Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guess Who's Having a Birthday?????????


That's right someone enters her next decade today and she still looks as good as she did 5 years ago!!! Everyone please post a happy birthday comment or give her a call today. Happy Birthday Beautiful!!!

video

Friday, June 27, 2008

14 months

Macen has become quite the talker this past month. Some days I have no idea what we talk about :) He has said diaper (or iaper), done and thank you. Other than that, just a whole lot of jabbering going on.
Bathtime has gotten a little more entertaining. As soon as I undress him, he takes off running from me. We have a streaker! He thinks it's hilarious and of course I indulge him and chase him. Occassionally he will now run from me at other times throughout the day.
He's starting to take directions well. I can tell him it's time to change his diaper and he runs to his room. I can tell him it's bathtime and he runs to the bathroom. I can tell him it's time for mommy's shower and he runs for the exersaucer (he knows he gets puffs and his sippy). He has also come to express his expectations. Anytime he gets in his stroller, he wants the cup holder filled with snacks. I started doing this as a distraction and apparently now it's mandatory. I always bring a sippy with us to the store in case he gets fussy but now he expects it as soon as he gets in the cart.
As the previous post mentions, he has started climbing.
Macen has also started to entertain himself with his reflection. When we are outside he can see his reflection in the sliding door so he sits there and jabbers to himself or plays with a toy and watches himself. He also realized he can see himself in the clean out in the tub. So he watches himself play while in the tub as well.
His new favorite food is brats and pickles. He also likes the taste of lemon juice. We have the squirt kind in the frig so he'll snatch it up and I give him a squirt. He makes the appropiate sour face and then wants more.
He is holding strong at 19lbs and something- according to the vet scales anyway. We have been there so much in the last month, he may start thinking it's his new home.
Another fun month with the little guy!


A climbing he will go!




Macen has started climbing everything. It started out with him using a foot stool to get on the sofa. He thinks he is pretty big stuff sitting up there by himself (I've had to start hiding the remote control). Then he realized he could climb on the end table from the sofa. Then climbing the sofa in the computer room came next. And today he managed to stand on one of his toys and climb onto the coffee table.
Notice the middle pic. He still loves to do somersaults and thinks he can do them anywhere. He has even stood on the sofa and put his head down to do a flip but he is on the edge of the sofa. Thank goodness he doesn't know how to push himself over yet.

There is a reason one of his nicknames is monkey!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Chow in Iraq

OK it is no secret that I like food. I like to cook and try new things. Being in the Army has allowed me to travel and sample all sorts of new dishes whether that is kimichi, alligator, rocky mountain oysters, crayfish, soups and other dishes from southwest Asia, sushi, and all of the Iraqi food I’ve eaten. I will eat just about anything at least once, OK well I never tried the Ka-go-gi (dog) in Korea but I never was in a restaurant that would serve it. Since I think I will eat anything I don’t consider myself a picky eater, Shantel on the other hand will disagree with me, she claims it is hard to cook for me because I like a lot of flavor and spice to my food and I’m not a big fan of eating the same thing regularly, unless it is steak, of course. Put that way she is probably right, I do prefer my food with a lot of flavor, spice, and variety.

With all of that said I haven’t seen an American Dining Facility since the early part of May and have been living off Iraqi food, both from the Officer’s kitchen and the Soldier’s kitchen, MRE’s and the British equivalent, Halal meals (meals originally designed to meet the religious requirements of Iraqi soldiers and people) and something we call UGR meals, I’m tired of them all and would give just about anything to eat in the mess hall at Ramadi, which I was beginning to think was one of the crappier ones in Iraq.

I believe it was Napoleon who once said that an Army marches on its stomach. That is as true in the early 21st century as it was in the early 19th century. What is in the following posts is a description of what I and the rest of the team eat, along with pictures. One picture I failed to get was of the massive amounts of food and drink supplies that we do have available. I believe that only the American Army would make sure that an isolated 25 man team would be this well supplied with food. Even if I complain somewhat about some of the meals, make no mistake this stuff is ten times better than the c-rations that were the American Soldiers primary source of field chow from World War II until the advent of the MRE and are even better than those earlier versions of the MRE that I ate when I first came in the Army, some 14 years ago.

MREs

MREs are sometimes called Meals Rejected by Ethopian by soldiers, OK that is not very politically correct but you could see how someone might think a a starving African wouldn’t want to eat it if that is all you had to eat for two weeks straight. Some of you have had them on a limited basis and like them, I do too, just in limited quantities and not on a regular basis. Most MREs come with a main entrée; Meatloaf with Gravy, Jambalya, Chicken Fajita, Beef Stew, among others (there are 24 or 30 different variety’s I can’t remember exactly) then there are the sides, and each entrée comes with different sides, there is wheat snack bread, crackers (they are kind of like saltines on steroids), peanut butter, jam (strawberry and apple varieties) cheese (regular, bacon and jalapeño varieties) applesauce (raspberry and regular) raisins, cranberries, pretzels, pound cake (carrot, spice, lemon, poppyseed) you don’t always get all of the listed sides, it is kind of mix and match, some entrees come with some while others even more different ones. Each entrée though always comes with the same sides so sometimes it is as much about the sides you get in a meal as it is the entrée itself. I’m a big fan of the cheese. The jam always seems to come with the crackers and not the snack bread and is good but it tends drip through the holes in the cracker and get your hands all sticky. Also included are matches, toilet paper, wet nap, gum, Tabasco sauce or crushed red pepper, or some other type seasoning and finally a water activated entrée heater. The above pictures kind of show the evolution of the MRE from bag to finished meal, ready to eat, contents of the bag in this case a Meatloaf and Gravy entrée and mashed potatoes with mint chocolate chip cookies for desert.

For this posting I’ve arranged all of the contents of the MRE on a cardboard tray and warmed it in a microwave this makes the meal look fairly appetizing. You can do that when you are in a static position, but this not what the MRE is designed for. It is designed for eating on the go. When on the go you stop just long enough to put the entrée in the water activated heater put them both back into the cardboard box the entrée came in and wait for it to heat up. While waiting you will munch on the sides that come with it and then you will remove the entrée from the heater slit the pouch open and then eat the entrée right out of the pouch.

UGR-E

The big brother to the MRE is the UGR-E it is a meal designed to feed 18 soldiers and includes a main entrée, vegetable dish, and desert as well candy, instant coffee, and wet naps, everything you need comes in the one box.
You take out all of the sides and utensils out of the box and then place the heater pads in the trays with the food. Once the heater pads are in place then you pull the tab on the edge of the tray and a water solution is released onto the heater pads which causes a chemical reaction that produces heat and heats up the meals.

After about thirty minutes the meals are hot enough to eat. Supposedly there are 13 or 14 dinner varieties and 6 or 7 breakfast varieties. We have only seen Chicken Breasts, Pork Ribs in BBQ Sauce, Beef Burgundy, Spaghetti, Pasta with Sausage, and Szechuan Chicken. Sides include mashed potatoes with gravy, jalapeno cornbread, glazed carrots, mexi-corn, green beans, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, and a type of pound cake, M&Ms, Shock-a-Lots (chocolate covered coffee beans), Twizzler nibs and Reese’s Pieces. This is what a heated up meal looks like on Chinese/Italian Night (szechuan chicken and spaghetti and meatballs).

British MRE


We have managed to get in good with some of the British supply sergeants both at Shiaba and COP Basrah and they have provided us with some cases of their MRE equivalent rations. There are two types a 24 hour ration that, as you guessed it, is designed to provide a soldier with his meals for a 24 hour period, breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as what they call a hot weather supplement. The above picture is a box of 24 hour rations. Notice the zeroing target on the side of the box, we don't do that with our MREs our boxes just have a postcard on the side. I'm not sure who has the better idea.

This box included sausage and beans (beanie weenies), brown biscuits (hard crackers), fruit biscuits (crackers with fruit bits baked in them) chicken and mushroom soup base, chicken and mushroom paste (you combine the soup base and the paste to make a more filling soup), pork casserole (more like a stew than a casserole) and syrup pudding ( a block of breading of some sort soaked in maple syrup). Also included are the standard sundry items much like the MRE, matches, toilet paper, white tea (it’s not actually white), hot chocolate flavored drink mix, fruit flavored drink mix, fruit flavored hard candy, a Nestle chocolate bar they call a “Yorkie” (it’s always melted and ends up getting thrown away) and a sport drink much like Gatorade. Being a “Silly Yank” I have no idea what is supposed to be for breakfast, lunch or dinner, but I like to eat the soup and paste mix together with a couple of brown biscuits soaked in them and then the pork casserole with the syrup pudding. This meal tastes pretty good but I’m a not sure if I like the syrup pudding, just a little too sweet for me after a while. Other main entrees/meals include steak and vegetables, beef stew and dumplings, chicken mushrooms and pasta, corned beef hash, lamb and potatoes, vegetable tikka masala, rice pudding, fruit dumplings and tomato beef broth with chili beef paste. The only other one of those that I have had are the steak and vegetables, tomato beef broth with chili beef paste and the fruit dumplings. They were all pretty good except for the fruit dumplings which I didn’t warm up, I think that they might be better nuked.
This is what the pork casserole, syrup pudding, and chicken mushroom soup with chicken mushroom paste looks like heated up and ready to eat. Notice the field expedient soup bowl, a water bottle cut in half with the top half stuffed into the bottom, makes a pretty good insulator for soup or coffee. I had to heat this in the microwave since it doesn’t come with a water activated heater like an MRE does. I don’t know if the Brits issue a heater separately or if their tracked vehicles have a hot water heater that allows them to warm up the meals, some of our tracked vehicles have a heater like this for MREs .

This is the hot weather supplement. Supposedly it is supposed to last longer in the desert, most of the stuff doesn't melt and takes little preparation. The package contains three flavored citrus drink packets; a savory snack, in this case Mini Cheddar Biscuits (much like Cheez-Its); an energy bar ,kind of like a peanut candy bar; a meal pouch, pasta with mushrooms in tomato sauce; a sweet snack that the Brits call a flapjack but is more like an oatmeal bar with a sugary taste; and a fruit snack pouch, which is a cherry applesauce in a squeeze tube.
After eating on the British rations for a few days I’ve come to the conclusion that even though I like them better than the MREs that is probably because they are new to me. I bet the British soldiers feel the same way about their rations that American soldiers do “Man, not the pasta and mushrooms in tomato sauce, again!”

BBQ

Here is the field expedient BBQ grill that we constructed. American Soldiers can come up with anything if they put their mind to it. Our G3 advisor got some whole chickens, and a beef brisket for Memorial Day and he preceded to do a feast for the team and the Iraqi staff. Unfortunately for him he underestimated how long it would take to cook the 20 some pounds of brisket and dinner was finally served around 11pm on Memorial Day. We have since put it use a couple of other times with some food that we acquired once again from our friends the British supply sergeants (it’s amazing what a few flashlights, automatic open knives, sunglasses, and some other things will acquire you)


This is our team NCOIC cutting strip steaks from a whole strip loin of meat. This is also what steaks for 21-25 Soldiers and Marines look like on the grill. We had an excellent BBQ this night with strip steaks, burgers and baked potatoes. The Iraqis find it amusing when we tell them that in the States it is mainly the man who does this kind of cooking. In Iraq the women does ALL of the cooking unless it is done in a restaurant and then men do the cooking.
When it comes to BBQing in Iraq I’m forced to yield the majority of the grilling duties to the Team NCOIC who is pretty protective of his grilling domain. Although I have suitably impressed him with my ability to cook flesh over an open flame for him to allow me to start the fire and occasionally do the chicken.

I’m hoping that as Macen learns to eat on his own, that he doesn’t take after his father when it comes to the eating department. Yes, that’s a chunk of chicken on my knife and I am eating it straight from the knife, and that is a cigar in my hand as well (the Army won’t let me drink beer in Iraq, even if that is a staple of BBQing, and I’ve got to have one vice over here right?). The team medic had to be called in shortly after this picture was taken to administer stitches as I bit down on the knife instead of the chicken. Just joking!

Halal Meals

Halal meals are meals that have been developed as Humanitarian Assistance meals and as meals for the Iraqi Soldiers when they don’t have the opportunity to set up their kitchen and buy food on the local economy, basically an Iraq MRE provided by the US government. Since the Iraqi Soldiers don’t particularly like them we have a stockpile left over from the move to Basrah and the time before we established steady state operations. Rather than let them go to waste we eat on them occasionally. There are two different types one that comes in a self contained box with everything in it and another that has a boxed main entrée and a supplemental bag that goes with it. Below is a picture of the boxed meal.




The box meal contains a canned main entrée, roasted peanuts, dried banana chips, breakfast cereal (frosted flakes, coco puffs, rice crispies), sunflower seeds, pretzels and the regular MRE style sundry items. Since they are designed for the Middle East there are lots of mutton and chicken varieties, some favorites include the chicken curry and the mutton stew with potatoes. The one pictured above is a a chicken chili and it really wasn’t that good too many beans and not my idea of chicken chili at all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Basrah in the News

It seems like one of our duties in addition to advising the Iraqi Army is to escort Media around the Basrah area. In the last few weeks we have seen news crews from CNN and ABC as well as an AP reporter. I thought I might share some links to some of the news stories that were published after their visits.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/05/20/basra.killings/index.html#cnnSTCText

This is the CNN story. The reporter and the camera man came to the finishing phases of a clearing operation that we conducted in the Al Quibla area. The Brigade was looking for illegal caches of weapons and ammunition as well as propaganda from the Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army organization. Most of the pictures that I posted on the Iraqi Market place were taken the day this reporter visited.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080612/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_basra;_ylt=An_3y

This story was by an AP reporter, Kim Gamel, who spent two days visiting us. The picture in the upper left corner is of the kabob stand that I talked about in my last post (Where SBG Sabah likes to "hold court" occassionally at night). It was the first time that the AP had sent an actual reporter to Basrah in over two years instead they had been relying on local stringers to get their stories from the area.

http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=5208469

This video clip just ran last Thursday 19 June on the ABC evening news. It actually consists of a lot of stock footage taken during the Mehdi Army uprising this spring. Don't worry I haven't seen a fire fight since I've been down here and the only shooting I've actually seen was when an Iraqi Policeman accidently fired his AK-47 and the riccochit hit another Iraqi Policeman. The police seem to have a hard time leaving their weapons on safe, but we have started reminding them everytime we go out with them to leave their weapons on safe, it seems to be having an effect. You briefly see a glimpse of my Team Chief and the inside of our compound during this video.

Enjoy

Friday, June 20, 2008

Flippin' fun

Macen started doing this so I gave him a boost and flipped him over. He loves it now. His favorite place doing it is on our bed where he can just flip anywhere and land comfortably. But he will also do it in the kitchen and we just have to land slowly.

Coolest kid on the block




So Macen and I walk to a nearby track several times a week for a good workout. Grandma and Grandpa Wayman got him sunglasses and he is just now coming around to wearing them for a lengthy period of time. He wore them all the way to the track, only wore them for a few laps and then wore them all the way back home. Once we were home, he continued to wear them around the yard while we played outside. It was so cute and I love it! Now I just need to work on hats, although he is also coming around to those as well.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Random Thoughts and Pictures at the Six Month Mark

That’s right Six Months down Six Months to go, or as we give our Marine Augments hard time, that’s one Marine deployment down and one Marine deployment left go to go. The Marines with us will fire back with “But yeah this is my third deployment”, but when you make them add up their total months in either Iraq or Afghanistan, most of them are still under the total of 18 months I’ve spent in Iraq since 2003, and none of them can hold a candle to our Team NCOIC who is on his 4th deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan for a total of about 39 months. And you all thought I had been gone a long time.

The above picture of me is sitting on the rear steps of our MRAP enjoying a Diet Pepsi with ice in it. We do have a refrigerator that allows our soda’s, Gatorades, and waters to get cold but they never get ICE COLD, so when we get ice that is suitable for consumption it is a special treat to put ice in a cup and pour a Diet Pepsi over it. Notice the field expedient cup, it’s actually a bowl of Frosted Flakes, that I had ate all of the cereal out of and then wiped clean. Speaking of ice that is suitable for consumption the above picture is ice for sale in a local market. This is how an Iraqi will keep their water cool, normally a family will buy one of these blocks of ice which goes for about 2000-5000 dinars or $2-$5 and put them in a large coleman type cooler and then fill the cooler with water and that is their cold water for the day or maybe two, depending upon how long the ice lasts.
This picture shows our Brigade Commander Staff Brigadier General Sabah (that’s him with the sunglasses on) interacting with the local media at the rocket launch site that I posted pictures of last week. The Brigade Commander has done a good job in the last few months and has demonstrated that he has the basics of the counterinsurgency fight down pat to include the employment of the media. His speech went along the lines of “Our brave Soldiers responded to this area as soon as they heard the launch of the rockets, their quick reactions scared the insurgents off and despite the soldiers best efforts at pursuit the outlaws eluded them, the people of the local population must not harbor and hide these criminals, they are not just attacking Coalition and Iraqi forces but through their actions they hurt the local civilians, some of the rockets fired from this site went only a short distance and landed in an open area, what if they had landed on the houses of innocent civilians and harmed young children? Do not harbor the terrorist!” A pretty good way to turn around the fact that a few rockets had misfired or failed to function properly and did not reach their intended target.

On the other hand we joke that the Brigade Comander is turning himself into a local Warlord. He spends a lot of time engaging and entertaining the local Sheiks and has a habit of going out at night with the MiTT team in tow and “holding court” at a local Chai House or Kaboob shop. While doing this he will often subsequently visit a local’s house and we will inevitably be out until almost midnight or later. Alone these are all good things to do, it allows him to be seen in public and makes him seem approachable by both the Sheikhs and the common citizen and it allows him and us to gauge the attitudes of the local populations and get a good first hand look at living conditions. But the part that causes the local Warlord joke is that he is actively politicking with the Commander of the Basrah Operations Center to either leave his Brigade in Basrah indefinitely or to give him a job in either the Basrah Operations Center or one of the Iraqi Army Division that is permanently stationed in Basrah. Also he wants to move his family to Basrah permanently; this will get them to a safer area than Baghdad, but also allows him to more actively pursue his Warlord career. In actuality all of the above is just how business is done in Iraq. Politicking with the Basrah Operations Center Commander allows him to build a relationship with his nominal higher headquarters and allows that Commander to trust him and not doubt his methods or actions, it also allows the Basrah Operations Commander to know that he will not surrender his Brigade and tell them to turn over their weapons and equipment to the Mehdi Army like a locally stationed brigade did when trouble flared up here earlier this spring. Also bringing his family down here allows him to see his family without taking the normal 9 days of leave every 18 days, which allows him to focus on Brigade Operations.

Speaking of Brigade Operations, this picture shows a recent cache find by one of the battalions. Lots of 82mm mortars, RPG warheads, a few 120mm mortars and wire, some of the mortar rounds have been rigged to act as IEDs, which would be detonated by the wire. Yes the munitions look rusty and unserviceable but that is only because they were stored in a sewage pond, a little bit of clean water and most of them look as good as new and will function just as good.

This is a picture of an IED that was found in a cache site. This one that we call “A Really Bad Day IED” It is two Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) coated with spray Styrofoam. EFPs are what cause the majority of casualties from IEDs right now (Hence the Really Bad Day) and many people think that the majority of them come in from Iran although that may not always be the case. Anyway we got this one before it could be used on us.


Finally the a picture of a goat eating garbage. It really does happen. That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed. I’m working on an upcoming blog that talks all about the food I eat. Look for it in the next couple of weeks, in the meantime if there is anything that anyone wants me to blog about write a comment and I’ll try to get pictures and put together a little story about it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Too stinkin' cute!


Since Macen learned to roll over, he has always slept on his tummy. I check on him every night before I go to bed and a couple of times I have found him like this. Nothing like a sleeping little one!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Invasion of toads

Apparently, toads love our yard. We had lots last year and this year seems to be a repeat. One day I found 2 out front and when I let Maggie outside at bedtime that night there was a different one right outside the back door. Macen hasn't shown an interest in them yet, even with the ones hopping out front. Remember that email of little boys pics and there is a boy with a frog in his mouth? That is my fear.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day



Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pictures of Me



I thought that maybe you all would like to see a few pictures of me in action as I recently inspected/searched an insurgent rocket firing site with my terp and the Iraqi Army EOD. Notice the crude homemade launchers, pretty resoureful those insurgents.
For this post I wanted to talk about going how the Iraqis go to the store. For those of you in the states if you need groceries, cleaning supplies, clothes, gas, etc, you go to your local Wal-Mart, Old Navy, shopping mall or wherever it is that you go. Things are little bit different here in Iraq. For one thing there is no Wal-Mart, at least not yet, let the suicide bombings, IEDs and mortar attacks die down and I bet that is one of the first things we import over here. When Iraqis need something they go to their local market which looks a little like the picture below:


This is where an Iraqi would get their fresh vegetables and fruit. You can’t really see it in the foreground but that area is a potato, onion, pepper, tomato, stand and then in the background you can see the watermelon’s stacked up in the fresh fruit area.
Because of the lack of reliable electricity in Iraq, Baghdad gets about 12 hours of city power a day, while Basrah gets about 12-18 hours (some of which comes from Iran), many Iraqi women will go to the market daily to get what they need to for that day’s meals. Fresh bread, fruits and vegetables, and meats, when I say fresh I mean fresh see the picture of the chicken stand below.
That’s right an Iraqi’s chicken dinner doesn’t come in Styrofoam tray with boneless breasts all shrinkwrapped nice and pretty with an expiration date, it come on the hoof (I guess on the foot in this case) and fully feathered. I think I’ve already talked about how many Iraqis eat mainly chicken and sheep and rice. The average Iraqi actually probably eats more chicken than they do sheep. Chicken is actually cheaper and most Iraqis only have sheep on holy days or special occasions. But when they do they’ll get the sheep from someplace that looks like this.
I don’t know if you can tell it or not but some of these sheppards/sheep vendors spray point numbers and letters on the back of the sheep. I’m not real sure what this is for and my interpreters are all from Baghdad and are not familiar with this method of marking sheep. I’m assuming that it is a brand or identification mark of some kind of the sheppard so that he can figure out which sheep are his if they get mixed up another flock.
This next picture shows a typical Iraqi shop a little bit of everything and then not a whole lot of everything at the same time. Not much of a selection is there? I do have to admit that I have seen shops that are better stocked than this.


Well if you can’t find what you are looking for here then move on down to the next stand and maybe they will have it there.
These market pictures are actually taken in the Quibla neighborhood so if you can imagine it is more as lower middle class to middle class, not poor/poverty level like the Hyanniyah area or middle class to upper middle class like the Jameat area, so the goods reflect what the people will buy or need.


OK enough about Iraqi style Wal Mart and on to gas stations. Iraq does have regular gas stations just like the United States but they are few and far between. In fact I have only seen two in my travels around Basrah, the second largest city in Iraq with a population between 800,000 and 1 million, and I don’t remember seeing any regular gas stations in Ramadi, although I’m sure there was at least one. The picture below illustrates where a typically Iraqi gets his gasoline or benzene as they call it.


Yes these gas stations are illegal and support the black market, but the lines at a regular gas stations makes the gas lines of the 70s look minuscule (at least that’s what I’ve been told, even though according to our young Marine augments I’m an old man, I still can’t remember gas lines), couple that with the fact that Iraqis, like most other third world citizens, don’t understand lines and queues then you can realize where pulling up to a guy with a 5 gallon jug of gas paying a few extra dinar more and not having to stand in line for 3 to 5 hours would be beneficial.


Now an interesting note on corruption and kick backs in the Iraqi society, it’s a fact of life and it’s not called corruption, it’s called the cost of doing business. Recently a new regular style gas station opened near our brigade headquarters and not long after it did, the brigade commander’s personal security detachment roughed up a lot of the black market gasoline vendors and dumped their gas on the street. This action was within their legal right since the stands are illeal but was it a coincidence? New gas station opens; the local authority, the Army General, then roughs up the illegal vendors that had been ignored previously, add in that a week later the illegal vendors where back in full force. Do you think that there might have been some kick backs from both sets of gasoline vendors? I’m not saying there was, I just find it interesting, and coupled with my lack of belief in the inherent nobility of man (call me jaded, but I prefer realistic) there might have been some money changing hands.


Here is the Home Depot gravel and sand department. Just pull up and tell them what grade of sand/dirt you want (lots of rocks, few rocks, no rocks) and they’ll deliver.
Right across the street from the Home Depot gravel and sand department is the Home Depot heavy equipment rental shop. Stop by and take your pick of roller, front end loader, shovel bucket or dump truck.
Finally just a little further down on another corner is the Home Depot building materials lot. Take your pick small bricks or cinder block, they’ve got them both. Just about the only type of wood grown in Iraq is from the date palm which is not suitable to use as a building material. More on construction and building techniques in a later post.


The above picture is a Quick Change Fix-a-Flat/New Tire Stand.

And that is everyone's quick look at the local market economy in Al-Quiblah/Hyyanniyah Iraq, I hope you enjoyed.