Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bike Update

As of yesterday, September 30, I passed the 3000-mile mark here in Iraq. I also cut 2 minutes from my 5k run time the previous week. It is much easier to improve when one is slow. Last week I ran it in 30 minutes and 20 seconds. This week I was down to 28:22. The civilian who runs the race gave me a medal for finishing 3rd in 50-plus (out of three guys who signed up). It was really a close race between the first two guys--they finished in 23:14 and 23:20. I was most of a half mile back in third.

The bike mileage means I have also made more than 200 laps of Tallil Ali's Perimeter Road. Katharine Sanderson, a friend from the UK, wrote recently. I replied to her something about the war. She said, "Somehow I forget that you're fighting a war at all. Weird. It must be your witty blog posts about books and PR!"

Along the same lines, my wife said, "I'm enjoying the other-personal glimpses on your blog.  Since I've been wrestling so intently with my students over verbs, I think your "fights" (as in "Who fights this war?") catches my eye . . . especially because there's not really any traditional fighting going on in your stories.  I know that "Who prosecutes this war?" doesn't have the same cachet, so I'm not suggesting you change this at all."

But they are right. Who would know from most of my blog posts or my current bike mileage that I am serving in a war?

I have more "Who Fights This War?" stories and will post another one tomorrow. Whether fight is the right word or not, we are here, there is a war and so I'll keep the word fight.

Envy is Relative

I have a new office. A really nice office. An occasion for envy for everyone in the unit I left and for many people who come to visit the other people that work in my office. The people in my office are the battalion commander, the executive officer, and their assistant--and me. I have an office with a real wooden desk, a book case, a table, a comfortable chair and a door.

I was working in a dusty corner of the motor pool on a folding table. This is a big step up in the world. But then, as my wife pointed out when I told her about my new digs, nobody I work with back home would be jealous. My new office is in a trailer. It is an Italian-made, double-wide, really nice trailer, but it is still a trailer and I still have to walk 75 meters to use the latrine trailer.

But it does have a coffee maker.

And the boss is a member of the Pennsylvania legislature so he gets an incredible amount of free stuff from home. So the office has great snacks.

I should get to stay in this office for three of the four months until we are finally back home. Late January to early February is becoming a more and more concrete time for us to get home.

I can't wait.