Thursday, December 2, 2010


Lots of small things today as I get ready to head to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship Game
  • Made my first prison visit today.  We make quarterly visits to the prison to see the long-timers.  They were all friendly enough and were happy with the items we were able to bring (toiletries, some donated clothes, magazines, and a holiday meal donated by people at the Embassy).  I didn't get to see enough of the prison to know how bad it is.  I know I wouldn't to spend time there, but I am pretty sure there are worse places to be in prison.
  • I have been attacked by 'no-see'ums'.  These tiny sand flies have been all over Belmopan recently and I got tore up last week.  The itch is worse, in my opinion, than mosquito bites.  Plus, I apparently have some reaction to them as my leg turns all red and splotchy from the bites.  Quite disgusting.
  • It's Christmas time and I have been trying to do my part in decorating my house.  Unfortunately, things are not working out as well as I'd hoped.  Half the lights my parents sent aren't working and I haven't taken the time to get them working properly.  Palm trees are much more dificult to string lights on than the oaks and elms of my Midwestern youth.  I can't hang any lights on the house, except for icicles on the gutters because I can't get the lights to stay up (guess what?  Duct tape CAN'T do everything).  Now, I have been having electrical issues with one of my extension cords apparently causing the circuits to break.
  • The one big hit has been the inflatable snowglobe I bought.  The neighborhood kids love it.
  • Belizeans use "good night" as a greeting.  It strikes me as odd every time I hear it.  Where an American would say "Good evening", the Belizean will say "Good night".  I constantly feel like people are telling me to leave.
  • Wikileaks sucks, though it has no immediate effect on my personal job.
  • I can't believe the 2022 World Cup was awarded to Qatar (it is actually pronounced "cutter").  I think it would have been great if the US had won, but it probably has been too soon since they last hosted.  Twice in 30 years is a bit much.  What I am surpised, however, is that Qatar got it over Australia.  Qatar is smaller than Rhode Island, it is HALF the size of Belize.  I just can't imagine having 12 World Cup size stadiums in a space the size of Rhode Island.  If Qatar had combined with another Middle Eastern country like Belgium and the Netherlands did in their bid, I could see it.  That being said, I can see myself bidding Rio 2014, Moscow 2018 and Qatar (I don't even know what the capital is) in 2022.  I think following World Cup soccer is as good of a bidding strategy as anything.
  • I started SCUBA training last week with my confined pool dive and will likely continue my certification next weekend with a couple of dives.  More on that later.
  • I have no problem with the proposed pay freeze for federal workers.  I'd like to have the 2-3% raise that government workers get every year, but I can do without.  What I won't be happy with is if it turns into a pay cut.  Federal workers who are in DC get locality pay, which is approximately 22% on top of their base salary.  When you serve overseas, you don't get this.  You do get, however, hardship pay, danger pay, or costs of living adjustments depending on the post.  What has happened, however, is that when people go from DC to somewhere like Nigeria, they actually have a dip in their take-home pay.  This clearly removes the incentive to go to Nigeria.  In order to increase bidding on the hardship posts, Congress approved the overseas comparability pay, which would eliminate the gap between DC pay and overseas pay.  So far, we have received 16%, with another 6% due in August.  It is almost certain we will not get the 6% bump, but there are rumors we will also lose the 16%.  Needless to say, this would suck.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Al, Its Valerie. Formerly from Coast Guard. I was thinking about taking the foreign service exam and was wondering if you had any tips or suggestions.