Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Day in the Life

I've got a few things I've been meaning to write about, but I lack both the intellectual energy, and the right photos to go along.

Consequently, you're getting stuck with a boring post about a regular day - and the fun, frustration and monotony that make it Afghanistan.

An average day starts at 0600 on the irregular occasions when I have the mental discipline to get up when my alarm goes off.  More often I torture the other residents of my building (which is surrounded by rocket-proof cement barriers, but has pretty flimsy inside walls) by hitting the snooze until somewhere between 0700 and 0730.

On a day of good mental discipline, I will get out for a run, circling the large compound and trying to psych myself up for the substantial slope that is really a gratuitous insult given that we are already at over 5,000 feet.  By 0530 you need sunglasses, and by 0730 you (by which I mean I) don't want to be starting a run, as it's getting over 90 and the wind is kicking up.

View On a Clear Day

By 0800 I've usually gotten full enjoyment from what, I will simply call generous arrangements for handling my daily ablutions, during which time I take pity on colleagues who walk substantial distances (uphill both ways barefoot in the snow) to use less functional facilities. Then I start my commute to work.

Approximately 47 seconds later I have unlocked my office door and settled into my office.

 A More Average Day - but a Better Viewing Angle

I then start the process of trolling through four, yes four, different computer systems plus additional databases to collect and disseminate information. There are actually good reasons for this, and I can't complain too much, since a good portion of what I "bring to the fight" is an ability to access, prioritize, analyze and utilize information from these various sources to provide new insights and guide decisions on how we promote governance and development in my AOR (Area of Responsibility).

The "fog of war" can most definitely extend to the areas of governance and development which I cover, so sorting out what is a worthwhile endeavor and what is a an attractive sounding, but ultimately fruitless effort can be quite difficult. With challenges in moving around, people changing jobs, and speaking various languages, getting the government, a community, and the foreign entity and associated military contingent on "the same sheet of music" can be taxing. Luckily, there's not that much else to do. 

Garden Art

One of the nicer things to do is eat, which I do regularly. The astute reader will notice that I didn't mention breakfast at the cafeteria.  I can explain in three words.  Banana soy milk.  OK, it's not much of an explanation, but my morning is based on BSM (I am now creating acronyms for the sole purpose of confusing military colleagues who are so accustomed to not knowing an acronym that they usually just nod along). BSM is a heavenly concoction that arrives by the case, and which is NOT favored by my green-suited brethren who prefer the vanilla and chocolate varieties. As a result, I have an unlimited supply, which I use to put on my breakfast cereal, and in my morning coffee.

Lunch and dinner I'm at the DFAC without fail - chopstix in hand. There is rice at every meal (including the breakfast I usually skip) which I always have, and soup, which I'm sorry to report I only rarely have. Having never been much of a soup guy, not gotten the "fish bug", and often having no need to add calories by the time I reach the soup station at the end of the buffet, I only take advantage when I can A: accurately identify the contents as non-fish, non-intestine, non-kneecap gristle, you get the point - and B: confirm that the spice they almost always put in it is four alarm or below...  Soup issues aside, I have not yet struck out in the buffet lottery, and there is usually one or more exceptional dish, most often featuring my youngest son's favorite delicacy, shrimp.

Working day part 1 usually runs to about 1600 - when it is time for PT.  I am now in the enviable position of having two excellent PT options that not only provide good exercise, they offer the far more critical social pressure to show up and do the exercise. My long-term commitment is to a Tae Kwon Doo class with an excellent and very patient instructor who is gracious enough to offer the instruction in return for nothing more than some pointers on his strong, but occassionally accented english. The alternative is an afternoon soccer match with the ROK military.  Despite my miserable soccer skills, this is an enjoyable alternative, as it both broadens my ridiculously small social circle here, and helps develop civ-mil relationships. As bad as my ball handling is, I can still outrun most of the others, and at least get myself between the ball and the goal.  Of course the end result of that during the last game was accidentally getting my hand in the way of the ball and giving the opposition a penalty shot and goal...  Oh well

Anyhow - after exercise, a shower and dinner, work phase 2 kicks in, with a review and report of the day and preparation for events the next day.  Phase 2 is livened up by calls home, working on personal projects (like this one), and general goofing off.  On weekends (which I declare and cancel arbitrarily for myself) I catch a flick using a projector intended to stave off withdrawal symptoms among my military colleagues whose addiction to PowerPoint is something I am slowly coming to admire.

Then it's back to my hooch for a bit of reading, and lights out.  G'nite

 I just like this picture

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing what's it's like over there. Your descriptions are great. Not a boring post at all, but rather interesting believe it or not!