Sunday, April 15, 2012

Why God Created Malls

I ran some errands today, including trying to buy a wedding gift for the daughter of one of my staff. I wanted to get something nice, not something you can find in Thamel, but not go overboard. If I was in the States, I'd go online and check out their gift register, or head to the Topanga Mall and look for some nice candlesticks. But I'm not in the States.

It's not easy finding the middle ground between doo-dads made in China aimed at tourists and overpriced doo-dads aimed at ex-pats looking for memorable Nepali souvenirs. But my persistence (and my driver's willingness to drive all over Kathmandu) paid off and I found a nice tea set.

Now… where do I find a gift box and wrapping paper?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"F*** you, but thanks for your business."

I would estimate that the State Department has given millions of dollars in business to United Airlines over the years, much of that business it would not have gotten were it not for the absurd and grossly outdated Fly America Act. To say "thank you," United Airlines has rejected an AFSA-led campaign to extend the waiver of its new (and expensive) pet travel policy to Foreign Service Officers traveling on official orders. After United created the new policy, DoD flexed its muscle and United offered a waiver to uniformed service members. But they won't extend the same courtesy to FSOs.

So an Air Force mail clerk working at Ramstein can take his pooch without the extra cost and hassle, but a political officer going to the Sudan is out of luck.

Update (4/20/2012) - According to AFSA, United Airlines has relented and has extended the pet policy waiver to Foreign Service Officers!!!