Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's Up? Not much.

Hi.  I’m in a pretty good mood today, not sure why but who cares.  Actually who knows if Ill even be able to post this.  The internet is supposed to be sucky at the moment due to a cut fiber somewhere between J-bad and Tarin Kwot?sp?  We’ll see.  I recently found out that Pandora works over here which was kinda surprising, I thought there might be licenseing issues with playing it here in Afghanistan, guess not.  It isn’t the best quality and sometimes it is choppy but ehh, it seems to ok enough.  Bandwidth shouldn’t be to big a problem, people skype here, that is a lot more bandwidth.   I haven’t even though I got everything set up to do it.  I guess I probably should sometime.

This week was busyish, just seems to be a lot of little things going on at the moment. Enough to keep me busy but nothing big.  So I guess that’s ok.  I think I’m going to be pretty busy for the next few days so that should be good, help the time pass a little faster.

We’re about to get a new boss here too, by we I mean C^3 as a whole.  Trading in the old two star for a new one.  So this place has been a little crazy due to that, not that I’m really involved in that but I do imagine there will be some changes in the near future because of it. 

I guess part of the reason that things have been better recently is that I’ve finally started to feel like part of the group.  The new MAJ that I sit next to is awesome, he and I get along really well and he knows another MAJ who is also pretty cool.  Of course we’re pretty much always busting on each other but it is fun and it helps keep things interesting.  I think the COL finds it pretty funny cause whenever we are in the office busting on each other and I look over at him he has this big smile on his face but he never says anything or chimes in.  I guess we’re cheap entertainment. 

It’s fall now in case you weren’t paying attention.  I really only bring this up cause I was still kind of in the June mode and then it started getting a little chilly.  Actually the real downside is that it is getting dark way to early.  We’re going to really have to start eating earlier and earlier at dinner if we want to continue eating outside.  I didn’t think I would have to use any of the cold weather gear that they gave me when I came over here but it seems like I just might if it gets any colder.  Other than that we’ve had some amazing days out here.  The weather here is pretty nice, very similar to Los Alamos as far as I can tell.  Nothing like home has been.  I’m going to miss the endless sunny days when I go home. 

They canceled the bazaar last weekend, which stunk cause I actually was going to buy some stuff.  Maybe I’ll get a chance to this weekend, we’ll see.  I don’t have a whole ton of chances left.  

Ehh I don’t really have a whole lot to talk about tonight I guess, haven’t really done anything interesting sorry.  Maybe next week I’ll have some interesting to talk about so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 22, 2011


What? Another week?  Already? Drat, I don’t really have much to talk about, nothing nearly as interesting as the excitement from last week!

Well first off we got a new roommate so back to three in the room.  He is a pretty cool guy and we all seem to get along fairly well so no real complaints.  I’m getting used to the bottom bunk, we have it setup with a blanket over the side that opens into the room and a walll locker at the foot, the head and other side are against walls so when I close the curtain I have my own little space complete with a small light and a fan which is pretty nice.  Also it is a lot darker at night which is nice as I like it dark, however I will admit that it is much easier to get up in the morning with some light, I need to get one of those alarm clocks that slowly turns on the lights before/as you’re waking up.  Well not here and I guess I don’t really need it at home but anyway.

I found a kite this week!  That was somewhat exciting, there I was just walking along and a lonely kite was sitting on the ground.  Of course I gathered it up along with the string that was attached to it.  I have it hanging on the wall up in the office now, not sure what I want to do with it as it probably wouldn’t survive the trip home, it is just made out of tissue paper and bamboo.  The string is neat, I think it starts out as normal fishing line but then is covered with something.  Kite fighting is a popular sport around these parts and for that you cover the string with ground up glass as I understand it and I guess that is what it could be as the string really just feels like sandpaper if you run it between your fingers but honestly I was expecting a little more.  Then again I guess when it is under tension it might work pretty well?  I don’t really know the details of kite fighting.

Actually I found two kites this week, I found a second one which was larger than the first dangling off the side of one of the buildings here but decided to leave it for someone else since I couldn’t even figure out what to do with one kite.

Work has been going ok.  I haven’t been super busy.  The boss got back from a trip he was on last weekend.  While I like working for him it was kind of cool it have him out of the office if only because then I got to do more and I felt a little more important.  He also has me working on getting a review of my deployment worked up so I can update it and not have to create it all from memory once I get home.  It’s not a bad idea and I’m sort of glad he is making me do it cause I probably wouldn’t be doing it ahead of time if he wasn’t.  Of course I’ll have more to add once I’m done but I have a good chunk of it done.  He wanted to look over it the other day which was fine and then we had a conversation about it.  First off I’m a bit blunt in it and tried to write it honestly and truthfully since I think there are some things that need fixing and improvement.  I think I was pretty fair about it as I listed the good things too and how I would recommend improving the things I thought needed improvement.  Anyway he read it and I was expecting him to want to discuss some of the things I wrote and my suggestions a bit more be he seemed pretty pleased with it and while we talked about it some the conversation wasn’t about the parts I thought it would be about.  He disagreed with some of the assessments I made about the job and how I fit it, plus he seems to think I’m doing a good job at my job which was nice to hear, who doesn’t want their boss to think they do a good job.  I still feel like I could be doing a lot more.  This experience really could be a stepping stone to other things once I get back, but I’m not sure if I want it to be, at least not yet.

Ehh If nothing else I got some kick ass pictures!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I live and work in a bunker

Well there was certainly a lot of excitement this week.  For those of you who don’t read the news, you should, there was a relatively “big” Taliban attack this week.  A small group of Taliban stormed an abandoned high rise building that was only partially constructed and started shooting at the US Embassy and ISAF from the upper floors, both small arms fire and RPGs.  According to the reports I read on the web the building was about 800m away which is pretty far if you want to hit anything accurately with small arms or RPGs.  Not that they really care about hitting what they shoot at, they just want publicity.  Which they got. 

C^3 apparently took some small arms fire during this so that made it exciting here as well.  I got to watch some video feeds from the big balloon that they have here which was kind of cool, and some UAV feed so it wasn’t a total waste.  Although seeing everyone sitting at their desks working on their computers while wearing body armor and Kevlar was something you don’t see everyday.  This place actually felt like we might be in a war zone for a little bit, but it is still rather cupcakey. 

Prior to all this we had a ceremony on 11 Sept, it was pretty good, CSM Hill (the ISAF CSM) spoke.  They had a small band there, I didn’t know we had bands in theater.  That struck me as pretty odd.  So at these formations everyone is well in formation yours truly included which makes it a tad strange.  I’ve never really been taught to stand at attention or at ease properly and while it doesn’t seem to hard to fake by watching other people and using common sense im sure we civilians stick out.  Also they never told us what to do with saluting and that sort of thing.  I don’t salute which is correct for a civilian but its also odd to be one of the few not doing a traditional military salute during the national anthem.  I mean I still take off my cover and put my hand over my heart and all which as far as I can tell is the correct thing for a civilian to do.  I guess my point is with all the stupid training I had to take to come over here something on the proper civilian things to do in these sets of circumstances would be handy as there wasn’t much consensus among civilians if you looked around.

They had a new type of chicken nugget at the DFAC one day at lunch, they were awesome.  I had the best chicken salad, it was awesome.  But they haven’t made fresh bread in the mornings in at least a month, im not happy about that.

So I’ve been wanting to play a game for a while, I was finally able to talk some of the people I know here into it Sunday evening but not till later in the evening since people had other things they had to do first.  Anyway I went outside and ran into a kite string which was impossible to see in the dark and a couple other people ran into as well.  We found one end of it (no kite) which was good cause then we could get it out of the walkway.  So I decided to try and find the other end thinking that there would either be a kite on it or atleast there wouldn’t be a kite string laying around.  About 10-15 min later I had a huge bundle of kite string with two ends and no kite, drat. I stuffed it in my pocket since there wasn’t a trash can around and proceeded down to the basement to meet up with my friends to play a game.  I walked into their office and one of them was standing there with two kites they she had gotten somehow and trying to figure out how to get some kite string.  Now if you’ve ever been in a situation like this and someone randomly walks in and offers you some kite string that might seem a little strange or atleast a bad attempt at a joke.  Luck for me I had a bunch of kite string still stashed in my pocket.  And that my friends is how you become a miracle worker.  I love it when the lack of a plan comes together.

So after the kite string incident we went over to the Gym which has the library and game room attached.  They weren’t up for monopoly so we ended up with clue and sorry.  Sorry was the game of choice however it was missing a red pawn which I tried to quickly use to my advantage my shifting the board so I could be red, however it’s pretty easy to tell I was missing a pawn so I ended up using Miss Scarlet as my secret weapon (aka 4th pawn.).  I haven’t played Sorry in ages.  There is actually a surprising amount of strategy for such a simple game.  Nowhere near as much as im used to in Settlers or Puerto Rico or the like but enough to make it interesting.  I’m also happy to report that I managed to win though it was a close one at the end, well atleast between red and blue.  Someone had also sent over a bunch of cheap Hawaiian decorations, which we had found on the shelves where people put stuff they get that is for the taking.  So we were sitting around playing Sorry in the Library with Miss Scarlet wearing Leis.  It was funny.  And nice to get atleast one game in, maybe we’ll get another one in this weekend.

Also one of my roommates redeployed yesterday.  So now I have a bottom bunk and until we get another roommate a little more room.  All of which is pretty good.  I’ll have a guy above me once I get a roommate which I imagine will happen in the rather near future but we’ll see.  Still I have a bottom bunk with curtain so I can make it darker.  Actually being in the top bunk wasn’t that bad.  Hopefully we wont get another roommate for a while so I wont have much time left when we do get one but again knowing how the rooming situation is around here I kinda doubt that will happen, we’ll see.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Another week.  So I pretty much don’t remember anything really interesting that happened this week.  I figure I’ll just start typing and I’m sure I’ll end up talking about something.  Last Saturday night I got a very strong desire to play a board game.  I guess that shouldn’t be a big surprise considering how much I play games at home and how few I’ve played recently.  So I’m going to try and get a game of monopoly or possibly risk if they have it down in the mwr together.  I went looking for some people last weekend but that didn’t work out, however the MAJ I sit next to expressed some interest in a game at some point and I think we could get one or two other guys in so that might turn out rather well.  We’ll see.  I really just need a clone of myself, someone to play all the crazy games I want to play with.  Oh well, they need to come up with more games that you can play one player as well as multiplayer, and for this video games don’t count.  Yeah they are fun and all just sometimes you want to roll dice and stuff like that. 

Tonight I’m sitting out at one of the picnic tables in the courtyard which there isn’t really anything special about.  Except tonight they happen to be having a Movie night out here.  They have one of the nice projectors out of a conference room out playing some movie that just came out that I’ve never heard of and have no interest in watching.  But it is still kinda cool, they have it projecting up on one of the buildings, I’m guessing the screen size is about similar to the “screen” we had in college so rather large, but much much better quality.  They have a sound system hooked up and a lot of the picnic tables arrayed around to see well.  They even brought out the popcorn machine from the movie room and have coolers with drinks in them.  Yeah we have a popcorn machine, reminds me of Yarnell-Hoffer.  This place really is pretty swank, especially compared to some of the other bases I visited on my little jaunt around country.

Work was really hit or miss this week.  Either I was really busy or pretty slow.  I’ve got some stuff going on but I have a feeling the next week or so is going to be pretty slow, we’ll see.  Actually going on that trip and the follow-on to that has kept me pretty busy working stuff from it so that was good on all fronts.  Not that I find that outcome surprising or anything, I still wish I could do more good stuff like that.  It is both fun and useful to all involved.  Of course very little of this stuff is going to get fully resolved before I leave but I knew that coming in.  There’s a lot going on here that I’m not at all involved with but it is pretty neat to be able to be a fly on the wall for some of the things going on as this conflict continues to evolve, it really gives you a different perspective than you can get most other places.

I’m starting to get kinda short too. Which I talked about some in my last post and I’m sure I’ll talk about more and more as I get shorter and shorter.  I’m still somewhat apprehensive about that whole bit but I think I have a little bit better of a plan and I know I’ll continue to mentally revise and redo it till I get home and it all falls apart anyway so I’m not overly worried.  Biggest thing I’ve been dreading is buying some paintings at the Bazaar, Id like to because I think they are pretty neat not to mention my room/home could use some more decoration on the walls.  I dunno why I’m just not really looking forward to buying them.  Probably because I’ve figured out I don’t really like to haggle which is a must over here.  But with all the haggling that happens over here I’ve started to wonder what would happen if I tried to haggle more when I got back to the states.  I doubt it would go over well, still might have to try it a time or too at select locations.  What I should really try and get here is a Kite, they are pretty hardcore with the kites.  I mean how many other big cities to people just go outdoors or on rooftops and fly kites?  It is pretty neat to see them at dinner in the evenings.

I’m randomly reminded of the end of CarTalk, well folks you’ve wasted another perfectly good three minutes reading about my random thoughts during this crazy adventure.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Water Falling from the sky? Crazy!

I’m Back!  Ok well I’ve been back since Saturday but who is counting?  The journey back was a bit of a journey.  We were planning on leaving mid day but that flight got canceled and the next one wasn’t for about 12 hours so we spent all afternoon/evening sitting around the PAX terminal at Shank waiting for our flight.  AFN shows terrible movies, but I did finish the third book in the A Song of Fire and Ice.  We finally got to go out to the plane about 0200ish? I dunno it was late.    But instead of a bus or anything like that we rode out in the back of some big truck. I’m not exactly sure what it was, basically the military version of a big flatbed that had bench seats along the sides.  It was pretty cool, mostly because it was a really clear night and you could see all the stars and whatnot.

So after a rather short flight we were back and BAF, and by the time I found out when my flight back to C^3 the next day was I only had about 2 hours to go lay down and grab some sleep.  So I did.  Then once I got back up and humped it over to the terminal I found out I had been bumped from my flight, thanks guys.  Of course there weren’t any flights going back to C^3 later that day but I was able to get a flight to one of the other bases here in Kabul that I had been to before and I figured I’d be able to work my way back from there.  Once I got on the helicopter we actually ended up stopping for gas, which isn’t really all that exciting except it was something Id never done before, basically we had to hop out and stand off to the side while they gas the birds up.  And then we were off.  Got to Kabul and made my way out to the pickup point for the drive team.  I managed to catch a break there as they showed up after about 10 min (I had not idea what their schedule was like but figured they would come by sooner or later.) and had room for me so I was able to back it back to C^3.  Went into the off to drop gear and then went and got a nice hot shower and got some clean clothes before going back to the office.  The boss was pretty happy that I was back.  (the whole trip took a bit longer than planned, I think I was gone for ~ 17 days when I was only originally scheduled to be going 12ish.  oops)  Had some food and then went back to my room and crashed for 3-4 hours which was great.  Got to sleep in the next morning too so sleepwise I got caught back up pretty quick. I still felt subpar for a few days but that has gone away now so no complaints. 

This week has been kinda busy, I’ve mostly been working on post trip stuff.  Which is the “work” part of the fun of travel.  I’ve got some good stuff down so we’ll see where that goes.  It was nice that I was able to have internet/email access from a few places on the road so I was overloaded with that stuff when I got back. 

So it rained really heavy one day while I was out and then it rained the day after I got back but only for a little bit, today it rained ALL day, that long steady soaking rain.  Man I haven’t really seen much rain in a long time (unlike the east coast), It is pretty weird.  I actually the warm and dry a lot more!  NM really seems like a nice place to live the more I think about it.  That and It’s already September!  I have somewhere around 30% time left here at the white collar prison that is Camp CupCake.  Then I have to deal with the real world again, scary stuff.