In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

RPGs, mortars, rockets, oh my

We had eight mortars and a few rockets land on the camp today. Most of them were duds, and fortunately, nobody got hurt. I’ve lost count of how many rockets I’ve heard whistling over my head and impacting just a few meters away. I’ve gotten to the point where I can identify the type of round it is just by hearing it zing by and the impact.

An RPG sounds like the intro of a really bad techno song. Once an RPG landed about 10 feet away from me, bounced off the concrete and flew over my head (it was a dud). I could have sworn noise was from L.L. Cool Jay’s latest album.

A rocket sounds almost like a broken ambulance siren. When they fire rockets, they typically burst in the air. I was on the palace balcony once and heard the distinct sound of the rocket. It blew up about 800 meters away, but I could still feel the atmospheric pressure change caused by the blast. If I had hair, it totally would have given me a bad hair day.

From a distance, you can hear the whistle of a mortar but if you’re in the kill zone, supposedly, you can’t hear it. Luckily, I’ve heard every mortar I’ve been near.

Typically, when you hear the whistle or techno music or a broken siren, you have about two or three seconds to find cover. And it all happens so fast that most of the time you just stand around and look for a bunker. I would compare this to all those infamous cartoons I watched as a kid. Somebody drops a piano from a 10 story building and the guy at the other end just looks up screaming. Good thing they’re firing mortars and not throwing pianos; otherwise, I might not be writing on this blog.

Once I was on a patrol when the enemy was firing 60 mm mortars at us. For the love of God, we were in the middle of the city, around kids and schools and mosques. And these guys had the audacity to fire at us. That’s really nothing new though. They’d kill 20 kids just to hit one American. Believe me, it’s happened.

It’s a good thing that these bad guys are bad shots. I remember a time when this fella was about 50 yards from a squad I was with, and he was just standing up in the middle of the road shooting at us. He didn’t aim and he wasn’t behind cover. That’s like closing your eyes and trying to hit a bulls eye, especially if you’re firing the world’s most inaccurate weapon – the AK 47. I didn’t know whether to laugh at the guy or shoot him. Somebody else shot him. I’m still pissed about that.

10 Comments:

At 7:13 AM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

Would be nice to have one of those magic crayons, where you could draw a box around the guy and trap him in!! Keep safe, Hang in there!

 
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China's Google rockets on debut
It was a remarkable debut. Chinese search engine Baidu.com's shares sold in the United States for US$27 ($39) - then surged on day one to close at US$122.54 ($177.46).

Friday's result was the biggest first-day gain for a new listing in the US for five years.

Investors had more than quadrupled their money.

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Then came the post-mortem.

Some analysts said the internet search engine could have had an even better payday for itself if underwriters had sold the deal at a higher price to begin with.

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At issue is the underwriting process. Banks selling shares to the public - in this case Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs, and Piper Jaffray - are paid to use quantitative models to determine a fair price for shares, but also to gauge investor demand.

Underwriting has both subjective and objective elements, making definitive evaluation of a bank's performance difficult. In this case, demand for the IPO was evidently outsized, but so were the unknowns for the company.

"We don't know the potential impact of censorship in China, or how quickly the internet will grow there," said David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com. Had the IPO been priced higher and then fallen in the first day of trading, investors could have sued.

Baidu.com chairman and chief executive Robin Li, speaking on CNBC, said he was not upset by the potential lost proceeds of the IPO because the company had only sold a small portion of itself, and had significantly more growth ahead.

But University of Florida Professor Jay Ritter, an IPO expert, said Baidu.com left money on the table by introducing the shares at a level well below where they ended hours later.


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