Great American Western Road Trip: Summer 2018

4 weeks, 3 kids, 1 van, 16 different lodgings, 5400+ miles, 12+ National or State Parks and Monuments adds up to 1 Epic Adventure.

American Southwest Family Vacation 2017

We followed historic Route 66 on our way to see the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, the Painted Desert, plus much more in New Mexico and Arizona.

End of Tour Summary: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Here are our stories from two and a half years of living in Saudi Arabia while exploring the region.

Excursions to Oman

On two different trips, we strolled Muscat, hiked Wadi Shab, and sailed a dhow through the fjords of Musandam.

Our Expedition to Jordan

Highlights included tracing the steps of Indiana Jones into Petra, following Lawrence of Arabia into Wadi Rum, and floating in the Dead Sea.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Office Humor - Notable Meeting Quotes

So, my office has a sheet hanging on one of the cubicle walls entitled "Notable meeting quotes." I'm not sure where it came from, so it might be one of those email forwards from years ago. Some of them are funny, but I've personally never heard them spoken in a meeting.

1. I feel like I’ve been given a sack of feathers and been asked to make a chicken.
2. We don’t want to overwhelm them with nothing.
3. I can relax when everyone else is as disturbed as I am.
4. It’s like being hit by a car in the crosswalk. You’re right, but you’re still dead.
5. They’re using a rake to go through the data; we need a combine.
6. We didn’t find the smoking gun, but did find an empty cartridge.
7. It’s an informal meeting; we don’t need Gucci PowerPoint slides.
8. We’ll conduct a historical predictive analysis.
9. Something is missing. I don’t know what it is, but I’m not seeing it.
10. Are we mitigating the risk or admiring it?
11. Don’t mess up a good story with facts.
12. They aren’t allowed to abandon you, but it will feel like it.
13. Watermelon metrics = green on the outside, red on the inside.
14. The truth has a ditch on both sides.
15. Of the three options, blissful ignorance seems the best.
16. No one is postured to succeed, but everyone is poised NOT to fail first.
17. Going forward is now behind us.
18. We’ve decided to postpone the postponement until next week.
19. Go for it. We’re behind you. Way behind you.
20. Don’t keep talking until you get it wrong.
21. I feel like I’m only seeing half of a two-part movie.
22. Eventually this will be like a kidney stone. This too shall pass, albeit painfully.
23. I learned about, like, communications and stuff.
24. No one is using it so there aren’t any complaints.
25. They send you out like sheep wandering in a minefield.
26. We see the light at the end of the tunnel but sections of the tunnel keep getting added.
27. Same monkey, different zoo.
28. I hope you appreciate all of the efforts we take to make your life more difficult.
29. See you next week if you’re not lucky and I’m not careful.
30. Every time I idiot proof something, someone builds a better idiot.
31. I could ask for something different, but it would just be a contribution to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
32. They were squirming like a bunch of shivers looking for a spine to crawl up.
33. It should be a process, not an adventure.
34. We will try anything easy that doesn’t work before we try anything hard that does work.
35. The badges are sent “overnight,” which actually means three days.
36. It’s like turkeys voting on Thanksgiving.
37. We need to get out of the mode of admiring the problem.

Friday, April 06, 2012

My Foreign Service Specialist Oral Assessment Experience

Today was my Foreign Service Specialist (FSS) Oral Assessment for the Foreign Service Construction Engineer (FSCE) specialist position. In terms of federal government jobs for a post-military career, this one lines up closest with my skill set and allows me to travel abroad or live as an expat while building embassies around the world. I applied in December 2011 and have finally made it to the interview stage. Time to pack! As if you needed a reason to think I was any more of a geek, I actually found this YouTube video on "How to fold a suit without wrinkling it." Which, by the way, worked amazingly well...Much better than when I tried to use the garment bag. Before you get your hopes up as to all the intimate details of the Oral Assessment to reverse-engineer a passing score, I did have to sign some non-disclosure agreements (NDA). So, if I sound vague on some parts of the day, that's intentional. However, what's already out on the web about the process is pretty accurate.
I arrived at the oral assessment location around 08:20 for a 09:00 interview. That's a little too early for me to just sit around and wait, so I took a walk around the block and took a moment to enjoy the very crisp morning air. I signed in around 08:40, went upstairs to the same room used during my Foreign Service Officer (FSO) oral assessment back in November. This time, however, I only counted five people including myself that were there for the interview. Two of them I saw only once before they vanished down the hallway, but the other two people were on the same schedule as me. One was from Chicago, pursuing an Office Management Specialist (OMS) position. The other was from Senegal, and was pursuing a Financial Management Officer (FMO) position. 'Chicago' was enjoyably chatty, while 'Senegal' was much more reserved...or, more likely, jet-lagged.

The Foreign Service Specialist Oral Assessment consists of three parts:

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