Monday, May 28, 2007


This morning was marked by two of us in my office getting packages (there are four in the office, with one of them out for R&R.) And both of us got two bags of coffee. Mine was Intelligencia (a coffee shop in Chicago) His was Dunkin Donuts. We have decent supplies for a while.

Observation: How to tell who is the newlywed junior officer? The one whose wife sends care packages at an interval shorter then the time it takes for the package to get here. The home-made cookies are a confirmation that said officer is a newlywed. (lesson of the day: a slice of bread added to baked goods absorbes moisture from the goodies)

Woke up today to the sound of pipes peeling. Each command had their own observance, bagpipes, missing man formation from the Blackhawks, etc. We had a flag raising in the morning. One of the senior officers here had a flag from home in honor of his brother, who died in action. We're not the snappiest unit here, being a mishmash. But all the same, we'll honor him.

There are a number of tributes on the web today. I rather like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Take a look. Henry V, we happy few, we band of brothers.

Band of brothers: Immortal words to honor the warriors

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sox win!

Over breakfast. Devil Rays at Chicago 4-4, bottom of the ninth. Two on. No outs.
Next up, goes out swinging (I wonder why they didn't just have him bunt?)
Single to right, bases loaded.
Long hit to left. Caught. Everyone tags up. Plenty of time.
Nice end of game to watch live over breakfast, even if the team was from the wrong side of town :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Toby Keith Live in Concert

A few nights ago, Toby Keith came by to give a live concert as part of a USO tour. The whole base was abuzz for a couple of days leading up to the concert. I went with a young marine officer who is in my office. The concert was SRO, because there were no seats :-)

We got there about half an hour early, and we spent the time talking about life, back home, family, wife/girlfriend (as appropriate). About what our friends think/know about war/military/deployments in general. A lot of the things that makes us human.

The expected sets of songs. Some just silly songs, like the sing-a-longable "I love this bar", raunchy like "A lot less talk and a lot more action". and the patriotic "American Soldier" which always keeps an audience's attention. At the end, the chant went up for an encore "Red, White, Blue" so he sang "Curtesy of the Red, White and Blue," a song that he used to only sing in front of a military audience.

We really appreciated Toby Keith coming out here. Even counting for his coming out to a war zone, there are bigger places to go to, and this does seem like the forgotten part of the world at times. So we appreciated it greatly that he made a stop to our little corner of the world, and gave us a break in the routine.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Scab off

My scab from my smallpox vaccine came off. That means I am now free to play with infants without worry.

The plan for the day tomorrow includes a 7.5 mile run. Some of my office mates are trying to convince me to run a marathon this summer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Over breakfast Tuesday morning

QOTD: "It is real hard to look very manly when you are drinking out of a juice box."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Five days in

So far, five days here. The last leg of my trip here ended at 7AM local time by a 4 engine turboprop, which meant that I was very sleepy (I was doing real good up to the last leg of my trip.) But it was straight to work after a short nap. We were on a mission. The guy I was working alongside was trying to take a short R&R leave and make it to his son's graduation. So I needed to learn his job. Compared to making a son's high school graduation, sleep could wait.

I live in a B-hut, basically a plywood building with a corregated steel roof and plywood dividers for 8 spaces. 8'x10'. Bed and a dresser. But it is light tight, so when everything is closed down, it is dark and you can sleep any time of day or night. Only problem is the birds all wake up around 5AM. Which means I wake up around 5AM.

This leaves plenty of time for a workout. So far my runs have been 3 miles, 4 miles, 7.5 miles, 5 miles, 7.5 miles. Tomorrow is going to be an off day.

I have not done any serious birding yet. But so far I have:

House Sparrow/passer domesticus
Oriental Skylark/alauda gulgula
Pied Bushchat (?) / Saxicola caprata

As well as several that I have not pulled off ids on yet.

Thanks for reading.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

a quick update

Just to give everyone a little update, L has arrived in Afghanistan late last night (EST) after some very long flights and very long waiting in between (and probably not much sleep).


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sending stuff to me

Some notes if you want to send something:

1. CENTCOM General Order Number 1B (surround with quotes when searching on Google) applies. There are a number of items that are prohibited from possession by US forces in theater. Most of the prohibited items do not pass the mommy test either, but if your ability to implement the mommy test is questionable, you may want to look this up.

2. Chocolate does not work very well. Afghanistan is not in the hot, sun-baked desert part of the Mid-east, but the path packages will take will stop through those places.

3. Cookies, on the other hand, apparently work well. Even chocolate chip.

4. Pretty much anything will be shared. However, I have been told that there is a small mountain of candy in the office that is growing at a worrisome rate, so don't send too much of that. Apparently everyone is being good boys and girls and not eating the sweets fast enough.

5. Letters are nice. Especially the written kind that don't force me to log onto a computer to read. And pictures. Printed, crayon, watercolor (but not framed). Original CDs are nice too.

6. Coffee beans. Meaning Starbucks quality or better. The group I'm with shares their care package shipments.

7. I'm told that recent release DVDs would be welcome.

Sending stuff out

I stopped by the post office today to send a footlocker full of stuff. Giving it a few days head start should mean we arrive somewhat around the same time. Even with all the preparation and documents and paperwork, putting my address in Afghanistan with my name and dropping it off at a post office makes this very real.

There have been a series of sendoff events over the past week, all with different people, well, except for (girlfriend) who attended a couple. In addition we've been at a number of social functions where people have come up to wish me good luck. Along with many of the people whom I have had to deal with. I have not been here (in Pittsburgh) long, and Pittsburgh does have a reputation for not being welcoming to newcomers. While there is much truth to this, I have been glad for my welcome.

I'm packing now, and will leave very soon. If you need my address, send me an email and I'll get it to you. In addition, this blog is being forwarded to one of the social networking sites. If you know me, send me an invitation.