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July 2012

Masalama, Bahrain

In a few hours, Mr. Crab will permanently depart Bahrain, the end of my first tour in the Foreign Service. Two years and 19 days, one authorized departure, two homes, 20 Friday brunches, a handful of great new friends, one new cat (Habibi!), one super-supportive wife / coworker (Mrs. Crab!), and many many treasured memories. 

Parting thoughts: The Foreign Service is my third career (after the military and journalism). This has been the most challenging and difficult job I've ever held, but it was also one of the most professionally rewarding experiences of my life. Despite the challenges, I've come to the conclusion that I made the right choice to join the Foreign Service!  For the prospective FS candidates: yes, the Foreign Service is a "dream job", but it's still a JOB -- with the same pluses & minuses that come with any career choice. But I have no regrets and now looking ahead to the future.  

The Two Crabs will soon be reunited in my hometown of Washington, D.C. When you next hear from us, the Crabs will be blogging about our adventures in America, the trials and tribulations of Korean language training as we prepare for our next tour in Seoul. 

See you on the flip side!



The Long Goodbye


One of the most emotional moments of a Foreign Service overseas tour is the long goodbye. From about mid-May to late August, most U.S. Embassies and Consulates experience a massive turnover.  Calendars become filled with goodbye dinners, lunches, parties, tears, laughter and memories.  I've said goodbye now to about a dozen co-workers. The most difficult part has been watching people who arrived after me, leaving before me.  Mrs. Crab has been back in the States for more than a month. And now it's my turn. In a few days I'll be permanently leaving Bahrain. It seems like just yesterday I hit the 6 month milestone, 100 days, 50 days. It did not seem real until about 30 days, when I really started my "Check Out" list, packing, planning, drafting "Welcome Notes" for my successor, sharing my "institutional knowledge" with colleagues, and attending my own going-away events.  This is my last weekend in Bahrain. I've given away all the food in my house, surviving on delivery and take-away meals. In one week, the Two Crabs will be back together again, barbecuing in our own back yard in America. Masalama. 


Typepad vs. Wordpress

 Last night I had a screaming match with Typepad. I was trying to freshen up my site design, but instead Typepad just kept screwing up all the column widths, removing content, re-arranging content without my permission, splashing the page with some unholy colors, etc.  I found some great new Typepad blog templates, but most of them won't let you use your own banner, and I'm too HTML-illiterate to upgrade to the fully customizable version of Typepad. So I started playing around with Wordpress.

As any blogger knows, Wordpress is the hipster blog tool. It's the Apple of blog sites. It's the Pabst Blue Ribbon-drinking, Buddy Holly glasses wearing, skinny jeans doning blog tool.  If you're a blogger under 30, chances are you use Wordpress. If you're an old fogey like me (I wonder if anyone under 30 recognizes the photo above), you probably use Blogger (now owned by Google), or Typepad.  I've been using Typepad since it started and I'm now stuck in my ways.  My biggest beefs with Typepad is that my site looks different depending what browser you are using to get here.  Take a look at the sidebar headlines. For some reason on Google Chrome, the spacing between letters is huge. E V E R Y T H I N G   L O O K S   S P R E A D   O U T!  But on Internet Explorer for PC, it looks fine. And when I see my site from Safari for Mac, the entire page looks so small that I need to magnify the page. 

Fast forward to Wordpress. If I thought I was too dumb to use Typepad, Wordpress is for Stephen Hawking. I could make a simple blog, but customizing was excrutiatingly complicated. I gotta say, Typepad is pretty intuitive; you can drag & drop, and altering text is as simple as using Microsoft Word shortcuts like control-B for bold, etc.  

Anyway, that's my rant for the day. If anyone has any thoughts on how to easily redesign this site without screwing up the content, I'm all ears. And if anyone has any suggestions on what they want to see, let me know!