So Was Today Really All That Different?

May 15 2006

And so ... after a "short day" of 12 hours of work ... Decy came to pick me up from work.  There were the normal frustrations with the job, the normal "kilo challenges", the normal traffic issues .... as they say in Indonesian "sama sama" ... its the same .... But, maybe it isn't the same. Maybe today was just a little bit better ... maybe it was because this morning I "gave thanks" before going to work.

Tonight, I had a quiet dinner with Decy at a new Chinese restaurant.  We enjoyed our personal time together.  Decy and I have now been married nearly 3 years .... unfortunately, for various reasons we have not been able to share our anniversary together ... this year is the same (tomorrow I leave for the US to attend Paul's graduation) ... maybe next year.  In the meantime, I give thanks ....

Good night, selamat tidur, boa noite, buenos noches ....

Time for Reflection

May 14 2006

Monday morning, 430am, almost time to go to work.  Normally, I would be dragging myself out of bed grumbling something about "hating Mondays".  But today is different, first, its a short week and tomorrow I fly back to the US to spend some time with my sons (I could grumble about Decy and the girls not getting to join me; but I won't).

I could grumble about not getting to have a decent phone call with my mother on Mother's Day (probably due to Sunspots), but I won't.

I could grumble about having to get up so early and work such long hours; but I won't.

TODAY IS DIFFERENT.  Today is my 48th birthday.  While not a "milestone" year it is still the marking of another year in passing.  Time passes so fast ... so many things happen ... some good, some not so good.  I can feel myself getting older ... especially if I run a very hard hash ... or go dancing all night (yes, I still do that).  Nevertheless, I feel good about my life ... I feel healthy, my weight is under control, I have a large and growing family that loves each other ... and actually gets along.  Perhaps ... just perhaps, I am the happiest man in the world in that regard.

I give thanks to God for my three sons:  Josh, Chris, Paul.  I could write hours and hours about them; but they already know in their hearts how much I love them ... how proud of I am of them ... and how I would do anything for them.

I give thanks to God for my two daugthers:  Chely and Thasya.  Bless their hearts, I have put them through so much over the last four years; yet they continue moving forward, growing, learning, and adapting.  They are wonderful girls ... and I hope and pray the best for their future.

I give thanks to God for Liz and Daniel; daughter-in-law and grandson .... such special people to come into our lives and family.

I give thanks to God for my wife Decy.  While God is the source of my "being" ... she is the source of my sense of direction, of understanding about life, of learning to "relax", of learning to accept what life gives. Without her, I would have physically, spiritually, and emotionally died while living in Indonesia in 2000-2001.  I owe everything to her.

I give thanks to God for my sister and her family.  They have seen me do so many "weird" and oftentimes "unacceptable" things.  Yet, they have stood by me ... and we still remain friends and family.

I give thanks to God for my dad, Poncho.  He came into my life when I was a restless teenager and he stood by me ... sometimes as a friend, sometimes as a father ... didn't matter ... he stood by me.

I give thanks to God for my mother.  God knows how much I love her and how much I appreciate the life long sacrifice she has made.  Surely, there will be a special place in heaven just for her.

And finally, I give thanks to God for God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  Without their mercy ... I am nothing ... without their protection ....  I would not be alive today ... without their sacrifice ... I would have no hope for tomorrow.

TODAY IS DIFFERENT ... I could grumble ... its 447am ... time to leave for work ... BUT I WON'T.  To everyone reading this message .... God bless you !!!

As promised ... a weekend full of events

May 14 2006

Dear family, see pics on BD party .... hash .... and mother's day lunch .... sorry, I'm lazy to attach them .... and today is my last day of rest in Angola before I travel again ...

Still 16 ... ha ha ha ha ...

May 13 2006

Ok, ok. So I promised a blog on Saturday to talk about the Friday night celebration.  It was absolutely fantastic ... wow, Valerie decided to cook the meal ... so all I did was provide the 48 year old port ... and the 48 year old man.

Food was great. Dinner was great. Conversation was great.  Everythng was great.  Even caught my second wind and did karaoke unitl 3am .... until Franck and Decy got tired.

So, what about pics. Well, Decy says she will download them tomorrow (Sunday).  In the meantime, remember that I told you about our Monday dinner with the Indonesian Ambassador?? Well here are a couple of pics from that event.

Left to right:  Indonesian Ambassador, Decy, me.


... bet you don't need me to tell you this is NOT the ambassador .. .nor me ......

Ciao Ciao

Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed ....

May 11 2006

Well, not really ... not 16 and certainly have been kissed at least once or twice.  Monday, 15-May is my 48th BD.   Under normal circumstances, I would celebrate the event (on that day) with all my might ... but celebrating on Monday doesn't feel right.  So, tonight, Friday, Decy and I will celebrate my birthday.

About 3 years ago while in Portugal, I bought a 1958 bottle of port ... it was quite expensive.  I have been saving it for my 50th birthday (you can do the math).  BUT, lo and behold, it appears I won't be here in Angola to celebrate the momentous event ... and I don't want to risk losing or breaking the bottle during the move .... so, Decy and I decided we would enjoy the bottle tonight.

Now, how does a person enjoy such a special bottle?  Only with special friends that would truly appreciate what is about to come out of that old, old, old bottle (yikes, I feel old now).  So, Decy and I have invited Franck and Valerie Boursier (a french couple) over for dinner tonight .... no doubt we will have a wonderful dinner ... snacks, meal, port, conversation ... and probably karaoke ....

Stay tuned for a Saturday phusebox-post ... with a pic or two .... in the meantime, I have some work to do ....

Ciao ciao ...

A Walk Down Memory Lane ...

May 10 2006

(song) ... Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away ... how I long for yesterday ...

I telephoned Paul, my youngest son last night.  Today is his last day of high school ... only 2 hours of classes, and then he is done ... forever .... graduation is next Saturday, 20-May.  Seems like only yesterday that I held him in my hand (yes, that is a singular "hand") as a newborn baby.

"Fast forward" back 18 years .... Zany Lady is pregnant with the very impatient soon to be Paul William Morgan ... seems young Paul doesn't want to hang around momma's womb for the normal 40 weeks .... so .... after weeks of bedrest, weeks of medication, and all other types of then medical wonders .... out pops Paul at about 36 weeks.  The kid's kinda small .... in fact .... really small.  How small?  Well, small enough to lay him in the palm of my left hand comfortably .... and so, I nickname him "Peanut" (because he was the size and shape of our pewter peanut-shaped candy dish).  Name sticks ... for years (and to this day) I call him Peanut .... depending on my mood.

Each of you other bloggers, share your life with others ... you are, generally speaking, a relatively young generation .... you think about tomorrow .... with little thought of yesterday.  REMEMBER, to enjoy each and every day .... to thank God for the opportunity to wake up ... to be with your friends, family, and loved ones.  Time passes so fast .... so very fast (doesn't it Josh ?).

At times, I regret my life of being a "desperado" ... and at times, I am thankful for having had the opportunity to travel all over the world.  Taking everything into consideration, I believe my life is richer for having been overseas ... for the people I have met and shared my life with and loved.  I also believe that my being overseas (with the boys having traveled considerably with me), has also shaped Josh, Chris, and Paul into the wonderful people they are today.

I thank God for my family and friends ..... today .... on Paul's last day of high school ..... Go forward my son ... follow the path that God has set before you .... I love you, Daddy. 

Two Cars in Every Garage ... One Aggie in Every Country

May 09 2006

Yesterday while riding to work in the kilo in the wee morning hours (yet still dark, that is how "wee wee" it was) .... I noticed that an oncoming truck had these super-duper (thanks Josh) mega bright lights on ... so, my driver being the safe person that he is .... flashed his lights ... quickly ... flash, flash, flash, short pause ....  flash, flash .... 5 times total .....

The oncoming driver, being the very intelligent person that he was, recognized the signal for what it was ... so ... he flashed his lights .... quickly .... flash, flash, flash, short pause .... flash, flash .... 5 times ... and then returned the lights back to the super-duper bright position .... totally blinding us and nearly causing us to drive into the ditch ....  communications at its best ...

So  ... what was the other guy thinking .... "yup, I can flash my lights too, duhhhh" ... or pehaps ... "yo, Adrian, how ya doin?" ... yep yep yep ... there must be an aggie in every country .....

A Just Reward ....

May 09 2006

My reward for helping out Saturday night ... jetlag and all ... 

Selamat Malam Ambassador

May 08 2006

And so, as I continue digging out from my work backlog, Decy and I are invited to have dinner with the Indonesia Ambassador.  Now, meeting high level government officials, especially foreign diplomats is really not my style .... but, it is something I had to do.

Here in Angola, they do not have an Indonesian Embassy.  Those types of actvities are handled from the country of Namibia (due south of here).  Seems the Ambassador wanted to see how Angola was evolving/improving and wanted to meet some of the Indonesians that were here .... and we were selected to help represent the community.

Obviously (at least to Decy) my work clothes would not be appropriate for meeting such a high level official.  And so, she brought me a nice Batik shirt, which I promptly changed into in the kilo on the way to dinner. Decy was wearing traditional Indonesian clothes .... I will try to post a pic tonight.

Dinner was pretty straight forward, conversation was interesting as it was 80% in Bahasa Indonesian (Language) and I only have about 5% comprehension.  However, on a number of occassions the Ambassador spoke with me (most of the time in English) ... a very pleasant gentlemen.

Food was mixed cultures, some empanadas (fried appetizers), yellow rice, Chix Rica-Rica (Decy's spicy chix), and a french roll with a sweet sauce.  I was particularly fond of the Chix R2 .... and so was the Ambassador.  In fact, he advised I was a lucky man for marrying such a good cook .... he he he .... don't I know

Wake up Little Susie; Wake Up !

May 07 2006

Ah yes, the ebb and flow of life in Angola ... especially with jetlag.  After doing various and asundry (is that redundant ?) paperwork on Sunday until 5pm, I finally tried to give it a rest.  So, being as Ms. Decy loves to sing .... we embarked on an evening of Karoke.

Sadly, neither of the girls joined us.  Thasya was busy doing Humanities homework and Chely couldn't peel herself away from Gilmore Girls - Series 3, which I brought from the US.  So, it was just Decy (getting 95+ on scores of 1:100) and me (getting scores of 15-65, when singing solo) ... I'm just too embarrassed when I sing solo to belt it out, which is what is required for a decent score.

After digging through 6,600 songs I found one that I wanted to do on behalf of Grandma Suzy .... you got it ... WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE !! Of course, just like in the song, my rendition was "boring, and didn't have a good plot" .... I think I even put Decy to sleep on that one .... oh well .... at least we were together ....

Home at Last ...

May 07 2006

Arrived in Angola on Saturday morning.  Overall, the 14-hr flight from Houston was ok, no real issues; but could not sleep well at all on the plane.  Landed in Luanda, cleared immigration, got luggage (mine was undamaged, unlike the totally crushed 42 inch flat screen tv that the Angola govt official tried to ship in [bet he gets a new one next week, free of charge and full of apologies ... its good to be the king ...]), cleared customs, went for a kilo ride to the house.  Ah yes, wonderful Luanda; still the same sites, sounds, and smells.  Got home, dropped my bags, and rested for a while.  Ate a big bowl of asian noodles with lots of chilies ... ahhhh, tummy satisification.

Visited with Decy and Chely (Tasya was with a friend). Oh oh, decision time.  Have to chose between girls basketball at 1pm (outside in the sun), attending adult party at 8pm, or shaparoning a teen party at 8am .... yikes, I'm jetlagged, this is nearly impossible !!!???!!! Or is it .... ok, think, think, think .... got it.  Laid down for a short nap (normally a no-no with jetlag) ... missed the girls b-ball game ... got up, did some karoke with Decy ... and scored a 100 on "Hold Me" ... don't know how, kasihan de lu Tasya .... he he he ... then shaparoned the teen party until 12-midnight (I even danced a bit).

Got home, head spinning, water ... water ... water ... I need water.  Drinking water ... stare off into space for 30 minutes while Decy is trying to keep me awake long enough to drink the water (almost 1.5 liter) .... fall asleep some time .... dreams dreams dreams ... where am I? What time is it?  What is going on?  Awake. Asleep. Awake. Can't focus eyes.  Finally can't sleep any more .... realized it is 1130am ..... wow, that is something for me.

Ok, so now it is 1pm, need to eat. Then have some paperwork to do ... then I will probably do a little karoke before falling asleep.

Ciao Ciao.

Death by Crawfish ...

May 04 2006

Ok, so I did it ... broke down and bought 3 buckets of crawfish (~10.5 pounds).  So, which is better?  Eating beef until you drop?  Or, eating crawfish until you drop?  I will know better tomorrow morning .... but prelim results indicate that crawfish won .... two claws down !!

We had a big budget meeting today with the Angolan govt.  It lasted 2 hours (as per the plan).  Everything was ok, which means it was boring.  If I hadn't done my work it would have been "eventful".  But, because I did my work (for the last 3 months) it was almost boring.

Ok, enough rambling. I need to go pack ... to go back to Luanda in the morning.

Ciao Ciao.

Death by Meat ....

May 04 2006

Had a business dinner last night here in Houston.  Lots of high level folks ... I feel like the luggage boy ... oh well ... and so we go to Fogo de Chao, which is a Brazilian Churrascaria ... which is style of "Brazilian BBQ".  Think meat, meat, meat ... Here's how it works ... you have a little card on your table, by your plate. One side is green (give me more food), the other side is red (stop feeding this pig).  As long as the green side is up ... the meat keeps coming and coming and coming.

I was a good boy and didn't eat so much that I was sick ... although I WAS waddling a bit as I left.  MY FAVORITE - GARLIC STEAK.  MY LEAST FAVORITE - PARMESAN CHIX.  MY ONLY DISAPPOINTMENT - NO CHIX HEARTS.

Speaking of food, and for those you are "in the know" .... reservations at the Broker in Denver are made !!!!

Speaking of food, again.  I think I have some free time this evening.  I may head over to "Ragin Cajun" and see if "death by crawfish" is more fulfilling.

Thieves .... thieves

May 02 2006

And so, the hash t-shirt saga goes.  Its a long convoluted and probably boring story; and I won't bore you with the details.  But, as per my earlier blog, our t-shirt printer only delivered half the number of t-shirts we requested (275 vs 550).  Now, (a) he doesn't want to give us our money back, (b) he doesn't want to complete the t-shirts, nor (c) give us some mix that leaves us whole (with worthless t-shirts, of course).  ARRRGGGHHHHH.

As for my trip to Houston, it continues to be plagued with challenges, issues, and disappointments.  Howerver, I am moving forward and anxious to go back to Angola ... so I can be with my wife.  

The Morning After

May 01 2006

Ah, jetlag, such a wonderful thing.  No other time am I allowed to fall asleep at my desk at work and get away with it.  No other time can I wake up at 1am and feel "refreshed".

Today is Day 2 of my jetlag, if you consider my day of arrival as Day 1.  Actually, it shouldn't be too bad as there is only a 6 hour difference between Houston and Angola.  However, I dropping last night at 4pm ... but held on until 8am.  Wide awake a midnight, 130am, 300am.  Got up at 3am.

Watch this space .... by noon I'll be a split personality: winkin, blinkin, and nod.  In the meantime, its 430am ... so I better get some work done while I can.

Oh yeah, usually your body adjusts its body-clock about 2 hours a day ... so I should be in good shape by Wednesday or Thurday ... just in time to get on the plane Friday morning and head back to Angola !!

Civilization at Last

April 30 2006

Just a short blog to let everybody know I have arrived safely in Houston.  Not so sound thou.  Seemed like every step of the way had a challenge.

a. BAD traffic to airport

b. No a/c in Luanda airport (HOT)

c. Plane reservations messed up; had to wait 20 minutes in the heat

d.  Shoes kept setting off the metal detectors

e. Tripped on stairs to waiting area

f. Oversized man on plane with me, snoring, slobbering, and needing 2 belts so he could fasten up

g. 15.5 hour plane ride

h.  Emigration insisted I give the the hotel address (on the Customs form), had to get out of line and go find it

i. No car reservation; but got lucky

j. Hotel reservation ok; but luggage stuck somewhere for 30 minutes

k. No phone access b/coz something thought I was paying with cash.

>>> sooner or later jetlag will hit

>>> ahhh, such a great day to be alive ... It gets better ... I think

Kids Hash & Travel

April 29 2006

Quickie - friends and loved ones. Hash was great. Smaller than expected but had lots of fun.

I'm now showered, cleaned up, and ready to go to the airport .... hasta luego.

For the Avoidance of Doubt

April 29 2006

a.  I don't do drugs

b.  In Angola we call a car/SUV a "kilo"

c.  Whisking away isn't always a bad thing

.... on on ... time to ice down 10 coolies of drinks, plus 10 cases of soda, plus 24 bottles of water, and 17 bottles of kool-aid, not including hauling an asundry of Reglious Advisor punishments .... my clothes, Decy's food ... and a partridge in a pear tree ... oh yeah, and the 275 KIDS t-shirts ....

I'll be glad to get on the plane just so I can relax

Don't Go Where the Volcano Blows

April 28 2006

Stand back !!! Don't come near me right now.  Urrrgggghhhh.  Angola.  Uuurrrggggghhhh. Sooo, what's up ??? uuuurrrggghh

As per previous blogs, you should know that I am very active in the Luanda Hash.  Well, this Saturday is the "2006 Kids Hash".  It is a really big deal.  A REALLY BIG DEAL for us.  We are expecting more than 300 people (perhaps 400-500), at a time when we normally have about 80.  Decy has worked countless hours designing a very special commemorative t-shirt.  I have worked very hard to get my company to sponsor 1/2 of the t-shirts .... so we could give the kids shirts away for free ... and sell matching t-shirts to the adults.  We have even advertised about the t-shirts.

So, what's the problem?  Well, last week when the t-shirt place made the proofs, they were ugly ... they were COYOTE UGLY.  They were DOUBLE-SACK COYOTE UGLY.  So, Decy redesigned the t-shirt appliques ... took all night.  All's going well, supposedly ... so the place said.  Decy was supposed to pick up the shirts on Wednesday (Saturday is the run).  They delay her until Thursday PM.  She gets there ... NO T-SHIRTS, not even one.  They don't have enough ink to do all 550 shirts, so they did NONE .... ok, regroup, rethink, contingency plan ...  come up with an idea.  Bingo. Got it.  Here we go !!!!

Great ... all set ... pick up the shirts on Friday (yikes, hash is Saturday, getting close).  400pm, I get this call from Decy .... "darling, they only have 275 t-shirts".  What?  Huh?  Come again?  After about 5 phone calls, I learn that the "other 275" will be available in 1 week ... yeah right ..... like 1 week will do us any good when in 22 hours 300-500 people will be trying to get the shirts .... and in 1 week ... there will be none .... MONEY LOSER ...  the hash doesn't have $$$ to buy t-shirts that cannot be sold (we are very much a non-profit organization).

So, I'm blowing (but a controlled blow, barely) ... I say a very small prayer (hard to pray right now) ... "so, Decy, what size t-shirts HAVE THEY MADE ?".  She says:  Right now they have only made the kids sizes.

THANK GOD ... a miracle !!!!

Sooo ... to make a long story short ... we cancelled the other 275 (the adult sizes) ... we will profusely give our apologies and say "this is Angola" ... and thank God that at least the kids sizes were made .... as for the other 275 ... well, on Tuesday Decy has a challenge trying to get back our $1,500 for that half of the order (that was not filled).

As they would say on a hash "on on" .... I will let you know how the hash goes, but be patient ... remember I have to fly to Houston .... and will have a kilo waiting for me at the hash to "whisk me away" ... and to the airport .... as if I were the president.  BUT, actually, I'm not ... just the Religious Advisor.

And now ... the end is near ... I face, the final curtain ...

April 27 2006

.... well, not exactly.  BUT, a major milestone was reached at work.  Its probably boring to you ... and sometimes it is to me too.  But, here goes.

Twice a year we have to present our operating plan and budget to our partners and the Angolan government.  This is quite an exercise, requires about 4 months to do, and literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce.  After uncountable meetings (at least it seemed that way) ... visions, revisions, re-revisions, and disillusioned visions ... its done ..... 13 gazillion barrels of oil for thirsty American SUVs .... trabillions of dollars in investments .... maximosos raises for all the angolan staff .... $5 raise for me.

Now, to reduce it to a nice, easy to read 53 page booklet all to be reviewed in 1.5 hours in Houston next week.  Why Houston?  Don't ask ... but I go there on Saturday ... and come back in a week ... hey, so what it is a 14 hour flight each direction ... for a 1.5 hour meeting.

As so ... I have one master original ... off to the copier machine ... BROKEN.  Ok, so I go to the backup copier machine ... LOUSY QUALITY.  Ok, so I go to the printer and start printing originals for each person ... something WRONG ... colors come out on only half a page.  Ok, so I go to other printer .... STREAKS.  Ok, so I go to still another printer .... it kinda works.

Time to bind ... need 1-7 dividers ... NONE.  Ok, how about 1-10 ... NONE.  Ok, how about 1-5 ... got it. Regigger the index.  Time to bind ..... finally.  Want to here the saga on the transmittal letters ... fu-get-about-it ....would take too long.

I'm tired. I'm drained. I need a break.

So Many Blogs - So Little Time

April 26 2006

This morning I jumped (ok, staggered) out of bed at 330am, which is my normal wake up time.  Ready, willing, able to go to work ... sort of.  What?  Left turn, right turn, straight ahead?  Which way do I go?  Is this a hash "check it out"?  Hmmm, I'm so confused.

I love my wife.  She is the sauce on my spagetti.  She's the sugar in my kool-aid.  She's the cinnamon on top of my french toast.  Ah yes, she loves to re-arrange furniture.  As I understand it, she "gets bored" with the location of furniture about very 3-4 months .... so she moves everything.  I think this is a woman thing, and might be connected to the stars, moons, and seasons.  BUT, thankfully, similar to Avian Flu, this furniture moving disease hasn't mutated into a "husband changing" disease.

Anyway, WAY BACK in January, Decy decided to rearrange the bedroom.  She, in a sense, rotated everything 90 degrees.  It looked really nice; honestly.  Only problem was the cable to the TV didn't reach .... thus, no TV.  Now, its not that I'm bored in bed with Decy ... its just that once in a while I like to watch CNN and find out if I made any money in the stock market.  Sooooo, we put in a "work order" for our housing compound to attach the cable to the TV.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, and waited ..... are you getting my drift?

Decy went off on vacation to Indonesia, and came back 4 weeks later .... still waiting ... I work on a $2G budget for the company ... and still waiting.  So, I tease Decy the orther day about "why are we waiting?" (sorry, that's a hash thing) ... I think I made her feel guilty - that, or this periodic "woman thing" took over.  You see, I went upstairs to the bedroom, only to find that she had once again moved all the furniture.  Looks kinda nice .... AND the TV and cable can connect.

So tell me, dear readers, did Decy move the furniture because she loved me ... or was I on the lucky side of this woman-thing .... because we all know, the "work order" for connecting the TV to the cable is forever lost in limbo-land.

Oh, BTW, it was a left turn, then a right turn, from the bed to the bathroom (at least from my side)  ... its sooooooo confusing at 330am ....


April 26 2006

And so, what to write about tonite?  Decy says I should write about something that has me excited.  So, I decided to blog on this Sat's hash ... and to upload some pics/other about Sat. BUT, cannot  ... bummer.

What's special about Sat? Well this is our 2nd "Kids Hash". So what?  Well, hashing is very much an adult activity. But, in Luanda there are very few "family things".  So, after many "issues" in 2002, 2003, and 2004, we moved the hash ever so slowly towards "family friendly".  That's been a challenge. We have lost people ... and we have gained families. BUT, we have followed our heart.

Last Sept we had our 1st Kids Hash. Normally, we run 60-80 folks.  100 is good. 120 is wowzer.  Well, last Sept .... we ran 250 ... yep ! what a surprise.  And so, we are gearing up for our 2nd Kids Hash ... don't know how it will go ... but we are getting lots of buzz (like an internet site) ... we hear that many groups are coming in droves .... could we have 250 again? 350? 450? 600?  Can you imagine 500 people running/ walking on a hash.  Hard to think about it.  But, we are gearing up .... we have 550 specially designed t-shirts (from Decy) being delivered on Thursday .... we have some 15-20 coolers of sodas, water, & beer coming ... we have tons of kool-aid queueing up ... we have 600 chupa-chupa suckers being bought ... we have boy/girl scouts by the dozens coming to sell cookies and brownies .... stay tuned.  I am hyped up about this ... sure beats herding cats and putting bumble bees in your pocket !!!!

Christmas in a Bowl

April 25 2006

I just love my family, they bring me such joy and entertainment.  Came home early yesterday to find a very cheerful family.  Decy was especially proud of herself yesterday (Tues) having just completed a major coup.  She succeeded in finding (probably on the Luanda streets, not in the stores) some fresh chili.  She proudly showed me a 3 quart bowl full of fresh super-duper (thx Josh) hot chilis .... some green, some red, some yellow, some orange.  It looked like Christmas in a bowl.  And the best part ... Decy proudly proclaiming that the bowl full of chilis cost ONLY $30 .... watch out makers of now defunct Phen-Phen ... not only is this stuff cheaper ... and works better ... but on the bottom of each chili in very small print are the words "thou shalt not sue thy maker" ... honest ... go check for yourself.

Speaking of $30, things are incredibly expensive here ... its amazing for a country where most folks earn $100/month or less that everything I buy costs at least 3x what it does in the US.  Guess that is price (no pun intended) of buying Cholera-free, Marburg-free, and Hepatitis-free food.

Angolans are an incredible people.  The vast majority are cheerful, optimistic, hard working, and helpful.  They are a fun-loving group ... and very much enjoy their parties and family gatherings.  Unfortunately, Angola has been through about 30 years of civil war - this is devastated the country and its finances.  Progress is slow, but it is steady.  Things improve daily (literally) but there's a long way to go ... at least now there is food, clothing, and autos to buy (at least in the city) ... but adequate housing, medical care, water/electricity/sewage infrastructure, and roads are not yet easily available for the middle/working class ... someday ...

There's No Joy in Who-ville

April 24 2006

And so, the saga of living in Angola continues.  So many things to write about, so little time.  I wonder if anybody ever reads this stuff .... or am I merely fulfilling some deep internal desire to "get it all out".

"Herding Cats" ... now there's a good one.  Ya'll know about herding cattle right?  You have 3-6 cowboys working together getting the cattle lined out, moving forward ... put 1 to 2 two cowboys on each flank, and 1 to 2 in the back ... once you get the cattle lined out and moving forward, its pretty straightforward ... and not too many issues.

But, here in Angola, I don't herd cattle ... I herd cats.  Its very different ... you can't line them out, you can't get them moving forward, they hiss, they scratch, and they run away.  Seems like I have a terrible time moving things forward here.  Last week it was  particularly difficult ... so a colleague decided to lighten my day by giving me a mental word picture (close your eyes Beka, Chely, Tasya) .... "its like trying to shove wet spagetti up a cat's butt" ... boy was that a bad day ...

Of course, yesterday was bad too (I won't bore you with the details), but I likened it to ... trying to catch bumble bees and putting them in your pocket ... either way you are in a lose-lose situation ... you either fail ... or you get stung to death.

Well ... time to go to work and check on my cats. Ciao.


Do They Know What a Defroster is For ?

April 24 2006

Driving in Angola is a challenge. So much so, we aren't allowed to.  To get around there is a "pooled car" concept where we call for a "kilo" and a driver picks us up and takes us where we want to go.  This has positives and negatives. For example, I can sleep in the car (when it takes 3 hours to go 6 miles).  Or, I don't have to worry about a DWI .... BUT, there is a downside ... drivers not knowing where to go ... and not being able to speak English and drivers and kilos not being available when you need them, yadi yadi yadi.

One thing these guys don't understand is how to defog a window.  Hey, let's face it, how often do you hit a dewpoint when the temperature never goes below 68?  But, once in while when its really rainy/humid, or somebody's turned on too much A/C ... you get foggy windows.  So, what do you do?  You drive until you can't see anymore, then stop the vehicle, look for a rag and clean the windshield ...

So, this morning, the driver decides before he picks me up to turn the A/C on full blast ... 15 degrees C ... right on the windshield.  I get in the kilo ... pure fog everywhere.  So (having been in this spot before), I turned the defroster on ... and increased the temperature.  We drove for a few minutes ... the driver reached over ... turned off the front defroster (windshield was still foggy) and turned it on to the back window.  BOY, THAT REALLY HELPED HIM DRIVE !!!!  I closed my eyes and went back to sleep ..... being thankful that I actually taught somebody something today ...