5 March 2007
Having my mind turned to mush by Bad Hair Day - Weird Al Yankovich
I never tire of Jingle Trucks
Today was Maj Apple’s first day back at the office. He had a great time on his vacation, and promises to write a post soon for AWAC, so I won’t spoil his surprises. The one thing I will touch on is watches. He is a big watch fanatic, you know, the things you wear on your wrist to tell what time it is. His wife bought him a fancy watch on their trip, and he was all-aglow telling us about it. I’m sure I disappointed him greatly when I looked at it, shrugged, and said, “I don’t know a thing about watches. Mine cost $20. They tell the time.” This one is the same one that James Bond wore in the latest movie, and is approved for use in space by NASA.
“That will certainly come in handy the next time you are off doing the spy thing,” I dryly remarked.
I guess this thing cost a good bit, but he wouldn’t say how much. But I’m sure it’s lots more than what I’ve spent on anime, many times over. I’m guessing of course, but probably close.
I’ve often remarked on how different the worlds are that Hamid and I come from, but it’s not too hard to find differences among Americans either. I am a cheapskate. I admit it. My watch really did cost $20, maybe $30. My back up watch cost $10. Recently I saw an ad somewhere making fun of someone for something (I’m not good with details), and one of the items they were ridiculing was their watch, which was very similar to mine. Huh? People look at watches? I don’t. I couldn’t even tell you if someone I had been with all day was wearing a watch. Now I know why I don’t get invited to fancy dress parties. I have a cheap watch. It’s a good thing I’m already married, because apparently I’d never be able to get a date either. I guess total strangers break down in laughter after I walk by, because I wear a Casio. I’m mortified. How can I show my face in public?
OK, all joking aside. If you like expensive watches, go for it. That’s what’s great about America. But I don’t understand the appeal. So even amongst Americans, our thought-processes can be very different. Throw in a different language, culture, religion, and upbringing, and it’s hardly surprising that Hamid and I have some of the conversations we do. If Maj Apple and I, two men from the same country, in the same line of work, nearly the same age, can have such different views of timepieces, then it’s nothing short of miraculous that Hamid and I see eye-to-eye on anything. Funny how a simple thing like a watch can suddenly open your eyes to all the differences in the world.
Today I am happy to bring you the next installment of Great Men of CMA. Our featured officer is Maj Quhar, the man who took over as the S4 (Chief of Logistics) from Maj Atabar. While Atabar was a friend of mine, and I don’t want to speak badly of him, I must say that I am much more impressed by Maj Quhar. For instance, even though Atabar had the biggest, nicest, plushest office on CMA, I have never found Maj Qahar in it. Every time I go looking for him, he is down the hall in a small office with old furniture, working on paperwork or records. The only time he uses the nice office is when he has us in for chai. In the three months he’s been the S4, he’s done remarkable work getting their storerooms organized and their inventory up to snuff. He is humble and hardworking, with great attention to detail. He’s the sort of man I’d want working for me, and is another reason that I see hope for this country, and why CMA is such a success.
Congratulations on the milblog win. I had heard of you a few times before the competition, but hadn't read you.
I see that was a mistake on my part! I'm going to be a regular reader from now on.
What you may not have realized was that she was a fellow Milbloggie winner. Check out her site at http://www.fuzzilicious.blogspot.com
One other note: she uses as her avatar a picture from Kimba the White Lion, one of the anime shows I watched as a kid. So she must be a closet anime fan. Welcome to the AWAC family, FbL!
Speaking of anime, it must be time for another episode of Afghanime. Of course it is, and here it is now.
Afghanime - Two Months Left to Become an Animemeister
Back last summer, I made the fateful decision to order Excel Saga, and thus my descent into anime madness had begun. Now I have reached the anime-event horizon, the point at which I can’t watch it all, keep up AWAC, and still get enough sleep each night. I guess sleep is going to have to go.
I’d like to welcome Linn to the AWAC family. She gets special mention because she knows her anime, and likes Excel Saga, Fooly Cooly (FCLC), and Last Exile. Even though our readership is growing, anime fans are still rare.
I mentioned a couple of days ago that Rightstuf International was having an irresistible sale, but you had to buy exactly 25 DVDs, all different. This may not have sounded difficult, but I was trying to buy complete series, and anime series come in different increments, usually 3, 4, 6 or 7 DVDs to a set. And of course, being the discerning viewer, I wasn’t going to buy just any series. After I had carefully planned my purchase, I found half the items I wanted were out of stock. I did write them as I said I would, though I wasn’t terse. Sadly, they would not be able to restock the items I wanted before the sale ended. Rats!
After hours of research, the Afghanime staff still debate
which 25 DVDs to buy
Remember, these would be a paltry $4 each. These puppies usually sell for $17 each on a good day, so I could not pass this up; it was my civic duty. I was on a mission. I took another go at it, and managed to come up with a viable Plan B, and I am happy to say I was able to buy five complete sets and all but one of a sixth. I was informed that I had saved over $600. Yay! (Incidentally, Maj Apple is as enthused about anime as I am about fancy watches, which is to say, “Not at all.”).
If you intend to start down the road to madness, er anime viewing, just remember, when a new series is released in America, it first comes out as separate DVDs, usually a month or two apart. After they have all been released, a complete boxed set will come out, which will be much cheaper than buying them individually. Finally, a while after that happens, some companies, like ADV, will release a thin pack set, which gets rid of all extra features and only has the shows themselves. These are great bargains, and are highly recommended by the Afghanime staff. If you are buying sets through Amazon.com, beware of imports. They will usually be identified by phrases like “import” or “3-DVD set, different box.” These are usually from China, and the people who produce these are not paying royalities to anyone. Although the quality can be good, some are poor. I’ve never knowingly bought a set, but do have a few I got early on, before I knew what I was doing. I wouldn’t recommend them, as I feel it is important to support the US companies that are doing the US versions. Besides, the quality isn’t as good, and who wants to watch shoddy anime?
The William Arkin Obscene Amenity of the Day (named for William Arkin, the blogger who thinks the military is made up of mercenaries with too many amenities). Despite all the work we do coming up with these, Mr. Arkin has never said, “Thank you.” That hurts.
Odie came through with an obscene amenity for me. Thanks. I’m doubling your salary.
Obscene Amenity of the Day: This stuff. You see it everywhere. When the weather is nice it shines and sparkles brightly and you can’t help but smile back. When, it snows however, that’s when the real beauty comes out and it’s like being surrounded by delicate lace designs. Why knuckle-draggers like us should be send such artwork at taxpayers expense escapes me.
My son Taylor sent me volume two of Monty Python’s Flying Circus for my birthday, a most excellent gift. This set includes the famous Lumberjack Song, worth the purchase price all on its own. Thanks, Taylor.
Five Seconds of Fame: Yesterday’s quote - Game over, man. Game over! is another favorite of mine, from Aliens. Only Matthew got it right. Come one guys, it wasn’t that hard. You’re not even trying. Here’s another photo of the sweetest dog on Earth, Erma.
Quote of the Day:
“Some of you may die, but that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.”
If this day were any greater, I’d have to wear shades.
And now over to Rat:
What is mentorship? How do you properly define it? This is a puzzling question to some over here. You see it is part of what we do. It's even in my duty title, "Senior Mentor, Plans and Policy Directorate." But how do I do it? Well I can assure you this is a skill that there is no training for. There was no school I attended prior to coming over here to fine-tune my ability. It's something you have to learn to be able to do, and not even know you’re doing it.
You see it has a lot to do with being a role model. But it’s taking it to the next level. I have found that the key difference is in the daily interaction. Your appearance and professional attitude does transfer, and over time you can see a change in the way they wear their uniform, the way they attack problems, and it fills you with an amazing sense of accomplishment.
One of the first questions I asked of Col Mohammad, my Afghan counterpart, was "Where to you want Afghanistan to go?" I was setting the groundwork for him to think about things on a philosophical level. I wanted to know about his dedication and to plant the seeds of hope. In the nine months I have been working with him, we have had several discussions, and I think he is extremely dedicated and works tirelessly to build a better Afghanistan. He has become a close friend and I too learn things from him. You see mentorship is a two way street and if you’re not willing to see the road ahead, than you cannot possibly reach the finial destination.
A lot of what we do here is train the ANA in certain skill sets, and then we have to let them figure out how to put these skills to use. Sometimes we have to let them fail to get an appreciation of how the system works. As long as no one gets hurt, it can be the best teacher. Another method is to sit and talk about a situation and have them brain storm ideas for possible courses of action. As Mike pointed out the other day, they are concrete thinkers, and getting them to think in the abstract can be difficult. By doing these exercises they have begun to start processing information in a different way. Once we have the ideas, then we start figuring out the possible consequences of each course of action. After a time, a light bulb comes on and a solution in found. The key to this process is to let them do the work. They have to come to the answer on their own. So I guess another aspect of mentoring is to be the guide. Point out the things to see and take them on a journey they are likely to remember. In the end, we will leave and all that will be left are the impressions we have left behind. I hope this will be enough. I did finish the Tigger and Grinch pictures today. I hope they are to your liking. I did enjoy doing them. Keep the ideas coming. I still have white space that need filling
Odie actually sent this to me last night, but the photos were massive and too much for my primitive internet connection. We have finally worked it out so his photos don’t fill my hard drive, and here is another post to stave off the angry villagers:
Listening to “The Other Side of the Radio” by Chris Rice.
I definitely think Buzz is on to something with his post Saturday. The US can do what it can to create an environment for growth and stability and try to counter anti-Western bias in the Muslim world, but the ultimate defeat of radical Islam should to come at the hands of Muslims. We need imams willing to call out the radicals publicly on their abuses and convenient misinterpretations. We need some brave mullah to post 95 Theses on the Mosque door and be willing to stand by it; a flurry of fatwas denouncing every one of the knucklehead fatwas that a radical puts out. If the radicals really are a small percent of Islam, this should be doable. Unfortunately, I don’t see enough of that from the moderate leaders yet, so that makes our job much more difficult and means we should probably start to posture our military to fight this for years to come, even if the battleground changes from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Another picture you probably didn’t see in the news today. Afghan man and son wave as US troops hand out aid.
BTW, Mouse and Bear has a nice ring to it if you say it like, “Moose and Squirrel” with the appropriate Russian accent. I’m just saying…