Pueblo GSA Consumer Information Guides

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Thu, 4 Feb 1999 00:23:00 -0800

I was at the college bookstore today and I saw one of those infamous little
government flyers for free pamphlets from the US GSA. Their web site,
www.pueblo.gsa.gov is a pretty reasonable warehouse of bits. It doesn't
have PDF files of the whole booklets, which would be great for some of the
medical and travel ones, but the full-text is available -- and searchable.

While some of it is fairly obvious stuff, there are a few gems. I
immediately turned to the 200-nation entry & visa guide for US Citizens and
right there on the checklist was a major mistake I made: I just sent my
replacement passport to the Indian Consulate in SF for a new tourist visa
without signing it yet! I hope this doesn't complicate my application
further -- Indian bureaucracy can be a nightmare, and I'm considering
cashing in a MileagePlus award to leave next Thursday... They've returned
my passport by Airborne Express already, but I wasn't here to pick it up
today. I hope it's stamped...


"Before you send your passport through the mail to apply for a visa, sign
it and write your current address and daytime telephone number in the space
provided. This will help the U.S. Postal Service return it to you should it
become separated from the envelope during processing."

"Detailed health information is included in Health Information for
International Travel , available from the U.S. Government Printing Office
for $20 or may be obtained from your local health department or physician
or by contacting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toll-free
at 1-888/232-3228, toll-free autofax 1-888/232-3299 or Internet:

Some choice entries?
AFGHANISTAN - *Passport and visa required. No tourist or business visas are
being issued at this time. Consult the Consulate of the Islamic State of
Afghanistan in New York (212/972-2277) for further information.

BHUTAN - *Passport and visa required. Visa requires $20 fee, 1 application
and 1 photo. Tourist visas arranged by travel agency (valid for 15 days)
and issued at entry checkpoints in Bhutan. Apply 2 months in advance.
Yellow fever vaccination required if traveling from an infected area. For
further information call the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (975-2-23251 or
975-2-23252) in Bhutan.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - *Passport required. At the time of publication,
Bosnia-Herzegovina entry permission is being granted at the border on a
case-by-case basis. For more information, contact the Consulate General,
866 U.N. Plaza, Suite 580, New York, NY 10017 (212/751-9015). Internet
address: http://www.bosnianembassy.org

CUBA - *Passport and visa required. Tourist visa $26, business visa $50,
valid up to 90 days, requires 1 application and 1 photo. Send money order
only and SASE for return of passport. Apply Cuban Interests Section, 2639
16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20009 (202/797-8609 or 8518). AIDS test
required for those staying longer than 90 days. Attention: U.S. citizens
need a Treasury Dept. license in order to engage in any transactions
related to travel to and within Cuba. Before planning any travel to Cuba,
U.S. citizens should contact the Licensing Division, Office of Foreign
Assets Control, Department of the Treasury, 1331 G St., N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20220 (202/622-2480).

HOLY SEE, APOSTOLIC NUNCIATURE OF THE - *Passport required (for entry into
Italy). For further information consult Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy
See, 3339 Mass. Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008 (202/333-7121) or call
Embassy of Italy (202/328-5500).

[This is a little ridiculous for such a large nation and such a stable
government. But customer service still isn't a popular art...]
INDIA - *Passport and visa required. Transit visas are available for up to
6 months for $50, 1 year for $70, or a 5 yr. visa for $120 (given only on a
limited basis). Visas requires 1 application form, 2 photos, onward/return
ticket and proof of sufficient funds. Visa must be obtained before arrival.
Business visa requires $70 fee, 1 application form, 2 photos and company
letter stating purpose of trip and itinerary. Include prepaid envelope for
return of passport by certified mail. Yellow fever immunization needed if
arriving from infected area. AIDS test required for all students and anyone
over 18 staying more than 1 year; U.S. test from well known lab accepted.
Check requirements with Embassy of India, 2536 Mass. Ave., N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20008 (202/939-9806/9848) or nearest Consulate General:
Chicago (312/515-0405), Houston (713-626-2355), New York (212/774-0600) or
San Francisco (415/668-0683).

IRAN - *Passport and visa required. The United States does not maintain
diplomatic or consular relations with Iran. Travel by U.S. citizens is not
recommended. For visa information contact Embassy of Pakistan, Iranian
Interests Section, 2209 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007

IRAQ - *Passport and visa required. Proof of an AIDS test required. The
United States suspended diplomatic and consular operations in Iraq in 1990.
Since February 1991, U.S. passports are not valid for travel in, to, or
through Iraq without authorization from the Department of State.
Application for exemptions to this restriction should be submitted in
writing to Passport Services, Attn: CA/PPT/PAS, U.S. Department of State,
1111 19th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20524. Attention: U.S. citizens need
a Treasury Dept. license in order to engage in any transactions related to
travel to and within Iraq. Before planning any travel to Iraq, U.S.
citizens should contact the Licensing Division, Office of Foreign Assets
Control, Department of the Treasury, 1331 G St., N.W., Washington, D.C.
20220 (202/622-2480). For more visa information, contact the Iraqi
Interests Section, 1801 P Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036

[This one doesn't even have a hope of finding assistance in the US. It
doesn't even list the UN MIssion...]
KOREA, DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF (North Korea) - *Passport and visa
=2E.. The United States currently does not maintain diplomatic or consular
relations with North Korea. Visa information must be obtained from a
consulate in a country that maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea.

[Interesting restriction on students, and the only one that requires
foreigners to register with the police]
MONGOLIA - *Passport and visa required. Transit visa for stay up to 7 days
requires copy of onward ticket, visa for next destination and $35 fee.
Tourist visa for up to 30 days requires confirmation from Mongolian Travel
Agency (Zhuulchin) and $45 fee. Business visa requires letter from company
stating purpose of trip and invitation from Mongolian organization and fee.
Submit 1 application form, 1 photo, itinerary and prepaid envelope for
return of passport by certified or special delivery mail. AIDS test
required for students and anyone staying longer than 3 months; U.S. test
accepted. All foreigners are required to be registered with the Civil
Registration Information Center Police Department in Mongolia upon arrival
regardless of duration of stay and are warned to do so in order to avoid
any inconveniences they may face upon departure. For additional information
contact the Embassy of Mongolia, 2833 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.
20007 (202/333-7117) or the UN Mission of Mongolia, 6 East 77th St., New
York, NY 10021 (212/861-9460). Internet address:

[None too friendly to casual tourists...]
NAURU - *Passport, visa, onward/return ticket and sponsorship from a
resident in Nauru required. For more information contact the Consulate of
the Republic of Nauru in Guam: Ada Professional Bldg., Marine Dr. 1st
=46loor, Agana, Guam 96910 (671/649-7106 or 7107).

Then there's a list of "lesser-known" (i.e. unpopular or inaccessible)
National Parks & Monuments:

Devils Postpile National Monument
Three Rivers, CA 93271
(209) 565-3456

Hot lava cooled and cracked 900,000 years ago to form basalt columns 40
to 60 feet high. These resemble a giant pipe organ. Crossed by the John
Muir Trail between Yosemite and Kings Canyon National Parks. Monument
created from Inyo National Forest lands. Hiking, fishing, camping,
horseback riding, picnicking, interpretive talks, small visitor center.

Location Reached by a 16-mile drive from U.S. 395. Shuttle bus operates
from Minaret Summit to the monument in summer (nominal fee).

Accommodations Meals and lodging in Mammoth Lakes, 13 miles, or Reds
Meadow, 4 miles.

[Here's a well-named site:]
Big Hole National Battlefield
Box 237, Wisdom, MT 59761
(406) 689-3155

Site of turning point in Indian War of 1877, between Nez Perce and U.S.
7th Infantry. Visitor center, museum, exhibits, self-guiding trail
through battlefield, picnicking. Forest Service and private campgrounds

[Here's a memorial to uncivil engineering, if we ever make it to Plastic For=
Johnstown Flood National Memorial
P.O. Box 355, St. Michael, PA 15951
(814) 495-4643

Memorializes tragic Johnstown Flood of 1889, caused by break in South
=46ork Dam on Little Conemaugh River tributary. Visitor center at dam
site. interpretive talks during summer months, interpretive trails,
picnic facilities.

Location Along U.S. 219 and Pa. 869 at the South Fork Dam site, 10 miles
northeast of Johnstown near St. Michael, Pa.

[Something for Clinton to look forward to:]
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
P.O. Box 1088, Greeneville, TN 37744
(615) 638-3551

Home, tailor shop, and grave of 17th President of United States,
1865-69. Includes Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. Visitor center,
museum, tailor shop, Andrew Johnson Home.

Location In Greeneville, Tenn., 70 miles northeast of Knoxville, Tenn.

[Another fine site for a FoRKcon...]
Big South Fork National River
and Recreation Area Drawer 630, Oneida, TN 37841
(615) 879-3625

Scenic portion of Cumberland Plateau bisected by Big South Fork of
Cumberland River. Stretches of relatively placid water and of
whitewater, sandstone cliffs, natural arches, waterfalls, diverse
hardwood and coniferous forests. Visitor center, campground, picnic
area, hiking and horse trails, scenic overlooks, canoeing, rafting,
hunting, fishing, birdwatching.

Location On Kentucky-Tennessee border between U.S. 27 and 127, 75 miles
northwest of Knoxville, Tenn. Visitor center 9 miles west of Oneida, on
Leatherwood Ford Road.

[An obviously out-of-this-world experience, even if it isn't obvious what
there is to appreciate about it:]
Craters of the Moon National Monument
Box 29, Arco, ID 83213
(208) 527-3257

=46issure eruptions, volcanic cones, craters, lava flows, caves, and other
volcanic phenomena. Douglas-fir, limber pine, and sagebrush-grassland
communities. Visitor center, picnicking, self-guiding trails, nature
trail, naturalist activities. Museum depicts volcanic formations,
plants, animals, and history of the park.

Location The monument is 18 miles southwest of Arco, on U.S. 20, 26, and

The COMPLETE National Parks list is online in PDF form, though. Very handy

Tips on using your Credit Cards abroad:

"The Fair Credit Billing Act does apply to overseas purchases, which is
one reason why you may choose to pay by credit card instead of cash or
check. "

"Where will you stay? A four-star hotel in Manhattan may mean something
very different than a four-star hotel in Moscow." -- Yeah, NYC would be
cheaper! (at least when this booklet was written three years ago...)

The booklet's provenance is extremely interesting:
"One in a series published by the ConsumerCard Information Service of the
American Express Company. Created in cooperation with the American
Society of Travel Agents, National Association of Consumer Agency
Administrators, and the Consumer Information Center, GSA."

All of a sudden it's clear how many of these booklets get printed: industry
and state lobbying.

Here's a 1980 guide that's not too useful in text form: "Stars in Your
Eyes, A Guide to the Northern Skies"

The classic publication, in my book, is Fly-Rights, a summary of the laws
surrounding scheduled airline service:

"Contrary to popular belief, airlines are not required to compensate
passengers whose flights are delayed or canceled. As discussed in the
chapter on overbooking, compensation is required by law only when you
are bumped from a flight that is oversold. Airlines almost always refuse
to pay passengers for financial losses resulting from a delayed flight.
If the purpose of your trip is to close a potentially lucrative business
deal, to give a speech or lecture, to attend a family function, or to be
present at any time-sensitive event, you might want to allow a little
extra leeway and take an earlier flight. In other words, airline delays
and cancellations aren't unusual, and defensive counter- planning is a
good idea when time is your most important consideration."

The Warsaw treaty in general sticks in my craw: the valuations in there
($20/kilo for baggage, $75,000 for death) are not indexed and have been
dwindling away in value as airlines lobby governments not to reopen it.

=46rom the MISCELLANEOUS office...

Year 2000 and You. Describes some of the possible effects if computers
cannot read the year 2000 (Y2K), and how this could disrupt the workplace,
services and equipment you use. 2 pp. (1998. GSA) 601F.
http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/misc/y2k/y2knu.pdf [This is almost
entirely useless, other than pointing at y2k.gov (which, in turn, promotes
a new hotline at 1-888-USA-4-Y2K) -- and the hilariously named GSA Office
of Governmentwide Policy.]

Antitrust Enforcement and the Consumer:
http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/misc/antitrust/antitrus.htm Pro- Ann
Bingaman political pamphlet praising the process:
"Effective antitrust enforcement requires public support. Public ignorance
and apathy can weaken antitrust enforcement more than anything else.
Whether you are a business person or a consumer, if you encounter business
behavior that seems to violate the antitrust laws, do not hesitate to
inform the enforcement agencies of your suspicions. That is often the only
way violations can be uncovered, and failing to uncover and punish
antitrust violations not only penalizes consumers and taxpayers but also
penalizes the vast majority of honest businesspeople who scrupulously
observe the antitrust laws."

"If you detect an antitrust violation, you can perform a triple public
service: (1) you can help put an end to unlawful conduct that is costing
consumers millions or even billions of dollars; (2) you can put money in
the form of criminal penalties into the federal treasury; and (3) you can
help recover other unlawful charges, because the government or affected
consumers may bring an antitrust action to collect damages."

Online Scams. Con artists are now using the Internet to "sell" bogus
stocks, investment opportunities, and "free" trips. Learn what to look out
for and what to do about it. 2 pp. (1995. FTC)377E. 50=A2.
"* Overstated claims of product effectiveness. Use of hype titles and
frequent use of the word "hot" to describe an investment opportunity can
indicate a scam.
* Exaggerated claims of potential earnings or profit.
* Claims of "inside" information.
* Pump and Dump promotions of cheap stocks promising high returns.
* Promotions for exotic investments such as ostrich farming, gold mining,
or wireless cable TV. "

"The United States is now the only industrialized country in the world that
does not use the metric system as its predominant system of measurement."

"In 1875, the United States solidified its commitment to the development of
the internationally recognized metric system by becoming one of the
original seventeen signatory nations to the Treaty of the Meter."

"The Treaty of the Meter, also known as the "Metric Convention,"
established the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) in
S=E8vres, France, to provide standards of measurement for worldwide use." [H=

Links to national policy on metrification, SI units, and sovereign
representation: http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/bibliography.html ,
http://www.bipm.fr/enus/welcome.html. They publish a journal, Metrologia...
must be fun reading.

"The [US Metric] Board was charged with "devising and carrying out a broad
program of planning, coordination, and public education, consistent with
other national policy and interests, with the aim of implementing the
policy set forth in this Act." The efforts of the Metric Board were largely
ignored by the American public, and, in 1981, the Board reported to
Congress that it lacked the clear Congressional mandate necessary to bring
about national conversion. Due to this apparent ineffectiveness, and in an
effort to reduce Federal spending, the Metric Board was disestablished in
the fall of 1982." -- [Neat! the use of the word 'disestablish' in a

"Many new NASA projects are being designed and built to metric
specifications. Most design and construction of Federal Government
buildings and facilities is now being done in metric units. " --[ Many?
Most? And this was written in 1997?!]

"The Commerce Department's Metric Program works with the member agencies of
the Interagency Council on Metric Policy to identify and help remove
barriers that may stand in the way of metric conversion in federal and
state/local rules, standards, codes, and regulations." -- [A worthy goal,
but what structure does its work take? An emergency hotline when someone
smells a yard? An example of bureaucratic nomenclature at its finest: give
'em an inch... :-]

This pamphlet makes me **very** proud to be an American. Bureaucracy can be
used for good...
http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/fed_prog/foia/foia.htm -- Q&A about the
=46reedom of Information and Privacy Acts. Not, of course, as proud as EU
citizens are to be European, of course: the same bureaucracy basically
applies to private businesses there, too.

Civil War at a Glance. This color map illustrates and briefly describes
major Civil War battle campaigns. (1995. DOI) 134F. $1.25. Uses color JPG
maps to illustrate the flow of war. Easliy matches Tufte's standards...

High Earning Workers Who Don't Have a Bachelor's Degree. Lists more than
100 occupations requiring less than a college degree. 8 pp. (1995. DOL)
104F. $1.00. http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/employ/bachdeg/bach_deg.txt

"some small occupations in which workers
have high earnings are not listed; among these are elevator installer
and air traffic controller. "

--- Table 2
Workers with less than a bachelor's degree and usual weekly
earnings of $700 or more, by occupation, 1993

(thousands)*** Percent

Total 9,269 17

Electrical and electronic engineers** 81 67
Industrial, mechanical, and all other engineers** 165 60
Computer system analysts and scientists** 108 56
Computer programmers 107 54

** A bachelor's degree is usually required for entry. Those without a
degree may have entered the occupation when requirements were lower or
may be in the limited number of positions that do not require a degree.

Here's a patriotic spin on bureaucracy:
"The U.S. Government is the Nation's largest single employer. But if
you're job hunting, don't think of Uncle Sam in singular terms. About 3
million Federal workers are spread out among more than 100 Government
departments, agencies, commissions, bureaus, and boards. You simply
cannot send an application to a single Government entity and be
considered for every job that exists."

"Now, the political positions that exist, about 3,000 jobs at the
top, are reserved for those who work closely with Cabinet members and
the President. So unless you're a friend of the President or a friend of
a friend, you'll have to get your Government job on your own."

[Here's affirmative action for you:]
" You will receive a Notice of Results within a few days of your test
date. Your performance on the exam is boiled down to a numerical score,
called a rating. Passing scores range from 70 to 100. (Veterans with a
passing grade receive an extra 5 points; disabled veterans, an extra 10

[Only 5% of the nation's workforce has to have a clue??]
"Because of their job requirements, Federal workers have higher
language and math skills, on average, than does the labor force as a
whole. For example, some 16 percent of all Federal jobs--more than three
times the national rate--require employees to read scientific or
technical journals, financial reports, legal documents, or other
materials. Algebra, statistics, trigonometry, and calculus are also
required for a large proportion of Federal jobs. About 31 percent of
=46ederal workers are college graduates, compared with less than 25
percent for the labor force as a whole."

"Have you tried to find an answer to
a simple question about the Federal
Government and ended up on a
merry-go-around of referrals? Or
have you ever had a question about
the Federal Government that was so
difficult that you didn't know where to begin?

The Federal Information Center's specially
selected and trained staff can answer your
questions or direct you to the appropriate

Simply dial 800-688-9889

The Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
local time, except for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in
Alaska and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hawaii."

enough for now... rohit