Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Facts about Afghanistan and Living the High Life!

Since being notified of my deployment I’ve been constantly completing training courses and getting “smart” prior to arriving in country.  Most of the training has been pretty bland and painfully long so I find myself trying to find information about Afghanistan.  Courtesy of http://www.10-facts-about.com here are some interesting facts I’ve learned.

Fact 1: The New Year in Afghanistan, called Nawroz, is celebrated on 21 March which is the first day of spring.  I wish I could experience a New Year’s party Afghan style…I would like to see their version of our Dick Clark.
Fact 2: The largest city in Afghanistan is Kabul, the capital.  It’s population of 3.9 million is slightly larger than L.A.
Fact 3: Afghanistan is a landlocked country sharing borders with Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and China.  China…really?  I had to look at the map to see if this was true.
Fact 4: Poetry is a big part of Afghans' culture and it has been for centuries. In the city of Herat, women, men and children gather on Thursday night to share verses from old and new poetry.  I wonder if they ever heard the one about beans and how good they are for your heart? 
Fact 5: The people of Afghanistan are called Afghans and not Afghanis which is the currency. A common mistake that happens among people.  Yep, include me on making this mistake.
Fact 6: The official language of Afghanistan is Dari and Pashto. They speak several other languages as well such as Persian, Uzbek and Turkmen to name a few.  With my limited Dari training on the computer, I’m not going to let my interrupter get more than 2 feet away!
Fact 7: Afghanistan's main source of income comes from agriculture. They produce large amounts of crops that are enough to provide for the people and export as well. They plant vegetables, fruits, rice and nuts.  While Afghanistan is known for their opium I’ve read that since 2007 opium has been on a steady decline.
Fact 8: Afghanistan is also rich in natural resources with the main ones being natural gas and oil.  This isn’t that surprising.
Fact 9: Afghanistan's national game is called Buzkashi, or in other words, goat-grabbing. It's a sport where the players in two teams try to catch a goat while riding on a horse. It has been played for centuries and it even got sponsors for it nowadays.   From the pictures I’ve seen on the internet it appears to be a pretty brutal and bloody sport.  I’m sure I will need a wavier from my boss if I’m going to play this game!
Fact 10: Afghanistan celebrates its independence on August 19th from Britain. Afghanistan wasn't actually part of the British Colony. However, they went into war three times until Afghanistan declared its independence in 1919. I’m willing to bet that Afghanistan doesn’t have any provinces where it is illegal to buy or sell fireworks!

Finally, I’m off to my first week of training for this deployment. It’s a weeklong classroom style training so it can be difficult to stay fully awake and attentive to the topic being discussed. Overall it's beneficial to get an idea on my future but it’s overwhelming at the same time, I’m hoping the muddy waters will clear up. At least the accommodations are nice. I’ve never drank a Monster Energy Drink in such style!

Fancy Monster

In family terms the deployment has sort of started because today is Madalynn’s birthday and I will not be there.  That makes it official, I will have missed all birthday’s of my girls this year (including Lady M’s).  At least I will be there for the party on Saturday! 

I’m looking forward to this week coming to an end because of birthday party and being able to see family again.  After the party Lady M and I are sneaking off for a mini vacation prior too the fun beginning in June.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Best Two Work Days at the Pentagon

One of the coolest things this deployment has brought me is back to back days of weapons qualifications at Combat Arms Training and Maintenance.  A few weeks ago I traded in my lethal computer all of it’s the excel spreadsheets in order to become a trained warrior.  Well, at least I can pretend right?  In all reality if the fighting gets to the point where I’m pulling the trigger we’ve got bigger things to worry about.  So while I hope I never have to test my weapons training I’ve got to say that I had a blast firing at the range.  Maybe its the redneck in me but one of my first thought was how cool it would be to take these to the deer woods in Texas!

M4 9mm

Ironically Starbucks tastes so much better knowing that you are going to fire a 9mm later in the afternoon!  I tried to get the instructors to report that I needed “extra practice” in both weapons.  Unfortunately they didn’t fall for it so I was sentenced back to the cubicles.  Oh well such is life.

FYI for all you future boyfriends of my daughters…remember this post.  I am qualified and will be carrying a 9mm when you come to pick my girls up for a date. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Don’t Even Know What To Say Anymore…

To say that this year has been eventful would be an understatement.  Until April I would have said that my deployment would be the highlight of the year…I can’t say that anymore!  April 1, Lady M informed me that we (more so her than me) are once again pregnant.  Yes, you read that correctly, PREGNANT.  Let me go ahead and answer the questions that we everybody seems to have:

  1. Yes, we know about the birds and the bees.  We do know where babies come from…despite what I learned from the school bus sex education class!
  2. No, we were not trying.  Without going into too much detail…we were using preventive measures that was supposed to be 99% effective.
  3. No, I will not be back stateside when the baby is born.
  4. No, we are not trying give the Duggar’s a run for their money.
  5. No, we are not addicted to the tax credit we receive with each kid…but it will be nice!
  6. No, we were not trying one last time for a boy!

While this was not on our radar screen we couldn’t be more excited.  The fact that God has surprised to bless us with another child is in my mind the closest thing to the definition of awesome that I can imagine!  If you needed visual proof here is Lady M’s ultrasound. 

#4 10 weeks

To the best of our knowledge the baby is almost 10 weeks so that means we are looking at a early December due date however, after discussing Lady M’s previous pregnancies with the doctor we are probably going to have the baby mid-November…further insuring that I will not be back in time.  So, we are going to be using and abusing Skype as much as possible!  At least I can be here for most of the first trimester and enjoy the random cravings such Philly Cheese Steaks, Chinese, Mexican, and cinnamon rolls.

Overall we are still stunned to know that there will be another child in our family come November.  I am still having a hard time comprehending that when leaving I will be saying good bye to 3 kids but when I come back I will be saying hello to 4.  However, I wouldn’t have in any other way!  We will have to wait until late July to find out if this child will bring further meaning to the blog’s name or if I need to come up with a new one! So I promise to give more updates as the pregnancy and my deployment progresses!  Stay tuned for the link where you can make donations to the Pritchett Kid College Fund!

- Ray