Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pics from yesterday's mission.

Nothing more exciting than the dawn launch! Fucking 0430 in the morning and everyone is still wide awake and happy to be there! (picture taken slightly after 0430... it was to dark at that time.)

(A few hours later)
It is moments like this when I always think I am not dressed warm enough... "Dress to Egress" Oiy!

As much fun as it is being the only American in the sky with these guys... sometimes it is most excellent to have some American made Zeus to rain down incase things go to shit. Yesterday these guys were probably disappointed that they didn't get to kill anyone, but I was still happy to have them along!

Quote of the day..."Two, what are you doing here you should be on the ground by now!" said as I looked out the window as we turned to final for our LZ. I looked down and saw the shadow of two helicopters where there should only have been one. Never a good thing. -2 and -3 were supposed to land at a different LZ than us. Unfortunately we were getting electronically jammed so -2 didn't hear my "break out" command. Normally jamming isn't a big problem because we can burn through it in close formation, but the flight engineer on -2 didn't like listening to the fuzz so he turned down the volume on the radio... thus the pilot didn't hear. We went around out of that approach. -2 eventually fixed their radio and asked if they should land. Man, we did not sound cool on the radio... and in front of the gun ships too. Very embarassing. Luckily good formation discipline ruled the day and without orders he stayed right on my wing. Better there than just randomly flying around the AOR!

Finally I was able to break them out. -2 landed into the second largest dust ball I have ever seen. It was probably ten stories high and covered 5 acres. Fuck that shit! I didn't hear their on the ground call so I was almost positive they were a smoking hole in the center of that giant opaque brown turd! I was considering what to do when they finally called in. Thank god! We made our approach into our LZ... and everything was fairly uneventful after that.

On the way home, we passed the lead to the Apaches. They are the more power limited aircraft, so if they can do it, we all can do it. They also have a much better navigation system... so they just pushed the magic "Direct, Direct" button and turn the nasty task of navigation through the wilds of Afghanistan into a site seeing trip through some lovely snow capped mountains.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Expect my rants to get a little more out there...

Today, my friend for the past seven months has left for home. She was here for over 20 months in Kabul. Congratulations on everything. "Educate the women... hmm... why you would do this?" -Beatles (Czech gunship pilot) Drink a Natural Light for me because I know you won't have a Guiness.

Now, without the soothing and mentally regulating effects of having women around I plan to fall completely off the deep end. Heres to exploring my own insanity! (Kodjo, thanks for sending "Villa Incognito." It is a good start in that direction!)

In other absurd news:
My pilots have been drunk dialing me all day to wish me a happy Eid. (Eid- imagine a muslim version of Christmas and Thanksgiving.)

Eid Khoosh!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sometimes art just speaks to you!

I don't know if it is known by the general public, but there seem to be armies of christian youth groups out there making pictures and posters for overseas service members. Most of them say some sappy christian slogan like "Be Strong Because Jesus Loves You..." or some drivel like that. Every once in a rare while one of the pictures will be signed by some kid who actually has personality and gets what is going on here. Our Marine Gunny wrote back to some kid who drew a picture of a vicious dog holding a big K-bar style knife. The kid wrote that he wanted to be a marine and kill. The Gunny read that and immediately liked that kid. So far I have never been much inspired.

Until TODAY!!!

This was on my door. Someone got this in the mail from some preschool... they thought it was appropriate for my door.

"Thanks Lawson! You're a sharp kid, though no pilot smiles that big standing next to the RQ-1 Predator."

This was on the Canadian Pilot's door... (Close to the canadian flag...)

"The kilt is a nice touch, that is how we knew it was a Canadian in the picture."

An abstract piece by Colton titled "Jalalabad: poppies and dust."

"...I agree."

Any by far the local art critic's favorite!

"That's the spirit kid! We do too!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old blogs never die...

Not all blogs continue their lives as useful fountains of wisdom... or even as convenient ways to secretly stock old flames. What happens to neglected blogs? They don't really rust or rot. Unless they are actively dismantled do they last for ever in perfect condition? I have had quite a few blogs linked on mine. Some have been dismantled... some sit static like unfinished conversations. When does a blog die? Is it the day that it's last post has been posted. It could have finished and no one even knows it at the time. Is it the day that it gets pulled from the internet?

These are a few that had been linked to me. Some sit in an unknown condition of dormant, some are totally gone. I occasionally check with hope to see if they have ever updated or been reinstated. But I fear all these are in a more RIP condition... some obviosly for sure.

(pores one out for the blogs) Kodjo of the Sea Try-N Jest of Crates R-also Lois Lane Baghdad Burning Tink' He with the pointy hat

This brings up another question in my mind. Are there thousands of blogs out there of dead people? I would have to assume so. If I auger in tomorrow, how long will my blog exist on the internet. A lot of these things are fairly conversational... It seems that when one stops posting, it is actually a conversation that isn't finished. Is the modern equivalent of "giving your buddy a stack of letters to send home if you buy it," to instead give your buddy the password to your blog with a post prewritten that he would just publish instead? (Probably not a bad idea actually.)

Another thought... Everyone has heard the usually hypothetical question:

"What would you do if you found out you only had one day/month/year to live?"

Are you thinking about your answer......................................................?

Why the fuck aren't you doing it now! What the fuck are you waiting for? Are you waiting until it isn't a hypothetical question anymore? Good luck with that. The only short lives are those that are lived with fear. Any moment you aren't taking your life where you really want it to go is the real waste. Why do so many "SETTLE" for unfulfilling lives? This is the only game there is... why you benching yourself? Am I the only person that gets a tightness in my chest from thinking that I am not living my life to the fullest?

Next and very related question:

Think of the person you are most in love with... now,

"What would you do if you found out that person only had a month to live?"

Again, think of your answer..............................................?

Why the fuck aren't you doing it?

Ok... that's enough out of me! "Peace, Love, and Action."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sometimes I even agree with myself!

I was recently sent THIS by an astute reader and fan.

It is always great when others agree with my ideas too!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snow and shipping containers

Hola, amigos. How's it going with you? I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya. I have been neglecting my online life, but I guess I have been staying busy with off line life.

Now that I have straightened out the "blue job" in the minds of a few of my pilots it was time to tackle other important issues. I don't often have to search long for new subjects. Often I find they present themselves... Like earlier this week... innocently... always out of the blue... like a child asking her parents if Santa is real...

I got this question:

"Mr Teacher, is wrestling real?"

How can you answer that question? The guy that asked really likes pro-wrestling. I couldn't break his heart, so I paused to think about the best way to answer this cosmic inquiry. Before I could answer, the guys broke into two viament camps. One clamming that it must be real! With training and good food, they could do all that! The other half arguing, it must be fake because no one can take a folding chair hit to the head. Good arguments on both sides...

The whole thing reminded me of a few discussions I have had in my past... (Most of them in the All Saints Church/middle school parking lot.) After a few moments heated debate, they turned to me to settle this discussion.

The only way I could answer the question was by asking a question.

me: "Are the Olympics real?"

them: "Yes..."

me: "Do they have wrestling in the Olympics?"

Them: "Yes..."

me: "So... what do you guys think?"

Them: "if she weighs as much as a duck, she must be a witch!"

me: "right!"

Them: "So... BURN THE WITCH!"

(I really did get asked if pro wrestling was real... but we didn't conclude that if she weighs the same as a duck, she is a witch... but things are weird here so I just wanted to explain, it would have been plausible either way.) I am just glad that we don't have any folding chairs around in case someone wants to advance human knowledge through experimentation the same way my cousins and I checked on some of the moves from "Karate Kid"... as well as Mr Meiagie's hand rubbing healing techniques.

....Break Break....

This little guy is a tomato plant I found growing naturally along the side of the road. Until it snowed, the tomatoes looked really good.

....Break Break....

So there I was... I had a brown out training sortie planned for yesterday. (basically, I take the helicopter and some students to somewhere that has shitloads of dust, then land on the dust, practicing how to land without balling it up from not seeing anything but the inside of a giant dustball.) Now given that it has rained once in the last 5 month here, I didn't think it would be a problem finding some dust to train in... but as Murphy does around here, he showed up and it was raining and snowing before we even took off. It was only light showers, but still... it seemed that I might be out of luck for blowing dust up when it is wet. What the duce! Is it really possible that the one day I want dust I can't find it?

Luckily not! Afghanistan came through and I had no trouble finding plenty of dust to blow up in the air. Something happened that I hadn't thought through all the way. It can be a lesson to all. So, let's say you fly through a rain shower on your way to a brown out. Rain is no problem, just close the window. Good idea anyways for the up coming dust. Then down into the ground.... Pooff! The world turns brown, cant see anything, but amazingly you are on the ground safe and sound. Yea! still upright and alive. So far so good. Now for the take off. In comes the power, the brown around you darkens as you blow more and more dust up. All is to be expected. This is an instrument take off anyways... "50 meters" call from the other pilot... your peripheral vision should be picking up the real horizon now, why don't you see out side? Are we still in the dust?

A momentary glance out.

What? You have got to be shitting me! The windshield is the transparency of wax paper!

The wet windshield from the rain was fine, until you landed in the dust. All the dust then stuck to the wet glass and now you have a coating of mud to look through! Unbelievable!!! so what do you do? You can't run the wipers, then the plexiglass will be so scratched you will never see through that windshield again... No problem! Open the side window and just fly a little sideways! Easy enough. It is like driving a car with your head out the side when your windshield fogs up from an antifreeze leak in your heater core. But you can't go home yet, you have a whole training sortie to get with these guys. It isn't like you can clean it with the washer fluid, as a helicopter doesn't have such a feature. Another problem... You have never been above swerving into the splash from an oncoming semi when in the winter when the car windshield gets covered in salt. It is usually just wet enough to let me clean a hole to see through... but what is the airborne equivalent of a semi truck?

Hey! is that another rain shower? Close the window, fly into it! Excellent! Like a natural helicopter wash! We could do this all day! Problem solved!

We landed, the maintenance guy look and immediately started yelling! "What is he saying?" I ask the other pilot.

"He asks did you go to school to learn this? Do you plan on planting potatoes on this helicopter?" (apparently it was still a little dirty...

....Break break...

I have seen some amazing things done with shipping containers around here. And, I know that american companies are some of the best at marketing in the world. Leave no markets untapped! right? It was only a mater of time until their powers combined to form:

The mobile tactical fast food restaurant! You can install one of these babies anywhere on the surface of the planet in under 24 hours! I like to think of it as another tool in the arsenal of American world dominance! An authentic italian place is no match for one of these babies! Just install it at night right in front of the door to Italy! We will own the country in a week!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


It is true... if everything goes according to schedule, I am halfway to going home. I will be celebrating with a non-alcoholic beer and maybe some oreos.

In other news, "The Vegetable" got here a few days ago, so you all can consider me updated on everything 40th. My only recommendation is that if you are a young and possibly fertile woman and don't want to get pregnant, don't stand downwind of the Malmstrom flightline. Though if you are trying to consieve... there is probably a water fountain that all this can be traced to as the epicenter of this epidemic. I leave and the 40th goes from an organization dedicated to chasing women, drinking, and detering the terrorists to a baby factory / nursery! I will assume that someone threw a party with vodka watermelon and nobody warned the women not to eat the seeds.

Seriously though, Congratulations to everyone... and let me know if any of you need godfathers for any of them! (that is a joke...)

A few ground dudes took our pictures this week and forwarded them to me. More fun than landing in the mountains is landing in neighborhoods!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Splash 10!

By my best guess I am now a double ace at Helicopters VS Kites.

My stats are much lower at Kite VS Kite...

Sure, I do a lot of aviation oriented instruction... but I am also spreading general cultural knowledge and understanding. Thank god I am such a renaissance man and can discuss almost all subjects with authority.

Today's ground training topics:

1) Women's menstrual cycles

Point - Women get a disease every month... they are not clean and you can't touch them. They are dirty during this time.

Counterpoint - True... but amazingly in America it is not against the law to have sex with them during this time. This is what we call in America the "week of blow jobs and advil"

2) Blue Jobs

Point - Blue jobs are very nice! It should be on a schedule! Schedule is very good for man.

Counterpoint - You schedule your blow jobs?

-some discussion passes where it is discovered that "blue jobs" are actually "blow jobs..." and are not the same as penetrating sex... after a brief description of actual blow jobs, I now have a few intrigued but scandalized afghan pilots in front of me. I also told them that it is very polite to your wife if you give your wife the blue job in return to her pussy. (It sounds crass on here, but I have to work with the english words they already know... it got the point across!) I also recommended that everyone involved take showers first! I think that might be vital to everyones enjoyment of blue jobs around here!

3) Tactical Descents into an Unfriendly Area

Point - Lets not circle low and slow over taliban land anymore OK guys?

Counterpoint - Yes...

(we will be practicing this skill more tomorrow in a safer area)

4) Romancing the ladies

Point - Can I tell to American girls, "Make sexy with me!"

Counterpoint - No... that almost never works... you need to make them think it is a good idea first. You know, be romantic!

Point - Can you teach us how to be romantic?

Counterpoint - Yes... Yes I can! Get out your notebooks boys!

5 minutes later...

Counterpoint - No... no I can't... (I gave them the "roses are red, violets are blue..." poem to work with. They will have to figure it out from there.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Skinny dip in a magical oracle spring in remote Afghan mountains.

Though doing that was never on my list of thing I need to accomplish... that shit gets checked off as of today!

Today started off like any normal training sortie. Again headed up into the safest province in this country for some navigation practice. One slight difference... this time we had a guy that is actually from the area where we will be landing. The guy hadn't been up to his tribal area in over ten years. That seemed like a good enough reason to stop and eat lunch there to me! I have found that lunch planning is the most important aspect of flight planning around here. (Probably in all aviation other wise Elington Field in TX wouldn't do as well as it does but that's another story.)

Anyways, we get to Bamyan and shut down the aircraft. The same tribal crew arrives to check out who is landing in their village. After all of the completely wacko social situations I have found myself in over the last 6 months... this hardly phases me at all now and I drop mad "Salaam Allah Khoms" to the village greeters like I have been doing it all my life.

This time, the governor is home... so we are invited to go meet her. I can't tell, but I think the guy that is from the area knows her as a friend, but it was hard to tell. Before we could go into her office we all had to drop and leave the ammo from our weapons... including him. Maybe she was just being careful, I imagine a female in charge of a provence would be a target around here. After a few minutes of talking in Dari (I just listened...) the governor ordered two police trucks to carry us where ever we needed. Obviously lunch!

We went to lunch. The food was Kababs, Kably Palao, Naan, apples, and coke-a-cola. Apparently coke has a good marketing department. Anyways, it was served goat grab style on the floor of some room in a hole in the wall of an alley. Literally! The food was great actually. I recommend that place to anyone that finds themselves in the central mountains of Afghanistan.

Conversation at lunch was kept light... in a way only Afghanistan can accomplish. The guy from the area told us that they had build a new bazar in the village because the Taliban had beheaded over 700 people in the old one in one day. Now the old bazar is uninhabitable because as he put it, "the dead don't sleep there." The sound of screaming and crying is still to loud in that area, not only can they still be heard, but the living absolutely can not spend the night there!

C.E. "Today, we not go there..."
Notorious "That works for me, I don't need to meet 700 screaming ghosts today."
C.E. "Hah ha ha! Mr Nick, Now we go collect the magic water! Hah ha ha ha!" (pulls a 5 gallon jug out of thin air)
Notorious "dude, where did you have that thing?"
C.E. "Need the water. Take home today. We go now."
Notorious "Lead the way man..." (I then must go first due to local etiquette)

Minutes later, I am in a Afghan National Police truck bouncing though the mountains on the way to the magic water. (It isn't even weird yet!) This is just a demo of how in third world driving style the horn can be used effectively as a break and steering wheel!

The music changes... (now it is starting to get weird)

We get to the spring/oracle... and find a truck driving around in the creek next to the outflow. I ask about the truck. (the magic water is good for vehicles too...) I guess it was obvious now that I think about it.

Anyways, there is a little stone hut built over the spring. You go into the hut through the hole that is covered buy the tiger blanket. Inside there is a stone shelf that you stand along. The rest of the floor of the hut is actually a pool. The excess water flows out to a creek where it is uses as preventative maintenance for trucks. I looked in there and honestly was a little apprehensive about taking off all my cloths and jumping in that water. The fact that there was about a thousand little fish looking up out of the pool at me didn't help.

The powers of the water are supposed to be something along the lines of a fountain of youth and "Oil of Olay (tm)." It is supposed to make your body younger by bathing in it, maybe cure leprosy, or at least get rid of wrinkles... maybe just pimples. I guess that's enough reason to try it out, why not. Besides, when again am I going to get to skinny dip in a fountain of youth in the remote mountains of central asia... Shit, what if it works!

Alright fish... out of the way.


Yipe! (cold mountain spring)

Ok, that's enough youth/anti wrinkle cream for me...

Lets head home... back into the trucks.

(in the interest of uploading, just play the first video again to simulate the trip back.)

After a short stop at the cemetery, we head back up to the air field and head back to Kabul.

"Land As Soon As Possible" type emergencies should be avoided if possible in this area...

Friday, October 17, 2008

The news was here.

I managed to avoid getting filmed or interviewed this time. This time it was an O-5 and up show!

My own comments:

- For those of you familiar, you can find "Sergeant America" jumping around in the background.

- Rahullah is walking around here like a movie star now.

- It looks like they hit a kit with the press on board... damn kites!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys

by Ed Bruce and Patsy Bruce (best done by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson)

Cowboys ain't easy to love and they're harder to hold
They'd rather give you a song than diamonds or gold
Lone Star belt buckles and old faded Levis
And each night begins a new day
If you don't understand him and he don't die young
He'll probably just ride away

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let them pick guitars and drive 'em old trucks
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Cause they'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Cowboys like smokey old pool rooms and clear mountain mornings
Little warm puppies and children and girls of the night
Them that don't know him won't like him and them that do
Sometimes won't know how to take him
He's not wrong he's just different and his pride won't let him
Do things to make you think he's right

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
Don't let them pick guitars and drive 'em old trucks
Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such
Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys
They'll never stay home and they're always alone
Even with someone they love

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ramadan is over, beware of falling party favors!

Ramadan is over. Lots of celebratory fire going on! I have to admit... it looks kind of cool to shoot randomly into the air to celebrate! Imagine if on Christmas eve everyone went out on the the roof and shot guns randomly into the air after midnight mass... I could get behind that sort of thing! "Khtak khtak Khtak!" (That is Dari and Pashto for "Bang Bang Bang." Though being a devout parishioner of Physics... I went inside. I don't really interrupt some chunk of lead's glorious and divine parabolic trajectory just as it is returning to earth. Who am I to mess with god's plan.

In other news... I watched the movie, "Worlds Fastest Indian" This movie is freaking awesome. I watched it two times yesterday. I don't think I have sat and watched the same movie more than once in the same day since I was 10 years old and watched "Hurbie goes to Monticarlo." several times a day for about a year and a half. This movie is that tits!

It also has a bit of a moral... basically the message of the movie is "Get off your ass and live your life! You want to be a vegetable all your life and die young at 100 years old?" This is probably the most needed message in America today! At least according to me.

(This is a file photo that I had from last years trip to Vegas. I was Bonniville with no wheels, not even a rental car...)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not everyone is living the same war.

That being said, I am sure there is some poor shlub guarding a pile of sandbags up some valley watching the helos fly back to major bases each day figuring we are just dilettantes.

Everything is relative I guess...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crazy neighbors and get it done kind of guys! OH-58D's

At Ft Rucker, my next door neighbors were scout guys... in training at least. The only time I have ever been called a pussy for not drinking by 0800 on a sunday morning was buy 58 guys throwing cans at my window and inviting me out onto the front lawn. (I was by 0830 though) Despite their disregard for sunday morning sleeping and sobriety, they are some adaptable get it done dudes!

This video is only gets interesting at about the 17 second point...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kite Fighting: Round One

It started innocently enough, "Hey mister, hey mister. Give me kite, my kite!" So, I went and gave the kids the kites that came down on our side of the fence. But as you can imagine, if it flies, I wanted to fly one too. (The kite is the purple and white thing on the ground to the left of the black and white pole.)

So, I did. I built one out of a plastic laundry bag and a few sticks. It flies pretty well. Every once in a wile it gets a little squirrly. Not bad for the first kite that I have either flown or made in probably at least 10 years! (I have the gloves on because the kite string is coated in ground up glass shards.)

But I have been told many times, "if you fly a kite in Kabul, it will only be a minute and there will be another kite up to cut it down." They weren't kidding... These guys showed up for the fight.

Like a slow motion killer, the new intruder rises to altitude.

Great... now the French are here... just what I needed, a peanut gallery!

He makes a swoop at my string, I dodge it, but immediately realize that my kite is no where near maneuverable enough to play this game. My only moves are fly strait or fall like a leaf. He seems to be able to do anything he wants with his. Amazing for having only one string... Maybe he won't be able to see mine because it is made out of a clear garbage bag.

Nope... it seems he sees me just fine...

Shit! My line goes slack, my kite flutters off into the distance, my string floats defeated down onto the countryside... The victor alone circles in the sky.

After the fight, I go over to talk... and practice my Dari. The guy explained how he got me...

He let me try. I fly his kite for a few minutes. His kite is much more maneuverable... It feels much more natural in the air. Mine felt like it forced it's way up into the air, where as his seemed almost like a swimming fish.

Rematch tomorrow...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vortexes and other interesting things to observe!

I think this country will never stop demonstrating complete absurdity to me. The above picture is of a few huge dust devils that were roaming through the city a few days ago. These were right in the approach corridor, otherwise I would have liked to go look at them most more closely from the helicopter. Beside giant marauding dust filled vortexes, there is plenty of other crazy things around here. For one, I met a Norwegian that was hilarious. Though Scandinavians seem to approach anatomical perfection, they often have personalities like dishrags. (As examples: it is the swedish bikini team, not the swedish bachelor party entertainment team. Also, volvos... supposedly they make a sports car.) But anyways, I met a Norwegian that even made Marines laugh openly. To be fair though, the Norwegian may not have been aware of his sense of humor. Another twilight zone moment... I saw a several huge African guys from the French Foreign Legion dancing with themselves, sober, to a little Latvian blond girl singing Joan Baez songs. ...just ponder that scene for a moment.

In other news, imagination combined with books is fucking incredible! It isn't that I haven't known this, but it seems especially crazy around here. You can just look at a piece of paper... instantly you are on a life boat in the south pacific, or rolling down 8-mile chasing thugs, or in a Richard Feynman lecture... It doesn't even take any work. You just look at the paper, remember to turn the pages, and it happens all by itself. Then the mind blowing part is to close the book, open the shipping container door and there you are in fucking Afghanistan again! Maybe it is just me.


The more I observe people, the more it seems totally obvious that we are just clever wild animals. The way humans establish Alfa, Beta, through Omega social order, the way people defend territory and personal space, the way people become agitated if routine or surroundings are disturbed. Just clever highly social monkeys. You can trust that I will be reading a lot of animal training books in the future...

I have built my first battle kite! I had my interpreter bring me some glass coated kite string from the market downtown, I built a kite out of a few sticks cannibalized from a crashed kite I found on the airfield as well as a plastic laundry bag. Now, I just need a little wind and we will see what happens. Pictures will follow.

Catholicism... a good way to raise a family, it is to bad it is associated with a religion.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My first online video!

I wasn't about to be out done by Chestocrate's use of technology to broadcast his adventures. Though the internet isn't fast in anyway around here, (I usually read a book while I am online.) the connection deities left my computer unmolested long enough to upload my first web video.

We are landing in an LZ East of Kabul. This dust isn't as bad as it is sometimes... but it was the what I was able to capture on my camera. Obviously we are -2 on this approach.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It is like Christmas morning.

The Navy looked around and wondered why are we here in this land locked country. Upon seeing that this is a crazy place for the Navy, they left... today. My Navy roommate rolled out this morning.

0500, The alarm goes off.

A few minutes later I hear some rustling from the back of the container.

"Time to take the Air Force pilots to the pool... and take my last dump in this country!" from the darkness.

"I hope they splash you..." It was the only thing I could think of at the time.

About 15 minutes later I was moving a free microwave and refrigerator into the room. The best thing about someone leaving is scavenging the stuff they left behind. The entire navy leaving all at once meant a lot of bunks and equipment being willed. Sort of like if the dead get to execute their own estate... but without crying and awkward hugs. One guy owed me pretty big so he made sure he hooked me up with his refrigerator and microwave. As excellent as that is, I think there is one Marine Gunny that could probably open a store with all he hauled. In addition to that, my roommate moving out means that I get to move out of what is effectively a hallway into what is practically a private royal chamber.

The Happy Holidays blanket is to keep the dust and sun out... There is a window installed in the back of the container.

About 0545. I check my email. As far as one line emails go, it is a pretty good one.

"Congrats Capt, you are scheduled for a CV-22 transition. Dates to follow."

I don't know what exactly that means as far as where I will be living, but the most likely will be North Carolina for about half a year, then Albuquerque for another year, then North Florida for 3-4 years.

This is a File Photo that I took a few years ago when a buddy flew one up to Montana.

Then to add to the continued awesomeness, my Anti-Missile-Warning-System booted up this morning with out a single glitch. (yesterday it made a Zap-POP noise with a blank screen... then nothing) The Afghans told me that it didn't work yesterday because it is Ramadan... The helicopter is a devout muslim and was probably weak yesterday from fasting. I suppose that could be plausable... the tailrotor gear box also stopped leaking today. Probably the helicopters are breaking their fast when no one is looking.

It was a good day... though it is unfortunate to loose a pretty good roommate, even if he did speak some crazy different language about heads, covers, overheads, racks, mess, and dudeyouneedahaircut. I never did figure out what that last word meant...

Monday, September 01, 2008

"Son, don't let me read about you in the paper..."

That is all my dad has ever asked of me, and as of yesterday, I failed on a grand scale. All with an order I got a few weeks ago, "Captain, go talk to those reporters... I think they are French, maybe Italian." So it goes... as does my internet anonymity. Where as before a search for my name used to yield only a comment about the Naked Mile at Michigan and some incorrectly correlated links to my Aunt Beth... it will now be hard to hide from this story as it seems to have been reprinted and reposted in hundreds of newspapers across the world.


As far as I can tell, reporters never fully understand what they are reporting on. In reading the article, I would say that almost every single fact they wrote is technically wrong. They get just enough info to plausibly make up the rest. Shit, even direct quotes get made up! The main ideas get across, but I for one will only consider the very basic ideas of any news story to be true from now on. For this one, I would say... "There are helicopters in afghanistan." that is about it. Though... I have to say, I do dig it a little bit that my name is in world news... even if it does cost some internet anonymity.

I am sure I never gave them my name. I guess I should have worn my Dari name tag that day.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

NVG's, romantic like sand in your thunderstorm... and if you don't have a ball, use a dead sheep.

These are a few experiments with combining Night Vision Goggles and my camera.

To continue the dead animal theme: I was chilling in the squadron building and the power was on. The guys had a TV tuned to some local channel. I couldn't believe what I was watching... I thought it was a game that was made up for Rambo 3... not a real sport that gets locally tellevised! The national game around here is sort of a horse version of smear the queer but played with a dead calf or sheep. The way it works is that there is a dead sheep in a circle. The players try to grab the dead sheep while riding a horse. They then take the horse and ride it with the dead sheep around a flag that is down at the other end of the field. They go around the flag and try to take it back and drop it in the circle. The other players try to stop the player with the dead sheep from dropping the carcass inside the circle any way they can. I think there is usually two teams that play each other, but I am not totally sure. This is a pretty realistic depiction of this REAL sport as it is played here. The fact that this is the national sport of Afghanistan should explain a lot about this country... though I have also been told that, "in Logar province, everybody, they like play the volley ball! Hah hah hah!" (Sometimes I think I miss the humor... sometimes I think things are just that crazy)

Here it is:

Today we had a combination thunderstorm/sand storm... We stayed on the ground for this one.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What do you do when your ride breaks down?

Nothing more chilled out than hard-broke off home station.

The morning of the big mish and your main gearbox shits the bed, what can you do... I took my cue from Oddball.

Well, as close as I could. Substitute bottles of water and pears heisted from the chow hall and you have the idea. It's amazing how high quality Z's you can catch in the shade of a Hip on a busy flightline. As long as you don't let jet blast and rotor wash disturb you to much, you can chill the most for hours.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

And we end this animal's life in celebration!

There are a few big events that will be taking place... to include a large portion of the Americans that are here will soon be leaving. So of course for good luck and celebration, the Afghans sacrificed a sheep... maybe it was a goat. A weird looking animal of that sort anyways. They called it a sheep.

Superstition... how can you argue with that? At first I thought it was going to be like a sheep cookout, but no... it was really just a sacrifice.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves...

I was told the meat was given to the poor.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

All generalizations are bad...

and all fanatics should be killed!

OK... just kidding. WEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!

But seriously, I think we may have messed up big time here. Let me explain:

After hanging out in the heart of the former Soviet Union, using their technology, studying their tactics, and getting to know the guys that grew up under the red star... I don't think the USSR and USA are all that different. Granted some cultural differences, but nothing to major. At least, they are certainly not some evil empire that they were portrayed to be when I was a kid.

Playing devils advocate here: Lets say back in the day, instead of the US aiding all the fractured mujahadeen forces and religious wacko groups to help kick out the Soviets, we had left them alone. Maybe the USSR would have still left Afghanistan, maybe not... Maybe the USSR wouldn't have fallen apart. For the purposes of this discussion, lets say that we helped the folks that kicked out the Soviets... Ironically we now we find ourselves fighting in the same freaking country. Maybe if we had left things alone, the USSR would be here instead of us. Maybe the USSR would have gotten the insurgents under control and now in this country people would be studying russian in high school and eating delicious domestic apricots... instead of begging for rebuilt elementary schools and fighting skirmishes to get rice in from Pakistan. (I know a lot of maybes... but bear with me)

Now a short discussion about if people are inherently good or bad... I say neither. All you can do is trust people to act in what they perceive is their own best interests. Weather it is doing homework, dating a guy just to piss off your mother, speeding/not speeding, cleaning the bathroom, having premarital sex, going on the Jerry Springer show, and going church... all these actions are based purely on what one perceives is in their best interests.

What is Civilization? It is not a mater of technology, roads, and indoor plumbing... it really comes down to the scale one sees his own being as. Remember my discussion on organisms... what is the difference between you and your cells verses your country and you? Civilization seems really just to be the scale and cohesiveness of that larger organism. You can't have a civilization if people don't act at least somewhat in a with each other. Civilization doesn't exist because the people build indoor plumbing and roads... the roads exist because the people in the civilization work together to improve everyone's situation.

So, how does this all fit together? Lets go back to the current situation here. Almost undoubtably the average person would be better off here if the Soviet Union was still around and running this place. As it turns out, the average soviet is a fairly reasonable person... were as your average taliban or mujahadeen is not. So who the hell did we help when we were assisting the "Freedom Fighters?"

Maybe what we should have done when the US and USSR were the two biggest supper powers, is worked together. Imagine if the US and USSR had joined forces in the 70's and 80's. I am not saying become one country, but lets say they had stopped fucking with each other's shit. Each let the other run their sphere of influence how ever they wanted...

The civilizing influence of the super powers is not so much in that it directs the people to do as they say... the civilizing influence is that it changes what people perceive is in their own best interests. Though at first that might start out as making the consequences of a particular action negative... like if you shoot your neighbor and take his land you will get sent to jail. Eventually everyone ends up with a stake in the civilization and the self interest is expanded to include the larger group. As in, I don't want shoot outs on my block because I have a shoe store to run... or I don't want to start a tribal squabble with the valley over because all my workers will be fighting and I need them here to work on my farm... The immediate self interest is not worth the disruption of the larger society, thus the self interest becomes supporting the cohesion of the civilization.

Civilization isn't about the big super power telling people what to do, it is about changing what people believe is in their own best interests. The more civilized a person or group of people are is dependent on how large a view they take in what they consider their own best interests.

So, we should have worked with the USSR, divided up the world, made it in people's best interests to improve and strengthen the larger organisms/civilizations they were apart of, then worked together to improve the human condition as a whole.

(My opinion only... sometimes I am not even coherent to my self!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I was just getting good at checkers... then I realized we are playing chess. Son of a bitch!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Entomology expedition successful!

Perhaps one develops a peculiar sense of what is fun around here. (Actual Conversation)

Notorious: "Hey, you want to go look for giant carnivorous arachnids in the dark?"

S*: "Sure! did you bring extra magazines..."

Notorious: "Always! also, lets go with 20 meter spacing, just incase."

I took these pictures tonight. I recommend clicking on the pictures to enlarge them. They are pretty spectacular animals... and much easier to study in a picture where they can't chase and jump at you.

Just for reference, the grating is about 3-4 inches deep...

A closer look. (Definitely expand this picture!)

These are actually different ones. Once we knew what to look for, you can find them all over.

To learn more:

Camel Spiders, My new favorite Solpugid!

As a standard, every blog from our countries current wars must contain at least one post about the infamous CAMEL SPIDERS! (que sinister music)

No doubt about it. These things are worthy of every post they get! As far as land dwelling arthropods go... Holy Shit! There are quite a few myths about them. They are the size of dinner plates, they are venomous, they attack running camels and tear out their stomachs... etc. To dispel some of the myths, They aren't the size of dinner plates... maybe smallish cafeteria salad plates. (Much better right!) Are they venomous? My intertube research indicates they are not... but just like Mack trucks, they don't need to be to get the job done. I really don't want to get bitten any more than I want a chunk of flesh torn out with small pliers. Last of all, do they attack running camels tearing out their stomachs? I will need more data to answer that... my guess it depends on the camel and it depends on the camel spider. This was my encounter:

So there we were... walking back toward our particular stack of shipping containers. Suddenly! "Whoa!" My friend stops in her tracks. "What is that?" I look down. It was a camel spider about the size of the palm of your hand. It was one of those things that instantly you know not to fuck with. I crouched down to get a better look. My friend circled around it. The camel spider, (who we will call Ralph-Konn from now on,) watched her walk around, then it turned toward her and charged. It literally looked at her, sized her up, decided he could win, and charged! At a normal walking pace Ralph-Konn could easily overtake a person... maybe at a jog too. He was very fast. After a short circling chase, my friend and Ralph-Konn had a stare down. For a moment they both just stood there looking at each other. I was sure that out of this confrontation only one would emerge alive, though I didn't know which for sure. Just incase the Army (she is army) needed some air power intervention I had my 9 mm ready. After a few moments of looking at each other, Ralph-Konn ran to the side of a bunker, lifted the flap door, and went inside.

It was probably the most aggressive animal I have ever seen... including angry stray dogs and UP mosquitos. You could almost see it thinking it's situation over... Amazing! There will be an expedition tonight to try and find more and bigger ones! I'll post pictures if I get any good one!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

World population be damned! I need to make some babies

Alright, I have a mission for some of your reproductive systems... but first a little doctrine.

A few months ago Brohiem suggested the book "Starship Troopers" to me. Believe it or not, it is much more a political commentary than anything else. According to my interpretation, the book makes two main points. First, only those proven to be altruistic should be eligible to participate in the governing of humanity. Second, biologically it is imperative to expand your own population or you will be exterminated.

The first point, I will leave alone for now, the second I will explain the ultimate Catch-22.

Those of you that have ever had the thought, "Shit, the earth is way full of people, to many people in fact. Maybe I should make the world a better place and not make a bunch of babies that will over burden the planet." You are exactly who needs to produce babies! Let me explain. Any population that does not expand, eventually gets over run by ones that do. Right now, it seems to me that the ignorant and fanatical are breeding the crap out of the reasonable and enlightened(ish).

It is obvious that the world would be a better place with fewer people in it. There would be more resources available for everyone, higher standard of life would be more universally available, and an overall healthier planetary environment would be the result. So, many people after thinking these thoughts decide to do their part for humanity and only have enough children to replace themselves... or "better yet" have no kids at all! Initially this seems excellent! You are doing your part for the future of the world.

Now lets be realistic for a moment. Let's say that you decide not to have any kids for the good of future of humanity. Does this mean that the world's population will be any less in future generations? I say not at all! It will still be exactly the same only it will be without your genes in it. The genes that produce people that are rational and observant enough to come to the above conclusion will have now been removed from the gene pool. What does this leave us... the result is that it increases the percentage of irrational people that are capable of believing ludicrous things and decreases the percentage of the population that are observant rational people.

Humanity right now is choosing it's future. It is choosing it with it's reproductive choices every day. So, if you are having sex with ignorant, bigoted, stupid, or irrational people... stop! You are part of the problem... or at least use birth control! If you have thoughtfully come to the conclusion that there are to many people on the planet, consider yourself an enlightened observer of the universe, or if you have a PhD, it is your duty to the future of humanity to reproduce. If you don't someone else inevitably will!

How are we going to progress as life if we are selectively breading out the smartest, most rational, and most altruistic among us?

In conclusion... It is time to "ops check" your pluming, then go get a grad-student pregnant! Or if you are female, don't let your vagina become a clown car... make it into an egghead factory!

Anyone with questions, thoughts, or requests for sperm please leave a comment!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Holy Facebook!

I don't know how many of you cats are into the facebook thing, but this is an ominously impressive program. I was just looking up an old friend of mine, googling their name. The most promising result was in "facebook." I opened it up to see if it had the contact info I was looking for. It wouldn't let me just look without a profile so I figured that I could make a quick profile and get the info I needed. All I did was put in my name... make up a password...


The screen says something like, "These maybe friends of yours." Indeed... I was looking at a page of pictures of people that I do in fact know. Some very well, some vaguely, but still. How did it know? What information did it use? How did it take my name and make the connections to people from my life? My best guess is that anyone that had done a search for my name came up. I don't know what else it could have used. Later there was a page that used my email contacts to make more connections, but the initial volley of people was very shocking and seemingly out of the blue.

It was one of those moments like when you find yourself in a totally unexpected place for you, and someone in a suit comes up to you and says, "Mr. (NAME), We have been expecting you for some time now. Please come with me."

I had done the myspace thing in the past. I shut that down for a few reasons... but myspace has nothing on facebook. I am pretty sure that it is going to evolve into the real "SKYNET."


In other news.

Some little kids threw rocks at me from over the airfield fence as I was out running. I would like to say that it was my calm perspective on life that made me take it in stride and not throw rocks back at them. In reality, I pretty much just didn't like any of the rocks that were nearby me. Throwing rocks? What the fuck! I wouldn't take that from little kids in the US.

To be fair, there was some other little kids along the fence that kept saying "Thank you." I suppose it is best to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are thanking me for being here. Probably they are trying to get me to give them stuff.