Friday, December 21, 2012

New construction project

My project workload has continued to increase and has been very interesting. I worked on my first cable (formal memo), which also happened to be on a rather sensitive subject, so that was a bit of trial by fire. Very interesting though. Today I went to the top floor to get one of the final signoffs - it was my first trip up there! While I'm thinking about the top floor...

Recently the Project Director (site manager) for a project I'm supporting was granted tenure. This is a significant (and mandatory) step in the Foreign Service, so I congratulated him. I asked him to let me know what the executive bathroom on our building's top floor was like. He didn't seem to think my joke was funny. Who knows - maybe I wasn't joking because there actually IS a special bathroom up there. I didn't see one today but I didn't stay long. I think I'll keep asking people about it until someone confesses that there actually IS an Italian tailor who can let out your pants (that are clearly shrinking) while you wait. I fear Mario's job may be in jeopardy due to budget cuts though.

We had our holiday party yesterday. Our floor seemed to schedule it later than any other floor or department, I guess it's just how it worked out. We all ponied up and a volunteer group bought stuff and brought it in. There was some solid hanging out for an hour or so, good times. For reasons I can't explain, the rumors of an incoming karaoke machine failed to materialize. Too bad. I sortof suspect it had something to do with someone walking around the party with a video camera.

If you're interested in becoming a Foreign Service Specialist, there's a new Oral Assessment Study Guide available here. Of course, they don't list a sample hypothetical exercise for construction engineers. I'm sure it's because ours is the most challenging specialty and they couldn't think of a single construction engineering question that could possibly be answered in two pages. Or it was totally random. Anyway, it's still helpful.

By the way, those of you who slam the DC area should note that I got a happy holidays card from my bus driver. That's right: my bus driver. There are lots of good people here.

I volunteered for the technical evaluation panel for this new government construction project petition but I haven't heard back yet. I'm concerned they might think I have a conflict of interest. Popular Science even had a short article about it. Talk about a sweet post! It might be considered a stretch post for me but I'd finally get to use my astronaut pen as it was intended. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

(This post written while listening to Van Halen Top Jimmy.)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Get a job.

The Construction Engineer position is open again until January 2, 2013: get on it!  There's definitely more than enough work to keep everyone busy.  Most of us new hires feel like we're getting close to a full workload already, although we also feel like it's taking us twice as long to do things as it should.  We'll fix that with experience, though, right?  RIGHT?  Yeah.

The nomadic nature of the job seems to apply even to people working in DC.  People who are visiting from a post often migrate between offices to use the computers of people who are out on training, on temporary duty, or just in the bathroom.  There are occasional reorganizations of the DC-posted as well that have resulted in permanent people moving around a bit too.  Some rumors suggest our floor will soon be "right-sized" to make the cubicles the correct (read: smaller) sizes.  I didn't take this job for the cubicle, so it's not a big deal to me.  Although I have to admit that the potential for getting booted has made me plan ahead, including affecting even how I organize files on "my" computer.  These are things I never thought of - and not exactly of major consequence - it's just all part of the adventure.

On a completely unrelated but potentially helpful note, if you're really having trouble finding that special gift for that special aluminum-foil-hat-wearing someone, you might find one of these 6 gifts useful.

Hemlow Island - Nova Scotia, Canada - $30k CAD and it's yours! (Well, maybe just one of its eight lots)
(This post written while listening to The BoDeans Good Work.)