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3rd November 2011


Prolly my last post, I won't tolerate a 30 second ad just to look here.

3:49pm: Time passes
Again. Facebook wins, etc.


12th January 2011

8:35am: Fill in the cracks
I forgot to mention that my 2011 plan also includes an enormous number of doctor visits, MRI and possible surgeries for knee and shoulder. The amount of scheduling and paperwork to obtain long-term disability is astonishing.
8:30am: Slapped awake again
Hello, drifting browsers!

Here's my 2011 plan, in short.

1. Finish my car and prepare for summer tours(links)
a. http://www.dodgecharger.com/forum/index.php/topic,66411.msg744819.html#msg744819
b. http://www.dodgecharger.com/forum/index.php/topic,73529.new.html#new
2. Have a garage built

3. Complete the necessary repairs and upgrades on the boat.
4. Sail to the Bahamas, and perhaps the lower Caribbean.
5. June Power Tour; http://www.mytrain.com/powertour.html
a. Visit family in Michigan, and a side trip to Toronto. E/INTJ festival of Espresso?
6. Drive over to Chicago, and tour Route 66 to California. http://www.historic66.com/
7. Drive up the California coast to Seattle.
8. Drive back to Detroit via Yellowstone, Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore et al
9. Drive back to Florida via old Dixie Highway.
10.Refit and Refinish car, plan afterlife.

15th November 2010

9:19am: Testing...Pfff pfff...is this thing on?
Seems like the livejournal bug is passing for a few of us. I don't have much motivation to write here-that may have something to do with the notable absence of idiocy from my immediate life.

28th March 2010

7:44pm: New top photo post
I got tired of looking at the last photo on my fecebook page. Here's our boat.

27th March 2010

7:37pm: Carpe Diem
Today was a bit of a Hallmark, I suddenly internalized the fact that I'm going home in a couple months, and not returning. I never considered doing a second year, and here I'm facing the end of 2-1/2 years.
Being home will take some adjusting, since civilians basically walk around with their head up their ass, and no accountability for their actions. There is no doubt that I will speak my mind more often in public.

20th March 2010

4:11pm: Stir the pot, find stinky poop
After whooping up about the Slugs stealing our power supply, it turns out upon reviewing the documents I pried loose from under the Slugs' rock that the Boss did not properly inventory our satellite system, and the power supply (which is a serial numbered item) was neither identified nor recorded on the shipping documents. Worse, the shipment came via Jingle Truck (see photo) and not military transport. The only hope we have to see the thing is to point out that the shipment was addressed specifically to me, and I was not informed of it's arrival until the forklift dumped it on the ground in pieces in our work area.

At this point, I don't care anymore. The service provider will give us a new one, and send the invoice to somebody who's not me.

15th March 2010

7:29pm: Salt on Slugs
Picked a scab off a wound today, lol.

Some slugs who work for another company lost the battery backup/line conditioner for our satellite system-$1600-about three months ago. We chased them around the maypole a few times, then it went dormant. So, being the perennial shit-stirring troublemaker I went back and requested the original tracking document so I could scan it. Of course, since we'd already gone three rounds before, they knew there could only be one reason I wanted it; to open a formal investigation. So, I was denied. "My system is down". Five minutes later I request a different document, which he promptly provides. I say now that your system is up, how about that tracker? He rambles a little hoping I'll go away, but I came to pick a fight and wasn't going away without either the document or a fight.
Now, I know that there was a document because I had already spoken with the party who signed for the stuff and failed to inventory it. He wasn't present, so The Slug tells me that the shipment came without a document. More rambling. He's good and mad, because I have him cornered in front of everyone in the office. Then I switch gears back to the second document which he had printed, requesting he take possession of some tool boxes I had signed from them some time ago. He says he needs an inventory, I tell him it's all on the paper and there are no shortages. He says he needs to inventory them, so I say 'here's the documents, go have at it'. Then he tells me to have 'A Representative' inventory the tools. LOL. I tell him that if my word isn't good enough, then neither is my representative's and he'll have to do it himself. This is where he starts to get really steamed, and I suggest that he'll have to get his ass out of the chair sooner or later.
He jumps up knocking everything off his desk, rubbing his nose on mine making the sort of noises people make to save face, and I ask him if he's going to hit me. He doesn't take the bait, but says 'If I hit you I'll kill you'. Close but no cigar, drat. By then his boss jumps between us and makes him sit down, and tells me he'll get me the document.

Tomorrow I'm going to lay out the tools in perfect military fashion, and have all my crew stand there and observe him inventory the tools.

It's a rare treat to feed someone their own lazy incompetence for lunch.
Current Mood: Mean

13th February 2010

4:44pm: right place right time
Briefing 4-star General Ann Dunwoody on a new system.

Current Mood: pleased

9th February 2010

9:00pm: Not exactly a surprise
Visit tomorrow from 4-Star General Ann Dunwoody and entourage.

People are flailing. People are flailing to get other people to flail faster.

Did it ever occur to you guys that if you took care of business daily, you wouldn't have to rush?
We got some dirty looks because we were all sitting around our spotless dress-right-dress squared away area, looking on at the flailing and seizures and wishing we had popcorn.

Is it a fault to actually know where your people are located, how much they've produced, and how that compares to other sites? To maintain your area so no extra polish is necessary? No? Then why are you looking at me like I kicked your dog?

Sometimes I enjoy my job.
Current Mood: a little mean

8th February 2010

12:50pm: Fecebook

The subject is a misspelling, but so funny I had to leave it.

I had facebook 'forced' upon me by kids and friends.

Not a bad place for introverts to frequent, altogether. Look but don't touch.

It has turned out to be an excellent resource for finding lost friends.
Current Mood: amused

1st December 2009

6:43pm: Wow, it's been a long time again.

So much to write, so little bandwidth. I've fallen out of habit.

I'm back in Jalalabad, via Helmand Province with the USMC and Kandahar with the Army. Southern Afghanistan sucks, nearly as bad as Iraq for dust and desert.
The Kunar river valley is beautiful, as before. Just today, I found a rock with two very large rubies in it (unfortunately, both broken off) There is an enormous amount of gemstones up here, not just occasionally but everywhere. I've yet to discover exactly what I'm looking at-certainly not diamonds, rubies or emeralds but certainly semi-precious and some that are merely interesting.
My contract ends in January, and due to administrative oversight (ne incompetence) my window to return remains undefined. I'm eyeballing a position in Somalia with an 'Open' salary...I know what that means. Nobody will take the job at any price...I'll be reviewing the position carefully.
Current Mood: calm

9th September 2009

10:09am: Summer's over
Looks like I'll be going back in a week or so. Boo Hoo. Well, the money spigot will get turned on again, at least. I give all you faithful taxpayers my word that the money will be put to good use.
I did find a sailboat in WA that I'll buy, if the current sale falls through;

Oh well, it's sold. Maybe it'll get put on the hard and sold next summer lol.

28th August 2009

5:53am: Well, surprise surprise
So I was limping around at work for a couple weeks, trying to make it to my vacation date before having my knee investigated-it went lame after running. (shame on me, I knew better) The Navy Corpsman diagnosed a torn meniscus. So, stateside doc says the same, x-rays, MRI, all that jazz. No problem, an outpatient arthroscopic trim and it should be fine right? So afterwards while I'm in recovery he tells my POA that there were some findings that very much surprised him, but she couldn't be specific to me. I went back today for the 7 day follow-up. He tells me that most doctors would straight up tell me I need a knee replacement. I have cat 2 or 3 arthritis on every surface but one, and the articular cartilage is entirely missing from the medial femur. He was shocked that this was not the issue that brought me in, and hadn't been causing debilitating pain.
I've long wondered if I'm physiologically devoid of nerves in my skeleton; I've broken quite a number and the bone itself never seems to cause pain, only the surrounding tissues. I suppose I could donate marrow and find out for sure...
So now I have a two-week rest period to 'allow the angry joint to reduce'. As a final touch, he gave a Cortisone shot-I wasn't too keen, but he said it was therapeutic not merely to reduce pain-so I accepted. Let me tell you, I've had some severe pain from time to time in my life, but only two other events came even close to that! I screamed 'Jesus Christ' right out loud, so loud that the entire waiting room looked at me when I came out, with obvious concern/dread/curiosity. WOW.
Now I have to plan this knee thing into my work exit, because of the insurance. Bugger. Doc said we'll try 'resurfacing' the medial femur, as long as everything else stays as it is. Jeez. Of course, there's the possibility that I'll just drive on without serious pain, and put it off for a few more years.
Oh yeah, one of the side effects of Cortisone is insomnia, and another heartburn. Dangit.
Current Mood: awake

13th August 2009

8:03am: Catching up again
It's been quite a while since I posted here, again. I'm currently at home, awaiting an arthroscopic surgery for a torn medial meniscus. Shame on me for taking my R&R at the same time. Shame on me for going out running with no ACL. I knew better.
I realized while home that I don't love my job anymore. It's the people, really-I have to live with a couple guys I don't like; arrogant and of less intelligence and ability that I'm accustomed to. Bah.
I figure I'll sign up for a third year and do about half of it, if I can stand it. I've always heard that wage is second to satisfaction in workplace hierarchy; now I know it's true. The money won't keep me there forever.

8th July 2009

12:03pm: Action News
I started looking at Twitter, after meeting Mike Boettcher on the flight down here from Kandahar. Mike is a 30 year veteran embedded reporter, recently retired from ABC News and working independently for a year with his son Carlos. They're currently embedded with 2/8 Marines, based here at Camp Leatherneck (one side of Camp Bastion). Mike's Twitter is a crisp first-hand view of what's going on out there, if you're interested.

11:41am: Time passing
This has become a surreal life, out here in the Afghan desert with the Marines.
The Marine Corps itself is a culture as different from the average American as imaginable; very little of the mall-crawling civilian is visible here. Beyond that, communication with the outside world is controlled in the extreme, in contrast with my previous posts with the U.S. Army. USMC is the spearhead of the military, and Operational Security is taken much more seriously here than in the less "Kinetic" areas which the Army holds.
I have the good fortune to have discovered what few know, that the Afghan Wireless cellular network has nationwide GPRS; poor fortune to be housed within the range of a great number of electronic countermeasures, which come and go most of the day, cutting the signal off for a moment or an hour. The military MWR (morale, welfare, and recreation) center is nothing more than 20 telephones and 20 computers (at least it's in an air-conditioned tent) with a 1/2 hour time limit and poor bandwidth.
After a year and a half away from home, I'm wearing out. Worst of all, we're Army contractors 'on loan' to the USMC, and the Marine Corps being the smallest of the services is accustomed to scooping resources whenever possible; they want complete command and control of us, even to the point of telling the Army that they can't access us without going through USMC. Then on top of that, we have to interface with the USMC through other contractors, which is altogether outside the scope of our legal contracts and obligations. Of course, Corporate legal and stateside personnel are looking into it but the hard fact is that nobody wants to derail the gravy train so they all whine like steam whistles but won't take a stand.
I have about 18 days until my R&R and when I come back, only 3-1/2 months to the end of contract.

I think I'll stir up the hornet's nest when I come back. That'll break the boredom.
11:31am: delayed post...

I was in Jalal-Abad from January to April. It was gorgeous, and the people were great. Afghans put a lot of weight in a developed relationship, and relationships are very easy to establish with them. I will miss the friends I made there. I may even go back someday, to visit.

POTD; the gardens at the Jalal-Abad Provincial Reconstruction Team site.


4th June 2009

3:39pm: A River runs through it
1. It must be the River Styx.
2. I must be on the wrong side of it.

I'm told the mound in the distance is an ancient rock formation, but it looks very much like Satan's Buttocks.
I'm with the U.S. Marines now, which gives a rich and complete definition to the word "Expeditionary". Internet has been a problem, obviously, as it's been 9 weeks since I could post here.

I'm currently making connection through the Afghan Wireless cellular system. I bought a Bandluxe C100 Aircard with external antenna, but with all the moving I had to chase it around the globe twice to get it...works pretty good when the Marines aren't preparing a convoy full of vehicles equipped with electronic countermeasures. If there's one good thing here, it's that the internet is unlimited (GPRS, 15-50kbps) for only $20/month.

I have no idea where we actually are, something like 100 miles from Kandahar (a nice place) in the Afghan desert. Iraq has nothing on this, it's just as hot here with much higher humidity. The 'Wind of 120 Days' brings huge sand-bearing tornadoes daily. We live in tents, in bunk beds, with box springs and no mattresses.

This is not an adventure anymore, it's a job, even at this enormous pay rate.

WOO HOO! Tomorrow is the 6-months-to-end-date.

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

--Rudyard Kipling
Current Mood: discontent

1st April 2009

6:10pm: What would Forrest Gump do?
I'm stuck in Kuwait again.
I'm sure that I've said how badly this place sucks sometime in the past, and it hasn't changed any. I'm certain it never will.
The schedule rarely allows more than 3 hours of sleep at a time, or risk missing a flight possibility or roll call. Food is on the opposite corner of the compound from the terminal. The tents are full of stinky bastards who will steal your blanket if you make your bed, and take your bed if you don't leave something on it. I had to be very rude to somebody who took my blanket.

Being rude for me is very dangerous. I don't have much latitude for accommodating ignorance, stupidity, or inconsideration. Once I become rude, it is a very short distance to becoming violent. I haven't been violent in quite a long time now, but every day here brings me (and I'm certain, many others) closer to ceasing to think rationally about my purpose and giving in to blindly beating the crap out of some idiot who stole a blanket I paid $3.00 for.

I'm hugely offended in part, because these idiots are all making +$50k/year, tax-free up to $91k. Is it too much to ask that people who make more money than I ever have before, usually for doing not very much, not to steal or misappropriate my $3 blanket when they can go buy one in the PX themselves?

I did have a nice week at home, for what that's worth now. Between the expense of being out of theater and the abuse of being stuck here for more than 48 hours, it's hardly worth it. Except for having a nice hot shower and clean laundry now, I'd be too sour to write. But it's a very pleasant afternoon, about 80*, sunny and breezy. Maybe I'll make tonight's flight.

6th March 2009

6:44pm: Hooray! ...um... Boo!
Man, you couldn't have created more buzz around here if you'd whacked a hornet's nest like a Pinata...The President mentions $40 Billion cuts in Defense contracting...waste...contractors contracted to administer other contractors...Duh. I had a big smile on all day, because we're the top of the contractor food chain-that is, we deliver the end value to the customer directly. The overhead of other contract companies being involved in our business has been the chief annoyance since day one; their only goal is to maintain their footprint. Well, it looks like they'd better start scrambling for jobs, real jobs, because we're full...

OTOH I wish he'd just let the gun thing alone.

4th March 2009

8:49am: Writer's Block: More Island Time
You're packing your bag for that other desert island—the one with no electricity—what 5 books do you take with you?
1. 'Human Action' - Ludwig Von Mises
2. 'The Great Thoughts' - George Seldes
3. 'Coming Out of the Ice' - Victor Herman
4. 'Two Years Before the Mast' - Richard Henry Dana
5. 'Classic Stories from the Golden Age of Science Fiction' - Waugh/Greenberg

3rd March 2009

7:22pm: Nascent Economy
So far Afghanistan is a very interesting place. Afghans are friendly and giving, much moreso than Iraqis. Of course, my experience is limited to professional soldiers and bazaar merchants, who may clear a year's salary (average per capita yearly is ~$380) in a day, if they have anything good to sell. They are a clear, happy, intelligent people from what I can tell. Also noticeable are the scars-Every Afghan has some noticeable scar, indicative of a very hard life before now.
Strange is the economy here...people living in stone homes, no running water or electricity for the most part. They do, however, have a brand-new 3G cell/internet system. I'll be glad to see that, I'm connecting to this through my LG Chocolate GSM at the speed of light-about 2 KILO bps. On the other hand, it's nice to have anything at all, and it's only $20/month unlimited (ha) BTW, if anyone wonders what 'LG' stands for, it's 'Lucky Goldstar'. No wonder they changed that for the U.S. market.
On the base here, we have Afghans, Americans, Canadians, Dutch, Krygys, Uzbeks, Pakistanis, and doubtless some other nationalities I haven't noticed. Crazy, this UN force. The Scenery is Magnificent, at the foothills of the Himalayas. We're in the Kunar River Valley, about 10 miles from the Pakistani border, the Hindu Kush Mountain Range. I'll post photos when I get some bandwidth.

Man, who'da thunkit?
Current Mood: contemplative

15th January 2009

9:51am: Changing seasons
I've noticed since in Kuwait, which is an entry point for both Afghanistan and Iraq, that the age of the civilians coming into Iraq has risen considerably since I came in. I'm wondering if that's representative of the type of work they're doing-I overheard a chemical engineer who works on water treatment plants. Lots of civil engineering types, where before there was a lot of young agile direct support types. I saw a lot of UN vehicles around too...I think things are going to open up pretty fast in Iraq. I'd like to go back to tour Baghdad in a few years, when you can walk around with no more chance of being kidnapped than in Mexico City...

Somebody's going to make a lot of money here. I wonder what Halliburton stock is trading....
Current Mood: contemplative
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