The eve of The Vote

Tomorrow the Iraqi people vote in the first multi-party national elections in Iraq in over 50 years.  No matter where you stand on the war, occupation, and current U.S. presence in Iraq, you surely must be hoping that the elections go well.  The press lately has put a more positive, hopeful spin on the Iraqi elections.  Violence continues, but Iraqis appear to be reacting positively to the elections as candidates and as voters.  According to the Washington Post, a polling place has been set up in New Carrollton, Maryland, a D.C. suburb, to accommodate expatriate Iraqi voters.  Iraqis have traveled from all over the U.S. to vote there.  I hope that the vote goes well and is a decisive one, not an election marred by violence, disenfranchisement, or fraud.  These can happen anywhere in places such as the Ukraine, and even in Washington State where the result of the Washington gubernatorial race is being challenged in court.  Iraq undoubtedly has an even greater possibility of having a marred election.  Let’s hope not.

From the "Things that Make You Go Hmm" Department:  Today while I was pumping gas into my vehicle at a local gas station I noticed a large cigarette advertisement over the gas pump.  Well, that makes a whole lot of sense.  Please…no smoking while pumping gas, but by the way go buy some cigarettes while you’re pumping gas.  Definitely a great example of product misplacement! 

Of Metro and moving

Sometimes commuting by Metro drives me nuts.  I went to bed really late last night because my son stayed up long after his bedtime.  I also had to leave earlier than usual this morning to commute via the Metro.  It was absolutely freezing this morning (just 14 degrees or so), making the commute an uncomfortable endeavor.  Unfortunately, the cold also affected the trains, and two trains went out of service while I was trying to get to work.  The first one appeared to lose its hydraulics, and the second one’s doors would not close.  I caught the first working train that I could and barely made it to the last shuttle I could take before class started.  Because so many trains were out of service people began to gather and wait idly to catch the next available train.  We packed into the train like sardines.  During it all I saw a humorous sight–I saw an older gentleman calmly reading the comics with a stern, serious look on his face.  He was reading the comics intently as if he were analyzing investments.  Perhaps he was internalizing it all.  At least someone had an opportunity to do something productive during the commute.  I made it to work on time, but I was cold and exhausted.  Needless to say, today was not a good day in class.

The next three weeks will be very hectic for our family.  For the next month or so I may not be able to post updates very frequently, but I will try.  One week from today I will take my final Korean exam (and hopefully pass it).  Two weeks from today we will be in Hawaii visiting my brother, and three weeks from today we will arrive in Korea.  In the meantime I’ve been feverishly trying to wrap up final logistics before the move.  Right now it all seems a bit surreal.  Not much has changed around here in the past month because all the move logistics have so far been intangible.  However, in less than two weeks however the furniture will be returned to the rental company, our belongings will be picked up for shipment to Korea, and our car will be driven off by the shipping company.  We will spend our last few days here with what we’re carrying to Korea and will move temporarily into a furnished apartment.  The move still seems far away to me.  Until I pass Korean (fingers crossed) it will continue to seem far away.

Who’s the new Ambassador?

Dr. Condoleezza Rice entered the State Department today for the first time as the new Secretary of State.  She entered in from the main entrance and briefly addressed employees.  Her introduction comes just five days after former Secretary of State Colin Powell departed for the last time.  Let’s hope the transition will be a smooth one for the department.

The story broke in the news earlier this week that the U.S. Ambassador to Korea, Christopher Hill, will be appointed Assistant Secretary for East Asia and Pacific Affairs.  Ambassador Hill has been serving as Ambassador to Korea since August 2004.  We met Ambassador Hill and Mrs. Hill while he was en route to Korea, and we were very impressed by him.  We are sorry to see him go, assuming his appointment will be confirmed by the Senate.  We still don’t know who the new ambassador will be.  I hope this transition is also a smooth one because Seoul has seen two ambassadors, Ambassador Thomas Hubbard and Ambassador Hill in less than a year.  It’s an excellent opportunity for Ambassador Hill, and we wish him well.