I went ice skating yesterday. The rink we were on was not artificially cooled and it was about 38F so the ice was what some people call “soft,” which it definitely was not as I later found out through my own testing.
There I was, just skating around, minding my own business, when the ice tried to eat my right skate and swallowed the blade whole. I retaliated by hitting the ice as hard as I could with both hands and my left knee. I showed that ice. It didn’t try to eat my skate the rest of the time I was skating around.
Unfortunately, my left knee wasn’t too happy about my decision to show the ice who was boss and has decided to hurt and turn some interesting colors. However, I stand by my decision that it was right to retaliate against the ice. After all, gravity was on my side and you can’t let the ice go around thinking it can just try to gobble up whole skates.
The Foreign Service is quite small. As Secretary of Defense Gates once said, there are more military musicians than Foreign Service Officers. So, when I hear about an attack on a diplomatic facility, it’s kind of like someone attacking a building down the street instead of on the other side of the world. When I saw the news that a suicide bomber had attacked the U.S. embassy in Ankara, my mind quickly flashed to my friend serving there now, and then to several friends who had served there in the past and are in training to serve there soon.
Later that day, news got out that the suicide bomber had killed a locally hired guard. This man was Turkish, not American, but gave his life in service to the United States. At every U.S. embassy and consulate around the world, locally hired staff work to further the goals of U.S. foreign policy, to ensure that facilities are working properly, and to protect the buildings and the people inside of them. Often they do so without the protections and benefits that diplomats get in dangerous and difficult locales. They know that U.S. embassies and consulates around the world are targets for many people and that working for the United States makes them targets as well, but they still continue to guard our diplomatic facilities.
All too often, when someone attacks a U.S. embassy or consulate, the locally hired staff are the first ones hit, bear the brunt of the attack, and suffer the greatest casualties. So, while the media has moved on to the next story, please remember that these local guards put their lives on the line to protect U.S. embassies and consulates daily. They may not be U.S. citizens, but that does not mean that they do not sacrifice for our country.
I’m in the middle of my first Ottawinter and I’m muddling through. I won’t go as far as to say that I’m enjoying it, but I’m definitely managing ok. I’ve got the snow boots, the long underwear, the ear warmers, the toque (toboggan to those of us from south of the border, eh), the mittens (even the mittens have layers!), and so on. So, I waddle around in all my layers and look like the Michelin Man. The good news is that everyone else looks like him, too, so I blend in. I’ve even gone ice skating without falling down. I hope to make it to the Rideau Canal next week and give that a try.
I’m not going to lie though. I miss my flip flops. I think they miss me, too. I can hear them calling from my closet. “Wear us! Wear us! It’s warm enough.” Little do they know, though, that it is not warm enough. Not by a long shot and I’m rather attached to my toes and don’t want to lose any of them to frost bite. So, since The Weather Channel’s 10-day forecast doesn’t show any temperatures above freezing, I don’t think I’ll be wearing them any time soon.
On the up side, I can tell that the days are getting longer. It’s no longer completely dark when I leave the office after work which is nice. I can tell that we’re slowly moving toward spring, even if there’s still awhile to go.
So, I’m making it through my first Canadian winter, but I still think I prefer Texas winters, where it’s 75F in February. Someone remind me of that this fall when I’m bidding on my next post.