Tag Archives: Iraq

On the case of the missing DVD cases

My wife organizes. That’s what she does. I’m pretty sure it’s in her blood. It, most of the time, compliments the disorganized mess that is my own life.

Her organizing is usually useful, mostly helpful, occasionally annoying and once in a blue moon fucking retarded.

As an example, she once cleaned out and reorganized my tool box while I was traveling. She did this despite the fact that she can’t locate the working end of a Philips screwdriver.

Like this one ...

Like this one …

Not this one.  Photo courtesy of G-Gank

Not this one. Photo courtesy of G-Gank

This is the story about one reorganization effort even more fucking retarded than that.

I returned from Iraq in 2004 only to learn that my wife and I would be going to Afghanistan a short 12months later for another year-long tour. We lived in Italy at the time and as our deployment date drew closer we began to discuss what we were going to take with us.

Because we were living in Italy, mailing items to ourselves via the Military Postal System was free. So while neither of us shipped boxes of lead to our future home, neither were we mindful of how much the boxes weighed.

Based on my prior deployment I knew there would be ample time for movie watching and that meant we were going to ship a significant portion of our DVD collection ahead of us. As I loaded DVD case after DVD case into a footlocker a look came across Dagmar’s face.

The wheels inside my wife’s head were spinning. All these loose, randomly stacked up DVDs were sending her OCD levels into outer space.

“There has to be a better way” I could almost hear her thinking as I stacked a copy of “Groundhog Day” atop of copy of “Pulp Fiction.”

Clearly, this was anarchy, or at least the first sign of it. Comedies were mixed in with dramas, which were also mixed in with – gasp – TV shows.

It was almost as if the terrorists had already won.

She hatched a plan then and there to fix the chaos that was our DVD collection.

That plan has been a major pain in my ass ever since.

Several hours of intensive Internet searching later she found her solution.  Black DVD carrying cases that zip closed. Inside were pages with pockets where DVD jackets slid into the clear plastic-covered side and the actual DVD had a fabric pocket on the other.

She bought seven of them while having some sort of “organizer orgasm,” I think. When they finally arrived she, without anyone holding a gun to her head, spent an entire Saturday organizing them. There was a case for comedy, a case for drama, a case for comedy series, a case for romantic movies and (I’m not kidding) a case titled “Todd’s Mess,” because my collection of “Girls Gone Wild” DVDs didn’t meet her ridiculously high definition of documentaries.

Because she likes the pain I guess, she put all the subcategories into alphabetical order.

There was one flaw in the plan that was apparent to me from the moment I saw the books.  They were going to be completely useless when a new DVD came into the house. A new DVD would mean a gargantuan effort to shuffle every movie so that the interloper could be cataloged in the its proper place.

Sure, she’s organized, and a bit anal but I knew the moment I saw the cases they were going to be completely worthless after 10 new DVD purchases. No one is anal enough to keep doing that time after time.

I was, of course, correct and even before we left for Afghanistan we shipped the cases and a collection of five or six new DVDs (in their original cases) ahead of us.

Several years later something else about the DVD cases became apparent — they were extremely easy to forget about and even more so today because of streaming video.  We had nearly forgotten they existed until one recent weekend when the Apple TV wasn’t working and my wife was in the mood to watch something.  She or I suggested getting the cases out in hopes of finding some long-forgotten gem of theater brilliance hiding inside them.

Now, in her defense, I’d been the only one to open the cases for years and I’m basically a lazy-unorganized bastard. As she will tell you, I make very little effort to ensure I put the movie back into its proper place. Some movies had magically shook loose of their sleeves during numerous moves and the whole thing looked like a library that was organized by drunk meth-addicted chimpanzees.

Like this only inside a DVD book and with more meth addicted monkeys.

Like this only inside a DVD book and with more meth-addicted monkeys.

After several frustrating minutes and some failed attempts to find the DVD associated with the cover label, my wife declared the books to be “fucking useless” and I agreed.

“They’re a pain in the ass to keep straight, you can’t tell half the time if you’re getting the movie or the extras DVDs out,” I helpfully explained.

“That’s because you never put them back the way I told you,” she said with a smugness only an organized person can muster.

Regardless, they were a hopeless mess. So hopeless that I saw that look again, the organizational wheels in her head were shifting into high gear.

After some furious Internet searches she made the announcement. No longer were these particular DVDs sentenced to life inside the black cases. And why did I make her buy them in the first place?

She was going to remove them all and, in a very bold move, put them into DVD cases.

“No Todd,” she explained. “Not exactly like the old ones. The new ones will be the smaller CD cases like we used to keep music in.

I reminded her that the original DVD cases she had thrown away years ago would have come in handy right about now, but she insisted that they wouldn’t work.  She needed small, clear cases because all the DVD jackets weren’t going to survive this round of purges.  I rolled my eyes, opened a beer and gave up. She again took to furiously searching the Internet for the exact match to the item in her head.

Weeks later the 300 or so clear CD cases arrived and Dagmar commenced to furiously sorting the now-stacked DVDs into separate piles and then gingerly placing each into its new jewel case.

I foolishly considered this to be the end of it, because I hadn’t thought far enough into the organized future to realize those jewel cases would need a new home. Not only had I not considered that, but I had also not considered that the new receptacles for the cases would have to go somewhere. Preferably near the TV, Dagmar said, and yeah we were headed to IKEA because nothing less than a new book shelf was going to accomplish the goal.

Downtrodden and with heavy heart I resigned myself to my fate. IKEA does everything it can to encourage you to walk through the entire store which leads women to purchase far more items than were initially thought needed. Prior to this trip for instance, I had no idea my bathroom needed a complete redesign because the previous renters were colorblind retard monkeys or something. I thought my toothbrush holder and trash can were perfectly functional. I found out they were not.

DVDs organized

No so bad really …

Regardless, several hours and several hundred dollars later we were home. And thus began the task of IKEA assembly. While I contemplated what the fuck the little guy in the assembly brochure meant with his wordless instructions, I was struck by a simple fact: Here I was, 10 years removed from the time my wife decided she could improve on the worldwide practice of storing DVDs in their original cases, and I was still getting screwed.


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Look Iraq, stop being dicks. Get along

I fucked up once as a civil servant and my boss called me on the carpet for it.

I deserved it. The ass-chewing was spot on.

This fairly senior, nearly senior executive-level service (SES) Department of the Army civilian ended the talk with me in a direction I hadn’t ever thought through.

He said, “Look you’ve had a few tours down range. Have you talked to anyone about them?”

I hadn’t. Mainly because my second tour carried with it a risk factor slightly above “might get a paper cut today,” and my first tour was, in two words, totally fun.kirkuk

I was in Iraq from April of 2003 to March of 2004 and I was in Afghanistan for my entire life.

I think I was in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2006, but I forget the months I arrived and departed because that job was so boring I likely do need professional counseling.

In Afghanistan I worked in a combined joint tactical boring center. My days were spent hoping nothing happened or feverishly writing craptastic three-paragraph news releases about the things that did happen.

If you recall, the media’s focus during the years of 2005 and 2006 wasn’t exactly on Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan I built zero relationships with the local population.

In Iraq, however, the exact opposite was true.

I met many, many Iraqis who I then and now consider friends. In an admission that will likely keep me from ever obtaining a top secret clearance — I stay in touch, through social media, with most of them to this day.

Actually, on second thought, the NSA already knows about these relationships so that was kind of a pointless confession.

I can only speak to my experience. Someone serving in Iraq during those years might have an experience completely opposite mine. That’s OK. Hell, I’d love to hear about it.

We were stationed in the city of Kirkuk, a place populated largely by Kurds. During the invasion Kirkuk experienced very little violence.  While I wasn’t there, many members of the unit I was with, the storied and decorated 173rd Airborne Brigade, talked about how the Iraqi army dissolved before the 173rd even entered and secured the city.

I arrived a few days, maybe a few weeks, after the 173rd did. I honestly don’t recall how long they had been there.

It was after this photo was taken that I became independently wealthy.

It was after this photo was taken that I became independently wealthy.

I worked for two different officers there. Both were brilliant, energetic and dedicated. The first was reassigned fairly quickly. The events of September 11, 2001 had just happened and talented public affairs officers were in high demand.

The second officer was a former Ranger who came to the 173rd already sporting a combat jump on his airborne wings (which was incredibly rare back then) and he wasn’t trained in public affairs at all. He was an Infantryman through and through. He was assigned as the brigade’s personnel officer (or S1 in military terms), but that shop was basically running itself so he wanted to play in the Public Affairs kiddy pool.

We fought bitterly, at first. I capitulated when he told me the following: I don’t give a shit if the wives, parents, kids, or the American public back home are informed. I want the Iraqi people here to know we’re on their side. The American’s are already behind us, it’s the Iraqi people I want to talk to.

I spent a bitter night in my sleeping bag, but he was right.

Prior to his arrival, our detachment had already established a very good relationship with Kirkuk radio and TV stations. From that point forward we kicked all of those relationships into high gear.

Every day of the week, as guests we had Iraqi and our own educational specialists on the radio airwaves, we had Iraqi doctors and our own doctors on the airwaves, we had Iraqi and our own engineers on the airwaves.

The phones during those interviews never — even hours after the show was over — stopped ringing.

And that’s how I met my Iraqi friends with whom I still keep in contact. They were in our audience or worked at our station.

Some of them were Muslim — for all I know, all of them were. But they were just people at the end of the day.

We had a very young soldier with us, he couldn’t have been anymore than 19 or 20. The Iraqi people who worked for us knew he missed his family and asked what kind of food he liked. Because he was a kid and an idiot, he said pizza. A Muslim woman of perhaps 40 made him pizza from scratch. Think about that. She went out into the streets, dangerous as they were, to dig up the ingredients for pizza.

I’m proud to report it tasted awesome.

I once brought into the radio station a plate of food that our cooks had made. They were heated-up “T-rations,” something we ate two meals a day on the airbase. Because I’m an insensitive jerktard, the day I decided to do this on was a day when the cooks made ham.

The Iraqis gathered around. After I explained the meal contained pork, two ladies ventured in to taste. The more daring of the duo ate a piece of ham, while the the other, in a fit of giggles, couldn’t believe how brave her coworker was. I believe the Koran was mentioned, but only in a joking manner.

One time we traveled up north to the stable and safe city of Sulimanaia for some sort of conference. It became obvious very quickly that beer and other sorts of booze were being served. Because my job mainly revolved around setting the thing up once, it was underway I was free to enjoy my meal and chill out.

It was a well-known fact, even then, that I enjoyed beer. My Iraqi friends pointed out that no one was looking and that I could indeed enjoy a beer at the moment. I refused. Later that night, in my hotel room (which was on par with any top-of-the-line hotel room anywhere in the world) there was a knock at my door. One of the Iraqis brought me two beers, explaining that he knew I was embarrassed to drink in public.  Silly fucker.

If you’re reading this Iraqi friend, those two beers were the best I ever had.

To this day, 10 long years later, I still get emails and Facebook messages from those friends. Some happy, most are sad though.

Recently a series of bombs rocked the normally stable city of Irbil. Iraq, despite our half-hearted days-gone-by efforts, continues to consume itself with pointless violence.

When I got the news via Facebook from a friend in Iraq, I peppered him with questions like I always do.

“Is everyone OK?”

“How about so and so, doesn’t his family live near there?”

And then I send out message after message looking for responses from my other friends still there.

It’s always the same. There’s nothing America can do, there’s not much of anything I can do.  It just sucks to have friends in Iraq.

I don’t know if I have PTSD or not. I doubt honestly that I do. But I do know leaving friends behind to live in hell while I blog and drink beer doesn’t feel very good.

I pray the people of Iraq unite soon, I hope I don’t ever get another text like yesterday’s that leaves me wondering if everyone is OK, and I hope, hope, hope that America’s next exercise in foreign intervention ends better.

Summer is here and you winter people can suck my sunshine …

Summer is here and I want to thank some people. Mainly, the ladies. You girls are 98 percent of the reason summer rocks in the first place.

Take the most beautiful woman in the word and dress her up for a ski trip. She’s got nothing on the allure of a woman in a summer dress.

Cover of "Summer Lovers (Full Screen Edit...

Mmm summer. (Full Screen Edition)

Sorry, it’s like a scientifically proven fact or something — a woman dressed for warm weather is always sexier than a woman dressed for cold weather.

Basically, without ladies summer is just sweaty man balls and body odor. To deny this simple fact is to say that water is not wet, birds don’t fly and this blog is funny.

If you don’t believe me please choke on a giant box of cold weather.

Another reason summer rocks is Germany!  Have you been to a park in Germany when it’s nice out? If not, you’re missing out. Germans are cooped up in a frozen box of international rain, hail, snow and sleet for like 90 percent of the year.

When the sun does finally come out, baby, the clothes come off.

Germans will strip down to skin the moment the mercury says its hot — and you really, really have to appreciate that.

Say what you want to about the unattractive men, hot chicks lay out naked in the park! What is not to like?

There aren’t even any downsides of summer.

“Oh it’s too hot,” you say? Well “fuck you,” that’s what I say. Summer is better and that’s a fact. I can even back that up with anecdotal evidence because nothing says “fact” like anecdotal evidence.

People who like winter must admit there are parts of it they don’t like,  such as shoveling snow, scraping ice off the car windows, driving on icy roads, Rudolf poop on their roof, or finding dead Santas in the chimney. It is inevitable that window lovers find something about winter they don’t like.

Not us summer lovers though! Nope. We love every last sticky bit of it. We even embrace that with summer comes the potential to die in the desert of thirst or sport a look reminiscent of crispy bacon.

You know why? Because its better than dying of hypothermia. Give me dying of heat stroke over that shit any day.

When I was in Iraq, my boss and I had a joke that only we found amusing. He is from Texas and I hail from Arizona. If anyone knows hot weather, we know hot weather. Thus, when the temperature would reach (literally) 130 degrees, while we were wearing body armor, we would say to each other, “It’s hot, but at least I’m not cold.”

And we fucking meant it.

If you think it ain’t that bad to be in 130 degree temperatures while wearing body armor and sitting in the back of a HMMVW where the metal truck bed is just cramming the heat into your eye holes, then undoubtedly you’re a summer person.

Summer is just better in every conceivable way. You people can go stick your frozen heads in the freezer and suck cold ice if you don’t agree with me.

English: Twin Peaks Summer Bikini Contest in 2011.

I have no clue who this chick is but, really, who cares. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I understand anything about the popular TV series Game of Thrones*, it’s that in addition to showing a lot of hot naked chicks, (just like summer) the characters die a lot which sucks because a Game of Thrones summer is four-years long or some shit.

That awesome if I don’t consider the alternate — a four-year-long winter. That would break me faster than the rath Gordon Ramsey’s rain down on me if I served him a flaccid souffle.

So again, all you winter people can suck it for a few short months. We summer people are happy. HAPPY I tell you, and if you’re a winter person here in Germany, have pity on us summer folks, it will be just a few-short weeks until you’re once again relishing in your dreadful cold and pale-gray bliss.

Until then, we people of the SUN will be out in it. In fact, why the hell am I typing this at all, I should be outside…

* Actually I don’t know crap about the series, I watched all of season one drunk off my ass and apart from a lot hot naked chicks can’t tell you much of anything about it.

Trash Can Wars Part 2 … Crossing the Rubicon

I can’t do this anymore.

Rebellion, open and honest rebellion, is my only option. The oppressed must rebel.

I have no guns, mind you. No weapons, save a bayonet I bought for like $5 in Iraq years ago. But desperate times, my friends, call for desperate measures.

I speak, of course, of my wife’s retarded – I mean insane, I mean full-blown weird – decision to remove the trash can from the house.

Moar Boobs!

I honestly just blogged, twice about a fucking trash can. Everyone deserves some boobs.

I talked about it here. But if you don’t want to read that, let me sum it up quickly.

My wife decided, for reasons that escape any known or sane definition of logic, to do away with the trash can. The MAIN trash can, mind you (the one in the kitchen), has been removed from the house entirely. In the trash can’s place we are currently using – and I couldn’t make this up if I tried – convenience store plastic bags hanging from the door knob.

Don’t try and work through the “why” of this command decision. There isn’t any way to rationalize it. It is devoid of reason and without logic. There is no, it-helps-with-recycling aspect to it. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does the exact opposite since all trash goes into the same plastic bag.

Ease can’t be the reason for the change. The small bags fill up every time someone farts. The only purpose, I can surmise, is to annoy the living hell out of me. Something an actual trashcan never did.

A beer ad from Brazil! I was trying to find a trash can full of beer cans and instead found this. You are very welcome.

A beer ad from Brazil! I was trying to find a trash can full of beer cans and instead found this. You are very welcome. ~Fran

Trust me on this one – TOTAL pain in the ass.

Besides filling up at a rate of every second, my wife insists the handles of each plastic bag be tied before being removed from the house. Because obviously, an untied plastic convenience store bag holding coffee grounds, empty beer cans and egg shells is tacky as hell, or an affront to god.

Or something.

Anyway, rebellion, or something akin to rebellion, is brewing. Soon I’ll be meeting with like-minded individuals (the cat) to discuss in hushed tones the revolution.

We’re on the cusp of blood being spilled. Well, not blood exactly, but at the very least beer and that’s c0mpletely fucked up.

The following exchange just took place.

“Damn, Todd! If you would just take the trash out when it’s full, I wouldn’t get mad,” she said.

“You know what would make this a lot simpler, using a trash can,” I explained. “It’s an ancient invention that has proven its worth throughout the ages. Having little bags the size of a fucking coin purse to deposit our waste into is both stupid and stupid. It’s stupid twice. It makes literally no sense. Logic cannot be applied to the decision, that YOU made. It’s impossible to logically justify this decision from any firm standing.”

The Angry Eye

Your logic has logic in it. This makes me mad. (Photo credit: jcgoforth)

At this point she became pissed.

“I’m doing it because of beer cans!”

That was her answer. I can’t explain it. You can’t explain it either.

Her logic is that there would be  too many beer cans in the trash can if we used the actual trash can. There are too many, thus the trash can is no longer going to be used. I also might add that we have a newly purchased, fully functional trash can, that she banished to the basement some weeks ago.

Now… I’ll be fair, I’ll be honest, I’ll bare my soul here. This blog is called Had A Few BEERS for Christ’s sake, so yes, the receptacles that deliver beer’s sweet, succulent love into my belly are eventually in need of disposal. My love, nay, devotion to beer produces (gasp) empty beer cans.

In our last house it was verboten to even place a beer can in the kitchen trash (I used the one in the garage to dispose of my empties). So her argument holds no water, or trash, as the case may  be.

So I think I’m going to take a G-gank approach to this problem and

just put the fucking trash can back in place. When confronted I will tell her it’s there because it’s stupid to not have it there. I’ll also use phrases like, “Because I said so.” “Trashcans are not evil.” “Who has the penis in this house?”  And, “Please honey, can’t we have a working trashcan, please?”

I’d type a lot more of this, but I obviously have a tiny bag of trash to take out.

I have restored the trash cans to their rightful place in the Oliver Republic.  Much like Caesar I fully expect to be stabbed.   Oh well, the die is cast.

I have restored the trash cans to their rightful place in the Oliver Republic. Much like Caesar, I fully expect to be stabbed. Oh well, the die is cast.

Finally, to anyone reading this and thinking, but what about Germany’s recycling laws, I’d like to reply, yes.

A fast note to Had A Few Beers readers: Fran, the awesome person who edits this, recently had surgery for chick stuff or a rotten gallbladder, or circumcision, I wasn’t really listening. You can contact Dr. Andres Bustillo if you’re interested in any facial plastic surgery services or visit his website at yellowpages.com for more details. Seriously though, I hope everyone reading this takes a moment to wish her a speedy recovery. (Fran you’re awesome and I hope you feel better, sans gallbladder).