Various Subjects

Army Birthday

Today is the 233rd birthday of the U.S. Army.   The U.S. would not be the land of the free if it were not also home of the brave. 

The chow hall had a better than average meal with roast beef as a tribute.  They also had a special cake and a marzipan diorama. 

When the Marines had their birthday, we all got two beers.   As you recall, we cannot have beer or any alcohol out here in Al Anbar, but the Marines get a two-beer exception on the Corps birthday.   No such luck with the Army, unfortunately. 

Water: Toilet to Tap and Back

We live in a desert so it should not surprise us to know that we have a water problem.  Currently at Al Asad, they suggest that we don’t waste water.   It is becoming harder to waste water in some of the bathrooms and showers since the tanks are running dry because they are being replenished less often.

I am not particularly fastidious and I don’t have a job that makes me sweat too much, but I do like to take showers after I run, so I am interested in some kind of solution.  If I can predict when water will be available, I can adjust my schedule and use less, but right now I am just confused. 

Dennis is helping try to find water up in Rawah.  Aquifers are there, but a prolonged drought and a lot of tapping is emptying them faster than they are filling up.  If you pump out too much, the whole thing can collapse.  The picture above shows a monitoring device.  Dennis just uses a watch and sees how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket.  This very expensive technology pictured above does the same thing, but it looks better doing it.One partial solution to water shortage is reverse osmosis.   Water is forced at high pressure through a filter that takes out almost everything except the pure H2O.   It takes a lot of energy to make it work, however and while they say that these systems can go from toilet to tap, most people do not have the stomach for that, even if it works.  But we could and do use that water for things like showers and toilets. You are not supposed to use the tap water to brush your teeth.

New Team Member

We got a new team member called John Bauer.  We should call him Jack, both because of the 24 series and because otherwise there are too many Johns.  He has a lot of experience in city planning, budgeting and capital projects and specifically worked for many years on waste water treatment and water projects in general.  His skills are exactly what we need in places like Rutbah.  I think he will be a good addition to our team.

Al Asad Weather

We get some dust storms and it is very hot during the afternoon, but I am happy with the weather in general.   I have started waking up around 530.   It is pleasant around dawn and if it is not dusty I can go running.  You have to hunker down during the middle of the day, but it could be worse.   Iraqi weather from Mid-October to May is very pleasant, even a little on the cold side in January.   November & March are almost perfect, with cool evenings and warm, sunny days, except when there is a lot of dust. Of course, it will get hotter.  Even now, temperatures do not dip below the middle 70s even during the coolest part of the day.   We have around a 30 degree difference between the highs and lows.   When it highs get to be around 120, which they will next month, it will only dip into the 90s and that is pretty hot, even if it is a dry heat.