Monday, December 27, 2010

old friends

I've seen a lot of people while back in the Bay Area. In that sense, it's been really good to be back for these last couple weeks. And now, I'm a day away from heading back to work in a galaxy far, far away, that possibly exists a long time ago as well. I'm not really sure about that last part. Air travel causes relativistic effects, right?

Every trip home for the last few years, and especially this one and the one back in March has had a checklist feel to it for seeing people, hitting up certain restaurants, and trying to run various errands typically related to work-related paperwork or banking business to deal with while I'm near a branch. In a way, it's good to be busy, but at the same time, I almost always return to work not feeling very rested. Of course, that may have something to do with the 20+ hours of flying time and about 10 hours of layover time I will have between the time I takeoff from SFO and the time I land in POG. I know the obvious solution I will hear from many (and have already heard), which takes variations on the form of "quit your job and come back to California". No, not with the unfinished business to, well, finish.

Despite all this, I saw someone from college yesterday I had not seen since graduation and it was great. Great to know people are doing well, in particular this person has seen some ups and downs in the last six years, but is in a much better place now. As cliche as it may sound, I'm happy to see that my friend is happy and doing well and moving forward with life.

In general, I've seen several people I have not seen since college graduation or even longer ago from high school days. In the sense that it means anything, these are my 'people'. This is where I am from after all and this is the closest thing to a real home I have, but it's still not home. Yet.

north power station?

Warning: this post is incredibly esoteric. With that stated, I was just skipping around some movies on my laptop and was taking another gander at selected scenes from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Near the end, when they are trying to destroy the Death Star, Lando Calrissian says to Wedige Antilles, "go for the power regulator on the north tower." Wait a second. North? They are in the center of the Death Star. There is no north. Or south or east or west. It's the middle of a miniature planetoid. How does that have any meaning to them unless they have already assigned a reference system to the Death Star? I demand answers!

Friday, December 24, 2010

ronin christmas

One of my favorite movies, perhaps because it leaves itself with an element of mystery in the end, is Ronin. Plus, it has excellent car-chase sequences that feature not only superbly great driving and power sliding but also no ridiculous car explosions.

There is a great sentiment expressed in a line (or two lines if you will) between two of the primary characters:
Vincent (Jean Reno): What do you want for Christmas?
Sam (Robert De Niro): My two front teeth.

Sounds about right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

no appointment necessary

What a scam. Despite what the US Department of State website says and their somewhat helpful people on the 877 phone system say, you do NOT need to make an appointment if you go to the Passport Agency in person. It's all lies. In fact, the line that people without an appointment were directed into to get a number was shorter than the line for people with an appointment.

Friday, December 17, 2010

not exactly a vacation week

That aforementioned thing in my previous post had to do with work. I had business-related matters to take care of in Texas, so this really hasn't been much of a week off. And now, it's ending with me having no passport and lots of uncertainty on where it is and generally lots of stress and tension from this situation. I've been chasing down FedEx and the embassy trying to get someone to go the extra mile for me and it has not really panned out very well so far. The eternal optimist in me still has hope, but the realist in me will always go with the old standby that "hope is not a plan." Thus, the plan is centered around an appointment at the Passport Agency office in San Francisco scheduled for next Tuesday, a rather inconvenient time. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

done with that thing about the thing

Well, that's done with. You know, that thing I'm here in this place for. While not strictly over, at least this part is done for now. I'm flying back to California tomorrow, landing at SFO in the morning, hanging out with a college friend in the afternoon and probably chilling with the bro somewhere to watch the Thursday night 49ers game.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

storage space

Ah ha! So that's where I had been keeping that great duffel bag. It's making the trek back to cloudy California now along with what reasonably fits into an extra checked bag.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Still good, but one day I'll fly Virgin America to see which domestic carrier is tops.

Friday, December 10, 2010

getting stuff done

It's good to have a functioning battery in my MacBook again. It actually enables a laptop to be used atop of one's lap. At least the AppleCare plan has partially paid for itself now. In other news, I've been making the rounds, getting stuff done, whatever that means.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

one more flight

One more flight. Landing at 13:15 (more or less) in SFO.

POG airport security, or not

I've just realized, and apaprently never paid attention prior to this, that there is absolutely nos security screening done at the Port Gentil airport. Of course, there is screening in Libreville, but Port Gentil is a bit more, um, relaxed of an operation. Also, for whatever reason, even on a domestic flight from Port Gentil to Libreville, they do a passport check upon landing. I suspect the two are not entirely unrelated.

leaving now

Getting on my first flight in two hours.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

coming home Wednesday

I'll be back in the Bay Area on Wednesday the 8th. I'll be around for almost 3 weeks, but will be taking a side trip out to Texas for some stuff from around the 12-16th. Cell is still the same 505 number.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

last minute bookings

For about the last 2 years, I have taken to making my travel bookings very late in the planning process. I used to plan my trips quite meticulously, knowing my travel dates well in advance and looking for the cheapest airfare for at least a couple weeks.

Now, it's much more, not quite spontaneous, but certainly more haphazard. I think the transition occurred when I started working in Hungary for a couple different reasons. It's a mix of trip locale, people I'm going with or seeing, cost, and my own work responsibilities. That last one is pretty key. I'm going home soon, but I've twice postponed the trip by a couple days. More responsibility here makes it harder to just pack up and go. Plus, and I'm not saying this takes a lot of time, but actually booking tickets on a slow network connection means making time and free time is hard to scrounge up. But hey, it's done. I'll be back soon enough.

Friday, December 03, 2010

coming home soon

I'll be State-side sometime next week. Travel plans are not finalized, but details should be coming soon. It'll be good, really good to be back.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ste. Barbe holiday tomorrow

It's a holiday tomorrow, apparently Ste. Barbe's Day, the saint that watches out for the safety of oil and gas industry workers. It is a public holiday so people will get off from work tomorrow unless critical for operations. That's just super. Now, this is the best part: It wasn't decided until today that tomorrow would be a public holiday. Maybe I was spoiled in the States, but I'm sort of used to holidays being known and predictable and everyone knows which ones represent days off form work, or at least extra pay if they work. In fact, I'm pretty sure we know our holidays several weeks in advance, possibly even months in advance. Months! Crazy, I know.

They pulled the same stunt on the last major holiday when it was not declared until about 4 days before the actual day off. Good governance is not easy to achieve.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

water utility strike

Starting last week, the employees at the local water utility went on strike. Since then, water shut-offs have been rotating through the city. We went two days at the base last week with no running water. The toilets were not so fresh during that time. Home has been hit and miss, mostly miss, as in missing running water. It's been off for at least some of day on 5 of the last 7 days and I haven't heard anything that leads me to believe the water issues have been resolved. Fun times had by all. You can all speculate on the significance and convenience of running water on your own time. Meanwhile, I'm going to use the toilet here at work before I go home in case it's not running there.