Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Skills Incentive Program (SIP) and CISSP

I passed the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) test and I'm so glad that's done! I previously wrote a little about Skills Incentive Program (SIP) pay at the end of this post when I first started with the Foreign Service. They've tweaked the rates to an extra 10% or 15% pay for 3 years depending on the level of the certification.

CISSP is a 15% cert so that'll be awesome after I finish the paperwork, receive the certificate, submit it to the SIP panel for review (only meets every 2 months), and then HR finally processes it for Finance to add it to my pay. It'll easily be summer before I start seeing the fruits of this labor but it'll continue for 3 years. If history repeats then it'll continue for 5 extra months even though I told HR 2 months early and repeatedly begged them to stop it until they finally did. Finance gladly takes back the overpayment in sizable chunks until the HR induced debt is repaid. They always do. Regardless, it's a great benefit!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Sutas and Belcovas Museum

The Romana Sutas un Aleksandras Beļcovas muzejs (museum) is an interesting little part of the Latvian National Art Museum system. It's a part of our annual pass but it's also a short diversion if you have a little time to kill and 2 EUR.

We went to catch the missing piece of the Latvian portrait series exhibits which are ending in a week. This museum had the caricatures and cartoons portion of the larger exhibit spread over two other museums. Those portions were massive meals of art compared to the tiny taster bite of this museum. It was interesting to see but quite small.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Malta Gozo Bus Tour

The island of Gozo is a smaller island in the Maltese archipelago accessible by a vehicle and people ferry on the northside of Malta. It has its own hop-on hop-off buses to get around for a day trip if you like that option. We do and so we did it. This one felt a bit rushed at times because the next bus was 45 minutes and we were fighting a clock for getting back to the ferry for our arranged transportation. It was still a good trip with the oldest megalithic temples at Ġgantija and the former Azure Window at Dwejra Bay.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Malta South Bus Tour

The south bus tour compares well with the north tour. This included the Tarxien Temples, the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, and the Blue Grotto. Be sure to book well in advance for the Hypogeum near the Tarxien Temples if you're interested in ancient temples. It looked like it'd be really neat but we couldn't get in because we didn't book it several weeks or months in advance.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Malta North Bus Tour

The north bus tour of Malta has some interesting stops. I don't know how to choose between north or south if you only have time for one since they have different strengths. We visited San Anton Garden, the walled city of Mdina, and the Roman Villa in Mdina. I didn't think the Roman Villa was worthwhile for the cost so I'm not going to bother posting the few pics I took there. Mdina is the star of the north tour.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Valletta Malta Museums

Valletta has several museums worth a visit. We started with the completely free and worthwhile Fortress Builders with plenty of information and city models. After that we ventured through several paid museums. There's a 10 day Malta discount card for 20 EUR available at the museums. It gets you half off many museums along with other discounts for Malta Sightseeing bus tours and some restaurants. We got our 20 EUR back and more on that deal.

Valletta Malta

Malta is a Mediterranean island nation with medieval walled cities, Knights of Malta, megalithic temples, and warmer February temperatures than Latvia. What's not to love? They were under the rule of various empires including the British, so that's why they drive on the left and English is an official language alongside Maltese. It's an easy vacation spot for English language and getting around.