Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Phone Calls

As I mentioned earlier, one phone call can change your life. A relative passes. You get a new job. An old friend calls to say hello. All of these open a new chapter in our lives while closing a previous one. Some calls we look forward to. Others we dread. Some are freeing, taking a weight off our shoulders. I had a call like this the other day. It took awhile for everything to process in my head but by the time I left work the next day, it was all pretty clear. I went for the most freeing run of the year last night. Words like stronger and liberated have defined the last couple days. I've slept better than I have in probably two months. I've had this neverending pain in my left shoulder....and it's gone - literally overnight. My phone has been ringing with texts and messages and calls from friends. I've gotten emails from old friends this week. I'm not sure if they know how much the calls and messages mean.

It's just nice to know that certain people in your life want to be there. I hope you have friends who let you know that you're important. And don't forget to let them know it as well.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

07NOV07 Trying something new I think I have a better internet connection this morning so I'm going to try and post up a video from Saturday's Swayback ride. If this works, we may have something new and exciting to work with!!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Swayback Bridge Trail

Instead of driving 10 hours to Charlotte for the 2nd annual Treeshaker 12 hour race, I met up with a couple friends, Charlie and Chris, for a ride at Swayback Bridge in Montgomery. The weather was perfect at 74 degrees and sunny. We got in about 20 miles (18.6 on Chris' computer but I think he shorted the trail somewhere ;). Swayback has a good mix of everything except BIG hills. There's some climbing, some great downhill runs, rocks, roots, fast swooping hardpack dirt, and well, lots of good places to stop and chat with friends. I got a couple of videos too and I'll try to get 'em posted up with the pictures. It felt great to be on the bike, since this was my first ride in about 3 weeks. It was very much worth the drive up there and getting to spend some time with the guys.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


Ever notice how just a simple telephone call can make the world seem different? Well, in the midst of severe thunderstorms and a tornado here in Pensacola today, one phone call made things seem a lot less cloudy. Sorry, but that's all I'm going to say about it right now except that I'm really excited about what that one call meant.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dauset Quick Brief

I met up with Dean and some other friends in Jackson, GA on Saturday for the 12 Hours of Dauset race. The weather was perfect (mid 80's with no rain). The comraderie was excellant! And well, it was simply a great day to ride a bike. I got to catch up with old friends like Steve J and Gary H while making new ones like Charlie from Elba, AL (down near Dothan). This guy shows up for his first ever enduro with a rigid single speed......God bless his lil' heart! I don't think Charlie will be making that mistake again anytime soon! He did a great job completing 6 laps (I believe). As for myself, I got in the same 6 laps and a whole bunch of friendship time. My parents stopped by so I hung with them for a bit while also chatting it up with Duckman, Bruce D, and Tucker. Given that I've not done much mountain biking this year and this was my first solo attempt on the year, I'm happy with how the day went. And hey, with a picture like this, who can complain?! Thanks to Carl for this sweet jump shot.

This 2nd photo taken by Al. pretty much sums up the feeling of the day....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Another boring day at work. We finally got out office set up on the jobsite and well, apparently we'll be getting weekly airshows from these guys. What a way to start the day! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Dean recommended that I come to the 13 Hours of Santos on Labor Day weekend….well Dean, you’ve got a race my man! I’d already planned to come over for it and I’ve been planning a few races for September. Since I missed the Granny Gear race at Conyers in May due to my deployment, I was really hoping to catch the Dirty Spokes Productions 6 hour race on 08SEP since I won’t support Stu-Rat. Well, I found out today that the Dirty Spokes gang is only running the Steeplechase side of the Conyers course so I’m reevaluating my attendance there. I’m not interested in racing Conyers unless I can race the full course. Right now, it’s looking like my coming month looks like this:

02SEP: 13 Hours of Santos
22SEP: 12 Hours of Dausset
29SEP: Double Dare in Pisgah (tentative)
06OCT: Santa Rose Tri
TBD: Three Shaker 12 hour

Yes, I said those scary three letters together….T-R-I. The Santa Rosa is a sprint – 500m open water swim, 12.5 mile bike, and a 5k run. I’ve been swimming twice a week, running two to three times, and riding some road and mountain. As my time in Florida continues, I’ll be doing some climbing at Wetherford’s, about 3 min from the house. I’m looking to find a sea kayak so I can drop it in the water on a Sunday afternoon and go catch some rays on the water! I guess what I’m trying to say is that in order to avoid boredom in the flatlands, I plan to keep the workouts mixed up.

I’ve had a lot of folks ask me how I’m doing in Pensacola. Well, I’ve not had much time to get out and find my favorite new hangouts or really get to know the area as work has kept us pretty busy. I’ve gotten into a new apartment, we’re getting the office trailer set up next week, and are pretty much spending our time taking care of some of the upfront paperwork needed to get a new construction project up and running. Overall things are going fine but it still ain’t home. I’ve been home at my house in Marietta, GA about 8 weeks this year. Mollie, my dog, is doing well considering she’s been bounced about quite a bit. She’s settling into Florida nicely, especially with her new haircut – I need to keep her trimmed down in this climate!

So that’s it for now. Sorry for the delayed entry but as I’ve said, getting settled in has been a chore. I hope you’re all doing well and Dean, I’ll see next weekend friend! Drop me an email so we can meet up (

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I'm not sure if I've actually explained why I'm in Pensacola but I'm here as the construction manager for a project for 18 months. The project is an expansion of the Barrancas National Cemetary at NAS Pensacola. So far, this has been interesting and exciting already and I count myself blessed to be a part of this undertaking. The national cemetary program was established in 1865 by President Lincoln in order "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan." It's amazing to speak with folks here and as a result of the press this project has received, almost everyone I speak with knows about it and speaks highly of it's importance.

I wish I could tell you all there is to know about Barrancas but I'm still learning it. All the details can be found at

So I figure that while I'm here in the flatlands I might as well make the most of it for my sporting life. There's a triathlon coming up on 06OCT that I'm going to race in. It's the Santa Rosa Tri and the distances are 500m ocean swim, 18 mile bike, 5K run. I'm not worried about the bike or run but I did a swim workout tonight and I'm really worried about that! I know I can get back into swim shape quickly but WOW it kicked my butt tonight!! I found an outdoor pool with lane swimming open each night and the water felt so nice. Hopefully if I do three (3) swim workouts a week I can be ready for the race. I'll keep ya posted on the progress and the race results, obviously.

I want to get some pictures of the area and the cemetary to you and hopefully you can understand the greatness of this project. Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

01AUG07 (edit: 05AUG07)
Dateline: Pensacola, FL

Sorry for not posting much, but the last few weeks have been crazy and my brain's been working overtime --- I think it's time to get some riding in and give the brain a rest ;) It's hot here, flat, and has rained two of the last three days. I'm tired of rain this year. It cannot rain the next four months and I would be totally fine with it! I got in about a 20 mile road ride in an hour about town today so that was good.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

6-26-06 (edit: 7-3-07)
Quickie from Wales

This will be mostly pics and I'll explain 'em later. All's well here in Wales. Rain cleared out and I got to ride down the road a bit to a town who's name I'd butcher if I had to spell it! Here's some pics from the Mountain Mayhem race, London, and riding from today. Enjoy!

Here's a statue of Achilles in Green Park, London. The sky was perfect for capturing this picture so I couldn't pass it up.

Big Ben and the Pink Turtle. Again, couldn't pass this up.

Me with Hans Rey, mountain bike trials rider extraordinaire. This guy's been around for years and is a legend of the sport.

The toilet shot. I had no idea the guy that took this had the toilets in the background, but this was taken right after I finished my last lap at the Mtn Mayhem.

The Kenda UK boys must be rednecks! I almost felt at home when I saw this.

Eastnor Castle looking down on the race camp.

Patrick Adams greeting finishers and thanking them for coming to play at his little gig.

Here's what the crankset looked like following my last lap. Look at that mud! but notice how clean that chain is.....BIG thanks to ProLink chain lube, made right here in Atlanta, GA.

Cymmer Abbey, near Dogylleau, Wales

Riding The Beginning of the End trail, Coed y Brenin forest, Wales.

Friday, June 15, 2007



Well, it's official: I got to actually ride my bike in Kabul!! There is true Afghani dirt on the Pink Turtle. We had a BBQ tonight at the villa of our security team and instead of walking, I opted for the ride. Hey, it's the only chance to officially get the required escort and get to ride so I had to take it.

No more explanation needed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Do you feel that?

It's racing fever and it's spread all the way to Kabul!! Here's where I've been riding for the last couple, it doesn't get any better than this! Wait...I think I've been here too long....remember Pisgah, Clemson, Conyers, Stanley Gap......oooooooooo....Stanley Gap.....YEA!! I remember now =)

Last night was a good workout. I somehow managed to stay at a high power output at an average of 95 rpm for the entire hour. I had some good stuff to watch during this workout too. See, our neighbor on one side is the VP of the country and he had a large gathering of about 100 folks at this house. There were people coming and going and guards and soldiers with RPG's all over the place. Good times! I may get to see the new F-22's running patterns at home, but you don't get guys with AK's and RPG's. HA!

Ok, picture pages, picture pages.....

LOOK!! It's the PinkTurtle Walt Works in action. Take a good look at that becuase that bike is going to be a singlespeed or 1x9 when I get home. The gears are going on the new Dos Niner softail 29er.

There's my view for most of my workouts. Note the privacy screen around the patio next door? Yea, the VP doesn't like us nosey Yanks!!

Friday, June 08, 2007


And we're back with more from your broadcasting correspondant from the Big Funky K-town. Weather this week has been....well....interesting! We've had sun, rain, hail, sun, heat, cool, sun....did I mention sun? This week also brought on a site visit to a building dedication. The building was constructed by the Germans with money donated from the country of Qatar and it was a cool experience to be a part of. I will say we didn't go just for the dedication as we needed to see the remainder of the site so we can include it in our master planning efforts but it was a fun time anyhow.

I've been talking also with several new contacts about the possibility of executing some facility management training for the Afghan ministries and that has brought me into discussions about collaborative work with the German government as well as the US and Afghanistan governments. It's been a great learning experience to say the least!

Oh, I bought a new mountain bike frame this week...a Salsa Dos Niner. I've been wanting this frame for about two years and just refused to pay the asking price of $1000 for a Japanese made frame when I got my custom WaltWorks for under $800! Well, I found the Salsa for under $700 from the fine folks at, based in the Green Mountain State (VT) and was able to get a quality new wheelset and the frame for the MSRP of the frame. I'm pleased with that! I also found a new helmet by LAS....I'll post a picture of this funky skid lid when I get home and retrieve it from the mail.

My UK trip is coming together quite nicely too. I have a close friend whose brother lives in London and has offered me two nights free lodging. Turns out the guy lives two blocks from Buckingham Palace so I'll get to see all the sights and it's all within a 10 minute bike ride from Peter's! What a blessing! With the free lodging in London, free camping at the Mountain Mayhem race for two nights, this little adventure is fast becoming a lesson in "How to spend a week in the UK for under $500!"

Ok, now onto the pictures...

Rainbow over Kabul 6-5-07

Entrance to the Kabul Zoo. I'm almost scared to know what's behind that gate!

A couple months back I posted a picture of this mosque and the catwalk to the tower. Here's an updated shot so you can see the progress!

This is a village on the west side of TV Hill. I thought the street running straight up the hill just looked cool, but this gives good perspective on how much of the population of Kabul lives. Remember, there's no running water going to these houses, so the folks up top have to carry buckets and jugs from the wells at the bottom. I won't talk about the lack of a centralized sewage system....I'm sure you understand.

This is the north face of Shir Dawarza, the mountain we hiked back in March. Again, another good shot of the houses.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


18 days and counting!

I'll start with pictures...

Here's Ryan, GIS guru hard at work

Next is Elbert "Princess of Maui", Ryan's trusty assistant taking a break from guitar practice

Self portrait on the patio

Robin & Ruth enjoying lunch on the patio. They're truly great to have around and they're a sweet couple...been together like 30 years. It's fun to watch them!

Here's our Afghan work crew enjoying lunch family style.

Kareema (left) is one of the housekeepers and Sonia is our administrative assistant. Both do a great job of putting up with us Americans!

Token bike shot.....The Pink Turtle enjoys the feeling of home in my pink bathroom. And no, I didn't select this room for myself -- all four baths on this side of the house are pink!

Words of encouragement on Memorial Day from D2.

Crowd mustering for the Memorial Day service. This one was rather special because this command just lost two of it's own a couple weeks back -- the first loss this command has suffered since being in Afghanistan.

My new silk rug!

So, I hope you enjoyed our little presentation today. Now for a word from our sponsor.... hehehe! Sorry, I'm feeling a bit silly today! On a serious note, please keep Chaplain Major Shaw in your prayers. Last week he was with a convoy that was involved in an altercation. His vehicle sustained a hit from an IED. He was mostly fine following the attack except for some bleeding from his ear, which is never a good sign. Monday morning he was airlifted to the main camp in country for evaluation because he was having some chest pains. The last I heard is that he's been airlifted to an army hospital in Germany and once stable, may get a trip home. I know his spirit wants to be here as he was dedicated to being here and serving the camp so please just remember him this week.

On other notes, I've found a 4-man team to race with at the Mountain Mayhem race to be held at Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, England. WOO-HOO!!! This is a 24 hour race and the promoters are saying it's the largest 24 hour race in the world. They have 450 team and 2500 racers on board so it should be a good time!

Let's see....what else in the last week.....oh, I'm not sure if I've stated this yet, but I'll be back in the States on 1 July just before my birthday, so I'll get to celebrate the 4th at home, which I'm very much looking forward to. Well, I think that's about all the news from Kabul today. I hope you'll check back with me for another edition soon.

Oh, and for all you UGA 'Dawg fans out there.....Go Vols! "Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet home to me! Good ol' Rocky Top. Rocky Top Tennessee!" (Football season will be here before ya know it!)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Has it been THAT long?

WOW, I guess I didn't realize it's been so long since my last post, but my family's gotten onto me and some friends have to so HI! Here I am! All's well here, I've just been going full bore the last week or so with planning for about (6) new bases here and all the stuff that goes with them.

Let's see....what's happened that's worth reporting? We were supposed to attend an Afghan wedding tonight for one of our workers. Unfortunately, our team lead told our security guys that no one wanted to go and he didn't ask the (3) of us that did! I'm pretty peaved about that, actually, because I think my us not going, we insulted him, especially since he made the effort to ensure that everyone of us -- including all the guards -- had invitations.

What else...I'm coming home 01 July...that's good news, I guess. My replacement is already in country and is getting immersed and caught up so I'm actually glad about that because that means there won't be any lag when I do leave. The transition will be seamless.

I wish I had some new pictures to post up, but alas, there's nothing new to show right now. I have been getting some good workouts both at the gym and on my bike -- spinning, not really riding. Oh, thanks to the $10 downloads from Carmichael Training Systems, I have a podcast of their Steady State spin workout so I can now do a spin class here at the villa. It's actually a neat workout and I'm pretty impressed with the ability to be able to download these things. I guess it's their way of getting ya hooked on smoking so they can reel ya in for the hard drugs! Trust me, I don't see CTS in my future because their personalized programs are just too costly.

Oh, I'm chasing down some more work here in Afghanistan. It seems that some of what my company, MACTEC Engineering, does for core business is not being done here so I'm looking into how we can resolve that! We'll see what actually shakes out of it, but with my new help in country, I can donate some of my workload to her and spend a bit of time marketing this other stuff.

I'm sorry that this entry is a bit melancholy....I guess I'm just ready to get on now. I'm getting info on the Pensacola project which excites me to know that I have work to do when I get home. I'm excited about the time I'm going to spend in the UK and I have an opportunity to race if I can find a team -- registration's been closed for a bit now. There are 450 teams signed up with a total of over 2500 racers! WOW!!! I know mountain bikers pretty well and I'm sure someone of that 2500 will back out and there'll be at least 50 teams looking for riders in the coming weeks. I'm praying so anyway ;) I spent today just reading and watching Shrek. I did an hour on the bike outside and got a bit of sun -- I'm so incredibly scary white it ain't even funny!

Well, so that's that I guess. I kinda really miss home this trip, more than the first trip I think. I miss my friends, driving, going to dinner, my church and choir...I think I miss it all more now since I'm actually leaving it all again when I do get home and I know that. I know God has a lot in store for me and I'm okay with not knowing it all. I just wish I could be home, that's all. Okay, now that you're all totally sorry you asked for an update, I'll let ya go! Sorry to drag ya down tonight. Tomorrow's a busy day starting at 0700 and meetings all day about (5) different things so I need to go to bed.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Whew, what a day!

And I don't mean that in a good way! Saturday was not fun at all. See, apparently Friday night at dinner, we got a hold of something that was not good. A couple of here in the house were sick as dogs yesterday. I'll spare ya the details, but let's just say I feel 10x better today!

So let's see, what's new here? I'm dreaming up my vacation plans in the UK for the first week of July, I think I mentioned that before. I just found this area in the south of Scotland that has (8) sets of trails -- not just (8) trails -- and the videos are killer! I'm getting stoked about this opportunity. Maybe I'll just stay on the main island instead of having to unpack and rebuild the bike 4 times....hmm.....For my riding friends, check these clips out... Sweet singletrack goodness!

So yes, my bike made it here. It's in the "trusty" hands of the fine Afghani customs folks at this moment. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go pick it up today -- and HOPEFULLY I won't get charged an arm and a leg in customs fees.

On another note, I've been asked to take on a project down in Pensacola for two years starting in July. It's an expansion of a national cemetary just outside the Naval Air Station there. I'm excited about the opportunity, for sure, but it will mean having to move and find a new church, make new friends...all that jazz. It will all be fine, but I was just starting to enjoy the idea that I haven't moved in 2 years! Well, here we go again! I'll say this, I've been praying that God make it clear as to whether I'm supposed to make a third trip back to Kabul and then I got this call. Guess He can't be much clearer, eh?

Okay, well, I need to get moving. The work day is starting here -- man, I'm thankful to be feeling better today!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Now that I'm away from the craziness and have WAY too much time to think, I'll get all pensive on ya ;) Most of you know that before Christmas I adopted another Great Pyrenees dog named Gus. Well, with being away and not having time to work with him while home, I had to give him up. He had some destructive behavior that I don't have time to work through since I'm gone. My folks actually found him a good home on a 10 acre farm with a family that had just lost their male Pyr the week before due to a complication in a surgery. So Gus Gus is with good folk.

Ah, since I don't talk about cycling enough lately (geez, here he goes....) I'll toss in some planning here -- maybe one or two of the sponsors are actually playing along. Wait! I only have one or two this year, that's right! Anywho, I bought a new road bike while I was home -- it's a Van Dessel Kermis. It has an aluminum main frame with carbon fork and rear end, Shimano Ultegra components and rides like a dream. I'm having my WaltWorks mtn bike shipped over here to the Kabul-town along with a trainer. I need some spin time to get jacked up for some late season riding and I can't be all out of shape just because I've been here -- my riding friends would never let me live it down. (Hush Joey! Don't EVEN start)! It should get here next week and I'll toss up a picture of it set up and me staring off at the mountains in the distance wishing I were riding them.

The ulterior motive for having the bike here is actually so I can do a race in the UK on my way home. There's this race called the Dusk till Dawn and it takes place on the Isle of Man, between Ireland and England on July 7. And this little race called the Tour de France just happens to start in London this year on July 7, so hopefully I'll catch the stage on the 8th before they head over to Dunkirk, Belgium. My current thoughts have me in Dublin for me birthday on the 3rd which I think will be kinda cool. I have very current ancestry from Ireland so it'll be nice to at least go see the place since I'll be right there ;) Trust me, there'll be a photo essay of these travels for your enjoyment...oh, did I just tease you? I'm so sorry. right!

Allright, a promise is a promise. I'll keep it short. You do realize though that just means I'll have to write more often. HA! You didn't think of that now did ya?!

Oh, and I don't know what happened while I was gone, but my morning Koran reading got switcherood from 5:45am to 4:30am. Those sneaky Muslims! Nothing like waking up to the Koran being read over a loudspeaker at 4:30am 2 blocks from your bedroom window! Guess they'll have to start getting a taste of some Vince Poole sangin' out some praises to the Lo'ord! Now where'd I put those speakers.....

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Kabul Take 2

So apparently I ruint some of ya on my first trip with my blog ramblings because I keep getting asked for more. Well, here ya are….

I’m back in the Kabul-town, just in on Saturday from the good ol’ USofA. I think I messed up by not taking a hotel room for a night in Dubai – I didn’t sleep a wink from Thursday morning until Saturday morning (EST). For some reason I just couldn’t sleep on the planes this time – no, it wasn’t b/c I was all worked up over something – that was last time! This time I think it was b/c I was traveling alone so there was no one to watch out for me and my stuff. Anyone who’s done this internationally knows what I’m sayin! There’s no feeling more insecure than carrying your checked luggage into the airport restroom….twice! I felt like Linus with his blue blanket.

Anyway, I got here without any hitches and even got to enjoy an hour or so and a cup of coffee with a friend in London’s Victoria Station in between my flights. It was nice to see a familiar face!

Let’s see…what else….oh, not much has changed here. There were some crazy times while I was gone where folks decided to get stupid and want to kill someone, but that’s the routine here. Sunday, actually, just as I was walking into church service, I learned of an attack on a US military convoy here in town. This time I have friends who knew those soldiers killed. I’m not sure if I can give details so I won’t. Suffice it to say, this one hit the folks close to home and many on the base are a bit shaken up so please keep them and the families of the victims in your prayers.

There’s more to say, but I’ll try to keep these entries brief this trip. Here are some pictures from the trip home….

Atlanta traffic – man, I missed that! (ahem, not!)

Braves vs Cubbies. Now I DID miss this! Braves won, for the record, so put one in the W column!

Me in London with new friends. Ya know, those Brits are kinda cool folk! Next time I’ll actually have to take the tour as payment for the picture!

I just thought this made for a good picture. It’s the pedestrian tunnel at the Tube in London.

Outside London’s Victoria Station

Dubai skyline, specifically the Jumerieh area I believe. “Like a phoenix rising from the ashes….”

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Wednesday night in the 'Stan. There's Thursday, my last full workday of this trip, then Friday it's off to the ol' Kabul International Airport for a marathon trip home! Am I excited? You bet your bottom dollar there, lil' missy! However, I will say that I'll miss some things about Kabul-town while I'm home. As much as I miss home right now, I'll likely not look at my house the same way. I definitely will not view my life as I knew it the same.

Once you experience something like I have here, your perspective changes -- it has to. For instance, I'm about to go from being one of a handful of people without a loaded gun on my hip and shoulder to getting locked up for even carrying an unloaded one. I'm about to leave a place where women have no say whatsoever....where religion dictates much of everyone's life....where contradictions and social class take first chair to most other things. I'm leaving this and I'll be able to play in my front yard with the doggers. I'll be able to invite the local bum to eat dinner with me and only risk ridicule, not imprisonment. I'll be able to drive down the road and not wonder where the IED is or where the RPG is going to come from. I will sit and watch those darn C-130's at Dobbins AFB from my front yard and remember my flight on one -- thanking God Almighty the Italian pilot didn't make a banking turn like those crazy blokes at Dobbins!

Ya know, I've sat and listened to friends and other people talk their glorious and fun adventures abroad and I've envied them. They talk about friends they've made oversees and getting to go visit them, sometimes in lands new to both. I've been jealous and a bit mad at myself for not being in a position to do that. Now I too have wonderful stories of my own and some great new friends in a strange and beautiful land. Only difference is, they'll never be able to leave and go experience someplace new. Oh they dream it, don't think for a moment they don't! They just will not have the chance...the money...the permission to go somewhere else. They won't, that is, unless someone helps them. I'm glad that God blessed me with the chance to play a small role in reshaping their future. My only hope now is that I can do enough!

Honestly, I dread going back to the office and having to face office politics and...(gulp) policies that MUST be signed. I dread it because they are all meaningless. They serve no REAL purpose in this world. I sat with (3) Army colonels around a dinner table the other night under a starry sky in Konduz and we all feel the same. Powerpoint presentations mean nothing. Spreadsheet reports -- right, they're REAL important. Someone in the office getting all upset because the toner is low in the copier. I look out my window here and see children --and adults-- afraid of walking down the street. I watch jets fly over and wonder if they'll be shot down. I work with people who cannot afford firewood to keep their house -- and wife, and 6 month old child warm. Yet I also have the blessing of working with Americans who have chosen to be here helping. Yes, most of the soldiers I'm working with CHOSE to be here, a few have been here more than once -- that's how important they see their work here. I count it an honor and blessing to stand with them.

Yea, I'll miss Afghanistan while I'm home, I think. Mostly I'll miss my new friends and wish they could just once have the luxury of asking "Honey, where are we eating dinner tonight?" or "Where will I go on vacation this year?" or "Hey man, you wanna go to the ballgame tonight?"