Friday, September 29, 2006

The Symbol of Kuwait

Yesterday I posted a photo I took from the Kuwait Towers showing some of downtown Kuwait. I am posting some pics of the towers themselves today. The towers are iconic to most Kuwaitis. They state that these towers are the symbol of Kuwait. Indeed they are indicative of most of Kuwait. They are ugly, only partially functional, and expensive to boot.

Here is a shot that I took from the main parking lot. The towers are located on a point of land and the area has been fashioned as a recreation area. There is a beach, kiddie park, water park, paintball place, the towers themselves, and walking paths.

In my mind these towers are butt ugly. I'm not sure if they were going for the Buck Rogers look but it does remind me of a place we used to go when we were kids. There was this cheesy hamburger restaurant called "Spaceburger" in Tyler, Texas. I loved it as a kid but this is the kind of building you get when a design school dropout meets bad Science Fiction collision occurs.

There are three towers. A skinny needle, a skinny needle with a disco ball, and a fat needle with two disco balls.

The skinny needle serves no purpose whatsoever rather than to be asthetically pleasing and this it fails at. It looks like a SCUD missle with no fins.

The skinny needle with a disco ball is actually a water tower masquerading as bad art. It has huge tiles that look like sequins which fell off of a dress from a bad guy (girl?) in "Land Of The Giants".

The fat needle with two disco balls is the reason you come (That and there is really not a lot more to see) as it has a restaurant and a viewing floor. The restaurant is in the big disco ball and the viewing floor is in the smaller ball up top. I didn't eat and just elected for the viewing floor.

The ticket cost me 1 Dinar which is $3.45. Prices here are nuts. This place is way more expensive than Dubai and not near as much fun. I trodded around to the base of the fat needle and walked into the accessway. It was so dark inside so I had to take off my super dark shades to see. There was a metal detector and I walked through it. It went off like a smoke alarm while cooking stir fry. I had a pocket knife, cell phone, camera bag, car keys, and loose change. The Indian Guard gave me that ubiquitous head wobble from the subcontinent and I was through security. Gee, I feel good that I am so trustworthy looking. This guy is a real candidate for TSA employment.

I pushed the button for the elevator and it came all the way down to the restaraunt and stopped. It did not come to ground. I tried it several times and it was the same everytime. I push. The lights stop at the restaurant. I looked all around and there was no one else there, not even at the screaming metal detector station. I walked out and there was the security gaurd blithely puffing away on a cigarette. he saw me and scampered up to see what was up.

He tried the button and it did the same series of lights for him that it did for me. He then went behind a desk and picked up a phone. After a short delay he let loose witha flurry of Hindi and then the elevator lights began the descent to ground level. It stopped, opened up and there was another smiling denzien of the subcontinent with the full Monkey Suit like elevator operators wore in those old movies showing New York City in the 1930's. I walked in and the doors shut.


Thursday, September 28, 2006


I hear this all the time "Hey man, whatzitlooklike?" OK. Here it is. This is what it looks like. I took this shot from the Kuwait Towers which is probably the only "Must See" tourist site in all of Kuwait. This is looking due west from a point in the Persian Gulf. The green belt area is one of the Palaces that belongs to the Emir. In the back is the business district and the needle of the Kuwait Liberation Tower. This was built to commemorate the "Kuwaiti" victory in Gulf War I. It is about 1500 feet and it the tallest structure in the Middle East. Of course some guy in Dubai will build one bigger but for now it is the bee's knees.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Picture of Health

I have been processing a residency Visa in Kuwait as I am here for more than 60 days and live off post. Part of the residency requirement is that you pass a basic physical which consists of a quick look see to make sure you have four working appendages and a head; a chest X-Ray, and a blood test. The X-Ray is because the dreaded disease TB is rearing its ugly head again in a lot of Third World nations and a lot of these export labor type folks wind up here in Kuwait.

The blood test is for HIV and Hepatitis and whatever else they want to look at. I was scheduled for the physical for three weeks and it was finally my turn in the bucket. I loaded up into the van with everyone else and off we went to the Kuwait Public Health Clinic. I did not take any photos inside as the Kuwaitis have a phobia about photos of their public buildings. I guess they think we will divulge info to some bad guys some where. I grabbed these shots of the outside though as I saw something that just boggled me.

Here is the outside of the building. It is like a lot of other buildings here. Nondescript, low lying, light colored, and very little in the way of advertising or public notification of what it is. On the right you can see an awning and that is where about 50 guys from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were all huddled up smoking and joking. I don't know what they were talking about but they were all resigned to being there just like the rest of us. This building is dank, dirty, needs paint, and has a faint smell of urine. It also has that smell which always reminds me that I have left the Western world and that is the smell of unwashed bodies.

The next photo shows you the grated water taps which are in the left of the top photo. These taps are very common in Kuwait and I have started to take a pics of them as some are shaped like water bottles and some like jugs. They are some of the few interesting bits of design I have seen here. Most of the time people (poor people) will bring jugs to fill or water bottles to fill and will top off. The city water here is of good quality so that is not a concern. It is desalinated ocean water and it tastes a little off but overall it is OK.

Now here is where it gets boggling. There are drinking cups chained to the taps! Here is the main public health clinic for the entire country and they have communal cups. They are worried about TB and bloodborne diseases but any ninny with the flu can infect about 100 other people by drinking out of this cup. I am still floored by this and the mind set that allows it. Is it that they know only the poor (read: Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis) will be affected? Is it that they don't care? It can't be that they don't know the hazards, they just ignore it.

Bottoms up! The first round is on me!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Jeffrey Giordano

I know that a lot of folks are expecting me to write about 9-11 and how it not only changed our nation but also how it changed the lives of myself and my family. Not this time. Instead I will concentrate on the memory of a man. He was a man much like me and the same age. I got his name from Project 2,996 which has been sponsored by DC Roe.

He is
Jeffrey Giordano 46, of New York, N.Y. and he died at the World Trade Center. He was a Firefighter from Ladder 3 in Manhattan and his Memorial Service was held on October 13, 2001.

As I look at his photo I wonder what he was like, what his hopes and dreams were. I look into into his eyes and I see a man who I would have liked to have known, have had a beer with, have called my friend. A man dedicated to public service, a man who understood the concepts of Duty, Honor, Country. A family man who loved his children but still selflessly rushed to the scene of the attack because it was the right thing to do. He is the same type of man as those I meet here, those who have risked all for those same three words; Duty, Honor, Country. I think that there has already been a more fitting tribute written about him than I ever could compose and I offer it here.

Athlete and devoted father lived a life that focused on helping and inspiring others

Sunday, October 07, 2001By MIKE AZZARA ADVANCE STAFF WRITER Burlington, VT.

Three words that characterize the life of Jeffrey Giordano, 45, of Tottenville, are "compassion in action." Jeff, as he was known, was committed to excellence in everything he did. His great physical and mental strength helped make him a man with strong moral and ethical convictions. When someone would say, "That's good enough," said his wife, the former Marie Scotto, "Jeff's response would be, 'That's the problem with the world -- people think it's OK to accept less than perfect.'"

Mr. Giordano, a firefighter with Ladder Co. 3 in Lower Manhattan, has been missing since the collapse of the World Trade Center Sept. 11. That morning, he called his wife at 6:30 from the firehouse to tell her to awaken the children so they could watch him on television. "I'm going to be on TV with Larry Hoff in a fund-raising promotion benefiting the Firefighters Burn Center Foundation and the Widows and Orphans Fund," he told her. He was an officer of the foundation. "It was as if he knew it would be the last time they would see their father alive," Mrs. Giordano said.
Shortly after 9 a.m., he called to say he was on his way to the World Trade Center. Mrs. Giordano said she "could feel the adrenaline flowing as he spoke." Since Ladder Co. 3 is downtown, it was one of the first units to respond. "When the towers collapsed," Mrs. Giordano said, "I knew he was in one of them."

Mr. Giordano, who joined the Fire Department in 1987, was assigned to Ladder Co. 3 from the start. His fellow firefighters became an important part of his life. "Jeff is treasured in the memory of those who knew him as a 'brother,' a fireman whose professional joy was to be among his fellow firefighters," Mrs. Giordano said. "In spite of his singular bravery, it was his habit to give the credit to others." In an interview in the spring, he told the Daily News: "We just pull them out. It's the doctors and nurses who save their lives."

Mr. Giordano was a highly decorated firefighter. Among his many honors and citations was the Albert Johnson Award for saving two people trapped in a blazing building. The Life Saving Benevolent Society honored Mr. Giordano for diving into the East River to save a drowning man. In March, he received the Hero of the Month Award given by the Daily News for saving the life of a 21-year-old woman he found unconscious in a burning apartment. He was recognized for bravery and citizenship by the Fire Department Honor Legion, the American Legion and the City Council. He wore a chest full of medals on his dress uniform.

While living in Westchester County, he was a member of the South Salem Volunteer Fire Department, where his helmet was retired last week at a memorial service. Mr. Giordano, a native of Brooklyn, moved to Staten Island four years ago. A man of powerful focus and endurance, Mr. Giordano participated in more than 15 marathons. He ran daily and logged more than 50,000 miles.

Mrs. Giordano said many people, learning he was missing in the World Trade Center collapse, have contacted her with stories of how he inspired them to achieve more in their lives. He was vice president and a member of the board of the New York Firefighters Burn Center Foundation. He was dedicated to raising funds for the New York Presbyterian Burn Center. Mr. Giordano was a devoted husband and father who took his children everywhere. "It was important to him that they be involved in the community," Mrs. Giordano said. He was the soccer coach for the Intrepids, the team his son, Nicholas, played on.

Mr. and Mrs. Giordano were childhood sweethearts who celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary in August. "Life is empty without him but I am thankful he has given me three beautiful children, the greatest gift in the world," Mrs. Giordano said. "I will always feel his presence for when I look at his gift, I will always see him. "Oh, how I miss him and love him." Surviving, in addition to his wife, Marie, and his son, Nicholas, are two daughters, Victoria and Alexandra; his mother, Jessie, and a sister, Debbie Caputo. His brother, Chris, died three years ago.

In line with other honors from a grateful community he has had a street renamed after him. It is Jeffrey Giordano Boulevard, located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Hylan Boulevard and Page Avenue.

I see tributes that state, "Never Forget." I won't. I will always remember that day, what I was doing, how I learned about it, and how it has changed me but I still feel that I should remember Jeffery Giordano. Tomorrow I will be on post and at the time that the first plane flew into the tower the PA will play Taps. I will stop, turn, and salute the flag. At that moment I will remember Jeffrey Giordano the way he should be remembered. You should too. Don't remember him as a victim, remember him as the man he was. I will.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Work, work, work, work, work

No postings lately because during RIP TOA work is all I have been doing. Until this rotation of units is completed I am burning the midnight oil. 130,000 in - 130,000 out. It don't come easy! I am looking forward to the end of the month though when some of my 1st CAV buddies come through. It will be great to see them again even though I know they are going up for another year in the $hittiest place on earth.
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