Sunday, November 12, 2017

Brain Dump cont'd

  • I met a lovely retired couple from Utah on my way to Oban from Glasgow.  We ended up at the same seafood restaurant for lunch and decided to sit together.  They had flown in from Manchester to spend 4 days in Scotland.  A small break from their year of service at a local church.  
  • They silently went to pay for my lunch and when I found out, I had to insisted strongly to pay my own way.  I told them that their gesture alone was something I would cherish and not forget.  Such pure and kind people.  It was their 3rd time doing an oversea church mission.  Once in Brazil and twice in England.  
  • One of their daughters was on the national latin dance team so it was very interesting for me to hear about her training schedule.   Their love for each other and warmth when speaking about family and service literally wraps around you.  It was so nurturing being in their company.  The world needs more people like them.  
  • Sat beside another fun couple on my way back from LA.  They took to calling me "kiddo" and were quite distressed when my luggage was late arriving, even though it had been labelled priority.  They knew that I was dangerously close to missing my next connection.  You should have seen how concerned they were and how disappointed that I wasn't seeing my case.  The care shown by complete strangers has again and again astounded me and given me hope for this world.  
  • For someone who doesn't have to travel for business, I fly a lot -- Have 12 flights on my travel roster.  Two remaining for this year -- Should have been one but I managed to use that flight credit from D's injury.  So that leaves 10 for between Jan - Aug of next year and I'm excited for all of them.  
  • Maybe hard to believe but I will actually work a week more in 2017 than I did in 2016.  And on track to work 2 weeks more in 2018.  A lot depends on how the days fall each month.  As soon as I get my hands on the following year's daytimer, I track yearly minimum working days like a hawk on a spreadsheet as I go into planning mode.  
  • A few years ago, I was at the bottom end of the airline status ladder and when I started to fly to Asia, my airline mileage climbed naturally.  Had never expected to reach top tier this year.  It did make me stop and realized just how many hours of sitting I've done in airplane seats.  D just shakes his head when we sit down to go over my travel calendar.  He still gets to pick and choose the ones he'll join me for. 
  • I get to see and sit by a lot of business travelers.  Some who fly to Asia a few times a month.  And they seem to take everything in stride.  I cannot imagine how hard that would be.  And be functional at the other end immediately for a meeting or presentation.  They are true road warriors.
  • And for sure, sometimes my back and legs suffer for it.  But by in large I quite enjoy the process.  Yup, it's great to have access to the airline lounges and extra leg room seats for free and score the occasional upgrade to first.  However, most important of all, is knowing that my preferred airline will take care of me should things go south.  I rarely ever have to wait long when I have to call in for something.
  • I know where to buy great food to bring on board at certain airports -- Current favorites are from Minneapolis airport Terminal 1.  Smack Shack -- They sell lobster rolls and giant prawn cocktail.  Black Sheep -- Coal fire pizzas.  And Lake Wine Kitchen + Bar for a great blueberry, candied pecan and prosciutto salad that goes along perfect with the prawn cocktail.  For 14+ hr flights, it's nice to have some real food with you.
  • I am super excited for the finalization of the joint venture between Delta and Korean Air.  It will make flying to Asia more comfortable and seamless.  I really like the flight times and level of service that Korean Air offers.  And being optimistic here when I hope for more moderate flight pricing as well.  
  • I don't spend near as much as one might naturally think on my travel each year.  I know what "normal pricing" is and what would constitute a "good deal" for different parts of the world.  Especially nowadays, as I stay in more local establishments, run by individual families.  Makes a big difference, plus the bonus of directly supporting them.
  • When I go back even 4 years ago and compare what I spent then, what those spots are currently charging compared to places I would pick now -- Huge difference in cost.  It has been a mindset change on my end as well.  That is also why the push to learn languages better so I could function more effectively when I find myself in a home stay situation or in more out of the way places where you cannot assume anyone can speak English.
  • My year's worth of flights cost similar in range to a family of 4's 1 to 2 week Disney adventure, depending on whether they are staying on site or off, 5 star or 3.  
  • And I never ever forget, no matter where or what situation I may find myself in, that air travel is a huge privilege.  There are many in the world who will go their entire lives never stepping foot on a airplane because they are unable to afford it.
  • Thank you for indulging me in these last few spewing posts.  I know there is an unprecedented amount of digital noise and chatter that exists in our daily lives and you do not necessarily need more.  

Friday, November 10, 2017


I have been working with a young man at work over the past few months.  He was new to the area and had a real attitude when we first met.  I chalked it up to him being male, 21 years old and probably not wanting to be there.

Recently his mom told me when she dropped him off that he told her that he really liked working with me.  Nothing like a comment like that to make a young man blush.

Guess I had finally made it it through that tough exterior of his with our occasional side conversations about the state of the world.  Although his very primative opinions on the non existence of Palestine made me bite my tongue pretty hard.

So now whenever he comes in, he'll throw something at me, almost like a test, to see if he could teach me a thing or two.  The last subject was Iran, which he really didn't know a whole lot about...oh the chutzpah of a 20 something male...

Then his chronic disease took a turn for the worse and suddenly he was down to 130 lbs.  For a 6 ft 7" guy, that is dramatic.  And I was suddenly struck with the feeling that I was witnessing someone who was wasting away right in front of me.  That realization along with the frightful look in his eyes completely gutted me.

So I took control of the conversation one day when he was trying to explain to me the whole caloric system.  And I told him I didn't care about that.  All I cared about was that if he was capable of only eating 5 tablespoons of something in a day, it needs to be high density, ideally protein and every tablespoon needs to count.

I don't usually speak to someone in such a dictatorial way.  I could tell that my firmness caught him by surprise but I couldn't stand around listening to him tell me how he was trying to eat toast.  All I saw was someone who looked like they were dying.

My mind was working on a plan B, even when I was in Tokyo, should things not have improved by the time I returned.  Subsequently found out that one of his Drs changed up some meds that had known abdominal side effects and he had been eating again since and had regained a number of pounds. 

What a relief.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brain Dump

  • Had been temporarily feeling highly irritable.  Think food additives may have something to do about it and sensitivity to caffeine.  Had completed a detox and forgot that afterwards can be extra affected by even small amounts of substances I do not normally take in.  Supposed to know better.  Hate feeling so volatile.
  • Because of the heightened emotional sensitivity, other things not related to me are bothering me.  Like D's many missed Spanish lessons making me feel like I've made a mistake recommending them to him.  The control freak in me is on overdrive with the lack of accountability I have been witnessing.  For the record, I know I sound completely insane...
  • My mind is also likely preoccupied with an upcoming periodontal procedure (logical or not, I am blaming my electric toothbrush).  We have no coverage for it and nothing specialty dental comes cheap.  But, I will get some days off afterwards, which I don't mind right now.  Good opportunity for an attitude adjustment.  Update:  procedure was short and sweet.  Currently recovering at home.  Thus the extra verbiage... too much time on my hands as I cannot do anything strenuous for 3 days.
  • The irritated state lasted the morning.  Once I got to work and started focusing on my day, things normalized.  Huge reason I continue to grapple with the complete retirement choice.  Am not convinced it would be the healthiest decision for someone like me, who can get carried away living in her mind, despite the vision I saw and felt. 
  • And really, how different would my life be with the extra time I'd gain?  I'd probably still be working out, travelling, studying Spanish.  Maybe more of each but I am not seeing what major new component would come into play that would make life even more full than it already is.  I like the amount of variety I have in my life right now.
  • That travel claim related to D's fracture is still not completed.  They needed more info and through the process, we found out that our medical Dr was retiring as of the end of Oct.  Feel really sad about it as I will miss him so much.  Been with him for the entire 20 years I've been here.  Even though my file is probably only single digit pages thick, I've always trusted him as a practitioner and he always took me seriously.  The community has lost a good one.
  • Same with my dental secretary who retired this summer.  Such a wonderful person.  Because I canceled my appointment, I never got to say goodbye and thank you in person.  And that bothers me.
  • We are currently registered at a local clinic for our "meet and greet" with our potential new MDs in the new year.  I guess there is still a chance they won't like us and we won't have new doctors.  The whole "interview" process feels so ridiculous to me.
  • Am slowly getting caught up with all those health maintenance appointments now.  Eye check is next.  Took the summer off from pretty much everything in that department.  Just didn't want to commit to anything on my off days as D's schedule and all the changes that caused tired both of us out.
  • It doesn't help that we just returned from Tokyo, a city where quiet, calm and politeness permeates.  And then jump right into the reel rock experience.  However, I do not believe that I could ignore the lack of manners displayed by some even at a time when I wasn't extra irritated.  
  • D has had a few interviews.  Nothing has come out of it yet.  And he was right, there has been some improvements at work.  But still not enough.  And for some reason, he isn't finding the numbers of quality of opportunities right now.  It feels like he is starting to lose his confidence.  
  • He has been grappling with the concept of loss.  Aren't we all in our own ways?  Loss of health, loss of opportunities, loss of confidence in our bodies, loss of etc. etc.  I wouldn't consider it a mid life crisis, rather a strong stop and gather status wise.  
  • I hate it when things mess up my work email or cellphone.  Whenever D has some idea of a cool app or update I should have, I am extremely hesitant about adopting it.  Because it has happened enough times that it ends up slowing down my phone or computer or something that should not have been erased ends up getting erased and he can't get it back... just sends me.  And yes, we are dealing with yet another situation right now.
  • There is some good stuff stuck in my brain.  I still remember fondly a conversation I had with a bright young man on a bus in Vietnam en route to Sapa.  Super well versed and wise for his age.  His mom works for an NGO in Denmark and she got an overseas position in Phnom Penh and they were in Vietnam to do a trek as a family.  
  • Ended up bumping into them after the trek (we did different routes) and had an ice coffee with his mom outside on the balcony.  Told her just how impressed I was with the demeanor of her children, how they carried themselves, how smart and mature they were.  She said that they teach them to be but really don't know if it will translate until they get to demonstrate it in the world.  It was also very gratifying for her to see.
  • On the same trip, on a crazy 10 hour or so nighttime sleeper train ride from Hanoi, I ended up in a room with 3 guys (4 bunk beds) and the guy above me watched something on his laptop that the rest of us (based on each of our shocked and disgusted expressions of him) strongly felt resembled porn, as he proceeded to jerk off.  His bed side light throwing the shadow of his actions onto our room door.  
  • The 2 other guys promptly turned and slept away from his direction whereas I wondered who would come to my aid if dude above tried anything.  I placed my confidence on the Aussie guy, whose family took up the room next to us.  When dude above would climb down, he consistently managed to step half way onto my bed, onto my leg, with no apology.  Seriously, I ended up kicking him.  Even then, he never said a word to any of us.  On the way down, I ended up in the same train compartment with the Aussie guy and we had a good laugh about it.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How We Turn Out -- More Questions Than Answers

A lot of our friends / colleagues / family are heavily into the child / teen / young adult rearing phases of their lives.  Hearing and seeing how these young people are turning out have given us joy, worry and a lot of unanswered questions.

  • How is it that a child who participates for the first-time-ever at an intro novice cheer team / musical comedy group / dance class end up going to the "nationals" by the end of the year?  Do you not have to work years at a craft anymore to earn your way up to it?  Who is banking all the money at these events?  Parents are paying thousands to send their kids and cannot opt out as they wouldn't want their child to let down the rest of the team.  And all the brouhaha is supposed to elevate your child's self esteem?
  • It amazes me how many parents I come across who are literally "tip toeing" around their kids.  Like they are afraid they would hold them back / curtail their enthusiasm / harm them for life should they speak their mind about whatever.  As a parent, I am expecting them to teach.  They are supposed to have more life experience.  Not speaking up allows their kids to potentially follow an unrealistic route or develop a mindset that isn't congruent with what they will eventually face when they have to try to stand on their own two feet.
  • Why are some parents OK with the prospect of their young adults staying home indefinitely?  Yes, it may be lonely to think of life without some other bodies under the same roof, but isn't that the point of parenthood -- To bring up people who will go forth and be / do something in the world?  Rather than feed your own insecurities or to fill the voids caused by a lack luster marriage?
  • How does someone make it to the age of 18 and not know how to hand wash dishes, or use a washing machine or a vacuum??  When this question comes from another 18 year old who is finding herself having to teach her roommate, it is particularly hilarious.  What were their parents thinking?  Again, if they feel they are deserving of parent of the year awards, I believe they many be holding the wrong parenting measuring sticks.
  • Why are some parents allowing their toddlers and young children speak / yell / screech at such high volumes and even respond back similarly in encouragement?  Why would you want to encourage that when in regular life, you would not be communicating in that manner?
  • Why is it "enduring" when your late teen son managed to lose 3 iphones over the course of a year resulting in 3 out of contract purchases amounting to thousands?  How could that be "cute" and not worthy of a good scolding rather than continuing to be enabling?
  • I don't understand the need to continually complement young girls / women on their looks as if that is all they have to be proud of.  Especially when their look consists of daily applications of half a bottle of foundation and false eyelashes.  Do guys really go for that??!!  Even some of the most naturally beautiful girls have succumbed to that (horrid) look for prom and to me it totally wrecks it. 
  • It feels dangerous to me the habit of rewarding a child and lavishing him / her for no real reason other than they happen to exist.  Some parents are losing their identity and starting to fail in providing a model for what a healthy adult is.  And the child learns they can just sit there and there will be praise.  No effort required to earn it. Every kid just wins.  It feels very warped to me.  

All of the above -- Easy to say when you don't have kids, right?  I have no answers to offer, just select recent observations.  And having also recently sat in a theater full of millennials displaying many of the same characteristics as described above, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in a number of their futures as well functioning people.

The films we saw at the event, however, do inspire.  Check these out if you can.