Monday, July 21, 2008

While I'm travelling...

...Everyone should take the opportunity to catch up with Mrs. Exnicios over at Really Nothing Special.

The wife has been churning out the content of late, in part because she has found herself with some extra free time of late. Lauren, you see, started her "terminal leave" from the Army a few days back. So, as of this writing, Lauren is no longer an active member of the United States Armed Forces. We're all very happy for her, and eagerly await her next move after nearly four years of service in the Army.

So, check here for a detailed breakdown of a bust first few days of Redskins training camp, check here for another potential Exnicios puppy (this one named Berkelely, no less), and check here for the latest goings on on Army Wives.

A Conversation of sorts...

Me: In the next couple of days I'll start the long journey home. As a reservist spending more than 270 days in Afghanistan, I'm eligible to take 15 days of "midtour" leave, and I'm taking advantage of that program to go spend some much needed time relaxing with my wife Lauren.

Faithful Readers: Midtour you, say? Aren't you almost DONE done at this point??

Me: It's true--as of today I've been playing at war for 212 days, leaving me somewhere around 70-90 days to go. If you figure that my leave will take about three weeks total (the travel time on either end of the leave doesn't count against my time) I will return to Afghanistan with +/- 2 months left of defending everyone's freedom. Pretty good stuff, no?

Faithful Readers: I guess...but when you head home, who will take up the cause of keeping America safe from the scourge of neo-global jihadism???

Me: That's a great question, but one that someone else will have to answer. Both the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates seem pretty intent on increasing the flow of resources to the fight in Afghanistan, so that's a good thing. Well, good in that this conflict deserves the attention. It's bad in that the candidates seem to be falling over each other to show how "unendurably shit-tastic" things are out here. As I've pointed out innumerable times, there are a lot of undeniable successes here to offset the obvious upticks in violence. That doesn't take away from the violence or its impact. But still, let's not go crazy like this guy did and imply that the US isn't building any schools--I can't even begin to tell you how many schools I've had the pleasure of working on.

Faithful Readers: Hmm? Are you still blabbing on? Why don't you go on leave already????

Me: Excellent suggestion, faithful readers. Have a nice few days, and I'll see you once I hit the ground in the States. I plan on posting an update or three while home, so no mid-June style lengthy absences are in the 2.0's future.

Talk to everyone soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Congrats to my Hollywood Friends

It turns out that more congratulations are in order, this time to my great friends Megan and Wade.

Pictured here in Venice, Italy holding up traffic to take one of the coolest non-baby pictures featured on the 2.0 in recent months, both Megan and Wade spent last year working on TV shows that received Emmy nominations earlier today. Granted, we're talking about the same Emmy's that bestowed two trophies last year on So You Think You Can Dance, but still--an award's an award, right?

Megan, incidentally, was the writers assistant for the criminally short lived Creature Comforts USA, which is up for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour).

Wade was and is the script coordinator for Saving Grace, the star of which, Holly Hunter, received a nod for best actress in a drama. I'm pretty sure that Holly gets nominated by default because she's really famous and she talks with that crazy mouth thing, but it's still an honor for the show.

Congrats again, guys, and thanks so much for the fantastic picture and only European shot in the gallery!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another List...

Not to be outdone by those stupid lists that pop up on the MSN home page, CNN has published its own list of "Best places to live". Waitta get in on the fun, CNN.

It turns out that a neighborhood where a couple of my good friends grew up made the cut--Hunter Mill, just outside of Vienna, VA, comes in at a cool 19th place.

And as another one of my friends points out, "there's no better place to live to see an R&B group 20 years past its prime with only one original member left play live music." (Hunter Mill is home to Wolf Trap, a local concert venue that specializes in Steve Miller and Earth Wind & Fire concerts).

Living in Hunter Mill will also gain you admission to the Longfellow Intermediate mafia, so it's got that going for it too.

Espn's TitleTown USA, or How I Allowed Another Stupid List to Annoy Me into Action

July isn't a good American sports month. Granted, the Tour de France is in full flight for those inclined toward cycling. And for you rugby fans out there, the Tri Nations action is sure to captivate every weekend.

But for the rest of us, all we have is baseball. Baseball is nice and all, but it doesn't suffice to fill the three hours a day of Sportscenter that ESPN has to pump out.

To fill that space, ESPN gives us TitleTown USA--a contest between 20 towns and cities in the US to see which is the most Title-tastic of them all.

Among the cities who didn't make the list of 20 finalists: Washington, DC (my home town) Durham, NC (where I did undergrad) and Berkelely, CA (where I did grad school).

It's not that I'm accusing the nice people at ESPN at purposefully conspiring to eliminate every city with which I have a meaningful sports connection...but the fact that Palo Alto and Chapel Hill both made the list of 20 isn't exactly putting those particular suspicions to rest.

Also, let's look at the logic used to justify which cities made the cut--San Francisco, in its justification essay, lists World Series won by the Giants in '05, '21, '22, '33 and '54. One problem, there, ESPN--the Giants were still in New York for each of those titles!

Let's compare SF, then, to DC. The Redskins have 5 world titles (two in the pre-Super Bowl days) which matches the 49ers 5 championships. Washington is also home to the 1978 NBA champs, the 1924 World Series champs, and (lest we forget) the 1998 NHL Eastern Conference Champion Washington Capitals. You can also throw in every title that Georgetown ever won (here's looking at you, 1984 NCAA men's bball champs). And really, as much as I don't like to, you should include the University of Maryland into the title mix as they're right outside of the city. I guess you can counter the effect of the 2002 men's and 2006 women's bball championships with the Bill Russell led USF title winners in the 1950s, but still, I maintain that Washington has far more of a claim to this list than SF.

Now, if SF were allowed to count adjacent Berkeley's 24 (count 'em, 24!) NCAA titles in men's rugby, then maybe they'd have a case. Cal's 17 (count 'em, 17!) crew national titles wouldn't hurt either. Neither would Cal's 14 men's water polo championships...I think you get the drift.

I'll refrain from complaining about Palo Alto (Stanford's various titles warrant a place on the list, no two ways about it).

Chapel Hill, on the other hand...Texas, Arkansas, LSU and OK State all have more national titles to their credit (rugby isn't included in this list...if it was, Cal would crack the top 8). Granted, none of these programs can point to as high profile a program as the UNC men's basketball team. But still...UNC? ESPN, I'm convinced, just wanted to add insult to injury for the Exnicios camp.

Last but not least, I should say that Durham's exclusion was probably justified. Duke's 9 NCAA titles can't compare to the big state schools (or Stanford). Ultimately, Duke has been hamstrung by an inability to win the big one, particularly in snooty, east coast team sports like lacrosse and field hockey. Making the final four consistently, Duke never quite turns the corner to take home the hardware.

Oh well...I think my rant is over now. Time for me to get back to work.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Congratulations to the Bardill and Bernstein Families!

My great friends (and frequent 2.0 commenters) recently welcomed into the world Abigail. Lauren and I couldn't be more thrilled for the happy family, and we're excited to say that we'll meet baby Abigail in a couple of weeks!

It should be noted that Abigail has made an appearance on the 2.0 previously--she's quite the sign holder, as you can tell.

Congrats again, guys, and thanks for the wonderful picture (which I'll post to the main signs gallery shortly). Love to you all, and we'll see you in a few weeks.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Me and Governor Sarabi

I don't know if I'll have another chance to meet with my friends from Bamyan, so I took advantage of the opportunity the other day to take a picture with Governor Habiba Sarabi.

I've mentioned the Governor and Bamyan a number of times here at the 2.0, and I wish continued success upon the province and the dynamic Dr. Sarabi. And why not, here's (yet another) link to me on a mountaintop in Bamyan. As you read all about the violence in other parts of the country, it's important to remember that a lot of Afghanistan is doing pretty darn well.

Here's a shot, by the way, of the Governor with Laura Bush last month.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Notes From the Homefront, Bailey the Cat #4: Through the Years...

I recently turned 7 years old. It was a nice birthday, though it would have been better if my Dad could have been here. I had salmon with my Mom. Mom says we can have more salmon when Dad comes home. I like salmon. Its pink, like my paws.

Birthdays are a good time to reflect on the past and I found myself doing that this birthday. When my Mommy rescued me, we lived in St. Louis. We lived in a small apartment on the first floor. It had a lot of windows and I could watch people and the birds in the trees outside. Sometimes people who walked by would say hello to me. It wasn't very big, but it had fun cabinets to climb. Sometimes I go to Connecticut to visit my grandparents. Grandma and Grandpa's house has stairs and a lot of windows. It also has other cats and dogs. I like Kelley, she is a fun dog to lay down and chill with. Copper is not as much fun, he barks and scampers everywhere. Minnie is my Grandpa's cat. She sometimes like to run and play and sometimes she gets mad when I try to look at birds in her window. Mom and I lived in Savannah, Georgia for a while. There was only one window there, but there was a tree outside the window and there were lizards who lived in that tree. I like the lizards, Mom did not. There were also cockroaches in Georgia. Again, those were things I liked to play with that Mommy did not like. In her defense, they were very big.

I think my favorite place we lived was Colorado. It was a big place with lots of stairs to run up and down. I had my own bedroom and there were lots of windows. I got to watch squirrels and birds. Sometimes there were kids and dogs in the courtyard. Mom would dogsit Sage who lived with Uncle Ryan. Sage was a good dog, she let me sleep in her dog bed, though she tried to cuddle with me too much. Kitties only like to cuddle on their terms.

Now we live in Virginia. Its good, birds visit our balcony and I get to watch them. I can watch cars and they drive down below. We live up high on the ninth floor. I've never lived that high before. There are no stairs, but there is hardwood floors that I sometimes slip on. Mommy thinks its funny. Mom says we are moving to a new place soon, with more windows and cherry trees outside our windows. I am tired of moving, but she says Dad will live with us at this new place and that's exciting. I miss my Dad, even if he thinks he can use my pillow.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Exnicios Redux

For those of you who haven't stumbled across this, the US Census bureau has published data on the most common surnames in America. Every name that appears at least 100 times in the 2000 census is included, some 100,000+ entires--and Exnicios didn't make the cut.

Exnicios, it would seem, is less common than Twehues, Sprofera, Wegscheider and Thongsavanh.

And honestly, I can see being beaten out by the Twehues clan...but those jerks from the Wegsheider family? Unbelievable! I don't know where those guys get off...

Monday, July 7, 2008

My Alma Mater Dear

Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA made an appearance in the headlines today with the WaPo's seemingly annual examination of the magnet school's affirmative action policies (or lack thereof).

It turns out that the newly admitted class has an Asian plurality--45% of the class is Asian, 42% is white. As the article points out, Fairfax County (where Jefferson is located) is approximately 16% Asian. The discrepancy bugs some folks, particularly in light of the lack of black and Hispanic members of the class.

Which reminds me, actually--there was a really well done piece on Affirmative Action and racial justice in the Sunday Times. Definitely worth a read.

Anyways, forget about the Asian about the Longfellow Intermediate plurality??? Seriously, like everyone I knew from high school went to that place.

One last (and unrelated) note to any WaPo editors who might be reading this--I strongly prefer "Jefferson" to "TJ". Jefferson sounds so much less nerdy than TJ, doesn't it? And honestly, we TJ Jefferson folk do a pretty darn good job at being nerdy on our own--we don't need the extra marketing push, thank you very much.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Theme Songs Redux

Over at Really Nothing Special my wife posted an interesting bit the other day on the power of personal theme songs--y'all should give it a read. And if you are wondering, yes, I choose not to judge her for her choice of "The Hills" theme music--I'm big like that.

Lauren puts forward Gavin DeGraws "I Don't Wanna Be" as my theme, and I have to admit, it's hard to argue with that. When I'm in the mood for irony tinged triumphantness (which happens pretty frequently) there's nothing better than the joyful absurdity of Mr. DeGraw's One Tree Hill theme song.

I would, however, offer two more contenders. The first song is for those earnestly triumphant moments (which happen fairly regularly as well)--"Echoes Myron" by Guided By Voices. The second song has long been my Friday afternoon "going home from my army job for the weekend" theme--"Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying" by Belle & Sebastian.


I'm Back!

As evidence for said claim I offer this picture of me and some contractor dudes celebrating the 4th of July with a BBQ and some NA beers. Awesomeness.

Happy belated Independence Day to all of my American friends out there. To the rest of the world, especially those fighting here alongside the Afghans, a happy day to you as well.

I realize that it's not very considerate of me to drop off the map whilst in a war zone, and I apologize for anyone who might have been worried that they hadn't heard from me in a while. I'm doing well, staying safe, and I'll leave for home (for R&R, not for good) in a few weeks.

Thanks for bearing with me in my absence, and I'll talk to everyone soon. A special thanks to my wife, Lauren, who fields the majority of the "Where is Andrew?" emails and calls. Thanks, babe.