Of Marines and Midgets
We had a great time with Justin on Friday night. No pics to speak of, since between the two areas we were at they were either prohibited by law or would have felt intrusive- so we'll go with the narrative description instead.
Kendra and I took a car from our building to the U.S. Embassy building where he is stationed with about 10 other Marines. He's been in the Marines for four and a half years and has spent time in Hawaii, Argentina and Irag as well as the Philippines, where he's been for about 8 months now. Traffic was terrible along Roxas Blvd. and the Manila Baywalk, where tons of restraunts, strip clubs and live outdoor music draws thousands of people. We met Justin outside the heavily fortified front gate and were escorted inside by security. Even though it was dark, Justin gave us a great detailed tour of some of the unrestricted areas of the embassy grounds, including several monuments, a historic McArthur- era flagpole, guardtowers and the military heli-pad.
Inside the building we were able to meet several of his fellow Marines, who all seemed very friendly and down-to-earth... you might even be fooled into thinking they were part of everyday corporate America based on the laments about the scheduling of their leave time... "I had it all worked out perfectly...I guess my proposed version of the schedule must have been too logical...".
It was neat to see how the guy's (and girl's) lives were like inside the barracks. A very orderly kitchen with eight neatly labled refrigerators- one for fruits and vegetable, one for hot dogs, hamburgers and frozen french fries and an entire other one for leftovers from the muli-meal dinners of macaroni and cheese and lasagna prepared for them by their cook. They also have a cool small bar area for their weekly happy hours- Justin offered us both a drink; promptly recording it on the paperwork.
Another thing that was neat for me to see was the Embassy's conference room, complete with table-recessed television monitors and video conferencing system. Of course, I was making a mental list of upgrades and tweaks that IMS Audio Visual could do for the communications of our overseas military. In addition, in an upstairs room they had a computer-assisted virtual weapons training system complete with an ancient 3-gun projector and 7x10 Da-Lite FastFold screen which they had been attempting to repair and re-calibrate. Leave it Erik, Charles and I, and I bet we could have them up and running (and upgrade to a 5K Lumen DLP projector) in about a day.
Another fun scenario to put in your mind: A 6-foot 3-inch Marine heating up chicken scraps in the microwave to feed to a stray (and pregnant!) kitty cat-named "Meow"-who's been hanging around the barraks. All the while relaying the details of what he heard the night (outside his window) when the litter was concieved.
Another scenario: Piling in a armor-plated, bullet-proof windowed black military SUV to go to a small hole-in-the-wall bar (called The Hobbit House) which is staffed entirely by midgets.
When we arrived, there was a man and a woman (both not midgets) playing guitar and singing folk-era songs. Kendra was loving it- of course she knew every song and all the words. Along for drinks was Nicole (another Marine) and Patrick, who is Elizabeth's replacement at the Embassy. The drinks and food were good and the midget waiters and waitresses were persistant with asking us to purchase souveniers from their bar. We ended up buying two Hobbit House bandanas, which we will wear proudly. It was a neat little (no pun!) place- a band came on later and played some great cover tunes. We'll probably be back there soon