The views expressed here neither represent nor are affiliated with the US DOD, US Navy, FAO association, MGM Studios, Time Warner, Sony, RCA Recording or Hostess. Now, "relax and take notes . . . "

FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, May 22, 2015

Aaron Tippin in Naples or FUUO Takes a Stand on Pocket Squares

A few weeks ago, I found myself strolling down Via Partenope along the Naples gulf.  It was a breezy bright sunny Sunday afternoon.  Italian mothers lounged on the boardwalk in designer dresses and high heels (or high tops)--dispensing wisdom to toting babies from the ash end of slim cigarettes. Open-shirted restaurant hosts lotharios hustled and chatted up passing women--offering up flutes of prosecco--beckoning them to an open table.

Men from ages 20 to 80 sauntered along in well cut jackets and suits, their breast pockets stuffed with colorful pochettes.  I should be more specific--every dapper signori that had on a jacket had a pocket square in it--without fail.  Walking back to my hotel room that evening after way too much linguine and buffalo mozzarella I was pondering the ubiquity of this pochette-toting population and I was reminded of Aaron Tippin's Gulf War classic "You've Got to Stand for Something."

Now I was mainly reminded of this song because of the title but you should still go ahead and give it a listen in all its jingoistic early 90's glory--its a classic.

Now where was I?  Ah yes, the point of this blog post is that pocket squares are one of the things that FUUO is going to stand for in all his third person glory.  Working overseas in an international community as a FAO, one has an opportunity to leave a lasting impression on those with whom you work.  The sartorial impact that you make is not just a personal one--for better or worse--they will associate your 'look' with America's look.

As men we have very few things that we can 'personalize' our looks with: ties and socks are the standard duo over which we have control.  Beyond that you have the cufflink option (a later FUUO post) but then the essential pocket square is too oft overlooked in the United States today.

Personally, I think that this is because men tend to overthink the pocket square too much.  A bewildering number of material types, colors, styles and prices can quickly overwhelm the handkerchief neophyte.  But ignorance should never be an excuse for sartorial shortcomings.

Having made the switch two years ago I am by no means an expert but I will offer a few pieces of advice:

  1. Save your money.  You don't need to spend a lot to pack an outsized sartorial punch.  You can get plenty of starters at your local H&M or Woolworths.
  2. Educate yourself though--start with Squared Aweigh.  Started by a fellow USNA grad, this is where you go to elevate your game.  The Victoria is the first square that I bought at the site and it's a beauty.
  3. Never match.  If your pocket square matches your tie you are doing it wrong.  The square should complement your tie or shirt in some manner.  Or if you are feeling particularly plucky, you can sport something that doesn't complement your outfit in the slightest--as long as you have the pre-requisite je ne sais quoi to pull it off.
  4. You can never go wrong with a Draper.  A simple clean squared white square will always elevate your suit above the masses.
  5. Ultimately the key is not to be too picky when you put in your pocket.  Now say that five times quickly.

Finally if you need help figuring out just how to fold it, GQ has a helpful guide.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I heart Lufthansa: Free coffee in Munich Airport Terminal G

At this point I haven't been to America in more than 1.5 years so maybe there are airlines that do this nowadays in the States but I really can't picture Delta or American airlines offering up free coffee to the plebeian masses--one would have to be safely ensconced in the privileged cocoon of a business class lounge to have the rarified opportunity to quaff free beverages at an airline's expense.

Munich airport is all those things you would expect of Germany--clean and efficient and full of pretzels.  Most notably, the airport there is an airport of happy places for me.  A favorite happy place: reading a newspaper with a cup of hot coffee.  Voila: Lufthansa's Terminal G at Munich Airport--International newspapers and a wide array of coffee and tea choices.  I was partial to the mochachino with an extra shot of expresso.

Aside from the incredible free coffee at the terminal--Lufthansa's in-flight service is top notch--I mean they serve cognac with dessert on the JNB-FRA flight.

They make it easy to say I love Lufthansa.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

What I Read Last Week: Leaving the Navy, Loving Your Family, and a Crumbling World

What I read this week:  I read a quite a few articles that sprouted up in response to a young naval officer's 'resignation letter'--most were unsympathetic to her millennial assertions and aspirations.  The other

4 Reasons I Am Resigning My Commission As A Naval Officer

What I’ll Miss About Serving in the Navy

JOINT CHIEFS: Why We Don’t Care That You’re Resigning

Opinion: Why I’m Resigning My Commission, Even Though I’m The Greatest Officer Ever

How successful people work less—and get more done -- Don't work more than 50 hours a week, it will cost you.

The Disintegration of the World -- Geopolitical consultancy now a hot commodity for businesses.

How Serious is the Rebalance? US Military Record Tells (part of) the Story -- Is the US military really sold on the rebalance to Asia?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

FAO Pro Tip #4: Till bacteria do us part with CIPRO

This post is about CIPRO but really, the important takeaway is to have a system and checklist for your medicine bag.  Over preparation is key to any successful trip in Madagascar and Comoros.

First the BAD NEWS: 
Is CIPRO good for your body? Not really.  It kills bacteria ALL bacteria in your stomach--even the good bacteria.  That means you will be more susceptible to getting sick again shortly after you take it.
Now the GOOD NEWS: 
Within an hour of being in gut-wrenching pain on a bathroom floor or of spending hours with your backside glued to the toilet bowl--you will find glorious relief.  When you are traveling as a FAO you can rarely afford to have a sick day--meetings with host nation counterparts can't always just be rescheduled.  CIPRO allows you to make it work.

I heartily endorse the holy trinity when traveling: CIPRO-IMMODIUM-PEPTO.  The perfect combination--don't leave home without it.

Past FAO Pro Tips:

FAO Pro Tip #1: Ode to Vaporub
FAO Pro Tip #2: You Are Only a Handshake Away
FAO Pro Tip #3: There's a Reason NASA packs duct tape

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Mercy Ships, a new Ambassador, Oh Canada, PM resigns and Martians--My day on Twitter

I thought I would do a little shameless self-promotion and encourage you to follow my twitter account (For Unofficial Use Only Twitter Account) --below is what I was looking at yesterday.

Monday, January 12, 2015

FAO Pro Tip #3 There's a reason NASA missions pack duct tape

I am tearing my way through book The Martian by Andy Weir.  Don't worry, it's not about aliens--it's about an astronaut--so cool your jets all you sci-fi haters...look I will spare you a description--just click the book below and buy yourself a copy--it's SO good.

Anyway, in the book the stranded astronaut finds myriad creative uses for duct tape on Mars. Sometimes traveling abroad and working as a Foreign Area Officer (FAO), one feels is if he IS on
Mars.  I never know what I might encounter that just doesn't work...or rips...or breaks...or cuts or falls--that's why I always carry a roll of duct tape in my carry-on.  Unfortunately, I only have a jumbo sized grey roll, but once that runs out, I think I will pick up once of these travel rolls below.

During my most recent family vacation to Ft. Dauphin I found yet another use for duct tape--entertaining a whining 9 month baby.  He fruitlessly tried removing a small strip of duct tape off of various body parts for about 15 minutes!  Additionally, my daughters got in on the action and we all made 'duct tape fingers.'    The moral of the story is "duct tape--don't leave home without it"

Sunday, January 4, 2015

'Mo' Money, Mo' Problems' or 'Trop d'argent Trop des problemes' or #tanksforafrica #jetsforafrica

The longer I live, the more I realize that Biggie Smalls was a visionary ahead of his time, n'est-ce pas

The economist article this past November, Arms and the African: The Continent's armies are going on a spending spree highlights some startling spending figures going on across the African continent.  It also highlights a pet peeve of mine--it is so annoying when an article doesn't just hyperlink it's source...I mean what does the economist think--it's 2005 or something?
Just hyperlink the SIPRI research ECONOMIST, don't make me google it for five minutes seconds!

Anyway, it is astounding the amount of tanks and jets that countries are buying--and wholly unnecessary in 95% of the cases.  Nearly every one of these countries would be better off creating a coast guard and spending the air budget on transport planes.  Unfortunately, the majority of the blame should be placed on the countries selling them equipment that they don't need and that they can't operate properly and maintain long-term.  Reading through the meagre SIPRI research, though, they don't (or didn't have access to) break out the spending by donor country.  So ultimately, the ECONOMIST article is nothing more than a teaser for which there isn't the desired research hasn't been done yet.

For grad students, HOWEVER, a great research topic (wish I had thought about this).  Although, fat chance getting the various countries to cough up the numbers on all the equipment they received...so maybe not the best topic.

Finally, I would just note that perhaps some of the green countries should perhaps devote a little more of their defense budget (wisely).





Information from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), http://www.sipri.org/research/armaments/milex/milex_database/milexdata1988-2012v2.xsls"