Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekly(ish) State Blog Roundup!

So here I am, laying in bed with an ice pack under my ass on a foggy, rainy Saturday in Istanbul.  The reason I'm in bed is the same reason why I didn't write the update last night - humpty hannah took a great fall down some granite stairs in the rain.  I'm fine, other than the chagrined ego and a massive (and apparently still growing) bruise on my hip.  Luckily I have long since lost whatever dignity I once may have had, so no damage there.  So!  Let's get this roundup on the road!

I've got two weeks to cover, going back to around 27 June, and can I just say, y'all are some prolific writers.  By the rough estimates of Google Reader, I accumulated over 500 posts from just over 250 FS blogs on my list.  Well done, guys!  When I first joined in 2007, I only remember maybe 15 people who blogged, but that was because we didn't know who else was doing it.  I'm glad we're coming together here!

First of all, because I can, I want to take this opportunity to thank the Turkish police and our own Turkish employees who protect Consulate General Istanbul.  Yesterday was the 2nd anniversary of the attacks on the Consulate, in which three Turkish policemen were killed defending our facility and the people inside.  I said it before, and I'll say it again - never take your safety overseas for granted.  When you get the opportunity (may I suggest Monday morning?), thank the people who might face danger on the job so you don't have to.  In that vein, TSB posts that there has been an arrest in the case of the Consulate General Ciudad Juarez employee and community members who were murdered in March.  May justice be done.

Moving on to more lighthearted topics, it appears that it was the 4th of July this week.  And as always Independence Day, the Holiday that Wasn't for FS folks, brought another fun night of networking, huge crowds, finger food of questionable quality, and speechifying.  Here's the SitRep from Michele times two, A Daring Adventure, DS, Jodi, Worldwide Available, Sara, Ryan, Stephanie, Digger, Matt, me, modestmuse times two, Jill, Melissa, Daniela, Elise, Kitty Non Grata, Chris, Esac, Al, Katie, and Matt.  Whew!

As for more general holiday enjoyment...  it's summer, which means people are on R&R or home leave or are just enjoying their posts in the lovely weather, which means we have lots and lots of photo spreads and vacation tales.  Dave appears to be convinced that America's Hat has its own holiday too, the Dinoias go to my favorite vacation spot in the country (yay ponies!), Abbey calls a beagle summit (more successful than Copenhagen!) but the beagle flotilla plans don't appear to be successful, Bridget visits the tourist sites of Shenyang, Micah has THE CUTEST PHOTOS EVER of his kids with his grandmother, the Richardsons tour South Serbia, Connie and family revel in their geekiness, Kim visits two of my favorite neighborhoods in Istanbul and takes way better photos than I could [Note to my family - read her blog for photos, it will be much more useful to you than this one!], A Daring Adventure went to Great Falls and presumably had on her special hiking shoes (which Kitty Non Grata saw!), the Monestels carried out the coolest volunteer work I've ever heard of, Al was a great adventurer in West Belize, Sara's Addie has the best summertime outfit ever, and Barry & Jess have the most awesome little girl ever.  The Schutz family offers to us one of the best, cheerful videos you'll ever watch about travel overseas.  Unfortunately, as I live in Turkey and YouTube is blocked, I'll just have to remember how much I like it.

Often bizarre things happen at post - it's just part of FS life that you don't have to go far away to see something exotic.  For example, Bryn has documented the roads in her neighborhood slowly washing away, Fawda Munathama explains why Sam Waterston or Aaron Sorkin won't be making stories about us anytime soon, Jeff has a question for trailing male spouses out there, AKB has one hell of a first day at work, TSB talks about Mexighanistan and offers a soundtrack, At Post has a photo of plumbing in Malaysia (and a plea for Facebook likes here), The Uncommon Life talks about the good and the less good of Seoul, and Emily writes the most amazingly cute/sad story about her son's first birthday (I would have eaten the cake, Emily!).  The strange food subsection: Sara's not brave enough to eat off this cart, and AKB has some awesome photos of delicious, tasty roasted meat.

Of course, our community isn't just people who are already at post - it's people waiting to join and people in training at FSI, too.  Mr. Crab reminds everyone that they can't talk about what's on the FS entrance exams, Devon is currently vacationing in Assignments Hell, FSO Hopeful is more than welcome to join my office as a reporting officer or as a bodyguard, Destinaish Unknown passed the FSOT, Andy discovers the joys of buying a car in DC, Yellow Flower got her first assignment in to New Zealand, Bfiles passed her Spanish exam for the points bump-up but is now in a new and improved bureaucratic limbo hell, Andy is taking the oral exam on 2 September, Valdysses got added to the PD register, Chris talks about the new batch of rosy-cheeked, dewy-eyed Facilities Managers, FSO Wannabe is brushing up her Japanese again so she can try for the points bump in the register, Kitty Non Grata hasn't a clue when she'll leave for post, the Letvins are back online again, Eve is a little stressed about the idea of taking Portuguese, Brian has some pointers for things to include in the FSI language curricula, and Melissa has finally internalized that she's about to join State.  In the complete opposite of Melissa, Masha talks about why she decided to leave State.  Definitely worth the click through.

And on the ever-popular theme of moving...  Kendra's family's passports will travel in style, David might STILL be packing out, the Noble Glomads have tips on finding out details about your house's furniture, and best of all, Jamie came home!!

Things we deal with at work:  NP Worldview talks about the overuse of antibiotics, Bill at Diplomatic Incidents DOESN'T talk about work, Ren has an idea for all of you PAS folk out there and also questions the received wisdom on who can be a PD officer, Phebevenus talks about a day in the life of a desk officer as well as the amusing quirks of HST, DS wonders what happened to the AFSA elections and describes the joys of being a diplomat in London (hint: you're scolded in papers),  FSO Wannabe is so not thrilled with our new budget, Alex learns that no one listens to him (he may have had more to say, but I only read the first paragraph!), AKB explains Murphy's Law of Illness and its corollary, the Visa Interview and Section Staffing Lemma of Sickness, Daniel describes working the G8 conference in another one of his awesome descriptions of working big events, Mark visits a Yazidi temple and northern Ninewa as part of his job, Matt goes to Herat, and Valdysses points out that perhaps life at State is a little different than it used to be.  [Morning update: upon rereading the document, I'm not so sure that much has changed...]

Consular specific stuff (because let's face it, it's way interesting): MLC talks about the sensitivities of international adoption, I talked about how your visa decisions can come back to haunt you (prompted by this fantastic MLC grab-bag post), learning about conducting IV interviews makes Hoyzhou reminisce about being on the other side of the window, Broadnax doesn't specifically allude to consular work, but this post about how we make decisions seemed nonetheless very applicable to the issue, Abbie and Matt get encouragement from a conversation with a former visa applicant, DS wonders why a first-tour officer would go to Gambia and is all over the new social media regs, Gerald sees a lost passport case and wonders what will become of the person, Broadnax discusses immigration and the US labor market, and AKB talks about how visas mean way more to non-Americans than they do to us.

State advice column - your requests for help and suggestions that will make someone's life easier.  Super Mario Diplomacy tells you how to watch Hulu overseas (but no instructions for the Mac version of Chrome, I see...  you're on notice, SMD!), Donna explains the difference between vacation and R&R, Ryan explains where Mexico stops and the US begins, Al is looking for help from those who are good at Facebook, and Emily offers instructions on how to use Google for those who haven't quite caught on yet.

Whew!  We made it through another Roundup.  You can leave any corrections, suggestions, rants, additions, or creepy messages in the comments, and I'll get to them when I wake up in the morning - it's now 2.30 AM in Istanbul, and I need to sleep.

Next week doesn't have an editor yet - I promise that you do not want to saddle poor Melissa with editing two weeks of posts, right before her A-100 starts!  So get yourself over to the calendar and sign up!  Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Great roundup!

    I also use Chrome on my Mac so I don't know if I'll even use those instructions lol

  2. Well done! I have to say, if you really would have eaten the cake, you would probably eat some of the other food I make.
    You are officially invited to eat at my house any time!

  3. Great round-up and I've opened a lot of tabs to go visit and read more. Thank you!

  4. Great work and hope you are feeling better!

  5. This round up is really impressive! Thanks!

  6. Wow! You did a fantastic job on this!

    So sorry to hear about your fall...I hope you feel better soon!


  7. Wow, what a roundup! Thanks for the hard work (and hope you feel better soon)!

  8. Terrific job on the two-week roundup and thanks for the shout out. :-D

  9. I'm still trying to work through all links. Great round-up.