Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Euro 2014 - Amsterdam Family Interlude - 1

It's the plus/minus, yin/yang, good/bad.  You hate having your family so far away.  You love being able to visit your family in places that are interesting and become familiar in their own right. 

We love visiting the #3 family in Amsterdam.  She's been living their for 8 years now and we have gone almost once a year since.  Now when we get there, it isn't so much going as tourists as just visiting a lovely place where you've gotten to know what its differences and pleasures are.

 Family Scenes:

Wife brought 3.1 a tea set which has been a big hit!


Let the Food Begin
(It is a de-I trip after all)

Trip's first frites...and not the last I guarantee

Pizza?  No, Dutch Pancakes.  Like crepes but open faced.  This was a savory one with egg, bacon and cheese.

Introducing 3.2!
She is Sooooo cute
(I am totally unbiased mind you)

We're celebrating Wife's birthday.  3.1 gave her an official birthday crown!

3.2 is a very mellow baby at just a couple of weeks.
We were out for 4 hours without a fuss from her.

Plenty of Grandparental nuggles
(I predict a complete overload of grandparent/3.2 pictures over the next week)


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Euro 2014 - Icelandair Report

This is the start of our nearly six-week European trip...the grand experiment to see if Wife and I can go away for long periods and be happy.

Icelandair Report

I'm sure that I've written in the past that getting anywhere in Europe or Asia from Albuquerque involves a very long flight because Albuquerque is in the middle of nowhere compared to anyplace internationally but Juarez, Mexico and you always have to change planes which, depending on the airline schedule, can mean a long layover on top of the long flight time.  Since Wife and I want our travel to be enjoyable, this translates to our flying business class.  Sine Wife and I don't have money to burn, this means always looking for deals to purchase said business class.  There can be amazing differences on prices depending on when you buy, the route, and the airline.

For this trip I found some OK but not great fares so I decided to check out Icelandair.  They offer significantly lower fares because their routes change planes in Reykjavik, Iceland.  Their is a route that goes from Denver to Amsterdam.  Like our trip to Manila, this required taking Southwest to Denver and rechecking in to Icelandair.

Negatives
  • Had to leave very early from Albuquerque and have a long layover in Denver to make sure we made the Icelandair flight.  The layover in Reykjavik was only an hour but all told it was a 19 hour flight
  • The business class seats on Icelandair are nothing to write home about especially if you've gotten use to the lay flat seats.  They don't even have leg rests.  I had picked out the seats that have the most room from Seat Guru which allowed Wife and I to use our small carry on as a foot rest
Positives
  • The timing works out real well.  It's 8 hours from Denver to Reykjavik, enough time for a reasonable nap (at least as much of a sleep as I'm going to get on any airplane because of arthritis pain issues).  Then it is 3 hours from Reykjavik to Amsterdam, enough time for another nap.  You leave Denver at 5:30 PM and get to Amsterdam at 12:30 PM.  A lot of transatlantic flights have you arriving much earlier with more of the first, jet lagged, day to kill.
  • The food was very good.  A heck of a lot better than meals I've had on United.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Transition 2.0 Looks Like

So when you strip all the ego/attainment reasons for life what are you left with and what do you do with yourself for the next 1 to 20 years (depending on health and luck)?

First, I found out that work was still and important piece because during Transition 1.0 I had done most of stripping out what I didn't like doing.  Unlike those in the employment world, as a self-employed person I've had a lot of freedom to design my work to what I really was good at, liked, and provided self-satisfaction (which is a 'right now' thing, not a long-term 'build it' thing).  With all the bad stuff stripped out and all the empire building stripped out what was left was pretty enjoyable.  Things like coaching and teaching others and helping folks with my expertise.  Plus most of my work is pretty much just sitting down with people and talking.  I guess I should put talking and listening on the list.

I found out that I like to keep learning.  The work I do with my business network group leads me to be in contact with all kinds of younger folk and to be constantly learning.  That's a blessing to be sure.

Work feeds my social life.  Wife and I like to entertain and most of the people we do that with come out of the work circle.

Next I found out that I like to make money.  I don't need money.  But if I make more than I can put it to all kinds of good uses.  That fits nicely with the work piece.

And I found out that I like to close...as in close a sale.  Not do the whole sales process, just the close.  How crazy is that. (Once I found out that , Wife put me to work on closing all the Craigslist listed appliances left over from the remodel.  And she gave me a 20% commission.  Sweet - remember the money thing above).  This tied in nicely with the work especially the business network venture I'm part of.

So there you had it work, helping, coaching/teaching, learning, money, closing.  All things that without any attachment to accomplishment lead to a pretty fun, uplifting experience.

Hiking is a bit of question mark.  The longer hikes I love most are getting harder and harder on my body in terms of recuperation.  So we'll have to see just how much that is going to be.

Traveling.  This trip is our first experiment with staying someplace for longer period of time.  We'll see how that works out.

Think that's about it.

Transition Continues...And Even Achieves Clarity

It has been six months since I last wrote about my transition process.  A lot has happened.

The most important was an epic battle with my ego...no small feat I might add. 

The transitioning of my work life that I described in October still left me with a lot of dissatisfaction.  Accomplishment has been a driving force for me from my earliest days.  I don't know if it was because of upbringing or how I'm wired but trying to prove that I could do certain things has been central to my life.  But as I was going through this transitioning process, I was finding that working in those areas (trying to leave something behind, legacy, continuing my business entity after me) were all the things that were really not working and further more were causing me lots of frustration.  I found that if I was not pushing certain things that I was soon not being noticed...not an uncommon situation in our culture as we age.

This was my frame of mind when we went to Asia in December.  When we arrived in Manila, my daughter and son-in-law were in the process of ending their tour their.  There were lots of going away parties for them.  We had the choice of hanging around the house or going and chose the later.  You learn quickly that among the 30, 40, 50 professional somethings of the world, that as a 60 to 70 year old your experiences really are of no interest.  You might as well be invisible.

During that week something broke inside.  There was a realization that this ego thing I'd been chasing all my life was just fool's gold.  It was a bitter realization.  I've spent some 30+ years in spiritual work to lessen the hold of the ego and I could see my success had been little to none. 

We traveled to Cambodia and Singapore and visited numerous Buddhist temples.  In each the feeling grew culminating at the great temple in Singapore.  My ego had to go.  And knowing how powerful it was I had to kill it, burn it, and send it to the winds.

A postscript - When we got back to the US I was watching a History Channel show about the great industrialists of the 19th century; John Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan.  It told all the fabulous things this very few people had accomplished.  And I thought, "If I wandered the streets today and asked educated people what they knew of these people what would they be able to tell me."  The answer would be very little if anything.  So if these greats are hardly remembered, why should I have any illusion about legacy.  All that is important is what you do...your now.

What's Your Problem? It's Been Almost Four Months

As you know de-I and Wife crave tranquility.  And steadiness.  And dependability.  We like our rhythm, routines and habits.  I mean why else would we go off to Asia and immediately begin a 2 month kitchen/home remodel.  And I might add follow that up with another trip.  This an almost 6 week trip to Europe!

Wife and I are sitting in the Albuquerque International Sunport.  We'll be flying to Denver where we switch airlines and go to Amsterdam.  The first part of our trip is the ritual providing assistance to the newly birthed.

We're trying a new airline this time, Icelandair so we'll let everyone know how it goes.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Welcom 8 of 8 Tertiary Auxilary of the de-I Unimatrix

For those of you who may not be into Star Trek Borg terminology let's put it into more de-I terms...

...Welcome 3.2

That would mean second child to my third child...or the 8th grandchild overall.

3.2 is lovely little lady of 8.5 pounds and we Skyped with her today, the day after her birth.  Both Mom and baby are doing great.  She didn't have much to say but was very alert and looking around.  We are looking forward to meeting her in person.

She's already showing how considerate she's going to be.  She initiated labor in her Mom at around 7:30 AM and was finished 12 hours later.  No late night vigils.  How thoughtful was that!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Did You Know "Salad" Is Code For "Please Rip Me Off"

My trials and tribulations with the restaurant community continue.  One on going melodrama has been how many places treat those of us who would like a salad for our meal.  Somehow I missed the part in the menu where it says, "if you order a salad you want us to rip you off royally."

I was recently at a popular small chain in Albuquerque, The Range, for a business networking meeting.  I have tons of these meal meetings so eating tends to be more damage control than gastronomic experience.  Salad is often my choice.  Rarely is it satisfying.  Wife and I make salad a lot and we have a fine appreciation for the vast variety of vegetables that can be used to make a truly satisfying meal with little protein.  When you eat out your rarely get more than lettuce or spring mix with a few cursory other veggies thrown in.  A lot of time they load up on the proteins which is good unless you're watching the calories.  This time they had an interesting looking special on the menu - a roasted vegetable salad with roasted beets and feta cheese.  I wasn't quite sure why they had highlight the roasted beets separately since they are certainly a 'roasted vegetable'.

As you know from your past calorie counting entries, I measure and weigh our food regularly so I've got a good eye for quantities.  I also do our shopping and have a firm knowledge of prices.  This salad consisted of:
  • Approximately two leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 4  rounds of roasted summer squash
  • 4 rounds of roasted beet
  • About 1/2 a small roasted onion
  • Maybe an ounce of feta cheese.
They charged $12 dollars for this.  I sincerely doubt that the food cost for this salad was more than a $1.  Even if it was $2, that would be a food cost percentage of 16%.  Food costs of 25% to  28% are considered excellent.  32% is certainly acceptable.  My colleagues had sandwiches that were piled high with meat...groaning with fries.  There prices were slightly less and I can assure you that the food cost of the meat was no where near 16%.  Clearly the management of The Range feels that people who order salads should be exploited.

In the future Range, why don't you just have your servers pistol whip me, take however much they want out of my wallet, and stop with the subterfuge that you're providing value.