Tuesday, 14 September 2010

First snow in the mountains

Last night a cool front blew through and clouds built up overhead, a few spits of rain here and there. This morning we were greeted with much cooler morning temps (less than 70 at 6 AM) and a dusting of snow on the distant mountains. By noon the snow had melted and temperatures were back to summerish highs.

Monday, 13 September 2010

The old swimming pool - now in use as a basketball court. At least in the shallow end!

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sept. 11 memorial at ADT

The Missouri ADT held a 9/11 memorial service beginning at 5:16 PM which corresponds to 8:46 when the first airplane hit the world trade center. Our senior civilian on base lost a brother that day and his wife also lost a relative. One of the men from the ADT told a story about how he was talking to someone at the Pentagon when the airplane hit and the conversation quickly ended - turned out there was a fireball coming down the hallway at the man. Hearing these stories helps highlight the importance of what we do here.

USDA Office at Finley Shields

Also pictures my colleague Gary Hart. He has a DVM as well as a soil science degree and works for APHIS

Tanker blaze

A blazing tanker truck is responsible for this dramatic smoke cloud the other evening.

Quote of the day

This message is taped inside the door to our office - left here by a previous group.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Sangui canal

Have gotten into the Behsud district once since arriving at Finley - Shields, went on a mission with the ADT to look at a canal refurbishment. The mud hole shows a deteriorated part of a canal and it was this spot that ate my camera - it looked like there were some hard places to step upon but they gave way when utilized. Just about every one of us ended up going down in the mud. Also walked along the Kabul river, the main source of water for agriculture. And recreation - again it was beastly hot this day and the Afghan boys enjoyed repeated dips in the river - a couple of swimmers are in the background of one picture. Note also the amount of sludge in this same picture coming out of the canal into the river - you don't want to know what's in that. The current moves swiftly; looked like a good place to go tubing if its weren't for the sanitation deficiencies. "Jake" is the young man pictured - he served as our tour guide from time to time; spoke pretty decent English as well!

Finley Shields bazaar

Every Friday the locals come to the base to sell Afghan goods - scarves, glass and dinnerware, rugs, tapestries, and so forth. Most of the "salesmen" are teenagers and you talk about persistent! They perfectly define the art of the hard sell. I believe they have a better future as life insurance salesmen. It was beastly hot the day I went to the bazaar and sales were slow so the salesmen were very eager to strike up a conversation and try to close a deal. I found taking a picture of them provided my best escape. Note the young man with the slingshot - keeping the birds away from soiling the wares!

New home at Finley Sheilds

Finally have some time to u


date the blog! I had been told prior to leaving for R & R in July that I would be reassigned to a key terrain district that's part of prioritizing key population and commerce routes in the country. My new assignment is the Behsud district, near Jalalabad, the second largest population center in Afghanistan. After going back to Blessing in Mid - August and finishing up some work there I spent two weeks working at Brigade helping with some administrative stuff; then on to my new home at Finley - Shields, the home of the Nagarhar PRT as well as the Behsud District Support Team. A total of 9 civilians from 3 agencies (Dept. of State, US Aid for International Development, and USDA) work here and its nice to be part of a larger team. Plus the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) call FS home, and they have a great amount of expertise as well as affording us ag guys more access to trips off the base. Their Ag Team leader is an attorney and we share a fondness for pie - he told a story at dinner last night about going to a St. Louis restaurant known for excellent pie and having several pieces of pie for dinner - no main course, just pie - my kinda guy! Anyways, the base is partially an older soviet resort built several decades ago and features an old motel (pictured) where I have my room (also pictured.) I share the room with one of the army medics; a great guy and he has tapped into my guitar playing knowledge to learn a few songs on the guitar. The base also employs a full time gardener who keeps the flower plantings kept up and the grass mowed. We have a flower garden outside the old motel (pictures) with a sitting bench and paths, a nice place to relax when its cool enough to be outside. The heat continues to be relentless, with temperatures still well into the 90's for much of the day and quite a bit of humidity as well. (I believe I can safely take home my insulated coveralls.) The base also has an outdoor swimming pool - currently dry and used as a basketball court. Hopefully I can get a picture of that - except for the fact that -

My camera fell in the mud during a trip off the base earlier this week and still hasn't recovered from the immersion; the incident appears to have slowed the shutter speed and I can only take pictures under very low lighting conditions. My apologies for the poor picture quality and hopefully this will get better as time goes along?