Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mid-Level Bidding Game

The first two tours in the Foreign Service are directed. My first tour was a competition of 23 people for 23 positions (just my class) and second tour was 42 people and positions (all first tour people moving that summer). We ranked the full list from 1 to n and provide a little narrative explaining why we needed or wanted the posts we picked. A Career Development Officer (CDO) reviewed it all together and considered personal constraints like family and medical needs. The CDO put people in positions in one big step. It seemed like a fair system for balancing service needs with individual needs and desires. I miss that system.

This blog post is about the completely different game of mid-level bidding. It's not unlike Sheldon's Friendship Algorithm. However, imagine a huge diagram that has a bunch of people engaging in this diagram with a bunch of posts in order to narrow down about 50 options into 5 to 10 bids for each person.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Caracas - Year 1 Review

It's been just about a year so it's probably time to take a look back from this halfway point. I knew there wouldn't be as much leisure travel from here like I did from Stockholm. We took short trips to Aruba and Curacao since they're so close and affordable flights were available. We only managed 2 trips inside Venezuela. There was the nearby Colonia Tovar for a night and the nice beaches in Morrocoy for a long weekend.

Our first R&R was back to Stockholm. Cost-construct actually covered the flights so that was a nice affordable vacation. R&R is a good little perk for serving at a hardship post. The usefulness of it increases in places with lower flight availability. A lot of the flights out of here are expensive so going to the U.S. or Europe was equally expensive when we did it.

Here's a very small map of this year's new travels:

Thursday, August 3, 2017


I forgot to post pictures of Curaçao with everything going on lately in Caracas. We still managed to do a lot in about 2 days even though the trip was aborted early. It was just a 30 minute flight to get there but because of the timing we had to take 2 flights and spend the night in Bogota to get back!

The beaches appear to be smaller than the wonderful wide beaches we had in Aruba. We stayed a weekend in the area of Eagle Beach to Divi Beach on Aruba and didn't leave much other than downtown but it was very nice. In comparison, Curaçao seemed more interesting for other things if you're not after the most perfect beaches. It has more character than the area of Aruba we stayed. Aruba felt more American commercialized and we were fine for a weekend relaxing without a car. Curaçao felt more like the Dutch Caribbean and you definitely need to rent a car to get around and see some stuff. They're both cool destinations for slightly different reasons. Here's some pictures to compare to my post about Aruba.

Monday, June 26, 2017


Flying from Caracas to Aruba is about 40 minutes. It's longer to drive to the airport. It's also cheap when you pay in bolivars with the weird exchange rates. That adds up to a long weekend away being an easy thing to accomplish. It's also good to get away from the protests and problems and just be in a place where we can relax.

Aruba is a pricey place for a typical American vacation but it's not so bad for a quick weekend getaway from here. It's another perk of being in Caracas. We spent a lot of time relaxing on the beach and enjoying some great sunsets. Eagle, Manchebo, and Divi beaches are all in a wonderful long stretch of beauty. The one cool excursion thing we did was the Atlantis submarine to see the fishes and ships they sunk for artificial reef material. Here's some pictures of a quick weekend getaway.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Centro de Arte Los Galpones

It's nice to have a normal day where you can go out and enjoy something new instead of dealing with Caracas problems. We kept meaning to go to Centro de Arte Los Galpones, but it was closed when we tried a few months ago on a Monday. These past few months have had a lot of protests keeping us home. We'd forgotten about wanting to go there since it's near a protest area. However, today was a nice normal Sunday before things turn abnormal again tomorrow so we finally made it there. We tend to have simpler goals here.

The art center doesn't have a lot of art but it's a wonderful space to hang out around the little buildings, bookstore, gift shop, coffee stand, and bistro. There's a courtyard with seating under the trees to enjoy a coffee. The bookstore has a nice patio and inside seating for the same. The bistro has good food so it's a place we could come back to in the future. The whole center is surrounded by walls and electric fencing so it feels safe. You might be able to see the electric fence on top of these outside walls.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Tunnelbana Blue Line

Here's more of the art in the Tunnelbana stations to go with the previous post about the red line.

Tunnelbana Red Line

Is this simply the entrance to the Stockholm Tunnelbana? Sure. It's an efficient and clean way to get around a beautiful city just like the bus system. But, it's also the entrance to a really big art museum! It's touted as the world's longest art exhibit at 110 km long. Over 90 of the 100 subway stations in Stockholm have been decorated with sculptures, mosaics, paintings, installations, engravings and reliefs by over 150 artists.

We finally slowed down and took a closer look at 2 of the lines. You miss so much when you just pass through to another destination. Many of these stations are destinations in their own right. Here's a look at a few on the red line starting with Östermalmstorg.