Category Archives: Transfer

Blog slacker

I’ve really been slacking on any kind of substantive updates.  No real excuse, unfortunately.  Things here have been busy, but not so busy that I couldn’t update my blog from time to time.  As I’ve posted, I’ve made it to Toronto and Quebec City for fun in the last couple of months.

Spring has finally arrived in Ottawa.  The snow’s been gone for a bit and sometime in the last two weeks all the leaves started to come out and everything’s all nice and green now.  It’s a very, very welcome change after what even local Ottawans say was an awful winter.

My EER (State Department-speak for annual evaluation) is now in to Washington.

We’ve had a number of official visitors, events, etc. to manage and such.  Canada Day and the 4th of July party are coming up in just over a month.

The wheels are starting to spin toward my departure from Ottawa.  I’ve had my packout survey, the dates are set, and I’ve given notice to my landlord.  I’ve got an appointment to take the Diplocat in for her vaccinations, so there won’t be any problems bringing her back in to the United States. There are still more things to do before I can actually leave, but despite occasional feelings of panic that I’m behind on where I should be with my departure stuff, I do seem to be on track.

I’ve also made reservations for my drive from Ottawa back to Texas for Home Leave.  I’ve signed up for the Hometown Diplomats program and will at the very least talk to students at my old grad school, and possibly some other groups at home.  I’ll also plan to visit friends in Austin and maybe Houston.  I don’t really have plans past that, though.

I have a reservation for where I’m going to stay for my first 60 days at FSI.  I don’t know where I’ll live for the other 8 months I’ll be in DC, but I have some ideas and I have time after I get there to figure it out.  I’ll be assigned to DC, so will have to take possession of all of my stuff, but at least I don’t have to decide what to take to Frankfurt more than a year before I’d actually get there.

I’m paneled for the FSI economics course and have also taken a distance German course to refresh some of my German in preparation for entering German class after the econ course.

And, the Texparents are coming to visit next week!  I’m excited to see them and show them Ottawa.  Then, later in June, L&S, friends from CDJ, will visit Ottawa.

So, it’s shaping up to be a busy last two months!  I’ll try to be a bit better about blogging, but no promises. 😉  I should be able to catch up a bit over home leave though.

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, EER, Family, Frankfurt, FSI, Germany, Home, Home Leave, LQA, Moving, Ottawa, Paperwork, Snow, Spring, Texas, Transfer, Travel, Vacation, Washington DC, Winter

Still snowing!

I should really update this more often.  Since I last posted, several things have happened.  My friend, J, came to visit from Montreal, I was in charge of a VIP visit, and of course, it’s still snowing.

Over President’s Day weekend, J came down from Montreal to visit.  We were both posted in Juarez together, and it was good to catch up and to show her around town a bit.  We did some sightseeing and saw the Rideau Canal, Parliament House, and the Diefenbunker (the Cold War-era bunker built for Canada’s Prime Minister and emergency staff), saw a movie, went out to eat, etc.  It was a lot of fun! 🙂  Here are some pictures of what we did

The Rideau Canal

The Rideau Canal

Entering the Diefenbunker

Entering the Diefenbunker

Diefenbunker OR

Diefenbunker OR

Bank of Canada Vault - Where they kept the loonies?

Bank of Canada Vault – Where they kept the loonies?

Diefenbunker Cabinet Room

Diefenbunker Cabinet Room

When in doubt, beat the heck out of your electronics.

When in doubt, beat the heck out of your electronics.

High tech computers...for the time.

High tech computers…for the time.

PM's bedroom

PM’s bedroom

Last week, we had a VIP visitor and I was control officer for the visit, since it touched on one of the issues in my portfolio.  I’ve served as control officer for working-level visits, but this was my first time to serve as control officer for a VIP visitor.  I did a lot of planning, a lot of work to set things up, and then stayed with the visitors for most of their visit here.  Fortunately, the visitors were very nice (which is not always the case 😉 ) and they were here for a meeting that took up a lot of their time here.  We also lucked out that their flights were on time and everything went smoothly with their transportation.  So, no last minute extra overnights due to cancelled flights or anything. 🙂

Aaand, as I mentioned, it’s still snowing here in Ottawa.  We did have a few days above freezing the week before last, but it’s now back in the below freezing range.  That’s not all bad, because it did let me go skating on the canal a bit, but I’m definitely ready for it to warm up a bit.  Here are a few pics from my canal escapades:

Entering the Rideau Canal

Entering the Rideau Canal

IMG_2731

No trolls under this bridge!

No trolls under this bridge!

Just a dad pulling his kid on a sled

Just a dad pulling his kid on a sled

Handy markers showing how far you've gone.

Handy markers showing how far you’ve gone.

More canal!

More canal!

Rest stop with bathrooms, a warming hut, and food vendors

Rest stop with bathrooms, a warming hut, and food vendors

Finally, I got paneled in to the FSI Econ Course, which means that I could then put in my travel plans for departing Ottawa, home leave, and arriving in DC.  I’ve put my request in, and it’s currently moving its way through the process and eventually I should get travel orders out of the system.  I haven’t been paneled for the Frankfurt job yet, but there’s no hurry on that.  As long as I’m paneled for FSI, I can leave Ottawa and worry about getting paneled for Frankfurt and doing my travel plans for that separately.  Now, I just have to figure out where I’m going to live while I’m at FSI.  Since I’m assigned to DC, housing is all on me, as opposed to being funded by State if I were in TDY status between two overseas posts.  I’ve got some ideas and am looking in to it, but it’s still a bit daunting to consider all of the logistics and to keep in mind that I’ll then need to go through it all again in for transferring to Frankfurt later on.

So, that’s what’s new here.  Hope all’s well in the blogosphere.

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Filed under Canada, Frankfurt, Friends, FSI, Germany, Moving, Ottawa, Pictures, Snow, Transfer, Washington DC, Winter

Handshake Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

When I posted a little over a month ago, I’d accepted a handshake for the FSI Economics Course.  The course runs from September to early March, and is followed by either language training or an assignment in DC at the Department of State, another agency, a company, a think tank etc.

A couple of weeks ago, they added a bunch of jobs to the bid list since there were so many people bidding at my rank who still didn’t have jobs lined up.  Some of those fit well with the timing of the econ course, so I put in a few bids.  Well, one thing led to another and I’ve accepted a handshake for a Political and Economic job in Frankfurt, Germany starting in the summer of 2015, after the FSI Econ Course and a refresher course in German to get my German back up to speed.

I am beyond excited about the assignment and still keep pinching myself thinking that it’s not real or that there must be some hidden catch.  I double checked though, and there was no clause signing over my firstborn child or anything in the handshake offer. 😉

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Filed under Bidding, Canada, Frankfurt, FS Life, FSI, Germany, Handshake, Ottawa, Transfer, Washington DC

Oh where are my rabbit ears?

Part of the reason I put off setting up my television was that I had not found the box with the rabbit ears in it.  Well, I decided to set it up and hook stuff up so I could at least watch movies.  What did I find in the television box?  The rabbit ears.  No wonder they hadn’t turned up in any of the other boxes I’d unpacked.

I also discovered that the mover hadn’t taken the base off the way the manual tells you to do it.  So, I had to figure out how to reattach it, since the manual does not explain how to put together parts of the base that come assembled with the television.  Oh well.

I did finally get it up and running, though I need to get some batteries to get all the gadgets working together.  As it turns out, I get three over the air stations and I’m currently watching Toy Story on CBC.  Progress.

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Filed under Canada, Moving, Ottawa, Transfer, Unpacking

I’m in Ottawa!

I actually arrived in Ottawa about two weeks ago, but between getting checked in and starting work, exploring Ottawa, and looking for a place to live here, I haven’t had much time to blog.  However, I shall try to catch up in this entry!

Work:  So far it’s great!  It’s a lot to absorb and get up to speed on since the work is completely different than what I was doing in Juarez.  However, my coworkers are pretty awesome and I’ve been lucky that there haven’t been too many urgent issues to deal with in these first two weeks, so I’ve been able to read up on what my predecessor was doing, talk with people, and start to wrap my head around what I’ll be doing.

House hunting: It’s going ok.  I’ve looked at a few places and found one that I like, though we’re still waiting to hear if they’ll allow the cat.  If not, then I have plans to look at a few more places and see if I can find a different place.  It’s stressful though, since I’m not familiar with the city and am also trying to find my bearings in a completely new job here.  Still, they give us plenty of time to find a place, so I’m sure something will work out soon.

Exploring Ottawa: Ottawonderful!  I’m sure that winter will be challenging for a Texan like me who’s barely spent any time around snow and ice, but so far the city is really, really nice.  It’s very walkable and there’s a lot of neat things to see and do.  A lot of my exploring so far has been centered around house hunting and exploring different neighborhoods, so I haven’t really had a chance to check out museums or anything, but so far I’ve enjoyed walking around and taking in the sights as I walk.

So, in short, everything’s going pretty well so far.  I’m glad to be here and am looking forward to getting settled in to an apartment so I can put that behind me and start exploring the rest of Ottawa!

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Filed under Canada, Diplocat, LQA, Ottawa, Transfer

Packed Out

As I get closer to leaving, it’s all getting a little bit more real.  Last week, a couple of strangers showed up and took all of my stuff.  I was thrilled!  The movers came and packed everything up and took it away so that it can meet me in Canada in August or September.  The house is now really empty and it seems so much more real that I’m leaving in just a few weeks.  The Diplocat was a bit confused for the first day or so and seemed to be wandering around, wondering where everything had gone.  She’s settled in now and doesn’t seem bothered by it any more.  We’ll have to see how things go when we drive home.

I have some other things to check off of the departure checklist, a few more meetings and such, and there are the visas to adjudicate but the only big project I have left is to finish my part of my EER (employee evaluation report) before I leave.  So, I’m trying to convince the tenure and promotion boards that I have walked on water in the desert while saving all the puppies and kittens in the greater Borderland area. We’ll see how it goes. 😉

That’s about all that’s new here.  Not much longer and I will be leaving Ciudad Juarez and heading to home leave, DC, and then Ottawa!

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Diplocat, Mexico, Moving, Ottawa, Transfer

Packout scheduled!

So, I have started working through the departure checklist to leave Juarez.  I’ve scheduled my packout so I now have the day that the movers will come and pack up all of my stuff, which is both exciting and terrifying because I feel like I have so much to do before they come and not nearly enough time to get it all done.

I’ve also started pulling together the things I need for my EER (employee evaluation report?) which needs to be done by the time I leave.  Mid-level officer EERs are always due in April, but entry-level EERs are due on their one year anniversary at post and then again as they leave post.  So, I have to get bullet points about what I’ve done this last year to my supervisor, who will draft an evaluation and then it goes to the reviewer, which is someone who outranks the supervisor, and then I write the last part.  Then, it goes to a review panel of a few other FS personnel who review it and make sure that nobody said anything that’s not allowed and also do some general proof-reading of it.  Then it goes back to the person whose EER it is.  That person can then request any changes from comments from the review panel or other changes that they want.  It takes awhile to get it done, since it has to go through so many people and can go through a couple of people twice.  So, I have to get working on the bullet points for my supervisor so that she can start on her part in a week or two.

Other than that, not much news here.  Still adjudicating the visas, at least for a couple more months, and working on getting everything ready to leave here and to move to Ottawa.

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, EER, Mexico, Moving, Ottawa, Transfer

Making a list…

One of the things that I’m working on this week is making/updating a home inventory for insurance and shipping info.  First, I need to know what I have so I can take out the right amount of insurance for the move and second, I need to know what I’ve got in case something happens during the move.  While I was fortunate that I just had very minor damage to a couple of things in my moves from Austin to DC and DC to Juarez and no major breakages or disappearances, I know that I might not be so lucky next time.

So, on the advice of a few other FS friends, I downloaded a home inventory program that also has an iPhone/iPad/iTouch app that you can use to scan barcodes, take pictures of the item, take pictures of the receipt, etc.  If it can find the info from the barcode, it will autopopulate the current price, name of the item, etc.  So, it makes it a lot less painful than having to look all of that stuff up yourself and enter it in and then take a bunch of pictures and then go match them to your items, etc.

I don’t think I did much of anything toward cataloguing my things before my move to DC and just took a bunch of pictures of the stuff I had in my apartment in the DC area before it all got packed to go to Mexico.  So, even if I don’t get everything catalogued, I’m at least way ahead of where I was before I got here.  The program also makes it easy enough to do that it doesn’t feel like a complete chore.  We’ll see if I feel the same way when I start in on the upstairs!  I don’t have to get it all done this week though, which means that I can work on it in bits and pieces so it doesn’t get too overwhelming.

Anyhoo, hope all’s well in the blogosphere.  Hasta luego!

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Filed under Ciudad Juarez, FS Life, Mexico, Moving, Transfer

Getting my ducks in a row

I’ve taken this week off of work, but am staying in town to work on stuff that I don’t usually get around to like sorting/shredding/scanning/tossing/saving paperwork, cleaning, running some errands I keep putting off, and of course the occasional nap.

I have a lot of paperwork that I need to scan, shred, save, and/or toss.  Some of it is Dept of State stuff, some of it is other personal paperwork, and some of it is just odds and ends.  In this case, I’m not going to be separated from it for too long, but it’s good to have electronic copies of stuff just in case and I also want to get rid of what I can so that it’s not moved unnecessarily and so I don’t have to deal with it again when I get to Canada.

It’s also time to do some cleaning I’ve been putting off, like those rolls of Christmas wrapping paper that are still in the dining room, and some yardwork like raking the yard and getting rid of some of the weeds that are popping up.

There are also administrative things that I need to do to get ready to leave post.  I still have time to do most of those things, but there are a few that I can get started on soon so I’m trying to form a plan of attack for that stuff.

Of course, there will probably be things left undone when I finally leave post and some of the paperwork will have to wait until Canada (or later) to be dealt with, but at least I can get some of it done before I leave.

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Filed under Canada, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Moving, Ottawa, Transfer

Happy New Year!

I know it’s a couple of days early, but Happy Happy New Year, everybody!

I had a great trip home for Christmas weekend.  It actually started snowing on Friday the 23rd and I was a little concerned about getting across to El Paso in time for my flight since this area isn’t exactly used to getting a lot of snow, but it all worked out in the end.  It was really nice to be able to spend Christmas with my family.  I never did really get in to the Christmas spirit as much as I have in other years, but I did perk up a bit and get a little more excited about it.

The weeks leading up to Christmas were pretty busy with lots of applicants, but this past week was really slow and it was good to catch up on a lot of things that I had pending.  I also wrapped up some things that needed to get finished before I move to a new section for a couple of months starting next week. It will be really nice to have a bit of a break from the grind of adjudicating visas.  Lately, work has seemed a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day as all of the interviews kind of run together and most of the interviews are very similar to other interviews I’ve done.  So, the change will be nice.

Things are also moving on along with my transfer to Canada.  My transfer schedule has been approved by people in DC, post, and is now sitting with my travel technician who will then create my orders.  I’ve put in a request for a place to stay while I’m in training next year and have done more research on housing, winter gear, and Ottawa in general.  I’ve scheduled some time off in March and April, and while I’ll travel for some of it, I’ll probably spend some of it here, organizing things to be packed into the various shipments, donated, or thrown out.

That’s most of what’s been going on here.  Hope all’s well with you!  Happy Happy 2012!

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Filed under Canada, Christmas, Ciudad Juarez, Holidays, Home, Mexico, Ottawa, Snow, Texas, Transfer