Sunday, July 5, 2020

Thirteen Years And Counting

It started because we are thinking of having some images painted on the walls of our backyard. So the task was to go look through past blog posts for various images from our travels that might be candidates. Somehow this has morphed into my beginning to go through the entire work of my blog posts.

According to Blogger, I am at 2051 posts and climbing. So far over the first week, I have gotten through 2007 and 2008.  This covers our first significant international trip to a locale different from the comfortable France zone - our Danube trip to Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria - the kidney donation saga, the crash and bad times of 2008 and start of the building of the Tower.

I am struck by a couple of things. Gad I cooked an incredible amount and variety of food back then. And my business travel life was even crazier than I remember it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Perspective

For all of you who feel we are at the end of days, I wrote this post in 2008 when people were freaking totally out. It is just as true today.

Time To Leave

That's how I feel about the United States right now. That it is time to leave. Time to go somewhere and not be engaged in any political activity.

I never, ever thought I would have thoughts like this. I know the incredible blessing it has been to have been born in a country like the U.S. especially now that I have traveled so much of the world, now that I am working with people directly who did not win the birth lottery. So it is with a heavy heart that I have these feelings. But the level of insane partisanship here is leaving me feeling there is no happy outcome for this country of mine.

I mean a significant proportion of our people are making a political statement about wearing face masks? They are threatening to kill people over it? Really? As Wife pointed out if a store can have a rule that says, 'no shirt, no shoes, no service,' and that is not considered taking one's civil rights away, why is requiring a mast doing so?

And then on the other side, we have people in leadership who with a straight face say, "Hey you people who just want to have a normal life, you are horrible human beings for not social distancing. But you people who are demonstrating for a cause and not social distancing, you get a free pass because you are the good ones." What hypocrisy. Either we need to socially distant or we don't. The reason is not relevant.

I am not likely to act on this feeling because I am too committed to my Ghana project and helping those women. That's real. I can see the change it is causing in lives right before my eyes. And that project requires me to be here. So here I will stay. But don't expect me to engage in any meaningful way with our social or political engagement. Because I think it is all a nuthouse.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Joy Of The Long Breakfast

They say one should enjoy the little things in life. Savoring breakfast for me is one of those joys. It is one that of late I rarely get to do.

The nature of my locked-in life with projects covering many time zones and continents is that my meals tend to be hurried affairs during the workweek. To talk to Ghana, I often am in discussions from 5 to 7 am which is 11 to 1 PM in Ghana and then I need to be ready for my normal workday here. Then I bring in the wonderful volunteer effort of #3 in Amsterdam and that covers the lunch hours 12 to 2 (8 to 10 PM in Amsterdam).

Last Saturday while I had work to do, there was nothing pressing. Wife was sleeping late. So I decided I was going to indulge myself with a SLOW breakfast.

Now there is nothing special about the food I prepared. It is one of my regular breakfasts - fruit, cheese, smoked salmon, olives, bread, butter, coffee. But I made each mouthful linger, savoring the flavor. Slowly I make the rounds through the components, enjoying the quiet of our eating room with its wide sliding doors open so I can take in the smells of our garden.

It takes me an entire hour to eat breakfast...the same plate that I sometimes eat in 15 minutes during my normal workweek. It is total bliss.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Growing Like Weeds

The last 30 days have been a rather fantastic time for my small cadre of apprentices, the women of the Theodora Ghana project. As I think I mentioned that the economic circumstances imposed by the pandemic caused us to fast track our Theodora Ghana ladies into initial test clients much faster than we would have preferred.

This was mostly a great leap of faith. I have never done anything like this. The women certainly haven't. And in reality, most of the clients we've started test working with haven't either. Add three components with that much inexperience together and you would suspect a recipe for disaster. Instead what has happened is this incredible incubator for growth.

One of our significant concerns starting Theodora was whether women who were used to the rough and tumble world of sex trade where all parties are totally on their guard to not be taken advantage of could adjust to a standard work environment. And not just any work environment but one that was dictated by the culture they were selling into, the United States whose work culture is very different from Ghana's.

Well, it turns out we need not have worried. The women are lapping up this opportunity with thirst and enthusiasm that is mind-boggling. I won't go into each and every test I am throwing at them, but the rate of personal growth is impressive. Not just their understanding of the specific tasks I am teaching them but their understanding of broader business concepts.

I am putting teeth into our promise that this will become their business one day by bringing them into some of the most fundamental decisions we need to make to get ourselves started up. Just the last two days, we were forced to let go of one of our original six due to a lack of performance. Watching the others go through the analysis, come to the same conclusion, yet want to work out a plan for their cohort to have a second chance was impressive. Especially when you consider I told them they would have to do the work to support her comeback.

It has only been three months since we started. I can only imagine where they are going to be after a year.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Melancholy

One odd blessing that blew in as a result of the pandemic was the arrival of daughter #2 and her family.

You may remember that she has been working in the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine. As the pandemic worsened, the State Department advised employees with families to return to the States and began chartering flights to bring them back. This was terribly unsettling for the families having to leave as they were leaving all their belongings behind with no idea of when they were to return. Then you had to figure out where in the U.S. you were going to go. #2 & 2B because of various factors had decided to stay in Ukraine despite the risk...until suddenly they changed their mind and caught one of the last flights out. And they decided to come to Albuquerque where at least there was some support from Wife and me.

So we have had a lovely three-month period with one of our daughters and family right here. Knowing this would only be a short interlude, we got together on weekends, we initiated regular weekly dinners with the four adults. We had alone time with the various grandchildren. 2B (who enjoys and appreciates good wine) and I shared many a good bottle from my inventory. We did lots of cooking. Wife was reading to 2.4 who is 5-years old over Zoom daily. We did the weekend intervention trip to Durango.

But it is coming to an end. They leave early tomorrow morning for Washington, D.C. #2 has to ship out to her next post in Erbil, Iraq at the end of July. The rest of the family hopes to get back to the Ukraine. We got together every day this week to take full advantage of this last week.

We love that our children are so strong and have taken themselves to where they feel their career and heart belong even if that is far from us. But when one of these very infrequent interludes come up where we have a child and family in a situation where we are like we are living in the same area, we recognize what is missed having your family far away.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

My Transitioned Life - Another COVID-19 Casualty

Despite the fact that things have opened up a bit here in Albuquerque, no one in my circle of business contacts seems particularly in any hurry to actually meet. And with the states around us having opened up faster and now seeing fast rises in cases, the overall feeling is not positive.

But mostly for me, I have been down because I am realizing that travel just isn't going to happen again anytime soon. There are countries that have opened up. But Wife's passport is lost. We think it is in the Ghanaian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Has been since the closures started in March. We haven't been able to reach anyone and get any kind of confirmation.

The combination of no getting out for business and no travel for either business or pleasure has taken away the primary focus of my post-fulltime work life. So I have thrown myself into work projects like JumpStart and Theodora with a result that I'm pretty much working fulltime again.

I know it was my choice to do those projects so please don't lecture me about that. Both are things that are doing a lot of good. But if I was traveling, I would be balancing them even if I was doing the work.