I'm moving to a nickname-only policy in this blog. The following people have been mentioned thus far:
--THE NEW TEAM--
(Second PRT, November 2010-July 2011)
The Godfather -- also known affectionately as Commander Killjoy; the new PRT Commander.
Commander Quixote -- AKA Doc Quixote, the infectiously enthusiastic but somewhat ADHD head of PRT Medical. Hobbies include stargazing, playing the electric cello and tilting at windmills.
Captain Adventure -- the tall and self-assured head of SecFor; the only person thus far allowed to pick his own nickname.
Engineer Lovesalot -- a Navy lieutenant whose geographic separation from the female species appears to be causing him physical pain; Captain Adventure's roommate.
Captain Harmony -- the musically talented, multi-lingual Air Force officer from Public Affairs.
Captain Tomcat -- the laid-back officer from Operations whom I wanted to name "Captain Peachy" for his habit of responding requests with "that's peachy."
Lieutenant ______ -- A Navy Lieutenant who hounded me for months about getting a nickname; I refused -- and continue to refuse -- to bow to that pressure.
Lieutenant Granola -- a midwesterner with a firmly crunchy-granola-esque Seattle mindset.
Lieutenant Dracula -- the officer in charge of Supply whose first name -- Vlad -- was far too Transylvanian not to inspire his nickname.
Warrant Exasperated -- a good-natured but habitually grumpy Warrant Officer from Public Affairs.
Sergeant Major Moralekill -- the Senior Enlisted man from the maneuver unit we share the base with. Had the hoops removed from the basketball court to prevent injury.
Senior Chief Intimidating -- the terrifying Senior Enlisted
First Sergeant McGruff -- The PRT's Rule of Law guy and second highest ranked Enlisted man, a 30-year veteran of the Michigan Police Department with a gruff, no-nonsense attitude.
Chief Blackboard -- the PRT's Communications Officer and Liaison to the Department of Education; an elementary school principal in Oklahoma City.
Chief Hammersmith -- the PRT's Seabee and resident all-around handyman; great with a hammer and a nice guy to boot -- the kind of person you'd kill to have as a neighbor.
Petty Officer Moonshine -- a Navy NCO in Supply who owns a distillery (which I always screw up and call a brewery) in Breckenridge, Colorado.
Sergeant CapsLock -- A sergeant from Civil Affairs whose wife tends to update his Facebook page on his behalf, writing exclusively in caps.
Sergeant DoubleD -- an NCO from SecFor; the DoubleD is for Domestic Dispute, taken from his habit of having protracted fights with his wife in the public arena of Facebook.
Specialist Masai -- a Kenyan-American from SecFor, born and raised on the outskirts of Nairobi.
--THE OLD TEAM--
(First PRT, July-November 2010)
El Comandante -- the Commander of the PRT.
Senior Chief Literal -- the towering Senior Enlisted Advisor who took everything I said at face value, regardless of sarcasm.
Captain Firepower -- the plucky young Captain in charge of ensuring we have enough firepower on our missions.
Lieutenant Moneybags -- the coarse-mouthed First Lieutenant in charge of giving out money.
Ag -- The Department of Agriculture Rep. I recognize that this nickname is hardly creative.
Sergeant Charlie -- a Vietnamese-American who labelled the fridge in his office area with "If you take a water, replace it: Charlie is watching you."
Petty Officer Frying Pan -- Our PRT's culinary specialist, a Johnson and Wales graduate.
Airman Paparazzi -- Our PRT's photographer, an intensely talented Air Force public affairs officer.
RoguePeaceCorps -- a development specialist in Herat, directly embedded with the military.
MREs: A Rank Ordering
Given the new-found frequency of MREs in my diet, the time has come to definitively rank them by deliciousness.
1. Beef Enchillada (comes with a side of refried beans; what's not to love?).
2. Cheese Tortellini (tortellini in a thick, tomato paste-esque sauce. Definitely not bad).
3. Beef Stew (Appeared to made from broken chunks of meatloaf; astoundingly delicious, though I'll concede that my opinion was influenced by the fact that I was starving when I ate it).
4. Maple Sausage (While the main course on this -- a deck of cards-sized brick of sausage oozing a thin maple syrup -- was only ok, the side dishes were so plentiful and delightful (granola with milk and blueberries! A cinnamon scone! A chocolate chip toaster pastry! French Vanilla Cappuccino powder! Crackers and apple butter!) that it significantly boosted the MRE's rating).
5. Meatloaf (delicious, if you can get past the fact that you're clearly eating dog food. Comes with mashed potatoes: bliss).
6. Thai Chicken (shredded chicken, made "Thai" with water chestnuts. Inoffensive).
7. Jambalaya (sausagey, with a shrimpy undertone; ok, but my god the after effects).
8. Omelet with Cheese and Vegetables (Poll any given group of soldiers about what the worst MRE is and Cheese Omelet will almost definitely get named. It's universally loathed. But here's the honest truth of the matter: it's not that bad. It's not good, per se -- just a huge block of sponge-like egg laced with tiny chunkets of jalapeno and chives -- but it's certainly not as awful as the universe makes it out to be).
9. Pork Rib (McRib-esque shaped chopped pork in a ketchupy sauce; only a small step above dog food).
10. Veggie Burger with Barbeque Sauce (You can find a huge number of these left at the bottom of every case of picked-through MREs, abandoned as being the worst. And rightfully so: it's like a sawdust puck, slathered in bad ketchup).