Sunday, April 30, 2006

Offering Myself Up To The Draft

At the Charikar Orphanage - not much of a pass on my part...

Considered drafting from the Charikar Orphanage - not much of a draft on their part.

No, not a military draft - there isn't one, and I am already in.
I reckon, after yesterday's NFL Draft, the Bears could do no worse that a 39 year old rugby player who looks at a football as a foreign object... Gah!

Peyton wept! We need OFFENSE, darn it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Great ExPEDition

This is totally cool. The number of industrial roofs that have been topped with soil and plants increased 70% in the North America last year. Cool because Chicago was the #1 city to expand green roofs last year and in the US it's voluntary, but governments give incentives to go green. That's the way to do it.

I'm thinking of a bunch of other cool side effects of this. If we plant really tall buildings we get a different elevation and possibly a different environment and ecosystem. Can we plant rainforests up there? If we plant enough roofs we might be able to get a totally new and independent ecosystem. Most of the roofs are not accesible to the public.

I'm thinking "Lost World of Roi Rama!" Anyone up for an expedition in the future?

Addition by Author: Rainforests have very poor and shallow soil so I suspect the trees have shallow roots, which would work for the rooftops (hate to see the CEO's desk pierced with a tree root in the middle of a board meeting). I also just found out that Kenosha, WI (Wisconsin, not West Indies) has green roofs that they populated with sheep! How cool is that! Next they'll have to put wolves or coyotes up there to cull the herds. Oo I feel so many stories a-brewin'.

Friday News from Afghanistan IV

Time, once again, for the news you probably haven't heard. The good, bad and in-between news from Afghanistan. Security, economics, politics and life:

A video report on the reconstruction team at Bagram AF.

An audio report on close air support of Operation Mountain Lion.

More troops from Spain headed to Afghanistan?

"The Indiana Jones of Etawah" Throw me the idol, I'll throw you the whip...

Refugee repatriation continues - people forget that everyone didn't go to Pakistan, but that plenty went to Iran as well.

Power to the People of Central Asia! Literally.

Bird Flu? Uh oh.

Room at Yale for Taliban, but not for an Afghan woman.

Featured News Source of the Week: A tie! was a source I used when I was getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan, so they have a place in my heart - but right now they are at an "interim" home,

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has a weekly Afghan Report.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A Signal Officer by Any Other Profession

Our last drill was a two night trip to the range. I had to leave directly from the office so I got dressed before I left.

Here I am at my desk in my civilian job, working for Abbott Labs. Hmm. I seem to be on the phone here too.

I just found this photo that one of my office mates took. It kinda freaked them out.

Funny, dressed this way they gave me my stapler back right away.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Miserable Donuts Naval Attache to Iraq

Allow me to introduce the Brown Sand Sailor, in his own words:

"Always historically-minded, ever since a youth spent perusing a grandfather's academic library, the scribe was fond of the sea even before realizing it was salty. After obtaining a history degree, and working such related jobs as surveyor, sign maker and printer, the beginning writer slaved away at a Master's Degree in Soviet History, receiving it just in time to witness the collapse of the evil empire. Following a short retrenchment as an aerospace adhesive quality control tester, the proto-historian ventured on a career as a dissertation hunter, trying seemingly in vain for half-a-dozen years to finish his classes, pass his exams and embark on archival research to quietly revise the current interpretation of the Battle of the Atlantic. Somehow he also managed to find a job as a real historian (in the belly of the Federal beast), and even taught classes every once in a while, to the chagrin of his students. While the dissertation was eventually finished, the aspiring historian decided on a change of pace and joined the Navy Reserve at the ripe old age of 36. My mother was, uh, somewhat shocked. And after another half-dozen years of drills, and the odd annual training trip to Finland or Japan, the reservist-historian received the infamous phone call, and is soon his way to the sand box."

As we figure the logistics of Brown Sand Sailor's posts, we will keep everyone updated. Miserable Donuts brought you original reporting from Operation Crescent Relief, and now we are looking to add Operation Iraqi Freedom to that.

Welcome aboard, Brown Sand Sailor!


It's ANZAC Day. From New Zealand and Australia they came. The ANZAC (Autralian and New Zealand Army Corps) soldiers became known as "ANZACs" and the name stuck. The ceremonies surround the day are quite profound.

[Photo Via Tim Blair ]

Happy Happy Joy Joy

July 2002. Fort Polk, LA (JRTC). Gosh, was I a happy little Captain that day.

I received an e-mail asking if I was interested in working as part of the cadre there. I am afraid I cannot post my initial thoughts as I do try to keep this blog clean, ya know...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Nepal Ablaze

Though this blog generally pays attention to all things Afghanistan, I ask the Gentle Donuts to look East a thousand miles to the smoke rising from Nepal.

I have a close friend who lives in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. He's watched the protests from the rooftop of his home. What started as a general strike a few days ago is rapidly becoming a revolution. The government has enacted a 'shoot-on-sight' curfew.

I urged my friend to post his observations on this blog so the world could see what's happening in Nepal. He chose not to, however, because he's afraid the government would trace it back to him and he would disappear in the dark of night. Remember, the Nepalese are the folks who brought you Gurkhas and khukuri killing knives. You don't want these guys coming to your home.

Please pay attention to what's happening in Nepal. It's an eight-way clusterph#que between monarchists, maoists and all political perspectives in between. A lot of people are getting beaten, teargassed and shot by their government.

There's not too much coverage on this in the media, but please follow as best you can. This is really happening, and it could get very, very bloody.

ADMINISTRATOR'S NOTE: Per Mighty Q's request: Always a good idea to check Publis Pundit's Nepal Section. As always, if it is in Asia, Registan serves as a decent clearinghouse of information. Don't forget Winds of Change either.

For photo gallery (and thanks for the flag .gif) see this site.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I love this Country......

With democracy, you get what you deserve......Don't get stuck on stupid!!!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Z-man is Back

Go see Iowahawk's exclusive update.

If it worries a Gurkha...

It scares me beyond compare. What you ask? This.

Friday News o' Afghanistan III

Friends getting job promotions. 4 hour marriages? It must be time for the Friday News from Afghanistan...

Here are a few stories of security, politics, economics and life in Afghanistan. I am sure you hadn't heard a few of them.

Air Arabia to resume flights to Kabul.

The Kiwis decide to stay the course in Afghanistan. Fine by me - the New Zealanders I worked with in Afghanistan were good troops, doing good work, and irrepresibly friendly as well.

There is a shootin' in them thar hills. The south-southeast continues to see action.

What news of the Afghan National Army?

Tourism? In Afghanistan?! Please look at this site I found.

Cabinet confirmation time. President Karzai starts off with a couple of approvals.

Afghanistan and Pakistan hold military cooperation talks - and boy, are they ever needed.

Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US to hold a joint exercise too. Practice what you talk about...

Pakistan moves on Afghan refugees [photo courtesy of]

It's Rocket O'Clock at the US Embassy in Kabul.

You can run, you can try to hide, but sooner or later, your past will catch up to you.

This week's featured Afghan News Source is the Afghan News Network.

UPDATE: Japan stays the course too.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

He's In! The New Afghan Interior Minister

Former Parwan Governor and new Interior Minister Engineer Zarar Ahmad, showing his sense of humor with Squadron Leader Kendall of the RAF Regiment.

Former Parwan Governor, Engineer Zarar Ahmad, and a man I am humbled to call a friend, was confirmed as the new Interior Minister of Afghanistan. He is a good man, an honest man with the best interests of the Afghan people at heart - unfortunately an all too uncommon thing to find in government.
I am happy for the Afghans. Engineer Zarar will do everything he can to make the Interior Ministry effective, and as uncorrupt as possible (I am not naive). A good day for Afghanistan it has turned out to be.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Contract marriage in catching on....

Sound like the Shiites know how to party. Just for four hours Mr. Mulla....Thats what we call a little Afternoon delight or a Short nap on the strip on Manheim Rd.

New Presidential Spokesman

It seems Scott McClellan has resigned. But a new replacement has been introduced.

And You Thought We Were Stretched Thin

The Aussies' tiny army is not only helping out the Coalition, but they work around the Pacific. Like here.

Land of Lincoln, eh?

Who me? What did I do? Felony convictions?! Bah!

Illinois continues its shameful parade of political corruption figures - this time ex-Governor and ex-Secretary of State George "Clear Death Row" Ryan got his.

He stayed right in character too.

The most outstanding figure in the otherwise generally limp media in our state has been John Kass [free registration required](some other individual exceptions being Chicago Sun-Times reporters Tim Novak AND Steve Warmbir who started the whole license-for-bribes expose)

Chicago City Hall's reaction. [free registration required]

Monday, April 17, 2006

The HIG is back baby!!!!!!

The HIG, Taliban, and al Qaeda had a sit down the other day to ratchet up the violence this year. Seems support is also coming in from Iran as it has in the past. This could be a long year.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blogging to be light for a while.

It looks like CSM Bones and the Prop are going to have to help carry things a bit. I will be sure to continue the Friday News of Afghanistan.

Here is something of substance to chew on. What I wish all the American Left was like - an open, honest breath of fresh air called the Euston Manifesto. I don't agree with parts of it - but it sure is a healthy step for the Left to take away from the bilious feedback loop many seem caught in.

ISAF on the wall, I always felt so much safer....

Ruhe jetzt, wir sind auf eine tiefe Recon.....hast du Burger King oder eine Bazaar gesehen?

Quiet now, we are on a deep Recon.....have you seen a Burger King or a Bazaar?

I have to love their style though, but always jealous of the coalition groupies.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday News o' Afghanistan II

OK - so Arthur tells me "we can all be Chrenkoffs". Not really, but kind words nonetheless. So here is my attempt at spreading the Good, Bad and In-Between News of Afghanistan:

When leaders go to India - economics get discussed. India punches in the heavyweight economic class, and Karzai knows this.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai waves to reporters on arrival in New Delhi. (AFP)

Folks, trust me on this one - the cell phone has seized Afghanistan and it won't let go...

What do you do with disarmed militiamen? I was involved in the work on solving this problem - and you can see it is still a concern.

Problems in the areas that the Central Afghan Government is weakest - there are always people ready to fill the void.

The Canadian Army in Afghanistan hosts an artiste.

What are we finding out in the countryside?

Springtime is Offensive time.
Go get 'em boys.

And never forget what the enemy is in Afghanistan. Scum. No matter how weakly it is reported.

This weeks featured Afghan news source is Afghan Online Press.

P.S. Could you spare a prayer for the safety of at least one soldier?

Thursday, April 13, 2006


Solatia - solatium (solatia) sow'leysheeum
Anything which alleviates or compensates for suffering or loss; a compensation; esp., an additional allowance, as for injured feelings
Derived forms: solatia

I had never heard the word "solatia" until Thanksgiving Day, 2004. I don't hope to ever hear it used the same way again.

The day before Thanksgiving, the enemy had tried to fire a spread of rockets at our base. 5 of them landed in the villages to the East-Southeast. A local truck driver had been stopped in an lot and outside of his cab when one of the rockets landed. He was killed immediately by the blast and shrapnel.

Site in Gholam-ali where the trucker was killed - the rocket impact site was filled in and covered with the dirt and stones you see.

I took a small group of soldiers out to see what had happened, and to talk to the people of the town and the farms that the rockets had hit. When I returned, after several hours of walking the countryside, I had a quiet Thanksgiving dinner with CSM Bones and reported to the Commander.
The Colonel told me he wanted me to go and meet the widow and relatives of the truck driver and express his condolences. When finished with the boss, his interpreter (a US citizen ex-pat)pulled me aside and mentioned that a solatia payment/gift would be highly appropriate - could we do that?

Further out in the countryside, I found one of the 107mm rocket impact sites. I am holding up a chunk of the body of the rocket.

From context, I figured what he meant, but I asked him to explain - dreading the answer. He told me that the widow would be destitute, as there was no such thing as insurance, survivor benefits and the like as we are used to. She, and her children, would be at the mercy of the next in-line male relative who would have to support them/take them in. They would probably be relegated to a very poor status - as the household of this relative would resent them coming to tap into what probably were scarce resources anyway. The solatia gift would help buffer them from poverty, and alieviate the burden on the family that now had more dependants.
I asked how much would be appropriate in this case. he told me Anything between $200-$300 US would be a year's income and do quite nicely. He suggested that I try to use CERP (Commander's Emergency Response Program) money for this.

I went and looked up the permissable uses for CERP funds, and sure enough, it was forbidden for this type of thing. I had $263 to last me until the next pay-day. I kept $20 for a haircut and a couple of coffees at the shop - I converted the rest into afghani and stuffed it into an envelop.
I took the smoothest local interpreter I could find to the meeting. Adjmal ("call me AJ") understood exactly what I needed - I had told him that I would probably run out of the right words to say, and if he could fill in the appropriate gaps, I would be thankful.

It was worse than I thought. I met the family at the district government center, thanks to the hospitality of my friend the district attorney, Kabir Ahmad. The widow came in with all six children, ranging in age from 2 to 13. Her male relatives had accompanied her and stayed with us, as well as the local police commander (a distant cousin of hers). I ran out of things to say in about 2 minutes. I offered her the envelop and she took it, proceeding to break down weeping right after. AJ was as good as his word, and he very respectfully finished addressing everyone. Many times the men in the room nodded their heads and told me "tashkur" (thank you). Having conveyed the Base Commander's condolances, I had to get out of there.

When I got back I spoke to the Deputy Commander, and he asked in a rather startled manner if I had used CERP money like I had mentioned. I told him I couldn't so I just used some of my own. He said something to the effect of "aw, dammit John why didn't you ask the rest of us to help." I told him that I didn't have time and not to worry about it. Naturally, he told the next staff meeting what happen, embarassing me greatly, and I got hit with a blizzard of $10 and $20 bills and "why didn't you say anything" questions. I still can't explain why I didn't, not to this day. I ended up turning all the money they gave me into afghani and keeping it aside just in case something like this came about again (it did).

3 months later, an official Solatia Program was developed, and some funds made available for it. It was aimed more at those who were working on our behalf, employed at bases, killed while assisting us - but it was a smart thing to do regardless of who it was meant for.

I am not sure why I was remembering all this last night as I tossed and turned. Thanks for letting me throw that out there and vent a little bit.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I Understand It, I Just Want It To Go Away

Common Cold. Bleah.

Cold treatments recommended in have been properly tested and found to be effective. Their side effects are known and are acceptable for treating a mild illness like a cold. They include the following:
Older antihistamines ("first generation")Nonsteroidal antinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)Decongestants (vasoconstrictors)Cough suppressants (narcotics)Anticholinergics (ipratropium)

I didn't see tea in their list... darn it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Rocket Attack in Assadabad

Talib remnants hit a school. Note the weasel language the AP uses - people who blast a school with rocket fire are simply "militants". I suspect the people who came running up to the school to find their children dead might have a different term or two for those bastards.

Perhaps "murderer" قاتل

Maybe "killer" كشنده

[map from the BBC]

UPDATE: From the comments, courtesy of jamie:

Interesting passivity on the part of the AP reporter: "A rocket exploded..." "The rocket landed..." Even the one tiny para where the writer actually allows someone to lay blame - to wit, this -"Hasan blamed Taliban insurgents for the attack and accused them of targeting the school as part of the rebels' campaign against government-sponsored education."- even that paragraph steers well clear of blaming the insurgents for the deaths, only the "attack" and for "targeting," not hitting, the school. This lapse is explained in the next paragraph on, where the reporter points out that they usually miss. Feh.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Just Chillin' in Charikar

Not Lazy Muncie, but maybe Relaxed Charikar... "Straight out of Charikar, Province of Parwan, we start our day off with a little bit o' jawin'..." Ok, maybe not.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Another Army Author

Now the Inner Prop is the Official Miserable Donuts Author (Running Dog's papers are academic, so pipe down over there, I'm talkin' fiction here...).

For a look at another Army Author Of High Talent, Check Sgt Hook out. Start with this post. Then go look at his link to Jackie O'Shea. You'll see what I mean.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday News o' Afghanistan

"I read Arthur Chrenkoff. I have corresponded with Arthur Chrenkoff. You, sir, are no Arthur Chrenkoff..."

Ok, I know, I know - this will not be anything close to Arthur's "Good News From Afghanistan".

Be that as it may, here's some news from Afghanistan that you may not have heard - good, bad and in-between:

Progress in Bahlk, and in a manner that is doubly good.

As I have harped upon many times before, mines keep hurting people in Afghanistan. Here is a story about one group of the injured.

If you think I am slightly obsessed about mines - spot on. I hate what is happening in Afghanistan because of them. We keep ending up having to do things like this.

President Karzai speaks about the case of the convert.

Afghanistan shows that it is more sophisticated politically than people might think. The Parliament is sticking it in Karzai's ear, just a bit. Confirmation of cabinet members, heh.

The Taliban remnants show their true care and concern for the country.

"Everyone prefers her own country" More people returning home.

The Afghan military aviation community starts its rebirth!

Here is an excellent site to find more news sources.

Hope this helped you get a little idea of what is going on in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter JAF for this one

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Afghan News Round-up

CSM Bones, despite having internet access issues at the moment, is still a keen observer of the Afghan scene. He has relayed to me several interesting items, varying from IRIN to Reuters to YahooNews. I figured he was on to something. So starting tomorrow, I will be posting a regular link fest o' news sources and individual articles regarding Afghanistan.

Not quite Arthur Chrenkoff's wonderful series "Good News From Afghanistan". More like "The Hastily Assembled Major John Linky Love for the 'Stan". It will be comprised of good, bad and in-between stories.

Here's a start for you.

Afghan service of IRIN

CSM Bones Needs You!

The CSM is experiencing some Internet access problems, so I will pass along a request of his.


Lt Gov Quinn asks that all Illinoisians that support the "Let Them Rest in Peace" Act to sign this online petition:

This request was made by the Illinois chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders, their motto is "Defend Those That Defended Us".

I realize there are excellent arguments regarding free speech and privacy - they cut both ways. Please go and see what the petition involves, and make up your own mind.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Workin' for a Living in Charikar

Here are some scenes from working life in Charikar, capital of Parwan Province, Afghanistan. I really like Charikar, and for some odd reason, I have been thinking about it a lot the last couple of days.

Remember the Central Asian Child Labor Law - Children shall labor, that is the law.

Think of this fellow next time you have your bicycle repaired - bet you haven't hit the kind of holes he has to repair damage from...

When you go to Home Depot and pull a board of the shelf, it doesn't seem remarkable does it? well, in Charikar, if you want a piece of lumber of a certain size, it has to be hand plained that way.
  • Wikablog - The Weblog Directory

  • My blog is worth $60,970.32.
    How much is your blog worth?