Life on the Mekong and Other Rivers

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog, including strong statements in support of weinerdog-riding monkeys, are our own, and not those of the U.S. Department of State or the U.S. government.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

So...that's that then.

Took my Russian test today. Done with Russian. Got the score I needed plus a few + signs. Meaning a 3+/3+ (speaking/reading). I actually only need a 2/2 to go to Post, but for some reason they required me to get a 3/3 in order to end language training early so our departure is not delayed. Bully for us, too, as a 3/3 or higher gets us a monetary bonus.

I was trying to find documentation about what exactly 3+/3+ means, but I failed. It basically means I can hold my own. I do know that, as far as the reading goes, the examiner pointed out that I didn't get the cultural reference to a scientist named Michurin* in one op-ed I had to read (cultural knowledge being the hallmark of reading at a 4 level). C'est la vie.

Either way, Monday I will start three weeks on the passport task force. 54 hours a week adjudicating passport applications. By the end of which I will probably not be able to speak Russian, or any other language for that matter.

But before that, we're heading to Michigan on Friday for the annual Bogaerts (Katherine's mom's family) family reunion. 2 days of fun in Petoskey, Michigan. I'm told it will include eating lots of pie.

*Yeah, this guy. How could I have not known?

Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin is an eminent Russian selectionist, founder of scientific base for selection of fruit crops. Ivan Michurin has created over 300 of valuable types of various fruit-trees, some of which have widely spread across Russia – for example, winter pear-tree, some species of apples and cherries. Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin made an essential contribution to development of such sciences as genetics and biology of fruit and berry plants, performing experiments on artificial polyploidy and studying heredity’s relations with ontogenesis patterns and environment. Ivan Vladimirovich has created a theory of dominance, explained a possibility of changing a genotype by means of variation of environmental conditions and developed a theory of selection of starting forms for further crossing.

Ivan Michurin is born in Vershina estate, located near the Dolgoe village, on October 27 of 1855 in the noble family. Since early childhood, Ivan spends all his spare time in the garden – he is totally absorbed with growing plants, paying almost no attention to other joys of life. After Ivan graduates from Pronskoye district school, he is admitted to Ryazan gymnasium (grammar school), however, his family goes into bankruptcy, and he has to quit from the educational institution. In 1873 Ivan Vladimirovich finds a job of a clerk at local railway station. Ivan studies telegraph and signaling equipment and learns to repair them; afterwards he opens a watch-maker's shop. Future scientist settles down on the Kozlov railway station, but his duty makes him travel around for servicing watches and signaling equipment...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Silence -- Tishina

The recent blog silence is generally due to two factors:

Factor the first -- not a whole lot going on. Jack has been under the weather recently. Very crabby and a bit feverish. We figure it may be due to the two new teeth coming in on the bottom. He's not sleeping well, and so neither are we. My parents were in residence this weekend, and the 4 of us (sans Jack, who stayed home with a babysitter for the first time) went to see Phantom of the Opera at the Kennedy Center. A good family friend played the lead female role, which was very cool to see. She's got a voice on her too.

Factor the second -- Tomorrow is my Russian exam, hence the bilingual title above. I initially was to study Russian until mid-September. Then, owing to a staff shortage and other exigencies, we moved up our departure and I was to take the exam the end of August. Now, in response to the problems with passport application delays, I, along with many of my colleagues at FSI, have been drafted into service to work through the 2.5MM application backlog. So I'm testing tomorrow and starting 3 weeks of adjudicating passport applications 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, on Monday. Needless to say, I would like the additional 7 weeks of language training, but I think I'll do fine on the test tomorrow.

Tomorrow by 3:00 pm I should know whether I am, indeed, proficient in Russian.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Squash Update

Jack now likes it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Our trip to Minnesota (as an aside, for some reason I can't put titles on the posts, so no witty play on words here).

The cabin. Very nice week. Lots of kids. 2 dogs. And 2 bald eagles in the tree out front. As they have been taken off the endangered species list, we promptly killed them and made a tasty stew.

Jack on the deck.

Jack playing with his cousins Joseph and Leah.

And hanging with Emma.

Having a snack with Ben.

The grandparents with all the grandchildren, in various costumes relating to their just-finished performance.

Jack doesn't like squash.

In our defense, we weren't just being mean to our son so we could laugh at him. That was just a bonus. We were being mean to our son by continuing to feed him squash because we've been told that you need to try giving a food numerous times before giving up.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

First day of school. We're so proud...

As an aside, 3 of the 4 kids in the picture were born at Samitivej, courtesy of Dr. Sankiat. There's Eva (who you know) in the front with the pacifier, born November 4, and Aviva on the right, born in mid-October to Tonya and Leon, who were posted in Manila, but are, like us, headed to Kyiv. We FSO-types travel in small circles.

Jack was great. Got down and started playing right away. Katherine took the whole separation a little harder, but was very strong in her own right.

Christmas plans are developing nicely as well. Our friend (and the bride), Katrina, used to work for the company that owns Governor's Camp in the Masai Mara and is hooking us up with a great rate at an otherwise completely unaffordable, fantastic camp.

We'll spend Christmas with Kevin, Bonnie and their kids at Lake Naivasha after the wedding, and spend a few days in Nairobi with them as well.

Jack has been helping me plan.