Sunday, March 18, 2018

A Fish In An Ocean Of Beauty

Over a long number of years Wife and I have gradually worked on our home and yard. When we bought our home 17 years ago, we did so because of its location close to the mountains. The house was nice but not spectacular.

But Wife had a vision. No that's not right. She had a feeling. It was a feeling that there was a state of beauty that could bring joy and contentment to us. There was no plan to speak of. Just this feeling, and this commitment.

Gradually the change to the environment started. At first small changes at first like skylights and a new fireplace. Then the big, more robust ones. Adding another floor, redoing our kitchen and adding a room that connected our inside and outside. Then redoing our backyard. Each of these changes was done with Wife's eye for beauty, for enhancing our environment. Then there were little enhancements, decorating, getting pictures, certain furniture. Tweaks.

The result beauty. Beauty that surrounds us each day. Beauty that we can see of our world around us seeing the mountains and city that are our home. There is a tendency for things to become commonplace. What was once spectacular now just becomes part of the background. But being part of the background does not mean unappreciated. For us it means that all through the day you are drawn to the beauty. You go by a window and see the spectacular sunset. You eat breakfast and admire the hardscape and landscape. You open the blinds and see the mountains. You walk between rooms and catch the arrangement of the furniture the pictures, the view the sweeps from one room into another.

It's as if beauty has become the entire environment, an environment the enriches and nourishes.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Like A Well Oiled Machine

That's the de-I Travel and Work life these days.  I'd related a few posts ago that the whole new travel planning process was working like a charm. We've just about finished all the final details related to day tours we want to do in various places. Have all our photo and food experiences lined up. This trip is going to take us to Israel, Jordan, Greece and Turkey.

I have to say that one thing that has surprised me in our planning has been the almost universal lack of customer service in Israel at least during this the planning phase. Whether it is Airbnb listings that are woefully incomplete and inaccurate, tour operators that don't have accurate information, people who respond to requests with completely different information than what was requested, the general impression is way different than let's say Greece where the level of information and response is superb. Maybe Israel is just more oriented toward large tour groups. Everyone I know who has gone there has gone as part of some kind of organized group. Anyway I will try to keep my mind open.

Work equally is cruising along. I have this one job with a major national trade group that required a lot of writing (not my usual just talk and pontificate gig). But I have a colleague who is a professional writer and she has made the project go lightning fast. In fact I think the hours we work on this will be way below what I budgeted (and we are on a fixed price Yay!) All the rest of my projects are going so well, that I've decided I'd better start marketing again. At least get the pipeline going so I have something in the hopper for when I return.

For the first year in three years because of our change in travel timing, we are in Albuquerque for March and most of April. It is kind of nice to see Spring bursting forth here.

AND the camera divorce is final! Wife is getting another Olympus. Bye bye Nikkon. This will reduce our weight substantially and reduce duplication of lenses. We were pissed off to find however that the new Olympus uses a different battery than the one I am using. So we still need to bring two battery chargers.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Travel Planning Fiend!

Ah to be in one's own element. To be able to use all the skills and wiles to best advantage.

Decided this last weekend, I was going to finish up the vast majority of our reservations for our next travel extravaganza. Too early to unveil exactly where we are going but I will tell you that we will be in five countries and will have ten cities as bases. We will have our usual mix of city stays, car/driver guided touring, self-driving periods, food tours and cooking classes and photo workshops.

Absolutely the new planning process has reduced the amount of work required. We reached a consensus on what we wanted to do much quicker. We used the new resource, TourHQ, for the first time and have ended up booking three different aspects of our trip. We'll see how they all turn out and if this is a good resource for us going forward.

Our trip is going to be dominated by Airbnb stays. In two of the countries we are exclusively using Airbnb. In the other two we are doing private tours with accommodation done in conjunction with our TourHQ acquired guide. Booking all the Airbnb stays took the most amount of time. This left us with five air reservations to make, finishing negotiations on one country where we're using TourHQ, figuring out a tricky transfer where there is no easy way to get from point A to Point B, and getting various visas and pre purchased country wide passes.

I am proud to say it was all done this weekend. A few minor things to still book and we'll be ready to go. D-Day is April 24. Having all this done now means I can focus on work. In my lust to make up the funds for this trip, I've gotten a little too enthusiastic and now have a bunch of new clients. I wish I could just do the selling and get the clients and have someone else do the work 😁

All I can say is that I am ready to be out in the world and traveling again!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

de-I Corrupt! Fake News I Say!

We all have our bhav. In the yogic path I follow, the describe one's bhav as all the intangible aspects of your life that kind of make you, you. This would be the way you walk and talk, your mannerisms, the various things that happen over and over that are just part of who you are (think of tendencies for various things to happen that don't really make sense but just seem to happen again and again).

Part of my bhav is the on-going saga of my various electronic devices - both hardware and software - having mysterious problems. I used to get all upset about it and call tech people. But now I find when I go to Internet search any particular problem and come back with nothing, that it's just to be expected.

So when my iPhone 6s which is not that old started to have battery problems and not holding a charge, I didn't even fight it for a moment. I just went and got a new one. "Ah" I thought, "I have been a good trusty Apple user and I just backed up my phone yesterday so with the vaunted Apple fast restore program, I will have my new phone up and running in no time."

Get home. Connect the phone to the computer. Hit the button to restore...and get the error message...
                                          Your back-up is corrupted restore cannot be completed

What the bleep are you talking about? Didn't my chief of staff do a security clearance on that stupid back-up? That back-up wasn't even a part of my main team. It sure the hell shouldn't be implicating me and preventing my restore.

Unfortunately my computer was having none of this. So I have had to input again all my app passwords and account numbers. I've had to reenter my calendar (which wasn't so bad since there wasn't much on it going forward. But the biggest bitch is the loss of my contacts. I won't go into the whole bhav related problem of being on a MAC desktop Outlook system and trying to synch with an iPhone but there is no easy way to do it.

It seems like the world has bigger issues to deal with than going after some two-bit corrupt back-up.

Monday, February 26, 2018

An Efficient Hospital? Really?

Last Thursday Wife had her gall bladder removed...a not uncommon procedure especially among women. It is outpatient surgery. Given my experience with having organs removed from one's body, I was a bit skeptical about that. But the surgeon said the gall bladder is just a balloon really that holds bile from the liver and doesn't have a whole lot of blood vessels and other stuff connected to it so is much less invasive to get out.

Wife had researched surgeons her primary physician had recommended and found one she like that worked at a hospital close by...except he didn't. He worked at one that is completely on the opposite end of town. The hospital doesn't update its website that frequently.  Her surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM and we were required to be there at 5:30 AM to register and get ready.

What then ensued was one of the more amazing demonstrations of precision I have ever experienced in healthcare. After we checked in we went up to the pre-op lounge. We were almost immediately called in to the pre-op area. We were given maybe five different time points as to when the anesthesiologist would show up, the surgeon, when she would be wheeled to surgery, when surgery would be complete, approximate time she would be out of recovery, and estimated time we would be driving home.

Not only were these times close, they were done to the minute. 7:30 exactly of she goes to surgery. 45 minutes afterward - exactly - the surgeon comes out and tells me everything went well. 30 minutes after that - exactly - I am called back. When we put her in the car and I drove away, it was 9:30 - exactly. Crazy.

And thank you Wife is recovering well and doing fine.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Niece Visits - Gluttony Ensues

Our dearest niece, RMG, came to visit us from her demesnes in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is a lot of guilt associated with our relationship with this niece because many, many years in the past, she had indicated a desire to explore professional cooking at a time that I owned an interest in a restaurant. I suggested at the time that she might try out doing this kind of work before plopping down many tens of thousands of dollars on culinary school.

Here is where our versions of the story go in different directions. I claim that she had the opportunity to find out the realities of this profession. She ultimately got a physics Ph.D. So you make your own conclusion. Her version is that I made vast quantities of profit while exploiting poor naive family members (I do kind of admire the Ferengi ethos).  Be that as it may, she is still a person we love and are honored when she wants to come visit.

Her requests were simple - She wanted green chile, red wine and going outside.

She got:
  • Multiple hikes
  • Cheese omelets with green chile
  • Homemade pasta Cacio e Pepe
  • a 20 year old Rhone wine
  • Homemade gelato
  • Homemade French bread with lots of French ripe cheese
  • An award winning wine from a defunct winery
We had a great time!

Come back soon RMG!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

And On The Joys Of Expert Knowedge

I remember reading an article a long time ago about expert knowledge. The article contended that while many, many types of skills and capabilities diminish with age, one class of skills does not. In fact it just gets better and better with age. This is called expert knowledge. Expert Knowledge is the base of knowledge that comes from one having worked in a particular area of expertise for so long that one develops such a deep experiential base - meaning not just facts but how various patterns work or don't work. This allows a person to understand the logical possibilities for problem-solving in a fraction of the time that it would take a person without that depth of knowledge.

I remember  thinking at the time, "Well at least that's ONE THING to look forward to about the aging process." And of course never really thought about it again. Until the last couple of months.

As I have been going through my renewed enjoyment of the work portion of my transitioned life, I have become aware of these situations where I will be in a meeting, someone brings up a particular subject, problem or challenge and out of my mouth will pour this rather fully formed blast of information that is totally appropriate for what has been brought up. Often I'm rather amazed. It's not that I have to think a lot about these responses. It's as if based upon the stimulus of the question, a door to preformed solutions is opened and they just pop out. And I'll have this realization, "Ah, so this is what they were talking knowledge."

I have to tell you, it feels pretty damn good. Not in an ego way but as the feeling you get whenever you've worked hard at something to the point that the execution of it almost seems effortless. Sort of makes up a bit for the continuous frustrations of one's body going downhill HA!