Thursday, October 30, 2008

Scarecrow Facts

Scarecrows can smile

All scarecrows slump.

Scarecrows are happy

Scarecrows can run

Scarecrows have deep thoughts

Happy Halloween!

Our Miitary Family

We had the opportunity to meet up with some great friends from our days in TX. One couple had just moved back from Germany and one couple was here on the mainland from Hawaii for the month. None of us had kids the last time we were together so it was great to meet the new "family" members. And it was wonderful to get the chance to visit again.
Oh and Jean, James and Brian may have to make a trip to see you next year ;)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

Macen visited a pumpkin patch for the first time last weekend. It was my first time too. He had a blast playing and climbing.

He didn't want much to do with the pumpkins once he realized he couldn't pick them up and carry them around.
They had a small corn maze we went thru several times.

Next year when he is older we will do the hayride to the patch and get our pumpkins. This year, it was just a playground.

Buddy Walk

We participated in the Buddy Walk for Down Syndrome last weekend. Macen needed a nap but he got a second wind. He walked the entire mile. We had a great time and hopefully we can do it again next year.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oil in Iraq

Time for another post from Iraq.
One thing I forgot to mention in the last post was that when I’m out and about all of the kids want to know my name. Cries of “Mister, Mister, what’s your name?” “Mister, Mister, name” and then the kids will proudly point at their chests and say Haider, Achmed, Ali or whatever their name is. Since no Iraqi can seem to say Scrogin properly, I always tell them James or Abu Macen (Father of Macen). They like the Abu Macen but they really like James. For some reason almost every kid I’ve told James too has made the instant leap to James, James Bond and then I get pantomimed fingers with pistols much like the opening credits of the movies, it’s pretty hilarious and I’m sorry I forgot to mention it in the last post.

This next post is about Oil in Iraq.
All of you all experienced the $4.00/gallon or higher gas this summer. I’m actually glad that I didn’t but being here in Iraq it was blatently clear that there is plenty of oil here. Could that have been why we invaded? Nah, we invaded to get rid of a evil despot who had a habit of starting unprovoked wars in an unstable region, and was actively trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As a soldier I’m just an instrument of policy, not a policy maker. I just go where I’m told and do what I’m told to do. I’ll let you form your own opinion of why we invaded Iraq. But I digress, so here we go about oil in Basrah.
Basrah is one of two great oil producing regions in Iraq, with the other being the Kirkuk area. The fact that the Basrah region relies heavily on oil production is obvious even in the city where there are more above ground pipelines than there are sewer lines. No that last was not a joke, oil is money so they make sure it gets to where it’s supposed to go, sewage isn’t worth crap so it’s allowed to pool up wherever. (Sorry for the pun but I couldn’t resist.)

This picture was taken about ten miles outside of the city. Yep that’s what you think it is, Black Gold, Texas Tea, Petrol, whatever you call it. The oil is so close to the surface here that it pools up. I’ve seen pools the size of my backyard.
The last two pictures show a couple of refineries flaring off natural gas that they don’t have a means to properly refine and get into the market. The night picture really doesn’t do the actual scene justice. The glow from the fires almost permanently makes the horizon glow like a false dawn or sunset.
Iraq recently signed a deal with Royal Dutch Shell Oil to improve it’s refinery capability for natural gas. According to reports I’ve read on the deal Iraqi flares (burns off) over 700 million cubic meters of natural gas A DAY. How many of you use natural gas to cook or heat your home? How much natural gas do you use in a year? Just think how many years worth of natural gas Iraq burns off in a single day. Boggles the mind doesn’t it.
Well I’ll leave you with that thought.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bowling League

No gutter balls here. We made our own bowling pins with Gerber puff containers. He hasn't quite gotten the concept but he likes to take the ball and knock down the pins without it leaving his hands. Or sometimes he just uses his feet. He does help set them back up though.

As you can tell from the above pic, he finds the game very exciting.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Kids in Basrah

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything and for that I apologize. Ramadan may have been a really slow month for the Iraqis but it was a really busy month for the team. During the last month we got our 90 day redeployment notice and a checklist of all of the requirements that are necessary for us to redeploy. This means that I have been frantically writing and submitting awards, evaluations, after action reviews and all of the other assorted things that make up our end of tour requirements. To top it off the Brigade headquarters decided to move out of the Ministry of Agriculture building we were in and co locate with our second battalion, so we have been busy reestablishing our command and control network in the new building. Sorry no new photos of the new location, I’m having some issues with my camera. But there is plenty of space in the new building; I don’t roll off my cot and accidently kick my neighbor in the head like I was prone to do at the Ministry of Agriculture building.
The main theme of this post is a topic I have wanted to write about for awhile and just haven’t gotten around to it yet, the kids of Basrah or Iraq in general, since I think that the kids really don’t change much from area to area. As you can see in the following pictures the kids love us for the most part, many of them running out from houses to line the streets and wave and give us the thumbs up. With that said though there are still instances of kids throwing rocks at us, and one of our machine gunners actually got hit in the nose the other day, no permanent damage just a bloody nose. I think that the majority of the kids throwing rocks are just playing games. Hey look it’s the Americans/British in their armored vehicles; let’s see if we can hit them. The issue lies with the adults who don’t stop them as they are throwing the rocks.

This reinforces what I was talking about earlier, these two girls heard our trucks going by and came running out of their house compound to wave and see us. For those of you who did this, it kind of reminds me of times I would run outside as a kid and watch firetrucks, police cars, or the school bus go by.
You see lots of kids riding their bikes, which is no different from the States. These kids must of rode their bikes 50 times in front of the medical clinic where I was outside pulling security while the Brigade Commander and the team chief were inside trying to find out what Iraqi Government/Coalition assistance the clinic director needed.
One thing that kids do in Iraq which I was never able to get a good picture of is fly kites. In the spring when we first got done here, there were always kids flying kits. What I don’t understand and the interpreters can’t answer the question, is why did they stop flying kites since the wind always seems to blow in Iraq.
This picture was taken just outside of the Ministry of Agriculture compound that we lived in for most of the summer. This is our team medic and NCOIC just after they had given this family of kids new Iraqi National Soccer team jerseys. These kids were always hanging around outside our compound and never seemed to be clean, we called them the dirtiest kids ever. In fact about two days after this picture was taken they had worn the jerseys so much, that you would have thought they were months old. I guess they really liked them.
One day we needed some gravel and rock for a project we were doing in our compound. So how do you get workers in a third world country country? You get the kids! So for a soda and a bag of chips we had all of the kids in the neighborhood out helping us pick up rocks and gravel for us. I’m sure they thought the Americans were stupid, but they really wanted that soda and bag of chips.
Every time you take your camera out and want to take pictures of kids they all line up and crowd together and want their picture taken. No I didn’t take this picture off center, I wanted to focus on the kid on the right. Look at his shirt, yes it does say K-State! AAAGH I can’t get away from it! At least it’s not that god awful purple that K-State fans insist on wearing. Why couldn’t it of been a nice normal black and gold Mizzou shirt?

Friday, October 3, 2008

17 months

The last picture is of Macen jumping from the top of the sofa. He has started hiding his cars behind the curtain and then climbs to the top of the sofa to get them. Amazing how he can get them behind the curtain from standing on the sofa but has to climb on top to retrieve them :) Normally he just kinda stumbles down from the top but this time he was brave enough to jump.

Macen has been a sponge with signing lately. Those are the only books he wants to read most days. He can now do all gone, ice cream, his version of apple and banana and eat. He can also do please but this one came with little prompting. I had signed it maybe twice for him then one night I asked him to do something and said please with it. Suddenly he signed please to me. We had done it so little that I had to check the book to make sure it was right. He is also saying alot more words. He is repeating ateast 1 word a day to me - some clear some not but I know he is trying to copy me. He is even putting 2 words together. He says 'got it' or 'did it' alot. And the other day he attempted 'live there' and did a pretty good job at it.

His new like for last month are sneezes. He thinks its funny when one of us sneezes. So after I do a real one I will follow up with some fake ones to make him laugh some more. Then he tries to sneeze and all he can muster is closed, squinted eyes with a wrinkled nose and gritted teeth but no sound. It's really cute and I'm trying to get a pic of it (the second pic above is as close as I've gotten so far). He has also learned he can do fake coughs that he finds entertaining. Macen is also getting pretty good using a spoon and fork with meals and snacks and I have recently introduced using a plate to him. He has done pretty well with that as well. Now, if only I could get him to eat better.