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.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

We're still hiring Foreign Service Construction Engineers!

If you are interested in international travel, building things, and solid benefits from one of the best departments to work for in the Federal Government, then I have good news for you: The US Department of State is now hiring Foreign Service Construction Engineers to work in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations! Trust me, it's a pretty awesome job. Check out the video below, my projects start showing up at the 4:10 mark.

The current FSCE vacancy announcement window closes on Dec 29, 2014. This advertisement is particularly relevant for any of my Air Force Civil Engineer friends who were recently affected by the 2014 RIF (Reduction In Force) or are concerned about a RIF in 2015 or beyond. Bonus? You can get credit for all of your military/federal service time to get more leave right off the bat and also buy back the years towards retirement at a reasonable rate to retire by age 50 with 20 years of service (if you choose to leave that soon). If you want to learn more about Entering the Foreign Service you can read about my experience here (including a hiring timeline).
And you get to wear one of these!


Sunday, November 09, 2014

How to Declutter Before Moving (aka PCS)

If it hasn't come up before, one of my favorite leisure activities is combining mindfulness and productivity to improve a process. While I've had all sorts of classes on what makes a good leader, manager, etc, that's all in the work environment. Theoretically, I only spend around 8 hours a day at work...the rest of the time is at home. A home that, due to my job in the Foreign Service, relocates frequently.

While moving every two years might be seen by some (or many) as an unwelcome chore, I see it as another opportunity to pare down the stuff that I no longer need that would continue to inhabit some back corner of a drawer somewhere if I wasn't required to clean it out. Don't get me wrong, moving can be stressful, difficult, and not entirely pleasant...especially when you're trying to find all 40 pieces to your kid's toy set that is useless without all 40 parts. Seriously folks, it's kind of mean to get gifts for kids that run on batteries or have a gazillion loose pieces (unless they are Lego, in which case all is forgiven), but I digress.

If you want to effectively prepare for a move, you have to take an objective view of your stuff. George Carlin's classic routine on stuff sums it up nicely, but yeah, you are going to have too much stuff to move. I'm not saying that you need to become a minimalist, because that doesn't really work for everyone. But do you really need two bathroom scales?

The Foreign Service adds another wrinkle to moving, since It's your Move reminds you that you're only allowed to move 7,200 pounds of stuff, even though they will store the remainder of up to a total 18,000 pounds of stuff. That's because most post housing is furnished, but still...that's almost 11,000 pounds going into storage. That's an insane amount of stuff to keep track of. Similarly, the military sets a weight limit for shipping (and only occasionally allows storage), so this scenario plays out for any PCS  but the amounts might be different. So how do you decide what stuff to take, store, or get rid of? I suggest using a modified Eisenhower Decision Matrix...

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