Sunday, October 28, 2012

Meet Sandy.

Ignorance is bliss, but even with the distrust of meteorologists I developed living in Colorado, I can't deny the emergency preparation press in the news ahead of Sandy's arrival tomorrow.  I doubt the fact that I started watching The Walking Dead yesterday has anything to do with this, but I can't help but draw an analogy to last year's CDC Zombie Preparedness campaign.  Store water, top off your car's gas tank, hoard non-perishable food, close/board up your windows, prepare for candle-lit séances, get out your flashlights, make sure you have batteries for your portable blender, etc.  The part I'm mostly concerned about is the power outage potential.  It's ridiculous enough to not have internet access these days, but to not have power is just uncivilized.  I recognize that I'm very spoiled from Colorado: most of us would just hole up in our homes with our buried utilities and we'd be just fine - in fact, it was fun as long as there weren't any leaks, breaks, or freak-outs.

We moved into our permanent housing last weekend, and we received our long term storage (household effects, or HHE) on Monday.  The resulting HHE explosion was pretty hilarious until the sobering reality of the unpacking and ongoing downsizing efforts hit.  We've made solid headway this week, but the still somewhat-disheveled look of the place has a somewhat apocalyptic appearance (again, not Walking Dead-influenced I'm sure).  I won't be able to use my latest excuse for much longer: "We shouldn't bother unpacking everything if Sandy's just going to make a mess of it again."  Actually that hasn't worked at all.

Our move-in had a classic example of "best-laid plans" when our internet installer wasn't able to complete the work we'd scheduled because our facility _didn't have keys_ to one of their own utility rooms.  It was a simple example of needing to be flexible, and unfortunately it was a recurring example since the connection went out later in the week and they again didn't have the keys.  It was odd, to put it mildly, but it was also an exclamation point on our new renting lifestyle.

Early in the week when we were without home internet, we climbed 3 to 4 couches (depending on your route selection and ankle strength) to decompress a bit and sit in front of our tv.  And I do mean RIGHT in front - the couch was touching the table with the tv.  I connected my iPhone to the tv so we could watch Netflix, and let me tell you, if your home internet access is out but you can get Netflix to stream to your tv through your phone, I assure you, it feels _exactly*_ like you've cheated death: totally awesome.  (* - I'm assuming this is true; I'll confirm after Skyfall comes out on November 9th)

Speaking of all this and looking at the cloudy skies, I guess I'll post this now.

Work's good.

(This post written while listening to The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter.)

Sunday, October 14, 2012


My first two weeks in the office have been good; the most exciting was learning my branch assignment!  Africa = very cool (of course I would've said that about any of the branches).  Here's a map of the sub-Saharan countries covered by the Bureau of African affairs branch courtesy of this State Department website.

Specific project assignments are still getting figured out.  In the meantime, there's a LOT of info to learn to get up to speed.  Fortunately everyone I've met has been very patient and helpful.  The patient part is especially good since I've been making plenty of rookie mistakes like:
- confusing Maputo and Malabo
- properly hiding my ID badge in public but forgetting that the visible badge lanyard has "Overseas Buildings Operations" boldly printed on it
- mixing up the concepts of T-SAC with tea bag

Last weekend was great as we got out of town to stay with some friends in PA.  This weekend included a trip to the zoo as well as seeing Argo with a group of us FS-types.  Argo was good even with its artistic license (i.e., some historic inaccuracies).

We're getting used to living in DC - well, technically northern Virginia.  That said, we're about to move from our temporary housing to our permanent housing next weekend, so moving will shake things up again.  Hopefully our new place will have heat, which unfortunately one of my fellow 127th Specialists did NOT have when he moved this weekend.  Sometimes the little things make all the difference.

We'll be receiving our "household effects" from long-term storage a week from tomorrow, so we'll see how well we downsized before we left.  We're expecting to continue the downsizing effort for a while longer, which will mean our new place will be packed with stuff until we do more weeding.  It's all part of the change. 

We're also getting used to commuting via the subway system and walking more than we did in Denver.  Of course, it's easy to walk around now before winter hits for real.  Until then, we'll enjoy the fall colors (the photos below are from PA):

(This post written while listening to Depeche Mode Never Let Me Down Again.)