Friday, July 31, 2009


Last night I spent the best two hours since I left America. I was at the Army Education Center which does not officially open for another month, but they are holding sessions to help soldiers study to improve their GT score--the overall score that determines whether you qualify for some of the really good jobs the Army offers.

Last night I spent two hours helping soldiers solve equations with parentheses, powers, roots, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction--which is the order they are solved. These equations included decimals and fractions so I also was helping with converting fractions, finding common denominators and so forth.

If that doesn't sound fun, then I have not done a good job telling you just how strange it is to move from the very quiet home I live in and the very cooperative place where I work to this Lead-Follow-or-Get-Out-of-the-Way environment I am in now. We hear every day we are all leaders. Many of us translate that into trying to dominate everything they are involved in. So last night I was in a room with a dozen men and women who simply wanted to learn something. Not one soldier said, "When I was in Afghanistan in 2004 we did powers before parentheses and our sergeant major said 'Only a one-handed piano player at a cheap whorehouse would solve the parentheses first.'"

And today is my 12th wedding anniversary. I won't be spending it with my wife--which I have known for a while now, but today, like all the other occasions I will miss this year, reminds me with particular clarity that I volunteered for this--for good and ill. Happy Anniversary Annalisa. I'll be home for the next one.

Every Week in Cold War West Germany, Gas Mask Drills

Every week during my three years in Cold War West Germany,  the Tankers of 1-70th Armor had a MOPP drill. Gene Pierce, Abel Lopez and...