I haven't been home since my last post. I am in Philadelphia for a meeting of the American Chemical Society. Almost 20,000 chemists from all over the world are here for several days. Even though I live just 70 miles away, I have meetings as early as 0630 and dinners that run as late as midnight so I just stayed in town. In fact, I just finished running across the Ben Franklin Bridge and back with a Katharine Sanderson, a science writer from the UK. She is here reporting on the Convention for Nature magazine and writing about Trees That Eat Pollution among other things.
We covered the 4-mile distance from where I work across the bridge and back in 35 minutes. Katharine actually ran six miles, because her hotel in on the other side of Center City so she ran a mile each way to and from the run.
Several times during this meeting events on next year's calendar came up and I said I would be gone from work in 2009. When I said where I would be I going I got stunned looks and versions of "You're going where?!" After they recover from the initial shock, they are supportive, but there are just not that many people who work in my field that take a year off for an all-expense paid trip to Iraq. Tomorrow night I go home for the evening, then back to work on Thursday.