Monday, October 29, 2007

tah dah

I'm here.


I'm soooo tired, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

adios, au-revoir, aufwiedersehen

I leave for Bahrain Sunday night. I have a 14 hour flight to Dubai, a 4 hour layover, and just over an hour later I arrive in Manama. Quite tired, I'm sure - which will be good as it'll be almost midnight local.

Things have been a tad busy this week. After 10 months of software development, my trip to Bahrain was finally approved - last Tuesday. I had plane tickets on Wednesday. Good thing I have a valid passport. The trip is scheduled for 3 weeks, I'll be getting home Nov. 20th. At least that's the current plan. I have 3 weeks to completely convert the data from their systems into mine, train the staff in two plants and the front office and support them after going live. I wouldn't be surprised if I wind up staying longer.

While I'm sure I'll be working long hours, especially at first, I hope to find time to explore. I'm quite looking forward to it. I haven't been able to find out much in the way of local landmarks, I'm hoping local plant management can help with that. At any rate, I'll be able to drink some european beer again. It's been 20 years since I've had a real Amstel.

I will be staying in some apartments the company rents for visitors. I think I'm expected to cook my own supper. All that way to eat ramen. But I won't have to clean up after myself, I've been told there's maid service. I sure as hell don't get that here.

We've spent all day getting ready. Did some last minute shopping. Spent the rest of the day doing laundry. And mowing the lawn. And changing the oil in Laura's car. And playing with the dog. All necessary pre-trip activities. And the most important is sitting on the kitchen counter with two glasses and a corkscrew beside it. Better get to it, can't go unprepared.

Friday, October 19, 2007

angry, moi?

Last week I did an interview post with questions from liv. The first question she asked was did anything bring out the meanie in me. I've been thinking about that question since then, but in a slightly different way than I originally did. I rephrased the question to ask myself - Do I get angry. Some people get angry and then get mean. I still maintain I don't get mean, but I do get angry occasionally. so, I thought I'd answer the question again - this time addressing what makes me angry.

Before I start, I want to make the distinction that I do not equate being upset at being angry. People who know me (in the flesh, so to speak - or IRL in internet speak) sometimes mistake me being angry when I'm really just upset. And I can understand it, as both look and sound similar - to a degree. And being upset sometimes leads to being angry.

One more thing - the older I get, the more I tend to rant (like I just did over here). that is neither me being upset or me being angry. It is just me wondering what the hell is wrong with people today can't they just get with the program and by the way I have the best program. So there.

I was gently nudged after the interview post that they had seen me angry, but thought it justified and therefore didn't really call me on it. But that started me thinking about the anger part of the question. It has been bugging me, ergo this post.

I get upset when I see injustice. I get angry when I experience it. Sometimes I get over it, and sometimes I don't. Here on the internet, you don't get to see me get angry much, as I walk away from what makes me angry and come back when I'm over it. I also avoid most hot button issues (be they political or religious or whatever) because they tend to be polarizing and I don't see any point it. I'm not going to change a Bush hater into a Bush lover or visa-versa, an athiest into a fundamentalist, or visa-versa. Express your opinion on a ballot or in a pew. Or not. But not here.

Anyway - I get angry and I get over it, or I don't.

An example of when I get angry and get over it: I read A LOT of blogs written by women. I'd say 90+%. I have always had an easier time making friends with women than with men, and my blog reading habits follow. I occasionally get angry when I see statements in these blogs and their comments about sisterhood, or motherhood, or women unite, or how much better their lives would be if they lived in a creche with other mothers, or once or twice how much better the world would be if women were running things, etc. I get angry because - I'm a guy. It immediately makes me feel that I've been insulted, that I'm not wanted, that I'm not of sufficient caliber to belong - it makes me feel unwelcome. I get defensive - not all guys are jerks, it isn't a solely male perogative to be a bad parent or a bad marital partner, or bad whatever. I take it personally. But I get over it. A couple of times I've left comments to the effect that PEOPLE are bad or good, are nurturers or insensitive louts, are good parents or not - these negative traits aren't solely the male purview. But most of the time I just don't say anything because - especially of the women who've I've read for a long time - I know that they do (sometimes having to be prompted) acknowledge that assholery is not limited to the male half of the population. I just let it go.

An example of getting angry and not letting it go: A few of you know that 3 years ago my son attempted suicide. He was in his first semester of college and living with my parents. They had gone out of town for a long weekend and came home to find my son had been throwing up all over the house, was passed out on the bed and they couldn't hardly wake him up. They called me and I came and got him and took him to the doctor. His doctor had us take him to the ER. The short story is that the doctor and the hospital assumed that he was a drug addict and this was an overdose - because his asthma meds showed a false positive for amphetamines on a broad spectrum drug test. Even though his tests clearly showed that his condition was caused by an excess of tylenol. (He came within a hairsbreadth of permanently damaging his liver or even losing it). What made me really really angry was that after a few days when he was lucid and he told the doctor what he OD'd on, his doctor refused to give a referral to psychiatric help because he felt that drug addicts did not do well in mental heath treatment. A few weeks after my son got out of the hospital I finally convinced the doctor to give him the referral (which my insurance required) but only if he passed a urinalysis to show he wasn't using. I am still angry as I write this, it burns deep inside me. I have no respect at all for this doctor and have lost a good measure of respect for doctors in general. I can find no excuse for him not only giving up on my son, but not even wanting to cooperate with me on me getting him the help he so desperately needed.

Most things I can shake off. I flare for a moment and then get over it and forget it. When I wrote my response to Liv's question I really had forgotten about the times when I'd left a snarky comment or rant on someones' blog. I started remembering them and here we are.

Monday, October 15, 2007

4's meme

in the interest of responding to at least one of the meme's I was tagged for (by the same @#$% blogger, but she's forgiven in the interest of blogger harmony and lower blood pressure) I'll repeat this one (as it's easier than the other!).

Four jobs I've held

a. grocery store general dogsbody/assistant
b. tree & limb general dogsbody/assistant
c. fish camp kitchen assistant
d. farm hand

Four films I could (do) watch over and over
a. Mr. Hulot's Holiday
b. North by Northwest
c. Young Frankenstein
d. Bringing up Baby

Four TV shows I watch
a. My Name Is Earl
b. The Daily Show
c. How It Is Made
d. Holmes on Homes

Four places I've lived
a. Monterey, CA
b. Glen Burnie, MD
c. San Rafael, CA
d. Ocean Springs, MS

Four favorite foods
a. falafel
b. my wife's meatloaf
c. german brotchen
d. peach nehi

Four websites I visit daily
a. earthlink email portal
b. the Houston Chronicle comics page
c. the New York Times
d. The Morning News

Four favorite colors
a. blue
b. depends on what it is and where it is as to what color I would like it to be.

Four places I would love to be right now
a. the beach
b. the mountains
c. on a mission to mars
d. on a cruise on the Nile

Four names I love but wouldn't/couldn't use for your children
a. Brittany Kay
b. Mephistopheles
c. Genevieve
d. butros butros ghali

Four last books you read
a. Tales of Ten Worlds, Arthur C. Clark
b. Lamb, Christopher Moore
c. Mr. Moto's Three Aces, John P. Marquand
d. Going Postal, Terry Pratchett

As per usual, I tag no one, and everyone - who cares to participate.

Friday, October 12, 2007

....begins with the fist step

Poor internets, I am neglecting you so. Things are getting busy around here, my oft-postponed trip to Bahrain is actually rapidly approaching. The travel dates haven't been selected, but all the preparation will be completed by the end of this month, so sometime in November......

It's looking like I will be gone for about 4 weeks and will probably repeat next spring (in between a trip to Pakistan will probably occur). So, I'm busy looking at visa requirements, getting an international driver's license (haven't had one of those in 17 years), checking for immunization requirements, reading up on the area, brushing up my arabic, etc. I'm having a difficult time concentrating on other things -like posting on my blog. I do take occasional breaks to read your blogs, though - all work, no play drives Bob nuts.

I did play a little last weekend, I went to Mountain Day. This is an annual celebration of the birthday of the founder of Berry College - Martha Berry. I meet my best friend (and roommate while there) almost every year there and we putz around, looking to see if we recognize anyone and walk around the main campus to see what's changed. The trip is mostly an excuse to spend some time with him, the college has changed so much and although it is a beautiful as ever (there's a slide-show like banner on the link above and here's a link to other pictures) every year I feel more and more detached from the school itself. I guess it's a combination of the changes there as well as the additional years of separation from who I was then vs. who I am now. So, less nostalgia, more how're things going (with beer and natchos) and a good time was had by all.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Liv's Interview

Liv over at Madness, Madness I Say offered to extend the 5 question interview meme to those who volunteered and despite my military background (the first thing they teach you in basic is NEVER volunteer for anything. look what happened the last time you raised your hand.....) I raised my hand.

1) You remind me of that line in "As Good As It Gets," where Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall says to Helen Hunt, "in every single thought that you have, [and how] you say what you mean, and [how] you almost always mean something that's all about being straight and good." Is there ever a time where some inner "meanie" comes out? What is Bob's break point?

This is a difficult question as I rarely find myself in a confrontational situation (i.e. - a fight or knock down, drag out argument). I have A LOT of patience, I don't like to hurt other people's feelings, and I can usually find a way to see the other person's viewpoint even if I don't agree with it. So I rarely find myself in a situation where I want to deliberately hurt someone. Something happened years ago that has helped me develop this. The kids were maybe 4, and 5. I was in a particularly bad depressive cycle and they were doing something or another that really annoyed me and I snapped - I yelled at them. I have a very loud voice. I scared the hell out of them and I could see that. It about crushed me, seeing what my selfishness and lack of control did to them. I am so very ashamed of that. That was 15, 16 years ago and it still hurts. These days, I do my best to keep from putting myself in the position of reaching that breaking point.

I asked Laura if she remembered the last time I was mean to someone and all she could come up with was sometime recently I was on the phone with our help desk - one of the plants had called them with a problem and they called me late one night - she said that, while I wasn't rude, I was plainly annoyed. The situation wasn't a real emergency and it was late and the problem was something they had been trained to handle and this was someone who should've known better. I try not react like that because I want them to feel free to call me so that when they have a real problem they'll call instead of attempting to handle it themselves - and probably make it worse.

***edited to add*** Meno has reminded me of an incident! I left a rude comment on her blog, but immediately deleted it. The person I made the comment about never saw it, but Meno did. So I apologized to Meno. I am glad that it wasn't seen by the intended recipient, it wouldn't have accomplished anything except engender ill feelings.

2) You've danced around some dicey situations at work which led to some darker posts in midsummer. Where are you with that? Can you say?

While being as honest as I know how to be here, I don't mention specifics out of a ?misguided? sense of discretion. So, without directly naming the company I work for, I work for a textile manufacturing firm that had, as recently as 5 years ago, over 30 plants. 15 years ago, over 40. This company has been closing them down and, like most textiles today, is sourcing goods from overseas. We have 10 plants now, 2 of which are closing and 3 more of which are rumored to close by end of 1st quarter next year. Plain and simple, it is driving me nuts. I HATE that all of these people are being put out of work. Thousands of them. The system I support is used in all of our plants, so I personally know 10-20 people at each plant that have lost their jobs. Some of them with 20, 30, and some even 40 or more years with this company (and it's predecessors). I hate that the goods we are buying are (not always, but usually) of inferior quality that what we produced domestically. I hate that I've been here 17 years and am being forced to consider that I will soon have to look for another job. (soon = next year?, 18 months? 24 months?) So, the dicey situation at work is me being unhappy. I am dealing with it. I am doing my best to keep what is left of the company competitive, within the limits of what I control.

3) Beyond what the post of music selections in your last post, what are you listening to these days? Is there any new band or singer that's doing it for you?

I don't buy a lot of music when it comes out. For example, it took me 4 years to buy Black Eyed Peas album Elephunk, but it's in my CD player right now. Another older album I've bought recently and have been listening to a lot is Moby - Hotel. It is a two disc set, one of which is ambient - the one I usually listen to. I scanned the Bilboard charts to see if there was anyone there who I listen to/like and there are a few - Nickelback, Pink, and Matchbox Twenty are all groups I like. A group new to me is Plain White T's. I really like their single Hey There Delilah, I've heard it on the radio a good bit and I'd like to hear more of their stuff. But my most recent acquisition is an album I've wanted for years and could never find. It is listed on the music post, but since it is my most recent obsession I'll mention it here - The soundtrack to the Gene Wilder/Richard Prior movie Silver Streak. I LOVE IT. (the movie too!) I am a big, big, big Henry Mancini fan. As it turns out the soundtrack never had been released by the studio nor Henry Mancini, which is why I couldn't find it. Until now. I finally found it on an obscure label who's purpose is to find and release soundtracks such as this. The last album before this that I bought and played incessantly was Green Day's American Idiot. As it happens, their album Nimrod is in my wife's car's CD player right now.

4) A quote attributed to you is, "I will tell you that your supper was excellent even if I had trouble choking it down." (ahem.) If I were cooking dinner for you, what would be the perfect meal in your estimation?

ahem yourself! I like trying new food, finding out about dishes other people like and then seeing for myself. When I travel I like to find what the local specialties are and give them a go. If I get to go to Philadelphia I intend to visit the home of the philly cheese steak (Pat's AND Geno's). If I get to go to Chicago I intend to find the home of the deep-dish pizza - Pizzeria Uno. Etc., etc., you get the idea. So, the perfect meal for you to fix for me would be......a meal of your absolute favorite dishes. I would help make them and you would tell me as we eat why they mean so much to you, which would make it even more special.

5) Crete, huh? I'm pretty passionate about Greece, and am wondering what you think is so magical about the country that those who have spent any amount of time there hold the memories as delicately as a basket of peacock eggs.

A lot of what made Greece magical for us was - us. We lived on Crete for two years, moving there during our first year of marriage. Those first few years of marriage are an intense time for a couple and "things" mean so much. Also, both our kids were born there. Instead of Laura going to Germany to have the kids in an american military hospital and me quite possibly not able to be there, we decided to have them in a local maternity clinic. I was there. Aside from us, and more directly answering your question - One reason would be the people. We lived on the second story of a two story house, the owner lived downstairs. They involved us in their lives. One evening I had just gone to bed (I had a day shift coming up and had to be up at 5:00) when the owner's wife came knocking on the door and invited us down, their daughter had just got engaged and they were throwing a party. There were 30 or so people there, both families as well as friends and neighbors from the village, including their priest. They asked that we and the babies come down to join them. Oh - Greek people LOVE children. They are a family people. Everywhere we went, the women wanted to hold the babies, asking us their names, how old they were, etc. etc. We were flying home for a visit and were in the airport in Athens. There were a ton of the typical Greek old women there - you know, black shawl, black scarf over their head, black skirt, clunky black shoes - and we joined the line. It wasn't a minute before they started coming up, wanting to see our baby - he was passed from woman to woman all over they airport lobby. Wherever we traveled on the island, we found the Greek people to be warm, out-going, and hospitable. They'd invite you in, break out the raki, or that wickedly strong coffee - don't drink to the bottom of the cup or you'll get coffee mud. In addition to the people, the country is beautiful. You've seen the pictures. And history is all around you. The Minoans were sailing the mediterranean about 5 thousand years ago. There is some minor contention about whether the minoans influenced the egyptians or the egyptians the minoans. Everywhere you turn is something a few thousand years old - the palace at Knossos, the legendary home of the minotaur and the original labyrinth, as an example.

I am sure that this is not unique to Greece, but I haven't visited anyplace yet that matches it.

I am also sure that anyone's experience of anywhere they go is what they make of it. There were some people there when we were that hated it. I invariably find that when discussing traveling or living in other parts of the world someone will say that they didn't like it and then list their grievances. I've lived in a good handful of places here in the states and in a few overseas, and while there are some places I wouldn't necessarily want to live again, there was always something about every place that I liked.

Monday, October 01, 2007

the solstice has slipped

I was getting ready for work this morning and went into the bathroom to take a shower. This being a getting-on-for 70 year-old house we have no central A/C and so the bathroom window is kept open - in a futile attempt at a little air circulation. I started to shiver a bit in the morning coolness and ran a hot shower. I got into the shower, stepped into the water stream and that WONDERFUL feeling of hot water enveloping me, the initial sting of heat and then the relaxing warmth ran through me and I realized - this was my first hot shower since, what, March? April at the latest. I actually had to turn the hot water faucet further than a centimeter.

Fall might just have fallen.