Uncertainty can be happiness

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

Archive for the ‘annoyance’ Category


Posted by quirksalight on June 26, 2011

It’s been one year since I arrive at Seoul, jetlagged, bewildered and armed with a vague notion of what I’m supposed to do. In that year, I’ve made some wonderful friends, weathered political crises, fielded called from friends and family worried about my safety, and finally gained a sense of what this job is all about. I remember griping back at FSI about the vagueness of the training, and non-specific answers to questions about what we were supposed to do as a political officer. And I realize now that the answers we received were vague because there really isn’t an answer. There are case studies, if/then scenarios that can be discussed, but an answer? No, singularities such as that isn’t what this is about.

In whole, it’s an ever changing lifestyle. The social aspects, being a “rep”… it becomes a second skin that you easily don on and off.

Though a downside of the job are the inevitable blatant users. For example, I had dinner with a group of people; friends of my friend, who the dinner was in honor of. One person sticks out because of the interesting turnaround in her behavior after she found out what I did for a living. When she thought I was “just another Korean” – I wasn’t worth bothering with. But an American diplomat with access to the PX, well, that’s another story. Immediately became chatty, asked if I could “help her out”. tsk tsk….

But I don’t regret it. Now, it’s bidding season, and I’m worrying over my bid list, wondering which places to list, what I need to put in my narrative, etc. 2nd tour will be 2012 onward…………


Posted in 152nd, adventure, ancedotes, annoyance, Bidding, commentary, work | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

FS: And the reality of bureaucracy comes crashing in…

Posted by quirksalight on January 11, 2010

… as I wait for paperwork to be sent from one group to another.

As my friends tell me, “Welcome to the government. Take a number.”

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, application | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

FS Update: Progress!

Posted by quirksalight on January 7, 2010

E-mailed for a status check on Jan 4th.
Ans received today: TS clearance granted on 12/24/09

Santa, you rock, even though I couldn’t find your present until today. Thanks for delivering the present from State! What a way to kick off the new year!

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, application | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

Snowboarding is a fun activity… if you pay attention to the weather!

Posted by quirksalight on January 2, 2010

Snowboarding during the week between Christmas and New Years.
Location: Mountain Creek
Got the Group?: Check
Housing: check.
Gear: all rentals, so check.
Lessons, lift tickets: Check
Transportation: Check
Food and drink: Check
Weather: Err….. maybe?

After several volleys back and forth within the group of friends, we decided that the Tuesday after Christmas was the best day to go in terms of scheduling, the rain on Christmas and the day after, and the forecasted snow on Monday. The forecasted snow didn’t appear more than a dusting and out came the gusty winds Tuesday morning. Whoops. AS and I thought about it, and felt that in some ways, we were pot-committed to the trip. (Also meeting GL and TH at the resort) So off we go, with the wind trying to push the car sideways on the GW bridge.

Arriving at Mt Creek, step outside the car, and immediately think “oh crap, it’s cold!”. Because there, the winds were sub zero and gusting around 20-30mphs. It was bad enough on the bunny slope where AS and I were taking our lessons, but after lunch, when we went up on the lift to the easy slopes, OMG…. so friggin cold! And the snow-makers were on, but I think they were shooting out ice pellets than man-made snow. Between the patches of ice on the slope, the wind, and the ice pellets that were being blown at your face by the wind, I was done at 3:30pm.

Lasting results: Windburn on my face and in my throat, a series of bruises down my right leg, and really hating the cold for two days.

I’ll go again, maybe next week.

Posted in adventure, amusing, ancedotes, annoyance, outdoors, snowboarding, Sports, winter | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Follow up to “Not with First Night Alexandria”

Posted by quirksalight on December 28, 2009

I e-mailed the Event coordinator with my complaint about the Volunteer coordinator and received a quick response back:
RE: Feedback on First Night Alexandria Volunteer Coordinator
Tuesday, December 15, 2009 10:00 AM
From: “Ann Dorman”
To: “‘B'”


Sorry for the problems you had surrounding the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Lauren was merely asked to do a call out to volunteers; the parade effort was staffed by our media/pr consultant who was in fact on site very close to the registration table at Wilkes and S. St. Asaph. We had a hearty group of about 15 in First Night Alexandria aprons carrying a banner. It’s unfortunate you couldn’t find them.

On the day of the parade, Lauren was working with me on logistics. That is another one of my events.

Although Lauren has worked First Night for several years this is the first time she has done the volunteer staffing. Lauren is not new to this type of position or the community. She has run a number of successful political campaigns and certainly knows her way around the world of facilitating a volunteer network. I hope you will reconsider helping us out on December 31; we need more good, loyal, smart volunteers like you.

Ann M. Dorman, CMP
Executive Director
First Night Alexandria
421 King Street, #300
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703.998.0526

As a friend pointed out, the reply was still a bit of a dodge, and it made us both wonder what the volunteers for those political campaigns felt.

I mulled over the e-mail and replied 24 hours later stating that the follow up to thee incident pretty much soured me on the idea of working with First Night under this coordinator and declined to re-volunteer.

Posted in Alexandria, ancedotes, annoyance, Virginia, volunteering | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Volunteering? Not with First Night Alexandria

Posted by quirksalight on December 18, 2009

Hey, looking for something to do on New Year’s Eve? Don’t go to the First Night Alexandria events. Seriously.
I’ve volunteered for them in the past and had signed up this year to do so until an issue with a promotional event made it clear the concerns of the volunteers (who staff the event) are irrelevant to them.

Not only did I go out to volunteer in a promotional event in the crappiest day of the year (yeah, you remember when it was snowing and crapping ice and rain all day), but to no avail. Drove around up and down the street looking for the volunteers (because they weren’t where they said with said banner and balloons) and calling, leaving a message and getting no response for half an hour before giving up. Two days later, still no reponse, so I e-mailed asking what happened.

Then it gets interesting. First it’s, “Oh, the event happened. Didn’t you see us?” And the classic passing the buck “I wasn’t the coordinator for this event.”
Hmm…. You’re the only contact on the e-mail. You’re also the Volunteer Coordinator. The e-mail for the event had your name on it and was sent from you. So who’s the coordinator?
So I requested, again, restating my issues with the event organization and a clarification of what happened, an answer from someone who was in charge of the event.
And the final response I get from the “Volunteer Coordinator” is a “sorry you feel that way” and “oh, I guess you don’t want to do this”. Gee, great coordination there. Oh, and thanks for getting back to me oh so quickly. Taking a week to respond to a volunteer’s complaint and then summary booting her is going to be great PR for your organization.

How about a “sorry, we made an organizing mistake”?? Or stating anything that actually takes responsibility. None of that actually is in any of the e-mails, which you can see here.

The e-mail I sent to the Events Coordinator is posted below. Her response will be posted tomorrow.

Ms. Dorman,

As a recent press release for FNA states that you are in charge of coordinating the events for FNA, I wanted to bring to your attention a concern regarding the Volunteer Coordinator that has resulted in the discontinuation of my involvement with these events. My goal in notifying you is to ensure that this feedback is known to others within the organization and addressed to ensure that other current or potential volunteers are not treated in the same manner.

I recently volunteered to promote First Night at the Scottish Walk event on Dec. 5. This was an event for which the First Night volunteer coordinator, Lauren Smith , only solicited for volunteers the day prior to the event. The email that Lauren sent stated a specific meeting time and place for the volunteers and indicated that she was the contact person. Regardless of the short notice, I responded that I would be able to help and received a confirmation from Lauren. When I arrived at the designated time and place, there were no banners or other First Night volunteers, as expected per the email. After calling Lauren several times and leaving messages, I attempted to locate the group on my own but to no avail. My voicemail messages were not returned. I contacted Lauren via email to find out what happened and why my calls were not returned. She responded that she simply did not hear her phone at the time and was not responsible for coordination of the volunteers at the Dec. 5 event. The latter excuse is contradicted by her own email which stated that she was the person to call if there were any questions, and no other First Night representatives were cited as contact people in the email requesting volunteers. Her response to my subsequent comment stating my disappointment and wariness of volunteering with First Night in the future prompted no apology or even attempt to acknowledge or address the underlying lack of accountability. Lauren’s response effectively indicated that my time (or even paid attendance) at First Night events was no longer welcome. Included below is the email chain showing the correspondence between Lauren and me.

While I hope that my experience was an isolated incident, I believe that First Night can address these concerns simply by holding volunteer coordinators responsible for their performance, ensuring that those coordinators understand their responsibilities for the event (i.e. if they are the stated point of contact, then they are responsible for being available via cell phone or otherwise to handle questions from volunteers), and soliciting and monitoring feedback from volunteers on both positives and negatives of First Night events that could help to improve the volunteer experience at future events.

In the past, I actively recruited friends and family to volunteer and attend First Night events with me. However, this recent experience has changed my view. I am highly disappointed that my desire to volunteer was met with such a clear disregard and lack of appreciation. I hope that as an organization that relies heavily on volunteers, you will seriously consider these suggestions to hold Lauren and others who coordinate First Night events accountable. Their performance and professionalism (or lack thereof) reflects directly on the organization.

Please feel free to forward this e-mail to other appropriate organizers or Directors of FNA.


Posted in Alexandria, ancedotes, annoyance, Virginia, volunteering | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

3 Months and counting…

Posted by quirksalight on December 11, 2009

…in adjudication. Today (Dec 11th) is the three month mark in adjudication purgatory (as the listserv likes to call it). So I called DipSec today, and they sent an e-mail to the case adjudicator asking for an update. I’m supposed to call back next week to see if there’s any new information. [sigh]

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, application, commentary | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The two week update: This time, the phone call

Posted by quirksalight on November 13, 2009

It’s time for the two week update on my adjudication status. I decided to liven things up by *gasp* a phone call instead of e-mail. (seriously, it was a bit of a letdown).

Yep. No difference. Still in adjudication. This time, they told me that my file was going to be at least 30 days in adjudication. Which, doesn’t really help me, as we’re past the 2 month mark now. However, when I told them that I was told in October that the adjudication would be completed by early November, they were very confused why I was told that.

Ah well. Next update, right before Thanksgiving.

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, application | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Glimmer, my ass. It’s the long haul.

Posted by quirksalight on October 14, 2009

So, back about a month ago, I had a lovely of hope that I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for my clearances, and yeah… that’s been squashed like a bug. It’s one month later and I’m still in adjudication. Classes are set for the year, and the next training class is the first week of January. Those invites go out early-mid November. Time’s ticking…

But, I’m keeping busy. The editing, of course, and the random assortment of hobbies. Trying to kayaking a couple more times before the boathouses close at the end of the month, and there’s always the RenFaire, which also ends this month. And I’ve started Russian classes yesterday (Oct 13) at the Russian Cultural Center in DC. Twice a week, two hours each session, for six weeks. Nominal cost, $80 for registration and book fees. Not bad.

Posted in annoyance, application, Comedy, commentary, language, Russian | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The fly

Posted by quirksalight on August 14, 2009

By mistake, I knocked over a piece of pottery onto a glass mug and the mug broke. This is one of those “commemorative” mugs you get when you go somewhere and attend some event. However, this one has some history.
I got this mug, from a friend, when we attended an event together. But the circumstances surrounding the event ended badly, and I kept it (though tempted to break it) in anger as a reminder. As the years passed on, the wounds of the broken friendship began to heal, and I began to forgive. Because I missed my friend, and had valued the conversations and insight our friendship had provided.

We began to communicate again, and it appeared that things were progressing to a point where maybe, just maybe, I could consider us friends once again.
But that was a false hope, as communication became more and more one-sided and I got frustrated at the 180 turn about, once again. I stated plainly that I was tired of the lopsidedness and walked away.

So I look at this glass mug, which traveled across time zones and states, to meet an ignoble end at the butt of a 7th grade pottery piece, falling on it as I tried to smack a fly. And I see the physical embodiment of the end a friendship, which, like the mug, met an ignoble end.

I do not regret the friendship. It was full of ups and downs; I learned a lot about people, how I interact with them, and some very valuable lessons about interpersonal relationships.

However, even optimists eventually see the writing on the wall. We just try a couple extra times before doing so. C’est la vie.

Posted in ancedotes, annoyance, Bizarre, commentary, friends, In Memorandum, memory, Mental Stream, metaphors | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »