Sunday, November 20, 2011


I don't know why, but whenever I live somewhere for more than a couple of months, a group will emerge to play Monopoly with me. How cool is that? Back at home, at summer camp, in Columbus, when I lived in DC with a bunch of student interns, there's always a group such as these that will be willing to argue endlessly over the outcome of a property trade. It's practically been the greatest conceivable board game since 1934 (with the possible exception of Settlers of Catan, of which I'd have to play more to better judge the two).

Well, since our good friends on the other side of the base left the theater of operations, and us with no regular movie night on Saturdays, there's been nothing notable to do on a Saturday night here. This was until last week when I made the executive decision to force a couple of friends to play Monopoly with me. Everyone had a great time and the experience was repeated with more participants last night.
I totally won. Andrea (on the left) won last week.
Monopoly is great is my point.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Three Month Contractversary

Devotees of my blog will know that for the first two or so months of my being here I would often say that time was flying by very quickly. I'm not sure of the reason, but this is no longer the case. Time has slowed down. Maybe it's because I've gotten used to the routines, or perhaps it's the amount of time I've spent away from home.

Recently, I crossed my longest-I've-ever-been-outside-of-the-united-states threshold, and it reminded me of this scene from Lord of the Rings, where the characters are first setting off on their journey, and Sam stops and says to Frodo, "If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest from home I've ever been". Aside from thinking that if Sam makes this speech every time he takes another step away from home that it'll take forever to get to Mordor, I also empathize with the thought that crossing these thresholds is meaningful on some level. Here's that scene:
Being reminded of a scene from a movie reminds me that I'm often reminded of another scene from another movie. You know in the beginning of Casablanca there's that bit of narration in which the entire phenomenon of Casablanca being a refugees' city is explained? Well if you don't here it is:
Soon after the opening there's another scene in a central area of Casablanca in which a plane takes off - the plane that all of the characters wish that they were on themselves. They all turn their heads to watch as the plane takes off. I feel like those characters every time I see the planes taking off from the airstrip - which is often as the airstrip is very busy. I hear the narrator's voice in my head at the end of the clip above saying "and wait... and wait... and wait..."

Wow that makes it sound like I want nothing more than to get out of here. No, I'm not miserable - in fact it looks like I'll be extending my time here by a few weeks, so this isn't even the half-way point for me just yet (another week and a half, or eleven days, or 264 hours, or 33 meals, or 1 laundry periods, or... (see? I'm not desperate to get out of here...) until the halfway point).

The rain comes with a breeze that is most cooling on my mustache.
It's raining right now while I write this post... for the second time the entire time I've been here. The first time it was torrential and lasted all day. Pools of water gathered in ditches and stayed there for weeks. You'd think in this dry atmosphere it would evaporate in a day, but no. We're entering the rainy season, so we can start to expect more days like that, but it's still hot during the day and can break 80 easily. At night it's cold, sometimes in the 40s.

My mom did not think that this suitcase was going to make it to me mailed as it was.
Over the last couple of weeks I got a few huge packages in the mail. Two of them came just today (Nov. 7th). It's really exciting to get mail, it breaks up the monotony as I've said before.
Seriously there was a windfall of awesomeness recently.
Even a simple card or photo (or a photocopy of a photo) brightens my day.
My desk isn't normally this messy, I just wanted to take a picture of all the mail.
If you squint, or click and enlarge the picture, you can see that the only one of my cousins with adorable children that has sent me adorable pictures of themselves and/or their kids has been Suzanne and Lee Appel. Props to them. If you're feeling guilty for not having sent me packages and/or pictures of you and your adorable kids you can feel free to send such things to:

Joshua Kramer
Kandahar Education Center
APO, AE 09355

It costs the same to send to that address as it does to anywhere in the US.

Things that taste like home.

This week the British cafe place finally had smoked salmon bagel listed as "in stock" on their menu. It tasted really good.
I mean, it was missing some tomato and some red onion - but I'm not complaining.

There was a new sign at the poo pond recently!
Very clever.

Let's take a look at the before-and-after.
Before, when I had a smaller beard and shorter hair, and apparently didn't mind having a picture taken of me with earbuds.
After, I have a bigger beard and longer hair.
I painstakingly arranged it so the flyswatter, the pipe, and my position in relation to the chair made for an accurate before and after setup - just thought you should know.

The other day, a guy laughed out loud when he came to me for help with something and I had no accent. True story.

OK, so there are these emails that go through a sensor on the special computer system we have here on KAF to make everyone aware of the same things. "KAF-all" emails. We get to send out information about programs and classes available at the Ed. Center once a week. This week, Christian included, sandwiched in between a couple of other bullet points, "everyone is invited to the Ed. Center to pet Josh's beard." The bullet point made it through the sensor, so either he wasn't reading it, or he thought it was funny. Hopefully he thought it was funny, because, you know... he's a censor. So far, there have been no takers, next time I think Christian is going to include something about it being good luck to pet my beard... we'll see how that works.

Until next time.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dust Devil

A Dust Devil is like a mini tornado made out of sand/dust. They're usually harmless and small, but even when they're big they rarely cause any sort of damage. Here they're always small, because there's a lot of buildings and crap to get in their way on the base that slows their growth.

Basically, they look like a cartoon tornado, or the tazmanian devil's lower half when he's travling... hey maybe that's why he's got devil in his name...

Sometimes I see them in the distance, but the other day we were driving around and saw one about half a block away. So, in true, storm chasers fashion, we chased it, and took a few pictures.
Yeah, it's not the best dust devil in the world, so what?
Watch out MWR Gym! You're about to get gently pushed by some wind!
Oh the humanity!
This picture and the one above it are the two best ones, I think.
Dust devil powering down...
If I see any better ones in the future I'll be sure to get pictures of them. Until then, abgudleafahg!@%#$@!^! That's Tazmanian Devil for "stay classy".