Tuesday, February 24, 2009

At Bagram

I arrived this morning. Tues 24 Feb 2009. What a dump! I am in a tent, right next to a 30KW generator, blasting away 24 hours a day. I am in a bunk bed, no room for privacy or my personal items. Bagram is an anthill, crowded and lines everywhere. Afghanistan is adding new people so fast, that the infrastructure cannot deal with them.

I want to get to a forward base, so at least I can sleep in quiet.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

New Assignment- Bagram Afghanistan

I am now assigned to Bagram Air Base Afghanistan. If anyone needs my postal address, please email me, or leave a comment here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Saturday Afternoon

Stuck at FOB Boris. I keep trying to leave, but the winds of good fortune are not blowing in my direction. I just make the most of it. I got a haircut today, including sideburn trim, and close cut on my upper lip. I also took a long shower (I only shower every two days, when I am traveling). I wanted to watch "O'Reilly factor", but a soldier was watching wrestling. I always let the soldiers watch anything they like. I mostly hang out at the recreation center, so that I can read. If you like to read, Afghanistan is the place.

I am a little tired of this "OpSec" crud. OpSec means operational security. In my emails, I am required to let my firm know my whereabouts. This is not classified. Neither is the weather. You just look outside, and you can see if it is raining or snowing. Some helicopters can fly in lousy weather, some cannot. I hate being nitpicked.

I washed my clothes today. The water is safe for washing, but not for drinking. When I am at my home base, I just drop off the laundry, and collect it the next day, clean and folded. The Afghans do a good job. Here, I wash the clothes myself.

I wish I could lose the "blues". Just being in this part of the world, with the loneliness, and the "same every day" routine, gets to be a drag. I get up in the morning, and check with the flight desk, to see if any helicopters are flying. If not, then I just go to the Rec Hall, and watch TV. Lunch is served at 1130. Then I go back to the Rec Hall, and watch "Jeapordy" at 1pm. Then "O'Reilly" at 330pm. In between, I read. Then supper at 500pm. Then back to the concrete hooch.

My bed has two mattresses, the top mattress has steel rods, but, I just position my body, in between the rods. Fortunately, the barracks is quiet, and the heater works well. I try to get to sleep by 1100pm, then it is back up for another day. This place is like "Ground Hog Day", the same every day.

With luck, I can get a chopper back to FOB Salerno soon.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A cold and lonely time

Time now is 0140am Saturday morning 7 February. I am at Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan. The outside weather is cold, just above freezing. The full moon is overhead, making it easy to see around. One thing about the cold winter, it is safer. The bad guys go up into the mountains, and they are huddled up, waiting for the spring.

I have been getting some good feedback about the employment project. We have several good people, back in Virginia, who are assisting. With the unemployment rate soaring, I feel that Masonry should do more to help our unemployed members and their dependents. Doing nothing is unacceptable.

The Army continues to feed me well. Tonight, grilled steaks, lobster tails, crab legs, shrimp, corn on the cob. Only thing they do not have here is fresh eggs and coca-cola. Such is Army chow.

The rec hall here, has a huge selection of videos. I watched some "Law and Order" episodes. Also "Spartacus", one of my favorite films. I also read books sometimes, I have been perusing "Born Again" the story of Charles Colson, the Watergate guy.

I could sure use some chocolate, there is no PX here, so there is no way to get chocolate. There is a little Afghan restaurant, but I have not yet sampled their wares. The soldiers eat there sometimes, I guess the food is safe.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

An open letter to the Grand Master of Masons in Virginia

Dear Grand Officers, The USA is now in the biggest recession in the last 80 years. Unemployment is spreading fast, and this tragedy is also affecting our brother Masons and their families. Just last week a man lost his job in California, and then he went home and killed his five children and his wife, then himself. In his suicide note, he asked "Is there no hope for the widow's son?" During the 1930's and for some time thereafter, Many Grand Lodges (and other masonic groups) assisted Brother Masons in seeking employment. I think this activity is part of our splendid Masonic tradition. I therefore wish to make a formal request: Can we revive the employment assistance bureau in Virginia? Is there a way for brother Masons to assist our unemployed Brother Masons (and their wives/widows/dependents) in seeking employment? Some people have said that Masonry has no business getting involved. Some say there are legal issues involved, that there could be legal ramifications if an organization like ours got involved in assisting people who were out of work. Some say that the government, and state employment offices are better equipped to assist the unemployed. I think that is a bunch of crap. Private, non-government organizations can assist people in finding work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints (the Mormons) operate a national network of employment offices, and no one objects. I request that the Grand Lodge seek out a legal opinion, and determine if our Grand Lodge can re-open the employment services, that we ran decades ago. I am certain that there is no legal problem at all. Please let me know if this is possible, and if it is, I request that we get it underway quickly. There is no time to lose. (BTW- I am in Afghanistan. There is not much I can here, but when I return to the USA in Sept 2009, I would be more than glad to get directly involved. Charles E. Martin
Here is a "template" of how a program could be operated:

-A service set up, similar to what was done by lodges and Grand Lodges in the 1930's, and what Kentucky ran right up into the 1980's. -The Grand Lodge will serve as a "coordinator", and advisor to individual lodges (and Masonic districts). Districts/lodges will be offered the opportunity to participate in the program at their own discretion.

-The service will exist to assist Brother Masons (and their wives/widows/dependents) in all phases of seeking employment. The service will be open to assist the general public, and any individual who applies for help. Guidance and advice will be offered to anyone on a non-discriminatory basis.

-The service will primarily consist of counseling and providing advice in guidance in helping individuals conduct their own job search. The Grand Lodge will NOT go out and find jobs for participants.

-The service will be educational in nature. Clients will be advised in the methodology of how to seek work in the internet age. Assistance will be provided in how to prepare both a traditional paper resume, and how to prepare an electonic internet resume. Clients will be coached in how to seek work on the internet, and in the print "want ads", as well as other traditional job-seeking venues. Clients will be coached and critiqued in how to obtain interviews, and how to dress, how to answer interview questions, etc.

-The program will be staffed by volunteers. The Grand Lodge can provide office space, administrative assistance, and logistical help.

-District Deputy grand Masters, will be asked to select an employment coordinator in each district, and/or in each lodge that chooses to participate in the program.

-When a mason (or dependent/widow) or anyone who asks for help, needs employment assistance, the district/lodge employment coordinator will assist the applicant, in all aspects of the employment search process, including seeking help from other government agencies (the state employment service).

-Individual companies will be advised of the program, and offered guidance in how to get job openings distributed to individuals who are seeking work. This could be done through the operation of an internet page, run by the Grand Lodge. Non-government organizations have been providing individuals with employment search assistance, with programs exactly like this for many years, with absolutely no objections from any government agency, or any fear of lawsuit. As long as the assistance is offered to anyone who applies, and the help is provided in an educational and advisory capacity, there is no problem. There is absolutely no danger of being in violation of any federal or state laws, nor of any conflict with equal employment and equal pay legislation.

The USA is now in the worst recession that has occured in the last 70 years. See:http://www.manufacturing.net/article.aspx?id=183252I am going to run this proposal past an attorney friend back in Virginia. I am confident that a program run this way, will pass all legal muster. And you can be sure that any Grand Lodge will check it out thoroughly before they get involved.