Hunks, Monks, Chunks & Drunks
They told us before we came to Iraq that we would end up becoming one of those things above. The first two are easy here in Al Asad, the third not so much and the last one probably not at all. There are lots of gyms around here and Marines take full advantage of them, so pretty much everybody qualifies as a hunk by civilians standards. They have a 1000lb club (which means lifting more than 1000lbs in a combination of bench press, dead lift and squat). It is a big club.
I don’t know about monks. Life is austere but the similarity ends there. Becoming a chunk is possible because of the availability of free, high calorie food, but the Marine culture and the time in the field eating unappetizing MREs militate against it. Turning into a drunk is practically impossible, since you cannot easily get alcohol and anybody under the influence would stand out.
It is getting cold around here at night and in the early morning. Today the prediction is a low of 38. That is not so cold, but none of the cans have indoor plumbing. You need to go to a separate building. Going to and – especially – coming back from the showers will be a chilling experience that many may avoid. So I expect there may develop a fifth category: skunks.
Speaking of cool, Iraq is not a tropical country. In summer it is hot (120 degrees is common), but here in the western desert it gets cool during other seasons. In the last month, the weather has been perfect, around 70 in the afternoon to around 50 at night, but I hear it will be cold soon at night, although usually warming up in the afternoon. I am ready. I got my coat from Cabalas in the mail a few days ago.
I had an interesting meteorological experience on thanksgiving. I was on my way to run outside Camp Ripper when I saw a strange dark cloud coming my way. It was dust. I decided not to run and instead hunkered down (and got my camera). The dust did not blow in the wind. It infiltrated like fog. It just got darker, colder and harder to breath. It stung my eyes, but not that much. The strangest thing was that there were cold raindrops in the dust. The whole thing had kind of a sinister feeling. I always assumed that rain would wash the dust out of the air, but evidently not. Then it passed and it was clear again.
“The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits over the harbor and the city on silent haunches and then moves on.” What Carl Sandburg said about fog goes for dust, but dust is a meaner, dirtier cat.
Phases of the Moon
I never paid much attention to the phases of the moon but I do now because it matters. We have no street lights here at Al Asad and it gets darker than an average modern urban American thinks possible. The walk from the chow hall or the office to my can is very difficult on a moonless night; when the moon is full, as it is today, it is amazingly well lit.