Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Friday, August 24, 2007
Monday, August 20, 2007
I had an ungodly amunt of Lebanese food for lunch, and I had still had enough leftovers for an entire dinner after we returned to the camp. Then we went to the Kuwait Towers - again! It's a lot like the Space Needle, but smaller and surprisingly dirty for a national landmark in a country where labor is very cheap. The only advantage it has over the Space Needle is that it's by the Gulf, so I went beachcombing and found dozens of Dentalia shells. Dentalia are strange little mollusks that live in a shell like a hollow tusk, which is buried in the sediment. Contrary to what I long thought, they live with the pointy end out, and the wide end is where the "foot" (more of an anchor, really) comes out. In this photo, there is a small Dentalium at the bottom right.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
When on duty I've been having hours and hours of "jail time," where I just have to be around, ready for a war to start. I now routinely spend twelve to fourteen hours a day doing very little beyond just cooking in the heat while listening to radio trafic and watching the desert.
So I read. I just got done reading La Reina del Sur by Arturo Perez Reverte, and La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon - two Spanish writers I had never heard of before, but I guess they are famous. I really liked La Sombra del Viento, a literary mistery that takes place in post civil war Barcelona. It really reminds me of Jacques Tardi (a French cartoonist who tells stories set in the underworld of Paris), who also fills his stories with bizarre male characters, beautiful women, corrupt cops, empty streets where little-known landmarks are visited during misty nights and turn out to house evil creatures.
As for La Reina del Sur, I had high expectations for it because the author had great reviews on the internet and the book is about drug traffickers in Mexico and the Straits of Gibraltar. I loved the Mexican slang and drug world he evoked, but for a "thriller," it turned out to be rather run-of-the-mill stuff.
The migration is still picking up, very slowly. I saw a desert wheatear, and a dozen hoopoes (the Kuwaitis know the hoopoe well; they call it Hudhud). Right around 10:00 in the morning, the hoopoes started looking really distressed. I found this one in a small patch of shade at the foot of a border police building, where it kept wedging itself against the somewhat cooler wall and sticking its beak into the dirt. The hoopoe is still one of my favorite bird.
I feel that I don’t give enough credit to the people who are out here with me; it’s mostly because I have a hard time mentioning them without running into opsec problems (basically, I’d have to get vetted by military intelligence even for relatively mundane information). This guy is SPC Cagle, a Tlingit Indian who is in the same squad as me. Cagle is a really hard worker who has no fear of saying what he thinks. For that reason, he’ll probably never get promoted so I guess he’ll just keep being one of those under-recognized “grunts” who run the army from the only position that is truly indispensable – that of infantry rifleman.