Thursday, January 31, 2008

It stinks to get old

This goes under the category "It stinks to get old." I was chewing on a piece of candy, yes we have lots of candy here as everyone keeps sending packages with lots of treats. Well, I was chewing on a piece of candy and all of sudden I felt something solid as I chewed... and I was eating a soft piece of candy. So this clued me in that something is not quite right. I reach in and pull out the solid piece. It was my crown from my lower left molar. It popped right off and I am now saving it in a glass of water, actually a water bottle I cut in half as I did not have a glass to put it in. I was thinking about telling people it is a Taliban tooth (normally we collect ears, but teeth would work), but it is a bit too white to have been in the mouth of a Taliban terrorist who has been running around the mountains. (I hear they don't brush their teeth often, that is gross and just another reason not to like the Taliban).

A part of aging , you start to have dental problems and I had this crown put on a few years ago. Fortunately it is in good shape and I am sure it can be replaced on my tooth. Unfortunately, we do not have a dentist at Camp Eggers and the dentist at Camp Phoenix just left theater, so I may be sticking this thing back on with superglue. I will have to find a way to get to the dentist at Bagram. Until I can get to a dentist, I will be chewing on one side of my mouth and looking like a hillbilly. On top of this, I had cracked a crown on the back right side of my mouth a few months ago, so maybe I should get that one fixed while I am at it.

Work is very busy as my boss is on leave and many of us are covering for him. We still have many projects in the works and the ANA and ANP continue to grow. I am still fully engaged and working to make sure all the units are outfitted with gear. I am sure "senioritis" will set in for me in about another month and a half. Until then, there is much to do. I am refocusing to take care of myself a bit more. For many months now, I have been working non-stop and not taking time to workout. I am now making time to workout and make sure I balance my work and health.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca and the kids are fully engaged in school, work and daily activities. Rebecca continues to plan my homecoming, our cruise and improvements around the house. It still amazes me how she gets it all done. Thomas is starting baseball soon, unfortunately I was not able to be there for him during his tryouts. Madigan is starting softball and I am hopeful she will enjoy the experience.

Peace to you all,


Monday, January 21, 2008

Save the Date - Saturday May 3, 2008 3pm - 7pm

Editor's Note: This post is from Rebecca
I wanted to let everyone know WAY in advance about a party that we are having as a “Welcome Home Patrick, Happy Belated 40th Rebecca and ‘It Really is Patrick’s Birthday’ Party”. OK the name needs some work, but you get the idea. It’s on Saturday May 3rd (which really is Patrick’s 43rd birthday) at Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) down the beach from the Hotel Del Coronado. I am trying to reserve a block of rooms at the Navy Lodge for Friday and Saturday night… the rooms will be about $77/night.

The original idea was to book the deck pictured below, called the “Breakers Beach Deck”.
It’s a lovely venue; new and right on the beach with nice Trek decking and glass wind protection. I went to sign the contract on Thursday and found out that this would cost over $3,000 for 4 hours with 75 people… and we would have had to do it on Sunday afternoon. There was $600 just to have the deck and a minimum of $18 per person catering charge, plus a mandatory 20% gratuity on anything that we ordered to drink or eat. They only allow paper and plastic and there were all kinds of rules that you have to agree to enforce. Honestly the last straw was when I was checking the prices of a keg beer. They charge $225 for a keg of Miller Lite (it’s $90 at BevMo and Beer King).

SO when I went over to the Navy Lodge to check out the hotel rules; the lady behind the desk was also aghast at the price list I showed her and she suggested reserving “The Old Chief’s Deck” on the other side of the Navy Lodge. It’s not very classy (but VERY Mangano…and I can put beer in buckets for you guys so you can pretend it’s The Cape… sorry, inside BC joke here), and it’s old and a bit decrepit BUT it’s free to reserve, there is no limit to how many people we can invite, and I can bring all of my own food and drink. (Mark, I need your Mai Tai recipe; Keith and Robert I need your Long Island Ice Tea one) . There was no mention of rules other than “No Glass Containers”. I called the place to reserve it and they said that I couldn’t reserve it until 30 days out. When I asked how I would send out invites and explained our situation, the woman on the other end of the phone said to me: “Are you the woman who was just talking to Lissie at the Navy Lodge”? When I said yes, she said that Lissie said that I was a “good egg” and she took my name, number and when we wanted to reserve the deck. I asked her if that meant it was ours or if I could be bumped by a Navy Function, and she said it was ours, we are in her book... I just have to confirm 30 days out and give her a list of guests to give to the front gate. So thanks Dad for always teaching me to be polite and friendly to everyone no matter their station… I have Lissie to thank for saving me a lot of money and being able to book this so early. I asked about the electrical hookup (at the other deck they charge $50 to hook-up electrical for a band or DJ) and she said I would have to check with security. If I can get a hook up, I am going to see if Brehon’s Law (Irish Pub Band) is available to play for a few hours. My friend Roni said that I could rent a generator if necessary. I’ll need to rent or borrow some umbrellas and stands – there’s not a lot of covered areas and maybe I’ll ask a few people to bring some extra chairs… I may be able to rent them too. SO – that’s the plan for now, I’ll let you know when I formulate a solid plan. BUT save the date, it will be fun!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

I am sure you guessed from the title that we had some snow here in Kabul. Or perhaps you thought I was singing a late Christmas carol. We did get a good couple of days of snowfall here and it was quite beautiful. Normally, I am not one to wish for snow, especially since I live in San Diego, but here the snow was pretty. Following the snows though we have had some bitterly cold days in the teens and 20's. I know why I live in San Diego. Of course, we did not have anything like they had in Greenbay, WI for the NFL playoff game. Yes, I did get to watch some football, I only watched the Chargers - Patriots game which was played from 12:30 am to 4 am. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on your perspective, the Chargers lost a well played game. I suppose I am looking forward to seeing the Patriots make history by having an undefeated season and winning the Super Bowl.

Here at work, I have been doing a bit of administrative work. As people depart from theater, everyone gets an evaluation and an award. It takes a good deal of time to complete all the writeups necessary for all the people and the stream of people is never ending. Other than that it has been the usual work with meetings, shipping and buying more stuff to support Afghanistan.

Back on the homefront, Rebecca has been extremely motivated working several projects around the house. She has decided to tackle the house one room at a time in hopes of keeping some order to her thinking. (Editor's Note: It's actually my "Room of the Month" plan for 2008... a plan I devised while listeing to Thomas explain the "WebKinz of the Month" program. I am starting with the master bathroom, not fun but I am making progress and have until the31st to finish it. I am bound and determined to clean out every cabinet and drawer in said "Room of the Month" throwing out all of the junk that has been collecting for the past five years. Kelly Dolan will be so proud of me.) Thomas and Madigan are busy with school and looking for time to play the Wii. While I was home, Rebecca and I planned our vacation and we are taking the kids on a Mexican Riviera cruise. It will be a good time to catch up after I return home. We also have some friends joining us on the cruise so it should be a fun time. Rebecca has already started planning a welcome home party for me. It actually is a combination welcome home, Rebecca's belated 40th birthday and my birthday. She has reserved a site at Naval Air Station, North Island in Coronado and the party will be on May 3rd, my actual birthday.

Often times people wonder what it is like here in Afghanistan and although I can describe life here, sometimes that is not enough. So I have come up with ten ways to feel like you are deployed to Afghanistan.

1. Avoid seeing your family for months at a time.
2. Put a porto pottie in your backyard and only use that when you need to go.
3. Don't clean the bathroom often.
4. Burn some old tires in your backyard and stand next to the fire for hours and enjoy the aroma.
5. Only live in a quarter of your bedroom.
6. When you go out put on as many clothes as possible so it is difficult to move.
7. Carry a weapon wherever you go. If you don't have a weapon, carry around a heavy metal pole.
8. While driving, drive real fast in and out of traffic and don't let other cars get too close to you, also try driving on the wrong side of the road.
9. Don't drink water from the sink and only use bottled water to brush your teeth.
10.When taking a shower, wear shower shoes (flip flops) and change the temperature from hot to cold every minute.

Peace to you all,


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Back in the "Stan"

For a while there, I was having a short debate with myself about whether it was better in Afghanistan or in the US. I have confirmed it, the US is way better. I told you it was a short debate. As I began my journey from Afghanistan back to the US, way back on December 17th, it was such a hassle that it almost seemed like it would have been easier to stay in Afghanistan and just wait to come home for good. I ended up getting home on December 23rd after flying, waiting, more waiting, bus rides, more waiting, freezing, flying, did I mention waiting? As I went through the hassle, as everyone does, you really do debate whether it is worth it or not. Well it is very clearly worth it. I made it home for Christmas, Thomas' Birthday and New Year's. I had an awesome time with family and friends and I would definitely do it again. In fact in a few months I will get to do it again, as I am now less than 90 days from completing my one year in country. I will explain more about the redeployment process in future e-mails (this is the process to get back to the states, it will be longer than 90 days to get fully released from active duty).

My time home was really great, not only did I celebrate Christmas, New Year's and Thomas' birthday (played laser tag), but I did a few other great things. The family went to Disneyland and took a long walk on the beach. Our friends Gordy and Linda found a new Jazz club in San Diego called Anthology; we had a great meal and with great music.

I visited WD-40, did some shopping, and Rebecca and I were able to spend some time alone at a hotel (thanks Jeff and Heidi). And finally, I spent a good deal of time playing the Wii with the kids, it really is a fun video game. Editor's Note: Patrick also was treated to really fresh sushi a la Mark from one of his BloodyDecks friends.

We also went to see the San Diego Big Balloon parade.

We also went to brunch at Azul in La Jolla, which was wonderful.
Although my trip home and back to Afghanistan was grueling, I did get the opportunity to see my family in Dallas.

First visit with Austin Wade:
It really was a blessing to get to see them as I don't often get the opportunity to visit.

My trip back to Afghanistan took the mandatory five days. I say mandatory as it almost seems like that is the required time to travel, five days home, five days back. On the way out we had a stop in Leipzig, Germany and on the way back we had a stop in Shannon, Ireland. I ended up in Kuwait getting back and, of course, had to stay there and wait for a flight to Bagram which took a day and a half. I stayed the night in Bagram and then caught the convoy to Camp Eggers on Saturday, January 12th.

I am now back at work in the "Stan", digging out from the hundreds of e-mails and catching up with everything that is going on here. Fortunately, the team here covered for me well and the fight against terrorism continued without me. It is actually better being here than traveling, so at least I have that going for me. I am now known as a double digit midget as I am under 100 days to go until my tour is complete. I am sure time will go by quickly of course not quickly enough for Rebecca and the kids.

Happy New Year to you and all the best for 2008.

Peace to you all,


Friday, January 11, 2008

The Goodbye Card

Editor's Note:
This is the card that Madigan gave to Patrick the night before he left:

Monday, January 7, 2008

Merry Christmas

Editor's Note: It was a very Merry Christmas!

Before Mass at St. Therese of Carmel
Christmas Eve with Gordy (watching the Charger's game), Linda,
Miss Karen with grandson Elio, and Mark & Annie
Christmas Morning

And a Happy New Year!