Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Corner - Finished Reading

Master Mind: The Rise and Fall of Fritz Haber, the Nobel Laureate Who Launched the Age of Chemical Warfare by Daniel Charles
Hard cover
366 pages

As I have mentioned before I rarely buy books, I just read what I find in the paperback library at post.

This book caught my eye and decided to give it a shot.

Very interesting book. Fritz Haber pretty much changed the world by inventing the process to create Ammonia Nitrate. Whats the big deal with that? It's used in fertilizer and has helped crops grow bountifully.

But as the name of the book suggests he is also notorious for inventing something else.

No, he didn't die during the Holocaust, but direct relatives of his was killed in the gas chambers by the very gas he helped invent.

The author does a good job interspersing enough history of the time period, equal parts of Fritz Habers life and technical jargon.

It was a quick read for me. I'd say it was interesting, but not necessarily a good read.

Monday, July 25, 2011

10 Things You Will See At A Beach In Sri Lanka

1. A dog

2. A beggar

3. Women selling handmade beach covers and blankets (covers, throws etc)

4. Men selling handcrafted items (masks, Buddhas etc.)

5. Tout's

6. Beach boys/Sea urchin's

7. Beach cabana's

8. A washed up coconut

9. A surfboard

10. Restaurants with signs in German and German flags outside.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Normal Noises

"It's just the normal noises in here" - Tom Petty - Even the Losers

Aaah the noises of Basrah. The little birds singing in the morning, the glee club singing in the gym auditorium. You know I'm kidding about the glee club.

Mostly the noises are not good.

The incoming (IDF) alert. Wow, if that won't wake you up and put a chill up your spine nothing will.

Lest we forget the explosions that follow, that's good for keeping you awake for a few.

The other night I was treated to a burst from the Phalanx C-RAM (Counter Rocket and Mortar) gun. At 1500 rounds per minute that three second burst sounded incredible, but whats worse is that it's designed to shoot down IDF's within range. I didn't hear any explosions or incoming alert, rolled over in my bed only to hear another burst from the gun. I didn't go to sleep for awhile.

But incoming alerts, explosions and C-RAM guns were nothing compared to the most frightening sound that I heard last night. Nothing. My air conditioner is on 24/7 and I always hear it.

Power had gone out in my trailer, actually both halves of the trailer. Thus no air conditioning. When it's 100 degrees at night, things like this matter.

I tried resetting the main breaker but it kept tripping. I called someone to assist and he determined that it was my air conditioner that was making it trip. He gave me the keys to another trailer to sleep in but the keys didn't work and I didn't want to bother him so I grabbed a pillow and blanket and slept on the couch in my office.

Maintenance cleaned my air conditioner today. Funny thing is that we have a bit of humidity in the air blowing in from the ocean. My air conditioner not used to humidity pooled up the extra condensation and tripped the breaker, which is not a good thing. When maintenance brought my air conditioner back, dripping water and plugged it back in, it tripped the breaker again. They blew it out with a compressor and it seems to be working fine now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Steak and Lobster Night

Somethings never change in Iraq. One of them being steak and lobster for dinner on Friday nights.
I can hear the gasps from here.

When I was in Baghdad in 2005 I tried the lobster once and never had it again. Many people filled their plates with it like it was the best thing going. With that said, since 2005 at least, and probably earlier, all across Iraq KBR has been serving steak and lobster on Friday nights at dining facilities throughout Iraq.

First, you have to realize pretty much 90% of everything served to us comes frozen. The crazy thing being that the steak and lobster probably did originate in the U.S.A.

The lobster tails are the fancy prepared kind but how they are prepared here is not fancy. I don't know what they do to them but to me they taste awful. I see more people here pass up the lobster tails which make more available for those who want extra. The cooks usually take the leftovers and throw it in the next days salad.

The steaks are on par with the lobster tails. Served one style and one style only, in the big serving pan and you have no idea how they are cooked. The steaks are not bad, but by all means they are not good. Sometimes the edges are really hard and almost inedible.

On top of all of that we eat on flimsy disposable plastic plates and plastic utensils. I guess the fast that I can cut through the steaks with a plastic knife is a good thing.