Blognotes: Moving Our Curated Store From There to Here

Just a quick housekeeping note — as many of you know, this blog is part of Amazon’s Affiliate Program. Your purchases via affiliate links here help support this blog at no extra cost to you. It’s not a lot but it helps. We have a curated e-store that includes primarily movies related to diplomacy, the Foreign Service or the State Department, as well as a list of books, and gifts. Later in October, Amazon will do away with its e-store functionality, so we have imported the lists here. We’ve done away with a lot of stuff and pared down our selection. If you use the “STORE” tab under the blog header, you will get to this page, which is generally divided into a curated lists for movies,
t-shirts/gifts, really just mugs that we adore, and books. We hope to keep the lists small and manageable, and will update the selection as time allows it! We hope you enjoy our picks! If you have other suggestions to share, do let us know.

For now, don’t miss the After Every Trump Tweet, You Need This Screamy Owl T-Shirt, which is really what I look like every morning when I open my newsfeed and see what POTUS has tweeted. More here.

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We’re officially nine going on ten, but who drank all the wine?

Posted: 4:36 am ET
Updated: 4:57 pm ET:  Thanks everyone for the notes and the help. ❤️  ❤️  ❤️  For those asking, I don’t want to deal with a fundraising right now but I hope to have an update down the road for funding the blog.  DS
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This blog marked its 9th anniversary last month but we could not celebrate it so we’ll officially mark it today. Now we are nine, but who drank all the wine?

via stuckinaloop

 

Some  of you are aware that I was wrestling whether to shut down this blog, or go on a hiatus while I attend to some personal matters — I may need to sell the old house, go back to school — yada, yada, yada real life happening yada.  I confess I also need a mental health break. I’m not eating right, I’m not sleeping right, I have a recurring nightmare that I’m living inside a reality show and most distressing of all, my bathroom weighing scale is screaming, “Help me!”

Since Diplopundit’s funding ended last month, I thought I’d take a break this week and while at it, also attempt to find funding for the blog from private sources. I thought maybe I’ll be back in a month or two, but then I also thought, maybe I won’t be back. I know. I know. This is bad timing for an existential crisis but the last six months have not been spectacular for my health!

Then a weird thing happened over the weekend.  Some “very senior people” at the State Department interrupted my April Fools’ Day celebration.  Seriously. Who does that on my favoritiest day of the year?  If you haven’t heard what happened, see Aww, @StateDept Sends Official Take Down Request For April Fools’ Day Cable. Apparently, the April Fools’ cable “hit a nerve” somewhere in Foggy Bottom.  Let’s just pause here for a minute. “Very” senior folks at the State Department put somebody to work on a Saturday afternoon, paid him overtime/comptime to get him to tell an aging blogger to take down an April Fools’ Day blogpost.

Holymoly macaroni! And no one thought this was a waste of taxpayers’ money?

This is the same State Department that in April 2016 celebrated its fifth annual “Free the Press” campaign to mark the importance of a free and independent media in the days leading up to World Press Freedom Day.  For five years of the campaign, the Department highlighted journalists and media outlets, including bloggers who were censored, attacked, threatened, intimidated, imprisoned, or otherwise oppressed around the world.  The State Department spokesperson called on governments to protect the right to freedom of expression; and emphasize the United States own commitment to promoting freedom of expression here in the United States and around the world.

Fast forward to April 2017 and the 7th Floor somebodies ordered Public Affairs to have me pull down an April Fools’ Day blogpost. Free the Press my foot!  What are they going to do next, complain that the blog is “disturbing the peace” or that I’m “blogging without a permit?”

Them folks over there don’t even have people to do the Daily Press Briefing, but they have people during the weekend to try and intimidate a blogger? Over a blogpost about reused paper towels and weekly flushes.  Secretary Tillerson’s advisers have some rather misplaced   priorities. If they keep at this, it won’t be long before their poor judgment would soon rubbed fully on the secretary’s leadership and management of the oldest federal agency in the union. Wait, that’s already happening?

Here’s a tip for Foggy Bottom newbies: I do not, I repeat, I do not work for the Secretary of State, the State Department, USAID, BBG, or any of the federal alphabet soup. Diplopundit is a private blog. I am conducting public discourse as a private citizen. I do not get promotions, I do not have paid vacations, I just sit on the wall and watch.

Anyway, Yogi said that when you come to a fork in the road, you should take it. So I did.  I don’t know yet what I’ll do for funding the blog, but I know I don’t like being bullied. Hey, I’m the watcher on the wall; maybe frazzled for now, and blogging maybe a tad sporadic for a bit — but here to stay, folks.

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Blog Notes: On The Road Again, Just For a Bit

I’ll be on the road for the next few weeks so I plan on updating the blog about three times a week for the time being.  I expect to be connected online while on travel. I will continue to be reachable via this blog and via email and will respond to tips and emails as soon as I’m able.

Be well, besties. I’m still only a mouse click away  — D

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We could use your help to carry on for another year

Posted: 1:38 am EDT
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Our fundraising effort to keep the blog running for another 12 months is entering its 5th week (Go Diplopundit 2016). We’ve reached the halfway mark on February 10 but have so far raised 38% of the funding goal.  There are still four weeks to go so we are cautiously optimistic but also realistic. We have more readers than ever before but the donation/ad revenue hybrid to fund the blog is difficult to sustain.

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Last year was a gift that extended the blog’s presence for 12 months.  We could still get funded (or win the lottery, hey :-)) but this year could also be an already familiar story from the past.

In any case, we will see GFM II through until March 10.  This is the year when we’re going to just let the river run as the song goes.  You know best whether our work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances allow it, we could use your help to carry on for another year. Thanks!

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Real Life, the Way It Is – No Goggles and Plenty of Loose Ends

 

One of our donors recently wrote to say that we are performing “an invaluable service” but that as a former FSO, our blogposts have often left him dismayed.

We wrote to thank him for his support and apologize that we have often been the bearer of not so happy news. We like to think of this as a mission to keeping it real.

For those who’ve been with us for quite a bit, it is no secret that we write about the good, the bad and the ugly. So why do we write/publish stuff that you can’t read in the official or trade publications?

There’s a good reason for that.

Real life is not like the glossy pages of an in-house magazine. If the American public only reads about the successes and the fun stuff, it will have a skewed view about what still remains a misunderstood institution. And when we only hear the happy talk, well, it disrupts the order of the universe.  As they say, if the pendulum swings one way, it must always swing back the other way. In monitoring the worldwide available universe, we see yin and yang, the oscillations, the back and forth swings of life.

So we are on a mission on looking at life, the way it is, without goggles and often times with loose ends, with questions but no answers. It’s not for every one; some folks may not necessarily want to read what we write, but it’s a free country, we’re fine with that.

We’re the last stop in this corner, come by for a chat, hang around, poke us to help us do better, and we’ll try not to bore you to tears.

A quick GFM II update — we’ve reached the 3rd week mark today with $9,461 of $34k or 28% of our set goal. We still have 5 weeks to go and the highs and lows are to be expected. We’ll see where we are when we reach the halfway mark at the end of next week.

Thanks for sticking with us! — D

We’re at GFM Go Diplopundit until March 10, 2016.

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Podium Cat Rolls Out Diplopundit’s GoFundMe 2016 Campaign

Posted: 2:35 am EDT
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It took some work but we finally got the GFM II campaign off the ground. We’ll see if we can keep the blog going for another 12 months. If successful, this will fund the blog from March 2016-March 2017.  If you find some value in the work we’ve done year after year since 2008, we hope you will continue supporting us in 2016. Check it out here!

 

 

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Top Blog Attractions in 2015

Posted: 11:11 pm EDT
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These are the blog posts that got the most views in 2015. Thank you for making us part of your day especially this past year! –D

#1. “Corridor Reputation” Gets a Makeover, And OMG …. It’s Now Online! (July 7, 2015)

#2. Next Generation U.S. Passport To Roll Out in 2016, No More Additional Page Insert Starting Jan 1, 2016 (April 28, 2015)

#3. The State Dept’s Most Expensive Assignments in the World (February 2015) (February 13, 2015)

#4. Danger Danger, Bang Bang — State Department Eyes Changes in Danger Pay (February 18, 2015)

#5. NewsFlash: “The FAM is not a regulation; it’s recommendations.” Hurry, DECLINE button over there! (March 11, 2015)

#6. New #Burundi Travel Warning, Non-Emergency US Embassy Staff & Family Members Now on Ordered Departure (May 15, 2015)

#7. Purported ISIS ‘Hit List’ With 1,482 Targets Includes State Department Names (August 16, 2015)

#8. State Dept Releases New 3 FAM 4170 aka: The “Stop The Next Peter Van Buren” Regulation (August 17, 2015)

#9. Move Over Jason Bourne! Meet Diplomat Alex Baines, Our New Favorite Fictional Hero (February 20, 2015)

#10. New Danger Pay Differential Posts: See Gainers, Plus Losers Include One Post on Evacuation Status (September 14, 2015)

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#11. The Purposeful and Targeted Cultivation of a Relationship with a Consular Officer (August 13, 2015)

#12. Senator Grassley Places Hold on 20 FSO Nominations Over Clinton Inquiry (August 10, 2015)

#13. Asking about the security clearance logjam: “Seriously? I suggest we sent her to FLO…” Seriously, let’s not! (April 6, 2016)

#14. OPM Hack Compromises Federal Employee Records, Not Just PII But Security Clearance Info (June 8, 2015)

#15. Obama Nominates Career Diplomat Laura Farnsworth Dogu as Next Ambassador to Nicaragua (May 14, 2015)

#16. US Embassy Madagascar: A Post Far From Heaven With a $700K Imaginary American Center (May 18, 2015)

#17. Former FSO Michael Sestak Sentenced to 64 Months In Visas For Dollars Scheme (August 14, 2015)

#18. U.S. Passport Agency Contractor, Two Others Indicted for Alleged Use of Stolen Passport Information (May 7, 2015)

#19. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Top Diplomatic Pooch of All? (February 27, 2015)

#20. 2014 Foreign Service Promotions Stuck on Glue in the Senate. Again. Yo! Wassup? (February 11, 2015)

 

 

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Happy Holidays — go wild with these photos for your desktop!

Posted: 3:43 am EDT
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone who celebrates the season! Sending warm thoughts and good wishes to our readers, blog friends, and Foreign Service personnel and their families serving here and around the world.  May your holidays be quiet and peaceful; and may the universe keep you safe wherever you are!

To those who wrote to check on us, thank you for your thoughts. The blog is good for a couple more months. We’ll save the update after the holidays.

The photos below are desktop wallpapers.  The whale photos are from the US Embassy in New Zealand. They are of humpback whales taken just offshore from Rarotonga. If you want to check out the rest, click here. There are also selected photos below from US Embassy Nepal, US Embassy Chile, and photos from Alaska and Arizona via the IIP Photo Archive. To download the photos as wallpaper for your computer, right click on the photo, then “save image as”…. on your computer.

Wishing you all the gifts of the season — Peace, Joy, Hope!

♥️ D

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Humpback whale just offshore from Rarotonga. Photo from US Embassy New Zealand/Flickr

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Humpback whale just offshore from Rarotonga.  Photo from US Embassy New Zealand/Flickr

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Upper Mustang formerly Kingdom of Lo, a remote and isolated region of the Nepalese Himalayas. Via US Embassy Nepal/Flickr

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Lovejoy Comet over Andacollo, captured by the Las Campanas Observatory. Via US Embassy Chile/Flickr

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Alaska autumn Sunrise at Pilgrim Hot Springs outside of Nome, Alaska. Photo by U.S. Department of Energy / CPike, Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP). Via IIP Photo Archive

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Dark Sky Park at night | The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona is a vast remote landscape where the only nighttime light comes from the stars. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Managment (BLM). Via IIP Photo Archive

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Blog Weather: Sporadic for the next couple of weeks

Posted: 2:53 am EDT
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I’m exploring funding sources for 2016 and traveling the next couple of weeks. Blogging may be sporadic for bit but I remain reachable through this blog and via email. Also testing a few ads via Amazon to see if it fits the blog.  Pardon the dust and feel free to send comments. Thanks!

Image via Imgur/zimgodo

Image via Imgur/zimgodo

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A Word About Our Blog Champions and Sponsors …

Posted: 12:10 am EDT
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How did we burn the year so quickly, so fast?  Half way through the year and I pause here to give thanks to OneFSO, TwoFSO, 373 blog angels, and all who helped spread the word and made this year possible for Diplopundit!

I have completed sending out invitations to the members-only forum: http://diplopundit.net/forum/.  It will probably take sometime to build our online community but hopefully, it will get there.  A forum on bidding and 4th of July event ideas have been suggested. If there is enough interest, I will add those as new forums to the members-only site. If you have not received your invitation, please contact the blog here.  All forums are accessible only to the supporters and funders of the blog. I understand that some of you may not have the time nor the inclination to join; the invitation was sent out in case of interest, you are under no obligation to join.  Right now, we have forums set up for the following:

The blog has so far hosted two “open forums” on topics of FS interest. These “open forums” do not/do not require membership or forum registration ( PTSD | Open Discussion and CorridorRep.com | Open Discussion) and are provided as a public service to the blog’s general readership. The blog will continue to host an occasional “open forum” on various topics as needed.

If you are not a donor/sponsor but is still interested in joining this blog’s online community, please contact us at http://diplopundit.net/contact-us/.  We are hoping to add, perhaps, a sustaining membership option for later this year.

And — sending an air hug to Nena S., real-life friend and personal cheerleader who has never been in the Foreign Service but who donated $1,100 towards  the blog’s upkeep for 2016.  I am grateful for your unending encouragement and affection N!

Also, check out the blog’s two corporate sponsors who helped make this year workable!

Embassy Risk Management | https://embassyrisk.com;
On FB https://www.facebook.com/EmbassyRisk and on Twitter: @EmbassyRisk

“With over 50,000 policyholders, more than 140 years of experience and an “A” (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best, Embassy Risk offers the convenience of having your international auto and property insurance covered with one comprehensive policy.”

A shoutout to Lloyd for helping sustain this blog! Thanks to Deborah, too!

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Silver City Mountain Resort California | http://www.silvercityresort.com
On FB: https://www.facebook.com/silvercityresort

“Imagine spending a few days at a mountain retreat where food is fresh and local; where fellow guests come from all over the world and where wildlife surrounds you when you wake up in the morning or go for that evening stroll into California’s only historical alpine settlement – the Mineral King Valley. It all takes place in a small rustic resort that is almost a century old and with a history that pre-dates the founding of the state of California.”

Many thanks to Philip and Kalina for their support for this blog. Thanks to Michael, too!

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