** This is "joeslist"! Your (hopefully) daily taste of the war from somewhere
in the Gulf. You get this because I only get to send 2 emails per day (when
it's working) and I want all of you to be informed, and possibly entertained.
If you'd prefer not to get this, or get it sent to a different address please
contact john@announcetech.com and tell him this. I won't be offended (much).
I understand what it's like to get WAY TOO MUCH email these days. I will assure
you that I won't be pitching you for a mortgage or penis enlargement, however.
Today I'll begin insertion of really stupid random comments in this space to
see if ANYBODY is paying attention to this text block. Moose and Llama?
If you think that somebody would enjoy this or find it useful, please feel free
to forward it on to them, but let the rest of us know who else is "out there".
Some questions can't be answered due to security constraints. **

Messages for inclusion to this list or private personal ones should be sent to:

Friday 11 April 2003  11 AM Still Floating around the Northern Arabian Gulf (NAG)

Environmental conditions:
Temps: Berthing = Icy  Ship Internal = 80f   Ship outside = 90f  hot water = OK
Unusual Smells = none currently noted after clothes from "Beach" were burned
Stormwatch: Weather supposed to start sucking. Ship movement is now noticable
Apparent Morale (as measured in the Chiefs Mess) OK/Boredom increasing
Boredom index (0=Exciting 9=Excruciatingly dull) today = 8
Most Annoying Event = Loud Rap music coming from nearby head late at night.
                      Corrective action initiated.
Movies Watched: Rock Star (site TV), UNKNOWN Stallone mountain climbing movie (DVD)
Food Ratings: * = Sucky  ** = Better than MRE's   *** = Average  **** = Yummy
              ***** = Unlikely ("It's just a tiny wafer")
Last Nights Dinner: Low Fat Lasagna (***) and Low Fat Chicken Fried Steak (***)
Lunch: Fish stuffed with crab & Shrimp (****) Warm gooey Chocolate Chip Cookies (****)

Todays Happenings:
Today has been really slow. I've been doing a bunch of computer work trying to get my
laptop set up the way that I want it and working on this email.

Mail Bin:

Rusty Hodge of SOMA FM Writes:
Glad you're back on the boat safe. You're making news too...

April 10, 2003 7:30 PM  Umm Qasr opens to aid ships
By Stefano Ambrogi
LONDON (Reuters) - The Royal Navy says Iraq's only deep-water port of
Umm Qasr will receive its first merchant ship carrying humanitarian
aid on Saturday.
"A ship called the Manar from the United Arab Emirates carrying 700
tonnes of foodstuff will go in the next couple of days," Steve
Tatham, a Royal Navy spokesman based in Bahrain, told Reuters on Thursday.
He said the shipment would quickly be followed by two
Australian-flagged vessels carrying some 28,000 tonnes of wheat.
The port has been closed to merchant shipping while U.S. and British
forces cleared mines from the approaches to the port. (THAT'S YOU!)
Tatham said a second Royal Navy supply vessel the Sir Percivale,
carrying around 300 tonnes of aid including fresh water, food and
medical supplies berthed at the sprawling port complex on Tuesday.
The Sir Galahad, another naval supply ship carrying aid, drew
alongside two weeks ago.

Ships coming into Umm Qasr

Joe Sez:
Actually the Sir Galahad showed up about a week ago. That's the one that's in
quarantine now. We're really happy to see the whole humanitarian thing start
to come together and move. It needs to move faster! Kids stop you in the
street asking for water. It tears my heart out.

Locals lined up for clean water

Rusty Continues:
He said there was just one berth in the northern-most reaches of the
port, of 21 that are still operational, to be cleared of mines.
"The passage up to the port has now been cleared and we can assume is
safe," he said. He said more merchant vessels carrying large cargoes
of aid would follow in quick succession.

Joe Corrects Reuters:
Actually the southernmost "old port" berths are the best for deep draft "big"
cargo vessels. The river needs to be dredged! All berths are cleared of mines.
A major concern is that the large cranes needed to move cargo are not yet
operational due to mechanical problems and the poor condition of the electrical
infrastructure at the old port (south port). I am certain that they could get
a few running with effort to correct the electrical situation. This is an area
that I was very involved with at the port (what a mess!)

View of Umm Qasr Port

Rusty Continues further:
On a related topic:
This is a live Sat feed from a shared uplink in baghdad. It's really
interesting, it's a live video (not webcam) feed, with sound. You can see TV
anchors talking back to their producers, doing alternate feeds, etc.
Right now, it's just a shot out the hotel window, you see people
walking around, it looks like there is a fire out on the horizon.

You guys got any C/Ku band receiving equipment on the boat?


Joe Responds:
I wish that we had some that we could play with. The ship folks don't seem to
have the "hacker ethic" or be "up to speed" on what they have. Record some of
it if possible. These shared uplinks are the norm for the press over here. It must
be a good scam for the link operators!

TV Crews

Joel Saxberg suggests:


I knew you would come to like those big gray things with hot meals and
showers even if it took a trip to Iraq to do it - you're going to be a
sailor yet!

Joe Replies:
In an earlier communication, I said that I hate the ship (or words to that effect).
This is sort of like picking your implement of torture. I was dirty, smelly, hungry
and bored. I had easy (though overpriced) and instant voice communication to the world
with my GSM mobile phone with service from Kuwait.
Now I'm clean, overfed and bored, with spotty and slow email only. The "beach" had
sunlight and room to roam (in body armor and an M-4), the ship has only one place to
sit comfortably and eternal flourescent light and a noisy 1MC (NOTE: 1MC is shipspeak
for Public Address System). The Captain is a nice (though VERY talkative) guy who wants
to get his own AM radio talk show when he's done here (I am making this up but it is
plausible). You can't go through hatches easily with body armor and the M-4 is only
useful on occasion here on the ship. It was suggested that I get my ESWS while onboard.
If I'm here long enough to do that I think I'll be returning in a straight-jacket by medevac.

Joel goes on:
 Just came back from the NAB show in Las Vegas.  It was rather slow
this year and the radio hall did not have the foot traffic as in years
past.  Everyone that knows you says "hi".  I was looking at Iridium phones
at the show - thought I might want to replace my analog mobile unit with
one ---- but having to call Arizona to do the uplink sounds like its not
practical for everyday use.  Nice to have maybe for emergencies but not for
talking between towers and transmitter buildings.

Joe sez:
The Iridium phones are a bit more finicky (I have one in my hand right now and have been
using it to call one of our boats because they can't get them any other way). They would
not be good "general purpose" phones, but they have their own niche. The international
traveler, boater or spy will find the service very useful. If you're paying nothing
for incoming calls (as I soon hope to be), paying the freight to Arizona (.05-.10 a min)
is in the noise as far as I'm concerned. It would not be good from inside buildings at all.

Joel taunts:
Judy called - dinner is ready.

Talk later.


Joe Responds:
<Muffled Grumbling> Thanks for writing! :) I would pay ANY amount for some of Judy's
cooking right now!


My Dad sez:
Joe, I'm Really, Really glad you are back on the GunHal. Safe, Sanitary and
all the other advantages a ship offers. Have you re'c'd any of the mail
sent to you, a month ago now.?

Joe retorts:
I just checked and they sent something out to "the beach". Hopefully the morons out
there will figure it out and it won't just be lost. I got the pictures. I'm looking
at them now. Many thanks! (They came out pretty well.)

My Dad goes on:
I hope you will be on your way home soon. Your E-mails to everybody are extremely
interesting. Enjoy everybodys questions and your answers and descriptions of events.
You sure have some good friends.I have printed the news releases,pictures, & info re.
Umm Qasr from 3-4-03 to 4-10-03. Most of the info I got from the BBC web page.BBC
gave all the events and people in Umm Qasr good coverage.. I have these
pages in a binder for you. I just got back from CHP office they verified
that my tails lights are now working and will void the Fix-it ticket.. We
are looking forward to you getting back HOME. LOVE DAD

Joe gets philosophical (uh-oh):
The Brits and Aussies seem to be much more "into" this than we in the US are. I think
that the folks in the USA are more 'observers' and the other country's people are more
'participants'. It may just be the way that our media is handling it. Their media is
involved at every turn and tries to bring the UK to the Brits here, and connect people.
Ours seems to 'package' everything and use it for commercial purposes. We don't have
the Today show here with us. We are referred to as "troops", they are actually
individuals with names and personalities. We're like players in a football game. They're
the folks from home and the people from the country are with them. We don't get anything
from the society collectively, only from our friends and families (Thanks God for you!)
As you can see I'm trying to peice it all together, but there is a huge difference in the
way that the USA interacts with us. It may have to do with the fact that most people in
the USA don't know anybody in the military.

As for your ticket: I feel much safer now. :)  
John sez:

>John: Did you get the snail-mail that I sent weeks ago? I'm just trying to
>assess the
>reliability and speed of the mail from and to the ship.

Got it on Saturday, 4/5/03.

Joe responds:

Larry Mollica reports:
It's good to be getting your dispatches again. You haven't heard from me as I
have nothing to report, what with things being dull as hammers over here. No
where near as exciting as what I see in them Navy commercials, anyway. One
minute, jumping out of a helicopter... the next, looking for a place to plug in
the laptop. Yar!

Joe Replies:
That's really me! It's NOT just a job. It truly is an adventure. I show up with computers,
hacking tools and my butt-set (Linemans telephone test set). There are pictures of
me at the main terminal at Umm Qasr tryig to find a working line to tap into and route
to our building (over some of the scariest wiring you'll never see). I did tell you that
I now own an Iraqi payphone didn't I? I truly felt like a conquering, pillaging force when
I pried it off the wall! The testosterone was surging through me as I popped metal doors
out of their frames to get into locked power substations using a forklift. Surreal.
These are techniques that I can use at home, right? Oh, I got your SMS message, did you
get my reply?

Quoting Talbot CEC Joseph E
> I will assure
> you that I won't be pitching you for a mortgage or penis enlargement,
> however.

But I could really use a mortgage enlargement, can you help me out?

Joe responds:
Uh, No.
WARNING: Possibly boring "Shop Talk" Follows

Don Sez:
Thanks for the updates and the kind words...I'm pleased I was able to serve
and support even from back here. Tina and Sabrina have been doing
incredibly well...they have responded to the demands and there is a
"sense" of ownership with them. They have two major missions: One is a DEA
job in the desert, which they are prepared for and the other is the
transfer of an edgetech and all the support gear to MDSU2 in
Hawaii...These both should happen in the next 5 weeks...

Joe says:
If they are getting our ISIS system, this is most unfortunate. Please be sure that they
don't get the unit with Delphmap on it. Only one of the systems has it and they won't
use it anyway. Triton can tell you which unit is licensed for Delphmap if you call them.
I want to say that it's 56, but I'm not sure. If they do get one, also make sure that the
hard drive inside is secured and that they get only a single drive. Thanks! I strongly
suggest that they get their own ISIS system as we will be in bad shape without any backup
system of our own. That's how I left it with our CO. Hopefully nobody has pulled a fast
one. Any news on the $990k?

Don Continues:
Sabrina has created a pretty nice SOP and instruction set for
the MDSU2 guys..it has also created a great way for her to digest the
information. Please let Scott and Tim know that I have an appointment with the DK1 in
charge of pay to verify their accountings...
Oh, ask Scott if Mark Wolfe can use his recumbine bike...Mark is building
one and it would be good for him to "feel" exactly what options Mark would
Lots to do...
Take care Joe,

Joe sez:
Thanks Again Don, I feel much better and know that things are in good hands. When I tell
you about how much of this went in person, I think that you'll be shocked, disappointed
and suprised by the way that CTF-56 and NSCT-1 "handled" some things. I know that you've
been frustrated there, but the way that this was done would blow your mind. UUV operations
were among the smoothest and best planned and executed of all Umm Qasr operations. There
was no "out of the box" thinking (even when it would have helped). It's very difficult to
be thrust into the middle of another group that already has its own established ways of
doing things. There are strong personalities there, but at least they're competant.
The LT is not in a very strong political situation due to "crab factor" (which should be
completely irrelevent for UUV's!) and there are strong political undercurrents at the
command, mainly between communities (SEAL's, USMC and EOD). They don't mesh well together.
You'd go insane with EOD folks trying to second guess trained and experienced sonar
operators on target interpretation and classification. It should be pointed out that EOD
guys know (and more importantly don't care) about Communications, Infrastructure support
(Field sanitation, utilities and materials) or transportation. Actually, they do, but only
when those things aren't present. "Why don't we have INSERT_CITY_CONVENIENCE_HERE?"

Still no word of Scott. I probably won't see him for several more days. I should have status
on them today.

No list business today. Thanks for the sanity check!