Monday, June 28, 2010

Random thoughts...

YES MA'AM - My typical morning begins with me spending the first 15-20 minutes checking e-mail. The vast majority of mail is from local vendors asking about pending payments (I work vehicle and heavy equipment leases for the base) or begging me to send a contract their way...but every once in a while I get an e-mail from home. This morning I received direction from my wonderful mother that "it's about time for a blog update" and since I'm not one to blatantly thumb my nose at you go!

NO INTERNET - Tonights post could be three to four separate posts and would likely be more logical in that manner. However, with the summer surge of 101st ABN Soldiers the bandwidth around here is horrible and I'm lucky to even get online. The internet has been bad enough lately that there has been no Skyping and there is absolutely no way to post pictures.

I'M GOOD AT COUNTING - Today marks Day #76 that I've been gone from home and Renee (R2's wife) just informed me that we only have 171 more days until R&R...not that she's keeping up with it! Even though the days sometimes creep by, we've been so busy lately that I barely get time to think about much other than contracting. I'm not sure that Loni (Household 6 or HH6) would agree with me, but the past 76 days have actually gone by pretty fast.

AVA CLAIRE HAS BIG FEET - Two days ago HH6 sends me a picture of my daughter in her new bathing suit. She's as cute as a button and is beginning to enjoy the water more this year, but the one thing that sticks out in the picture is her feet. I look at her and it seems she's grown a foot; her legs look longer as does her feet. Her hair now reaches mid-back when wet, but barely her shoulders when it's dry thanks to those curls!

JAX IS WALKING - Apparently this is no longer a big deal to everyone at home, it's just normal. For me however, he wasn't walking when I left therefore it just blows my mind. One weird thing about deployment is that no one ages in your mind unless you see them in pictures; this doesn't mean much to adults, but when you see kids that have grown 6" it'll blow your mind.

GUN RIGHTS - Today the Supreme Court voted 5-4 "in a landmark decision" on the side of gun owners and the 2nd Amendment. I know there are a lot of people out there who are better educated than myself on this subject, however I am excited about this. This rids Chicago and D.C. of their handgun bans. I wish that I could purchase a US concealed weapons permit instead of just Alabama, but I understand the reasoning behind not doing so. I'm not saying everyone should carry around an AK-47 like the folks in Iraq, but having a weapon(s) at home should almost be mandatory. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why the US hasn't been invaded in modern times...everyone can legally own a weapon to protect themself, their family, and their property.

BAPTISM - I haven't updated my blog since last Sunday, but I witnessed one of the more humbling baptisms of my life. Seeing someone get baptized is a close second to actually being baptized yourself, but seeing someone get baptized in a shipping crate that is lined with a makeshift kiddie-pool filled by hand 20 ounces at a time will bring tears to your eyes. The mountains around us are still snow-capped at the highest altitudes and what a wonderful backdrop that made. It felt like I had stepped back in time and we were at a river watching a baptism, everyone just crowded around and prayed. No offense to the modern-day baptistry, but the lack of technology was befitting. No microphone, no waders, no faucet, no frills...just a man doing what's right in the eyes of our Lord.

HEY, TODAY IS FATHER'S DAY - Well, not literally today, but it did sneak up on us. We knew it was coming, but no one really acknowledged it until about 2:00 p.m. last Sunday. It's tough missing every family-oriented holiday for a year, but thankfully with each passing holiday I'm one step closer to holding my wife and children again!

SEVEN YEARS - Loni and I celebrate 7 years of wedded bliss in another 2.5 weeks. I have thought long and hard about what would be an acceptable gift from over here and come to the conclusion that there is nothing here for her...other than me.

DEPLOYMENT POSITIVES - Last week the Chaplain mentioned that his wife was writing down 180 positive things about deployment; one for each day that her Air Force husband would be gone. #1 on her list needs to be..."I'm thankful my husband chose the Air Force, otherwise he would be gone for 365 days." I'm not bitter, but that would fit nicely. I am a much more positive than negative person, I try to find the silver lining even when I have to draw it myself. I'm not promising that I will find 365 things to be positive about; I'm also not promising to share the things that I'm thankful for...let's just say we'll see how it goes.

WHAT TO DO WHEN I GET HOME - Much of the time that SSG Martin (Thunder Dan) and I spend together is walking from work to the chow hall and back a couple of times each day. We typically walk the mile or so to work, to chow twice together each day, and then back home at night. By the time we get to "the hooch" as it's called, we're just ready for bed. Much of our time is spent discussing the same thing that every Super Bowl winner discusses...what to do when we get home. So far we plan to win the lottery, buy some land, buy a vehicle, sail to the Bahamas, take a long vacation, sleep uninterrupted, not look at a computer for 14 hours in a day, hold our children, kiss our wives (him his, me get it), breath fresh air, not get nervous in a group of locals, and eat a nice meal with real silverware.

This pretty much sums up the random thoughts for tonight...more later, God bless.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Happy Birthday (to me!)

Thursday made the second birthday (#29) that I have spent away from home due to deployment. Loni and I use to laugh because it seemed that the first few years we dated, were engaged, and eventually married I could manage to consistently miss out on the 4th of July...this was typically due in part to the Army, but no hard feelings. Obviously spending a year here means that I will miss every holiday for that period, some holidays are harder than others to miss out on though.

Even though I was over here in the desert I managed to have a really good day. From the moment I got up I told myself that nothing was going to bother me! My typical day includes seeing at least 10-15 local Afghans and dealing with their problems and concerns...well not on my birthday, they couldn't make me mad if they tried.

First off I had a bunch of 'Happy Birthday wishes' on Facebook and that's always nice. Also, I received a big package from my mother which not only had some cool shorts and a also had a pan of Otis Spunkmeyer brownies! We cracked open the brownies and had a miniature party (I mean it when I say miniature, that was literally all we did). Even though it was a day late, today I received a few birthday cards in the mail. Loni sent a few pictures and even a little horse made from Ava Claire's handprint at VBS!

So, even though tonight's update was short it is filled with happiness. It's wonderful to know that I have a church family that prays for me, friends that write me, a family that misses me, and a wife that is so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Groundhog's Day

No, I haven't lost my mind...I know that Groundhog's Day is in February and not early summer. However, I'm sure that everyone who reads this post has seen the movie Groundhog's Day. The movie features Bill Murray and he is stuck in some sort of time warp where each day when he wakes up he has already lived that day numerous times in the past...the day he keeps reliving is Groundhog's Day.

My mother-in-law e-mailed me yesterday and after some updates on the kids she wrote that I must be busy because I had not updated my blog since May. I thought, surely that isn't so...then I logged on here tonight and she was absolutely right. This gets me back to my initial point, I feel as if I'm living the same day over and over.

As you all know, I work as a contracting officer here at Bagram. Last week our section commander decided to hone everyone's contracts down a bit in order to allow us to focus our attention on one or two major items. I was given charge of all vehicles and heavy equipment leases in the office. One would assume that there can't be many vehicles on an Army Airfield in the middle of Afghanistan...well, one would be wrong. I assumed that the heavy equipment would be the headache, but the vehicles definitely take the cake.

So, day in and day out I'm doing much the same thing. I'll write a contract for a truck or a forklift or something similar to that, I'll award the contract and notify the winning bidder, the I file everything in just the right way. Yesterday I was able to award a porta-pottie contract...I actually got excited because it was something a little bit different. Looks like I might get to award a legal/cultural advisor contract tomorrow...woohoo!

When we first got here our days were a little staggered, we had a little change occuring each day with new Soldiers coming and old Soldiers leaving. For the past two to three weeks it's been quite monotonous. We get to work just before 9:00 a.m. and we are now required to stay at work until 10:00 p.m., which makes for a long day. I know that we are busier since the surge is in full swing and the 101st is getting here right now, but wow, you can really write a lot of contracts in 13 hours. Don't think I'm down and/or complaining, I'm really upbeat and doing my best to stay positive and keep others positive.

I can see why these people fight all the gives them something to do. Just kidding with the last comment, most of the people I've met here (and I've met a bunch) are similar to Americans in that they want to make enough money to feed the family, enjoy peace, and be left alone. It's true that a rotten apple will spoil the whole bushel though. After an attack you look at each individual with the question in your mind..."I wonder if he had anything to do with what happened?" It makes you quite suspicious and untrusting; typically I'm a trusting person stateside, not so much here though.

I'll do my best to keep you all posted on the happenings around Bagram, but I won't bore you with daily or even bi-daily posts if nothing is going on. God bless!