Friday, June 3, 2011

Memorial Day, Work, and Bagram

Well this week work really started to pickup, hopefully the trend continues as it really makes a huge difference in both the appearance of the passage of time and general morale.  It had been surprisingly slow for a while which was really starting to grind on me but now it has picked up and I’m able to get involved in more things that are going on so that feels good.  The new Major(replaced the LTC who left) in the office is really friendly and helpful, we’ve been talking a lot and I’m learning all sorts of good info on how the army works.  I think he is going to be able to help me out a whole lot in making the most of my time here so I’m rather excited about that. 

  Memorial Day was Monday, not that we got the day off or anything but they did have a ceremony out by the flag poles in the courtyard which was pretty nice.  I found it funny that it took longer to get everyone out there and in formation (~15 min) than the actual ceremony took (~10 min) but it was still rather nice.  For Memorial Day the DFAC cooked up steamship round for dinner.  If you’ve never had steamship round it’s basically the entire rear leg of a cow, well at least from the knee up.  They had it cooking out on the grills all day and the whole place smelled good for a change.  It was rather tasty but really meat over an open fire, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.  (I hear the boys back home smoked up some killer meat on the smoker too.)  And tomorrow is steak and shrimp night so something to look forward to there.(maybe a scoop of cookies and cream too, we’ll see.)

I went to the gym this week, it’s a really nice facility tons of free weights, machines, cardio stuff etc.  Really fancy stuff to, just need to remember to take headphones next time so I can listen to tv instead of just watch it.  I had to get the correct ID holder to be able to go to the gym since going in uniform isn’t really an option, they’ve been out of them at the store here for a while but I was able to get one from a friend that had a spare so I’ll probably start doing that with some regularity.  I imagine it will cut down on my emails and such simply because I only have so much free time in the evening.  But I don’t see it messing with this blog as doing this is something I rather enjoy oddly enough.

I wanted to write some about my semi recent trip to Bagram too.  Basically it was about a 48 hour trip to check out the progress on a project that I’m working on as well as doing a meet and greet with some of the players down there that I’m working with.  The flight down was at night which was neat to see Kabul lit up, with the occasional neon sign or lit up hotel/building that looked straight out of the 70’s (which a lot of them probably are since they have more or less been at was ever since then)  BAF is crowded, dirty, dusty, and loud just like the last time I was there.  The guys we were visiting were able to put us up in what are called wet chu’s. Very nice compared to here. Basically it’s a container with two single beds and it has it’s own toilet, shower, and sink which makes it pretty swank atleast for my current standards.  We ended up driving pretty much all over the base there, it is a huge base, so I got to see a lot of neat stuff.  If it wasn’t so dusty/hazy all the time you would have some great views of the mountains since Bagram is in a bowl surrounded on three sides by mountains.  And they have uncleared minefields on base, there are signs and warnings and they are fenced off so you don’t go wandering through them.  Still not something I expected to see inside a base.  But I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised this country has been at war so long that mine fields (marked and unmarked) are a major problem.  Another thing that surprised me about Bagram is the sheer number of people there (~30,000) and it seems like the majority of them aren’t even soldiers.  There are tons of contractors there.  Lots of non-US foreigners too (military and civilian), basically a giant melting pot  for contractors from all over the world.  This leads to some interesting things, for instance the stores there (which are US govt owned and operated) sell things (booze) that Americans aren’t allowed to buy. (well contractors might be able to I don’t know how general order #1 applies to them if at all)  It was explained to me as if they don’t sell it someone else will so might as well make some money off it, who said the gov’t wasn’t capitalist… The way back was interesting, we ended up at the Kabul Airport and had to get ride back to the compound but instead of going the most direct route we had to take an alternate route which ended up being a tour of downtown Kabul.  It was a very interesting experience and while I wasn’t able to get any pictures it was neat to get to see what the city outside the walls of the compound looks like.  They have some massive potholes here!  But overall it looks like a rather poor urban area.  The lack of women is noticeable which makes it kind of strange too.  The traffic rules on the other hand are more or less non-existent other than driving on the “normal” side of the road and stuff.  Also they love traffic circles which is actually pretty nice since it feels better to be moving than just sitting in traffic.  The guys that work the drive team were pretty cool to and they do a darn good job at it.

Ok bedtime, but at least I get to sleep in some tomorrow!

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