Friday, October 19, 2007

Picture and Movie Time

Well, in the post below (also published today,) Blogger could or would not allow me to upload pictures. Gremlins; you know I hate 'em. Anyway, I ranted instead. However, the good people at Blogger are nothing if not astute, so they immediately fixed whatever problems the aforementioned gremlins had caused, enabling me to bring you these fine pictures. Enjoi.

In "Picture Time," I mentioned that it was strange to see these two vehicles parked side by side in the same livery. Here they are. This is just bizarre. Brave new world indeed.

Here are our intrepid EOD techs wiring up a couple of 60mm mortar rounds that magically appeared beside the road near one of our favorite ambush spots. Maniac called them in as IED's, which they weren't (yet.) There is a reason why we call him the Maniac.

Well, we had the C-4, might as well just blow them in place, right? Right. Nice.

This is a room full of poppy stems and bulbs. They were saving them for the seeds to plant next year. "What poppies? Those aren't mine. I don't know where they came from. That is just kindling for the winter fires."

Ummm... yeah. They score the poppy bulbs, which are just below the flowers on the growing plant, with razor tips embedded in wooden handles. Then they scrape off the black, tarry opium resin with a specialized metal cross between a spoon and a dustpan. Viola; opium. You can see opium resin residue on some of the bulbs. Kinda makes you want to lay around all day with a hooka, doesn't it?

Oh, looky what we found! Oddly enough, Mr. Taliban guy had an antitank mine (Italian, plastic, very nasty,) and four RPG rounds (Russian, metallic, very nasty,) buried within feet of the house in which his children lived. "What? Those aren't mine. My neighbor is angry with me and trying to get me in trouble!"

Ummm... yeah.

We took him with us. And the other guy. And the old man who was selling the opium.

Burning the poppy bulbs along with some marijuana we found onsite. We did a dawn raid on this compound to capture a Taliban bad guy and found more than we thought we would.

This is what we did with the mine. Boom. Nice. (Did I say, "Nice?")

Walnut trees in the Valley that Time Forgot. SGT Surferdude and myself were the only Americans to ever go up in there. Truly beautiful. They literally spoke a different language there.

The peaceful, beautiful valley counterpointed by RPG warhead tips. Art.

The bazaar in the little village in the Valley that Time Forgot. A dude in man-jammies, bazaar trash on the ground.

Doorways of Afghanistan. I should publish a coffee table book.


I can, however, show you where the doorways of Afghanistan are made. Fascinating, no?

Some of these kids had never seen an American before. Yes, I have read the book, The Ugly American, and it has nothing to do with my looks.

The Wily Afghan Black-Crested Rockhopper in its natural habitat. Nature photography at its finest. It took patience to capture these secretive creatures on film... errr... electrons.

Really cool house perched among the boulders. The mountain top in the background is over 12,000 feet. Our elevation here was about 7,800. GPS means never having to say , "I don't know my altitude."

The owner of the house invited us to breakfast and served us Nan that was like buckwheat pancakes and a buttery home-made cheese with chai. Delish. Afghans are very hospitable people.

The same 12,000 foot peak framed from outside the mouth of the Valley that Time Forgot. Yes, that means I was waaaaay the hell back there, and now I'm not. It was a big day. Sandcastle in the foreground framed by trees. More art.

At the patrol base we became the Afghan kids' version of Saturday morning cartoons every morning. Please get these kids televisions, as this behavior is really disturbing.

Ahhh, the beauty of Afghanistan.

Can you believe I figured out how to edit movies and put them on here? I'm an infantryman, you know. Wait until I figure out how to put music on the video. I feel like some kind of mad scientist. I know, I know... you all know how to do that.

I'm an infantryman, you know.


  1. Thanks for the update...great pics and congrats on the
    Stay safe.

  2. I just found your blog today via Slate's "The Sandbox" and wanted to say I've really enjoyed reading it; better than any newspaper.

    I've added you to my RSS reader and look forward to reading more about Afghanistan.

    PS - the videos are awesome.


  3. Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 10/22/2007
    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

  4. The pics are gorgeous, and I'm really enjoying seeing Afghanistan through your eyes and words. A friend and I raised a glass to you over some aushak and kadu buranee at an Afghan restaurant the other day...even the thoughts of people you don't know are with you.

    Keep safe,

  5. Love the pics and especially your captions. Good stuff! Keep up the great work and stay safe.


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