Saturday, December 16, 2006

In the Dark

I don't usually pay that much attention to the phases of the moon when I'm back home, with plenty of light around. But around here, knowing whether to be prepared with a flashlight makes the difference between getting where you're going quickly and stumbling around in the dark, tripping over lots of things on the way.

The moon is nearing its new phase, close enough that it is pitch black from sunset to sunrise. The weatherguessers say 30 percent illumination, which is just plain dark. In the coming few days it will be what they call "darker than dark." And since we are approaching the winter solstice, these are going to be some of the longest dark nights of the year.

Speaking of our fine meteoroligists, they predicted two full days of rain this weekend. I did wake up this morning to a lovely light sprinkle, but so far the rest of the day has been overcast and generally blah. And actually warmer than it seems to be on clear, dark nights, since I guess the clouds hold some of the heat in. No complaints here, although the overcast doesn't do much to lighten my dark mood.

Why the dark mood? The fact that some guys from our group are headed homeward now. I should be happy for them (and I am, really, on some level) but part of me knows that I would have been in that group if I hadn't had to switch jobs, so it's mildly frustrating. I keep trying to comfort myself by adding up the extra money I'm making by sticking around a few more months. And really, anything shorter than the full year I came over here prepared to serve is supposed to be a good deal.

As a final tribute to the subject line (and Lemony Snicket's last book, for those in the know), I'll note that all of us are in the dark about holiday visitors to our base. You're probably aware of the habit of senior administration officials to drop in around the holidays, and of course we rarely know they're here until they're already here. Sometimes (like the latest Rumsfeld drive-by) even after they're already gone. So as Christmas approaches, we all look forward to some surprises.

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