Archive for the Miscellaneous Category

i am ashamed…

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 7, 2008 by brendanbourdage

…that i accidentally posted a picture of Clyde Drexler yesterday, when i meant to honor Buck Williams, his (slightly less) famous teammate…

so thanks to the walking/lumbering encyclopedia of arcane and useless sports information – also known as my roommate, kevin – i can now correct this error. 

it’s time for you to come out from Clyde’s shadow, Buck…although those glowing white spandex would be visible in or out of shadow…


and to my former roommates in georgia, DD1 and DD2 (troy and alex), i’m more than a little disappointed that all those weekends spent watching sports and hearing you two argue back and forth about which backup center for the arizona cardinals had a better college career have yielded NO suggestions for the countdown.  it’s truly a sad day when troy and alex have forgotten who played shooting guard for the 1988 denver nuggets, and where he went to college, and what he majored in, and who he was traded for in a three-team deal in 1991…(all events described in that last sentence are fictional, any resemblance to actual players and/or trades that troy and alex argued about while playing John Madden Football on hung-over saturday mornings is purely coincidental, or the product of the amount of random sports knowledge that has been stuffed between my ears, to the exclusion of important and worthwhile information, after living with DD1 and DD2).



Posted in Miscellaneous on March 6, 2008 by brendanbourdage

tonight’s channel 12 offering is “Bandidas”, starring penelope cruz and salma hayek.  vm__sy140_sx100_.jpg

and co-starring their corsets and tight pants.  because if i can say nothing else about this movie, it is historically accurate, and comes complete with training-to-be-bank-robbers montage, a scene where they practice their kissing on steve zahn, and dwight yoakam as the sage who trains the two in bank robbing.  i would write more about it, but i’m completely engrossed in the heartfelt we-used-to-hate-each-other-but-now-we’ve-come-to-respect-each-other scene between cruz and hayek.  seriously, i’m tearing up.

and i apologize for my reckless over-hyphenation in the last paragraph…and i promise to be more careful in the not-too-distant-future.  damn. 

but seriously, how many of you didn’t see that coming?

in baghdad news, our replacements are starting to roll in, and drinking from the fire hose.  it is an interesting crew, and makes me wonder how we looked to the group that we replaced.  we showed up with a bunch of Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Captains, many of whom had been out of the army for (what i thought was) a long time, maybe 3,4,5 years or so.  Enter the newest group of IRR officers, Majors this time, who have been out of the army, on average, 14-16 years, having left the army in 1992 or so.

i’m sure they’ll be able to help the team, but how deep are we digging when the folks we’re bringing in haven’t put on an army uniform since the Minnesota Twins won the world series?   

i guess this is as good a time as any to admit that i am a Twins fan, although when Dan Gladden’s mullet left, and took Dan Gladden with it, the magic went out of the team for me.  Steve Lombardozzi, anyone?  Dad?

so anyways, we’ll see how it goes with the new crew, and it’s hard for me not to selfishly be happy for their arrival, because it portends my departure.  portend might have a darker connotation than i was shooting for, given that i’ve been looking forward to leaving since i got here, bt i’ll allow it, because it’s my blog, and it gave me the opportunity to write this (i think) witty sentence).

i have to end with a caveat, about our countdown to leaving…as we will not know exactly when we’re leaving, and couldn’t share that information even if we had it, our countdown is more of a ballpark figure than an exact number to calculate our date of departure. (plus, even if we had a date, the odds of us doing the math properly in our over-caffeinated and over-power-pointed state is dubious).  so those of you planning to fly out and meet me when i land, to express your appreciation for my repeated attempts to amuse myself in a public forum, may have to revise your plans…

having said that, today is 52 – Buck Williams of the Portland Trail Blazers (from the eary 90’s).


the grind

Posted in Miscellaneous on February 24, 2008 by brendanbourdage

my theory was flawed.  i’ll admit it up front, and add a hope that i will never get a chance to test alternate 12-month deployment theories.

we are supposed to take our mid-tour leave somwhere in the middle four months of our tour.  go figure.  so, being the clever, system-out-smarting kind of guy that i believe i am (some evidence to the contrary, as you will soon discover) i pushed my leave to the very end of that period.  the logic was simple – if i could get to 8 months, and then return from leave around the 9-month mark, i would be coasting to re-deployment. 

flawed.  flawed.  flawed.

i came back from leave 3 weeks ago, and i have to say, it’s been the longest 3 weeks EVER. 

part of the problem is that about 3/4 of the people we arrived with will be leaving somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks before me and kevin. 

please step up and receive your complimentary kick in the face.  now go back to your desk and make another slide.

so as some of our friends are getting their bags packed, we are looking at 8 more weeks.  and i thought the army was always fair…

but, as my mom always says, this too shall pass.  and the weather is starting to warm up a bit (not that it was ever that cold, but i’m looking for something to be positive about, work with me…) so it could be worse.  we could be on a 15-month active duty tour, we could still be living in the roof-tar closet room, we could be in the air force.  just kidding about that last one.  but not really.

anyways, the countdown rolls on, although we wish we were in soccer midfielder territory instead of offensive linemen.

yesterday was 64 – Jim Burt of the New York Giants.  who wore cute little elbow pads to go with his 3-sizes-too-small jersey.  he said it was to keep defensive linemen from getting a hold of him.  i have my own theories.


serious discussion, dammit!

Posted in Miscellaneous on December 17, 2007 by brendanbourdage

i know, 2 of the last 3 posts have been serious.  i apologize, and promise a top ten and/or more ridiculous pictures soon. 

since the invasion in 2003, the US-led coalition has shown a distinct tendency to create US/Coalition solutions to Iraqi problems.  this is not news, and may spring from ignorance of Iraqi culture, ignorance of political realities, or just plain ignorance (my personal favorite).

i share the frustration of many working here as we watch this play out again and again.  and by “many working here” i mean mostly the gaggle of captains at CPATT who (obviously), had we been in charge, would have facilitated the creation of a free and democratic Iraq by now. 

but every once in a while, someone who has been in the army longer than i have been alive says something that had never crossed my mind.  i know, hard to imagine that much experience would actually count for something.  

a hypothetical situation: the coalition wants to provide equipment (as we have been doing for years) to the Iraqi Security Forces.  but wait, say all of the deep-thinking, nearly-almost-right captains, the Iraqi Security Forces don’t have a way to maintain this equipment – as soon as it breaks, it will be useless.  (we are very clever, and have seen this happen).

and this seems to be a valid argument.  until experience says, “here’s another way of looking at it…”

we don’t have to always measure success by the things that play well in the media.  violence rates down, iraqi capability up…these are all good things, but the very type of problems you have may be a (less popular) measurement of progress.

a year ago, we had no maintenance problem for the hypothetical equipment.  that’s a good thing.  we had no problem because we had no equipment.  now, we have a maintenance problem, and it represents progress, strangely enough.

the cart may be a bit ahead of the horse here, but providing the equipment a bit prematurely may also be the impetus necessary to create the maintenance program.  ideally, we would create the maintenance plan in conjunction with the distribution plan, but ideal plans rarely come to fruition in the middle of a counter-insurgency fight.   

so where does that leave us?  with equipment that Iraqi Security Forces need on one hand, and no way to maintain it on the other.   

ideal?  no.

a real-world solution?  yes.

certain to succeed?  no way.

but maybe not an indication of the plain ignorance i am so fond of identifying and ridiculing.  time will tell.


LTG Qais Hamza Aboud

Posted in Miscellaneous on December 10, 2007 by brendanbourdage

if you were not paying careful attention, you might have missed it.  yesterday, LTG Qais, the Provincial Director of Police for the Iraqi province of Babil (just south and west of Baghdad) was killed in an ambush on his convoy.  it was a story that slid immediately to the bottom of the pile of breaking news, but should have been near the top.

i had never met the man, but in my function as an Iraqi Police Service regional team lead, his province was one of my areas of responsibility for 6 months.  

Babil took up an inordinate amount of my time, with their constant requests for resources.  LTG Qais asked the Iraqi government for more rifles, and was denied.  he asked for more body armor, and was denied.  he asked for more helmets, boots, and uniforms, and was denied.  he asked for an armored vehicle to ride around in, and was denied.

so he asked again.  and again.

as he was asking for more resources, he was getting the job done with what he had, in one of the most dangerous provinces in Iraq, which is comprised, in part, of the oft-referenced “Baghdad belts” south of the capital city. 

his province has the most capable special police unit in the country, the Hillah SWAT, largely due to LTG Qais’ determined efforts. 

i guess what amazes me that most is that LTG Qais was accomplishing so much, while dodging multiple assassination attempts, and fighing to obtain resources from a government still struggling to establish the processes that would provide those resources. 

imagine the commissioner of the California State Police, or whatever the equivalent may be, trying to administer and lead a police force of thousands, while watching the side of the road for IEDs whenever he leaves his station, to drive up to the capital in Sacramento to ask in person if they got his memo requesting money for boots for his policemen.  LTG Qais lived and worked under these conditions for two years, which is incredible longevity in Iraq for a public servant on the brink of assassination, removal for political reasons, and constant threats against family and friends.

a more determined or courageous patriot would be hard to imagine, in any country.  a bit melodramatic, i know.

here’s to hoping the good guys can get a small percentage of the media coverage the bad guys get.

here’s to LTG Qais.



nose hair

Posted in Miscellaneous on October 2, 2007 by brendanbourdage

yes, someone with more delicate sensibilities would have used some sort of creative euphemism for the hair in your nose.  haha.

for those of you not put off by the title, today’s discussion, which actually became rather heated this morning between myself and the rhino in our room, deals with the difficulties inherent in keeping your nose free from stray, visible, (and therefore offensive to all) nose hairs.

from the disturbingly in-depth conversation which nearly made me late for breakfast, i have gleaned the following Things To Know and Share With Your Friends About Nose Hair:

1) any sort of visible nose hair, no matter how little it protrudes, is highly offensive.

2) the darker the hair, the more offense will be taken.

3) if you can’t tell where your nose hair ends and your mustache begins, you’re wrong.

4) trimming of nose hair is a precision operation – clumsy trimming may lead to matting of nose hair, which in turn could cause a rogue hair to appear in a previously cleared area of the nose.

5) having in-depth conversations about nose hair right before meals is an effective dieting technique.

this was the most stimulating conversation i’ve had in quite some time, which is not as sad as it sounds, because it really was a lively one…

in current events, how horrible of a mother do you have to be for kevin federline to be considered a more fit parent than you are? 

and just for the record, the phillies have been on a tear ever since i posted the picture of the phillie phanatic above my desk. 

maybe if i post a picture of the government of iraq, they’ll pick up the pace…


phillie phanatic

Posted in Miscellaneous on September 24, 2007 by brendanbourdage

OK, seriously…am i the only person to ever become a phillies fan based solely on their mascot?  somehow i doubt it.  there’s just something about the phanatic that makes me happy.  i’ve never been to philadelphia, but just the chance of seeing the phanatic would be enough to motivate me.

  how can you not love that?  in fact, i love it so much that it is now posted above my desk for inspiration. 

 see top right…and to the right of the phillie phanatic is the aforementioned clipboard with the Status of Pants, which continues to hinder our efforts to rebuild Iraqi society.

so this is what my world looks like most of the day.  for a change, i will sometimes stand up and walk to the edge of our world…

 my desk would be on the left.

for those of you who think the army is glamorous…you’re right.  if you’re dilbert.

i’m afraid there’s not much to ramble about today, sorry to disappoint.

thanks to everyone for the birthday well-wishes.  i am working on a list of the top ten “realizations of a 28-year-old”, hopefully for the next post.   

rusty, good to hear from you, tell the men’s team good luck, i like bragging that i once sat the bench for SCU…