Welcome to our unaccompanied tours (UT) blog, Foggy Bottom Rambles! We can share information, programs, and resources quickly with you and since blogs are a two way street, we (and the other readers) can hear from you. What's in a name you say? This blog reflects how we (back here in DC, Foggy Bottom area) provide information (rambles) to you. Find websites and information, upcoming webinars, programs and events. FLO does not endorse organizations or companies linked-to in this blog, the views they express, or the products/services they offer. Let us know what you think: contribute to the blog or email us at FLOAskUT@state.gov.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One more thing....

Spring is in the air, so that means.....people are moving!  Whether you are returning to Washington or moving overseas, FLO is here to provide you with information and resources to make the transition as stress-free as possible. Log on to FLO’s Returning to Washington Internet site at www.state.gov/m/dghr/flo/reentry/index.htm and find guidance on what to hand-carry with you, information of housing transfer allowances, hotels, summer camps, schools, pets, and more.

What new news....????

Okay, I admit it, I learned all this in Social Media Class......
One new site for me and a good place to find new blogs plus learn what is popular in the blogging world is located at

And did you know you can register for Google alerts?
It is a easy way to have Google search for people or things for you.
Google alerts http://www.google.com/alerts
Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:
• monitoring a developing news story
• keeping current on a competitor or industry
• getting the latest on a celebrity or event
• keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams
Create an alert with the form on the right.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What I'm reading now....

This book is incredible!  Philip Caputo has really captured the feel and the heart of the Sudan.  Anyone famliar with Africa or anyone interested in the plight of humanity will love this book.  The author does an incredible job weaving the lives of aid workers, mercenaries, and missionaries into a world where war has become a permanent condition.  This is an excellent book and everyone should read all 669 pages of it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970.[1] Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Many communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues. The first Earth Week originated in Philadelphia in 1970 (starting April 16 and culminating on Earth Day, April 22[2]). Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 on virtually every country on Earth[3]. World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the principal United Nations environmental observance.
From Wikipedia

How did you celebrate Earth Day this year?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Glad we're past April 12 and 13

So, you may have heard that there was a pretty big event here in DC this past Monday and Tuesday.  "What was it?" you ask.  It was the Nuclear Security Summit which brought together representative (read: heads of state and other high-level officials) from 40 nations for a two day session.  Secretary Clinton posted a blog entry on Diplopedia, the State Department's official blog.  Navigating around DC was tricky - I went to a concert on Tuesday night and although the Verizon Center is just a few blocks from my apartment, it took us an hour to get there due to all the road blocks and street closures!  What did you think about the summit?  Was goals was it trying to accomplish?  Did it work?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

From DipNote...

Here's a posting by one of our Foreign Service Officers: U.S. Sponsors First Afghan Youth Congress Against Drugs.  Also make sure to check out "Related Entries" links on the right for other DipNote postings on Afghanistan.

Monday, April 12, 2010

White House Garden Tours, April 18 and 19

For anyone in the DC area who is interested in going on a White House Garden and Grounds Tour this weekend, can find out more here.  Allergies are bad in DC around this time pf year, so make sure you're armed with your meds if you're an allergy sufferer. 

Friday, April 9, 2010

Holiday helpers

What a beautiful weekend in DC - cherry blossoms blooming, sun shining, slight breeze, and plenty of out of towners here in DC to enjoy the Easter weekend. While some of us were able to spend time with family and friends, others were far, far away.  Here on some tips from employees and family members about celebrating holidays together when physically apart:

Celebrate the holidays both together and apart and look at it as an opportunity to celebrate twice.  "When my husband was home in the late fall, we celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years - on separatte days of course!  How did we pull off Santa arriving early?  That was a bit tricky but we just told the children that Santa knew Dad was going to be away so he came to our house early just for us.  We also celebrated my son's summer birthday a few weeks early before Dad's departure and also made time for Mother's and Father's Day.  By pre-celebrating the holidays - even if the actual day of felt a little emplty - we knew that we already celebrated together." 

Make a special trip before the employee leaves.  "We went to Disneyland with the kids before my wife left and did this in part because we knew we wouldn't be to spend many holidays together."

What can you share?  Post a comment.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A closer look at Inside Iraq

It seems that when I find one blog, I find another, and another, and another...So here is a blog from the same newspaper as Checkpoint Kabul - this one focuses on Iraq and is called Inside Iraq.  Remember that these are newspaper blogs so while there are lot of human interest stories, there are serious ones too: Iraq is still a war zone. 

Recent posts include:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Checkpoint Charlie, er...Kabul

I just stumbled across Checkpoint Kabul, a blog written by  McClatchy Newspapers.  Recent posting titles include:

Taliban bickering 'Behind Taliban lines'
The Marine 'mayor' v. the Marjah pro-Taliban mawlawi
Afghanistan's first mosh pit rocks
McChrystal to troops: Hold the pickle
Kanye West in Marjah
Afghan James Bond saves the world!

What blogs have you found?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Have a child? Get a workbook.

There's a new page on the FLO website for parenting and children resources to help during an unaccompanied tour.  You can download children's workbooks online! These are PDF versions of the popular workbooks and you can print out the entire booklet or just the activities as you go. The books are divided by age group, from birth all the way up through high school. Parents – also download a copy of the appropriate parenting during a UT guide. There’s one for the parent/guardian staying with the child and one for the parent who’s on the unaccompanied tour. Also on this site are some articles and guides on coping skills for children. Please direct any questions, comments, or feedback to FLOaskUT@state.gov.

Monday, April 5, 2010


For all of you families with children looking for summer jobs, CNN's article might give some pointers in searching for, applying to, and securing that summer job. I remember my first job was working at the library in McLean helping to shelve books.  Tell us about your first job below! 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hello? Can you hear me?

If you're heading to the Embassy in Baghdad, here's a tip from a colleague about calling family in the US: "The phone service to the US works great, so you can just use a 1 cent a minute domestic calling card, and just stick to the regular phones, which can be more convenient and comfortable. But either option (Skype, Vonage, calling card) you prefer should work fine."

Here's another comment about phones: "I have my own Vonage phone I take with me to every post. I use it in my room here and it works great.  I find it a lot easier to have family and friends call me for free anytime."

And another: "I use Skype mainly for the video to accompany the audio. It's nice to see my family when we're talking.  At post, we have plenty of bandwidth most of the time.  The evening tend to be slower when everyone is online making calls or downloading music or movies.  When this happens I just turn off the video part and just talk."
What do you think about calling cards, phone plans, etc.?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

To a happy and healthy Spring!

Note: to access these links, use 'unaccompaniedtour' as the company code.
MHN creates a monthly newsletter just for you! In the April edition:
  • Building Better Relationships
  • Ten Steps to a Positive Body Image
  • Six Tips to Lower Your Cholesterol
  • Ways to Achieve Balance
  • Combating Identity Theft
What's MHN you ask? Well, it's your employee assistance program that provides a wealth of resources for a healthier, happier life. Check out the unaccompanied tours section under Work and Life on the main website. Learn about other support services available to you at FLO's website