Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bali in Iraq

I've never hit the lottery, but my deployment to Iraq in 2003 may be close to the wartime equivalent.
I spent 35 days in northern Iraq attached to the Joint Task Force North headquarters, which was the highest command level in that area.
While the threat of injury from enemy action was minimal, I did have a little concern over the number of folks walking around with loaded weapons! As it turns out, nothing untoward happened while I was there.
It's been said that war is long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. As I said, I missed out on any of the terrifying parts, but I did get my full share of the boring parts.
I was on the overnight shift in the main tactical operations center, so my 12-hour duty shifts were interesting, but the 12-hour off time was hard to fill. After eating and sleeping during the part of the day that wasn't too hot to sleep, there wasn't an awful lot to do and a lot of time to not do it in.
I had brought some playing cards, including a copy of the card game Bali. While I spent quite a bit of time playing solitaire games using may "Most Wanted Iraqi" 52-card deck, it was nice to take a break and do something along a different line.
The solitaire game of Bali revolves around using its 54-card deck to build words in columns. Some simple rules explain when cards can be moved around and how. Similar to Scrabble, some letters are worth more than others. For example, a "J" is worth 4, while a "D" is worth 1 point. The value of the letters is added up and then multiplied by the number of letters for a final score.
My goal became to beat my previous record, which meant a lot of pretty good games didn't make the cut. I got as high as 362 before I left. I haven't had a long stretch of boring time lately to devote to revisiting my Iraq record since then, but someday I'd like to see how high I can get.
I had the small Avalon Hill edition which was easy to travel with.

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