Thursday, January 31, 2008

Friday Morning NBA Notes

First things first, congrats to Wade and the rest of the Wake nation, and to Lauren and the rest of the UConn faithful--Wake Forest (Duncan and Paul) and UConn (Butler and Hamilton) feature 2 "alums" each on this year's NBA all-star team (Duncan being the only "alum" in the "graduated from the school" sense of the word.

In other news: JJ Redick contemplates trade, is told to sit quietly and wait his turn. Or, you know, stop sucking so much at "defense" and "being atheletic". Makes you we have another Trajan Langdon situation on our hands here, or will JJ be able to find a productive niche in the league? Time will tell...but hey, at least there's poetry to fall back on, right JJ?

And finally, this is a bit outdated--but I never got around to giving Schindler crap about Mighty, Mighty Mike Dunleavey going off against the Warriors a few weeks back. Sure, the Pacers and Warriors split their home and home (the home team winning both games). And sure, the Pacers kinda really suck. But Dun-Dun played well in both games against the Warriors--21 pts, 4.5 ast, 9.5 rbs--and there was some small satisfaction in that.

Notes From the Homefront, Bailey the Cat #2: An Ode to Living Strong

Despite not mentioning it in my previous post, rubber bands are my favorite things. Well, maybe second favorite after wet food. But definitely my favorite thing with which to play. I do not really like thin rubber bands. They get crinkled into a ball or they break apart easily. They are kind of flimsy and not really my cup of tea. I like the thick purple rubber bands that come on asparagus.

Why are rubber bands so much fun? You can do a lot with them. You can bring them to your Mom and have her throw them. When she throws them you can either 1) watch it and wait to see where it lands, then run after it, 2) you can jump up really high and catch it in your paws or teeth or 3) you can jump up and bat it back towards your mom with you paw. I prefer 1 or 2, though sometimes 3 is a fun game to play. Once you catch it, you can carry it back to your mom for her to throw it again. Sometimes my mom gets lazy and insists that you bring the rubber band right to her, which can delay the game. My mom can get distracted too - reading a book, doing work or something - and I have to bring the rubber band to her and drop it on the book or the computer. Moms can be hard to train sometimes.

While they are not really rubber bands, I really like to play with hair ties and rubber bracelets. My mom tries to keep her hair ties from me, but after watching her a few times, I know when she gets in the shower, she takes her hair ties out and leaves them on the shelf by the medicine cabinet. So I wait for her to get into the shower and then jump on the toilet and can stand on my tip toes to reach the shelf. I think Mom figured that out, though, because she doesn't put her hair ties there anymore. My first rubber bracelet was a Livestrong bracelet. These are really good because they are a little heavier and can fly farther. They also slide across the wood floor really well. I have lots of them now. Though my mom "borrowed" my blue bracelet for prostate cancer to use at her and Dad's wedding. You can see it on her bouquet in this picture. Even though it was "borrowed" I never saw it again. My mom got me a new blue bracelet, but I still miss the old one. I had broken it in and really liked how it flipped in the air.

I hope you can come play rubber band with me some time. Its a fun and easy game that I think everyone enjoys. Oh, if you are visiting my mom, I'm the reason there are bracelets and hair ties all over the floor.

Bombings and other ill tidings

Things here in Afghanistan can be hairy these days.

The AP (via MSNBC) runs down the latest violence in this article.

All I can say is that in spite of all of that, we continue to go about the business of nation building with a great deal of enthusiasm and hope. We don't kid ourselves that "success" (whatever that means) is guaranteed. But incremental progress remains a reality, and a meaningful one at that.

I've had the chance recently to attend a number of conferences--last week in Kabul with the UN, and then this week here at BAF with US agencies (state and USAID, mostly). Everyone is realistic about the prospects here, and about how long the job here will take. There are no silver bullets or quick fixes. Some provinces are really on the up and up (Bamian and Panjshir, for example). Other provinces are struggling w/ violence.

It's interesting to read Jason talk about how easy it is to spend money in Iraq right now. Here in Afghanistan, we are not the main effort. We do not get resourced the way Iraq does. Money is being spent, and in a major way...but I think that all of the agencies involved (UN, State, military) would agree that there is a fixed resource pool here at the Forward Edge that all of us are grabbing at.

I am your father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate.

Not really...but as it turns out, my wife's boss's boss is the Aunt of none other than Jason of Jason's Iraq Vacation fame. The very same Jason, you ask? The very same indeed.

Crazy shit, right? I know! I'll save you the details of how exactly this connection was discovered, so for now I'll just say that we IRR types like to compare notes. Doing so helps us make sure we're all being treated more or less equally as our nation continues its benevolent quest to stamp out neo-global islamo-fascism in all of it's many forms. Benevolent quests can be awfully distracting, and the last thing we need is an Uncle Sam so caught up in the every day business of terrorist eradication that he forgets to give one of us our terminal leave, you know?

Back to Jason...I'm never sure exactly how much people utilize the links on the right side NavBar of this page, but if you haven't been checking Jason's blog lately, you've missed a lot of great content. The 2.0 linked to Jason back in July, and the posts have been flying hot and heavy since then.

One of my favorite recent posts was his list of letters from school kids
...I've seen my share of these letters as well, and they're priceless.

Not as priceless as certain open letters written by our young patriots back in the Show-Me state--but still, pretty darn priceless.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Countdown to Freedom

It was brought to my attention last week that my previously stated "federal holiday countdown" was at best overly rosy, and at worst downright rude to all those other holidays (at least one of which is there for me to shower love upon my beautiful wife Mrs. Exnicios.)

In an effort to show that no one is above the law here at the 2.0, I have made the decision to modify the countdown to include not 8, but 16 separate holidays on my plywood wall of holiday decorations. So far, we're three down--but there are still 13 holidays to go.

Guess Who's Back? And from Kabul, no less?

There's been a serious case of reticence here at the 2.0 these last few days, and for that I apologize. But there's a good reason for it, I swear! Don't believe me? Then check out these pictures of me gallivanting about places in Afghanistan that aren't named Bagram Airfield!

That's right, I left the comfortable confines of my daily routine here and headed south to Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. I traveled there to attend a conference with the United Nations Assistance Mission Afghanistan (UNAMA), the UN's main effort here in the 'Stan.

Before I get on with the post, a few notes about people who work for the UN.

1) They are all enormously articulate. Too articulate for their own good, articulate. Listening to them speak, I found myself questioning the mastery of the English language I'd always given myself credit for.

2) All UN employees speak in vaguely European accents. Of the two main dudes who spoke, I would have sworn that one was British and the other Scandanavian. Turns out that the one I thought was British is from Denmark, and the guy I thought was Scandanavia is from Canadia. I found this enormously confusing, but impressive all the same.

At the conference we discussed a number of issues facing the Afghan people. As is the case at these things, talks focussed on issues of governance and development, aid and security. Relationships were forged, and alliances struck. Problems were identified, and we all agreed that fixing the problems would be a keen idea. The "how" of that whole process, now we didn't exactly have time to get to that. But trust me when I say that we'll do everything within the power of our vaguely European accents to make the how happen.

And for now, I'll leave you with a few more pictures--not of the conference itself, more to follow on that. But here are some shots of trip, I hope you enjoy.

#1 and #2: The Afghanistan country side as seen from inside a helicopter

#3: Cigarettes for sale at the Kabul Intl Airport don't actually want you to smoke them

#4: Our hero eating a Jungle Curry at the Thai Restaurant at the Kabul Intl Airport

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Notes from the Homefront, Lauren #1: An Introduction

I hate flying. I used to have to do it a lot - one of the "bonuses" of long distance relationships is the frequent flier miles one accumulates. Its not so much the flying I hate - I'm not a real white knuckle flier. (Now I have no desire to have any flight result in disaster, but I know I've discussed the possibility of me dying first with Andrew and he knows that he must mourn me forever and live his life as an everlasting tribute to me. But I digress.)

What I hate about flying is the entire process - driving to the airport, parking, shuttle to the airport, checking in, people ignoring open check in kiosks, standing in line at security, people refusing to take their shoes off, people claiming that perfume is not a liquid, juggling everything in socks at the other end of security, finally getting to the gate, only to wait for delays.

But lately, I haven't hated it quite as much. I think I realized this change in attitude at Christmas. I was flying to Connecticut to see my family and thinking about how long it had been since I had been a regular flier (basically since I left Colorado this summer). I started thinking about what flying used to mean and I realized that I used to have all these negative feelings towards the act of flying because it would take so long - I always saw it as a delay to get where I was trying to go - to visit Andrew.

To me, if I could just check in five minutes faster, or get through security without delay, I would be able to be with Andrew sooner. While going to CT this year was great and having my family so close right now is such a blessing, I was really sad on that Christmas flight when I started realizing that Andrew wouldn't be waiting for me at the other end.

We were never one of those flowers at the airport couples - but I would always text him "on the ground" as soon as I could turn on my cell phone when the plane landed. He'd always call me and let me know where he was and we would talk to each other as I wound my way through the airport terminal, trying to reach the security point. There would always be the moment when we first saw each other - usually while still on the phone with each other - and all those pains of flying - the hassles of the shuttle bus, the security line, angry babies on the plane - it wouldn't matter anymore because Andrew was there and we got to be together, even if only for 48 hours.

Every time, throughout our two and half year dating relationship, my stomach always flipped a little when I saw him waiting there for me and I often had to keep myself from running towards him in some cinematic moment. So on that flight to CT, it made me really sad to know he wouldn't be there - wouldn't be there for the next ten months of flights. And even if that makes me less anxious in security line, I would be so happy to go back to be a cranky flier if I could know that Andrew would be waiting for me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Day 2008: Undeterred in My Celebration of Progressive Politics and Civil RIghts

On new year's I revealed my plan to create a living, breathing, holiday-commemorating calendar to help mark the passage of time here at the Forward Edge.

Today, of course, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Decoration wise, I was shooting for "something Duke, Cal, Redskins or Lauren related that also evokes the memory of powerful oration and civil rights leadership."

And while I never did get any suggestions from my loyal readers, I managed to throw something together all the same.

So be like Oski, everyone, and celebrate MLK, bald eagles and freedom.

Happy Holiday, and I'll see you tomorrow w/ stats, Weeks 3/4: WRUAGA, and a very special guest blogger.

I should also say--with Xmas, New Years and MLK knocked out, the only thing standing between me and home is Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and possibly Columbus Day! Holiday wise, I'm 3/8ths complete!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Laser, Rocket Arm #1: A fitting farewell from Faith...

Completing the trifecta of captains/recent MBA grads/IRR call-ups, I'm Andrew's friend, Chris. I apologize for delaying my debut, but like Andrew and Jeff before me, I am finally getting to experience the joys of FOB Patriot, Ft. Bragg. I am also heading to Afghanistan but will be a CA team leader on a Provincial Reconstruction Team (more to follow about this in the future).

In my first blog post (that's right, my first, so CAQC monitors - you can stop searching for my secret blog), I thought I would share a tale from my last night in the comforts of the Faith Barracks.

The Faith Barracks were home to Andrew and I our entire time in Ft. Bragg (minus FOB time), so needless to say, they hold a special place in my heart. Sure the the heat might not always work or in some cases work too well, but this has been my IRR home away from home. It wasn't Jeff's luxury skyscraper, but it was briefly home and I thought Faith and I got along pretty well. At least I thought we did...

During my last night before moving out to the FOB I was up quite late packing. I had slowly been getting everything ready but I definitely underestimated just how much crap you can accumulate in 6 months. Around 3 am I was finally putting the finishing touches on everything. I had to be up at 5 am, but I was ready to drift off to sleep.

That's when Faith decided to intervene. In a very fitting conclusion to that chapter of my mobilization (and par for many of the IRR mafia's experiences at Ft. Bragg), the fire alarm went off.

I don't know if there is anyway to describe the Faith Barracks' fire alarm as anything but the loudest and worst sound I have ever heard in my life. It physically hurts your body, not just your ears. This is valuable when trying to evade a fiery death, but not such a good thing when trying to squeeze in the last couple hours of sleep you will have in an actual bed for a while.

My first thought was that Joe (slang for lower-ranking enlisted soldiers when they screw up) had gotten drunk and decided that pulling the fire alarm sounded more fun than Halo 3 or Rock Band. Then I smelled and saw smoke pouring out of the ventilation.

I never did find out what caused the smoke. I suspect the goons from the Holland Barracks. All I know is that 5 fire trucks (one of which is pictured above by my masterful photography skills) and 90 minutes later, I was allowed back in my room. I'm not sure if I fell asleep but as I laid there I had to laugh at Faith's farewell to the IRR.

Friday, January 18, 2008

ATTN: Hong Kong Readers

I was browsing through some traffic statistics for the 2.0 last night, and I discovered that the country that has visited this site the second most times (after the US of course) was Hong Kong.

Out of curiosity--could my HK readership come forward and show themselves? I used to have family there (my Aunt Carol and Uncle Jim) but for the life of me I can't think who is visiting me from HK these days.

HK can you hear me?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On a More Serioius Note...

These stories are a bit played out at this point, but last month's Washington Monthly spends a couple of thousand words trying to explain why the Army is bleeding junior officers. Some of the criticisms are a bit unfair and outdated (we've gotten a lot better at counter-insurgency in the last 4 years), but the general thrust is pretty spot on.

In case you don't really feel like reading the entire thing, let me summarize:

1) Talented Army captain with impeccable credentials (West Point, Georgetown) left the Army over disillusionment w/ senior leadership and not enough time to spend with his impeccably credentialed (UVA, private equity) young wife

2) 98% promotion rate from Captain to Major, where in the past this jump was used to filter out the lower 25% of the officer corps

3) In the long term the Army's senior leaders will be of a lower quality, in the short term there aren't enough junior officers to staff the proposed expansion of the military

Great Moments in California History

In business school they have these things called Case Competitions. Basically, you get together at someone's school, and students organize a competition that pits universities against one another before a panel of industry judges. More than anything these are (like so much in business school) networking events. You meet the judges, and hopefully impress them, and you meet a bunch of students at other schools interested in the same industries you are.

I had the pleasure of competing in one such competition: The Open MIC--Music Industry Case Competition at UT, Austin in the spring of 2006.

As you can imagine, my team won. Like, whoa--we won pretty big. So big, that they had to give us an oversized novelty check in the hopes of immortalizing all that bigness (mission accomplished if you ask me.)

I bring this all up because the IRS just informed my wife that I failed to pay like $200 of tax last year on my portion of the prize money. Who knew that Case Competitions had tax implications??

My financial irresponsibility aside, the weekend I spent in Austin with my teammates and friends was one of the best I had in 2 years of grad school. I'd prefer to reminisce without forking over $200 bucks to Uncle Sam, but still. Great, great weekend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

California Dreaming: a Biannual Update

It wasn't that long ago (17 months, to be exact) that I was a lot more concerned with mp3's and Cal Bear's football than I was with nation building and ways forward.

Being here at the Forward Edge changed all that, but music and all things Cal still matter to me a great without further ado, it's time for my every-6-months update of the digital media business!

My once (and future?) employer has struck another blow in the online music wars, announcing a deal w/ Sony/BMG to distribute DRM free mp3s on Amazon's digital music store.
For those of you keeping track, this makes it all 4 majors for Amazon, and only 1 for iTunes. Interesting times, these.

Meanwhile, on the football front, DeSean Jackson surprised absolutely no one by declaring for the NFL draft after a disappointing junior campaign that saw the Bears lose 6 of 8 games down the stretch. Sigh. Better luck next year, fellas. And good luck in the pros, DeSean.

And one more note while I'm at it...I completely missed the fact that my alma mater dear, The Haas School of Business, was ranked 2nd in this year's WSJ MBA rankings. Second?? Gosh darn right, second.

Granted, any survey that ranks perennial powers Harvard and Stanford out of the top 15 is slightly suspect, but hey, the WSJ rankings are legit. I'll take it.

In closing, I really do miss all of my California friends tremendously...Tom and Anna and Oski (pictured above), Schindler and Kyle and Nate and Matt and other Nate and Dauber and Eric and Dan and Nick and Nick and Rhonda and Megan and Wade and Pam and April and Seth and Andy and Andy and Bryan and Brian and Simona and Colin and everyone in DMEC and in HSA and Dan/Amy/Julia and Steph/Pete and all of my awesome professors and all the 08ers and 06ers and...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Notes From the Homefront, Bailey the Cat #1: An Introduction or: An Ode to the Relative Merits of Non-Dry Cat Food

My name is Bailey Lynn Doyle-Exnicios. As my mommy says, thats a big name for a little kitty. I am orange. The vet once called me "red" but I think like most vets she was crazy. I am clearly orange. Here is a picture of me. As you can see, clearly orange.

My days are pretty busy. I have to wake mom up every morning. I think she forgets she has to feed me. When I can finally get mom out of bed, I follow her around to be sure she understands what she is supposed to do - give me wet food as soon as possible. After eating my wet food, I watch birdies on our balcony. Mom goes to work, and I like to take a morning nap in the sun. Then I usually move to the bedroom and take a nap on the bed. I'll stop back by the kitchen for some food and water. Then I nap until mom comes home. When she comes home, I like to scratch my scratching post and then ask my mom for more wet food. I only get wet food in the morning and crunchies at night. Mom and Dad say that crunchies are delicious. As you can tell in this photo, I do not necessarily agree. But I like to ask anyways. I help mommy cook dinner, and then usually help her eat it. Then there is cuddle time and mom scratches my cheeks until we go to bed. Its a lot to handle in one day sometimes.

My dad is away right now. Actually he's been away as long as I've known him - he comes and visits and sleeps on my side of the bed. Then he goes away. Even though he takes my pillow, I like it when he is home. It's another person who can feed me. My dad can't visit right now because he's deployed, my mom says, but he will live with us forever when he gets back. Which is a lot for my little kitty head to understand, so I just cuddle with my mom instead of worrying about it. This is a picture of me and my dad and my mom. Mom is sad too that Dad can't visit us right now. I give her kisses and sleep next to her to keep her company. Dad said it was my job to do that, and I think I do a pretty good job.

Here is a picture of Mom and me watching the Redskins game. I'm not a huge sports fan because when mom and dad watch it they tend to yell and jump around and I enjoy kitty nap time more when it is quiet.

So that's me, Bailey. If we ever meet, please remember that 1) I am orange not red, 2) I like wet food not crunchies, 3) I do not like my belly rubbed but enjoy having my cheeks scratched and 4) I enjoy quiet kitty nap time.

Week 3: BAFL Stats

Another week has passed, and as is our practice here at Army 2.0, it's time to crunch some numbers.

Of note this week, I finally managed to read a book that is NOT part of Oprah's Book Club. Pretty amazing, I know. "No Country For Old Men" is of course written by Cormac McCarthy, the same author as OBC selection "The Road". As befits something written by McCarthy and filmed by the Coen Brothers, NCFOM was a thoroughly compelling read. Thanks to Lauren who very thoughtfully ordered the book for me from Amazon.

Also of note, I nearly duplicated my previous week's effort at the gym. In fact, the run number there is a misprint--I actually ran 15 miles this week.

Now, a lot of you are probably asking yourself--why all the talk of workouts and fiction reading? The Army wouldn't train you up, uproot you from your life, and send you all the way to the Forward Edge of Freedom just to read and run and get your swell on, would it?

Of course they wouldn't. But I have been very disciplined in making the best use of the small amount of leisure and free time I've had. That sliver of my day is fixing to diminish here shortly, as I assume some new responsibilities that will likely keep me busier still.

That's a good thing, though. Being busy helps make the time go by faster. Here's hoping I still have time to update the stats, at least. Defending freedom and promoting the rule of law might be important and all, but without BAFL Stats, is any of it really worthwile?

I'll let you chew on that for a bit, and I'll holler at you all soon.

BTW, more guest bloggers coming right around the corner!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Gallery of Folks with SIgns

I've been having a lot of connectivity issues these last few days, so I apologize for the minimal posting. I owe everyone a BAFL update, as well as a weekly roundup, and I intend to get to both post haste.

For now, though, I'm proud to introduce another new feature (in a week of new features)--the Army 2.0 Guest Book.

The guest book is a compendium of photos that I have received while deployed depicting friends and family members holding signs and giving shout outs. And by compendium I mean two. But that's a good thing--I'd love to eventually get pics from each of you, but we don't want them all to flood in at once. For starters, I only have so much bandwidth here at the Forward Edge. Beyond that, I can't cash in all of my good will at the same time, or how would I get through the dog days?

This is a long deployment yet, even three weeks in, and I need to spread out the fun so that we can keep things fresh here at 2.0.

Love to all, and see you soon with the stats.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Army 2.0 Presents: Guest Blogging Awesomeness


The long promised moment has arrived, as Jeff becomes our first of four, count 'em, four guest bloggers!

Why guest bloggers, you say? I'm glad you asked.

In my opinion, our little story here at the Army 2.0 can be summarized as follows. Boy meets IRR. IRR falls in love with boy. Boy gets dragged kicking and screaming away from boy's girl off to the IRR's secret lair of love...and in the process, boy meets other boys who were similarly ensnared. Boy all of a sudden doesn't feel quite as bad about everything, eventually gets back together with girl, and all of the various boys and girls go on to fame and fortune as Investment Banking Internet Consultant millionaires.

So ultimately, I don't think that I can tell the story that I'm trying to tell here at Army 2.0 w/o bringing Jeff and Chris back into the fold. Our stories might have diverged for the time being, but the tales are inextricably linked all the same.

And as the girl left behind probably has the biggest say of all in this whole process, look for notes from the homefront to move out of the comments and onto the front page in the not too distant future.

Plus, this way I can post way more content with way less work. Laziness is awesome.

Enough of my blathering...go read Jeff's post!

Update--here are the rest of our exciting guest bloggers for your enjoyment!

Bailey's posts--we learn about why LiveStrong bracelets and wet cat food play a vital role in our nation's Global War on Terror.

Lauren's post--a love letter from my beautiful wife that I probably don't deserve.

Chris's post-- we say goodbye to an old friend in style.

**Photo published upon request of future guest blogger, Mrs. Exnicios.

Sultan Jeff's Stuff to Say #1

Greetings! I'm Andrew's friend, Jeff. I'm writing from beautiful FOB
Salerno...approximately 12 miles from the Pakistan border in the province of Khost (pronounced "Host"). The weather here is beautiful compared to the rest of the country right now. Fortunately for us Khost is in a lower elevation "bowl" surrounded by mountains that keep most of the bad weather out....and the humidity in (can't wait for the summer). So, unlike Andrew, I don't need a bobsled to get to work everyday. Anyway, I thought I'd share a little cultural anecdote I experienced recently in my first blog (I'm a little forgive me).

A few days ago I met a really nice guy named Mike. Mike invited me and the rest of the guys I work with to have lunch with a local friend of his, Lucky. A VERY friendly guy. He got his name by being the lone survivor in an IED attack. When he was pulled from his completely destroyed vehicle and found without a scratch on his body....they said, "Man, you're 'lucky'!" His friend, an interpreter, was killed recently by an IED. He's cooked us lunch TWICE (great cook)....and is so generous that he gave my boss and I our very own turbans. I found out later that black means Taliban. So, don't send this picture to the Dept. of Homeland Security....otherwise I may be going straight from here to Gitmo.

I hope everyone is doing well out there. God bless!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Way Forward in Afghanistan

It's been a slow week around the Army 2.0, as I'm sure many of you have noticed.

There isn't much to report tonight, either...but I thought I would pass along a link to an interesting article.

This analysis of the strategic situation in Afghanistan is lengthy (5000+ words) but comprehensive, and will serve as a good primer for those of you interested in the types of decisions we're facing here in Central Asia.

The article is written by Ali Ahmad Jalali, a professor at the National Defense University. The formating is a little wacky, but all of the numbers that seem like they're sections to an outline are actually citations. The footnotes are at the bottom of the piece.

I also like the article because in this picture Dr. Jalali looks like he could be a boxing promoter if he wasn't so consumed with "development" and "ways forward". I respect men who have options like that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I love my wife more than anything in the world

I'm also quite fond of Kellie, the bigger, cute looking dog.

I'm not as yet entirely sold on Copper, the smaller one. Cute but rascally, that's Copper. I have to say, though--it did mean a lot to me that he took the time to make a sign and have a picture taken.

Sadly, as I'm sure you all know, the Redskins lost this weekend. It was a sad end to a trying season, and now Coach Gibbs has retired from the team as well. Coach got us to the playoffs in 2 of 3 seasons, which when you get right down to it is pretty amazing. Coach basically got the Skins into the top third of the NFL for the first time since, well, Gibbs was coach the first time around.

All of this aside...I wanted to say again how truly wonderful Lauren is, and how lucky I am to have her in my life. Thank you, baby, for the wonderful picture with the puppies.

Love to all, I'll catch you tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Week 2 Roundup and General Awesomeness

It's hard to believe it, but I've managed to leave week 1 in the dust, and ring in the new year in style.

Other than the holiday, Week 2 was largely uneventful from a "stuff happening" standpoint. But "stuff happening" aside, this has undeniably been a helluva week on the blogging front.

This week saw a comment fueled explosion of interactivity here at Army 2.0, as the finer points of a certain photo inspired multiple follow up posts that ranged from virtuoso displays of Microsoft Paint Skills, to an analysis of my wife and mother's fashion sense that many critics are calling downright Freudian.

Just as exciting, we saw an old favorite rocket back to the Top of the Pops (I don't care what the Vietnam Vets say). As will always be the case, we ran the numbers for the week in our BAFL stats. And last but not least, I actually remarked on my role here in Afghanistan. It happened to be in a thoroughly vague, not that helpful way, grant you--but hey, it's a start, right?

That about sums up Week 2, I think, with more than a little awesomeness to go around. Best to all, and I'll see you tomorrow!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Week 2: BAFL Stats

Of note--I managed to avoid any and all fast food after a holiday splurge which was largely owed to Jeff's sudden removal from this base, and the assorted going away meals that ensued--"I love you dude, I don't know what I'm gonna do without you...let's go get some Pizza Hut."

Staying on the money front, you'll see that the Fat Cats over at AAFES only got $6 of my hard
earned paycheck this week, and that was because I needed a haircut. As much as I would like to spend the next 10 months trying to bring back the Berkeley look, bi-weekly haircuts will be a sad fact of life out here. Sigh...

Also of note--I have managed to avoid reading any books that are NOT part of Oprah's Book Club. But in my/her defense, both The Corrections and The Road were pretty great reads. The Road in particular...I'm a sucker for post-apocalyptic morality plays, but even still. The awesomeness of that book is difficult to thumb one's nose at.

Dad, Rasslin a Grizzly Bear in a Steel Cage

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Turkey and Stuffing: A Stunning Reemergence of Deliciousness

Those of you who've been with Army 2.0 since the early days will recall what an impact Turkey and Stuffing (capital T and capital S) had on my first few days back in the Army.

But after screaming into town like a banshee, Turkey and Stuffing were gone from my life with a whimper...

Sure, their was a Thanksgiving resurgence, but that's a cyclical thing--nothing notable about eating Turkey on the 4th Thursday of November.

Which brings us to the present. I didn't want to say anything after the first time I had Turkey and Stuffing here in Afghanistan. I felt like it was too early to broach the subject after the second and third times T&S were served (and consumed) at my friendly, neighborhood Dining Facility.

But today, after my fourth--count it--FOURTH T&S meal in a mere 2 week period?? Folks, I think it's safe to say that T&S are back, and they are here to stay.

Of course, a lot of the haters out there are going to say that the T&S Surge is a function of the holiday season...that my belly is happily filled w/ sleep inducing proteins and carbs because we're barely past the 12th day of Christmas, and the folks who serve us chow can't quite let go of the holiday spirit just yet.

To all of you out there, I say this: We can and will sustain the T&S surge as long as it takes. Those individuals who hate our Turkey and fear our Stuffing must either submit themselves to the inevitability of Turkeyocracy, or face the punishing consequences of our Stuffing-vengeance.

And know this, dear readers--I will continue to fight such hatred and ignorance here, at the Forward Edge of Freedom, so that you will never--and I mean NEVER--have to fight for your Turkey and Stuffing back home.

That's all I have tonight. Love to all, and look for stats tomorrow, and Weekly Roundup and General Awesomeness on Monday.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mark Makes a Good Point

Earlier this week, I posted this picture of my parents and my wife. As my father-in-law points out in the comments section, it's a little eerie how similarly my mother and wife are dressed. Hmm...

Happy Saturday, everyone! My internet connection wasn't working last night, which is why there was no Friday content. I'm considering moving the Weekly Roundup and General Awesomeness to Monday morning so that it doesn't get buried w/ the rest of the weekend content, but I'll let you all know.

Also of note--guest columnists, long hinted at and never delivered on, seem to be right around the corner. Oh yes, our writership pool is about to explode. Talk about General Awesomeness...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Work is Going Well

Now, I've had the pleasure of speaking with a number of you over email since I've been here, and a common question has been--"Hey Andrew, I know that your decoration scheme and statistic keeping are good to hook, but how the heck is your actual JOB going there in Afghanistan? And, because I think I must have forgotten--WHAT is your actual job there."

More to follow, but I can say this for now--I'm working in operations for my Civil Affairs unit, and things are generally going well. The nature of the job is such that I need to flush it out a bit more before I'm comfortable sharing (you've heard that before, I know) but I promise that I will, and I'll let you all know.

For the time being, know that I'm doing my part to stem the tide of neo-global islamo-fascism. And in the end--ain't that the most important truth of all?

Love to all, and I'll holler at you tomorrow--it's weekly roundup time, so watch out!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Down the River of Golden Dreams

Nothing much to report tonight. I've been listening to Okkervil River a lot lately, especially this album. Thought I'd share.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year Redux!

This is a picture that my parents and wife took on New Year's Eve. I really love it--Lauren looks beautiful, my parents look happy, and even though I already know how much they still means a lot that they put together something silly and cute like this for me. I guess it goes back to the troop greeters in Maine...I consider myself pretty darn cyncial about bumper-sticker-patriotism. But the fact is, knowing that people care about you and what you are doing is enormously important to us out here. More so, I'm sure, to the guys closer to the front lines than I am.

Happy New Year again, folks--I'll see you on 2 January!

Oh, and I almost forgot--anyone who would like to send me pictures of yourself in interesting places holding up signs, that would be pretty cool. I'll post all that I get, put a little gallery together. I think it might be a neat little guest book.

Happy New Year!

I hope that everyone is fresh after a night of getting to bed early and avoiding merriment, and I hope that as you read this you are sitting down at home about to enjoy a day of relaxation and football.

I'm about to call it a night for my holiday, but I wanted to leave you with a quick picture. This is the empty, fairly sad looking wall of my hooch...but, you can see that now there are two things on the wall, where before there was only one.

My plan is to use the wall as a sort of calendar, putting up a new decoration for each Federal holiday that I spend over here. The Duke stocking covered Christmas (thanks mom!) and the calendar of photos of me and the wife covers New Year's (thanks wife!). MLK day (nee Lee Jackson King Day to you Virginians out there) is still up in the air, so shoot me a line if you have a good idea for something Duke, Cal, Redskins or Lauren related that also evokes the memory of powerful oration and civil rights leadership.