Friday, June 19, 2009


The night before last we had an incredible dust storm. It looked as though we were in a very thick tule fog in California's Central Valley.

Except that it was really hot. And dry. And brown. Very, very brown.

Just in walking from the office to my CHU (containerized housing unit), my eyeglasses were coated with a disgusting film of the stuff, and my ACUs (Army Combat Uniform) looked noticeably brown.

The dust particles were as fine as talcum powder, and were being blown into the office by the air conditioning unit just above my desk. Ditto for my room when I got back to my CHU. The amount of particulate matter in the air was very, very disturbing.

Last night at dinner, one of my buddies who'd been outside the wire (via convoy, since no birds were flying) all day mentioned that an Iraqi national with whom he'd been speaking earlier in the day told him that last night's dust storm was the worst he could remember for the past thirty years.

Yesterday morning as I walked to work it was amazing to see how discolored (read: brown) everything was, including the gravel underfoot. Each footfall would send a miasma of particles swirling into the air inches above the ground, and if the wind caught them, then they'd soar up into the air.

Very creepy.

Especially considering what those dust particles *really* are. Ugh.

As SFC McG and I were walking back to work from the DFAC (dining facility) two nights ago, he tried to snap photos of my feeding the fish in the irrigation canal near the chow hall (see my post about turtles from last August). There was so much particulate matter in the air (and my dinky camera is so small) that all he managed to visualize were those dust particles. The water is barely even noticeable.

(His camera stopped working for some reason, so I gave him mine; I've gotten so used to taking photos (I have about 20 GB so far, just from this deployment), that I feel incomplete without it on me! )

I'll have to see if I can get the camera back from him long enough to download a shot or two to post here....

By last night the skies had cleared noticeably, but the choppers still weren't flying because the visibility was still so poor.

I'm not going to miss Iraqi dust storms!

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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