Saturday, April 24, 2010

This is certainly different...

So...I've now spent about a month and a half in Afghanistan. I've been in MRAPs (google it), I went thru M-16 and Counter IED training, and I've flown in C-130s and Chinook helos. I've been in rocket attacks, I've lived (and worked) in tents, and I'm currently sitting at a Dutch Cafe in the NATO base at Kandahar, enjoying stable internet and a non-cafeteria breakfast. Definitely the most interesting thing I've done. Played a little live poker with coworkers and other soldiers, but I don't yet have a consistent enough internet connection to try logging back into FTP or Stars. The cars have been the most interesting aspect of this adventure for me. You hear stories about how the Taliban uses mostly Toyota HiLux pickups...and it's true. Those things are everywhere. My company leases 8 or 9 of them for use here at Kandahar, along with older model HiLux Surfs (4Runners in the States), Prados (Lexus GXs in the States), and the occasional Land Cruiser. Half are LHD and half are RHD. Quite the culture shock to drive a stick shift from the wrong side. But back to the Toyotas. Even the military (US and others) use them. The Surf SUVs are the most prevalent NTV (non-tactical vehicles) used by everyone's personnel. It is definitely interesting. My thoughts aren't exactly coherent right now, and I'll try to put together a more rational post with pictures in the near future. For now, I'm ok, hot and dusty, but ok. Wish I could find a table to jump into, but I'll settle for getting an occasional blog post out. Take care world, and I'll post when I can.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm Still Here...Sort Of.

Wassup peeps? I have news. After 8 months of unemployment I finally got a job! Of course in this economy, it's not exactly the ideal position. I've always been an urban planner, and this job does entail planning. The wrinkle is that I'm working for a defense contractor (no, not Blackwater or Haliburton) doing planning for the expansion of several military bases in Afghanistan! I've received training in MRAP (like a Hummer on 'roids) rollovers, combat lifesaving skills, weapons training, and Counter-IED detection and avoidance. And there have been a couple of mortar attacks on the base since I've been here. All in all, I'm wondering just what I've gotten myself into.

I'm not sure how often I'll be able to post, but I'll give updates as often as possible. Being on the government network, there are a lot of web restrictions to deal with (I'm writing this on my BlackBerry), but I will be buying a netbook when I get to my main base. It's far from ideal and I miss DAPGF and the dogs terribly, but the economy hasn't given me any other options. Not sure if I'll be able to play poker online either, but I did bring a thumb drive with the Stars and FT clients on it. We shall see. Have fun out there!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's That Time of Year Again!

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! Bloggers can register for to play for free in the WBCOOP, if you don’t have a PokerStars account you can get your Poker Download here.

Registration code: 256744

Monday, January 18, 2010

Progress Update

What up, peeps? Here we are half-way through January, and there's not a helluva lot to report.

Employment - I burned through my initial award of unemployment insurance, and the State of California was kind enough to process another 3 months of unemployment insurance. I guess I can hold things at bay for a bit longer. I am still applying to jobs across the country (latest ones include: Ventura, LA, DC, Boston, Salt Lake City), but not having much luck. I did get a random email from someone who said she stumbled across The Randomness while Googling her real estate agent, read my last post where I talked about getting into computer/tech work, and told me about an entry-level opening at her company. So hopefully later this week she'll get me in touch with her manager and we can see what's up with that.

Poker - Honestly, I haven't really taken the time to play. DAPGF started a new quarter of teaching, and her school is doing this new hybrid online/in-class learning format. There's a whole lot of online work (discussion boards, online testing, etc.), and she has enlisted my help in figuring out a bunch of it. As such, a good chunk of my time has gone to helping get those things set up. But I do plan to hit the felt occasionally, as the B/R permits. And as always, the high- and low-lights will duly be reported.

Weight loss - My goal was 2 pounds per week. I haven't quite kept up with that, but over the past 2 weeks I was down 2 pounds. The weird thing is I made it to the gym the entire first week of the year, and I gained a pound. Because of DAPGF's school stuff and having to take the dog to a couple of morning vet visits, I didn't make it to the gym at all the 2nd week of the year and lost that one pound plus nearly 2 more. Don't ask me why, I don't know. So I'm trying (made it to the gym this morning), and we'll see what happens. On that note...

Music - The last 5 songs that shuffled up at the gym:

Atreyu - Blow
Pantera - Mouth For War
Authority Zero - Mexican Radio
Bad Religion - Los Angeles is Burning
Babylon A.D. - Hammer Swings Down

And on a final note, I have no idea just what in the hell happened to my Chargers yesterday. They just seemed lifeless, and Nate Kaeding was anything but automatic on fieldgoals. Sigh. Seeing how past seasons and players have gone, LT will probably get released by the Bolts and picked up by New England (see Junior Seau, Wes Welker, and Rodney Harrison). It's a shame, because this was probably his best shot at a Super Bowl ring with the Bolts. So let's see. Obviously I cannot root for the Jets. I despise all things Manning (click here for why). I've never been a fan of the Vikings, and despite the fact that he can obviously still play, Favre hasn't handled the whole "will I retire, will I sign with someone" drama in the best fashion. Which leaves me with N'awlins. I loved me some Drew Brees when he was in San Diego, when Rivers was drafted, and I was disappointed that they had to let him go. Granted, Rivers has worked out fairly well, but I do like Brees. So I guess I'm rooting for the Saints to go all the way! Go Saints!!

See ya out there!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Happy Freaking New Year!

Hey! New Year, New Blog Duds...you like? It took a while to find a template I like, which in a way relates to where my life is (or isn't) going these days.

I am still unemployed, but now that the holidays are past, maybe people will start hiring and I can start rebuilding my life. If I could transition into a new career and immediately make the money I've been making after more than 14 years in the same career, I would totally do so. Unfortunately, that isn't likely to happen. Still, the field of urban planning doesn't seem to have a really big future in the San Diego area, so it's looking like I leave San Diego or I start taking classes is something computer-related (hence the blog-template comment earlier). I'm pretty good with computers...installing and configuring hardware is reasonably easy, and I am able to figure out new software fairly quickly. I just have had no formal training in programming, networks, databases, and the like. Who knows...maybe I will luck out and find a job here in the San Diego area. It's a slim chance, but it would certainly be the easiest course of action.

Beyond the job hunting, I'm trying to make the most of my time. Organizing my finances is a joke, because with no income there's not a hell of a lot to organize. I am trying to structure my days in such a way as to allow me to blog and play poker more frequently. And I am trying to get into better shape by watching what I eat (more difficult to do on a mega-tight budget than you might think), and working out more consistently. The depression that has thus far been the monkey on my back is quite the demotivator, but I'm trying to shake it and regain control of my motivation and mojo. FWIW, I managed to make it to the gym the first 3 days of the year. I had to skip Monday and Tuesday because I had obligations related to my unemployment, but so far so good. For those readers who have followed me over from What Happened, I'm thinking of setting a goal of losing 2 pounds per week, measured Friday morning to Friday morning. Conveniently, January 1 fell on a Friday, so my start date is numerically significant.

I will also be talking about movies and music here, although I obviously can't afford to go to the movies right now. Most of you know that, while my first musical love is Metal in its various forms, I do listen to a bunch of different artists and genres. Driving home from my meeting this morning, the last five songs to shuffle up in the car were:

In The Mood - Robert Plant
Check My Brain - Alice in Chains
Center of the Sun - Conjure One
I Go Back - Kenny Chesney
Tooth and Nail - Dokken

Ultimately, I'm trying to take whatever control of my life I can. As much as you would think that not spending 8-9 hours per day in an office would give me that freedom, it's amazing how depressing a lack of money and identity can be. Still, I'm trying. Keep checking back, and I'll keep trying.