Wednesday, April 30, 2008

To Mrs. Exnicios

Phone and gmail are having issues...sorry I disappeared, have a great night, and I'll talk to you tomorrow!



MBA Case Studies: Where are they now--Biopure

Oh Biopure, you so crazy...

Money Quote: "Moreover, the analysis of Biopure's experience, based on pooling of heterogeneous trials, we believe to be significantly flawed as it fails to meet the homogeneity criteria of meta-analysis, thus invalidating the conclusions."

I agree wholeheartedly with Biopure's stance on the homogeneity of their meta-analysis, I really do...but I just don't think it's in the cards for everyone's favorite blood-substituters.

Sorry, Biopure. I was pulling for you.

Johnny Dawkins to Stanford

I completely forgot to mention this earlier.

Really Johnny, anywhere but Stanford would have been OK. The Cardinal, Johnny? The Cardinal?

I think my head might explode...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NFL Draft Recap

The Redskins drafted approximately 26 Wide Receivers and Pass Catching Tight Ends in the 2008 NFL Draft. Hopefully none of them turn out like 50th worst draft pick of all time Michael Westbook.

Not one of the receivers the Skins picked, incidentally, was named "DeSean" or "Lavelle". Instead, the Skins took a dude from U$C. What's up with that?

Monday, April 28, 2008

For those of you counting at home...

Here are a few numbers to brighten up your Tuesday morning.

I've been mobilized now for 311 days (Which is of 60-70% of my overall least when you count in the most generous way possible).

I've been "at war" for 129 days (Which is 40-50% of my total time downrange).

If you exclude my mid-tour leave (I get a 2 week holiday during the deployment) the above %'s get even higher.

Despite my long hours, I've found time to read a not completely embarrassing total of 9 books (About 3400 pages).

And I think that's about it for now. Slowly but surely we're getting through this. April is almost done, and it's about time to show May how this is done.

The passage of time

If it seems like things are starting to repeat themselves, I think that's because they are.

I suppose if you want to be all technical about it I've only been at this Army 2.0 stuff for a little more than 10 months, and we won't get to the real, actual repetition until the end of June...but at the same time, some things are beginning to cycle.

For instance--I just finished my (presumably final) Army Physical Fitness Test. You're supposed to take one every 6 months (I hadn't since July, at the beginning of the CAQC) so assuming I'm all wrapped up with my war-fighting by the end of October, I should be in the clear.

I celebrated this last-ever event by performing at a level that far exceeds previously probed depths of mediocrity. I did the whole "do 10 repetitions above the minimum and stand up" routine on push ups and sit ups, and I paced a slower co-worker on the run. All told, I scored an epicly average 230 on the test--if e'er there were a fitting end to my army fitness career, this was most certainly it.

I'm continuing the celebration now by taking advantage of my earlier than usual wake up time (did I mention we started this thing at 0500!!!???) by catching up on a little much needed blogging.

Now, if I can only avoid going to the M16 qualification range for the next 5+ months all be set...

Of all the things to complain about...

Check out this video of a soldier living in the "deplorable" barracks at Fort Bragg.

Now, I lived in said barracks for about 4 months last summer. As usually seems to be the case, I had a slightly less tragic perspective on things than this guy.

Honestly, of all of the things I can complain about my Army 2.0 experience, having a barracks room that had been ravaged by vicious venetian-blinds hating Gnomes is no higher than 8th or 9th on that list. It just comes across (to me) as whiny. It's the Army, after all...where's the fun if you're not suffering at least a little bit?

p.s. The only truly annoying part of this incident is the commander coming on and claiming they had no idea how shitty the barracks are...I don't buy that for a Bagram Airfield minute. Those barracks have been in use by mobilizing and de-mobilizing soldiers for more than a year, and trust me, this is not the first guy to complain about the broken lights, lack of hot water, exposed ventilation, etc.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Why isn't the Army broken?

Interesting blog on the Post that asks the above question.

Be sure to read the comments to get the full story, as several mildly well informed people chime in to say their piece.

Unless a new comment has popped up since I initially read this, no one has yet uttered the "I" word, but all of us around these parts know what's up.

Seriously, Wilco? Seriously?

Wilco is playing Fairbanks this summer.

For those of you who don't know, I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska from November 2001 until November 2003. It was an interesting time in my life--first time in the Army, first time a long way from home, and first time completely cut off from the "real world" due to the geographic absurdity of my location (this deployment being the second).

Needless to say, we didn't get a lot of live music acts worth checking out up there. Occasionally someone worthwhile would drop by Anchorage, and just to give you some perspective, we would strongly consider driving the 365 miles through mountain passes filled with snow/ice/treachousness to get there.

We had one sorta-music venue in town--the Blue Loon--which also doubled as the dance club, art house movie theater, Jaegermeister dispensery, home of the only Galaga machine in the city, and the place where crappy comedians would perform their crappy comedy. It's out on the edge of civilization on the west side of Fairbanks, and we all kind of loved it.

As many such places do, it has pictures on the wall of famous performers who had passed through their doors. And I kid you not, the most notable picture I remember is the Gin Blossoms, who had come through in like 2000, years and years after their peak.

And now, nearly 5 years after I bid Alaska farewell, they get Wilco. What the hell, Fairbanks? What the hell?

p.s. Looking through the Loon's summer lineup, it looks like Third Eye Blind is swinging through as well--now that's really more your speed, Blue Loon.

Invite Only IRR Blogs

Seriously Josh? You know that a lot of your traffic was coming from this site, don't you? Ah well...good luck with what you're doing.

And kidding aside, I think it's probably a safe move for Josh. I cut off blogging entirely during my CAQC time, and it wasn't because I wanted to. Josh is probably up against the same sort of restriction (I'd be shocked if they don't explicitly ban blogging now when you start that course, given all the drama surrounding my situation).

Anywho, if any of y'all are friends with Josh out there and see how's he's doing, drop the rest of us a line and let us know.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Matchbox 20

I'm sitting in an internet cafe on a military compound in Kabul, trying my best to chat with my wife and mind my own business, but I'm finding it difficult to concentrate.

It makes me think that there isn't enough work to go around when folks have time to practice their bad matchbox 20 covers**. And seriously, there is a courtyard full of soldiers singing along to "it's 3:00AM, I must be lonely!!1!"

I'm all for morale, welfare and recreation, but honestly...

**Putting aside my deeply held dislike of Matchbox 20, I should say that the band is actually quite good. And that it's cool that people in places like this have opportunities to do things that make themselves feel like they're in a place like home.

Remember back when I had a lot to say about Iraq?

From the day I received my IRR draft notice on 9/11/06 until sometime around August 2007, I was 99.99% sure that I was headed to Iraq.

As you all know, things didn't work out that way. I somehow lucked into basically the best job that could be hoped for, in Afghanistan no less, and I can honestly say that I haven't paid all that much attention to Iraq since I found out I wouldn't be heading there.

It's not that I don't care--I do--it's just that I've been pretty occupied with my current gig, and the problems of Afghanistan are fundamentally different than those of Iraq.

In general, I don't have anything particularly interesting to say about Iraq. People tend to ask soldiers' opinions on these things, and I tend to think that ours are the same as most other people's. I don't think that first hand, tactical level knowledge of the situation does (or should, at least) affect what one thinks about the overall political strategy and policy stuff.

Still...I'm curious to hear what GEN Petraeus and AMB Crocker have to say this week.

Back in Kabul

Just wanted to drop a quick note that I'm back in Kabul. And just like the last time I attended a conference here, I've taken ill. The last time (back in January) I brought home a cold that literally lasted for the entire month of February. Not cool, Zeus.

This time I ate some bad artichoke and came down w/ food poisoning.

I think God is telling me that he doesn't want me to a) goto Kabul, or b) attend conferences.

Sound advice, God...I'll consider it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Monthly Roundup and General Awesomeness--March 2008

Greetings from (briefly beautiful but increasingly rainy) Afghanistan!

Another month is in the books, and I have to say...March flew by more quickly than any month yet. I think this is largely due to how busy I've become (note the 2 weeks I stopped blogging mid-month). But I think that it's also related to the fact that (realistically or not) I can finally see the finish line.

That said, 6 months is still a long enough rambling, and on with the roundup!

First and foremost, Mrs. Exnicios and I would like to cordially invite everyone to save a date.

In other news...March brought with it a couple of new (and completely adorable) additions to the gallery--but neither could top my vote for favorite picture of the month, this shot of my happy reunion with Jeff and Chris!

Wait--did I say favorite picture? Because with all due respect to the baby, the puppy, and my buddies, this shot of me and noted johnny-come-lately Art Monk advocate Peter King might take the cake.

And hell, while we're at it--check me out kicking it in Bear Territory (not to be confused w/ my office in Afghanistan, which I've been told looks nearly identical). Thanks again to K/R, M/S, and N/K for this fantastic gift--3 weeks later and I'm still grinning ear to ear.

But sadly, March wasn't uniformly awesome as far as pictures go. As most of you remember, a certain star from a certain 1995 tour de force of cinematic triumphantness failed to show up at Bagram for his picture. Will I ever recover from this setback? Time will tell...

March turned out to be an eventful time for IRR content--I started the month with a roundup of fellow IRR bloggers, posted Kevin's farewell here, and I discussed the recently announced muster here.

Late in the month I spruced things up a bit here at the 2.0--I added a link to the sidebar for IRR specific content, the wedding/celebration announcement, and the history of the name Exnicios (something I know you're all dying to learn more about.)

And finally, if you've made it all the way to the end of the roundup (and I won't hold it against you if you didn't) check out my favorite post of the month, which share a couple of related vignettes. Be sure to read all the way through Colin's comments, which were really great, insightful and appreciated.

That's it for now. I hope everyone enjoyed, and I'll talk to you again next month!

Another farewell...

The IRR blogger world said goodbye to Kevin a couple of weeks back.

And today, I'd like to bid farewell to another one of the greats--Jason's Iraq vacation has come to a merciful end, and he is home in Philadelphia with his family. Congrats to you and yours, Jason. I hope that we haven't seen the last of you out here on the IRR-internets.

Jason closed out the blog on a happy note, but not before he laid into our friends over at HRC one last time.
In the quote below, Jason is referring to an article that appeared last month in Stars and Stripes.

Money Quote: "I guess it’s funny that despite years of honorable service, we were called up and treated like second class citizens for over a year. Yes, we are the dreaded IRR, and despite having a lifetime more experience than most of the people who thumb their noses at us, we’re still treated like second thoughts."

Sad but true.

We'll miss you Jason, and maybe we'll see you on down the line.

As for me? T-minus 200 days and counting...

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome to Bear Territory...Mike Montgomery???

Wow. This is like Rick Pitino all over again, except with two programs that have 1 men's NCAA championship between them (Go Bears) instead of 47.

For those of you who don't know, Coach Montgomery was at Stanford for years before an ill-fated try at the NBA. He's back in college, now, and I have to say...this could end up as a really great hire for the Bears. We shall see.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Different people react differently to the IRR...

I have to say, I'm not sure how many of you have been keeping up with Josh over at "To War & Back", but...let's just say the guy is having some trouble adjusting back to Army life.

That's completely understandable, of course, but and contrast his reaction to Fort Jackson to mine.

Me: Also, make sure I post sometime or other about how smart and saavy everyone here is--already had lots of good conversations with folks about technology, marketing, technology-marketing, and the like. Very impressed with my fellow soldiers.

Josh: Now for a little culture shock word association: chewing tobacco, "ain't", wood paneling and cinder blocks , bigotry, "chow hall"

The quotes are out of context, and Josh has his positive moments from time to time. But generally speaking, I think the culture shock is really getting him down. Still...taking pictures of your Harvard cap on the bed isn't help making him a more sympathetic character (not that it's my/your sympathy that he's aiming for).

And really, what's so bad about living somewhere where eating Chik Fil A three times a week isn't just accepted, it's encouraged? Come on--a pickle on a fried chicken sandwich? That's cause for celebration, not dismay. And when you get right down to it, Walmart, fast food, strip clubs and pawn shops...that's just America, man. No use getting too upset about it.

Bottom line--I think that Josh is sans peers, and it's hard to stay positive going through something like this without friends to share the experience with. I don't know how I would have made it through that place without my wife just a few miles up the road, and Jeff and Chris taking every lump I did along the way. We had each other, and that made all the difference in the world.

I hope things pick up for Josh, and his experience becomes more positive with time--because time is something he's got a lot of.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Don't tell me! There were two holidays. They work in pairs. I went to Berkeley for chrissakes!

Earth Day, you're up next.

Most popular post ever?

If you've got a moment, open up a browser and google "exnicios". A mere day after being published, "Exnicios--is that Greek or what??" is the 4th most relevant result on the entire interweb.

Take that, other Exnicios related content.