Sunday, September 30, 2012

Future Shock: Grandson, Broken Hand & The Universe

Well, just like last week was one of less than happy things, this week was one of bright things for the future happening.

The new grandson did arrive on the 27th; a big baby at over 8 pounds and 21 inches long.  Both he and mom are doing fine.  Every time one of these birthing events happens I am reflective on the fact that there are now generations going into the future with which I am connected. It is not an ego thing as much as it is realizing that there is future far beyond me. In a way, it kind of makes one feel insignificant and immortal at the same time.

Another thing to make you feel insignificant is the latest photo from the Hubble Space Telescope; it took a total of 10 years to create and shows vast universes beyond our own. Among the things in this photo are the Andromeda galaxy, several black holes, and dwarf stars that are slowly fading out. To me seeing something like this affirms God rather than dismissing him. It also reminds me of where some of those grandchildren of mine may end up traveling to. Who knows, maybe I'll get to go with them. Hey, it could happen.
On the 29th here in Arabia, McDonald's sponsored A Day Offline, which was supposed to be a day without phones and technology.  McDonald's had games and the like for parents and kids here in Kuwait. For me the day was very different because I was at work and my job is technology. Not only that, I am living the paradox of what the day was about and at the same time because of that I was achieving what McDonalds' ultimate goal was. Without technology, I could not be in touch with any of my family or friends. On the 29th, I helped my son deal with some auto issues and talked with him about school.  My daughter and I exchanged emails. I got a call from another son and I answered an email from my father. All of which was done courtesy of technology – – which actually brought it all together rather than isolating it.

I read several of the local blogs here; to keep informed about what is going on in the area and to gain insight into the local culture. Recently, Desert Girl had an entry regarding the wedding she attended and I found the entire thing interesting, especially since I probably will never attend a Kuwaiti wedding. One of the things that surprised me most about the article was that over 450 women were in attendance -- she doesn't say how many men. That is a lot of people to wish one couple happy future, but maybe with that many people rooting for you, everything will go just fine.  Here is where you can read her full blog entry. (What is it about women bloggers and pink?)
My hand is healing nicely, according to the orthopedic doctor I saw earlier this week.  He said I need to continue to wear my splint for another three weeks but other than that I should expect a full recovery and I should be able to do whatever it was I was able to do with my hands before this happened. Another plus point looking into the future.

Finally, I came across this picture from space that shows Kuwait City by night. Where I live is over on the right hand side – near the lower side near the coast.  Amazing view.  It was taken by NASA on August 12, 2012.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Jet Lag, Life Lag, & Waiting for the Other Max

Since my return, Sunrise comes later & Sunset earlier.  Makes the drive to/from work prettier.
Coming back to Kuwait I have to deal with 7 hours of jet lag.  I actually dealt with those same 7 hours when I went to the US, but for some reason it always seems easier going West than East. I guess that's because it is easier to stay up later than it is to wake up earlier.  Along with the jet lag, I have to deal with life lag. Unlike going home to family and friends, coming back to work is a totally different experience and it takes a while to get back in the groove.

Things have gone on while I was gone, decisions were made, papers were signed, and things progressed. It is like having a total blackout for that period of time because I have no memory of what did happen even though things continued to happen. Because of this life lag, I experience a severe feeling of being disjointed and disconnected. .Additionally, it is this period of time when karma seems to pick to have things go wrong for me.  But, the  climate change was easier to deal with.

The day I arrived back, I found that my Internet was down – – now only back intermittently – –, my Armed Forces Network (AFN) satellite TV was down and my home and office air conditioners were not working. Added to that were millions of small things, like I broke my watch at some point during the flight back – – probably while I was running from one end of Concourse C to the other end of Concourse D at Washington Dulles Airport. One of the containers of coffee that are brought back with me had burst open inside a box, which also was inside of a plastic bag, but still managed to get all over everything in that particular box. When you add that to too many other things that I won't go into here,  it makes it difficult to think about going on another trip since the trip itself seems to be blamed for everything else that went wrong around it.

Moving forward lots of positive things are happening in the near future. Sometime in the coming week, another grandson Max will enter the world and bring the total number of grandchildren to 11. Falkor finally has his full coat of fur back, and appears to be happy and well-adjusted after my absence. And yes, they did fix my air-conditioning at home as well as my AFN satellite TV. My sleep schedule is still a bit off, with me waking up at around 3 or 4 in the morning for some unknown reason and not being able to fall back into solid sleep again until right before the alarm rings – – but things appear to be somewhat back in a normal groove. Oh yeah, and the temperatures haven't been over 120° in over three weeks -- Woo Hoo!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

..and It's Also International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Three years ago on this day,  I launched this Blog.  I was turning 50 and I thought it was time to capture some of what I was feeling, thinking, and I was starting to ride a motorcycle again.   Now, this blog has been quoted by other blogs, linked to other things on the internet and read by folks far beyond whatever audience I thought I might reach when I first took keyboard in hand.  I now own my dream bike, a Valkyrie Interstate,  and my writing has matured into publishing my first novel.  There was no way I could have predicted it was going to end up here.
As I thumb through all the pictures and entries, I recall where I was mentally when I wrote them.  Other details that I left out and probably should have added come to mind as well.  Maybe another time, today I am looking forward.

I look forward down the road into the next year of my life and feel good, optimistic, and realize my brief profile remains true:  World traveler and part-time philosopher.

 Many thanks to NASA who timed the final "flight" of the space shuttle Endeavor to start on my birthday.  Said it before and I will say it again NASA ROCKS!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kinda Like Running Into a Burning Building -- Well, Someone Has To

When I was a kid I admired the courage of firefighters as they ran into burning buildings as all the sane people ran out.  As I grew up, I learned that the firefighters were trained and equipped to run into that building, and even though what they were doing was still very brave and heroic they had an edge.   When my leave was over  and I started my return to Kuwait, I felt a little of what firefighters feel running into that burning building --  but I take faith in the fact that I have been trained and equipped to handle it.

It may seem like the entire Middle East is exploding in the past week, but Kuwait remains peaceful.  There was a demonstration at the American Embassy here but it was not violent.  Still, I am thankful that when I chose my housing I chose based on proximity to the base rather than one of the nicer neighborhoods near the Embassy.  My neighborhood is predominantly Indian and therefore not seen as an American enclave.  The bottom line:  I am safe and doing fine.
I have not seen the film that supposedly caused this upheaval, but I do support the First Amendment that allows all speech, even speech I do not agree with, to be free.  I did find it interesting that the White House condemned the film but has never seen fit to say anything about anti-Christian films, like the one produced a few years ago by Bill Maher.  I don't recall anyone attacking Maher or the company that produced that film. 

Final note on this:  When I flew back into Kuwait City Friday night, my Kuwaiti cab driver apologized for his fellow Muslims letting me know that not all of them were violent or angry towards Americans.  I thanked him for that, and he added "All peoples have those among them who use any excuse to be destructive.  We can only hope that they only hurt themselves in the end."  Very astute observation.  The Editor-in-Chief of Kuwait Times had thoughts along the same lines in his column Benefitting From Animosity.

Interesting things I saw while on leave in the US:

I saw at least 3 mullets.  So a few folks have their Way Back Machine set to 1980.

A car that had a broken side view mirror and to fix it they took an interior rear view mirror and duct taped it to what was left of the mount.  Gotta admire the creativity.

When I called my grandson Dude,  he informed that he is not Dude -- that is not his name.

Salad portion control.  Anyone else notice that side salads are getting bigger?  Maybe it has just been too long since I ate inside a restaurant.

Waitresses in the South still pronounce "Honey" with a "u" and 3 "n"s; and even though it may be sexist,  I am not gonna tell some 65 year old woman she shouldn't be calling me Hunnny.

MacBeth is still a great dog.

Speaking of being safe,  take note of my new bathtub orniments - I go to see the Doc tomorrow to make sure I am healing okay.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It Happened One Arabian Night

Just a few hours remained before I got on a plane to go back to the US for business and some well-deserved time off.  With my packing all done, I decided to jump in the shower and wash off some of the sweat of the day before I got on that long flight. I had just finished rinsing my hair when a motion caught my eye from around the corner of the shower curtain. I aligned myself so I could see without moving the curtain; from my vantage point I could see the figure of a man dressed in black and the glint of the curved scimitar in his left hand.

Thinking fast, I moved out of his sight line so he would not know I was aware of his presence. I would need to time my next move very carefully. While waiting on him to act, I had an eternity to mull over the facts of the situation. I had heard about clandestine  bad guys who were operating in the Arabian Peninsula but had yet to see one myself. Obviously, I was about to meet one firsthand. I could hear him inhale deeply and I saw the glint of the edge of the sharpened blade as he raised it above his head and prepared to strike.

In a smooth motion, he turned the blade as he brought it down and slashed horizontally across the shower curtain -- hoping to take my head off. However, I timed my motion and ducked just as the blade started its path across the shower curtain. As I bent down, I reached for the water control knob, and turned down the cold while spinning the hot knob up to maximum. As the scimitar blade passed over my head, I began to rise back up and grabbed the shower head as I stood. I saw the look of shock in his black eyes only momentarily, as I redirected the scalding hot water directly into his face. He screamed as the scalding water hit him, his hands coming up to defend him from its onslaught which caused him to drop his sword.

Reaching down, I grabbed the section of shower curtain which had fallen into the tub and spinning it as a Matador would his cape, raised it above my head and then covered the upper part of my attacker’s body and knocked his shemagh off-kilter as well.  I then pushed him backwards, through the bathroom door and into the dressing room as I stepped out of the tub.  I then found myself airborne as I slipped on the wet tile and landed hard on my left hand, it emitted an audible crack on impact. 

As I stood up, I realized my hand was fractured but I had an interloper to deal with at the moment.  I grabbed a towel so that I could cover myself and continue this battle; once the towel was securely around my waist, I reached down and picked up the scimitar.  As I raised it above my head, I walked into the dressing room to confront my attacker. The fight was far from over.

Fine. That is not what really happened. I was taking a shower, and lost my footing on the slippery tub and proceeded to fall both in and out of the tub. I landed on my left hand, actually the second knuckle of my middle finger with full force. I would find out later that I had fractured the bone of that finger all the way at the palm of my hand. This explanation may be the truth, but you have to admit the other story was far more interesting.

In my 52 years of life I've never broken a single bone until now, given that I have been in a few severe car wrecks, ride a motorcycle, and snow skied in the Alps -- to break my first one this way is a little embarrassing.  I didn't think I had broken a bone because after falling, I finished my shower, got dressed, went to the airport, and boarded a plane back to the United States. My finger was a swollen and little sore, but buying into the myth that if you could move it wasn't broken assumed that I had not done any serious harm to myself. However, midway through the flight I realized I had and even though I was using an ice pack provided to me by the flight crew, my hand was still swelling. Upon landing I called my doctor and was able to get in to see her a few hours later – – a quick x-ray revealed the fracture.

I saw an Ortho and he said it was a "good” break as it was clean and there were no loose bone bits.  Rather than a cast, he put it in a splint for the next two weeks to let it heal.  I asked and he said that my recovery would be 100% and I should have no problem playing the guitar or typing.  The Doc’s only sage advice was to avoid flipping anyone the bird, until the finger had totally healed, since the motion would involve the muscle groups on either side of the break. 

The Doc also mentioned that in the past two weeks he had dealt with 3 patients from Kuwait but had never treated anyone from there before in his life. Told him that maybe something was just going around.

Anyway… as I stepped into the dressing room, I noticed that my attacker managed to escape both the shower curtain and the shemagh that had come untied.  He stood there soaking wet staring at me – he looked directly into my eyes but would take glances at the sword in my hand, trying to discern what my next action would be.  As I moved toward him and my body started to act and react based on both training and instinct, I wondered what would happen next.