessing on the fact that we had no water. Now mind you, we were only going five miles, and our destination was a birthday party in a shopping mall. I turned to M. and told her, "Please tell me it would be ridiculous to turn back for water and that I'm crazy to even think about it." She grabbed my hand and gave me one of her smiles that just melts my worries. Since then I've become a lot more relaxed about it.

Of course when we head out, everyone still asks me, "Do have your water?"

07 September 2009

Ewe know it.

We have adopted a sheep. She is two years old, round and fat, and has beautiful wool. We've named her "Honeysuckle" for the rich warm honey color of her deeper coat. She's not grazing around the house, she's staying at her home on a local farm. M., the boys and I walked through her pasture and helped feed her corn today. The farm is a small affair, 100 or so acres with sheep, pigs, chickens, horses, and cows. The livestock are grass fed, and wander the fields freely. The farmers are also working on bees, and purple clover flowers are scattered across the pastures. The boys loved watching the pigs vie for space at the tub of milk. Chickens wandered across the dirt roads that took us from paddock to paddock. We look forward to visiting Honeysuckle again, and even getting her to see her lamb in the spring. Maybe there will be some grain fed pork along the way!