Saturday, May 30, 2009

Libiamo? Non libiamo?

General Order 1B (pronounced "one - bravo" in Army-speak) prohibits the consumption of alcohol over here Down Range. It prohibits a lot of other stuff, too, but that's not the point of this blog post. U.S. personnel -- even contractors -- are not supposed to be drinking alcohol.

Coalition partners (Japanese, French, Italians, etc., when here) have been free to do as they please, however.

But U.S. personnel must eschew the fruit of the vine or bine.

(Now *there's* a word for you. [Disclaimer: I've been accused by Fr. Tom W of Oakland, CA of being easily distracted by sparkly things. Warning: Here comes a 'sparkly'.] When I was young -- but still curmudgeonly, I'm told -- I majored in music and biology in college, and my focus for the biology major was botany and mycology. I guess that should be *foci* then, rather than just *focus*, shouldn't it?

(If I'm not careful, this could devolve into something akin to the old Monty Python routine about nobody expecting the Spanish Inquisition.... [look it up])

Anyway, a vine is a plant that climbs by means of suckers or tendrils (think grape: Vitis vinifera) while a bine is a plant that climbs by its shoots growing in a helical fashion around what supports it (think hop: Humulus lupulus). Bines have a characteristic left-ward or right-ward spiral growth pattern, irrespective of where on earth they grow. Hop plants, for example, always exhibit a clockwise growth.

And while we're on the subject of Humulus lupulus, hops are members of the plant family Cannabaceae, which also includes the genus Cannabis....

Aren't fun facts to know and tell, well, fun?

Here endeth the lesson.)

The eschewing of the fruit of the vine or bine, except during the Super Bowl, when personnel Down Range (where I live, in any case) are permitted two beers, appears to be a rather large sacrifice for many.

I'm not sure whether having "near-beer" in the DFAC helps. I've never tried one, and don't plan on ever doing so, one near-beer-less day at a time. I figure my 'broken brain' would perform the following intricate and complicated mental calculus: Drink the real thing.

So I just avoid the stuff altogether.

Somewhat to my surprise, it turns out that the 'real thing' is easily attainable over here (I'm told), and more than a few military personnel and civilians have run afoul of General Order 1B in this regard.

Given the kind of friends I hang out with over here, I've met quite a number of them.

One young man has been chaptered out of the Army for drinking over here, and is awaiting his return trip home. Just a couple of days ago I met another young Soldier who lost his stripes because of his drinking -- over here. Another friend mentioned one of his civilian co-workers who was sent back to the States because KBR found a bottle of whiskey in his stuff.

And on and on.

Who knew?

Before coming Down Range, when it seems as though SFC non-McG and I were headed north from where we wound up, I contacted personnel at that base to try to find out whatever I could that might be of use as we prepared to deploy. I even went so far as to get a special email account through the Army, which I could only access by going to a locked room on an Army Reserve post not far from my home of record.

I did this because my point of contact Down Range essentially said, "we can't tell you anything over regular email; we can only use this super-duper system to communicate information to you." But after having gone to the trouble of getting the account, and somewhere to use it, almost every one of my rather benign questions still went unanswered.

It wasn't as though I had asked for the nuclear launch codes.

I just wanted to know how many Catholics might be present at the base we had been told we'd be sent to, and that sort of thing. My points of contact (POCs) seemed to act as if they were involved in 'black OPS' or something, rather than in staffing a chapel on a huge military post.


The only question that was answered, sort of, was whether they knew if there were any AA meetings on post. (I figured that since so many of my friends for the past almost 30 years have been helped by going to those meetings, I might as well find out if any were available Down Range.) The answer I received from my POCs -- who'd been there almost a year at that point, running a chapel -- was, "We don't know. But since drinking alcohol isn't permitted, why would this even be a concern?"

Why indeed?


I need a drink!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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1 comment:

Mary Coady said...

"I need a drink!" But I know you won't, Tim. Your courage inspires me every day.

Thanks for the lesson in mood altering horticulture. Shared it with the TMC board setting up at the Sullivans' gorgeoous garden for tomorrow's annual meeting.

Prayers for TMC would be helpful at this time. You are always in mine.


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