Posts Tagged ‘iraqibundlesoflove’

01 October — ish

October 1, 2010

I’ve learned some interesting life lessons from my time in the Army, things that come from who we are and what we do but that apply to normal every day life.  I should probably make some time later, to write a book about them — some are worth both sharing and explaining.  For example:

  • When it’s pointed at you, assume it’s loaded;
  • Being old doesn’t mean they don’t have ammunition for it;
  • You may be in a free fall, but by definition, at some point, you will hit something and stop;
  • Gunfights are not a good place for a knife fighter;
  • In a tank engagement, Infantry should probably just get the h*ll out of the way;
  • Close often counts.

I tell you this, as tomorrow is 01 October.  It’s the dreaded deadline, the day on which I asked you to try and get those last boxes into the mail.  That point in time when new things stop going into the mail, and the effort shifts to Iraq and the distribution of the bundles.

But really — no one is going to arrest you if the box goes in the mail on Monday.  I am not some powerful man, someone with a private Army or my own militia.  There’d be no visit from the secret police, no cease-and-desist letter in the mail, no wanted posted at the Post Office.  No, you’d just have a bundle or two getting into the mail a little bit after the goal date of 01 October.

Close often counts.

Now, if you email me on the 2nd, well, I’m probably going to tell you to hold on while I try to put together another iteration of IBOL for later this year.  But really, if I don’t know that you’re a day late, no one knows that you’re a day late.  01 October is a control measure to keep bundles from going into the mail long after IBOL II has closed up shop and ended.

So, do what you have to do. I’m going to go stand over here with the Infantry.

Oh, and did I mention that Nahed email to me some photos?  Yep, she sure did.  From the recent distribution with the Organization of Iraqi Family, in Salah ad Din.  More after the break.


IBOL, and being a geek

August 29, 2010

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Well, if you read the IBOL book, it may not be a surprise.

I’m a total geek, and I love having access to the raw back-end statistics about how IBOL floats around the internet.

In IBOL I last year, the whole thing started with me just creating the blog. That was it. There was no following, there were no fans. There was no Facebook page, there was no key word to search for. Just a new blog on WordPress.  10 views one day, then up to a few hundred. And then, boom, there’d be an explosion, two or three or four times as much traffic in a single day — and I could dig and see where it was all coming from.

Some website would have made mention of it. Some blogger would have posted something about. There had been a guild meeting, or an email to members. Or it had made it into a new forum or online group.

Often, it would be a one-day spike, but after a while, they’d start to overlap and the statistics would stay elevated. Hundreds of visits a day became thousands of visits a day. And it all went through the roof when things like newspaper articles started, and when the crew sent out an amazing email to everyone headed to the Houston Quilt Festival.

I learned to watch things like this Google link, but the WordPress stuff also has a section where I can secret see who is linking to IBOL, and from where people are coming to the site.   It was easy to spot the big, well connected websites and blogs that were sending lots and lots of people to IBOL, but I’ll be honest – I most treasured find the little things.

So, yeah.  Neat to see all this again.  Almost a week into IBOL II, and there have been a little over 5000 visits to the blog (4 days in the 400 to 700 visitors per day range, and one day at 1700).  There have been a good 225  or some comments left on the website, and I’ve seen more than a fair share of references to people passing along the address in their guild and group.  Having been through IBOL I, this all means something to me — IBOL II is going to be just fine.


August 26, 2010
How do I know this is taking off again?
1.  I am getting traffic from some place called;
2. Guys are leaving comments, asking for the address;
3.  I’m actually recognizing both people’s names and their email addresses, from last year;  and
4. We had almost 1000 web hits on 25 AUG.
Not bad, for day two.
Remember last time, when I put out the challenge for a fabric store to come forward with bundles for sale, at or just above cost? Sew Mama Sew! stepped up and did just that — with some totally amazing results (love you, Sew Mama Sew!)
This time, we need that for thread.  We need it for fabric and yarn, too, but thread would be totally awesome.  Anybody know someone that can either put me in touch with, or that they can drag into this?  Surely there are small business owners out there, willing to Give A Little, right?

IB♥L II: Give A Little

August 24, 2010

Thank you for being so patient.  Just over a year after launching the Iraqi Bundles of Love (IBOL) project, it’s time to to do it again.  Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s do IBOL II.

I’ll give you the details first — some of you, I’m told, are rather impatient and would rather just get to making more boxes.  But if you keep reading, I’ll tell you some of how this came to be.

IBOL II, like the original IBOL project last year, is intended to be a short-duration project.  And like last time, it’s intended to surge fabric and sewing (and knitting!) materials into Salah ad Din, in northern Iraq (where I was last year, too).  The general premise is the same.  Willing contributors can send a flat-rate box of sewing / quilting / knitting supplies, all bundled up.  Once it’s there, someone will open the box, pull out the fully-contained bundle, and hand it off (with others) for distribution in the SaD area.  The stated intent of this operation is to put sewing and quilting and knitting supplies into the hands of two types of recipients:  locals who desperately need such things, and local sewing co-ops and other small businesses who have received grants or loans (typically to purchase sewing machines, rent space, etc).

Like last time, there’s no press release, no announcement on Oprah, no guest appearance on the Colbert Report.  There will be blog posts, emails, some photos, some silliness, some IBOL kittehs, and — you can count on it — some ice cream.  Email your guild, call your sister — tell ’em it’s time to do this again.  IBOL is still going to work via word of mouth.

It’s a chance for all of us to go into our stashes — our fabric, our yarn, our needles, our thread — and find some stuff that we’re willing to share with our partners in Iraq.  No one expects you to empty your stash — it’s a chance to give a little.

Here’s the most important thing:  Packages for IBOL 2.1 (because I hope there will be a 2.2 and a 2.3!) need to be in the mail not later than 01 October (that’s a Friday).  Do you think you can do that?  In the mail, not later than 01 October.  That’s just over a month from now.  Click below to read more of the details.


IB♥L World Tour: Beaverton, OR

November 25, 2009

Imagine going to Mt. Rushmore and standing before the monument, only to have them speak to you.

Such was my day today. I got to spend the day with the family, and go to the Sew Mama Sew! Secret Lair, and have coffee with Terry Grant and Gerrie Congdon.


Well, that was a bad idea

September 15, 2009

I went to the warehouse today. Folks, we need to talk.

1. Right now, you do not want to play me at Tetris. I will win. I have packed bajillions of IBOL boxes into and out of the truck in recent weeks. I have it down to a science.

2. Let me see a show of hands — how many of you wrote a warm, heartfelt note to me and stuck it in with you bundle, before closing it up and mailing it? One, two, three, four — that’s what I thought. Apparently, nearly all of you did. It’s enough that you’re helping with this project — you didn’t need to go and get all flowery and mushy and thanky on me. I’m a hardened killer — I’m not suppose to be getting all choked up and stuff.

3. I did make it to the warehouse today. I said some very bad words when I walked into the warehouse. Some very bad words. For the first time in a long time, I was damn near speechless. Here’s a little of what I saw.

4. Here’s the view of my drive to the warehouse. You might look at this and think, “ugh!” I look at it and ask, “When can I go running again?” I run along this road, in the dead of night, a few times a week, and it’s an awesome little stretch of road.

Oh, and I totally almost forgot. You’re going to want to see this.

It’s time we had a little talk

September 11, 2009

When I started the project, I didn’t know how big it would get.

Or how it would spread across the web. Or the world.

Or how many people would take an interest, and volunteer to participate.

Or how many people would actually send a box.

Or how many boxes an individual would send.

Or the total amount of boxes, or their volume, or their weight.

Or when they’d arrive.

Or how I’d actually distribute them.

I also did not have permission from anyone to do this.

All I knew was that I had an idea, that it seemed like a good idea, and that I probably needed to act on it.

And so I did.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I spent time with my mail folks and the warehouse folks. I worked it out with my mail folks that any boxes coming to me would be delivered to the warehouse — if lots of bundles started to arrive (for some crazy reason), it just made sense to be ready and to have the IBOL’s go right to the warehouse. The warehouse folks had received the first few boxes mailed directly to them by then — maybe 80. I had received the other 414 or so total at that point, had given some out to a couple of local units, moved others to the warehouse, but still had about 80 in my own room.

On Monday, I moved some of mine to the warehouse, and posted photos here.

Tuesday, I got one in the mail; the warehouse got none.

Wednesday, I got one. The warehouse got 357 more in the mail.

Thursday, I got none. They got 365 more in the mail.

Today, I got my Sports Illustrated, but not my Hot Rod. I was kind of bummed. I was really hoping the new Hot Rod would arrive. I mean, after all, the new Sports Illustrated had arrived — shouldn’t Hot Rod arrive, too? Oh, and the warehouse, they got 697 bundles in the mail.

The urban legend is that 11 pallets of mail were flown in yesterday, six of which were for IBOL. I had two soldiers separately tell me that one.

I have not been to the warehouse since Monday, but I am told that there are a few over there now . Received to date? 1921, between what’s come to me and what’s gone right to the warehouse. So, there’s probably 1600 bundles at the warehouse right now.

And I thought 50 boxes was going to be a pretty good indicator of success.

Honest to goodness, between all of the passing of information in emails and in guilds and that crazy email from the Houston folks and the Sew Mama Sew stuff, I have no idea how many people have mailed boxes, much less how to estimate that.

I have no idea how many actual boxes are en route, or how to even begin to take a guess at that. Honest to goodness, I had a wonder lady explain to me in an email today that she put 19 bundles in the mail. Nineteen! And if you think that’s unique, I could probably rattle of the names of a half or full dozen more people who have mailed over 10. This is some crazy scary math, even trying to extrapolate this stuff out (~2600 comments, maybe minus 100 for non-requests of the address; 150+ from Sew Mama Sew; the Houston email went to maybe 50,000+ people; there are probably 36 to 60 guilds or groups that shared the address…)

Does your brain hurt now, too? Yeah, this is what I am dealing with — in and around my day job. Which also makes my brain hurt.

I have two good-sized units that are lining up trucks and pick up dates, and seem to think they’ll be in a position to deliver tons of IBOLS — which, if the boxes really do average out to 7 or 8 lbs per box, and there really do turn out to be 3000 to 5000 IBOLs, there really are going to be tons of IBOLs to deliver.

How does one distribute something like three to five thousand bundles? Very carefully, I suppose. It’s a bit like eating an elephant — figure out what size bites you can take, and keep eating. I’ve got plan A, and a plan B. I’ll spare you the details, but will try to get and share some photos. Not sure when I can get to the warehouse, either — I’ll see what I can do about tomorrow.

More later — I need to go sleep. Apparently, it’s Patriot Day (not to confuse anyone) — where did August go? Seriously, I need to work less and sleep more.

I’ve said thank you about a half a billion times, right? Make it half a billion and one — thank you.


August 25, 2009

Well, here’s something I never thought I would have to say:

If you’re from the press or media, click here.

Folks, I had been dreaming of tens. You convinced me that hundreds are possible. And you’re showing me that there could in fact be thousands of bundles by the time this thing is over.

Want to know how I feel about all that? You’ve already made that, too.

Thank you, world. You rule.


First batch, ready for pick up

August 24, 2009

I think that’s called a double bed. And yes, it’s stacked, front to back, and mostly 5 high. That’s 70+ bundles on the bed, and a 7 or 8 on the floor awaiting some minor work before they’re ready.

Here’s my improvised workstation, and below is what it looks like in use.

It’s like opening birthday presents, every day.

OK, a few comments before I go to sleep (because I am really running late on that, and am going to be tired tonight!).

1. You all cheat. Why are you all trying to make me cry on a regular basis? I thought I said no cards with nice words and stuff. Didn’t I say that? Yet still I opened box after box, with note after note. You people are going to be the death of me, when I shrivel up here in the desert and die of dehydration from crying. I’m a big mushy push over, and these notes are just too much.

2. You all lie. Don’t try and tell me that these bundles have a value of $10 — my wife quilts, I know what this stuff costs. “Oh, these 8 yards of kaffe print? Maybe $12, total. A little more since I threw in these scissors.” Oh, please. You might fool the post office folks, writing that on the customs forms, but you’re not fooling me. A lot of you have sent some really big pieces of some really AWESOME fabrics. Add to that what this stuff will do? You should write the little infinity symbol there instead.

And thank you. I may be late getting to sleep, I may be grumpy later, but I am in a damn good mood. That was a lot of work, prepping these bundles of pick up later today, but wow — that’s one awesome collection of IBOL’s. If no other bundles arrived ever, I’d still be thrilled with this project.

Bigger truck, please

August 23, 2009

I met the mail room folks today. Actually, they don’t hate me, but they did have questions about why a guy was getting so much fabric and yarn. I had to display my man card as part of my explanation of what IBOL is about. They’re on board.

Of course, they’re going to have to re-arrange things some. The 35 boxes that were there waiting for me was keeping the door from opening all the way. I told them it was only going to get worse. Or better, depending on how they really felt about the project.

So, yeah. 35 more. Bringing the total to 80. Not bad, when I was shooting for 30, or maybe 50 if I was lucky.

But I think I need a bigger room. And if a roommate were to show up now, I’d be in serious trouble!