Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What the heck is this thing?

One of the folks went to the IRM storage room and foud this beauty.....dead, fortunately - but still about 4" across.

There is an ongoing debate about what kind of spider this is.  I'm going with King Babbon spider and that it caught a ride with one of the many East African immigrants living here in Jerusalem.

Check out the fang on that baby!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The US ConGen Jerusalem has a blog?

Who knew?  I didn't until today.

Getting ready for a tough month...

Summer should be a "slower" time for FM, but not this summer.  Oh boy - it's about to get really, really busy with the added issue of a month long religious event.  Here's what's happening:

1) Ramadan began June 17 and will last until July 17.  Muslims who celebrate Ramadan fast from sun-up to sun-down meaning no food and no water during the day.  They break the fast at sundown so they're up late at night eating.

More than half of my staff is either on leave or fasting for Ramadan.  You can imagine what kind of mood these guys are in working (sometimes in the heat) and not able to eat or drink...fasting also means no water.  So we've coordinated to have Muslim techs work on "inside" work and the Jews and Christians do the work in the sun since they can drink water.  I can't help but wonder what the non-Muslim staff is thinking when they're working in the sun and the other guys are in the a/c.  How many FM's out there have to coordinate the type of work with the staff's religion?  Not many I'm betting...but that's what makes this place interesting!

2) The CG departed on June 20th and we have 4 projects to do in the CGR in a month!
The new CG arrives soon and we need to do painting, repairs, renovate 2 bathrooms, and remodel and office and laundry room.  We are working 10 hours days 7 days a week until they kick us out of the house.  Oh yeah - we're coordianting with GSO, IRM for their work and then we have to clean it so it's ready.  And oh yeah again - the Contractors have to be escorted so some of the CharForce night shift is working during the day as an escort and at night as a cleaner.  GO! GO! GO!

3) It's also make ready season.  Post Jerusalem is unfortunately responsible for make readies in leased houses.  So in addition to everything noted above - we're still doing make-readies (granted, most are pretty light) for 25 houses this summer.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel....


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Art as diplomacy...and the role of FM.

I thought it was stupid.  I thought it was going to be a waste of my (and my guys) time.  Here we go - yet another brilliant idea from PD....oh boy.


I was wrong.  Really wrong!  It was a brilliant idea from PD.  In fact, it was one of the coolest things we've done here in Jerusalem.

The US Consulate brought in US based artist Max Levi Frieder from Artolution to work with a local Israeli-Palestinian school to bring the kids to the Consulate to make several murals.  One mural on the Post1 rolling gate, another at the America House - but the BIG mural was for the Consular Annex.

In 2 weeks time, I wrote a scope of work to purchase, deliver, and mount 7 sheets of 3m x 2m x 15mm clear plexiglass (111kg each!) Procurement got bids in record time, the installation contract was awarded, the kids painted for several days at the Hands In Hands School, and the contractor mounted the plexiglass on a weekend with FM escorting and assuring a quality and safe installation.  Whew....all in 2 weeks time.  Oh yeah - we had a curtain assembly installed so the CG could make a grand reveal.

There was a huge ceremony.  The CG spoke and there was plenty of press to see how the US Consulate General in Jerusalem can bring Israelis and Palestinians together through art.  What a cool way to feature America as a conduit to bring people together peacefully.

Max is an amazing creative mind and an excellent artist!  I hope to see more of his art as I visit other Missions.  I'm proud that my team and I (and GSO and PD :)) worked to make this happen!  Go team!

And I was happy to be wrong about this!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

4th of July...a month early.

On Thursday, June 4th we celebrated America's 239th birthday at the US Consulate.  The CG is preparing to depart and Ramadan (June 19 - July 19) will keep many people away (fasting) we decided to hold this HUGE party on June 4th.

Israeli, Palestinian, and international friends of the Consulate descended on Post 1 for 3 hours of mingling, eating, drinking, and enjoying each others company.  I'm willing to bet there is no other place in all of Israel where such a diverse group of people intentionally gathers together.  This shows the inclusiveness of our Mission which is a reflection of the openness and welcoming spirit of America!

Happy Birthday America!

By the way - it's a LOT of work to get one of these parties together.  Thanks to a lot of hard work by FM and GSO staff.


Normally, I post a lot of pictures of Mission events.  But not this time.  Why?  Because we were at the emergency room with my daughter. She was running at school and fell....busted lip, goose egg on her head, and 4 of her bottom teeth bent inwards....that's right...bent inwards.  So I missed the party....maybe next year.

This is not my daughter, but I bet she looked something like this after the fall.  My daughter is only 5.