Friday, July 22, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

PNQs Done

So the PNQ's have been filled out and sent on their merry way to the QEP. I chose to re-use my previous narratives, because I had no new major stories that worked better than what I used two years ago. We'll see if that was a wise decision or not. Now the wait begins....

Friday, July 15, 2011


So the ineffable Ms. Walton at State shot me an email today confirming that all Econ offers for the September A-100 went out and have been accepted. It's not a surprise but it's hard not to be disappointed.

On another note, I've been thinking of analyzing the FSOT questions published by ACT (or State), and putting down a list of things that you should study. The trick is whether that's NDA compliant or not. Have to think about it.

Ah well, off to work on the PNQ's.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

FSOT: Personal Narratives

So you've passed the FSOT and now have six "simple" questions to answer standing between you and an invitation to the Oral Assessment.

My big picture advice on the Personal Narratives:

1. Read the directions and answer the question that is being asked. Sounds simple, but people have a tendency to go off-topic. The Personal Narratives are a chance for you to show the QEP how awesome you are. Don't throw that chance away by answering a leadership question with an experience that's more appropriate for an intellectual skills question.

2. It's a narrative, so tell a story.

3. Be specific. Don't be big picture; get into the details of your narrative. 1300 characters per Personal Narrative is about 200 words or so. Make them count.

4. Use a variety of experiences. Don't show how you fulfill all 13 Dimensions by detailing a single experience that you just re-write for the five Personal Narratives.

5. Use your best stories (no matter how old a story is).

6. Get your writing done early, at least a couple of days before the deadline. This will give you some time away from your writing so you can self-edit more effectively. And you will need to edit.

7. Think very hard about the cone you selected and what life experiences you have had that match the work/responsibilities of that cone. If you've picked the Consular cone, don't demonstrate a bunch of experiences that are more suitable for Public Diplomacy.

8. Think about the structure of your answer. I'm partial to a 3 paragraph format: first paragraph for the set-up (what the problem/challenge/whatever was), one paragraph for the action/solution (daring, dashing FSOWannabe to save the day) and one paragraph on the conclusion or result (peace and harmony/free ice cream throughout the land).

Disclaimer: These are my suggestions. I have no idea if they "work" or not, and I've only gotten through the QEP stage once.

Additional disclaimer: corrected number of essays referred to above (there were only 5 the last time I answered the PNQ's).

Friday, July 8, 2011


My doctor reads my chart.

So I had surgery last week. Well, surgeries. Not exactly fun. Definitely nothing long-term nor life threatening, but for someone who has always been in decent health despite a profligate lifestyle, it has been a wake-up call.

I hurt. And I'm not recovering the way I expected. And I feel old. Especially when I can't play with my daughters. And they need a lot of playing with. Anyhow, I apologize for the whinging.*

Once I feel better, it's time to start eating my broccoli and hitting the gym. It will definitely distract me from the pain of starting the FS process all over again.

*But I will never apologize for loving the word "whinge."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Musical Interlude

This song has just been in my head the last couple of days. And I dig the video's tribute to "28 Days Later".

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sake Gorilla!

We're interrupting this OCD-ish obsession with the registers to discuss something far more important....BEER!

Slate has an interesting article on the craft beer industry in Japan. For those of you who don't know me, and I imagine that would be everyone, I helped my father brew beer when I was a child. We typically made porters and stouts, with the occasional bock. Although I might have received the occasional sip once the beers were ready, I never really partook of the beer - even during my more rambunctious high school years.

That changed drastically when I went to college. Let's just say I never really needed a fake ID. My roommate and I would just brew the beer in the dorm kitchen and let the beer ferment in our closet. Now that I think about it, that was probably much worse than having a fake ID. Oh well.

Although it's been decades since I brewed my own beer, I have a deep fondness for craft beers. When I lived in Shimane, Japan, I was lucky enough to live a couple of blocks away from the greatest liquor store on Earth, Sake Gorilla:
Picture courtesy of Torie and Erik. Thanks!

It was there that I first purchased chili beer. Yes, I said chili beer. It's a tasty, tasty lager with a little bite to it. Much like tequila with the worm, chili beer has a "surprise" in the form of a chili actually in the bottle itself.

In my law school years, I was a big fan of Celis, an independent brewery in Austin that sadly went out of business in 2001. They made the greatest white beer. The brand name was purchased by Miller, and then subsequently sold to another brewery. Sadly, I think that has meant that it is not the same beer, and not as easy to find. And then there is the national beer of Texas, Shiner Bock, that has become fairly ubiquitous over the last decade.

When I lived in Edinburgh over a decade ago, I became a big fan of ciders. Although it's hard to find any craft ciders, most places seem to specialize in the typical Strongbow and Woodpecker fare.

Nowadays, the Mrs. and I are members of a bar that specializes in bringing new craft beers every week. She's a big fan of IPA's. I'm going through a stout phase, and have really been enjoying coffee stouts like Southern Tier's Jahva.

So does anyone out there have any beer favorites of their own they'd like to introduce?

DISCLAIMER: I swear I'm not an alcoholic, I typically have less than 3-4 drinks per week.

PS: Don't Drink and Drive.

PPS: At the risk of ruining my disclaimer, next week I'll discuss my favorite wines.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The End

So September offers for Econ have all gone out, and I didn't get one. The news on the shadow register seem to indicate that calls didn't get past the double-digits. I guess there's still a last minute chance, but I think it highly unlikely. Unless there is a new A-100 in November (which I doubt), my time on the registry is over.

So, thanks to a spur of the moment decision, I took the FSOT a couple of weeks ago with the Mrs. We both passed. So at least we're on the path to getting on the register again. Wish us luck on the PNQ's for the next round.