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Any which way it goes.

I am now officially a proud home owner of a 1,400 square foot home in Phoenix, nestled against south mountain park. In this cozy home I’ve been told Jean-Luc has already claimed which room will be his. He is expecting me to be moving his stuff in about two months. In all that time I have to close out my work here in Afghanistan, demobilized in Germany, out-process and get some dental work done in San Diego, before I can fly home.

The dental work is not too complicated I hope. I lost one of my crowns while I was out here and they claimed that the army did not have the facilities in Afghanistan to do the surgery I needed. They subjected me to a series of fake teeth made from epoxy that broke after only two weeks. I finally found a relatively more permanent solution at a larger base. I now have another epoxy tooth, made of evidently stronger material, as it has lasted for several months.

My stop over in San Diego may be longer than the average because of the dental surgery. This extra time should give me a chance to go car shopping, though. I want to check out the dealerships that handle former rental cars. I bought my last nice car from Enterprise Car Sales and was very impressed with the quality. Common wisdom says that rental cars are driven harder and make poor choices for second owners, but I have found that they are exceptionally clean and meticulously maintained.

In other news, I’m forever trying to figure out what September to December is going to look like for me. I wont be attending regular classes at ASU, due to my mid-semester return. I want to take pre-calculus from Rio-Salado online. I have a conference to help run, a 4 week course in Colorado to attend. I want to go camping with GeoClub, stay up late with the Astro Devils, and build robots with SEDS. So, yeah, I’m trying to juggle a lot of calendar appointments. Any which way it goes, it should be fun.


The Knights of Afghanistan

Just another day in Afghanistan, fighting dragons and repairing my government issue chain mail. Check out the above video of these two historical reenactors. We have a lot of free time to develop hobbies out here. Some of us build things, or paint miniatures. So smoke cigars every night and a few play D&D. Then you have guys like this who take their playtime seriously. I have to hand it to these guys, they had some great showmanship for two people wrapped in leather and steel in 110 degree heat hitting each other with bats. Bravo.

TIME: Speaking of history, fighting and time in general, I09 had a great short article detailing “The first Time War“. It did exist, in the 16th century, in fact.

SONIC: What does it sound like to take the original 1963 Doctor Who theme and slow it down to a whopping 20 min. Its a sonic experience you have to hear to believe.

NASA:  With all the space shuttles in museums, NASA is dead, right? Wrong! Huffington Post blogger, Lauren Lyons is doing her part to educate the masses with her blogpost “5 Popular Misconception About NASA” Did you know that public opinion polls show Americans believe that we spend 20% of the national budget on NASA? Or that NASA is part of the Department of Defense? Get the facts by clicking the links above.

With only 38 days left in theater, I am getting really excited about coming home.

Saturn on Earth

I’m going to try a new format for this blog, a weekly gathering of  articles, music, stories and events. There is always content I feel I don’t get to share, or archive, content that really effects me every week, and I want to share it with you and my future self, digital time capsule style. One day, my son may even read this. I know I would read my father’s and grandfather’s if they had this technology.

Today is one month and 22 days till I leave my job here in Kabul, Afghanistan working for the CJIATF 435. I’m so excited to be on the precipice of returning home and building a new life in the East Valley of Phoenix. I have met a wonderful person out here in Afghanistan, and I’m looking forward to sharing this readjustment period together and the possibility of more. I have been looking at homes in East and South Phoenix for several weeks now with my family, trying to find a place to lay my head and provide a roof for my son and dogs. I think we are getting close to finding a decent home in my price range that will suit me for the next decade or more. Be sure, that when I get that good news that the sale has gone through, you will all hear about it across the InterWebTubes (TM).

I would rather sail the rings, but the lack of air would be a problem for my lungs.

SATURN: So lets start off the feature photo from an article on The Planetary Society’s website. Click here to see what the sky on Earth would look like with Saturn’s rings. Also, in related news ASU-SEDS is celebrating the announcement that Bill Nye will be the keynote speaker at this year’s SpaceVision hosted in Tempe. I really cant wait to hit the ground in Phoenix and help get that up and running.

PHYSICS: You guys may have noticed that every Tuesday I blow up your feeds with links to and quotes from XKCD‘s “What if” blag. I’m going to try to mitigate that webclogging spam by containing my excitement here. So this week we ask, What place on Earth would allow you to freefall the longest by jumping off it? What about using a squirrel suit?

VIDEO GAMES: Civilization 5 is the only game I play consistently these days.  The replay value is off the charts, its incredibly addictive, plus I feel like I’m learning something about history and strategy. So when I came across Russ Pitts’ interview with the crew at Firaxis I had to share it with all of you who stay up into the wee hours of the morning. “Just one more turn!” 

FUSION RESEARCH: We are not supposed to call it cold fusion anymore, but apparently the last seam on the Wendelstein X-7 was finished this week and is covered in this article.

NSFW: Science Joke of the Week comes from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal and is NSFW 🙂

VIDEO: Let’s close this week up with one of Melody Sheep’s videos, Blue & Beautiful featuring an auto tuned Neil Armstrong.

Do all of it.

I hope you enjoyed that little video. Seriously, that kinda stuff gets me up in the morning. Anyway, time to restart this blog and come out of hibernation. It really feels like my life has been on hold out here in Afghanistan too. My trip to Florida started the thawing of my connections back in Arizona out of stasis. The ASU Lunabot team was participating in NASA’s competition while I was there. I got to hangout at Epcot and Magic Kingdom with April Davis. I helped fund ASU-SEDS High Powered rocket. I’m really ready to go home now. There is so much to do when I get home. Buy a house. Buy a Car. Enroll in my next semester. Fall in love. Raise my Son. Build a Rover, a Rocket, a Tractor. I’m so excited to do all of it.

Sol 108 : Sickness

We have made it to triple digits now in my count of days since I left on orders. Although my return date is, as far as I can tell, variable by plus or minus a week or so; I believe that pegging it to September 14th of 2013 is a good a marker as any I have right now. 258 days left till I return to Phoenix to attempt to pick up my life where I left off.
Here in Afghanistan I’m recovering from my second illness in the last month that has had me restricted to quarters. This time it seems to be one of two virus’ that are circulating causing various symptoms. For me it has been headaches caused by sinus blockage and swelling, fevers, a brutal cough and fits of sneezing. As I look around, my room is a repulsive collection of empty water bottles and used tissue that I’m working to clear out to the trash bins. The medications they have me on are nasal spray steroids, something similar to sudafed (sp?), Mucinex, some Tylenol, and anti-biotics. This cocktail is giving me vivid dreams when I can sleep and when awake, its like being drunk. I dislike medications that affect my brain function.
Well I’m out of stocked food in my room, and I think I’m well enough to go in today at 2pm, so I need to get dressed now and pack for a seven hour shift where I need to try to squeeze some time in to finish math homework.

Red Mars 12 Injury and Insult

Sol 60 : A long overdue update

Red Mars

Red Mars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m all settled in here at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan. I have a little 10′ cubed room, I take my laundry bags to a local cleaner, and I share a bathroom down the hall. I work computer trouble tickets here for CIAJTF 435, and share this job with about 7 others, combined Navy, Army, Air Force. I’m learning about a lot of different systems used here in theater, and they are giving me a lot of ideas, ideas I can take back to Arizona and use at the university.

For example, here is a diagram of the project I’m co-leading with April Davis. Ill share more on that later.

For lack of a better place to upload these:

Red Mars 01 Festival Night

Red Mars 02 So they sent Michel Duval

Sol 16 : Vehicles, Counter Insurgency, Arduino

My training continues again this week, in preparation for Afghanistan. I should have my boots on the ground in another fortnight of sols(Check out this blog entry for an explanation of Sols). We had training on the big vehicles a few days ago, including the newer models designed to disperse IED blasts coming from below. Pretty brilliant equipment, with lots of goodies specially designed during the last 11 years of operations in Afghanistan.

Quick jump, I say operations in Afghanistan not war, because as I am learning, the conflict in Afghanistan is really not a war in most ways an average american thinks of war. Counter Insurgency Operations is as much about diplomacy with locals as it is about sending in helicopters to light up a target. There are no trenches with enemies on the other sides shooting back. There are bands of rebels in the mountains and allied villages causing trouble throughout a land ( I hesitate to call it a nation as the tribal structure of the Afghan way of life really doesn’t lend itself to the nation-state model well) and inciting distrust in a central government that seems more like a city-state in the Grecian sense trying to build some sort of modern country out of a confederation of tribes. Westerners just cant understand the tribal way of thought. We are too far removed, I think from those times.

On a separate note, I’m really getting into the Arduino/Maker culture, when it comes to learning computer science and electronics engineering. Horay, for self teaching another advanced topic! Who needs teachers when you have rabid desire for the absorption of knowledge. Self Actualization is awesome.

also this

Song of the day is “Fn Pig” by Deadmau5