Monthly Archives: May 2011

Tucson

Sadie included me in the State Department blog round-up which brought a lot of new visitors to my site, so welcome to all of you!

I spent the long weekend in Tucson and met up with one of my friends from A-100 who is posted at a different consulate in Mexico.  We stayed at a nice hotel, ate some good food, shopped a lot, and drove up to Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon.

Mount Lemmon is a mountain in the Santa Catalina mountains outside of Tucson and Summerhaven is a small town near the top of the mountain.  It’s a beautiful drive up to Summerhaven and it was neat to see the landscape change from southwestern desert landscape to a landscape that looked a lot more like what you might see in Colorado.  There’s a cute little general store in Summerhaven that sells delicious fudge, so we had to get some.

The shopping was also fun.  I stopped at Trader Joe’s, the Apple Store, and a few other stores that I can’t find here in CDJ/ELP.

It was a nice, relaxing weekend and it was nice to get away and chill out a bit.  I’m now back in CDJ, doing laundry, putting away stuff from the trip and so on.  Hope all’s well in the blogosphere!

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Filed under Arizona, Ciudad Juarez, FS Blog Roundup, Mexico, Tucson, Vacation

Is it time to bid yet?

No, not quite, but we’re getting close!  Since the 2nd tour summer list has come out in August for the last two years, at least, most of us were not expecting it until August or so.  I had mentally prepared myself for not having it until August and was ready to wait for it.  However, it’s never that simple and the word from DC is that the first part of the list will actually be out in June some time.  That’s next month!

I’m super excited about bidding, but it will probably be stressful.  There will be a lot of decisions to make and a lot of research to do before putting together my top bids.  Does job x in country y sound better than job a in country b?  Are there any pet import restrictions?  Do I have enough training time left to learn the language in post q?  Can I leave post on time, get all the training, and still get to my new post on time?  That’s just a start and I’m sure the questions will multiply when I see the actual list and start digging in to specifics.

I’ve known that this was a two year assignment and that afterward, I would go somewhere else after those two years, but when I look toward the next assignment I just see a big, fat question mark.  It will be nice to have a clearer picture of my next destination and to start planning for it. There will be things to buy, like maybe ski gear or a snorkel.  After I get assigned to another post, there will be more decisions to be made like do I take my current car to my next post, buy a different one before leaving for post, buy a car after I get to post, or do I decide to not take a car at all and just rely on public transportation?

There will also be things to research about the post and the move.  Transfering from post to post, instead of from DC to post will be different.  Unless I end up in Canada, I will fly to my next post instead of driving.  So, I’ll need to pack and plan a little differently than when I came to CDJ.  I have also acquired the Diplocat since arriving here so I will need to do some research into how to get her safely from Mexico to Texas for home leave to DC for consultations and/or training then to my next post as well.

If you know me, you know that I like to plan.  Prior to packing out for A-100 and again before leaving DC for CDJ, I had spreadsheets about what was going in which shipment, what I needed to buy before leaving with prices and projected purchase dates to spread the purchases across pay periods and whatnot, what I needed to do before I left, and who knows what else.  So, having a new place to go and a new destination to plan for will be exciting and will help me get in touch with my inner planning nerd and bust out the Excel for spreadsheets to track all of this stuff.

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Filed under Bidding, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Mishmash

It’s been awhile since I posted a real update, but I’ll try to catch up on the last few weeks.  I took about a week and a half off in early May and spent part of it in town and part of it at home in the Austin area.  During the days that I was in town, I caught up on some projects around the house like cleaning and unpacking boxes of books and papers that I hadn’t unpacked in the, um, over a year I’ve been here.  I also relaxed a bit and caught up on some reading as well.

When I went home to the Austin area, I happened to fly from El Paso to Austin the same day that President Obama flew to El Paso to deliver a speech on immigration and then flew to Austin for a fundraiser.  My flight was scheduled to leave El Paso and arrive in Austin a few minutes after Air Force One did, and I was worried about delays.  I didn’t know if there would be extra security at the airport, so I headed to the airport early to give myself plenty of time, which was fortunate because, while it didn’t take me any longer to get in to the airport itself, I had to take two detours on my way there due to streets being closed for his motorcade.  Somehow, the President managed to affect my travel more in El Paso than he ever did when I lived in the DC area for ten months.

When I arrived at the airport in Austin, Air Force One was parked near one of the terminals and I was able to get a few neat pictures.  Here’s one of them.

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It was really, really nice and relaxing to be home.  I did some shopping, caught up on some sleep, and saw some friends.  One of my friends from graduate school is starting A-100, the initial Foreign Service Officer training course, tomorrow and so I met with her and answered questions about A-100, packing, bidding, and so on.  Hopefully, I didn’t steer her too far off course, hehe.  It wasn’t a super-exciting trip, but it was relaxing and nice to just get away from work and do simple things like going to the grocery store after dark without being afraid.  I think that it’s due to the stress of the work here and the violence, but I find that instead of wanting to travel to new places, I just want to go home or to familiar placces, where I don’t have to stress about where to stay, what to do, and so on.

I’ve been back for a few days now and work has been busy, but good.  I’m taking on a new portfolio at work where I’ll get to spend a few hours a week working on some different stuff, which is nice.  The new work is interesting and it’s nice to have a break from visa interviewing now and then.  There’s also some news on the bid-list front, but I think that that will be a separate post since I have a lot to say about bidding.

Hope all’s well in the blogosphere. 🙂

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Filed under Austin, Ciudad Juarez, Home, Mexico, Texas, Vacation

What my life has become

I sat down to write a blog entry, but kept subconsciously inserting random visa case comments. So, I’ll take another crack at an actual entry later.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Consular, Mexico

Superheroes in the Situation Room

Courtesy of The Cable at ForeignPolicy.com.

Superheroes11

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Filed under Funny

Everyone and their mother…

…was going to El Paso tonight.  I happened to be over in El Paso, running errands and whatnot, and when I came back in the early evening, the lines at the bridge to cross in to El Paso were really, really long.  The DCL (dedicated commuter lane) was backed up even worse than it was at Christmas-time.

Why was this?  Well, tomorrow is Mother’s Day in Mexico, which is actually a federal holiday in Mexico, so I suspect that a lot of people were going over to El Paso to visit their mothers or to take their mothers out for a special evening.  Since tomorrow is actually Mother’s Day here, maybe it means the cards I sent to my mom and that arrived today actually got there early instead of late.  Hmmmmm.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, El Paso, Mexico, Texas

Operation vaccinate!

While not nearly as complicated as taking out an international terrorist, taking the Diplocat to get her vaccinations gets a little more complicated when there are international borders involved. First, you have to get the cat in the carrier.  The Diplocat is actually pretty good about this and I’m good at catching her by surprise so this part is not too difficult.  However, the Diplocat does not seem to like car travel.  She meows the whole time she is in a car.  Since the Diplocat’s vet is over in El Paso, this means that she meows all the way to the border, she meows while I’m talking with the CBP officer at the border, she meows while the CBP officer is looking at her vaccination paperwork, and she meows all the way to the vet.  That’s 30-45 minutes of meowing, depending on the traffic and wait at the border.

Then, there’s the appointment.  Fortunately, her reaction to being in the vet’s office is not to go crazy and attack like some cats I’ve known, but to just huddle down in her carrier or in my lap after we’ve taken her out of the carrier.  She was well behaved for the vet and the vet tech while the checked her out and then administered the vaccinations.

Sufficiently shocked by the vet appointment, she was pretty quiet on the way home to Mexico.  She barely made a peep, even when we encountered some of the vicious speed bumps and pot holes we have in the road here.  As soon as we got home and I let her out of the carrier, she ran around the house and pounced on several things, so she doesn’t seem to be having any adverse effects from the vaccinations.

I do worry a little bit about her aversion to car travel.  While I don’t know where I’m going next, getting there will probably involve driving home to my parents’ house for home leave, driving or flying to DC, and then flying to the next assignment.  Based on my experience traveling with her to the vet’s office and the multi-hour drive home to my parents’ house, I don’t think that she’ll calm down after a bit and be chill for the rest of the trip.  So, I worry a bit about traveling that much with her.  I know that I should probably try to drive more with her on short trips to get her used to traveling, but driving around Juarez is difficult due to the security situation and all the potholes and speed bumps that would make the trip rougher on her.

So, we’ll have to see.  I did ask the vet about medicine options and he mentioned a couple of things, but I’d rather not go there if I don’t have to.  I’ve found a couple of hotels in El Paso and New Mexico that take pets and are nice so we may take some short road trips like that, I may try to drive around with her while I’m on home leave, and if I’m in DC for any length of time, we can maybe work on some driving there, too.  So, we’ll see.  Even if she gets acclimated to car travel, who knows how she’ll react when I take her on a plane. Maybe the medicines aren’t such a bad idea after all. 😉

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Diplocat, El Paso, Mexico, Texas

Hellooooo, Blogosphere!

I’m here, out in the open, for everyone to read.  It feels kind of like a dream where you’re standing naked in front of everybody, except it seems like there’s a good reason for it.  There are a lot of people who are interested in learning about life as a Foreign Service Officer and/or about hearing how things are going for me, so I decided that it was best to remove the password protection from the blog so that more people can visit my humble (boring) blog.  So, come on in, take a look around, put your feet up, grab a Diet Dr. Pepper (or beverage of choice) and make yourself comfortable.  As I’ve said before, I’m open to suggestions and requests for blog topics. 🙂

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

Going public

After talking with a few fellow FS bloggers and a few bloggers outside the foreign service, I’ve decided to remove the password protection from the website later this week.  There are a lot of awesome FS blogs out there that have been great resources and I’d like to contribute to that community.  I’d also like to make the blog more easily accessible to friends and family.

Before I started A-100, many of the FS blogs that I read helped me get an idea of what life as an FSO was like and gave me great ideas about how to handle packing and other logistical challenges.  Now, I read them to learn about other posts and to keep up with friends all around the world.  So, I’d like to pay it forward and make my blog public to prospective and current FSOs.

I know that a few of you read this site via RSS feed and according to Posterous’ help page, the RSS feed link will change when I remove the password.  Since I’m not sure if the old RSS feed link will work, I wanted to give y’all a chance to change the feed link in your reader.  So, I’ll take the password off on Wednesday and post at least a short entry when I remove the password.  So, if you read this by RSS feed and don’t see the short entry on Wednesday, you might need to come back and visit the site to get the new RSS feed link.

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, Mexico