Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The ULTIMATE bid list

Top posts (I stole this idea from You Can Call Me Al) I've divided them into 4 categories, note that they're just in alphabetical after that, it's too hard to narrow it down exactly.

Absolute Dream Posts
Australia, Sydney
Brazil, Rio de Janeiro
Cambodia, Phnom Penh
Croatia, Zagreb
Egypt, Cairo
Fiji, Suva
Morocco, Casablanca
Morocco, Rabat
Nepal, Kathmandu
Peru, Lima
Spain, Barcelona

Posts I'd be excited to get
Algeria, Algiers
Argentina, Buenos Aires
Australia, Canberra
Australia, Melbourne
Australia, Perth
Bahamas, Nassau
Bangladesh, Dhaka
Barbados, Bridgetown
Bermuda, Hamilton
Bolivia, La Paz
Botswana, Gaborone
Brunei, Badar Seri Begawan
Burma, Rangoon
Cape Verde, Praia
Chile, Santiago
Colombia, Bogota
Costa Rica, San Jose
Cyprus, Nicosia
Czech Republic, Prague
Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kinshasa
Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
Ecuador, Guayaquil
Ecuador, Quito
El Salvador, San Salvador
Ethiopia, Addis Ababa
France, Bordeaux
France, Lille
France, Lyon
France, Marseille
France, Paris
France, Rennes
France, Strasbourg
France, Toulouse
Greece, Athens
Greece, Thessaloniki
Guatemala, Guatemala City
Guyana, Georgetown
Haiti, Port-au-Prince
Honduras, Tegucigalpa
Indonesia, Jakarta
Indonesia, Surabaya
Ireland, Dublin
Israel, Tel Aviv
Italy, Florence
Italy, Milan
Italy, Naples
Italy, Rome
Italy, Vatican
Jamaica, Kingston
Japan, Tokyo
Jordan, Amman
Kenya, Nairobi
Laos, Vientiane
Lebanon, Beirut
Libya, Tripoli
Madagascar, Antananarivo
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
Marshall Islands, Majuro
Mauritius, Port Louis
Mexico, Puerto Vallarta
Micronesia, Kolonia
Namibia, Windhoek
Netherlands Antilles, Curacao
New Zealand, Wellington
Nicaragua, Managua
Oman, Muscat
Palau, Koror
Panama, Panama City
Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby
Paraguay, Asuncion
Philippines, Manila
Portugal, Lisbon
Portugal, Ponta Delgada, Azores
Rwanda, Kigali
Samoa, Apia
South Africa, Pretoria
Spain, Madrid
Suriname, Paramaribo
Tanzania, Dar es Salaam
Thailand, Bangkok
Thailand, Chiang Mai
Timor-Leste, Dili
Trinidad and Tobago, Port of Spain
Tunisia, Tunis
Turkey, Istanbul
Uganda, Kampala
United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates, Dubai
United Kingdom, London
Uruguay, Montevideo
Venezuela, Caracas
Vietnam, Hanoi
Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City
Yemen, Sana'a

Posts that I would bid on
Afghanistan, Kabul
Africa Regional Services - Paris
Austria, Vienna
Bahrain, Manama
Belize, Belmopan
Benin, Cotonou
Bosnia & Herzegovina, Sarajevo
Brazil, Brasilia
Brazil, Recife
Brazil, Sao Paulo
Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou
Burundi, Bujumbura
Cameroon, Yaounde
Central African Republic, Bangui
Chad, N'Djamena
Cote d'Ivoire, Abidjan
Gabon, Libreville
Hong Kong and Macau
Hungary, Budapest
Iraq, Baghdad
Japan, Fukuoka
Japan, Nagoya
Japan, Naha Okinawa
Japan, Osaka/Kobe
Japan, Sapporo
Kuwait, Kuwait City
Lesotho, Maseru
Liberia, Monrovia
Macedonia, Skopje
Malawi, Lilongwe
Mali, Bamako
Malta, Valletta
Mauritania, Nouakchott
Mexico, Merida
Mexico, Mexico City
Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar
Montenegro, Podgorica
Mozambique, Maputo
Niger, Niamey
Nigeria, Abuja
Pakistan, Islamabad
Pakistan, Karachi
Pakistan, Lahore
Pakistan, Peshawar
Qatar, Doha
Republic of Djibouti, Djibouti
Republic of the Congo, Brazzaville
Senegal, Dakar
Serbia, Belgrade
Sierra Leone, Freetown
Slovenia, Ljubljana
Sudan, Juba
Sudan, Khartoum
Swaziland, Mbabane
Sweden, Stockholm
Switzerland, Bern
Syria, Damascas
The Gambia
The Netherlands, Amsterdam
The Netherlands, The Hague
The Vatican
Togo, Lome
Turkey, Adana
Turkey, Ankara
US Mission to International Organizations in Vienna
US Mission to NATO
US Mission to the African Union
US Mission to the EU
US Mission to the OAS
US Mission to the OECD
US Mission to the OSCE
US Mission to the UN - New York
US Mission to the UN Geneva
US Mission to the UN Rome
US Mission to UNESCO
Zambia, Lusaka
Zimbabwe, Harare

Neutral Posts
Albania, Tirana
Angola, Luanda
Armenia, Yerevan
Azerbaijan, Baku
Belarus, Minsk
Belgium, Brussels
Bulgaria, Sofia
China, Beijing
China, Chengdu
China, Guangzhou
China, Shanghai
China, Shenyang
China, Wuhan
Denmark, Copenhagen
Equatorial Guinea, Malabo
Eritria, Asmara
Estonia, Tallinn
Finland, Helsinki
Georgia, Tbilisi
Germany, Berlin
Germany, Dusseldorf
Germany, Frankfurt
Germany, Hamburg
Germany, Leipzig
Germany, Munich
Ghana, Accra
Guinea, Conakry
Iceland, Reykjavik
India, Kolkata
India, Mumbai
India, New Delhi
Kazakhstan, Astana
Korea, Busan
Korea, Seoul
Kosovo, Pristina
Kyrgyz Republic, Bishkek
Latvia, Riga
Lithuania, Vilnius
Mexico, Ciudad Juarez
Mexico, Guadalajara
Mexico, Hermosillo
Mexico, Matamoros
Mexico, Monterrey
Mexico, Nogales
Mexico, Nuevo Laredo
Mexico, Tijuana
Moldova, Chisinau
Norway, Oslo
Poland, Krakow
Poland, Warsaw
Romania, Bucharest
Russia, Moscow
Russia, St. Petersburg
Russia, Vladivostok
Russia, Yekaterinburg
Slovakia, Bratislava
Sri Lanka, Colombo
Tajikistan, Dushanbe
Turkmenistan, Ashgabat
Ukraine, Kyiv
Uzbekistan, Tashkent

Posts that I would survive
India, Chennai
India, Hyderabad
Saudi Arabia, Dhahran
Saudi Arabia, Jeddah
Saudi Arabia, Riyadh
Canada, Calgary
Canada, Halifax
Canada, Montreal
Canada, Ottawa
Canada, Quebec
Canada, Toronto
Canada, Vancouver
Canada, Winnipeg

I realize that this list is likely to get tossed out the window once I actually know what types of positions are available in each place. Mostly it's based on my priorities 1)getting my fill of new and interesting, 2)avoiding winter when possible, and 3)sticking with my very random preferences for some countries over others (France-yes! Germany-no! Why? No idea.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Because today is Friday, Friday

I've decided that I need to start posting videos more often, mostly because I'm addicted to annoying web videos and I don't always have interesting things to talk about (just being honest, sometimes grad school is kind of slow).

So, welcome to the first video of the week. I'd like to dedicate this song to my co-worker Alicia who knows everything about pop-culture and sent me the link. I may be about a month behind the times, but I'm catching up.

For the uninitiated, this is a video made by Ark Music, which (as far as I understand) will make a music video for anyone, for a small fortune. It's become a bit of a joke, but I think you'll find it strangely entertaining.

Without further ado, I give you: Friday

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I tried the porkorn...

...it was nasty.

Here's how you can make your own. (Free recipe!)
1) Buy some caramel corn.
2) Make bacon.
3) Rub the caramel corn in the bacon grease.
4) Eat.
5) (Optional) Vomit.

*picture of nasty porkorn came from here

Good news

I just thought I'd share this here, since I mentioned my scary medical tests last week. The doctor called this morning and said I do not have cancer. I have, however, developed more empathy for people going through health scares of their own.

In other really great news, I got myself a ticket to Easter at the National Cathedral. Then a French friend from Sri Lanka will be in town for a mini-reunion. I think this calls for some celebratory Easter lilies, don't you?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Why all fellows should live in DC

Last night I was privileged to attend the 26th(?) annual Taste of the South Gala in DC. I went in completely unaware of the context, so it all came across as really, really weird. Inside the gala hall there were booths set up for each of the southern states. Each booth served a collection of food that supposedly represented the state. (Key lime pie and grits anyone? How about pulled pork and moon pies? No? You think that's weird too? Good, I'm glad we're on the same page here.) Each booth also gave away an even stranger collection of freebies. There were lots of keychains and university memorabilia which I didn't pick up, but I tried to grab an assortment to show you.

So here it is, a view of the South through the very wide-eyes of one mystified mid-westerner:

Since the pictures are a little small, I'll go ahead and list off the loot (or is it booty? my vocabulary is so bad these days...):
*salt water taffy
*plastic cup
*lip balm
*string cheese
*a packet of plain rice
*a clown nose
*spring water
*mini soda
*pralines (is that a nut?)
*a golf tee
*something called Diet Cheerwine (excited to try that one out :)
*the moon pie and some sort of Goober pie or something (I'm too lazy to get up and check the name.)
*an elvis fan (my personal favorite)
*mini pickles
*a creole seasoning packet
*a granola bar
and finally, the object in the center below:

Porkorn (Popcorn/Pork as I later learned) - defined as "caramel popcorn with pork drippings" Oh my goodness. I'm afraid to eat it, but also very intrigued.

So South, I salute you. If the my state had thrown a gala I think we can safely say that no one would have thought to bring porkorn, and that instead of peel and eat shrimp and key lime pie (both a-maz-ing btw) I would have spent the night eating sweet corn and, well, more sweet corn.

Thanks for the Southern hospitality!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sacrilege and Cupcakes

Picture stolen from here.

I've been compiling a list of the best cupcakes in town. I've only sampled 5-6 places in town so far, but I'm ready to start offering some opinions.

Opinion #1: Cupcakes are expensive. For 3.50 I could make 2 dozen at home or buy 1 at a fancy cupcake store. I'm a grad student, you do the math.

Opinion #2: Expensive cupcakes taste just like cheap cupcakes. (Frosting however, varies a lot.)

Without further ado, the results of my survey are below (this is the sacriligous part):

Georgetown Cupcake - ** I thought the cupcake itself was fine, but hated the frosting. I like the boxed kind better. However the store itself was super cute.

Cake Love - *** The cupcake itself was really dry, but otherwise tasty and the frosting was fine. Though it didn't taste anything like a s'more, so they lost points there.

Red Velvet - **** Liked it. Cream cheese frosting was good, certainly better than I could make at home.

Starbucks - ? Yeah. I didn't know they made cupcakes either, but I guess in DC everyone's in the business. I refused to try it on principle. And because it was peanut butter flavored. My mom, however, said it was good.

Eastern Market - **** There's probably a name for the place, but I didn't see the sign. It's inside the actual market, and it was a bit of a zoo. But the cupcake? Awesome.

Still to come:
Baked and Wired (heard some very good reviews)
Hello Cupcake (Apparently I missed the cherry blossom cupcakes here, sad...)
Sticky Fingers (vegan cupcakes!)
Curbside Cupcakes (food truck)
And a couple of places around town that just 'dabble' in cupcakes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What a day...

Don't feel much like writing, but I thought I should solicit some good vibes from the web at large. I had a mildly scary doctor's visit today and I don't get my results until Tuesday. I shouldn't complain too much, because I have had extraordinary health for as long as I can remember. But still, I was a bit shaken up. To add insult to injury, I actually had to pay my taxes today. (Yes, this is a first for me. Usually the government pays me. ;) So note to other fellows - the non-tuition parts of your stipend are taxable and they make you sound much wealthier than you are, so plan accordingly!

So here's to a weekend of enjoying life, thinking positive, and of course, writing papers.

Oh and I'm just watching some democracy in action outside my window. A group of protesters from either Bahrain or Qatar (forgive me, but those flags are awfully similar) is exercising 3 of their first amendment rights in front of the Saudi Embassy. I'm not sure what they're protesting since I can't read their signs and I don't really have an opinion about this, I just thought it was interesting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When life gives you mozzarella, tomatoes and basil...

...make a pizza margherita. Yum.

Also enjoyable if accompanied by the scent of gorgeous flowers. (Thanks mom!)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tour Guide Barbie

I've been honing my tour guide skills this week, with my mom in town. Two days ago we saw the Cherry Blossoms and visited the presidents. Well, as close as we could get anyway.

We saw Obama's house.

We saw Jefferson.

We saw Washington.

We saw Lincoln.

Yesterday we saw the National Cathedral, and oh my goodness, it was beautiful. My pictures don't do it justice at all, but I highly recommend a visit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Beautiful poppies, courtesy of the Foggy Bottom Farmer's Market. Don't rush out to buy some though, we cleaned them out. ;)

This is just what I needed to put yesterday firmly into the past.

*PS - Lasanai (pronounced LAH-sah-nai) = beautiful in Sinhala

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FSOA results

Four words for you.


Needless to say I'm disappointed. Not only is there the whole identity crisis/Why don't they love me? drama, but this means I have to do it all over again in 6 months. The studying, the waking up early, the filling out forms, the waiting nervously. *sigh* I didn't really feel like posting about it, but it seemed cowardly not to. So, a quick recap before I forget it all:

Group Exercise was first. I thought I gave a great presentation, organized, not too fast, not too quiet, finished on time. I didn't speak enough during the discussion. And our group had a really awkward dynamic. Still I thought I passed that section.
I found the Yahoo Groups practice materials to be very representative of the real thing.

Structured Interview was next. I felt like I did a really terrible job with the Experience and Motivation section. The questions just seemed so...bland. I also thought that I could have done much better on the hyptheticals. I felt like I totally rocked the Past Behavior section, but given my performance with the first two parts was pretty sure I failed this overall.

Case Management was last. There was a lot of information to read. I wrote what I felt was a solid, but not really great essay. I honestly think I didn't give this one my all. I was not sure if I passed or not, but if I had thought more about it I would have called it a fail.

I was one of the first called, they were very nice and didn't actually tell me my score. They just said I didn't pass and I could 'look in the envelope' for more information. My score? 5.1 *sigh* The only section I passed was the Structured Interview. Go figure.

After giving myself a little vacation from the test prep, I think I'll go back to it with a focus on the things I didn't do so well this time; specifically- speaking up in groups, doing 'typical' interview questions and hypotheticals. I might also do some Harvard Case Studies, but I'm a little burnt out to think about that right now.

Anyway, if you're feeling blue today I'm totally with you, but there's always next time. I've had plenty of 'fails' before (including a really notable one where they accidentally called me on stage for at the awards ceremony, only to give me the fail in front of a crowd. Nice.) and I've always managed to either come back stronger or go off and win at something else. So I'm not beaten, just bummed.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tax. Ugh.

If the government always knows when I make a mistake on my taxes, that means they've already calculated my taxes. Right?

So why do I have to calculate them too?

Sorry for the venting. It's just that I'm having trouble fitting 'living stipend/wage earned from US-based non-profit while residing in Sri Lanka but officially a resident of the midwest' into the fillable forms on Turbo Tax. It's like buying a greeting card, they never have exactly what you need. My new plan is to print it out and attach a sticky note. Sorry IRS, I tried. Maybe I should include some kind of gift card. These people definitely earn it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Good luck applicants!

Just want to wish good luck to everyone who applied for Pickering. I heard that finalists are going to be announced tomorrow, so I'll be crossing my fingers for you.
This time last year I was wondering how on earth I was going to pay for grad school -looking into selling some organs on the black market actually - and had already totally forgotten about Pickering. I just assumed it was such a long shot that I wouldn't even get called for an interview. Clearly I'm not good with predictions.

So my advice? Don't be too hard on yourself, even if you aren't chosen for this particular opportunity. And if you are chosen, don't get too cocky. I hear that oral assessment is a doozy...