Friday, July 31, 2009

Cold day in the Cadillac

No matter what your perspective is - taking a cold shower after a long day out in the field just has to suck. Yes, be glad you have a shower cold or not (there are many who don't have this luxury), but that really is a bummer. There are three bays with showers and the middle one was straight cold water - I know because I went in there - the 1st bay was a little crowded (I have always used the 1st bay since I've been here). Shaving with cold water wasn't so bad - but I decided there was no way I was taking a cold shower - I'd wait if I had too.

After I finished shaving (3-4 minutes), I went around the corner to the first bay - still a little crowded, but I tested the water in the sink and it wasn't cold... by far, not HOT, but had a little warm to it. So I jumped in the first shower and I think I JUST made it. It was a quick one - certainly less than 3 minutes, but the little bit of heat was just about gone.

When I got out, you could hear they guys in the next bay - most of the time, guys don't talk to each other in the bathroom. All you heard was, Burrr, Sh*t that's cold, etc... It was amusing, but really I felt bad for them - mostly Army guys. Come to think of it, most of the guys in the 1st bay were AF guys. Hummm... :-)

I'm also disappointed I missed my weekly call with my parents today. It was really a very busy "off" day for me. Skipped breakfast to go in early - I was there @ 0630. Next thing I knew it was 1200 and I was late for lunch chow. So I walked very quickly to the DFAC and had lunch. Then, next thing you know, it's 1730!! I had wrote Dad and Mom and email to tell them I'd be late - hope they got it and everything is OK. Gee - that's funny - I even worry about them from time to time.

Seriously, I do spend a good bit of time in prayer. Mostly of thanks and praise. Thanks that I'm still here and able to carry out the mission - and praise for a really awesome God who will not give me more than I can handle!

Sometimes I wish He didn't trust me so much! :-)


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

짧은 타이머

Now I bet you all are wondering what THAT title means! The answer comes next month. I'll give you one point if you can tell me the language and two points if you can tell me what it says! :-)

Had a great SKYPE night last night! Funny, seems everyone wants to talk on the same night! :-) I like it though - I talked with David, Al and Pam - and Marcus on MajicJack - which is working pretty good by the way.

I had a pretty long day - got up at 0400 to be with the "Dirt Boys" to pour a concrete pad. I posted a couple pics in BAF11. By 0700, all the hard work was done! If you're wondering why we get up so early to pour concrete, it's because it's too hot during the day (113 today) and they can't seem to get the concrete where it belongs and finished before it sets up in the heat.

Also posted a couple new pics of a "Super BHut" the guys are building and it's going to be a two story BHut. Those Structures guys move pretty fast so I'll try to take a few more pics - but you probably won't recognize it as under construction - it will look like it's finished in a few days! These pics show what they did just the 1st DAY!

It's an interesting thing to me - if you want to know how much work we've done, I'll put it to you like this - and I've said this to many people here. It's very surprising to me to see the condition of this base considering that it's been here for 9+ years - and knowing how much it has changed in the 5 months we've been here! It's VERY surprising! After all the things we did with just our team - if we would have been here for the last 9 years, I promise you this would look like downtown Atlanta at the rate we are going! The war would probably be over because the Taliban would think they were in the wrong country!

With as fast as we can put up this "Super BHut", why are there tents anywhere around here? Yes, we ARE that good!

I like to brag on my guys - not because they need to hear it, but because they deserve it.

Mark (aka Chief)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Room Inspection

We had our first real room inspection today - it was not like I expected. I really thought they would look for all kinds of things, but all they cared about was fire. They picked on smoke detectors (like the occupants are supposed to know or just run right out and buy some...). Really? If they want/need more smoke detectors, then put them in! Why have an inspection 9 years later? Heck - they didn't even TEST the smoke detectors we have in the rooms now! And have you see the wiring around the outside??? So what was the point? (I'm really not sure). They told me my coffee pot had to be on a non-combustible material.... HELLO??? The entire BHut is made of WOOD! He suggested glass! I laughed! So I just said, "OK - Whatever!" Oh - AND - he said it had to plug directly into the wall outlet! Yeah, OK. Do you know how long the cord is on a coffee pot? It's like 6 inches! Don't forget the FLOOR (along with everything else) is made of - uh, yeah - WOOD. Did I mention the outlet is only 18 inches off the floor! (lower than the outlets in your home). So just how the heck am I (or anyone else) supposed to have this coffee pot plugged directly into the wall and sitting on some non-combustible material!? Hence - my response, "OK - Whatever!"

Oh - and yeah, I did take out the trash and all that stuff - you guys all know I'm not a pig anyway and I keep my stuff organized and clean all the time anyway. But honestly, they seemed not to care about any of that.

Oh well - I just hope folks realize that our living conditions are really a treat and a whole lot better than a tent - which is where many others are living! I'm very thankful for my little wooden box!


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pics UP

I posted a few new pics - they are a mix, so I'll run through a couple.

First are a couple pics of the projects - old and new - then we have the CC with his special Popcorn Birthday Cake. His bday is not till 5 Aug - but his Grandmother wanted to make SURE he didn't miss it! Neat - lots of interesting flavors. It was good though.

Then a couple more project pics - and finally a couple so you understand why the Internet and power go out all the time - no, I'm not making this stuff up.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

General Info

Did I mention that I got to hang out with two Generals the other day? For 3 hours! It was great! We (the CC and I - and of course their complete entourage) took them around BAF to visit some high profile facilities and gave them a brief on some very interesting developments in our group. It was really a neat thing to spend so much time with them. Both great men and very easy to talk too - very smart, and keen - and very nice guys overall too.

Oh - you want to know who they were? General Buckler and General McMahon. Gen Buckler's is a "tire" guy like Col Lehman and was also in the reserve program for quite a while.

Still plugging along and trying to finish strong - that's the theme and it wouldn't be right to preach it if I wasn't going to practice it. I promised myself before I came here I would make every opportunity count and I actively LOOK for opportunities. I volunteer to help people every chance I get and I really am trying to make a difference here for the next guy that has to come here - and there will be many.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Internet is back

Well, kind of - at least I can do most things. I was just in a Skype call w/Pam for a solid 35 min - then - the call dropped and I could not get her back.

So - I'm happy for that 35 min! Also got a good call in with my brother Jim this afternoon! That was very nice also - no problems, I guess we talked for 20 min or so! Was great to see him! And - I got to IM with Al today also - he was the one that reminded me that I never really told you that I got my Internet working again. It's pretty much back to the crappy Internet that I started with - it works when it wants too. But trust me, I learned my lesson and I'm not complaining anymore! It's fine, it's fine, it's fine!!! :-)

At least I can write blogs! I've learned to be very thankful for the little things in life.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Working Weekend

It's surprising I even KNOW that it's the weekend. Still the days all seem to run together and often I ask myself, "What day is it today?".

Well, it's Saturday (I'm sure, I just checked my computer) and there is some good news that I can share. I had a very long talk yesterday with the Chief replacing me soon! He is a very nice Christian man so we have a lot in common already! :-)

He says his team is getting excited to come and I told him we were JUST as excited (if not more) to know we are soon leaving. For many of you (I can hear you) it's not soon enough! I know. For me, I still contend I am here for a reason and I intend to finish the plan as best I can. I'll be home when I get home.

We talked for a good long time and it was perfect because I was in the office and literally had "just walked in" when he called. I was a little late getting there because it was Friday and I had no good reason to be in earlier - and besides, it was an off day. :-) We talked for what seemed like 90 minutes about various issues and potential things to avoid. It was reminiscent for me when I was in his position getting ready to come and I couldn't help to be thankful for Chief Ron Rearick taking his time to talk with me the same way. Those conversations really helped and I felt like I knew Ron when I got here. I hope it will be the same for Robert (the new chief). I already like him - and his wife - because she has sent two wonderful packages filled exclusively with Hawaian macadamia nut goodies. ALL KINDS of macadamia nut stuff! (I did have to share some... :-( That's not a bad thing though - keeps me from gaining all that weight back.

Speaking of that - my Mom told me I looked "Skinny" on Friday - and the same day, the CC came by my hooch and I was in my PT gear and he said "Geez, Chief, your nothing but skin and bones now!" - Which is not REALLY true and I told him I was just a little leaner and still tougher than a $2 steak!

I'm sure you all will still recognize me when I get back - I'll just be wearing my belt a little tighter. Pam and I will have to go shopping for some new clothes till I get back into the beer and ice cream! :-) I may even have to get the new commander to by me a couple new uniforms!

See - there are good things about this deployment if you LOOK for them!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Too long to post

Let me say up front I'm sorry for not posting more frequently lately. It's been very busy and quite honestly, there's not much new I can tell you. Yes, new things happening, you will just have to wait till I get back to get all the details.

I had a pretty good day today and the CC even verbalized his appreciation for a good day - he said, "I'm in a pretty good mood today" and that made me feel especially thankful - and made me in a pretty good mood too!

I'm thankful that all the crews are fully engaged in projects and there is certainly no shortage of work for anyone. Things are progressing along quite nicely at the moment and it's a good feeling to know we are making a difference and we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are not there yet, but there is a definite improvement in what I feel is an already high morale!

Another week is in the books - as you remember, SAT-THR is our typical week since Friday is our down day. Well I won't be the only one working tomorrow - and I wasn't last Friday either. Several of the PM (project managers) and crews are making an extra effort and working some of our projects even on their days off. And others are working on side projects to make things better around the FET (Facility Engineer Team) building (our office building) and still others are putting it time to help with MWR activities, other self help projects, Operation Care and many other important things that need to be done.

A good week for me - I still miss you all and I want to again let you know there is not a day that goes by when I don't think about you and know that you are still praying for me and my team. I sincerely want to thank each and every one of you and I will do that in person soon.

Happy Birthday Ashley!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Lord's Day!

Well I didn't sleep so great last night and and I woke up a little grumpy - which is very uncommon, but I was treated to a nice Skype Video with all my grandchildren and both my kids - and Jeff, and of course my wife Pam - and my good friend David! What a nice treat first thing in the morning! It was wonderful to see all of them and they all looked great! Good stuff! After all that, I forgot all about my crappy sleep night and had a great day!

Now it's catching up with me and I think I'll try and lay down a little early tonight - wind is blowing somethin fierce - but it *IS* Rib night and I'm fat and sassy - so hopefully I'll sleep well tonight.

Had a pretty good day! Went to church this morning, worked thru lunch (I always do on Rib Days) and had a GREAT dinner! They were cooked perfectly (as usual) and everything was great! I'm going to have to keep up the tradition when I get home - Pam doesn't know it yet, but I think Sunday is going to be RIB night on a regular basis!!! Just that we'll have to find a comparable place in ATL somewhere cause we sure as ____ aren't coming back here - I don't care HOW good they are - (they really are pretty good!)

Typical day, oh - I know what you will find interesting. The Internet now is actually FASTER in my hooch than it is in my office!!! How's THAT for a surprise! Seriously! It's horrible and barely usable! In fact, I'd call it limited because pages just will not load. It's a combination of bandwidth (or lack of) and DNS timeouts. That makes for some crappy Internet - let me tell you.

Also got to Skype with my parents on FRIDAY - I love Friday's - still. We talked for a good long time and it was nice seeing them smile. They like having their granddaughter there in MQT - my brother and his wife went up for a visit.

We've actually started planning for the rotation! (that's REALLY good news)! I won't get into details, but it's slowly starting! Things will fall into place in no time and I'll be back in GA before you know it. BTW - you know I'll end this blog eventually and I plan to print it to PDF for the record. Don't worry though, I'll post my cell information when I get back and it will be just like old times and you can actually CALL me once in a while! :-)

Looking forward to it - don't want ya'll to get TOO excited. I'll tell you the same thing I'm telling my guys. We came here to do a job and we are going to do it - and do it well - right up to the end. The Wing Motto when we got here was Start Right, Finish Strong - and we plan to stick to that - after all, it's important and I think the people here realize what they are doing *IS* important - and making a huge difference. That's one of the things we bring up at every commanders call for the group - we make sure we tell them that not only are they all doing a good job, but that it's making a difference for the people on BAF now and the many that will come thru here in the future.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What can I say?


Well, things are still fine with me - and with the team. We are all still here and making a difference on BAF for all coalition forces. That's a very true statement too - not overstated. The projects we are working and completing are major projects that will improve the quality, life, health and safety standards for everyone coming to BAF. And if that doesn't make you smile - then I don't know what to tell you.

We are all contributing - we are all working hard to make things happen.

Mail call again today in a HUGE way! 30+ boxes came in from Fairview Baptist Church! I expect another batch of 56 boxes coming in the next few days... got 3 yesterday, and 28 or so today. Since I've been here, I talked a little about perspective - and my perspective has changed (in this case) for the better because I realized there exists a tremendous amount of people out there who really do care and actively support military warriors. There's a few from GA that I plan to make a personal visit too - I'm recording their names and addressed and I'll look them up when I get back - maybe deliver an appreciation hug! Speaking of hugs - the Chapel NeXt team is sponsoring a Hot dogs and Hugs campaign! Sounds like a lot of fun and I'm going to try and get in on the action. It's coming up soon, so watch for the pictures. I'll tell you about it AFTER it happens! :-)

I've got a "driver" for my truck... no, silly, not a chauffeur, just someone to drive it back and forth to work everyday - I decided to still keep up the walking. I did take a day off after the dodge ball game (did I already mention that?). I've gotten used to it and I'm sure it's one reason why I feel so good and I'm sure it's a good thing to keep a smile on my face! Besides - you get to meet/see a lot of interesting people along the way! :-) As you all know, there are MANY different coalition forces here - and I mean from all over. Once in a while I'll get to talk with them. I also meet a lot of KBR (and other contractor) folks from different places all over the world too.

Now the trick will be to get my "driver" to wash the truck and clean it up for me... :-)


PS - It took me about 10 min to write this post and it's now been more than 90 minutes (yeah, no kidding) and it's STILL not posted. So far, you haven't heard me cuss in this forum - but if this keeps up, I'm going to change this from a family show to NC-17 and anyone older than 50! :-)
I'm giving up and going to bed. With any luck, I'll be able to reach my wife from my cell phone - and more than 50% of the time - that don't work either.

It's now the morning (0530) - let's see if it will post now....


Sunday, July 5, 2009


Now might be a good time to have that perspective discussion. So I thought my Internet connection was really bad... Oh how WRONG I was! At this moment, I'd take that back and be HAPPY to pay the $100!!! As it is - now it's REALLY bad! So bad that it's basically unusable (I thought it was "unusable" before). Now - in perspective, it was fine... At least I could Skype with my family and friends! And I could use MagicJack ONCE IN A WHILE! Now - I'll be lucky if the blog posts!!!! (seriously!)

Could not contact Saving and publishing may fail. Retrying...
Return to list of posts

And if it does, I guess I should be happy about it...


Saturday, July 4, 2009


What's a good friend?

Well - many people told me I should write a book when I get back - and if I was going to do that, I'd have plenty of material just for a book about friends. I am so very blessed to have so many good friends. I was able to Skype with my wife last night in TN. She went to visit all my rowdy friends in TN at the Brown's - David and Janice. Pam is celebrating the holiday there with MANY of our friends and it was so nice to see all of them on the back porch. Hard, and a little sad for me knowing that they are all going out to play on the water for the weekend - fishing, skiing, boating, etc... and I'm here fishing in sewer water with a rock! Yuck. But they all said they love me and I know that's true. They all miss me and I miss them too - much more than the water and the fishing. I have no idea how many people were there - but there were many - and ALL of them were excited to see me - and that was so special for me. Very humbling that they all think so much of me to talk about me and pray for me. Now it's true - I'm not sure what they "talk" about - but I'm pretty sure they think and talk about me like I think and talk about them - very fondly and full of pride. I love my friends and they love me. This is a true blessing. I know how wonderful it is for Pam to be in their company for this patriotic holiday - and she happens to be with Janice - who has never missed thanking me on a Veterans Day (or any other military holiday) since we met some 15+ years ago. How's that for a thoughtful friend? That's not the half of it. Over the years, we have laughed and cried with many of our friends - sometimes at the same time, had many, many good times and 1 or 2 bad, but the good news is - ALL of us are very thankful for God bringing our families together. In the process, many other's have joined the crowd and it has certainly made for a very LARGE crowd of friends - many of whom were on the back porch last night. And for that, I am very thankful today. You all made my day today and I'll be thinking of you all having fun in the sun as I rest my head to end another day here in Afghanistan. 1 more day closer to coming home. I look forward to the day when I can be with ALL of you again - whether it be on the porch in TN, back home in MQT, on the beach in FL, playing turkey bowl in PA, someplace in TX or AZ/VA/MS (this guy moves around a lot - still) or back in GA (which is kind like home now) or anywhere else - being with friends is always a special time.

There is one friend though that I thank God for everyday and I miss and love more than anyone else - and that's my BEST friend, Pam.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Party Time

We worked this morning and we had a party for the afternoon! It was a complete party with all kinds of activities. Frisbee, Football, Volleyball, Dodge ball, Basketball, and the favorite game - CORNHOLE! It was a blast! (pun intended)

On top of that, we had LOTS of food. Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, Grilled Chicken, Ribs (yup), and Steaks! (of course all the fixins and deserts too). The Commander bought us all Bitburger (o%) Beer and there was lots of other drinks.

MSgt Carey organized the cornhole tournament and subsequently WON THE WHOLE thing!!! I say it was rigged from the start, but who knows.... The party took place at the premiere venue on BAF! The MWR Clamshell (same place Toby Kieth played and all the other major events are held) - it was a GREAT place to have fun and out of the 107 degree HOT sun! Senior MSgt Bramlett played music on the PA system all day! TSgt Lojoie was tied to the grill for a while cooking the steaks.

All in all - a GREAT day - best day since I've been here! To ADD to the good news, I got my TRUCK!!! It's a BRAND NEW Toyota Hilux - very nice, and much more comfortable than the Gator I had been borrowing when I needed to go places outside of walking distance. I'll take a few pics of me and the truck tomorrow.

Pics of the party are posted here:

Most everyone came to the party and those who were there had a LOT of fun and got to relax. It was perfect timing because the R&R team was back and the other team hasn't left so EVERYONE had a chance to go the party! The Commander said some very nice remarks to start us off and the rest is now history.

I'm glad to have been there - it was really nice to see everyone participated in something a lot of folks helped out in the end to straighten up. The MWR Staff was phenomenal and really took care of us.

A very good day (in perspective)