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.