Face The Sun: Let There Be Light!
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are exclusively those of its author, and are not in any way meant to reflect the opinions or policies of the US Government.

Past Travelogues.

Finland, Estonia, Petersburg

Kirovograd, Ukraine


Tirana, Albania

Macedonia & Romania

Budapest to Bucharest

Balkans and Poland.

Christiania, Copenhagen.

Northern Norway

Northern Finland


Kashgar, briefly

More to come, Inshallah, as I go through old paper travel journals.

The DC experience, archived.

July '05
June '05
December '05
October '04
More to come should interesting things happen to me. Ever.

Blatent Plagiarism

The nation's largest chain bookstore has indicated that, due to lack of consumer interest, it has stopped selling books.
--Frederick Raphael, The Glittering Prizes

I feel this is the equivalent of a surgeon, skipping through a radiology department singing, 'I don't have cancer, I don't have cancer!'
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

Mum is crying with her faced turned away from me, gulping and honking like an injured seal. And I'm rolled up in the back seat wishing the old man would stop the car and make her walk. That or buy her a fish.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

I love it when well-educated women sweaar -- the words regain their original power and meaning when delivered unexpectedly with so much poise.
--Phil Robinson, Charlie Big Potatoes

She lived with her mother, who looked like an old labrador, and an old labrador.
--Will Self, Great Apes

When I was small and would leaf through the Old Testament retold for children and illustrated in engravings by Gustave Dore, I saw the Lord God sitting on a cloud. He was an old man with eyes, nose, and a long beard, and I would say to myself that if He had a mouth, He had to eat. And if He ate, He had intestines. But that thought always gave me a fright, because even though I come from a family that was not particularly religious, I felt the idea of a divine intestine to be sacrilegious.
--Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Quality is merely the distribution aspect of Quantity.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

...In the frank brilliance of the bright sun, which, as we all know, is the friend of heroes.
--Jose Saramago, All the Names

He stuttered so badly that you could go out and buy yourself a chocolate bar while he was wrestling with an initial p or b; he would never try to bypass the obstacle by switching to a synonym, and when the explosion finally did occur, it convulsed his whole frame and sprayed the interlocutor with triumphant saliva.
--Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister

To Stand on Jericho's Walls and Face the Sun.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A few notes on my onward assignment:

I'm now tenured, which means I'm "mid level." That is to say, in order to get my onward assignment, I had to lobby for it and convince the people making the assignment that I'm great to work with, bracingly competent and happy-go-lucky to boot. We all know that I'm none of those things. The whole process has been nervewracking beyond any speaking of it.

The process of lobbying in essence turns the State Department into something of a high-school popularity contest in which you have to convince a panel of people whom you've never met that you'll be a great guy to work with. It in essence allows embassies to pick and choose their employees, and in so doing weed out jerkfaces in advance whenever possible. You have to get supervisors to vouch for you, pull strings behind the scenes and bank on few people wanting the job that you want. Ince every few years, you in essence have to find a new job, despite the fact that you in essence cannot get fired.

The whole thing is pretty much a gigantic drag, and I was much happier getting an email that just told me where I was going. But yesterday it all paid off, and I was offered a position to which I said yes immediately and have been excited beyond any speaking of it ever since.

My onward:

Farah Province, Southwest Afghanistan

God Willing/Creek Not Rising, I'm going to a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT, if you will) in Southwest Afghanistan, in Farah Province. It's lucky number 7 on the map below, on the Iranian border just above Nimroz province. I hadn't heard of it until I started researching jobs in Afghanistan.

It'll be me, two other civilians, a fistful of military and an awful lot of Afghans. The work will involve building good governence, advising the governor of the province should he ask, and generally helping to rebuild Afghanistan from the ground up. I'm getting a year of Dari language training in the mean time, starting late summer of next year. I head to Afghanistan in August of 2010, when the average daytime temperature is in the 140 range, and I am excited beyond any speaking of it.

Posted by Dakota on 7:45 AM link |

Sunday, June 01, 2008

I am currently working on a long post that outlines the woes of bidding and trying to figure out where I want to go next. But in the mean time, I pose the following question:

I've been under heavy pressure to join Facebook. I've stood strong thus far, because I'm not an undergraduate or a thirteen year old, and that seems to be the target demographic. But people here are pushing hard. I'm still saying no, but I'm starting, just a tiny bit, to crumple. Any thoughts on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by Dakota on 1:06 AM link |
Current Location:
The People's Republic of China.

Stop by any time: everyone's welcome.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Be Born

Comments and requests for dates should be directed to email.

And here I am.

And for all you random folks out there whom I don't know, for the love of god, email me. I'm abroad, know no one, and look forward to hearing from you. I'm especially looking at YOU, whomever YOU are who's Facing The Sun all the way from Kenya. And Sweden. And Canada. And whatnot.

Books Tackled, 2006:

1. Jarhead, Anthony Swofford
2. Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia, Dennis Covington
3. A Brief History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson
4. A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City, Anonymous
5. Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism, Dawn Prince-Hughes

This year's movies, in chronological order:

1. Kung Fu Hustle
2. A Wrinkle in Time
3. Pi: Faith in Chaos
4. My Big Fat Independent Movie
5. The Winter Guest
6. Voices in Wartime
7. What Dreams May Come
8. Farewell My Concubine
9. The Ring
10. Like Water for Chocolate
11. Sahara

Foreign Service Officers by day, Bloggers by day as well.

The Diplodocus
(Islamabad, Pakistan).

The Permanent Mission of Joshie
(Zagreb; Libyaward).

Prince Roy
(Chennai; Taiwanward).

Sue and not You
(Tbilisi, Georgia).

Life on the Mekong
(Vientiane, Laos).

FSO Globe Trotter
(Lahore, Pakistan).

Vice Consul: Diplomatically Transformed
(New Delhi, India).

Adventures in Good Countries

Our Man in Tirana
(Tirana, Albania).

Anne's Blog
(Kazakhstan; Greeceward).

(Bogota, Colombia).

Furnish Worldwide

Tasman's World
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

(Lome, Togo).

World Adventurers
(Seoul, Korea).

Aaron Martz

A for Adventure
(Chennai, India).

The Excellent Adventures of Nickie P
(Paris, France).

Permanently Disco
(Dhaka, Bangladesh).

Consul At Arms
(Kingston, Jamaica).

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com
Five Random DC bloggers. Asterix indicates recently updated.