Friday, July 30, 2010


The consulate in Juarez has been closed due to credible security threats. More here. Hopefully all our embassy personnel will stay safe.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Geek Interlude

Happy Birthday, Seth

Roughly fifteen years ago, I became friends with a quirky and talented man, Seth Fisher. We met in Tokyo in the mid-90's, and became friends when we both lived in Shimane Prefecture. Tragically, Seth passed away several years ago. What can I say about Seth? He was a talented man, primarily known as a comic book artist. I remember walking into a comic book store and seeing his art for the first time and just being so very proud of him. Here is some of his work, which I think might give you a sense of his unique perspective.

But even though I was in awe of his skills as an artist, I most remember Seth for his aggressively innocent view of life. He was constantly reinventing himself and constantly challenging himself to do new and different things. He never seemed to settle (which certainly brought him troubles later in life), but I think he was probably the only person I've ever known who truly tried to live life without regrets (and not at other people's expense) and without fear. I wish I could describe how unique he was, but I think very few people could understand without knowing him. I could tell you stories about how he liked to re-arrange the furniture in his house every couple of months in order to break up his mental inertia, or how he designed a cut-out paper doll of himself to be used as an "official" work photo, or how he randomly started a hobby of spear-fishing, or how he took my normal-looking birthday cake and re-worked it to look like Mt. Fuji. These are stories that can't really capture Seth, and sadly nothing but his art and the memories of those who knew and loved Seth are all that remain. So perhaps it's enough to say:

Happy Birthday, Seth, and thank you for the inspiration you provided, and continue to provide. You are missed.

Can't Catch a Break (Literally!)

I'm fairly sure my mother would say things are "mercury retrograde" for me right now. Frankly, I have no idea what she's talking about, but I do know that more shizzle than normal keeps happening.

I came home today and decided to unfurl the US flag on our porch, which had gotten all wrapped around its pole. As I leaned over to unfurl the flag, my shoes slipped on the edge of the porch and down I went. And not very well. I felt something go pop in my ankle. Thankfully, there's no break, but I'm now the proud owner of a sprained ankle. And sadly, I find myself once again back in a bed rest state of being. At least this time I don't need a spit cup.

I'm not sure which higher powers I've pissed, but clearly I've done something. I just can't believe my luck (or lack of it). At least we have Netflix. And clearly it's time to light some candles or sacrifice a goat or something.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Econ Register

So offers went out for the September class, and for the first time, I would not have received an offer. Not sure if they hired fewer econ officers, if there were more Pickering fellows, or less people being on DNC this round. Still sucks, because I would hate to be on the downward slope. Must start studying my Japanese every day.

Anyhow, I am currently 32 out of 86 on the Econ Register.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Port Louis, Mauritius!

My study buddy was posted to Port Louis, Mauritius! Mauritius is the small island to the east of Madagascar. How neat is that?! I know absolutely nothing about this country. But it looks like a very exciting post. Pain in the ass to get to, I imagine, but a wonderful place to work and explore. It was one of her high wish-list posts - French-speaking, in Africa, and it has a fusion of different cultures. Just wonderfully exciting! I imagine most of her fellow A-100'ers are very jealous. Here are some google pics of Port Louis and Mauritius:

I have a hard time imagining being disappointed in any post, but that's probably pretty easy for me to say since I'm not even active on the register. That being said, my buddy looks like she's going to have an amazing adventure starting in 2011!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sick Sucks Part Two

Reading back over my original Sick Sucks post, I realize now how young and naive I was. Because I got a whole lot sicker.

I managed to get an appointment with my physician the next day, and I must have really looked and sounded like shizzle because they took me in right away (despite 15 people hanging out in the lobby). During the previous night, the whole swallowing razor blades feeling in my throat increased to the point where I literally gave up trying to sleep at around 2:00 am. My throat hurt so much that I was not swallowing, instead I was acting like a tobacco chewer, complete with my own spit cup. Which is really disgusting. I will never take saliva for granted again.

Prior to the appointment, I knew I wasn't feeling that great, but even though I felt a bit hot (and the Mrs. remarked on it as well), the home thermometer said I was A-Okay. Things got a bit weird, though, when I started having chills. To deal with the freezing, I jumped into a steaming, melt your skin off hot shower, only to keep shaking and feeling like I was freezing. Quite a strange sensation of pain from the hot water, while your body feels like it's in ice. At the Dr's, I found out I was running a 102 fever, so now I know to throw the home thermometer away.

My Doctor took one look at my throat, described it as gruesome, and then informed me that I reeked of strep. Yes, I was diagnosed by smell. My apologies if any of my readers just threw up a little bit in their mouths after reading that. Who knew strep had a distinctive odor? The Doc gave me some drugs and told me not to leave my bed for a couple of days (and to stay away from everyone).

I spent the next couple of days not sleeping for more than an hour at a time, and not eating or drinking. It just hurt too much to swallow. I had pain killers, but they did little for the pain, just made me a mental zombie. My wife was worried enough to call the Dr. and arrange another appointment, so they gave me bigger, meaner pain killers that still did nothing for the pain, but did at least put me to sleep.

Anyhow, after 3 days of quarantine (and that has really sucked because the little ones don't get why Daddy won't come out of his room to play or read them stories), I'm well enough to drink some tea, eat some jello and blog, of course. Luckily, it doesn't look like the girls or the Mrs. have picked this up. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy (I probably would on my wife's worst enemies, but that's because I really don't like people who mess with my own). Anyhow, the good news is I'm getting better and thanks to everyone who emailed to check up on me.

Happy Flag Day

The June A-100 is having their Flag Day today, and one of my fellow study buddies for the OA will be finding out her future post! Congratulations KK! And congrats and good luck to all the new FSO's!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sick Sucks

Picture courtesty of AOL Health (Tamago-zake - raw egg and sake cures colds!*)

In between agonizing for my blog-friend on her getting "the call" to A-100 this week (and I think I'm worrying about it much more than she is), I've caught something. Not quite a cold, maybe strep, maybe an ear infection. It started last Friday, when I had that slight something wonky feel, but nothing to complain about. And over the last several days it's increased, culminating into today's day of suck. All I know is the left side of my face from my clogged-feeling ear to my "am-I-swallowing-razor-blades?" throat, is hurting.

Our nanny has been out sick as well (and from the sounds of it from the same thing), so it's just been me and the kids doing the Mr. Mom thing, which is hard to do when you don't want to swallow, much less talk. And not talking is hard to do with my 3-1/2 year old, whose new nickname is Ms. Gabs-a-Lot, although I think she'd prefer Princess Mouth. On top of it, Segunda, who doesn't talk yet, has decided that since I'm around I might as well read every single book in the kiddie library to her. It's cute seeing her stomp down the hall with a new book in her chubby little baby hands, until I realize she expects me to actually read to her. Which means talking. Which means pain. I hope she appreciates this when she's older. Off to the Dr. tomorrow if they have any appointments.

Anyhow, it's selfish, but for those who believe in the power of prayer please put a shout-out so my girls don't catch this. Thanks!

Best of luck to all the wannabe's waiting for this round of A-100 calls!

* It's really just egg nog made with sake, not as disgusting as some might think!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Funny Interlude

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Turning Japanese (or not)

So in order to keep ahead (hopefully) of the burgeoning register as well as any tightening in hiring over the next year, I've decided to dust off my Japanese. I was a Japanese Literature major in college (shockingly, not a very useful degree in the real world), and spent over four years living and working in Japan doing translation and interpretation work for local municipal governments in a very rural prefecture. My daily use of the language ended about 12 years ago when I came back to the States to go to law school. I always planned on getting a law job back in Japan, or something on the West Coast where I could use my Japanese; but life didn't work out that way.

Other than the occasional request for some on the fly translation, I haven't really used my Japanese in the last 12 years. And boy that rustiness showed when I went to my first language lesson with a tutor here in town. Strangely, it became pretty clear that the language is still in my brain - it's just locked away. I found myself shakily able to converse with my instructor, but half the time the English part of my brain had no idea what the Japanese side of my brain was saying.

It's really sad, I'm not a (huge) braggart, but my Japanese skillz were off the hook in the day. So much so that I actually received an Asian-Pacific Islander scholarship to go to the University of Hawaii for law school - and as you might be able to tell from pictures of my girls, the only thing about me that is Asian/Pacific Islander is...well nothing, really.

Anyhow, there is some good news. My reading ability is still fairly strong, as I was able to read a couple of newspaper articles without too much pain. And my instructor has told me that she thinks I'm on a comparable level to another student who just returned from Japan after living there for 5 years - although that comparison is certainly based on my reading rather than speaking ability.

So I am buckling down. I'm planning on taking 2-3 hours of classes with the instructor a week; as well as seeing if I can set something up via Skype with this language school for extra speaking practice. With luck, I hope to be ready to take the language test at the end of August.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Not Good News

So, as somewhat expected, the Foreign Operations subcomittee in charge of determining State's budget has decided to cut it by $4 BILLION. Not sure what will actually go into effect since Congress isn't preparing a budget resolution this year - which is strange since it's kind of their job. Details are here. Diplopundit has a post about it here.

Time to start freaking out?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Music of My Youth

I have to say, this is a sweet, sweet performance.