Monday, May 20, 2013

It's time to come home

Well, after spending the last 15 months abroad in places like Kuwait and Afghanistan, my time here has come to a close. I have six days left in Afghanistan before flying to Kuwait for a few days, then home. It's been a long, trying, HOT time, but I have made a lot of money, gained a lot of good experience, and seen a lot of things--some of which I hope to never see again. One of those things happened just a couple weeks ago--a 747 cargo plane crashed just a short distance from our living quarters. The video of the crash is here. I was awake, and heard the distinct "THUMP" when the plane hit the ground, and I was able to get out to see the huge plume of black smoke from the initial impact. What a horrific sight it was to behold. The "official" cause was never broadcast, but according to British intelligence, it appears as though the cargo shifted as the plane was taking off, causing a chain reaction that ultimately put all the weight in the back of the plane--unrecoverable, even in the best case scenario. The base was on lockdown for several days, and communications were also cut off until next of kin notifications could be made. Just another reason why I can't wait to get the hell out of here.

On a good note, I have accepted a job working in Little Rock for NetGain Technologies as a Senior Systems Engineer--basically what I've been doing for the past 15+ years, but with some new things added in. New certifications will be required, as will a button-up shirt and dress pants. Ugh. But, I guess if they're going to pay me the gross amount that they're paying, I will wear their little outfit! I am looking forward to the new challenges and the change of scenery, as sand and rocks have really become quite maddening! I'm ready for trees, grass and real paved streets! Oh...and a speed limit that's more than 25kph (12.5mph).

I have my first car show the weekend of June 8-11, and that's going to be a lot of fun! The show is in Gatlinburg, TN (outlined in previous post), and it's just for Mopar! The Challenger has been sitting, waiting patiently in his garage until I return. I have a LOT of mods to bolt on when I get home, so the first week is going to be busy!

Other than that, not much else is going on. As I've said before, this place is like Groundhog Day every day--nothing ever changes. Eat, sleep, shit, shower...lather, rinse repeat. It's the same thing day in, day out. You can't go anywhere, you can't do anything. So you just exist in a vacuum until your time is up. And my time is up! So...I will close out for now. Perhaps I'll update when I'm en route to the US with pictures and whatnot. Maybe not. Not much to see here.

Until next time...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My time in hell is almost done!

So, the time has almost come--my days overseas now are few. It has been the longest year plus I think I've ever endured. I have accomplished most of the tasks that I set out to accomplish, but DAMN...I don't ever want to do that shit again!

My anticipated "return to reality" date is June 2 or 3, depending on when my flights land and how quickly I can get out of Indiana. Camp Atterbury isn't the kind of place that you want to stay in--it's a dumpy Army base with nothing much to do but eat at Subway or have a beer and a steak at the All Ranks Club. Either way, it's American food served in America. That is something that I haven't had in quite a few months!

I hope that I am able to retain a solid position working in Little Rock so my demobilization date sticks, but in the event that I'm not able to find work, I do have a backup plan--that I hope I don't have to use. I have already signed an extension for another 90 days, which will allow me to continue making the hideous amount of money that I'm currently making, whilst I continue to aggressively pursue a permanent position. It's unfortunate that the employment market is as dismal as it is, but I hope to convince someone that I am as awesome as I am!

The first weekend after my anticipated return home is already booked solid--I'm headed to Gatty 6.0 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It's my first official car show as a participant, but I don't plan to win anything. My car has been sitting under a cover inside a garage for the past 14 months. It's clean, detailed, and is carrying a full tank of premium fuel and a fresh oil change. I do have an assload of "stuff" that I've obtained over the past year to bolt on--simple stuff, you know! A new OEM navigation head unit, LockPick v5, a rear-view camera, a complete set of custom badges, and a bunch of other little things. It's not much, but I don't want to change the look of the car too much. After all, it was Alice Cooper's car!

The guitar, signed by all four
band members, including
some lyrics from "School's
I was recently able to procure an autographed guitar that was originally part of the sale of the car. Apparently, the broker who wrote up the sale decided he was going to keep the guitar, and he ended up selling it on Ebay. Through numerous emails and a couple of very long distance phone calls, I was able to track down the guitar, and it will now accompany me on road trips to car shows. I mean, it IS part of "the car" when you talk about the Alice Cooper Challenger, right? I just look forward to hanging out at the show and meeting all of the people that I've been corresponding with on the ChallengerForumz that I've been frequenting since I purchased my Challenger in January, 2012.

The Tisas 1911 .45
Other than that, I have also been building my arsenal of weaponry at home. Given the state of society these days and the uncertainty of the Obama administration, I believe it's imperative that we be well-armed and ready for anything. Leslie has gone through the Carry Concealed Weapon classes, and I will be going through them just as soon as I can get enrolled. I did manage to get my hands on a Smith & Wesson .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol, as well as a Tisas 1911 .45 semi-automatic pistol. These, along with a half-dozen boxes of hollow point ammo, and I should be good to go. The S&W pistol is the concealed carry weapon, while the Tisas is the home defense weapon. They compliment Leslie's .380 semi-automatic pistol that she carries. Believe me when I tell you--we're armed and ready!
The Smith & Wesson .40

I guess I'll close for now. Hopefully, the next time I post, I'll be home, and no longer in this God-forsaken hell hole. If I have to eat one more grilled cheese sandwich or one more ice-cream scoop of mashed potatoes, I'm going to scream. Combine that with the weekly "INCOMING INCOMING INCOMING" alerts, and you've got yourself a true hell. I have 39 days left at Bagram as of today--and assuming I have a job to go home to. Wish me luck!

Until next time....

Monday, February 25, 2013

I say 'good bye' to my best friend

Lacee's last day, doing what she did best.
This is the post that I wish I would never have to type out. Our dog, Lacee, had lost the fight against old age. She was my best friend, my relentless companion, my walking partner, and my 'rug'. She could sleep through a hurricane, but at the first hint of food being put in her bowl, it was like she had bionic hearing. Her crunchies and green beans were her favorite--but, then again, what wasn't?

She was well-traveled, having made numerous trips to visit family in Missouri, as well as a long-distance road trip to Indiana last year. She rode like a champ, spending most of the time laying on her favorite pillow, looking around like Queen Astor. She was the best companion for traveling...or for anything.

Her condition started out as just a slight limp, but within a few days, she had become almost immobile. As with many big dog breeds, her back had issues, and there was nerve impingement and some pretty severe pain. It was inoperable because of her age, and simply because there wasn't much that could be done. Surgery would be extremely expensive, and the results were unpredictable, at best. So, after spending more than a week with several veterinarians, trying different therapies, drugs and shots, we had to make the decision that nobody wants to make.

Lacee's final moments in the vet's office. The towel was
used to help carry her back end, which no longer could
support her.

We took her to see Dr. Andrea Razer, whose tableside manner and gentle kindness had always been welcome, especially in a time like this. She offered her condolences, and her soft-spoken professionalism as she administered the final dose. Taarna (Madison) was there to assist, but in her true style, she bawled and squalled like a baby.

It was a very difficult time, and being 8,000 miles away made it extremely difficult for me. She was my closest friend, and to not be there for her or with her in her final moments is a regret that I won't soon live down. I am just glad that she was surrounded by those who loved her and whom she trusted.

It's never easy to lose your best friend, but if there was ever a poster pet for rescuing, Lacee would be it. The perfect dog with the perfect attitude. Never barked, never bit, and only wanted a scratch. I will miss you, Lacee...and you will never be forgotten.

Friday, February 08, 2013

"Welcome" to Afghanistan?

So, after 11 months in the land of expansive sand and sun, I made the choice to move on to Afghanistan. This option afforded two things--a change of scenery, as well as an increase in pay. The change in scenery isn't much--mountains instead of sand dunes, and grass and trees instead of sand and rock. As for the pay increase...well, that one needs no explanation. I'm here to make the money, and the uplift is significant. My time is limited, however; I will be homeward bound on June 1, unless something drastic happens, or I can't find gainful employment in the meantime. Time will tell there.

Because life here is much like Groundhog Day, there isn't really much to report on. I did make a trip home in November of last year, and had a grand time. I reacquainted with family, hung out with my dog, and drove my oh-so-awesome car. But, like all good things, the trip ended too soon. I was back in the land of sand and rock mere days later...awaiting my final return home.

As for the kids, the boy has finally entered college after being out of high school for a mere 5 years. I hold my breath for the time being, as history hasn't really worked in his favor too much. He did manage to pick up a vehicle that is 100% his, and not something that some apathetic bag of protoplasm had bought for him to let him use and abuse at will. We shall see how it goes, but each day that passes simply adds to the hope. The girl...has a much different story. She has bounced around from house to house, living nowhere for more than a couple of weeks, using her friends up like old toilet paper, destroying friendships over made-up drama, and lying like there's no tomorrow. My hope for her is that she'll eventually tire of the lifestyle of a gypsy, but at this point, I don't know. I did provide he with financing for a car, which went south almost immediately. The car was repossessed and repurchased, all within just a few short weeks. As I said...hope isn't very high right now, but we must soldier on.

I wish I could say there's more to report, but other than the minor day-to-day bullshit, it's just eat, work, sleep. Once I'm closer to being gone, I'll exert more effort. Want to see pictures? They're either in my Picasa album or on my Facebook/Google+ page. That's all I have for now. Until next time....