Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for July, 2009

FS Update: Going in circles and banging into walls

Posted by quirksalight on July 31, 2009

I had thought my medical clearance process was about to be completed when I ran into a rather annoying issue.

At the beginning of this year, I found out through a a routine ultrasound that I have an ovarian cyst, which is very common in women. If the Dr at the time didn’t want some baseline ultrasound results, I wouldn’t have known it was there, as it’s completely asymptomatic. However, this was something the Dr from State wanted to get looked at again. So, I got another ultrasound and met with a gynecologist, who was surprised that I came for an asymptomatic cyst, and wrote that it was most likely physiologic, which means that it’s normal. However, she also noted that I should get another ultrasound in a couple of months to keep an eye on it.

Upon calling this morning to check on my clearance status, I was told that b/c the gynecologist recommended another ultrasound in a couple of months, that I wouldn’t be able to get clearance until this issue was closed. Now, this is rather odd to me. The cyst has been diagnosed as physiologic, asymptomatic, and two ultrasounds have shown it to be stable. If I have to get another ultrasound to prove that it’s ok, what happens if it shows the exact same thing? Are 3 scans enough? Four? Five? What would make it considered to be “closed”? If the cyst never goes away and stays there, stable, does that mean I would never be able to get clearance? In this line of reasoning, how do others with chronic conditions that just need to be monitored and/or treated such as hypercholesteremia and high blood pressure be cleared?

When I spoke with the nurse at State about these issues, she agreed that it was rather circular and also wasn’t able to explain to be what would need to occur for it to be considered “closed”. We both agreed that I needed to talk to the Dr handing my case file, who’s supposed to call me back about this. While waiting, I called the gynecologist’s office to update them about this issue, including the possibility that I would need supplementary note in support of this being a non-issue for clearance. They agreed and I am to call them back once I get things cleared up with State.

So now I’m waiting to hear back from the Dr handling my case at State. If I don’t hear from them by early next week, I’ll start calling again.


Posted in annoyance, application, medical | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Potomac river

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2009

I went kayaking again this past Sat, but from a different location on the Potomac river.
Starting at Fletcher’s Cove, I paddled up to the Little Falls, until I couldn’t go any further. Here’s some pictures of the trip.

Posted in adventure, kayaking, Nature, outdoors, Sports, Washington DC | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Mounds of Fabric

Posted by quirksalight on July 28, 2009

This pile of fabric represents a good portion of my future wardrobe.

I’m about to turn 30, and have never held a job that required me to wear business clothes, suits, etc, on a daily basis. (That what academia does to you) So, now that I’m facing the very likelihood of working for the government, I am faced with the classic, stereotypical problem of, “What am I going to wear!”

Ah, but I have a secret weapon in the clothing struggle, which is my mother. She’s a professional tailor, and has a store in Falls Church, VA called Tailor Lee.

The benefit of this is that I get custom designed, custom fit clothes, and my mother gets great advertising. The downside is, as my mother, she prefers her progeny to wear rather conservative clothing. I prefer more edgier and unusual designs than what she would like for me to wear. However, as a future government employee, maybe her more conservative ideas of what I should be wearing would be a good thing. (Damn! There goes the red and purple plaid…) 😛

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Foreign Service Update

Posted by quirksalight on July 23, 2009

As of now, I’ve had my security interview, about 10 friends/acquaintances interviewed in the US and Korea, and need one more medical exam for the medical clearance.

The waiting is… well…. waiting. It’s annoying, can be frustrating, but time moves on. I know that compiling all the information for my security form months in advance was a very good thing – it made filling out the form easier and made the security interview itself move faster.

Interesting thing about the security interview; it focused mainly on my foreign contacts, illegal downloading (woo hoo digital era!), and grief. Went about 75 minutes at a meeting room in the local library, it was very easy going and casual. This was probably due to the investigator, who was a very nice, relaxed guy and not at all stereotypical (stern, no humor, etc). I guess it also helped that he had grown up in the area, went to the same high school as I, and had a son who was in the middle of his BME undergrad. He had some questions about the BME major and potential job prospects for me after the interview was over. 🙂

So, back to waiting.

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Posted by quirksalight on July 21, 2009

…aren’t really what you want to be wearing when Diplomatic Security stops by for a chat. Yep.

JR called me today to tell me that she just finished her interview with an investigator for my background check up in Long Island. As we were talking, the doorbell rings, and yep, it’s an investigator. And I’m in my pajamas and glasses, which is what I’m usually wearing when I’m not planning to go out.

Turns out the investigator had tried to reach me, but my cell didn’t go to voicemail. As he was interviewing the neighbors, he just decided to stop by. (I think) Kind of a pre-interview, as he had a list of things I need to get together for tomorrow’s interview and contact information for people in the area, not in the SF-86.

Oh, a random coincidence: Turns out he graduated from the same high school as I, and with the daughter of my next door neighbor. How odd is that?

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Cupcakes of another color…

Posted by quirksalight on July 21, 2009

Today was the opening day for the brick and mortar version of “Occasionally Cake“.

Located in the Mount Vernon area of Alexandria, this store focuses on custom designed pastries, but also have wonderful cupcakes. Not your average chocolate, vanilla, etc, but original creations, such as pink champagne (pomagranate and champagne icing), chocolate raspberry (chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache and chocolate raspberry icing), and strawberry lemonade (lemon cake with strawberry icing).

Here’s the half dozen I picked up:

After eating these… I’d highly recommend this place if you’re looking for unusually delicious pastries for a special event or to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Disclosure: One of the proprietors is a former HS classmate.

Posted in Food, friends | Tagged: | 1 Comment »


Posted by quirksalight on July 20, 2009

This past Sat was the first time I’ve been kayaking in a LONG time. Right at Fort Washington marina, we headed south on the Potomac and up Piscataway Creek for a guided nature tour. It turned out more just a guided tour and not so much on the nature bit, but was fun nevertheless.

A random bit of amusement happened, without me even knowing it. Turns out one of the “maybe” people had decided to come kayaking, and biked to the marina from DC. Unfortunately, he arrived a little late and snafus with the kayak rental staff prevented him from getting a kayak until we were already down near Piscataway Creek. So upon my return home, I find an e-mail with this photo:

with a commentary on the whole situation, including a summary of the conversation I was having with AW at the time. Highly amusing. I suppose JH will take a car instead of a bike next time. 🙂

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, commentary, friends, fun, Humor, Nature, outdoors, Sports, Washington DC | Leave a Comment »

Wedding bells

Posted by quirksalight on July 13, 2009

And they are NOT mine!
That said, this past week was the second of the weddings that I’m invited to in 2009. After missing, I think, 6 last year, there’s 4 this year. As a former teacher said to me, “There’s a time in your life where it’s all weddings”. Yep.

Ever quirky, AF and GR (now GF!) had a small ceremony and reception at Le Bec Fin on Wednesday. I have to admit, the first thing I asked AF when he told me the date was if they chose a Wednesday to discourage people from actually attending. 😛 It was actually for the numerical order: 07/08/09
Anyhow, it was nice to be there and celebrate a very happy moment of one of my longest and closest friends. 12 freaking years! Man…

It was very casual and impromptu. After getting the vows, exchanging the rings, and signing the marriage documents, several people got up and spoke about the couple, together and individually. I got up and told the story of how they had met and started dating. Hadn’t really planned on it, but as I later said to the bride’s father, I had told this story a couple of times in the past, so off the cuff wasn’t a big stretch. Involving a series of coincidences, a ratty old sweater, and yarn over a 5-6 month stretch of time, it was a long and apparently VERY amusing story.

Dinner, drinks, bar hopping… It was a great way to celebrate, and to finally meet people, who in some cases, I’d been hearing about for years. As this was part I, I can’t wait for Part II!

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I guess paranoia is worth something…

Posted by quirksalight on July 2, 2009

I called the security people today to ask them a few questions about the security clearance and whether or not I could get any sort of timeline on my background check.
Surprise, surprise! Apparently my case was opened 9 days after the OA, on June 24th. That a pretty good sign, as the nice person on the phone told me that the case wouldn’t have been opened if there were any questions about anything on the SF-86. 🙂 So, the foreign relatives issue that had been plaguing me for so long turned out (for the time being) to be a non-issue. Though I will keep all that info on hand, just in case. 😉
Also on a good note – the nice person on the phone told me that I should get a call in 2-3 weeks about my interview. Moving along….

Posted in amusing, application | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »