Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Hodge Podge Kind of Day

Too much going on these days that I'm going to have to bust out some bullet points to cover events. But I'll lead off with some highlights from last night's Fatiguing, Self-Inflicted (FSI) course on the logistics of moving overseas.

First, let me say that I did learn some good pointers about preparing for the movers. Piles, people. From anecdotal evidence, the movers pack everything in site, so you're best off creating piles of things you want packed together. Some examples included the movers packing a family's garbage, which they received with their second shipment*. Another funny story was about a cat getting packed. Fortunately, depending on your perspective, they realized the cat was packed before boxes left the building and were able to get it out**.

*I plan on addressing this more later, but the State Department uses the expressions (and acronyms) unaccompanied baggage (UAB) and household effects (HHE) to denote the two shipments of luggage you receive after arriving at your post. Wouldn't be a lot easier just to call them the first and second shipment? That seems less confusing.

**I like animals, even cats. But cats make terrible pets. Sorry, it's just how it is. If a house cat weighed 90 pounds instead of 9 pounds, it would eat you. Even at 9 pounds, cats spend most of the day thinking if they could fit you in their mouth. As an historical side note to this, cats are last animal that have been domesticated (dogs were the first), so maybe in another 50,000 years, they'll make for better pets.

So while the class had some good stuff, the main pitfall was that it was too general to be applicable. And I noted as much on my evaluation. Maybe start with the general stuff and then break into groups that will have similar pack-out day experiences. For example, the people moving to China will have a different experience - and therefore need different information - than those of us driving to Canada or Mexico. Or maybe create courses called The Logistics of Moving (X Country).

To wrap up, so far I haven't had great FSI experiences, but I'll keep going if for no other reason than to get more material to write about. That's right, I'll keep sacrificing my own time for you, the readers. Now let's tackle some bullets:

• First a shout-out to my local in-laws, and regular EF'M readers, Eric and Mindy, for taking Natalie and me to a Wizards game Monday night. I'm not much into the NBA, but seeing a game in person is an entirely different and more enjoyable experience than watching it on TV. Secondly, as bad as the Wizards have been the past two years, when I attend the game, they've gone something like 5-1. (Wizards, you should treat me to every game, and maybe you'd win more.) We plan on returning the favor by taking Eric and Mindy to a Naranjeros baseball game when they come to Hermosillo (2010 Mexican Pacific League Campeones! That is number 15, baby!)

• A member of our Hermosillo contingent had a baby boy earlier this week, so congratulations are in order.

• You probably won't be getting any weekend updates because Natalie and I are going to Charlottesville, Va., to hit up some wineries and Monticello with another couple. We created a list of things we wanted to do while living in Virginia, and this has been on there for a long time. And we realize this is not the last time we'll be living in this area, but this is kind of a farewell-see-ya-later tour that we are doing because we are foreign service rookies, and this is the kind of things rookies do.

• And finally, there is a new, unofficial countdown as Natalie received word from the Hermosillo Consulate that they would like her first day to be June 28. This moving thing keeps becoming more real every day.


  1. Have fun in Charlottesville, Va. The countryside is so incredibly beautiful in that area!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! Also, learned a lot from your bullet points, thanks. Can't believe the countdown is REALLY on!

  3. "Wouldn't be a lot easier just to call them the first and second shipment?"

    I don't know about anyone else, but the only time it was really that easy was the first time we moved.

    I love Charlottesville. Have fun!

  4. My moving trick - put down painter's tape (blue masking tape) on the floor and write what is inside those boundaries. HHE, UAB, fragile stuff going to post, storage, etc. That's always helped, and it's forced me to clean out a lot of crap I didn't need, rather than having the movers empty my dresser drawers themselves.

    The distinction between UAB and HHE does make a difference sometimes. At my previous post, I received both the same day, because I was at a post where everything was shipped by air. However, at my next post there are host-country restrictions on what can go into UAB vs. HHE - I can't put 'personal electronics' in my UAB, so no desktop computers or electric kettles can go there.

  5. It's Friday, and that means that the Second Weekly State Department Blog Roundup is up - and you're on it!

    Here is the link:

    (If I quoted your text or used your photo(s) and you would rather I had not, please let me know. Please also be sure to check the link(s) that I put up to you, in order to verify that they work properly. If you would rather that I had not referenced you, and/or do not want me to reference you in the future, please also contact me.)


  6. Several points so I will use bullets too.
    -Cats generally make lousy pets as you rightly pointed out, but they are very suited to the FS lifestyle They don't need to be walked, they poop in a box and if you want to go out of town for a few days put down some extra food water and litter and they are all good. You will not come home and find they have eaten the sofa in a fit of boredom.
    -The labels fist and second shipment would great IF they actually arrived in that order but may times they either arrive together or occasionally your HHE will show up before your UAB making you wonder why you spent all that time agonizing over separating things for packout.
    -Piles, they work great sort of. You have to watch the packers to make sure they don't mix up the piles. When we did our initial packout form the states the packers would have a box almost full they would grab something to fill that last bit of space and didn't seem to care which pile it came from. So we ended up with half the attachments to my kitchenaid stand mixer at post but no mixer.
    -Just wanted to tell you i LOVE the title of your blog. Wish i had thought of it first!