Greetings from New York City
US diplomat killed in Haiti

Letters from London

Happy New Year!  After two months and five days of traveling in Costa Rica, NYC, Baltimore and Washington DC, I'm finally back in London. We spent Christmas and New Years in Baltimore...our first Xmas in America since 2005!  Hard to believe we're nearing our five-year anniversary of living in London.

On this particular trip back home, one of the things I really noticed was customer service. It's no surprise that the US has MUCH better customer service than the UK. In the US, despite perceived failings, customer service is still an art form. A tip is something to be earned. My fellow Americans just seem more friendly and eager to please. (A Brit friend of mine once remarked how jealous they were of how Americans can become your best friend just 5 minutes after meeting).  And I'm not the only one who has noticed these glaring differences. The New York Times had a great article about how Americans are perceived by Brits. In case you missed it, click here to read the column.

Meanwhile, for reasons I can't figure out, this blog received a HUGE spike in traffic on Wednesday, Jan. 6. We're talking nearly 5 times the usual traffic. I'm bewildered, as I've been pretty lazy about blogging lately. I promise to try and do better, but between Lonely Planet, the Foreign Service, pack-outs and more, I'm going to be swamped over the next few weeks!

Speaking of the FS:  I'm now #14 of 63 folks on the Consular register. Keeping my fingers crossed for a March invitation to A-100!