Friday, December 31, 2010

Home on the Range

Paul Riley and I out on the rifle range a few days back. Going to the range here means bringing an interpreter, a medic, riding out in uparmored SUVs with at least one rifle per vehicle, traveling with at least two vehicles, etc., etc.

It was the first range that I have ever been to where we didn't ensure that all of our weapons were unloaded and clear at the end, but we actually took the time to reload all of our expended magazines and ensured that all weapons were Condition 1 (i.e. loaded) before mounting back up for the ride home. Better safe than sorry, and this is Kabul, after all.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I get to meet Lewis Black

Made my week, just as I am sure that meeting me made his. Again, I can't say enough about how gracious they all were to us. And this was an additional show that they had not signed up for, wedged into a little space before their departure from Afghanistan (they flew in from Kandahar just this morning before the show). They could have said no, but they didn't. They stepped up to the plate and made a lot of people happy.

The USO did a great job. It wouldn't hurt to throw a little donation their way this holiday season. Between getting these folks over here (the funding goes toward transportation; the entertainers volunteer their time) and putting together gift packages and staffing reception rooms at a myriad of airports for troops coming and going, the USO - and guys like Lewis - are doing the Lord's work.

Robin Williams!

Funny as hell. Made fun of the voice of his Garmin navigation device, wished it had a Scottish voice, made fun of that, then realized these was an actual Scotsman in the audience, and then made fun of him. And the lady with the faux fur hat. And Afghanistan ("We landed and my cell phone said to set my clock back a half hour. I looked around, and said "#(*&, are you kidding?!? Set your clock back about 1000 years!""

Jumped into the crowd with both feet afterwards. They loved him, and he clearly loved them.

Lewis Black!

One of my favorite comedians EVER. He brought the funny. Again, like Lance, just very gracious to everyone.

Lance Armstrong!

Tried to get to him afterwards to tell him that Godin says hi, but he was mobbed. He and Robin Williams were the clear favorites. Very funny in his own right, and very gracious. "When my kids ask me on the phone at night what I am doing over here, I tell them that I'm spending the night with heros."

The USO comes to Kabul

The USO came today for a brief show with Robin Williams, Lance Armstrong, Lewis Black and a couple of other folks. Here for about 90 minutes. They were AWESOME. Did a great job in the very brief time they were on the ground, stayed for pictures and to autograph as many things as they were asked. Waded right into the crowd in order to do it. They made a lot of servicemen and women and DoD/DoS civilians very happy on a chilly Friday morning. This pic is of Ambassador Eikenberry introducing everybody.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Winter in Kabul

1970s soviet aircraft at a 1950s airport

Like I said, a time machine.

Frankly, I was surprised that there even was a modern airport down there.

Kandahar Airport

Built in what looks like the late 1950s / early 1960s by... the United States!

Beautiful curves, classic 1960s architecture. Marble floors (still intact), very solid. Very strange to walk into it; felt like entering a time machine.

Except for the Predator UAV that I watched taking off as I stood outside. Those things were science fiction back when this airport was built.

The Afghan airport manager was really impressive, really sounded like he had a plan, and while he needed the help of ISAF to ensure good security, I didn't get the feeling that he was looking for a handout.

The L/EMB crew with Ambassador Eikenberry

This is inside the main lobby of the Embassy. The Seal of the United States was locally made; the blue ring around it is lapis lazuli, mined in Afghanistan.

You have to admit, this is a pretty awesome picture.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Biggest. Rose. Ever.

This rose was in one of the beds directly in front of the Embassy. It was HUGE - big as a baby's head - and the craziest pink/fushia (sp?) I have ever seen. The roses are cut down now for winter, but this was only last week. Got cut the next day, I believe. Damn glad I got the shot.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Better than a day in front of a computer

Damn skippy.

However, I was not having my best shoot.

I am trying to get my Advanced Combat Optic (ACOG) battle-sight zeroed. It was a pain in the ass. First off, I am still used to iron sights (these new fangled optics are still pretty new to me); second, I had not BZO-ed my rifle since I got it, and it required a lot of adjustment; third, doing it with gear on - pretty important since that's how I would be coming to the fight - is not NEARLY as natural as I am used to. And finally, we were rushed for time to finish up before we had to go cold on the range. In short, while I had a great time, it was not my best performance.

But far better than ANY day in the office. And you can quote me.

L/EMB goes to the rifle range

Well, the Dirty Dozen we ain't, but there are definitely some shooters in our crowd. We got out to the rifle and pistol range a couple of weeks back to break some rust. The carpentry shop here at the Embassy built us some truly fantastic two-piece target frames that break down to fit into our vehicles; print off some targets on 8 x 11 printer paper,zip tie or duct tape some cardboard to the frames to mount the targets (that's what I need the staple gun for, Dad), add a can each of 9mm and 5.56mm ammo, and you have a happy office.