Tuesday, 10 July

I knew this would happen but am still surprised by it. Time is rushing up fast and I’ve got a lot of work still to do before I leave.

I haven’t been interviewing at work this week, trying to wrap up the bigger projects and organize my workflow to hand off to the officer following me. However, there is so much general churn going on every day, I’m barely able to even touch it. It really highlights how understaffed we are here. I really do wish I could stay on for another year as I know that the work I could get done would be so productive.

There were some distractions that impacted my ability to be productive as well. Last night the security alarm in my apartment decided to go off at random times throughout the night, starting just as I went to bed at 10:30. The oddest part was that I hadn’t armed it for the night when it first went off and I was perplexed why it was going off. It went off again around 4:00, only I didn’t realize it right away. I incorporated the sounds into a dream for a while, apologizing to the guests at my house about the noise. Suddenly it dawned on me that it was a REAL noise that had been going on for quite some time! I leapt from bed and immediately slammed face first into the door, banging my knee in the pitch black. I got it off, but it went off a few more times by the time the sun came up. I hadn’t slept very well as a result of all of that and called in late to catch a bit more sleep. The alarm continued to go off at random times, including three times in the amount of time it took me to get out of bed and out of the shower. I called the security team to come fix it and it went off 3 more times by the time they got here.

Now that it was daylight and I was coherent, I investigated and noticed that one of the cables near the door that had always been frayed had completely fallen apart. It turned out this was the panic button cable and it was shorting out, thus solving the mystery of why it was going off even when the alarm wasn’t armed. They replaced the cable and all was well.

Of course, once I got to work, there were troubles with my upcoming travel. Part of the paperwork was filled out incorrectly and suddenly someone realized that there was no money authorized to pay for my travel. That caused a bit of consternation and stress but we got that squared away. It ended up costing me a couple hundred dollars as part of a cost-contruct but that was to be expected. I’m just happy that it didn’t change my confirmed tickets because I’d already paid the little bit extra for the Economy Plus seats on the United legs of the trip.

I still have to bottle a batch of beer, drop off the Eminent Feline, and pack. Packing is a challenge because I’ve got at least 3 if not 4 destinations (Camping, home visits, training) that require completely different types of clothing. The biggest challenge will be in Washington. How many suits to bring? I sense that they’ll get pretty wasted in just a single day in the summer heat and I don’t look forward to paying hotel prices to get it cleaned overnight. Still don’t know what to do about the daily wear; hopefully I can find a coin laundry nearby or maybe convince a friend to let me use their facilities.

All in all, I’m very stoked about the upcoming trips. I’ve met my new boss who seems to be a great asset at work and someone that I think I’ll really enjoy working under. There will be a lot to learn but I can already tell that he is capable both of recognizing the learning curve I’ll be on as well as challenging me to move along it as fast as possible. Even though I said I kind of wish I could stay in the consular section, given the choice, I wouldn’t pass up this opportunity. It’s hard to walk away from work that I enjoy and I know I’m good at (and a section that needs me, if I can be so bold) but it would be even harder to turn down this opportunity.

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I’m a Seoul Man

Got my assignment yesterday, a Consular-Political rotation in Seoul starting June 2014. I’ll get a full course of Korean in DC that is perfectly timed for Miku to get a full year of school in the U.S. This wasn’t even close to my top choices (it was #15 on my list) and I’d really wanted to do a full Political tour instead of a rotation, but I’m not complaining in the least. I know the guy who got the job I really wanted, a Political/Military post in Singapore and I’m very happy for them. I’m stoked to learn Korean and this is going to set me up well for future career work in EAP. Maybe I’ll be able to get Chinese somewhere along the way and really lock things up.

This is still a long way out. I’ve got a year left in Abuja and then 9+ months of training before Korea. The next 4 years are set though. Odd to think that Miku will be 13 when we leave Seoul in 2016.

Also, Happy Birthday, America. Hope we can all take a moment to reflect on what has made our nation and country great. We need to consider how we are failing to live up to that legacy too.

Sunday, July 1: The week in review

It’s been a busier than usual week for me, primarily because my boss is out and I’ve had extra responsibilities around the office. In addition to that, I had my bidlist due on Monday, the gig on Tuesday, and then the Eminent Canine was due to return home on Wednesday. On top of all that, we had additional security restrictions on embassy employees due to the precarious situation here and the threat that the violence in the north would trickle down into the capitol. Thankfully that didn’t happen.

The gig turned out great. We had a good turnout of people and we played better than we’d ever played before. Something about being on stage got me both relaxed and focused and I was able to hit all the bits we’d practiced. Lots of great feedback from people who genuinely seemed to have fun. I know I did.

The Eminent Canine’s owners got delayed on Wednesday due to airplane mechanical issues stateside. I learned that they actually did an emergency aborted takeoff after the nose wheel had lifted off. Took them 4 more days to get here which was fine with me and I really enjoyed having him around. The house is emptier for sure now that he’s gone.

I was looking forward to Thursday under the impression that it was the Venezuelan National Day. Don’t know how I mistook June 28 for July 5. Next week!

Friday was a big 90s themed party hosted by a friend of mine. Huge expat turnout with everyone dressed in 90s themes. I dug out a pair of ragged jean shorts, hiking boots, and a flannel. I also took a bunch of pictures that turned out pretty good I thought. The new flash I got works great. I set up my tripod thinking to have “photo corner” but ended up just walking around with it. If I’m going to do a photo booth, I need to set it up better with signs and stuff. I’ve seen where people have set up automated scripts so that you can take the picture and have it print right there which would also be fun to do.

Saturday I had a couple friends over for some table-top gaming. I bought a few new games that have gotten rave reviews and now its a matter of finding people willing and interested in playing. We only played Dominion and I could tell that it was going to be a hard sell due to the abstract nature of the game (it’s a deck building game that doesn’t really sound like much fun based on the description alone). I’d played on my iPad a few times and had a sense of how it works, although I did have a few details wrong that we eventually figured out and it made the game a lot more fun. I made a couple pizzas and I think everyone enjoyed themselves but the real test will be seeing if they come back again.

Today was just an off-day where I just lounged about, caught up on some episodes of the Daily Show, read a couple magazines, started reading “Wicked”, and played a little Xbox. It was very relaxing and enjoyable. Went out to a local bar to watch the final of the Eurocup soccer tourney. Sorry, Italy, and Congrats to Spain!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my last week of interviews. Bittersweet.