Consular Corner Creative Writing Contest Winners!

Remember the Consular Corner’s Consul General, Pig, Monkey Creative Writing Contest  last month?  Well, CC has some winners, including Diplopundit’s A Day in a Life of Pig, Consul General and Monkey King” as Grand Champion for the “Poetry | Other” category. That’s cool, huh?!

 “Consul General Linda Donahue shows Monkey and Pig
how easy it is to use the new DS-160 online visa application form.”
Photo from US Embassy Beijing
Pig once visited a popular consular-magical window
Full of spring moon charm and sadness and sorrow
Nobody, but nobody knew if she was from Kyoto.
The Consul General, the almost Brigadier General
Politely sat without a grumble, listening, listening
To Pig’s enchanting oink and ever expanding gamble:
The piglets, the piglets are all alone in the castle!
Monkey King, the one great sage of consular corner
Gave Pig a glance that clacked and clattered like an anchor
And quiet innocently asked the gentle Consul General,
If these piglets are all weaned and marvelous as chow chow,
Why, why would Pig wail about their being alone just now?
Thank you judges! Diplopundit is in fantastic company.  There is the top winner, K-Visa Delight” (set to the tune of “Afternoon Delight“) by Paul Mayer, the Consular Section Chief of US Consulate General Montreal.  We have previously posted Paul here in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake when he blogged about his experience at DipNote.  His KV Delight is absolutely wonderful! Verse 1 below; see if you can sing it along with the tune.  Now, we just need somebody to sing and record this for YouTube.  Perhaps the guys in London who did the Lonely Hearts Scam Division video would take this on?

Gonna get your K-visa, baby hold on tight

Gonna do your DS-160 tonight
We meet while gaming online, we both love to fight
Playing World of Warcraft online each and every night.

Another winner is “Chicken Little and the DS-160” in the allegory category (aka “laughter as antidote to extreme frustration” category) submitted by an anonymous immigration attorney. Excerpt below. Read on, I think you’ll see why its anonymous: 

“The system is falling? How do you know the system is falling?” the Consul General asked.

“Well, Pig Wig told me,” said Goosey Loosey.

“Monkey Bunkey told me,” said Pig Wig.

“Chicken Little told me,” said Monkey Bunkey.

“I tried to save my data but things were so slow that my form timed out!” said Chicken Little.

The Consul General turned to his email inbox and glanced at an update from Consular Affairs.

“Chicken Little, the system isn’t falling. The connectivity issues with the DS-160 have been resolved.”

All the animals laughed, and the Consul General laughed, too. Then CA held a press conference announcing that there would be no more problems with the DS-160 and the world laughed, too.

The Grand Champion in the Haiku category is Angela Pan of U.S. Embassy, Beijing.  The Grand Champion for the Limerick category is Brian Bolton, a former Foreign Service Officer.  I did not have time to request reprint permission but you can read the full text for all the winners here.

Thank you, Liam! That was fun! 



US Ambassador David Huebner Joins Blogosphere

The latest US ambassador to jump into the blogosphere is our man in New Zealand and Samoa, David Huebner.
Kia-ora … Talofa … Hello
I hope to use this space to share my thoughts and experiences in New Zealand and Samoa, as well as to convey a sense of the two Embassy’s work here.
I look forward to hearing from you via email or through the contacts page, since conversations are far more interesting than monologues.
From To blog or not to blog – that is the question.” Read full entry here.

If he were 23 today, would Descartes pronounce, “I blog, therefore I am”? If we do not blog, are we not?

Although I do admit to having certain inchoate hunches, I will not presume to offer final answers to those questions, at least not yet. In the meantime, it couldn’t hurt to share thoughts and experiences from time to time, so I will forge ahead.

Of course, my intention had been to start sharing thoughts and experiences from the day that I was sworn in (December 4, 2009), but technical and capacity challenges held things up a bit. There may also have been a good bit of pure procrastination, but self-interest often clouds self-reflection, so I can’t really confirm or deny that point credibly.

In any event, we are now ready go, and I hope that some of what follows will inform, inspire, challenge, motivate, or merely amuse you. That’s my goal, and I think it is a pretty good one. Let’s see how it turns out.

Photo from Ambassador Huebner’s blog

From Flashback: The Swearing-in. With a sweet and charming photo of the proud mothers.  Read the full post here:

The Vice President, a fellow coal-cracker from Northeastern Pennsylvania, made the event particularly memorable with his quick wit, generosity of spirit, and kind words. He is a prince of a man with a sharp intellect and an electric presence. He certainly charmed my Mother, a life-long Republican and no-nonsense skeptic of all things political.

 “Duane, Dora, Joe, Liz and me.”
Photo from Ambassador Huebner’s blog
In many respects it was a day for Mothers. In the aftermath of the ceremony, I received a surprisingly large number of emails and notes from around the country and from as far away as New Zealand and China about my Mother and Mother-in-Law, whose friendship, easy grace, and delight at the proceedings seemed to strike a chord in the blogosphere.
Family is clearly and naturally family, whatever its complexion and diversity. As my young but wise cousin Erin says, that’s as it should be. (You’ll have to watch the video above to catch the full reference.)
Those who attack other people’s families do not understand in the least what family is.

The US Mission in New Zealand and Samoa have the following online presence: Website: US Embassy NZ / Samoa | Twitter: Follow US Embassy NZ / Samoa | Ambo Twitter: Follow Me | LinkedIn: View my Profile | Flickr: Photos | Facebook: Become a Fan | YouTube: Watch our Videos & Subscribe | Vimeo: Watch our Videos on Vimeo.

Quickie: Not Made in the USA Glass Stemware Causes Not-So-Diplomatic Protest

Crystal glassesImage by kurafire via Flickr

The following is from the Columbus Dispatch. Apparently, a $5.4 million contract to supply glassware to US embassies worldwide was awarded to a US small business company which then subcontracted it to the Swedish company, Orrefors. Columbus-based Schottenstein Stores did not like that. And now politicians have joined the fray. Excerpt below:   

When diplomats and dignitaries rise for toasts at U.S. embassies worldwide, it soon will be foreign-made crystal stemware that is held aloft.

That has some Ohio lawmakers lodging a not-so-diplomatic protest with the U.S. Department of State.

The State Department says a $5.4 million contract to supply glassware for U.S. embassies was awarded last fall to an American-owned small business – an interior-design company in Washington. But that company, in turn, contracted with Swedish manufacturer Orrefors.
Steuben Glass of New York, which is owned by Columbus-based Schottenstein Stores, says an American manufacturer should have been allowed to compete for the business. It has taken its case to Ohio and New York lawmakers, who are complaining to the State Department.

“All we want is for the State Department to give a fair opportunity to businesses like Steuben Glass to bid on the contract and to help us maintain American jobs rather than sending them overseas,” said Michael Broidy, a Schottenstein Stores spokesman.

Exactly, said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

“The subcontract granted to Swedish-based Orrefors raises important questions about the right of domestic companies to bid for contracts in compliance with the Buy American Act,” Brown said in a letter to the State Department.

A State spokeswoman said Systems Design Interiors is a small business that qualified for a non-bid contract through a federal Small Business Administration program. The company put on an impressive presentation of its capability to meet the State Department’s needs, including a requirement for lead-free glassware, according to the State Department.

Read the whole thing here.

Last week AP reported that the U.S. crystal-maker will get a second chance at a contract to make glassware for U.S. embassies after the State Department agreed to do a better job seeking out and favoring American companies.  “The senators said the State Department had believed no American company made the lead-free crystal called for in the contract for U.S. embassies worldwide. Steuben and other companies will be able to bid on the remaining four years of the five-year contract, with most of the $5.4 million total yet to be paid.”