Sunday, December 23, 2007

Back in San Diego

From the Editor:

Finally. Patrick made it to Dallas last night at 10:30. He was able to go home with to his brother Bill's, shower, eat, sleep in a bed and have a couple of scotches. He got to see both of his brothers, sister and his niece and two nephews... including Austin Wade who was born while he was away.

This morning the kids and I went to church and then straight to the airport to pick up Dad. We got there extra early because military families can get gate passes to meet their family members returning from oversees at the gate. Which means that the kids and I had to stand in the secruity line as if we were going to be flying somewhere. This is the kids seeing Dad's plane pull into the gate.

This is our first site of him. Yes I was a little emotional, notice the puffy eyes in the next picture...
It's going to be a GREAT Christmas.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Frohe Weihnachten!

From the Editor: This is unbelievable. Patrick called Saturday morning at 5:51am from Leitzig Germany where it is currently 3pm. He asked if I needed any Hummels… which I do, I am missing the angle and one shepherd from the Hummel Nativity scene (dubbed “The Jesus Barn Pooty” by Madigan but that is a whole ‘nother story). He is in some waiting area for a hour and a half and then the plane will go to Shannon, Ireland. And then to Maine before finally getting to Dallas. He did find a place to charge his phone. He is in very good spirits but he is getting sick because he has been in such crappy conditions with so many people many who have been “coughing all over me.” He is on the lookout for some zinc lozenges and has been pounding vitamin C. So after four days Patrick has finally made it out of Kuwait. And no, he is not allowed to drink, imagine going to Germany and Ireland without so much as 1 beer. I’m sure some day this will be funny…

Oh, Frohe Weihnachten means Merry Christmas in German.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Still Waiting...

From the Editor: OK… Patrick just called from Kuwait again… it is 3:45am there. He is in a big tent with some chairs, no beds and no heat. He is with a lot of other people freezing their butts off waiting for a bus to come at 7:30am to take them to the airport. He had to shut his phone off because his battery is almost dead and there is no way to recharge it. He does not really know what time he will get into Dallas (since the original take off at 6:20am is impossible now) but his brother Bill is being told 10pm on Saturday night. He is suppose to be on an American Airlines flight coming into San Diego at 12:05pm on Sunday. Not sure what he will do from 10pm until he takes off the next morning, but if he can leave the airport and go to his brother’s house in Dallas, I am sure there will be scotch involved. He said all I need to know is to be at the San Diego airport in terminal 2 on Sunday at noon. I’d bet anything that Thomas will be up at 5am on Sunday.

I just told the kids, Thomas started to get weepy and Madigan is just really angry. Thomas has had it with the ‘just one more day” promise… Madigan is all confused and afraid he will miss Christmas or Christmas Eve. We have been washing Patrick’s clothes all day so that he has something to wear when he gets here – it’s amazing how yucky clothes smell after sitting in a drawer for a year. Not a good day at the Wade house.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Flight out of Kuwait on Saturday

From the Editor: Patrick just called and he has a flight schedule… keep in mind that everything is subject to change. He is now leaving Kuwait on a military charter at 6:20am on Saturday morning 12/22. This charter will be going from Kuwait through Shannon, Ireland and then to Dallas (skipping the Atlanta stop thank goodness). Because of the time zone changes, he is scheduled to arrive in Dallas at 4:35pm on Saturday 12/22/07. Since it is a military charter, there is no flight number. He does not have the information yet for the last leg of his trip (let’s hope he can come directly to San Diego from Dallas)… so I don’t know if he will be in Dallas for an hour or three hours. Flights are filling up fast, no kidding, but he’s hopeful that he will make it to San Diego on Saturday night. If he gets a direct flight from Dallas, his arrival into San Diego will be an hour later than the Dallas departure (again because of the time difference).

I still have no voice and a horrible cold. I guess it’s better that he not be exposed to me right now, and otherwise he would spend his time off with this nasty cold. Pat also missed the Navy game here in San Diego tonight too… but it’s raining and Navy lost to Utah 35-32. I will let you know if there are any updates.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stuck in Kuwait

From the Editor (Rebecca): The good news is that Patrick will be home until January 5th or 6th… the bad news is that he is currently stuck in Kuwait. He was hoping to get home on Thursday the 20th of December. The escape, I mean his leave, started out ok… an uneventful convoy to Bagram from Kabul. And he waited for quite some time in Bagram only to get diverted to Qatar before going to Kuwait. (When he was trying to go to on leave in September to Qatar, he had to go to Kuwait first – go figure!) So tonight he called after making it to Kuwait… he is being assigned a “room”, but really it’s a bed in a big tent, to wait in until Friday the 21st. He will get his tickets on Friday the 21st, so he still does not know when he will be coming through Dallas/Ft Worth… but it won’t be before Saturday the 22nd. I will let the Dallas welcoming party know his itinerary as soon as I can… He thinks he will be going from Kuwait to Shannon, Ireland… then onto the States through Atlanta… to Dallas… and then finally to San Diego. We’ll be lucky to get him Saturday night, but more likely on Sunday the 23rd… which quite frankly is just cutting it WAY to close to Christmas for me. I will NEVER ever complain again about traveling in the US from one coast to the other… And just in case you are wondering, he is not allowed to have a beer until he is home here in San Diego.

Yes I am disappointed and yes VERY cranky about this new development. I will come up with some Pollyana way to deliver this news to the kids (or I’ll make my friend Kristin who is here from NYC do it for me).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Wii little story

Curious isn't it how I became Scottish while in Afghanistan? Not really, Wii is the name of video game like XBox 360 and Play Station. I knew little of this game called Wii, and yet it has become one of the hot toys for this year... and hence hard to obtain in time for Christmas. Rebecca and I have always debated purchasing a video game system... our concern primarily that the kids would become addicted, or more likely she and I would waste hours playing mind numbing games. After looking into the Wii, and realizing it was interactive and required moving around to play it, we decided this would be a good Christmas gift for the kids. Rebecca began searching for places to purchase a Wii console, only to find it was unavailable at most stores and on line the prices were quite high. The actual price of the game is about $250 and yet they were selling for more than $500 or $600 in some places. At Walmart there was a deal for over $600 and required buying a bunch of games for the unit. She continued her search and was ready to have our friend Kristin, who lives in New York City, stand in line at the Ninetendo Store in Rockerfeller Plaza for a chance to buy one.

Thus began my search. So I talks to my guy. (Editor's note: I believe Pat is trying to use a wiseguy accent here, so I will let the grammtical error slide.) Yes, I gots a guy and he says he has tracked down two units as he was in the market as well. He was able to find the units in Bagram, Afghanistan at the Exchange there. So he makes arrangements to have them sent to us in Kabul and about a week later, they are delivered and we have our Wii's. So, I am half way around the world and find a Wii in Afghanistan for $250 and no tax. I will be carrying it home with me and hope I don't get mugged for it.

I have been easing my way out here at the office, making sure I pass down any information regarding current projects and things that need follow up. I leave the operations in good hands and know that I will enjoy my time off.

As the Christmas season is upon us, and this is the time we think about giving to others, I thought it appropriate to tell you of a story about a friend of mine. His name is Jerry Lenaburg and I went to the Academy with him. After the Academy he served in the Navy, as we all were required... and was soon married to a wonderful woman named Mary. Jerry and Mary had a son Jonathan and all was well. Soon after they had a daughter named Courtney, but she was born with disabilities and many complications which has caused an extreme emotional and financial hardship for the Lenaburg's. Jerry left the Navy to be home more and help with his daughter. The financial strain of caring for Courtney, has caused them extreme distress. They have remained strong for years trying to do it all on their own, but they are now in extreme financial trouble due to all of the medical bills. These are very good people, just doing what is right and now they need help. If you are looking for someone to help this season, the Lenaburg's are in need. If you would like to know more about this story please go to http://www.courtneyscampaign.blogspot.com/.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season.

Peace to you all,
Pat

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rain drops keep falling on my head

Remember that famous song "Raindrops keep falling on my head" by Burt Bacharach highlighted in the movie, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid? I thought about that this week as we had our first rains in a long time. The weather is not quite cold enough to snow, so we got a little rain. Actually, the rain is really nice because it cleans up the air and gets rid of all the smog and dirt floating around. It is nice to have somewhat cleaner air to breath as we normally are subjected to air that is filled with dirt, dust, and who knows what. They say that dust primarily consists of dead skin cells and here in Afghanistan they say it consists of about 50% fecal matter. (Oh that is disgusting). I don't know about you, but I am one of those people who when I blow my nose, I always look at what came out. Not sure if it is curiosity or some habit I developed as a young boy to gross people out. What I normally find here after a good blow is a tissue filled with black "dirt" as if I had been caught in a fire. This is not as bad as some people I have seen who hold one nostril and blow onto the ground, now that is disgusting. OK, enough gross out, the point is it was nice to have a little rain to clean out the air.

Work continues to be busy. I had the opportunity this week to host a tour of several logistics facilities for General Terry. We saw, maintenance facilities and warehouses and traveled through downtown Kabul. It was an amazing site, the city was packed with cars and people and it took us over 40 minutes to get through it all. It made me feel like I was in any big city in the US. Of course, in the States I usually don't have to worry about some vehicle ramming into me and blowing up. It was nice to see the hustle and bustle of a city, I am sure they must have all been out Christmas shopping, you know how holiday traffic is. Yes I am kidding.

We have several big projects going on and they are really keeping us busy. We are reconstituting the Afghan National Police sending lots of supplies down range. We are also fielding the Afghan National Army with M-16 rifles changing them over from AK-47's. This is a huge process as there are training requirements in addition to getting them the weapons. I am looking forward to a break.

I am counting the days now until I go on leave and head home for Christmas and Thomas' birthday. Only 7 more days until I leave and about 9 or 10 until I am home. I am looking forward to seeing Rebecca, Thomas and Madigan and relaxing a bit. Rebecca and the kids have been busy getting ready for the holidays and I think all the stress may have caused Rebecca to get sick, which of course spread throughout the house. I hope they are all well when I get home.

Peace to you all,

Pat

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Navy Wins!

Navy Wins! Six in a row, quite a season and quite a streak. Perhaps we can match the streak that Notre Dame had over Navy. It was a great game for Navy winning 38-3, in case you missed it. Navy has won the Commander's in Chief Trophy again and they are off to San Diego for the Poinsettia Bowl on December 20th. Editor's Note: And BC lost... choked really. Ending the season 10-3, they are off to Orlando Fl to play in the Champs Sports Bowl on Dec 28th. The Eagles will face the 7-5 Michigan State Spartans. I've never heard of the Champs Sports Bowl either... but it is certainly better than the MPC Computers Bowl on the blue field in Boise Idaho last year!

The weather is starting to get cold here in Afghanistan. Some areas are getting snow, we have been getting very cold rain here in Kabul. I think it feels colder when the weather is not quite cold enough to snow and you get that wet, cold weather that sends a chill through your whole body. I was actually looking forward to a little rain to clear up the air and clean out some of the smog.

This week marked two significant events, one for the country of Albania and one for Romania. We have both Albanians and Romanians who work for us here in CJ4. We were invited to Albania's Independence Day celebration at the Turkish Camp here in Kabul. Albania's Independence day is November 29, 1912. We listened to a couple speaches and then had a some nice appetizers in an underground bunker. They had bread, cheese, sausage, chicken and various dips. They also had real beer and wine, of course we could not have any. The most interesting thing about the ceremony was the number of countries represented. It was like being in a Benetton commercial. I noted the following countries represented: Albania, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Turkey (it was their compound), Poland, France, Italy, Germany and of course the USA.

The Romanian's National Day was December 1, 1918. We were invited to have a barbecue at the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) compound. The evening was chilly and raining. I am sure it would have been nicer if it was not raining, but the food was outstanding and we enjoyed a slide show about Romania. If you did not know, Transalvania is in Romania and the slide show gave a nice overview of how Dracula became famous.

This past week we had a very serious incident. A VBIED (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) exploded right outside the Eggers compound.




The blast hit three vehicles in a convoy that were heading out for the day. Fortunately, they were in armored SUV's and no one in the vehicles was seriously injured. Innocent passers by were hurt however. The blast was so close to Eggers that you heard the bomb blast throughout the camp. We all thought we were getting a rocket attack. So the sirens sounded and everyone put on their gear and ran to the bunkers for safety. It was around 7:30 am so some people were just getting ready for work and others were wondering around. I was just about to eat breakfast and heard the blast and then saw the huge tower of smoke that was created from the bomb. It was pretty scary, I am just glad that it did not cause as much damage as it could have. I recently read an article that stated that the number of deaths in Afghanistan was now higher than Iraq. Not a good sign, I am hoping the cold weather and snow will slow the Taliban down.

So it was a very interesting and international week. It is a great experience to work with and get to know people from so many different countries and cultures. I continue to stay busy and just counting down the days until I go home for Christmas.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca, Thomas and Madigan made it back home to San Diego and are back in the grind of work and school.

Peace to you all,

Pat