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February 2012
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April 2012

March 2012

A more realistic Foreign Service exam

One of my favorite "taskers" at Embassy Manama is administering the Foreign Service Officer Test, which we host about three times a year. It's one of my favorite extra-curricular activities and I love being able to mentor and share my experiences to Foreign Service candidates.  One night over drinks, a group of ELOs (Entry Level Officers) were chatting about our own experiences taking the FSOT, and how we could possibly make it more realistic. Such as:

--In the middle of writing the Essay, you must stop what you are doing because you have been assigned to serve as Control Officer for a visiting dignitary.  Immediately draft a proposed schedule for the VIP, who is arriving tomorrow morning. The countdown clock on the essay will continue to run and you must complete BOTH tasks in the alloted time. Additionally, sometime during the course of this exercise, the entire computer system will be shut down randomly for a simulation of a network outage. Go! 

The suggestions got a crazier as the night went on, but you get the idea.  So, dear readers, how would YOU make the FSOT more realistic? Funniest idea wins a prize of my chosing. :o)


Travel Orders!

Boeing_787_dreamliner_3It's hard to believe that our Bahrain tour is coming to an end. It hasn't really hit me until this week, when I received a welcomed surprise in my inbox: My TM-4 cable, otherwise known as our Travel Orders! This cable essentially authorizes the U.S. government to spend money to fly our persons and belongings back to the good ol' U.S. of A.!  Mrs. Crab already booked flights for herself and Habibi the Cat (more on that below). 

Mr. Crab is leaving in July; Mrs. Crab is leaving several weeks earlier to set up our house and attend our niece's graduation. For the first time in seven years, we will be living back in the States, and in our own home too.  The Two Crabs, naturally, are super excited.  But we are not looking forward to the actual process of moving. You'd think by now we would be experts at international moves, but it's still not fun.  We're already sitting down and talking about HHE, UAB, POVs and other State Department acronyms, deciding what goes where and how it will get there. 

Meanwhile, the second half of my A-100 class is currently bidding on their second assignments. It seems like half of those folks are going to Europe!  As EUR-wannabes, I must admit to being just a tad bit jealous. But we are extremely excited for our next assignment in South Korea and the opportunity to explore East Asia. 

On a related note: an unofficial Foreign Service boycott has erupted against United Airlines. A new post-merger policy means that Foreign Service families with pets will now have to pay $1,000 to $4,000 per pet to ship their furry friend, instead of the current $250-$400 excessive baggage pet fee. United Airlines has, rightfully, waived these ridiculous new fees for U.S. military members and their dependants.  At the urging of the American Foreign Service Association, about 3,000 FS members have sent protest letters to United, urging the airline to reconsider and extend the fee waiver to the Foreign Service. So far, United has refused to budget. As a result, Mrs. Crab and Habibi the Cat will be flying home to DC on KLM/Delta.  Nice going, United. You just lost our business for this Travel Order.