I got back to KAF last week from a slightly extended time at home. I’ve been remiss in writing any posts due mainly to needing time for:
1. my aged body to adjust to the time zone;
2. my foggy brain to get a handle on the work stuff; and
3. my broken spirit to accept my fate.
Sorry about that. Anyway, I’ve got a large selection of disparate anecdotes to share both from home and from my first week back through the looking glass.
Well, That Got Outta Hand
My wife and I have long discussed redoing the 1940’s era kitchen in our 1899 house. We’d put it off mainly because it would be both expensive and a pain in the ass. During my last roto, our washing machine at home broke down and my wife went looking for a replacement. “What the hell does the have to do with your kitchen, you segueless ass?”, you may ask, and “North Americans don’t put their fucking washers and dryers in their kitchens! That’s something those goddamn Brits do and that’s why their clothes always smell like fish and chips, kippers and tea!”, you may, somewhat offensively, assert. But, please, let me continue.
While at the appliance store, Joan sent me a FB message. “I’ve found the oven of my dreams, but it’s pretty expensive”. Thinking I can head this off at the pass, I write back: “If we buy a new stove, it’s the last one I’m ever buying so you had better make sure it will go with whatever we eventually do with the kitchen”. “I thought we weren’t doing the kitchen upgrade”, she says. “Well, we have to do an upgrade sometime”, I innocently respond. I then read, “Ok, I’ll stop at Home Depot and have them draw up a design. This’ll be fun.”
So, we get a plan done. It uses the current footprint of our kitchen and, while expensive, is something we have cash to pay for. Commenting on the plan, I write “Jeez, if we’re gonna spend that much money, we ought to see if we can take down that old chimney in the wall so we get 2 more feet of kitchen space”. The next thing I know the picture at right is on Joan’s Facebook page. So, we decide to take the chimney out if we can. We call in a structural engineer who tells us he’s 98% sure it’s a non-load bearing wall but he’d need to see more to be sure. He says that removing the ceiling would give him the view he needs.
Not happy with the 2% chance that our upstairs could end up in our downstairs, Joanie obliges. She then proceeds to dismantle the entire old chimney right from the attic, through the second floor wall and down into the kitchen. When I get home, the engineer tells us the wall isn’t load bearing so we tear it down. Well, this one great big room we now have obviously needs another window. And, oh, we need to get the floor patched where the chimney was. “What’s that Mr. Floor Repair Man? The kitchen floor is too thin to be refinished again so we have to replace the whole thing? Ok, if we must.” Then: “Three weeks just to get a new design, Mrs. Home Depot, plus two months til install? Fine, we’ll just get a better quality custom kitchen from local craftsmen then…even if it does cost thousands more. So there.” This is gonna be one expensive replacement washer.
As part of the new Great Room plan, as it has come to be called, we’re turning our daughter’s bedroom into a media room approximately 14 seconds after she returns to college for her final year next week. We love you Erica but Daddy needs his surround sound. This entails moving our 50″ TV and giant man-couch upstairs and mounting our “little” 42″ TV on the wall of the Great Room. We bought a Sanus brand TV wallmount which the 12 year old Best Buy employee insisted was top of the line. Little known fact: Sanus employs stupid fucks to write their assembly instructions while employing no one in quality assurance. So, Sanus CEO, on the off chance you’re reading this, the mount itself is fine…but if you’re going to tell buyers to use the provided Allen key bit with a drill to install the lag bolts you should a) actually include the bit and b) provide lag bolts that actually take an Allen key. I appreciate that you did include an Allen key but, as there was absolutely no hardware that took an Allen key, I found it somewhat less than useful. I managed to figure out your clever ruse and successfully mount the damn thing but my beer-addled brain did not appreciate the challenge.
While I put in a lot of work during this leave, I did learn a few things. I suck at drywall repair. I hate manual labour. Plaster dust turns your snot grey. Bricks are heavy. I kinda like the dump. And, I like to pay people to do things I don’t want to do myself which means that the rest of the reno will be complete by the time I get home in November. In’shallah.
The More Things Change…
There were a few changes around KAF in the 33 days I was gone. The number one news item is that Poo Pond is being drained and a new waste treatment plant is being built in Deep South which is, thankfully, usually downwind from our accommodations. So far, two of the four settling ponds are empty. All that remains of Poo Creek that used to run alongside the road and out under the perimeter fence to the west, is a brownish-green sludge. I haven’t smelled even the slightest Poo Pond odour since I got back. It’s a little bit sad actually…our shared stories of involuntary gag-responses and watery eyes have long been worn like a KAF badge of honour.
Another big improvement to our quality of life has resulted from the change in the speed limit. It is now 40 kph all the way from just west of the Ecolog road on Screaming Eagle Boulevard all the way around the west perimeter and over to Whiskey ramp. It’s cut about 10 minutes off my commute to work each day. They’ve even removed the ridiculous 20 kph areas at the intersections. Now if I can just get everyone to exceed 25 kph I’ll be able to get to work without using the work “fuckers”.
My co-workers are now insisting that we walk to dinner every night. This means that not only do I have to remember to grab my damn reflective belt but I also have to listen to my whining all the way there. The only positive out of the whole deal is L’s decree that I don’t have to go to the gym as I’m getting my cardio on these forced marches.
What the Hell? I Don’t Even….
I got sent this picture by one of my readers. It was spotted on the Northside and seems to be at the Dirt Mine. I really don’t know what to say about it except, um, I can’t imagine it’s plumbed properly and the lack of doors is disconcerting.
Oh, I See
You may recall that I’m not very fond of cricket and have been completely unable to understand it. The other day, I recognized an opportunity to have it explained to me clearly once and for all. An expat Canadian who has lived in Australia for several years asked me how he could watch hockey here. We suggested that Dish TV may occasionally offer it but it’s rare to find since the Canadian military left Kandahar. Seeing as he is a fellow Canadian who uses real words and not the Dr Seuss-like lingo of Australia, I asked him if he understood cricket. His response of “Oh yeah. Cricket is just pompous baseball” told me everything I ever need to know about the game.
You Might Wanna Get That Looked At
As we were walking over to lunch the other day, I noticed a bit of an oil slick leaving our parking lot. It stops just a few metres down the main road, presumably because the vehicle ran out of oil. I found it amusing and I hate myself for that.
Sitting in the Cambridge a few days ago, L noticed a fellow sporting long curly locks, a tiny goatee and a bushy moustache that was waxed and curled up at the ends. She nudged me and whispered “Hey look, it’s D’artagnan”. I said “What? The Ninja Turtle?”. D rolled his eyes, pointed out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were “Leonardo, Donetello and, uh, some other artist”. “Monet?” I suggested helpfully. “No, fuck off….uh…Michelangelo” he replied. An aimless discussion of famous talking cartoon animals ensued wherein L mentioned some cartoon dog D and I had never heard of. “Did this cartoon dog speak with a British accent?” I inquired. “Yes”. “Then he sucked. All the cool cartoon animals speak with American accents”. D and I then began to extol the virtues of Underdog along with a brief nod to Mighty Mouse while L looked at us with something akin to awe…or maybe it was pity with a hint of disdain. Glancing back over at D’artagnan, L observed “I don’t think he’s a Musketeer at all. I think he’s a metrosexual Taliban”, and thus brought our insightful dinner conversation to a close. But seriously…waxing your moustache in Kandahar? He’s not one of us. He is the other.
Ok, now on to some DFAC food critiques. Cowboy Night is a holiday of which I was blissfully unaware until a few days ago when the Lux went all out for it. I can only assume it’s an annual fete to pay homage to the values and lifestyle of the old west. Things like the subjugation of native peoples, unbridled whiskey consumption, gonorrhea-laced prostitutes and fire arms battles in the streets. Oddly, none of that was present at the Lux. Instead there were a lot of cardboard steer skulls and a cutout featuring what I presume is the guy from The Village People.
The menu featured a bunch of cowboy-themed names…most of which consisted of the word “cowboy” put in front of some regular old DFAC food. “The Wild, Wild West Chicken”, while more imaginatively named was really just the same old spicy chicken tenders we get every few days. L reported that her “Sheriff Egg Chilli (sic) Wrap” was an omelette with chili on it. I bravely tried the “Palo Duro Canyon Corn” It was corn with some sort of tasteless red sauce thrown in with it. It was inoffensive. All I could say about my “Tangy Texas BBQ Ribs” was that they looked like they had sauce on them. They didn’t…at least not any I could taste.
One thing that always bothers me about these theme nights is the way the staff have to dress up. I always assume they are forced to do it. I could be wrong though. I know there are people who like to dress up in costumes. They think it’s fun. They look forward to Hallowe’en. They spend hours, even days, planning their costumes. They’re insane. They’re wrong. But, yes, I know they exist. So I’m not sure if I should feel happiness or pity for this guy at the swipe desk. Is he chuffed to have the opportunity to doff his DFAC blues in favour of a natty cardboard cowboy vest and hat or is he feeling more like those cats you see in sweaters on Facebook?
We finished off our meal with a piece of the generically named chocolate cake. Despite all of the mockery I’ve directed at their menu, I must admit I was a little disappointed that it didn’t have a thematic name like High Infant Mortality Cake or Gangrenous Gunshot Wound Pudding. It was, by far, the best part of the meal. It was very un-KAF-like in its moistness. Each piece had a little chocolate “button” on it. It was evident that A was coming to the end of his roto when he unknowingly spooned the little “button” into his mouth. Upon realizing it was a piece of real chocolate, his face lit up like a kid at Christmas who got an Atari system with Pong and Duckhunt (a feeling that I, alas, never knew). He even exclaimed “Spending 20 minutes in that bunker during the rocket attack on the walk over here was worth it!” It was fucking pathetic. It’s just a goddamn piece of chocolate, A.
Just a few notes on the various other DFACs we patronized this week.
We walked up to Niagara, a place we haven’t frequented too often lately because it was always too hot and too crowded. Surprisingly, it wasn’t busy at all and, with the cooler temps recently, it was thermatically just fine. I had chicken cordon bleu, fries and mixed veg. I commented to D that everything on our plates was prepared in a factory somewhere; frozen veg, frozen fries, frozen cordon bleu. “That’s why I like it. The less they touch it the better”. I had to agree. While I didn’t have the Mini-Bites, I just had to get a picture of the sign. I have visions of a slaughterhouse/factory with a guy dragging in a live pig. “Hey, Billy-Bob. Is this’n here a pig or a cow.” “It don’t matter none…just put it in the grinder”. “Squeee! Squeee!” And out pops box after box of “Beef” Mini-Bites.
At Independence Hall, L was very happy to see some Banana Pudding. Her joy was short lived. She tasted it and dejectedly observed “Ooh, it has wee chocolate buttons in it and it looked ever so nice…but it tastes like bleedin’ plastic, dunnit?” Everything’s funnier when it’s said with a British accent.
Monti used to have the most comfortable chairs of any of the DFACs. They’ve inexplicably replaced them with blue plastic monstrosities equipped with what I can only assume is a fart vent. And what’s with the tawdry “Naser” logo? Is it a misspelling of “nastier”? They’re ugly and uncomfortable. I want them to go away. Oh, and the earth doesn’t have fucking rings.
Speaking of enraging, zombie-like banes of my existence, I need some help, Lux. Next time you go to buy ketchup, can you make sure it’s in the exact same package that Americans are used to seeing at McDonalds? If the US Servicewoman who stood staring dumbfoundedly at the condiment section for several minutes, effectively blocking it from more efficient people (i.e. me), is any indication, your current non-conformist (though clearly labeled) ketchup packets can cause extreme befuddlement for the moderately illiterate. Alternatively, you could just put up a sign at the condiment section that says “If you can’t read, just get the fuck out of the way”. Eventually, I successfully edged in front of her with a very Canadian “excuse me” escaping my lips as my brain screamed “Oh, for fuck’s sake”. Upon seeing me pick up a ketchup and, I assume, noting the fries on my plate, she followed my lead and, with dead eyes, grabbed a ketchup packet. Glad I could help.
Now that I have to fucking walk to earn my dinner, I’ve seen some noteworthy stuff.
A pointed out this poster on the boardwalk. “What the hell do they do at Country Night? It doesn’t say”. “I’m guessing they conjugate verbs incorrectly and spit” I conjectured.
On the way back from the Monti the other night we stopped in at the new little Boardwalk near the roundabout. This is the one featuring Burger King, Pizza Hut, Popeye’s Fried Chicken and the little Village Cafe. Now, there’s a sign beside the cafe that indicates it is serving “Afghan cuisine”. Looking at the menu, I’m surprised that most Afghan’s are so svelte. You’d think a diet of milkshakes and mozzarella sticks would result in a much beefier people. The rest of the menu consists of a variety of sugar laden and deep fried treats. I don’t know how those skinny buggers do it but I’m gonna figure out a way to market it.
Oh my! I do go on, don’t I?
“Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man” – Dickey Betts