- No, I'm not dead (yet).
- No, I haven't been fired (yet).
- Yes, my internet is working fine.
The reason I have been quiet of late is that I have been taking some much-needed time away from The Rockpile. As I mentioned previously, working for an Afghan company does not allow me the generous 3-months on, 1-month off rotation that many contractors have, so I have left Afghanistan only a few times in the last fourteen months.
Fortunately, my visa expired and the new rules put in place by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs dictate that I leave the country, re-apply for a new 30-day visa and then re-enter A-stan and obtain a proper six-month visa and a new work permit. Note that while I would normally complain endlessly about the GoA's byzantine bureaucratic rules and red tape, in this case I'm going to let it slide since it allowed me to spend a couple of weeks in the States.
So far, I think I've spent more money in the last two weeks than I have in the last year. Worth every penny, if only for the chance to reconnect with a civilized world. I mean, who knew there were places in the world where one could buy a cup of coffee and a newspaper without resorting to a Land Cruiser and a concealed sidearm. Most people refer to this mystical place as "Starbucks." To me, it's disturbingly close to an (admittedly) warped definition of perfection.