Thursday, May 30, 2013

My American Style

So I've been on a kick the past few years to maximize the Made in USA that exists in my wardrobe. Though normally I don't like to put myself in with popular trends, I'm a big fan that I'm recently in growing company in this effort. Right now there seems to be people who jumped on the movement because of bad conditions in the Asian sweatshops. Not me. I just don't like sending money to overseas manufacturers so that some rich guy (a job creator) can maximize share prices to make him and his buddies richer while cutting jobs in the US.  *See bonus rant below

A couple observations about trying to build my American-made wardrobe: First, shoes and underwear have been difficult to find.  Heavy, purpose-built boots can be found for a price, but casual and athletic shoes are pretty hard to come by.  Second, there seems to be more sources for women’s than men’s clothes that are made domestically, though it’s probably just proportional to the overall number of clothing manufacturers.  Last but not least, just because a brand manufactures one of their lines in the US, it does not mean everything they make is from the US; actually, it seems to be pretty rare to find an entire Made in USA brand.

New Balance has been making some of their running shoes in the US for awhile.  Unfortunately not all are made here; I especially wish they would bring the Minimus line to the US.,default,pg.html

Keen has been my favorite non-running-shoe brand for a few years.  I wear them pretty much every day (when I’m not wearing combat boots).  And just recently they brought production for as few models to the US.  I ordered a pair but haven’t been home to enjoy them yet.

Just read about Flint and Tinder on a financial website I browse.  Haven’t tried them yet, but I definitely want to once I get home.  Like I mentioned, American made underwear seems to be pretty rare, and I believe this is the reason these guys started the company.

American made socks are actually pretty easy to find anywhere and are usually the same price as the imports.  Smartwool socks are pretty awesome.

Fox River socks are also high on my list, and they even sell a Sock Monkey kit:

Shirts & Pants:
I started off with All American Clothing.  The jeans are nice and are my current choice especially for the price.  I’ve also ordered khakis and a button-down shirt from them; they are decent, but seem more like work-wear than business casual.

My current choice brand for work clothes is Todd Shelton.  Expensive as all get out, but I see my wife at work and so I’ve got to look good!

Sweaters & Casual:

Ibex is the household favorite.  Not all of it is American made, but a lot of it is.  Also, a lot of it is wool and is freakin’ awesome.  I own like three sweaters and three other shirts and Jaime has about the same.  Also expensive, but worth it.


Not too much need for quality outerwear in the LC.  We only experience cold when visiting family in MN for Christmas, or when sent to Moscow anytime between September and April.  I’ve now got my trusty OD-green WWII era wool coat, but if it comes time for something new, I’ll be checking out Filson.


* Yep, somewhere along the way our society thought it would be a good idea to move our manufacturing overseas so that we could get all the crap we don't need at a slightly cheaper price. Then when money starts to get low and jobs start to run scarce because we send all of our money to foreign companies, instead of blaming ourselves for demanding that cheap crap and changing our ways, we instead demand that our standard of living cannot decrease (we're America dammit) and look for even cheaper ways to fill the void we created. And I'm about to digress into our insurmountable debt due in no small part to our refusal to share any burden that comes with being at war for twelve years, so it’s time to quit…

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Buzzword Awesomifying

Short backstory: We have to write up the story of our team and our mission and all of our accomplishments and other stuff for the Army archives.  Instead of allowing us to write our stories in a format that fits our team and mission, the Army (true to form) requires us all to use the same format, whether we are a 3500-soldier brigade or a 10-man team.  We lovingly call that "forcing a square peg into round hole".

One such example of this is the requirement that we write down our Campaign Plan.  Unfortunately, 10-man advisor teams don't really do campaigns and so don't really build campaign plans.  So a few of us took about 15 minutes today and put together a couple sentences with as many useless buzzwords as possible.  I think it's a pretty awesome square peg:

We will create an environment conducive to the leveraging of dynamic inter-pillar networking IOT (in order to) enable ANSF synergy and develop core competencies of the Afghan Security Forces.  A cognitive approach will be utilized by fostering hyper-local and holistic lines of effort IAW (in accordance with) the Afghan-centric paradigm of the tenets of Unified Land Operations.

Friday, April 12, 2013


As promised, some A to the K shootin video.  I'm the guy with the rolled up sleeves.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What's the haps

I believe that most Americans really don't have much of an idea of what's going on in Afghanistan.  Though I can only really speak about Kandahar province, it's very convoluted.  This article does a good job of descibing some of the craziness.  I've been out to MAJ Harty's location in Panjwai a couple of times... He is a very patient and forgiving man.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Any '80s child should immediately associate those letters with the Nintendo Entertainment System.  In the spirit of the Easter season, I did a little bit of messing with my computer because I wanted to play one of my all-time favorites, The Legend of Zelda.  It was surprisingly easy, and unsurprisingly awesome.

We've now got my MacBook with PS3 controllers running about 25 NES games in our office.  And the awesomest part?  The young guys here totally suck at old-school games.  Us "old guys" blame it on the everyone-gets-a-trophy upbringing.  Recent games baby you through, gradually teaching you to play and letting you save progress every five seconds.  Old-school games, not so much; if you suck, you start all the way over at the beginning of the level.  If you suck three times, game over.  Pass the controller.

...up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start.

Monday, March 25, 2013

AKs and News Stories

So today we got to head out to good ol' Panjwai to say hello to some friends and fire off a few rounds.  We brought with us some of our security personnel and they were generous enough to allow us to fire their AK-47s.  It was pretty awesome and a nice change of pace from my M4.  Hopefully I can mooch some pics from it.

Also, this NATO video is very interesting (though I may be biased since it was mostly filmed at our little compound):

Friday, March 22, 2013

Living Acrosque from the Mosque

So I recorded some of the local mullah's singing today in hopes of posting the song for all to hear.  Since I don't know how to post just music, I mated the music to some photos I snapped of the surrounding area.   Sorry about the crappy quality of the photos in the video.  I had to compress it to make it uploadable from here and that made the pictures pretty bad.  Anyway, the sound is still there so I guess I met the original intent.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Back in Force!

The blog is back!

Not that I have the need to go retro or to buck the trend, but since I've been in Afghanistan I've been checking facebook much more frequently.  I chalk that up to racking up a lot of desk time here and not having a lot of interesting options for my many mini-breaks.

So as it tuns out, I've lost interest on most things facebook.  Maybe because it feels like a popularity contest.  Maybe it's that the majority of my 200+ friends would never even think to try to contact me directly.  Maybe I'm just tired of seeing that grumpy cat or whatever the meme pic of the week is.  I don't know.  I just know I'm annoyed whenever I get on the facebook.

So here it is, the first post in a year for the legions of readers.  Once I figure out what all the squiggly Pashto/Dari/whatever words on my Afghan internet mean, I'll be able to add some action-packed photos.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


No, I'm not going to talk about one of my favorite movies, Contact. Good guess though!

I am here instead to follow-up on my last post about kickboxing. I decided to sign up for that class, buying the internet special of 3 hour-long kickboxing sessions plus boxing gloves for $19.99. It is a pretty sweet deal if you ask me. Because I was being a big sally chicken, I convinced my friend Lauren to sign up with me so I didn't have to go alone. On Friday last week we went to our first class!

After warm up (a little too long for my tastes) we did some sit-up/push-up exercises with a medicine ball and then spent the rest of the time jab/cross-ing and roundhouse kicking the stand-up bag. I don't know about Lauren, but I felt super powerful smashing and bashing the bag - it kept moving across the floor with my uber powerful jab-cross-hook-hook moves. You know, cuz I'm bad ass - clearly. Not because there wasn't enough weight in the bottom of the stand...pfffff <waves hand in dismissal>. Obviously!

Unfortunately, they didn't have our gloves for us, so we had to use the "community gloves"...which was disgusting. Sweaty meat hooks were flying everywhere, so the hand sanitizer came in nice and handy after the class. Sorry next person to use the gloves I had, I left a residue for your hygiene pleasure. Yay for me, I sweat enough to soil the gloves - boo for the next person <shrugs>.  Rusty, our instructor, said they would have our gloves next time we came. I am hopeful :) I will say that the only other downer was I learned more about form and what to do from my 1990s Billy Blanks Tae Boe videos than I did from our instructor, but that's fine with me for $20. More than anything I'm proud I went to work out - woot!

Oh yeah, to answer the obvious question: Yes, I am sore. Specifically, my right shoulder and my 3rd left ab. I'm looking forward to our next class, this Friday!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Using Stuff

I've been getting good use out of my heart rate (HR) monitor birthday present lately. I like to wear it and monitor my HR during my kickboxing class at 24 Hour Fitness. It's just a cardio kickboxing class, so no pads or gloves or actually hitting anything; it is, however, very fun and challenging for me. I love that I can track where my HR is, and having that information at hand (hahaha! "at hand", get it?...cuz I can see my HR on my watch?...yikes...weak sauce, I know) has been really useful in balancing getting a good workout and not toppling over and passing out because I'm trying so hard :)

I am contemplating taking a more intense kickboxing class ( on the recommendation of my friend Becky. Kicking a pad and using gloves to smash stuff could be really fun! What do you think?