Wednesday’s in October suck….

Organizing my thoughts have been a challenge in the last three months.  We’ve had good and bad news, all seem to be happening in and at the same time.  I mean in and at, not at the same time.  For me time has a funny way of playing tricks on my senses, which as an event based person has me at a disadvantage.  Time, for some it moves too fast, for others it moves too slow, for me right now time is doing a whirligig of speeding up, slowing down, pausing, and then skipping ahead.

Part of me is still in May, where I found out that there was the chance that I was going to be a father, now it’s July and we’ve lost that chance, then I’m back in June where the elation of bringing a new life into the world where we get to nourish and raise is the highlight of my life, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping and I’ve got the feeling of endless possibilities.  Suddenly I’m hurtled forward to July, and I’m sitting in a waiting room with dread in my heart as my wife comes through a door and is holding back tears as we both share a look where we know something is wrong.

July 17th, I sit waiting to discover the gender and health of the poppy seed that has been growing in my wife, we’ve talked about how we want to raise Poppy, what we want to try to do better, how we can’t wait to meet them and discover who they are.  That hope vanished in a heartbeat that wasn’t there.  She walked out to me sitting there hopeful, only to be brought back to the realization that the universe has other plans.

I’m sitting there holding my wives hand as the doctor explains that he wishes he had better news, but he doesn’t.  I see my wife breaking down, the strength I love in her is still present but the grief is taking hold.  I switch into a mode that is cold and clinical, I must protect my heart and head now, for both our sake.  I shift into work mode, or as others know my event mode, where I need to be responsible for our well-being, I don’t have time to feel, I need to think and strategize, I need to know, learn, and be there to make rational decisions.  I’m sure the doctor felt as though I was being cold, I know I felt cold so they must have sensed it in me, I don’t care.  I care about the health and well-being of my wife, who is experiencing the loss of Poppy in many ways I can’t understand.

I don’t need to take notes of what the doctor is saying, I will take his words with me as I do in any situation where I need to take control and manage.  I have them memorized, they are etched in my brain, as other critical information has been, it’s a curse, a skill, a superpower, whatever you want to call it.  I go into crisis management mode and I shut my feelings down so I can function, so I can be there for others, to help them through the pain, the loss, the grief.

Flash and I’m sitting there watching my grandmother pass, she was a strong woman, a product of the great depression, and a person who influenced my life for the better.  She gave me strength in times of need, she helped reinforce the lessons my parents gave me, to work hard and enjoy the work.  She was a strong woman who had her faults, as all people do, but she gave us all a strength that I hope I can instill in the people and world around me.

In a blink, I’m sitting on a dune on the Persian Gulf in 2011 reflecting on the path I took to get to this place, I’ve traveled the world, worn out a passport and have seen the number of close friend’s ebb and flow around me.  I finally see that all the things that have happened to me has brought me to a place of peace.  I’ve let go of the worst, and decide to embrace the best.

And now here I am, sitting here after feeling for the last three days as though something was building up around me, the air was off, my sleep had been that of someone who knew something was going to happen where I would need to be awake for days at a time.  My wife and I are sitting here finding out that the people who are most important in our lives are not immortal.  The universe has a wicked sense of humor, and sometimes it’s just plain mean.  But that’s not the universes fault, it’s ours for thinking, even for a second, that we have any semblance of control over what we do.

 

 

America…

My heart hurts; my country is descending into madness with this idea that it’s our “right” to own guns.  Another shooting and yet again we will do nothing to rectify the issue.  Owning guns and having access to guns doesn’t make you more safe, it makes you more un-safe.  And yet my countrymen will continue to be enraged when the right thinking people of my country ask them to hand in their guns.  Why do you need a gun?  Why do you fight for the right to bear arms?  The amendment that you fight so hard to keep was written before automatics, before speed loaders, and it was written when we were fighting an army that had the same weapons as we did.  While I will agree we needed the ability to protect our infantile country when that second amendment was written, it no longer applies to where we have come.  Having easy access to guns doesn’t make us safer, it adds to the already alarmingly rising rate of terrorism that is happening in America.

My stand on this is this, we don’t need guns to be safe, we need conversation.  The more we rely on a weapon to protect us, the more unsafe we are.  If we continue to rely on weapons to “protect” us, the more times the weapons we rely on will be used against us.

How many more lives will we need to sacrifice to the greed, the insanity and the inability to grow a spine against the people who own our country and tell us what to think will it take before we stand up and let common sense rule?  Of course that’s a rhetorical question, my countrymen will not allow their “right to bear arms” taken away from themselves anytime soon, which means I can’t go back to my country anytime soon.

The right to bear arms was an idea that was not current with the times, in that mind I’m desperate to no longer live in my country.  There’s no reason for to go back, it’s no longer safe for me and the ones I love to live in the country I call my home.  Too many people who shouldn’t own guns do and I for one am through reading about deaths from “accidents” or people who “went crazy”.  My country is no longer the one I grew up with and frankly I’m ashamed to be called an American.  Americans to me are the great melting pot of humanity, the people who are from all over the planet who come to a land with the hopes of a better life.  I still hold those ideals, but I no longer think my country is the place where those ideals are held to the highest.  When I find that place where people respect life over all other things, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I will no longer call the USA home.

The Bro Code

1) You must always have your bro’s back. No exceptions.

2) When your bro’s girlfriend inquires about his whereabouts you know nothing, always.

3) You are only obligated to wingman for one bro per social event, after that the bro is on his own.

4) When a bro designates you as his wingman, you may not fail him. This is the most important role a bro may play for a bro, and may not be violated or debauched.

5) You must always do whatever is in your power to stop a bro from soiling himself with a poor looking girl. Unless the bro is able to stand up, look you in the eye, and articulate that he is to a decent extent sober. Then you are absolved of any responsibility.

6) When a bro pays for all the alcohol for an occasion himself, this must be made known to all present and made out to be the greatest feat ever observed in human history. A bro may skip out on kicking in for beer if he has done this recently.

7) A bro must always respect another bro’s car, house, and parents.

8) Love thy father and mother. A bro will never ever get with a bro’s biological mother or sister. Step sisters and mothers are fair game.

9) When a bro is showing his bro’s his new ride, he is always required to open the hood and showcase the contents. All bros present are required to admire the content, even if they know nothing about cars.

10) When a bro asks a bro what he thinks of his girlfriend or date, a bro is always required to give an honest answer. The phrase, “I’d bang her” is off limits.

11) A bro will never ever leave his bros without a ride. A bro may never be allowed to walk alone more than 2 blocks.

12) A bro will never ask for gas money for a ride unless he truly is hard up, or the ride exceeds the distance of 20 miles.

13) When gas money for a ride is offered, it may be accepted. Use your own bro-judgment to determine if you should accept.

14) A bro shall never make another bro ashamed for hooking up with a girl. Even if she was truly nasty, a bro will make excuses for his bro. Example, “you were drunk so…”

15) If a bro is terrible at sports, excuses may be made, no matter how bad they are. Good bros will start to play worse so that their bro doesn’t look so bad.

16) A bro will never make another bro look bad in front of a target girl. The wingman should swiftly punish any such attempts. Afterwards the bro who infringed upon this rule may be confronted by the whole circle of bros.

17) A bro will always ask around before taking the last of anything. If a bro should ask you if its alright, unless the need is great or direct ownership is applied, you will let him have it. Common courtesy and the bro code go hand in hand.

18) A chick may be included in the bro code if she has proven herself worthy via general bro concession.

19) A chick may never be informed of the sacred rules of the bro code. A chick may be treated as a bro but never told of the rules. When reprimanding a girl for an infringement of the bro code, say “its just common courtesy.”

20) A bro will never let another bro drive drunk. Space must always be found or made for a drunk bro who needs to leave. If necessary, the theft of phone and keys shall be done for his own good. (exception: a designated group drunk driver exists, this bro has mastered the art of driving under the influence and has proven his worth)

21) A bro will never allow another bro to drunk dial or txt a girl. No exceptions to this rule. When a bro is truly smashed and his girl calls, the phone will be confiscated until a sober state of mind is achieved.

22) If a bro’s girlfriend calls you and asks about a bros actions the previous night, (I.e. the bro claimed to be sleeping at a friend’s house) you will always claim that yes he was there and you may even claim he is still there. Studies show that 8 out of 10 bros will do this without thinking. The other 2 bros claimed he was still with them but unavailable to talk.

23) You will always make excuses for a bros actions, no matter how obscene. All things done by a drunk bro must be forgiven. No exceptions.

24) A bro should always be allowed to make amends for his actions.

25) A bro will always give his bro’s girl a ride to wherever, so long as restitutions are made for the action.

26) A bro will never give detail when describing a sexual encounter. Doing so will force your bro to imagine you naked and this is unforgivable.

27) A bro will always do his best to help another bro’s self esteem. The Alpha-Bro should always be handing out the wisdom and power of his skill. A bro will always recognize the master seducer of the group.

28) A bro should never ever under any circumstances sleep with a bro’s ex-girlfriend. A bro may proceed to make moves on another bro’s failed target (he got rejected) but only after asking permission first. If the bro declines your invitation to bust some moves, you must adhere to his wishes and find a new target.

29) If permission for rule 28 has been given by a bro, and success is evident for yourself. One must always put it down to it being the girl’s preference and not due to your superior abilities. If a bro proceeds to become butt-hurt about your success where he failed, you are under no obligations to make him feel better or apologize for your success.

30) A bro will always take care of a bro who is blacked out, throwing up, and incase parents or girlfriend call. If a bro’s parents demand he comes home immediately, one will immediately allow him to use a shower and whatever else is necessary to make sure a bro receives no enemy fire on the home front.

31) A bro will always tell a bro what he did when he was blacked out. No matter how bad.

32) A bro must always maintain a safe physical distance from a bro’s girl, especially when drinking. Physical contact may only be made with a bro’s girl, when saying good bye. No exceptions.

33) A bro will always do his best to stop a bro from getting tattoos. A bro’s skin is the largest organ he has and the second most important. Especially if the tattoo is of a girl. Chicks will dump you and play with your heart, but a bro will protect you like his own private parts.

34) When a promise is made, it shall be kept. And under no circumstances shall it be broken.

35) The way of the bro is sacred, cherish it like a sect or cult. The bro life is like being in Jedi training camp. You must always show your bro love and be joyous when bro love is shown to you.

36) Bro-mance is allowed but only among your tightest bros. Never take your bro-mance too far. And if anyone should remark negatively upon your bro-mance. An immediate beat down should ensue. Should a girl comment negatively upon the bro-mance, kindly explain to her that she will never know love from a man such as you and your bros share. And let her know what a privilege it is to be a mere witness to your glory.

37) The fist bump is a bro’s greatest weapon aside from the bro code itself. It should be used to show support, acceptance, pride, and it is an all around green light for an action that was committed. Use the fist bump often, and show constant appreciation for your bro’s jokes and skills with it.

38) Corollary to rule 37, the denial of a bro’s fist bump is a terribly powerful slap in the face. To deny a fist bump is no light thing, and should only be done when there is very great disapproval of an action.

39) Never refer to a bro by his last name, this is a sign of disrespect. Always refer to a bro by their name, nickname, or any standard bro word.

40) Standard bro names include but are not limited to; bro, dude, man, and anything with bro in it. (example: broham.)

41) Always respect a bro’s viewpoints about anything from politics to cars to religion. The only time a bro’s views do not matter is when they conflict with the bro code. If such a case should happen, the bro should be immediately evicted from the bro circle, until correctional actions have been made.

42) A bro should always treat for food when a bro is broke. Signs that a bro is broke are phrases like, “I’d rather eat at home”, “I’m not hungry”, “I just ate”, and finally “I’m trying to save money so ill eat at home.”

43) Similar to rule 42, when discussing the purchase of party beverages, if a bro declines to offer money. The other bros should cover for him. No bro should be denied thirst quenching goodness just because it’s a tight week or month.

44) A good bro will always encourage his bros to be an Alpha-Bro when it comes to talking to girls. If necessary demonstrations of your prowess may be made to give your bros something to work with.

45) A bro is only allowed to do really stupid things when he is really drunk. A bro may be denied further access to alcohol when it is obvious he has drunk too much already.

46) All things must be forgiven among bros, with the exception being your drunk bro feels up your girlfriend. This allows for an immediate punch to the face, but only after all other bros have been told and are gathered to watch the punishment. Before the blow is delivered, your drunk bro must have the situation explained to him. Because he is drunk, he will probably agree that he needs to be punched.

47) Under no circumstances should a bro ever be hit in the genitals for any reason. EVER!

48) You should only ever make fun of a bro for minor things that don’t affect their physical attributes. Example, dam man you got really goofy shoes.  The exception is for something that doesn’t exist, example; making fun of your friend for having man-boobs when he clearly doesn’t.

49) The only time that cockblocking is condoned by the bro code is when the designated cockblocker (aka the bombardier) has viable reasons to stop a bro from hooking up with a girl.

50) The Golden bro rule that everyone knows, Bros over hoes. This rule may be seasoned to taste by the bros themselves. Example; Bros over hoes except at the close. This rule of the bro code is what sets the male gender apart from the female gender. It is the very essence of the bro code, and embodies the true awesomeness that is bro love.

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2013 in a nutshell

2013 was the year of many events, I got the chance to work on festivals that I’ve always wanted to attend or have some roll with, and this was the time to do it. Music festivals are a lucrative business and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to work some of the really big ones to get some good perspective on what I do for a living.

My route to where I’m living now was a bit of a trial, not as bad as my trip home from Qatar in 2012, but definitely more time consuming. In August I was offered a position in Toronto with the Pan American Games in Logistics, a department I’ve worked in the last four games I’ve been involved with for the OCOG, to get me to Toronto I had to travel from Seattle to San Francisco back to Seattle and then from Seattle to West Virginia to Toronto. All the travel had me working in those cities prior to getting to Toronto and starting with the Pan American Games.

Moving to Toronto was the first time in the last seven years that I decided to ship a lot of my things from Seattle and setup house, things like my kitchen items, and some other comforts came with me. It’s the little things that I brought that make me happy and make my apartment feel more like a home. I have my time zone map in my office, art from the Woodland Park Zoo (a reminder of all the work I had done with them over the years), photos of places I’ve traveled as a reminder to keep mobile and enjoy everything life throws at me, and the most important items being kitchen implements.

I have plans now that I’ve moved to Toronto and close the chapter on part of my life that was Seattle. I want to go back someday, but I feel more at home in Canada than I do in the States, which leads me to the notion of getting either an extension on my work visa or applying for permanent residency here. Of course a lot depends on what I’m going to do for work, since the question is not if I’ll move again, but when I move again. What will that mean for me? Will I keep working in the events industry or will I vie for a desk job to have a little more permanence in my life? I don’t think a desk job suits me; I’m more at home traveling and doing events than being chained to a desk. I know my friends and family would appreciate my being in one place for a longer period of time, but what would that mean for my career? I keep asking myself these questions about this path that I’m on and what does that mean for my future? Do I keep bouncing from one role to another or do I try and settle for something more permanent?

I answer that question with a question, if I settle what form does that take? Do I get married again, buy a house and raise a family? Or do I stay nomadic? Being a nomad means you gravitate towards other nomadic people, almost as though you can smell each other out when sitting down at a bar somewhere. I have several friends who have done a hybrid of the nomadic lifestyle; married couples that travel with their families wherever the work takes them. Personally I would love that version, but finding someone who shares that vision of life poses its own challenges. How can you ask someone to uproot their lives to run around the world working in sometimes crazy places to do events and have a time limit on you’re being employed?

Asking that question of someone is tough, and it’s usually an unfair question as well. Most normal humans like to be secure in where they put their heads; they like the stability of going to a job they know will keep being there. I’m the exact opposite, I thrive on the unknown, I love traveling for work and the adventures that can be had by meeting new people and going somewhere I’ve not been before.

I wasn’t always this way, just ask my parents! They joke that I feared change and I liked things a certain way. Well I’ve kept the trait of liking things a certain way, but now I embrace the changes that new adventure brings.

Why I really started snowboading

I started snowboarding in 2008 and would love to give others the same experience I’ve had or something close to it.

Until 2008 I had only been on a snowboard once before in my life and that was in 2006, indoors on manmade snow in Dubai, an experience that both terrified and elated me all at the same time.   It wasn’t until 2008 and the epic snow storm that blanketed most of the nation that I decided to give it another go. Of course I had a few friends who were goading me into trying it, as I normally made fun of snowboarding or any other snow sports for that matter.

I used to think it was too expensive, dangerous, and a waste of time. Why would I go out in the cold on purpose? Why would I pay to strap a sled to my feet and do crazy things? All of these questions and more went through my head while I was driving a group of Aussie friends up to Cypress Mountain in Vancouver, BC where I was planning to go snowshoeing and take photos. When we arrived at the mountain the sky started dumping snow, something it wasn’t’ doing when we started off from the city. It would make for a good snowshoeing experience, but would limit the photo opportunities.

So, with that I decided to cave into the peer pressure I was feeling and give snowboarding another try. Keep in mind that only other time I had been strapped to a snowboard was in the United Arab Emirates on fake snow in August in the middle of the desert.

The gear was smelly and sweaty from hundreds of other users, but it seemed solid and didn’t cost that much. It felt like I was carrying a coffee table with some attachment points for my feet. I wasn’t the only one in the group who had to rent equipment and so once we all had our gear sorted out, we trudged up to the beginner slope.

The ski lift loomed ahead of me and my stomach was starting to get that familiar feeling of unease, thinking I was going to hurt myself in some spectacular way.

As I was with a few others, we were able to share in our first few follies as we tried to get on the ski lift without issue. Of course I fell and they had to stop the slow-moving lift. Once I got untangled from the others I had taken down with my ski lift maneuver, we finally loaded without issue.

I was kind of proud it only took two tries to get it right on the upload, but the unload was another story. We managed to not fall from the lift, a dizzying height of maybe 20 feet off the ground, which was a win for our little group. That is until we managed to get to the top of the lift where we needed to get off the contraption from hell. There were only three of us on the chair we were assigned to, and we all managed to crash as soon as we got off the lift, causing them to stop the lift so we wouldn’t get run over by the next chair that was going to unload. Naturally we all got tangled and had to sort ourselves out before we could get on the slope.

Finally after the debacle of the chair lift – a beginner’s lift that was made to teach you to get on and off easily – we shouldn’t have been embarrassed, but we were.

The hill, to my inexperienced eyes, seemed like it was a million miles long and impossible to get down safely. Of course it was only 100 yards and not that bad, but my mind was playing with me and trying to convince me not to do what I was about to do. We all struggled to get up onto our boards, but we did. No one ever told me there were tricks to getting up onto the board that would make it easier for us, but then we also hadn’t signed up for lessons, so who were we to complain?

I want to lie of course and say I stood up on the board and rocketed down the hill with natural skill, but that would be false and not very convincing. Instead I did a side-to-side motion down the hill in what is normally called leafing, where you face down the hill and rack from left to right while doing everything in your power to keep upright while nature is doing everything in its power to bring you crashing down onto your tailbone. Nature managed to injure me a few times on my first go – my tailbone was the first casualty, then my shoulder – but coming away with a only few injuries was a good sign, or so I was told.

It wasn’t until after a lunch of some nachos and beer on that first day that I got the hang of actually riding a snowboard. I think it may have been the beer that relaxed me enough to try to move from the beginners hill and onto the actual slope, or it could have been the others in the group who wanted to try bigger and better things, and some more goading from my Aussie friends that finally got me onto the big lift.

First, the view was spectacular. Second the friends I was with made the day so much more than a painful lesson as to why you don’t do things like this on purpose. Third, the hill we hit after lunch was a million miles long.

The view took my breath away. That first time at the top of a mountain looking out over snowcapped mountaintops breaking through the clouds was amazing. It reminded me of how small we are and while we think our actions have impact, these mountains predate us and they will be here long after we are gone. The majesty of the mountains and the clean slate that fresh snow provides gives you a chance to look on your life in a way that you might not always get a chance to do. Snow makes the world seem clean and full of potential and the mountains seemed to be giving me that.

Friends are a must when you are first starting out – they congratulate, cajole, and carry you down the mountain when you need it. The friends I was with on that first day helped me off the lift, something I needed, and guided me to the easiest slope to give me the best chance to experience something they all described as “epic fun”.

That first run on a real slope seemed to take hours to complete. There was so much stopping and starting that it was hard to figure out how long it was really taking. One of my friends, who was a more experienced snowboarder than I was gave me some tips and also took me under his wing and showed me some tricks to help me stay upright.

The run started smoothly and then immediately went crashing into pain and hilarity. Without pain you don’t have perspective of what you shouldn’t be doing, and of course it’s really hilarious when you rocket down a hill and don’t have the knowledge of how to stop other than falling over. That run I managed to tweak my tailbone back in, after I had tweaked it out on the beginners slope earlier in the day, so that was a plus.

My riding style could be described as pointing the nose of the snowboard down the hill and shouting “BANZAI” and hoping I wasn’t going to hit anyone. I had no skill, style, or fear. One of my friends described me as a rocket with no guidance, or brakes.

By the time I reached the bottom of the hill on that first run, I had fallen fifteen times, run into at least four people, and crashed into a stream that was hidden by some deep snow. But I made it in one piece with minimal injury and I didn’t need ski patrol assistance getting off the mountain!

When you’re learning how to snowboard you can’t be distracted, you have to focus on where your body is in time and space and have to work with your mind to keep it clear and focused on the actions that keep you upright and moving downhill. There is no room for other thoughts, as your body needs your entire focus as you rocket down a hill with only a plank of wood strapped to your feet.

I won’t lie, I was shaken by that first real experience snowboarding. It was like nothing else I had ever experienced before. The reason I was shaken by the experience? I had found a place that allowed me to just let go of all my troubles and just be one with myself.

Transition again…?

It’s happening again, a transition in my life that I was planning in having happen, but not so soon. I was informed on Thursday that my job will no longer exist at the end of this month, that the company I’ve been working for since March is restructuring and eliminating the position and replacing it with two entry level positions. Being who I am and what I’ve seen over the years I’m not surprised or even shocked about it. I fact I’m going to help them with the transition to the new structure and then bow out. I know that it could have been very different and I could be angry and feel slighted but in truth I knew the role and position was not right for me or the company. They need to do something different if they want to succeed and grow and the structure they had until Thursday was not going to allow for that. This doesn’t really seem like a revelation to me, but I’m back in the transition mode of trying to keep busy and a roof over my head.

So here I am, not really out of a job but more or less getting myself back on the track of freelancing, which to be honest makes me happy.

Indeed…

My route home from Doha was a trial, literally a trial. It turns out the paperwork that was supposed to have been done back in January in regards to the settlement I had to agree to or be stuck in Doha for two years fighting fraudulent charges on my credit card from 2006. I picked the path of least resistance and paid the fee, went through the court system (which was all in a language I can neither speak or read) and was told all was taken care of back in January. Flash forward to March 1st at 5:00 AM Doha time and I’m at the airport trying to get through passport control and them telling me I was black listed because I had a court case against me… You can imagine the anger I felt. I was ready to puke, punch someone, and torch the country all in the same second. Of course I abstained from doing all of the above and instead I went to the source. I missed my flight to DC and instead went to the bank where the court case started. They swore up and down it wasn’t their fault, I found out later that it was, but I will leave that for the moment.

My journey on March first took me from the airport to the bank to the police station to the court (which was all in Arabic) I originally visited to cancel the court case against me, something the bank should have done and didn’t, back to customs and then back to the airport.

The moment at the airport when I went to passport control and the lady, dressed in the traditional garb, sitting behind the counter said to me “You can’t leave” was one of those moments that you don’t want to have. Not to say that being in Doha was bad, but I was just done with the country and I needed to leave. I was done, dusted and packed. Ready to leave and get home! But that wasn’t to be, Doha had other plans for me and I wasn’t very happy with them.

I was shunted to the side, told to follow a man in a thawb; he took my paperwork and had me follow him to a small office. After a brief conversation with some other official type person I was told I was “blacklisted” and I couldn’t travel. I was sick to my stomach, wanting to punch a wall or someone, but how could I get angry and these people, they were just doing their job. It’s not their fault; it’s never someone else’s fault is it?

Given no choice and no information I had no option but to go to immigration, I asked what the issue was and they said that I had a court case against me from the bank in question. It was supposed to be done in January, but it appeared someone didn’t check a box or call the right person or whatever happens when a government official doesn’t do their job as their supposed to. I was the victim of someone not doing what they’re supposed to do, but again who am I to blame? I don’t speak their language and I’m just a visitor in their country.

I went to the arrivals terminal next, had to pick up my bags, thankfully they didn’t get on the plane without me, and head back to the apartment I had been staying in, something I didn’t’ want to do, but had no choice.

During my time at the arrivals terminal, about two hours, I had a cup of coffee and stared researching what had happened, thank god for free Internet. I ended up calling all the people I could think of that could help me, not a long list given the nature of the issue I was facing. One of the people I ended up calling was the banker that had helped broker the settlement I had to pay for credit card charges that were not mine, but again what am I supposed to do? After calling him at home (waking him up) and asking him what the hell happened, he gave me the advice that I needed to go back to his office and get a copy of the letter saying that I was free of all charges from his bank, which I did. After my time running to the bank and trying to figure out who fucked up, I found a great deal of peace, I don’t know where it came from but I managed to find peace in all the angst I felt. I was able to center myself and go through all the issues of the day with less anger than I feel I should have had.

After the bank and then going to the police station to check my record I discovered that the court case I had thought was complete and done, was not in fact. Someone had not checked the box indicating that I was supposed to be able to travel again. Years ago if this had happened to me I would have put my fist through someone’s face / wall / torn someone a new asshole. I managed to find myself delving deeper into a peaceful calm, no matter what happened to me in the fucked up place I was in, I was determined to not get angry. I was prepared for the worst, as I always am, but in this case it was not the worst I was thinking about.

I managed to make it back to the court I had originally gone to get my court case canceled and had to go through the trials (no pun intended) of trying to navigate a place where I don’t’ speak or read the language and try to get something as simple as canceling a court case done. I got all my files in order and it turned out someone in January didn’t check the box stating that they needed to cancel my travel ban. That mistake cost me an extra 50 QAR in fees to get people to type my forms in Arabic and some fun times following my court file around the building. I didn’t let that file out of my sight; I felt that if I kept it in sight it would get taken care of.

Now keep in mind it’s still the same day I was supposed to travel and it’s now getting towards the end of the day for government and I’m looking to get the fuck outta dodge on the same day.

I ended up sitting in front of a Qatari judge and he looked at me, looked at my paperwork and then back to me and said “You come back Monday”… Given that the day I was sitting in front of him was a Thursday and I was less than thrilled about staying an extra day, I was less than thrilled with his response. I asked him nicely how long would this take really and I had a ticket for this afternoon so I couldn’t come back on Monday as I needed to travel today. He was a nice enough guy to recognize that I was ready to leave and wasn’t ready to wait any more. He managed to stamp my paperwork and get it ready for the guys who had to tick the box saying I could travel.

After all the fucked up things I had to do to get the hell out of the sandbox, it took only a few hours of running around to get myself on a plane. Granted it cost me an extra 3500 QAR to get the first flight out of Qatar, something I was willing to pay to get the f’ing hell out of the sandbox. I was done, dusted, ready to leave and ready to get back to the cold and shitty weather that is Seattle in the late winter.

When it was all said in done, someone forgetting to check a simple box on the form (I know it was a simple check box because I have copies of the forms, not that I can read them, but I can tell they are the same forms with the only difference a simple box being checked) cost me 1000 USD. I’m still keeping my cool, not getting angry about the whole situation, but I’m planning on getting even….

Apple has me by the balls and here’s why….

I made the leap back into Apple last year by buying a used MacBook pro, it was a necessity at the last minute as my dell laptop succumbed to the dreaded nvidia failure that almost all laptops had from that year. I was going to be traveling the next day and I didn’t have time or the patience to order a new laptop and besides I was on a plane for an event the next day so what was I supposed to do?

Flash forward a year and I’m in Doha, coming to the close of my contract for the Arab games and getting ready to go home and what should happen? My MacBook pro went tits up… The same nvidia issue has struck again! Normally that would mean I would shift it another manufacturer, but I won’t and let me tell you why… Apple customer support is the best I’ve ever experienced, I take my laptop to a physical store, staffed by knowledgeable people (at least the ones I’ve dealt with) and they take care of me, yes sometimes it costs me money to get it repaired, but most of the times it’s covered by the warranty of repair and service that apple has. I can’t tell you how comforting it is to have an actual store with real people inside of it to drop off a piece of equipment that is critical to my business and have it repaired in a timely manner actually is. So my first stop when I get home, after of course I get off the plane and take care of some phone things, the apple store to drop my laptop off and get repaired.

The next step after that is going to be back to the apple store, in hopes the warranty of service will cover the repair of the MacBook, if it doesn’t it won’t hurt my feelings too much as I’m budgeting to buy a new MacBook pro.

So the moral of the story and why apple has me by the balls? Simple, they have a good product, but the product is put to shame by the customer service, they are attentive and they take care of you, they don’t make you feel stupid and they actually understand the subtle art of customer service. All the times I’ve had to go into the store to get something done, I’ve never once been made to feel stupid or felt like I was less of a person because I had a problem with their hardware.

My hat is off to you apple and the products and service you provide, I hope you continue to do good work and keep us nerds in good hardware.

Exit stage left

Well I’ve started my exit procedure for the Arab games… So far I’m a little freaked, not that I’m leaving, but that they’ve taken all forms of identification that I can use to be recognized as a US citizen… I have no ID card and no passport in hand; since rule #1 when traveling internationally is no never relinquish your passport for any reason I’m a little paranoid. Also given my luck with legal system in Qatar I’m freaked even more than usual.

How do I deal with this freak out? I go to the one pub that doesn’t require a form of ID to get in and have a few pints.

My bags are replaced and mostly packed, I have a weeks worth of clothes laid out and ready, I’m planning on getting rid of some more things before I do my final pack. Right now I’m looking at to checked bags and a single carry in. I’m hopefully going to learn from my last trip to Doha and pack my gifts into my carry on so they don’t get lost at sea like they did the last time I traveled from the sandbox.

March 1st I should be home enjoying the company of good friends and a special someone at I can’t wait to see!

Suitcases….

Packing for home and discovering your two suitcases that have traveled the world with you have developed quirks you can’t live with anymore are ready for the scrap heap. I’ve retired my large Samsonite and have traded it in for a North Face wheeled duffle. It’s not perfect and it’s not what I usually go for, I know it sounds as though I’m dating the thing, but my luggage have been with me for quite some time and it’s like anything else you own for many years, it’s comfortable and you know all the quirks and tricks to make it better. Tis time to move on and get a new suitcase :-).