And Away We Go

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Back in the yesteryear of 2012 I found myself constantly at various airports around the world, passport in hand. I was constantly aware of timezones and dial in numbers and etiquette in different cultures.

I worked a truly global job and had direct reports in five different countries. My days would begin at seven in the morning and end at ten o’clock at night.

That was a really good job and I liked my boss, himself a product of Sweden living in the UK. The gig worked my mind and my skills and my ability to work with different people in different countries with different rules.

It also worked me over pretty good. After almost three years in that role, I knew my mental health was suffering, my doctor told me my physical health was suffering and my husband asked nicely if we could spend a little more time together in person.

So I began a job hunt for a company I would like, a job that challenged me, and the travel and timezones would be kept to a minimum.

Then I found that job. A really wonderful gig, a perfect fit. This is one of the rare times in my life when I can say I love my job, and I do. It’s awesome! Part of the reason I was hired was because I had that international background and could assist on a huge project with a European entity. My current employer is very small and they don’t have a ton of background with international dealings. Great! Happy to help.

I was told I would work on this big project but it was highly unlikely I would travel. Nice! All of the fun challenges and none of the zombie jet lag shuffle through airports.

Until last month when I was asked, on very short notice, to take a trip to Ireland. Fun! That was my first thought. I kind of missed traveling and looked forward to getting back in the game. I loved every minute of Ireland and the work was very productive. Good stuff!

Came home exhausted but satisfied. Happy to have had a nice international trip and ready to settle back into my life.

Then came news that I now am needed in Amsterdam next week. Now, I’ve always wanted to go to Amsterdam, but you know what? There are few things I want to do less than get on another airplane right now.

But board a plane I will, passport in hand, zombie shuffle at my feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining even though it sounds very much like I am.

I love to travel. I love to see things I have never seen before. I love learning new cultures and customs and doing business across the boundaries of language and culture.

But damn oh damn. I haven’t even caught up on sleep and it is time to go again.

And so, here we go! Amsterdam here I come. Please be nice to me.

I won’t have much free time while I am there so I have to do up my “must do” list. For those who have gone, what do you recommend?









Image found here.




The Irony Is Not Lost

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These days I live in a fairly urban area and I also live near a major university, so this means driving around here proves to be quite a challenge.

I see a lot of people both young and old riding the roads on their bicycles or scooters and of course walking. There is even the occasional Segway. Though the most popular mode of transport by far seems to be bicycles.

Fundamentally, I don’t have an issue with people riding their bicycles. It’s exercise, it’s efficient, and it’s environmental. Plus it leaves more parking spots for me. Great!

The issue I do have, however, is some bicyclist’s complete and flagrant disregard for traffic laws. You know, running stop signs, not yielding to a yield sign, flowing with cars when they feel like and acting like pedestrians when they feel like.

My commute to and from work is pretty short, but can be frustrating as I traverse many busy streets with lots of crosswalks and stop signs and long lights. In addition to bicycles, I often have to tangle with students walking around with eyes glued to their smartphones darting out from between parked cars.

I really hate it most when I have the green light and as I start to roll a bicyclist runs the red light the other way and sails through the intersection with nary a care in the world.

The other day that big wheel of karma ticked about two and a half degrees to the right and I saw something so ironic it made me laugh and shake my head.

Ok, here’s the scenario:

I am driving up a busy two lane and mostly residential street. Traffic is moving, albeit at a fairly slow pace. I’d estimate I was doing something like 25mph.

I was hugging the yellow line because to my right were two guys decked out in stretchy shorts and tip-tap-clompy biking shoes riding on very fancy bicycles.

We were all cool. I saw them, they saw me. I made space and we traveled casually along, moving straight ahead on the road.

As we three came to an intersection some hipster chick on a pink bicycle with a plastic basket on the front does not slow for the stop sign on the cross street. She glides at full speed right into the intersection.

This causes the car coming the opposite way to screech to a halt. I slammed on my brakes too and the two bicycle guys next to me just kept going.

Because I guess bicyclists do that. When everyone around is braking, they just keep rolling because why not.

One of the guys finally saw Miss Hipster and locked up his very expensive racing bicycle brakes. The other wasn’t as quick on the brakes. As he came to a stop he ended up tapping her back wheel.

Hipster chick was totally oblivious. She wobbled a bit and just kept rolling on through.

Now dos Stretchy Pants are mad. They start shouting and screaming and arm waving at her about obeying stop signs and right of way and what the bleep was she doing.

So indignant these bicyclists got about obeying traffic laws. So, so righteous.

Hmm. Interesting.

Ironically so.








Image found here.




The Many Faces of Starbucks

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It’s both a blessing and a curse that immediately next door to the building where I work is a Starbucks. This means I visit the green mermaid several times a week, spending both precious dollars and time worshiping at her fins.

But I’m not sorry. It’s a nice break in the day to lay down arms in email form and go next door to grab a cup of something nice.

So in my recent near daily adventures to the ‘bucks as I stand in line and observe, I have started to get a bead on the various faces of the customers of Starbucks.

Here’s my thoughts, in no particular order (feel free to add your own in the comments)

The Stalker – This person places their order and immediately moves to the pickup area. The Stalker doesn’t care if there were ten people ahead who ordered first and are still waiting, nope. They will set up camp right there at the edge of the pickup spot, blocking everyone else from grabbing their order when ready. Often they will have also ordered a pastry and they will stand there mouth breathing and chewing their petit vanilla scone like a cud while staring dully at the barista. At their worst, The Stalker will pick up and check each cup that comes out to see if it is their order. They do this even if the barista has called a name that isn’t their own. It is as if by sheer force of their will, they can turn the beverage into theirs, because they are the center of the universe.


The Can’t Be Bothered – This person places their order, pays the tab and then disappears. Their drink is made in due time and the barista calls their name or their drink order. No response. So the drink sits there getting cold (or warm, depending). And it sits. And sits. If it has whip cream on top, this starts to wither and ooze. The barista calls out the name or drink over and over and everyone looks at everyone wondering who the heck ordered this drink and won’t pick it up. No one really knows where The Can’t Be Bothered has wandered off to.


The Planner – This person orders their drink and then moves to the sweetener station where they grab their sugar packets, stirrer, coffee jacket, straw, napkins, etc. They stand there waiting with sugar packets pre-shaken down and ready to pour (in some cases already torn open). They look like special teams ready to take delivery of the pigskin, hands open and ready to receive. The very second the cup hits the countertop, bam, they are on it, sugar, stir, jacket, lid, booyah! And out.


The Conspiracy Theorist – This person has ordered a special drink for a special snowflake in a special way and they are convinced the barista will make a mistake. The barista sets the drink down, The Conspiracy Theorist swipes it up off the counter and looks at it in askance as though it will betray them at any moment. “Does this have four pumps?” they will ask, “Is this no foam?” or “did you heat this to exactly 230 degrees?”. The barista will nod and give affirmative answers through clenched teeth that try to make a smile but can’t quite. God help the barista who gets it wrong, “Oh, gosh, no, I forgot and only put three pumps. Let me fix that.” This just encourages The Conspiracy Theorist.


The Indecider – This person stands patiently in line, gets to the front, and doesn’t know what they want to order. They take something like twenty minutes just to decide what they want and then of course they use a gift card that doesn’t have enough money so then they dig around in pockets or purse or backpack for the 72 cents to pay off the rest of their tab. I often want to throw a dollar bill at them so they will just finish the heck up. Argh! And as they dawdle the line starts queuing up out the door and onto the sidewalk. Boo!


Ok, that’s only the beginning of my log of personality types at the ‘bucks. Much like Jane Goodall, I am out there living among them. I will continue to take notes as new classifications arise.




Ah, a stalker family!

Yes, I blurred that person’s face




Image found here.




In Memorium for One Of The Greats

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Over the weekend came the very sad news about the passing of Hollywood legend, Ray Harryhausen.

The Good Man was a lifetime Harryhausen fan and introduced me to the magic that Ray made only recently. How badly I had been missing out.

At 92, Ray lived a good long life and he leaves behind a legacy of work. His stop motion animation paved the way for so much of what you see now in this CGI-heavy film world.

Mr. Harryhausen will be missed, along with his best friend, Ray Bradbury. Tough to lose both Rays within the course of a single year.

To remember Mr. Harryhausen, I am reposting something I wrote back in 2010 when I first learned to appreciate Harryhausen movies. You can tell from all the exclamation points how totally into his movies and the animation I was (and am).

For you, Ray.


———————

This old dog learned a new trick
Originally published February 5, 2010

At Christmas, my husband received a great gift from his step-mom. He unwrapped it and exclaimed, “A Ray Harryhausen collection! Honey, look, we got a Ray Harryhausen collection! Wow, thank you!”

And I was like, “who?” My sweetest is an educated film guy, so I figured it was some obscure director of strange and dark independent films. So I said, “hey, great!” with a shrug.

Who knew I was TOTALLY missing out?

In my ongoing film education (The Good Man is keeping a list. I’m working through it….) he popped “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” in the ol’ DVD player while I was eating lunch one weekend afternoon.

I was immediately hooked in. Yeah baby! I figured out just who Ray Harryhausen really is. A master of creating amazing creatures in stop motion animation.

The stumbling roaring Cyclops from the late 1950’s is every bit as creepy today. In fact, in a lot of ways, I actually like that better that today’s overly CGI’d movies.

At the end of the “Seventh Voyage of Sinbad” DVD, there were some special features. One was clips from when Harryhausen got an Oscar (presented by his best friend, Ray Bradbury. What a pair they must make!) and at the conclusion of Harryhausen’s acceptance speech, Tom Hanks comes onto the stage to bring on the next award.

He makes the segue by saying, “I know for some people it is Gone with the Wind or Casablanca, but for me, it’s all about Jason and the Argonauts

I looked at The Good Man and said, “Well we have to watch that next, then.”

And so we did. We watched as Jason and his merry band of Argonauts fight a huge bronze statue of Talos that had come to life and, oh man this part was cool, a whole army of sword wielding skeletons! Skeletons! I *love* skeletons! They clacked and grimaced and fought. Aw damn, how very cool!

Then we watched “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” and I remembered that I saw this movie when I was a kid, most likely on TV. I watched it with my big brother back in the day. I remembered the blue Shiva with swords in all the arms. (and let’s talk about the very naturally endowed Caroline Munro. Rowr! It’s so rare these days to see an un-surgically enhanced actress.)

And finally, we had to get to THE must see film in the collection because, well, it’s set in San Francisco. The next in the series of my SF film education.

The movie was “It Came from Beneath The Sea.” Yeah baby!

What the movie lacked in dialogue and story (and it lacked A LOT), it more than made up for in great animation.

Oh, that angry squid snapping the top off the Ferry Building and wrapping tentacles around the Golden Gate! Whoa! And that far-reaching tentacle slapping down Market Street, squishing unsuspecting citizens!

Good stuff!

So I’m now up to speed on Harryhausen. I have also watched the Dirty Harry movies. Then we did the Hitchcocks set in SF (hello Vertigo!).

I’m excited to see what’s next in my ongoing film edjumacation! I have so much to learn.






Image is a still from “It Came From Beneath The Sea”.




I’m Not Alone

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So it was on flight SQ16 from Incheon to San Francisco that I picked up a new friend.

Maybe friend is too generous a word.

A follower? Stalker? Shadow?

I think it all started somewhere over the international date line. It gets pretty wonky up there over the Pacific.

When I got off the plane, there was someone there. With me. Only I didn’t realize just who yet.

Tuesday, as I went to work, he came along.

I say he. Really, this thing is a genderless entity, a spectre, an imaginary friend. But for the sake of ease, I’ll say he.

As I commuted to work, I finally realized he was there. In the passenger seat. He went with me into the coffee shop. He was there when I parallel parked my car. He took a seat in the conference room where I’m attending a training class.

He sits next to me. With me. On me. On my head. Wrapped around me like a blanket made of wet mud and peat moss.

The entity is jet lag. I call him JG for short.

I think you’re not supposed to talk about JG. When someone asks, the right answer is “fine! Oh I’m doing great. Yeah, no problem.”

But it’s a problem.

JG is real and JG is profound. I try to stay normal. I try to make a salient point during the workshop on data security but while I speak, JG puts cotton fluff and jello into the working parts of my brain.

JG gives me a nice outfit to wear to work, only the fabric is the leaden material found in xray rooms and dentist offices.

My shoes are made of concrete.

I lean forward and my shoulders slump so I can carry the heavy load. I straighten up again and pretend JG isn’t there. My shoulders slump once more.

JG won’t be ignored.

I turn in early to bed to try to get right, to reclaim my brain and my body and I drop easily into sleep. JG jostles me awake at 2:00 am and says “hey! Let’s play!”

I rise and have a snack and try to get something done so my day isn’t a total loss but JG robs my motivation and steals my creative will.

Instead I sit on the couch watching “Mad About You” reruns and wondering where in the hell my life has gone since Paul and Jamie examined married life in the ’90’s.

Then I hallucinate about being stuck in customs somewhere in Asia.

I shake my head from side to side to clear my etch-a-sketch of a mind and try again to focus on the television. Maybe some more food will help.

There isn’t a pill that can cure me of JG. There isn’t a quick fix remedy.

There is only time.

JG and I will be hanging out for a while. You’ll find us in aisle 6 at the grocery store. I’ll be the one standing there bewildered and trying desperately to remember what I needed to buy.

JG will be the one playing tricks in my eyes and tripping me at the ankles and making me want to lay down on the stack of ten pound bags of jasmine rice and close my eyes, just for a moment.

Until strange dreams startle me awake and I rise again to wander the world, a little lost American girl searching for another cup of Singaporean coffee (kopi) and a slice of kaya toast.








Image found on Anabolic Minds.