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.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

You are invited....

Please mark your calendars for Wednesday July 28th, 2010  11:30 a.m.

FLO and MHN are hosting what should be a very interesting webinar for family and employees returning from or maybe just now experiencing an unaccompanied tour.  The focus of the hour long slide show/conference call is to discuss the challenges of returning to work , family and everyday life after an unaccompanied tour.   We have been working very closely with MHN to assure all aspects of this very challenging situation are covered.  We will talking about reactions from the employee as well as impact on family and friends.  We also discuss adjustment issues to work and to family.  It really is a huge topic to cover in one hour but I believe MHN has done a marvelous job.

If you are interested please write FLOaskUT@state.gov so I can e-mail you the call in number.  The slides are located on MHN's website under Work&Life, then look for Unaccompanied Tours.  Please write or call 202 647 1076 for information. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Secretary of State visit

After leaving Pakistan

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Kabul.


Silly what?

If you remember playing with silly putty, owned a pet rock, searched for Ferbies, purchased a wall walker; are you too old to wear "silly bandz"?

Maybe...... but I say go ahead and have fun.  They are the latest craze, they were even written up in the Style section of the Times.  They come in all colors and shapes.  They have their own Facebook page (but then who doesn't?) .    On your wrist they look like a wrinkled rubber band, but lay them on a table and a shape appears like magic.   And to make it even more perfect they break, so you have to buy lots and even better some schools have banned them....And the rumor is some of them are hard to find like the penguin .....Some kids are even posting videos on YouTube of their collection.   Do you have any pictures of your silly bandz?  Send them in, we will post them on the blog.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/17/nyregion/17toy.html  . 

Do you collect silly bandz?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How much is that doggy in the window

Dogs, cats, guinea pigs we all seem to have some kind of pet or do you say companion animal?! 

And everyone knows our pets are important members of our families;  "whose picture do you have on your phone?"  Many of you (me included) have a picture of the cat or the dog, for me it's both my dogs.  *If they look like they are climbing in a tree in this photo-you're right they are......

So I know for many of you a big concern when you leave on your unaccompanied tour is what to do with your cat or dog.  I have tried to pull together a few sites to help you think about solutions. 

The website Foster Dogs is an excellent site to find links, articles plus it has good ideas on the concept of fostering.
They have links for long term boarding, military pets and I like the section on laws that affect fostering.

Operation Noble Foster is another place to look for possible foster homes or you may like to volunteer to be a foster home.  If your wife or husband is leaving for a year overseas maybe your children would enjoy helping someone else by babysitting their cat or dog.  To learn more visit:
I found this article interesting on dogs and memory.  I guess dogs really do "live in the moment"

Why can I not talk to my dog over Skype?
Jean Hamman, Brighouse
There are two possible explanations why dogs find it hard to hear or recognise your voice over Skype. Firstly, Skype (and voice telephone systems in general) are optimised to transmit frequencies between 500Hz and 4kHz. This provides an acceptable approximation of the frequency range of speech for human ears, but dogs have a much wider hearing range and so clipping the higher frequencies might be more significant to them than it is to us, to the point where Fido no longer recognises your voice.

The second and more fundamental problem is that dogs seem to have only a rudimentary ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM). This is the cognitive ability to imagine the mental state of others. Without an adequate ToM, your dog might well be hearing your voice, but have no reason to suppose that the disembodied sound is related to you in any way.

Submitted by Luis Villazon
  Sounds reasonable but I still have my husband hold the phone to the dogs ear...:)

Also don't forget to post your favorite photos of your pet or maybe look for pet friends on
Foreign Service Tails http://fstails.blogspot.com/ 

What are your concerns with your dogs, cats, birds?  

Who is taking care of your pet? 

Would you like to see a foster care system for UT pets? 

Do you have a business that would care for pets? 

Write us at FLOaskUT@state.gov or leave a comment on this blog.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Baby it's hot, hot!

Need a break from the heat?  Have a house full of children with nothing to do?  Have you thought about......
 ice skating?
The Cabin John Ice Skating Rink has special prices all summer, they have early bird specials and they even have a special Summer Teen Skate-for $6.25 you get skate rental and skating under disco lights- sweet!
For more information go to:

If you live in Virginia visit the Kettler Capital Iceplex in Balston
They have some great specials on skating lesson-not a bad way to beat the heat.

Not in the skating mood? How about a family fun visit to the arcade?
Dave & Busters Arcades have some cool deals on family packages like eat &play or half off on Wednesdays.
For more info and locations visit

Or how about taking in a movie...........
Regal theaters have some great matinee prices and it sure beats the heat!

Do you have any ideas or deals to share?  We would love to hear about them.
Post them here or write FLOaskUT@state.gov

New Hot Book

West of Kabul, East of New York
by Tamim Ansary

I liked this book.  It is an interesting memoir of someone growing up in Afghanistan with an American mother and Afghan father.  Tamim Ansary does an excellent job explaining what life was like in Afghanistan in the 60's.  I think you will enjoy his descriptions of the close knit families and what it was like growing up half-American in a culture permeated with tribal connections and high walls.  This is a good book to learn something about the culture and the customs of Aghanistan.   I think he gets a little "long-winded" sometimes in his descriptions but I still enjoyed the book.