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Friday, July 6th, 2012

Time:12:00 pm.
Mood: aggravated.
Seriously unmotivated to post anything, really, but I guess I can. Might fall in the category of TMI, but these are the things we deal with:

The PTB here on base complained via official email that people needed to quit using Wet Wipes in the toilets, because the sewage pumps "can't handle it." Ok, granted, we aren't in the 1st world out here, but I have an opinion on this:

My butt should not be bleeding after three days of toilet paper usage.

With this oh-so-pleasant image in mind, let's consider solutions. Possibly, we could bite the bullet (so to speak) and come up with a genuinely functional system that CAN handle flushed wipes. Perhaps, (like much of the 3rd world) we could put small, plastic-lined waste baskets in each stall, and all the paper products go in there to save the precious plumbing. The latrines are all cleaned 3 times daily, so there should be no problems that way.

Or, and this is a completely off-the-wall idea I know, how about we splurge a little and buy actual toilet tissue, INSTEAD OF THE ROLLS OF 60-GRIT SANDPAPER we're currently using!!!!

It's probably a good thing I'm not in charge....
scents: leave your scent.

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Subject:Nobody Home
Time:12:18 pm.
I've got a little black book with my poems in
I've got a bag with a toothbrush and a comb
When I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone in

I've got elastic bands keeping my shoes on
Got those swollen hand blues
I've got thirteen channels of shit on the T.V. to choose from

I've got electric light
And I've got second sight
I've got amazing powers of observation

And that is how I know:

When I try to get through
On the telephone to you
There'll be nobody home

I've got the obligatory Hendrix perm
And I've got the inevitable pinhole burns
All down the front of my favourite satin shirt

I've got nicotine stains on my fingers
I've got a silver spoon on a chain
I've got a grand piano to prop up my mortal remains

I've got wild staring eyes
And I've got a strong urge to fly
But I've got nowhere to fly to

Ooooh, Babe,
When I pick up the phone
There's still nobody home

I've got a pair of Gohills boots
And I've got fading roots....
scents: leave your scent.

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Time:11:11 pm.
Mood: heavy.
Time passes, stuff happens. Or doesn't, mostly, which is fine given the mental haze I'm currently living in. 12 hours on, 12 hours off can really wear, mentally, and I won't lie to you: I'm really looking forward to the extra time off when I shift back to days here in a while. All 12 hours of it.

Due to the nature of my position, a lot of what I might normally talk about here I really can't anymore. I don't have a bunch of guys working for/with me, so no shenanigans to report on. My boss seems like a decent, reasonable professional, so nothing there. The work itself, when not highly boring, is just like my last job: try to stay awake, and watch in case the lights turn red.

I'd tell you I dislike it, but I don't. It's just dull, really. And I don't care to imagine it NOT dull, because that would be indicative of a bunch of problems no one wants to deal with, me least of all. It's just... my motivation is sapped. I feel like it's a win just to keep getting out of bed and going to work on time, with my pants actually on the right way as a bonus. The pay is fine, co-workers are fine, I'm just... out of gas. Coasting. Whatever I'm doing right now is almost strictly on the base of previously acquired momentum and when that's done, so am I.

Maybe if I can just coast until vacation time....
scents: leave your scent.

Saturday, June 2nd, 2012

Subject:Mixed blessings
Time:7:48 am.
Mood: dorky.
It's all well and good to be connected to friends, home, and loved ones at the touch of a button. Not so well or good would be the fact that having reliable power, a tiny laptop, and wireless internet induces a need to be online, whether one truly exists or not. Normally, a deployed body (such as myself) might resort to book reading, puzzle solving, or (my personal favorite) sleep. But as you all know by now, Internets win over Dreamland, ALWAYS.

Now, if I can only keep my eyes open for one more article....
scents: leave your scent.

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Subject:A few loose ends
Time:5:01 pm.
Mood: productive.
= Friend Eddyneko has ended his LJ run officially, thus his deletion from the f-list. He's still pretty cool, though. If you happen to come across him elsewhere, you can tell him I said so.

= Just swapped over to night shift. Again. Devoted readers will not be shocked by this. I don't know why I am.

= This effort out here truly is international. The list of countries represented at my very own table in the DFAC the last week reads like a committee to the UN: United States (of course); Australia (g'day and such); Afghanistan (duh); Canada (they say they're leaving but I don't think they mean it); Bulgaria (look dangerous in PT uni's, for real); Romania (eastern bloc represent); Turkey (very polite); Slovakia (is the entire Warsaw Pact here?); and France.

(That's right, France: we MUST be winning, they wouldn't risk it otherwise, right? ~_^)
Sorry, no U.K. dinner partners yet, though they were everywhere on KAF and their flag's out front w/everyone else's. And it has only been a week.

= Sorted out the laundry procedure yesterday before shift, will hopefully have some socks, etc., of the non-offensive variety come this time tomorrow. That'll free up the laundry bag for some towels and pants, and all should be right with the world. You know. Relatively.

More later....
scents: leave your scent.

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Subject:Mile-high observations
Time:8:57 pm.
Mood: exhausted.
Well. I'm here 'on the ground' in Afghanistan, this time in Kabul, the capitol. I say 'ground' because we're actually higher up in the air here than Denver, Colorado. Despite sitting in the bottom of a valley between various arms of the Hindu Kush, the city rates anywhere from 5800 to 6000 feet above sea level, and the mountains are WAY above that. Sharp as knives, they, and still snow-capped. It's not surprising when you think about it, seeing snow on these ridges, but when you're well into the 80's (25+ deg. C) it just doesn't quite seem real. Also, the mountains look a lot closer than they are, which just adds to the disconnect.

High as were are up here, you'd think that I'd have had a worse time of adapting to the altitude, but the biggest issue was just hauling my gear around the camp on Day One. After that, the next couple of days saw me getting a bit winded walking around, but no big deal. I'd have thought the jet lag combined with altitude sickness might have seriously hurt me, but the worst I've suffered was waking up in the middle of the night a few days ago, and not being able to get back to sleep. That turned a 12-14 hour day into an 18-20hr effort, but since then? No problems.

The ride into the place was a bit interesting, though. Since the last jaunt out this way was to a giant base in the middle of Nowheresville, I didn't really get to interact with anyone local, or see any of the actual country. But the flight in this time landed first at Bagram (a base my USAF brother's seen waaaay more than he'd like, I'm sure), and then at North Kabul Int. Airport. Neither of which was my stop, by the way; I'm currently at Camp Phoenix. I could have waited for the local national the company contracts to drive people and equipment around here (a day or two), or for a helo to free up, (days and days of waiting). Instead, I opted for the immediate solution: a ride in the little pick-up truck an American expat owns and drives back and forth to work at NKIA every day. (He actually lives in the city, and not on any NATO/US post, I mean out there in town. Has for years, apparently.) I saw more of Afghanistan in the five minutes it took to go from the airport to my current spot than I'd seen in the seven or so months I was here the last time. Lots of adjectives come to mind, but I'm going to go with 'eye-opening.'

In the week-ish since then, I've had to escort a couple of sets of local nationals into our compound on post as they did their various duties, and I've met the driver I mentioned earlier. I've spoken with all of them for some time, in the English that they know, and learned a teen-insy bit of Dari in return. I feel like (and they do too, by their account) these are people that would be powerful allies and a tremendous asset to the world, if only the idiots would stop trying to rule them... Talib, Haqqani, Karzai-cronies, NATO-nannies, pick an evil genius. These guys love that the US is here helping, they hate that it might only be for a short time longer. They love being a hard-working, hardy people, but they hate that they MUST be just to survive. And they're tired of having one warlord or other tell them to toe the line or else, but are also sooooo skeptical of the inherent inefficiencies of democracy and the republican (small r) form of government.

These guys are friendly and open, and were eager to talk to me, an American willing to spend the time to listen to what they had to say. They were surprised (not to say "astonished") that someone as old as I (40) looked as young as I did. "30, no more!," one of them said: "You have so little white in your beard!"

I have white in my beard?? *checks the mirror* Huh. Would you look at that. Maybe the altitude and jet lag hit me harder than I thought....
scents: leave your scent.

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

Subject:Off we go
Time:6:33 pm.
Mood: contemplative.
Looks like today will be my last full one in the US, so the next entry will be from parts unknown.


I have no further comments at this time.
scents: leave your scent.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Subject:Here's a shocker
Time:7:41 pm.
Mood: bemused.
Life after the military? It exists, albeit it similar form, at least for those of us fortunate enough to continue making a living in our professional specialties afterward. Oddly enough, six months after my oh-so-happy exit from Uniform Land, I find myself right back where I was in November of 2009: Camp Atterbury, Indiana. There's been some building and renovation, a few modest improvements, though the open-bay barracks are identical.

But the differences between then and now are many and powerful, if only in their symbolism. I have a hair cut with no stress to it. I have a beard (the remains of a hopeful hockey playoff beard, but I digress). When I go to work at 0700, I do so in jeans, a polo shirt, and tennis shoes. The Army guys call me "Sir," and generally mean it.

I'm responsible only for myself, with no team, battle buddy, or unit to which I'm accountable. I am my own source of success or failure, and I've deployed so many times I'm good at it. Which of course sets up the punchline: I managed to leave ALL of my pre-deployment medical history/paperwork at home. *head!desk*

Turns out we get by with a little help from our friends, after all...
scents: leave your scent.

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Time:4:25 pm.
Mood: gritting my teeth, bearing it.
We've cleared out of the old barracks we were staying in. "Old" only because they're the ones we used to be living in; the tent we're in at the moment is NOT precisely "new." Being stuck in deep with this company on a 24-7 basis is not playing well on my nerves either, but at least they're being mostly hands-off for now.

My former roommate is now back State-side in a Warrior Transition Unit, thanks to a relapse of his PTSD, an anxiety attack, and one or two other things. Got to chat with him a few days ago, and we're both hopeful that this is the best place for him long-term. He was thinking of going MP instead of signal, but that's right out now. Hope things work out for him. (On the other hand, if the 'one or two other things' turn out to be as they initially appeared, I won't have two words to say to him. BUT. "Innocent until...," as they say.)

Can't wait to get where I'm going. Because then it's only a matter of time....
scents: leave your scent.

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Subject:Obviously, it was the Tourrette Syndrome talking
Time:10:01 am.
I freaking blasted my soldier yesterday. I mean, I let him have it. Raised voice, lots of swearing, called him names even. I did it with such a loud voice that everyone in the building and most of those standing around outside (including those on the opposite side from my room) heard me very clearly.

Most would say I had good reason. Many have said they didn't think I had it in me, and were favorably impressed. Everyone that's said anything about it has done so with a smile and a note of respect that wasn't quite as profound as before. Apparently, I was clearly audible from hundreds of yards away, and this over generators, vehicles, and air traffic. At one point, I even threw my (full) bottle of random sports drink at the floor, shattering it. My soldier flinched, but to his credit stood there and faced me the whole time, and even quit trying to make excuses after the first couple of tries. He was in the wrong. Period. I hope I made it clear enough for him to grasp.

I have to say, I'm not sure how I feel right now. Disappointed in myself, disappointed with my soldier, hopeful that I've made a positive difference in his life and for the Army, embarrassed by my actions and my soldier's, pleased that everyone thinks I did the right thing... it's all a ridiculous mix, and kind of tiring to even think about any more.

Here's the 'so what' about all of this: I don't swear. It's just not something I do. I don't flip out and lose control over my words and actions, really ever. If I feel like I'm going to, I go somewhere away from people and I vent to the universe in a place where it's just me and It. I should have told him to go away and come back in 10 minutes. I'd have been a highly unhappy, highly inflamed NCO, and he would have known it, but things would have stayed professional, generally respectful, and hopefully still gotten the point across. The fact is, he caught me at exactly the wrong moment, and I laid into him with both barrels.

But here's the most disturbing piece: literally everyone who said anything about it afterward has told me that my soldier had it coming to him. This, my aspiring future officer, the college graduate who is older than I am by a smidgeon. THAT, more than anything about this, worries me, and makes me wonder if in the next few days/weeks even yelling isn't going to save him from what's down the road in front of him.

The bottom line is this: Every soldier has a team chief. EVERY soldier has a team chief. The soldier who does not have a team chief standing over him does not exist. This goes for the lowliest private up to General Odierno (current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who answers to the Secretary of the Army, who answers to the Secretary of Defense, who answers to the President, who answers to Congress and the People of the United States). If your Sergeant does not know where you are, or what you are doing, YOU. ARE. WRONG. Always. If a company commander disappears without his battalion CO's permission, he or she is SOL. If the colonel in charge of a maneuver brigade releases his troops for the weekend without the division commander's OK, that full-bird's unlikely to remain BDE CO past Monday morning. (It's the Army. Paperwork sometimes takes a while.) Likewise, if I give my guys permission to do something/go somewhere, it's MY butt, not theirs, when things go downhill. But when one of them decides to go do his own thing because it makes sense to him, no matter what someone else might want, my chevrons won't save him.

Not least because they'll be first in line filleting his officer-wannabe buttocks.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go wash the blood from my jaws....
scents: leave your scent.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Subject:What, again?
Time:3:38 pm.
Got our flu shots today, the actual shot this time, not that so-called "mist," which actually is a bit of raw egg they shoot up your nose. :P The only times I haven't gotten sick from the flu vaccine has been when I got the shot, so maybe I'll get lucky again this time.

Sooooo looking forward to not being at work for a while. I mean a long while. Like weeks and weeks. Hope I get it, but the road home is close enough to smell....
scents: leave your scent.

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Subject:The beginning of the end
Time:9:22 pm.
Mood: tired.
Last night was my last in the RNCC-South, and I'm I'm going to miss it. Back to the sunlight, and the mad(dening) rush of the daily A Company routine. But it's okay, because even though I have to go back to the lunatics in my actual unit, it just signals the start of the chain of events which will lead me back to the home ranges. A little of this, a little of that, and who knows: maybe if we're all good boys and girls Santa will bring us an early present.

I want to mention a couple of nights I've had recently, out alone on the base walking around, getting my version of physical training in. There were a couple of nights where things just settled, it was (relatively) quiet, and everything was... I don't know. Okay. Almost nice. Lights playing on the damp black-top of an empty road while out for a long walk. Stars and airplane running lights doing their best fire-fly imitations through the camo netting while lying on the wooden deck stretching out afterwards.

It's not stuff that would make me join up. It's certainly not enough to change my mind and get me to stay in. To be brutally honest, if someone had told me "You'll miss this if you never serve," I'd have shrugged and said "Oh well." But it's the stuff like that that has happened over the years I've spent in the Army that I'll remember. Those moments where you aren't really happy to be there doing what you're doing, but for just a moment it's all okay.

And do you know what? Someday it will all be okay. Maybe sometime soon....
scents: leave your scent.

Monday, October 10th, 2011

Subject:A familiar, happy sound.
Time:3:28 am.
Mood: content.
As soon as I can find my camera's cord, I'll post some proof, because given the whole rest of the time I've been here what's happened is completely unbelievable. BUT:

It rained today. For an hour or so. Wind, thunder, and a torrent of water on the metal roof.

*happy sigh, and back to sleep*
scents: leave your scent.

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Subject:Big Decisions Coming
Time:7:10 am.
Mood: anxious.
To soldier onward... or not to soldier onward. That is the question.

I don't have much time to write at the moment, but all I can say is, if it was all about the money... There'd be no question.

"Moneybags Telecom, this is Dave, how can I help you...?"
scents: leave your scent.

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Time:4:29 pm.
Mood: tired.
It's nice to have them.
(Unlike an over-developed sense of ethics, which can lead to one second-guessing one's self to the point of inaction.)

I have to let my re-enlistment team know what I want to do in the next 24 hours.
I have to decide between a high-paying/low-security job which I am all but guaranteed to land but far from guaranteed to hold for any length of time, and a low-paying/high-stress job (this one) that will happily keep me until I retire to a pittance of a pension at least a dozen years from now.

And I can't sleep. And I'm getting another cold. Isn't there anything good to write about? Oh, yes: options, and how it's nice to have them.

"Never mind the rocks at the base of the cliff, my friend; from which precipice do you want to learn to fly...?"
scents: leave your scent.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Time:7:01 pm.
Okay, I admit, that's a pretty pathetic title. Something in my sleep-addled brain is particularly NOT in the LJ-post-title-composing mood. Whatever. Be that as it may, I was struck by the need to throw something up here in the few minutes I have before work, so here goes.

I am about to launch myself into the abyss and see if I can learn to fly before I discover where the bottom is, if any. This is not courage, it's simple necessity. Sun Tzu is quoted as saying that when you have no avenue of retreat, and surrender is not an option, there are no choices left: you must attack. Sometimes I wish ancient Chinese guys weren't right, but I think he is. Sometimes I think that if I hold my breath just a little longer it will turn out okay, but as the old guy also points out, "hope is not a plan." Blasted know-it-all.

Sometimes I wish that giving up were something that I could actually do with any sort of grace. I hold on to things that most people let go without a second thought. A memory. An ideal. An old song. Alright, fine, several albums of old songs, you get the point. MY point is that they just seem like things that shouldn't be let go of so easily, and as a result I don't let go of them at all, even when sanity or practicality might suggest it. Instead I hold on to songs 30 - 40 years old, tying them to scents and sounds, scenery and emotions, dreams and hopes that have long since past. Sometimes I wish I could just let them go. Sometimes I think that maybe they would rest easy if I did, finally able to sleep without me clinging uselessly to them.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking this way, and I wish I would just stop, but I still can't answer the question: is it better to let it all go, let it all just die and admit defeat? Or is it better to hold on to these little things, knowing in the end that they WILL finally pass regardless? What if all I'm doing is prolonging the suffering of all involved?

Sometimes, I wish sleep wasn't so elusive....
scents: leave your scent.

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Time:10:28 am.
Mood: bemused.
The truly great musicians throughout history have found a way to say something meaningful to just about everyone. This in mind, I give you the (arguably) best progressive rock band ever, their words resonating down through the ages to our own politically troubled time:

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleasCollapse )
scents: leave your scent.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Subject:Curiosity entered the room
Time:8:54 am.
Mood: baffled.
I'm in a network control center that provides help to many other network control centers and their dependent comms terminals. So I understand it when there are three, four, five phone conversations going on at one time. What I do NOT understand, is why they all have to occur on speaker-phone. All of them. Of course, everyone feels the need to yell to be heard over the miles and miles between them and the distant end... which is, let's see, the phone on the desk, about 2.41 feet away from their faces. And yes, the guy on the other end is borderline shouting as well.

S'plain, please...?

Oh yeah:
Baby bro and his bride brought their first into the world this past week.
Welcome to our world, Crystal. May the joyful wonders never cease.
scents: 1 scent -leave your scent.

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

Subject:What to say...
Time:8:40 pm.
Mood: tired.
How about this:

Large concrete bunkers and T-wall barriers to keep people from getting hurt by anything but a direct hit from a large rocket/mortar? Very cool. Sitting in a bunker for 4 hours because they can't find the (unexploded) rocket that just landed a couple of blocks over? Not cool at all.

Or maybe you'd fancy this, more like:

The Brit chick who voices the alarm system? Kinda sexy, her voice.

Hearing her say "Roc-ket... At-tack... Roc-ket... At-tack..." @ 0215? Not sexy at all. Sorry, England, if you're going to wake me at Holy Crap :30 in the AM, your voice alone just won't cut it....
scents: 1 scent -leave your scent.

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Subject:Worse and worse
Time:12:13 pm.
Mood: cold.
Friends' pets are dead. Friends' parents are dead. Friends' families are split/splitting. Friends' careers have (probably) been wrecked due to incompetence not their own. My new commander thinks he's a first sergeant, and the rest of us "sergeants" might as well be stacks of hot garbage. Not one of the soldiers in my section is thinking of re-enlisting. Not one of the NCO's in my platoon.

And we're not even in the fight yet, 2 months in.

Me? I'm this close to not caring about any of it. I'm too tired of being concerned with doing the right thing. I'm tired of the "wet paper sack" syndrome. I'm tired of Ft. Gordistan. And I'm sick of the mentality that says that soldiers are happiest when busiest, that spare time is a luxury soldiers cannot afford. That, in effect, training is more important than our mission(s). The bottom line for our highers-up is that our mission performance is being measured by the bullets they can put on their OERs/NCOERs, not whether or not we can actually, you know, communicate. It's not like we're a signal company or anything. =P

I'm so sick of all of it.

All that I'm living for,
All that I'm dying for,
All that I can't ignore alone at night,
All that I'm wanted for,
All that I wanted more,
Lock the last open door,
My ghosts are gaining on me.
scents: leave your scent.

LiveJournal for The status is NOT quo!.

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