Today is the 4th of July! There are a few special things going on to celebrate.
We had the 4th of July fun run. Here’s the start of the race:
That was yesterday (Friday, the 3rd). Not sure why they moved the date for the run, but luckily they did so because the weather was better yesterday than it is today. The run started at 5AM, which was great because the was somewhat clear and not too dusty or hot. Here is a picture of my group after the fun run at Holt Stadium, having gotten our commemorative t-shirt:
The weather turned much worse over the next 24 hours. Over most of this week, we’ve had terrible dust storms. These are the worst I’ve ever seen during my time in Iraq, and people say it’s worse now than it has been in previous years. They were supposed to have a boat race at the outdoor pool today, but I believe that was canceled (boats were to be made of empty plastic water bottles duct-taped together). Nobody wants to spend time outside due to the choking dust. Here is the view outside my office, with some tracked vehicle rolling by:
Today, the weather looks OTHER-WORLDLY. It should be 120 and sunny, but instead the sky looks like Mars. Walk outside, and here is what you see:
Some joker even decided to write in the dust on the deck outside:
They have special patriotic decorations at the Dining Facilities. This is somewhat ironic because 95% of the DFAC workers are Indian or Nepali citizens. But the gesture is nice. Here is a picture of my favorite DFAC #3 at dinner time today:
The duststorm has really affected things on base. Nobody wants to go outside, and everything is caked with dust and dirt. When walking around, I wear clear glasses and a dust mask, both of which get rather dirty just on my short bike rides. In fact, my eye lashes turn dusty white after any extended time outside. I guess eye lashes serve a purpose in keeping some dust out of my eyes. But people still get red, itchy eyes and shortness of breath from the extreme dust. The one good thing I’ll say about the dust is that it keeps the temperatures down somewhat here.
And like I said at New Year’s: I hope that there are NO fireworks here tonight!!! There have already been a few indirect fire attacks today (mortars & rockets shot towards the base). I’m attaching a document that was emailed to me with some jokes about Joint Base Balad, I think it’s a few years old because it is a bit out of date. Some are funny, but the context will be lost on many readers.
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