Friday, July 22, 2011

Maybe the greatest DFAC creation on earth

So I realize that some who read this post may also find themselves in a combat (Afghanistan) zone or area formally known as a combat zone (Iraq, Kuwait) and still have the luxury of free food, four meals-a-day.

What I'm about to share with you may have changed my life.  I will now up my cardio milage from the current 48 miles per week, to 60 miles per week just so I can afford myself this little gem more than once-a-week.

I have to begin with a disclaimer.  This was not my creation.  I first saw ads for this tasty treat while visiting Allison in Monterey.  Denny's is the mastermind behind it, and for that, we say thank you.

Ice cream has always been a passion of mine.  Allison's passion is breakfast food, and Denny's decided to have those two worlds crash together in a careless rage of deliciousness.

"But Dave, everyone's heard of waffle's with ice cream on them!" you say rudely, interrupting my train of thought.  What was I saying again?  Oh yeah!  It's not a waffle!  It's the Bacon Ice Cream Sunday!  (trademark pending).

You start with two scoops of vanilla ice cream if you're an amateur, pralines and cream if you're a seasoned  ice cream veteran.   Next is the crucial step.  Add bacon bits.  These can't be the store bought bacon bits.  It has to be the real-deal bacon.  Crispy and salty, like bacon was meant to be.  If you're in Afghanistan, this is available to you on steak night on the potato bar, and yes, you will get some looks with your ice cream cup at the potato bar.
Finally, you top your creation with one package of maple syrup.  The sweet mixes with the salty and you're partaking on the taste bud journey of a lifetime.  It's so delicious, I'm almost afraid to eat it too much for fear it will lose it's luster.
Anyway, that's the latest installment from Afghanistan.
As always, You're welcome America.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

War is Hell.

I need to lead off this post with a statement for some clarity.  I, as well as anyone else who's been to combat knows the hardship and pain that is experienced.  That being said, this will not be a blog that I share those emotions with you.  If you're looking for those stories, I'll be home in the spring and you can buy me a beer.  In Hawaii.  Cause that's where I'll be.  Forever.  This Blog is a lighthearted look at combat from the eyes of a former combat arms officer turned desk jockey/public affairs officer.
War is Hell.
I can't tell you how much I've suffered over the past 24 hours.  
For starters, it's hot as hell here right now.  I'm talking 115 degrees, and there's something about the dust that makes it that much worse!  Second, Carmen the reporter and I discovered a net, driving range mat and golfballs next to the Green Bean Coffee.  When we went to hit balls, there were only two, and the only club they had was a 2-iron!  What the hell man???  We returned to the office where I learned of a meeting I had to attend that started at 2130!
Tonight for dinner they prepared Mongolian BBQ and the only choices I had for meat was chicken, shrimp or steak!  What am I?  An animal???  Now if all that isn't traumatic enough for you, I came into work this morning to discover that not only was our commercial internet down, but so was our unsecured government internet!  I immediately got on our classified network and sent a message to my DIV HQ at Baghram informing them that our internet was down and as far as the war's concerned, they can count us out.  No Facebook = No Fight. 
It's times like this that make me wonder what my Grandfather did during the Battle of the Bulge in WWII?  I mean, not only did they not have social media, but how did they even communicate with each other without texting?
On a more serious note, I encourage you to check out this article... some of you may have seen it on my facebook page, but it's one of the most inspirational stories I've ever heard...

Until next time...


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday = Funday at war! Meet the team!

Saturday night is like Christmas Eve around here.  Everyone stays up a little later than usual because we all know there are no meetings in the morning.  I love Sunday here.  I roll out of bed whenever I wake up... well, to be honest, it's no later than 7:20 so I can talk to Al before she goes to sleep (11.5 hour time difference between here and the California coast) but I'd be lying if I told you I didn't go back to sleep on Sunday morning.  So I read a little, sleep a little more.  Get up, work out, shower and go into the office later than usual.  Sunday is also special here on FOB Fenty because they do Sunday brunch!  Now, this isn't Orchid Room Sunday brunch at the Halekulani, but it's still awesome because I can get a fried egg on my turkey burger!
Today was also a good day because I went to the little bazar here and picked up "Just Go With It" for a dollar.  I know it's not super new, but I've been wanting to see it.  I spend the day putting out fires with potential civilian casualties from some alleged events that may or may not have taken place last night, and watching my movie.  I even spent another hour in the gym this evening.
You know what?  I'm so rude!  I've not even introduced you to my Soldiers!
Currently in my office, I've got the following individuals working for me:

SSG Amber Robinson, my NCOIC (ABOVE)
Likes: Working out, Her boyfriend, eating paleo, telling everyone how great her boyfriend is, judging others on their form while working out, making everyone sick talking about her boyfriend
Dislikes: Not talking about her boyfriend, carbs, people who don't wear 'five finger shoes', and bad crossfit form

SFC Mark Burrell, Print Journalist (ABOVE)
Likes: SFC Burrell, Talking about SFC Burrell, Mark Burrell, SFC Burrell's work, speaking in third person, being a diva, being interviewed
Dislikes: Talking about anything/anyone besides SFC Burrell, when his story doesn't run first, if attention is on someone else, being a reservist, being mistaken for John McEnroe

SGT Elwyn Lovelace, one of my Broadcaster Journalists (ABOVE)
Likes: Church, Jesus, gospal music, bragging about his kids, working out at ungodly early hours
Dislikes: Swearing, "The Gays", When Afghan Men ask to have sex with him

SGT Ginifer Spada, another one of my Broadcast Journalists (ABOVE)
Likes: looking like she's 12 (She's 30), pralines and cream, green bean coffee, planning her wedding
Dislikes: planning her wedding, SFC Burrell, "the apple diet", physical contact of any kind

Mr. Carmen Gentile - Reporter, USA Today (doesn't work for me) (ABOVE)
Likes: Air Conditioning, the FOB FENTY media drive, cake and ice cream, health insurance, business cards, midnight chow
Dislikes: Being shot in the face by an RPG (look it up), Combat Outpost Honiker Miracle,  the Pech, hitching rides on MEDEVAC birds

and your's truly (ABOVE) : Champion Breakdancer, unicorn trainer, prize cake baker, and BCT Public Affairs Officer
Likes: Shiny things, Honey Badger, wearing shorts, skyping his daughter without headphones, eating like it's his last meal on earth, speculating, guessing and editorializing
Dislikes: wearing pants, CIVCAS, Afghanistan, Almond allergies, not being in Hawaii

So now you all know the crew...
Until next time...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Trashganistan 2011

So by now, most of you know I'm sitting at FOB Fenty, Jalalabad Army Air Field, Afghanistan.
I'm down to about nine months left, but who's counting!  If I can't put myself on missions out in our Task Force's area of responsibilities, I'm trying to not melt, working out, eating, or planning my mid-tour leave that's 6 months away.
My crew here is small and cool for the most part.  This is my first deployment working with women and instead of being responsible for the heath and well-being of 92 guys like last time, I have four this time.  Four people!  And I'm making more money this time!  Ha ha!  Joke's on you Army!
So to fill you all in on the last few months of my life:  No new woman, no new job.  I did decide I'm going to stay in Hawaii for the rest of my life, therefore this deployment is no longer Operation Enduring Freedom, it's Operation Buy a Condo, the final chapter.
I know this entry is a bit scattered, but I'm just getting back into it, so I really hope you can check back in a day or so and I'll have something else to write...
Until then,

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

So my rich uncle is sending me on a trip...

Uncle Sam has decided that it's time for me to get back into the fight.
Official today, I will be reassigned to the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team where I will serve Col. Rich Kim as the Brigade Public Affairs Officer.  How did this happen you ask?  They had a PAO who couldn't take the heat.  She couldn't take the rigors of the job and she essentially quit working, then was fired.  Long story short, she made up her mind months ago that she wasn't going to the 'stan and essentially sabotaged her own career to not go.  Good call!
So today I spent the majority of my day creating a pre-deployment checklist so I could make sure I get most everything taken care of before I go, as well as arranging my travel plans for block leave.
I need to get to sleep so I can function tomorrow, big day, and I'm sleeping in an airplane seat tomorrow night!
Until next time...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Firing it back up...

Al and I at the Academy of Art and Science in San Francisco

For those of you out there who actually read my blog, you may (or may not) be excited to see I'm back at it.
I'm going to ask that maybe this time around you pass the link on to a friend or two, as 2011 is going to prove to be a real challenge.

Some of you may know my big news, many of you don't.  I need to tell a couple of folks face to face, then I'll announce it on here early this week.  I promise you it will be worth it, and I will keep you entertained.  You may hate it, you may love it, but I know you'll want to read it.

Things you've missed since my last trip include:
* New Job!  (Yes, I'm still in the Army)
* Several TV Show appearances! (Hawaii Five-O, Hawaii Undiscovered)
* Ran races!
* Multiple trips to Monterey!
* I'm a grad student at GWU!
* Now with 50% less MSG!

Okay, so long story short, I'm back.  I hope you're going to join me for this one, because it's going to be crazy!

I'll leave you with a stanza from my favorite poem and words I try to live by.  I carry these with me at all times:

It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Stay tuned!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 23: Sing Sing Sing....

First things first.  Today is  travel day, so last night I ensured that I purchased a new duffel bag for the soul purpose of carrying gifts in.  I was not going to risk losing my bag again on a tight time table, and have no way to get it back before I went home. 
After a third employee finally figured out how to swipe a credit card and not request a pin, I paid my astronomical laundry bill ($30 usd in Bali... it's like $400 usd in the states!) and headed to the airport.
Going thru customs in Bali was just as I expected, slow and dirty.  They required me to pay an exit tax (like Cambodia) of the equivalent of $15 usd.  Now, like a good tourist, I managed to spend almost every last dime of my Indonesian money... If you don't, you're gonna lose out on the exchange rate for sure.  So they kindly said they'd take $20 US instead.  Hmmmm, I wonder where that extra $5 goes...  I paid it, mostly because I was burned out from dealing with all the pay-offs.  I got to the gate, ate a sleeve of oreos and flew to Singapore with no more issues.
Singapore is great.  It's clean and friendly and the food is Deeee.... wait for it.... Lightful!  Also, a quick travel note:  The train is the way to travel from Singapore airport.  Cheap, easy and clean, my hotel was halfway to the city center and it cost me $1.70 Singapore Dollars.  Also, don't forget to go to the ticket machine and get your dollar refund when you arrive!
What's not delightful was my hotel.  I checked-in in a hurry, dropped my bags and headed back to the train.  I walked all around downtown, rode the world famous Singapore Flyer observation wheel, ate dinner on the street, then headed back to my hotel.  Dinner was amazing.  I forget what it was called, but it was essentially a super cheesey cheesesteak with fried egg on extra soft bread.  It melted in my mouth!  Amazing!
The sun had since gone down, so the neighborhood had a new look.  Lots and lots of hookers!  Yeah, no wonder my room had been so cheap!  Now I suddenly was glad had a 3 a.m. wake up call.  The hotel was creeping me out!  Plastic covered mattress, only a fitted sheet, two small pillows... I lined the bed with all the towels I could find, turned the AC up, and tried to sleep for a few hours....
Until next time...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 22: As Joe Dirt would say: Pa.. DANG!

As I sit here typing, trying to avoid a contact high from the Aussies outside my room OBVOUSLY smoking hash, I have to say I'm a really lucky guy. Yeah, my life has had it's share of rough patches, but as I sit here in Bali, and type this blog, I can say I'm lucky. I've got great friends, an amazing daughter who I can't wait to see in three days, and a loving family. What more could anyone ask for?

Today was one of those days where I wish I could fly home tonight and end on this note. I decided in the morning that I would rent a motorbike. Now for those of you who don't know me may not realize I've never operated one of these things before. For those of you who do know me, know very well that the reason I don't have a motorcycle is because I would kill myself on one in the first 20 minutes I owned it.

My friend Windy gave me a list of beaches to hit for great surf and as usual, she didn't disappoint! The front desk arranged for a bike to be dropped off for me and I would be able to use for 24 hours ($7.00 US). I looked a map and decided that Uluwatu was my best bet. There were several beaches in the area, all of which were world renowned surf destinations, so I strapped my board on the side of my bike and took off in the direction I thought to be south.

First rule of thumb when traveling in Bali via motorbike: distance seems about twice as far when you've never driven it before. Also, if you've never ridden a bike before, Bali might not be the best place to learn! Long story short, after a few missed turns and near wipeouts, I found Uluwatu beach. Folks: This place did not disappoint. Amazing!

You have to walk about .25 of a mile down long concrete stairs thru jungle to get to the little surf village perched on top of the cliffs that overlook the Indian Ocean. Like something out of Goonies, right in the middle of the village, another staircase, this one MUCH steeper just appears and down you go. The path twists and turns, eventually rounding the corner of a massive cave to reveal one of the most secluded and beautiful beaches I've ever seen in my life. The water is crystal clear, the coral and sand is powder white. The cliffs jet straight up to the sky from the sea floor to form a cavern feeling. There were maybe 20 guys out surfing this HUGE spot. There were maybe fifteen random people laying on the beach, mostly female tourists with a thing for surfers if I had to guess, and two or three older local ladies giving massages or selling hand-made bracelets or board stickers.

I dropped my crap and paddled out. This place was so great, I didn't even care if someone stole my bag! Wait... is my passpor... no... ok... I didn't even care if someone stole my bag! Now I've surfed some pretty good spots, and I've seen some pretty good surfers, but these guys were sick. I'm talking better than anything I've seen before, anywhere. Now I'm not sure, but several of them were probably sponsored riders, judging by their boards/gear, but a lot of them were local guys. I came to the conclusion that you can be a little more fearless when you don't have to worry about wiping out onto reef that's only a foot under the water... anyone who's surfed south shore, Oahu knows what I'm talking about.

The sad part of the story here is due to my negligence the day prior, my sunburn was making it very uncomfortable for me to fully enjoy my day. Compound that with the fact that I could hear my friend Alana's (Doctor) voice telling me what a dumb ass I was for getting burned, and how I was going to end up with melanoma one day. Yes Alana, I do listen to you!

I only lasted about an hour, but it was the most fun I've had in a long, long time. The water there is magic, I swear. Have you ever gone to a beautiful place, a beach, or a mountain lake, or a favorite pool on a hot day, and when you hit the water, happiness engulfs you? That's the water at this beach. Amazing.

I decided I would ride back to Kuta Beach for some rest before eating dinner and catching my last Bali Sunset. For dinner I decided that since I've been going native 99% of my time on this trip, I was going to go all-American tonight. Plus I wanted a salad so bad I could murder someone!

I parked my bike and walked to the public beach access and as I approached I couldn't help but notice maybe (and I'm not exaggerating) 200,000 people standing on the beach. I had to check this out! What were all these people doing? There were busses of people being let off at the beach gate. School kids in matching uniforms by the masses. I found some Aussies and I asked them what the crowd was for. "Sunset mate! It's like this every night"! Well I'll be Crocodile Dundee! This is crazy! It wasn't even really clear out, I'd say partly cloudy at best. None-the-less, I stood there with the thousands of others and watched one of the most beautiful sunsets I'd ever seen.

Then it was off to the Hard Rock for the colossal cobb salad. Now I don't recommend the Hard Rock usually, however, I wanted salad and they do a kick-ass cobb salad, complete with bacon! That's tough to come by in a Muslim country not catered by KBR!

Dinner was great and I managed to make it back to my hotel without killing anyone or myself, although I did have a brush with death when I tried to pass a horse drawn carriage and cut it a little close with on-coming traffic. What! That's how you pass on a two lane street!

Back at the hotel, I arranged for a car tomorrow for the airport and headed to my room.

Now I sit, all packed up, ready for the flight to Singapore tomorrow afternoon.

I have one goal and one goal only for Singapore. Ride that HUGE ferris wheel: The Singapore Flyer. We'll see if I can make it happen. I have to be at the airport by 3 a.m.-ish to check in for my 5:00 am flight the next day. I'm not really sure why I got a hotel room, but I did. Hopefully it will be an early night to bed and no issues getting to the airport in the morning! <>

Until next time...


Monday, July 5, 2010

Day 21: Kuta Beach, Bali

I'm sleeping way too late. The Starbucks at 9:30 p.m. last night at the airport was not the most brilliant decision I'd ever made.

Late to rise yet again, I threw on my new board shorts and headed out the door. No rashguard (because I'm a genius) would mean either I would bypass the surf today or I'd rock a t-shirt to match my beard. I made the 10 minute walk to the beach and did some shopping before I hit the beach.

Kuta Beach is the Myrtle or South Padre of Bali, with tons of shopping, the Hard Rock Cafe, tons of resorts and a large stretch of public beach.

Nothing really exciting happened today. The first time I put my feet in the water, I turned around to see to local guys checking out my bag so I hung back a bit to see if they'd try and take it. When they got a little too close for comfort I walked over and picked it up, making sure I kept eye contact with one of them the entire time. I walked a bit further and found two girls on the beach that looked trustworthy. I asked them if it would be alright if I left my bag with them while I hit the surf for a bit. The tide was coming in and the BEAUTIFUL back door (left side) break was hitting a good solid three feet so I was itching to get in the water.

They agreed and I hit the waves. After about 30 minutes, I came out for a break. Both the girls were Irish and in dental school. Traveling all around SE Asia for their summer holiday. They were really cool and I felt comfortable hanging out with them for a bit.

I started to get a little crispy from the Bali sun and decided I'd say goodbye to my new friends and head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool.

A quick swim, $4 massage, well earned shower, and a fantastic traditional, all-you-can-eat satay dinner in my hotel's courtyard and I was ready for some bloggin' and a good night's sleep!

Until next time...


Day 20: Mountains, Art, and Luggage

Bali is an amazing island. For a kid from Ohio, I can't convey to you the wonder and discovery I love about this place. Ok, maybe I can. I saw a TON of monkeys today!

I woke up late today, maybe 9:30 and elected to try the free breakfast. Not too bad, but what are you going to do? Complain about free food? Not this guy! I linked up with Windy, a friend of mine who works at the embassy in Jakarta and was on holiday for one more day. I was in luck! No only does she speak Indonesian, but she's been to Bali about 100 times and rocks as a tour guide!

She suggested we get a car and driver for the day (about $24 US) because we were going to be putting some miles on this day.

Like I said before, I can't explain to you all how cool this place is. Every hotel, house, restaurant, beach, whatever has these huge ornate gates on them that look like they've just been uncovered by archeologists in a Balian Jungle after being there for 2000 years. The roofs of the buildings here are either grass, or tile, shaped like you might think you'd see in India, or China, or both.

We headed North toward the mountains where if you need a break from the beach (I know! Why!?) you can do loads of hiking, white water rafting, or high ropes courses. It's really majestic, cruising thru those jungles... I kept expecting to see a tiger jump out at the car.

We were going to Windy's favorite spot in Bali: A museum at the former home of the late Antonio Blanco. An artist who is famous for painting countless pieces, mostly of nude women... SCORE! (just kidding mom).

When you arrive at his estate, you can really see how the other half lives here. It's amazing. There are huge trees, traditional Balian architecture, a temple, fountains, and tons of rare and exotic birds, as Blanco was a huge fan.

I think of Dutch dissent, Blanco married a Balian woman and they had 2 children: A daughter who found a love for the art of Balian dance, and a son who followed in his father's footsteps and became a famous painter as well.

The grounds were amazing, as you can see here, but unfortunately I wasn't able to take photos of the paintings.

From there we decided to get a late lunch at Dirty Duck Diner, home of the famous Balian treat: crispy duck! This place was amazing too! all outdoor seating, beautiful fountains, friendly (but very slow) servers, and the price was right! (about $7.50 US for main courses)

Lunch was amazing and from there we headed back into Kuta Beach to do a little shopping, since I was going on 40 some hours wearing the same clothes and I could hardly stand it anymore.  On the way out of the mountians however, we passed a huge park and a monkey ran out right in front of our car!  I couldn't believe it!  I was going crazy.  "Stop the car!"  I yelled, and I grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures.  When I calmed down and got back in, Windy couldn't figure it out.  I told her, "we don't have monkeys running around where I live, I told her.  Then I broke it down a little further:  "Windy" I said, Me freaking out when I saw monkeys would be like you coming to the states and seeing all the fat people everywhere!  You'd have to take pictures because you don't have stuff like that at home".

After that, we swung past Windy's hotel so she could get her bags and headed to the Airport, fully maximizing the driver for the day. After that, I had him drop me of at my hotel and I called it a night.

When I paid the driver and stepped out of the car. One of the bellmen ran up to me. "Mr. 3126!" (my room number). A man from the airlines came here and dropped off a bag for you. I could have kissed him. It was like an 100 lb weight was lifted off my shoulders. I don't think I could have faced my kiddo knowing I didn't have anything for her. I know she wouldn't have cared, but that thought was heartbreaking!

What a perfect end to an amazing day!

The mountains were great but I'm really looking forward to tanning my Haole skin tomorrow at the Beach!

Until next time!