So that didn't go well.

I traveled to see my grandkids in Colorado, plus to help out my youngest daughter who is taking care of my ex-ish-wife, who broke her leg in a catastrophic fashion. As soon as I arrived it turns out almost everyone had Covid, plus the ex (who had Covid months earlier) had a really nasty case of the flu.

Guess what I got, with both barrels.

I'm back home now, just recovering from all the nastiness and phlem-filled horrors. Still avoiding all external contacts so I don't spread the diseases. Eating lots of homemade soup and drinking lots of tea with honey. Everyone else lost their sense of smell and taste, but so far I haven't had that happen...unless the taste of NyQuil is so overpowering that even Covid can't block that nasty taste.

With some luck I will try to get my numbers up to Iron Noder levels, it just depends on how I feel going forward.

For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, hope you have an enjoyable holiday with lots of family and friends. Don't go overboard on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you may need the extra funds with the inflation worries.

Summer 2012, Spin Buldak

"Wrorjan, komak rakra? Asnad jig sakht di."

Hey brother, can you give me a hand? I'm having a hard time with this paperwork.

Azad-Jan is holding a blue folder with the UN wreath and the seal of the US State Department on the front. I look at my watch and see that I have at least two hours until the next thing on my schedule. I spend a little time with Azad, looking through an enormous stack of paperwork that will allow him to obtain a special humanitarian visa for US residency.

He had spent a year's wages to bribe someone with inside access to the program, and was having some difficulty deciphering the paperwork despite his good command of written English.

Azad-Jan's folder contains photocopies of a selection of assorted forms originally procured from various packages put together by the UN, the US Department of State, some part of the German government, and a tourism agency in Turkey. They are in no discernible order, and have no apparent relation to each other. Most are missing pages, or reference forms that are not included.

Azad's particular specimens are photocopies of photocopies, festooned with various signatures, official-looking (and sometimes actually official, though doubtless purloined) seals and stamps. Unfortunately for Azad, I was familiar with the pile of paperwork that had stumped him.

I say unfortunately, because there is no such thing as a special humanitarian visa for US residency.

You can't con an honest man - but you can con a desperate one.

When the US withdrew unilaterally from Afghanistan, they did so by, in part, severing all ties with most of their former Afghan allies and disappearing into the wind.

Various arms and mouths of the US machine have outright refused to honor their promises to many of those allies. This by a long chain of intentional oversights, denials, refusals to acknowledge, and of late outright sabotage of private efforts to recover and bring to safety the men we once sponsored and trusted with American policy and lives, including mine.

A ghost reached out to me a few months ago and asked if I would be willing to help.

Once, on a winter day overlooking a tribe that had been working terraces and seasonal pasture for at least a thousand years, I sat sharing a cigarette with a handful of young men. The night before I had guided them on their first live mission after almost a year of training, and it had been a success by all the metrics that the program was to be judged by.

"Haq saheb," one of them asked as he passed me half a coffin nail made of the finest halfzware, "Have you killed before?"

Never did I lie to them, and so I told him.

There was a long, long moment after my own pass of the nail.

"Haq saheb, did you do right?"

Today I sit quietly and smoke a rollie made of that halfzware and think about that young man. He was publicly executed a week ago by a death squad sponsored by the Taliban government - the one that publicly proclaims amnesty for the forces of the puppet regime, but quietly circulates death warrants among its leadership.

The ghosts, echoes and names from another life, pass around the news of these executions with increasing frequency. This is going to be a particularly hard winter to be a wanted man in Afghanistan. No money, no passport, no allies, and dwindling opportunities to escape, particularly for those with families.

Hundreds remain, and those are just "my" Afghans. The ghosts and I have some in safehouses, some arranged to stay in third countries, and some brought here by our work or their own. We've had successes, and I am grateful for them, but the reality is that this is a salvage operation at best.

Day log, just some stream of consciousness.

The house is clean, the pies are made, the food is prepped, and I am nervous. I have no reason to be nervous, but yet here I am. Excited, but nervous.

The house is usually nothing short of a disaster. Too many critters, busy lives, way more interesting things to do than clean, and so on. However, it simply does not take all that long to make presentable for guests - any guests, not just people who've been here before. Our few guests for tomorrow have all been here before. Yet I find myself going well above the minimum of presentable. I want it to be not just ok, but nice, pleasant, comfortable. I want it to smell like happiness and good food. I want to not have to tell our guests they will probably want to wear slippers or something. I don't want to feel like I have to apologize for the corners. I also don't want to dust, am not going to dust, and fuck all if I get judged (I won't. My guests don't dust either).

I want the food to be delicious, possibly epic. I doubt that will be achieved, but it won't be far off. Decadence will be the theme of the day. Everyone is contributing and mostly cooking here. I love that sort of thing, a kitchen full of good smells, good tastes, and laughter.

I want the meal to be just freaken nice. I even washed (almost) matching wine glasses so we are not using mason jars. Hell, I even got a flippen pot of flowers for a centerpiece!! Fortunately I am broke, and didn't go so far as to find a table runner...

Pretty much, everything is set. So why am I nervous? The combination of guests. I am really actually so full of gratitude, but I am also nervous. It's family. Perhaps not traditional, but it is. I think that's what it is though. Only two of us are blood relations, but it doesn't matter. Some pieces of this are complicated, VERY complicated - but it's happening. I didn't know if this would ever actually happen. how do you define family anyhow?

I think that may be another root of the nerves. This whole thing brings up unexpected questions - that should be written somewhere else. It also reminds me I am still, patiently, waiting for an answer to a question I asked two summers ago. Details of that are suddenly relevant - or at least the follow up questions after the initial answer. Yes - this hit the nail on the head. I found the root. I can manage that another day. Now, I can relax into tomorrow and enjoy the day.

Much gratitude

My phone call with the owner of the company went well enough, and my boss apologized, though I still had to stipulate the terms of my employment and spell out "I will do this, but you are ultimately responsible for production".

My boss can talk a leg off a chair, but every time he brought up the "I'm the manager" card, I cut in and pointed out that he's also the production manager, the position he's been trying to hang on me.

Overall, I'm mostly satisfied with the outcome. I mean, I quadrupled their profits, so I felt that railroading me over production issues which weren't my responsibility was a bit rich, but as I mentioned, my boss has a way with people.

I felt a bit silly, letting him get to me, knowing full well how he operates. But I went through some tough months after my predecessor left (and neither my boss nor I were entirely convinced that he didn't fuck up intentionally before he left). And I thought he had my back.

Now he's been mentioning hiring this guy back and comments like "well, we didn't have these production issues when he was here" made me want to tell him where to shove it.

Work rants must be boring to read.

I'm getting better with confrontations though. I missed out on that due to migration, I think. I still start tearing up and my voice starts shaking, but a few seconds later, I regain my composure and seem to get my point across well enough.

People started (jokingly) saying that they shouldn't mess with me, because we have a small company, and apparently, my yelling matches with the boss draw a crowd that seems to be in my favor.

I'm just hoping that my emotions aren't a hindrance. I'm stuck with them, so I have to accommodate the fuckers.

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