Monday Morning ... Yuk

July 23 2006

Its 415 am .... almost time to go to work.  Wonder what issues I will be faced with today .... being as I didn't work any over the weekend.  Oh well, time will tell.


The Family Won ... and So Did I

July 23 2006

I followed thru on my decision ... NO work this weekend.  The family won.  Yeah.  Saturday was spent hashing and having a farewell party at our house (see pics), while Sunday was spent at Hotel Tropico having lunch including lobster (yeah) ... and then resting.  See the pics on that too. [ and don't foreget to see the pic on my best friend, Tom ].

I posted some pics from the last few days. The "farewells" are really gearing up with Decy and the girls leaving on Saturday.  Already this coming week we have every night booked and I think Decy has some lunches booked.  This doesn't include the approx 12-15 good-byes she had in late June and early July as folks left town and weren't returning before Decy left.

While it might seem that all we do is eat, drink, and party, that is not the case.  Its just that we have a very broad group of friends that cuts across companies, cultures, countries, and interests.

It is hard to say good-bye to so many friends. It hurts.  I know it hurts Decy and the girls more than me.  I am use to good-byes ... and none hurt like the pain when I have to tell my sons good-bye.

Right or wrong, I do try to rationalize the pain .... I've come to the decision that it is better to hurt when one leaves than to not hurt at all.  You see, if you hurt ... then you have made an impact on other people and they have made an impact on you ... the pain is the recognition of that "connection and bond".  As someone famous once said ... it is better to love and to have lost than to have never loved.  STILL, it hurts.

Tomorrow .... I work - starting at 515am.  I will stop at 7pm ... as there is yet again another farewell ... hosted by the Pakistani's here in Angola.

ciao ciao.

Work Vs. Family

July 22 2006

Today begins my family's last week here in Angola.  Next Saturday they leave ... and I remain behind working for another 4 weeks.  I am going to miss them dearly ... and also recognize I will be "load shifting" a lot of responsibility to Decy to help set things up in Indonesia before I arrive.

In the short run, I have a ton of work to do and am WAY behind.  I should work this weekend to catch up ... if I don't next week is going to be a real issue. (just for the record, I have already worked about 65 hours this week).

However, this IS Decy and the girls last weekend here.

You know what ... even if there is an "issue" at work next week, the world won't come to the end ... I think I will spend time with my family this weekend.

Ciao ciao ...

A Dining Experience

July 21 2006

As my family knows, there are certain things that can set me off very easily - one of them is "bill paying" at a restaurant.  When I ask for the bill, that means I am done and ready to go.  If there are "delays" in the close-out / payment process my blood pressure starts rising.

On Thursday we had a meeting of the management committee of the hash ... at one of our favorite restaurants in Angola.  Usually, there aren't too many issues.  Last night we asked for the bill.  When it arrived (10 minutes later), there were two bills ... which is not uncommon as folks arrived at different times.  As I was trying to read the bills (in the darkness; outdoor restaurant with no lighting) the waitress grabs them out of my hand and proceeds to explain in rapid portuguese why there are two bills ... and she goes on and on and on ... I'm not stupid, I already knew why there were two bills.

We put our money in the cup ... and after 5 minutes it was finally collected.  Then we waited for the change (paid $150 for a $130 meal - change due $20) ... and waited ... and waited ... and waited.  We asked about the change ... no answer.  We asked again about the change ... no answer.  Decy went up and asked about the change ... no answer.  Decy and I demanded the change. Finally, they gave us back $10.

I can only presume that they were hoping we would leave ...and they would keep all $20 as a tip ... which is the equivalent to $100 or more in the US based on cost of living.

Total time - 40 minutes.  I was fuming.  But, I controlled my anger and frustration ... and didn't take it home with me.

>>> Decy, thanks for helping me learn step-by-step to handle my anger.

ciao ciao

A Case of the "One Mores"

July 20 2006

This week has been a week of "one mores" for Decy and the girls .... given that on Saturday, 29-July they leave for Indonesia ... they have "one more" Monday morning before they leave.  They have "one more" Tuesday ... etc ... get my point?

Moving is difficult by any standards.  Moving overseas is more difficult by a factor of 10.  Moving from a 3rd world country to an "emerging" country seems to be even more difficult.  Nevertheless, we are making progress ... and all things are coming together now, albeit not at the same pace.

Today, Friday, the shipper is supposed to come collect our 13 air freight boxes.  He intends to crate them up for security reasons, then begin working the "customs clearance" process for exiting Angola. He says that alone will take about 2 weeks.  Once the stuff arrives in Indonesia, it will be 4-6 weeks clearance time ... beginning when I arrive ... thus, even air boxes won't be delivered until October.

Last night I learned that the shipper also wants to come pack up the LDN crates (which is the remaining 90% of our stuff) right away and not wait until end August when I leave.  The only way that can happen is if they start on Monday next week, as it has to happen before Decy leaves ... or it must happen on 21-August after my company Vice President reviews.  Being as today is Friday ... I guess I will learn today if they are going to show up on Monday.

Ironically, I had been telling Decy that "everything had to be done" by today so that we could leave next week open for resting and contingency for the unexpected.  I have said this since May .... now, the unexpected seems to be happening.  So much for the resting.

Ahem / sigh, I am glad today is Friday.  There is much to do this weekend, and very little room for rest ... but at least I won't go to the office.

ciao ciao

A Red Banner Day

July 19 2006

On Wednesday I received a very unexpected phone call from one of our executives in Houston.  Bottomline - promotion granted.  Raise - given.

To the outsider, one might say "so what?".  But, to those that know ... a promotion in my company is a big deal .... and the average person will only see 4 or 5 in their entire career.  For me, it is Number 6 (and probably my last).

Additionally, by almost anybody's standards (except Bill Gates and Warren Buffets) the amount of salary increase (both in $$$ and %%%) was very very very good.

I am so excited and pleased.

... and the $$$ come in at a time when I am getting ready to support all three Morgan boys in college at the same time ... three checks are due to go out next week.


1/2 Day Vacation

July 18 2006

By Tuesday evening I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  So, I left work early (5:55pm).  Arrived home at 730pm (after semi-normal traffic) ... total time away from home .... 14.75 hours (445am to 730pm) ... then I worked on the relocation.

What was that about leaving early and "taking a 1/2 days vacation"?

Key Message

July 18 2006

The key message from my previous blog was not to make somebody feel guilty.  The key message is ... "it only takes one word" .... As each of us go through life and interact with others, we have opportunities to help and/or hurt others. Sometimes we do things; sometimes we say things; and, once said or done ... it can never be taken back.

We all should be careful to build each other up ... our enemies wish to destroy us ... our friends and families are all we have.

I will be fine. I will manage. I am a survivor.

... now if only I can learn from this to be a better man ... as I know ... I too, have hurt others .... and I can never take it back ....


July 17 2006

Yesterday I received an email from somebody very close to me.  Somebody I love dearly.  Unfortunately there was something in the email that hurt me immensely.  Many things were true, one was untrue.

The true things did not bother me ... as I knew already about the topics that were discussed and have dealt with them accordingly.

The one untrue thing opened old scars and released a great deal of pain.  Pain from the past and pain today that I can share with no one but God and Decy.  Now, I must move forward.

People judge others from their own eyes, their own perspective, and their own experiences.  It is so difficult to see the things which are not seen.

Did you see Decy's blog?  Have any of you lived in Indonesia, or overseas in a 3rd world country?  Have any of you been shot at and heard the bullet go by your head, just missing you?  Have any of you had bombs launched at you?  Have any of you had 10,000 angry people outside your door yelling at you and calling for your death?  Have any of you experienced and touched the absolute poverty of Africa? Have any of you seen dead bodies in the street?

Have any of you lost the most precious gift you ever had ... only to find it later ... but now at a distance where you can see it but not touch it?

We are all shaped, molded, and influenced by the events around us.  It is only thru God's grace that we can move forward.  Sometimes we fall, sometimes we make a mistake, sometimes it is difficult for others to see the good that is within us, sometimes it is difficult for the good within us to show itself ... but if we have love we can go forward.  Without love we are a failure ... and that is what hurts .... it was just one little word among hundreds that were written ... just one word ... that is all it took ...

Josh Turns 21 Today

July 16 2006

Alas, an adult in all legal aspects ... today Josh is 21 YO.  What a great achievement for him.  His life is moving forward.  He has a plan ... and he is working his plan.

I am very proud of Josh (as I am with all 3 of my sons).  Josh has proven that having parents that live on separate corners of the world does not destine one for failure.

Josh excelled in high school.  Entered Tenn Tech Univ in the honors program.  Has maintained a 4.0 through for years of college.  Has a beautiful wife and son.  Has a plan ...  very well done, my son !!!!

Do you know what I am particularly proud of for Josh?  Its that he has a good personality and is very caring.  He has a great blend of intellectual, artistic, and humanity atributes.  Again, very well done, my son !!!!

Happy Birthday Josh

Boxes ... Boxes ... Boxes Everywhere

July 16 2006

Made new progress on the move front late Friday and over the weekend.

First, the shipper finally "gets it" .... (a) boxes go by air from Angola to Indonesia, (b) LDN crates go by air from Angola to USA, and (c) 50% of storage is added to item (b) and they go by boat to Indonesia .... of course, I had to reduce 2 degrees of complexity to get to this point ... but, I'm still getting a 95% answer .... yeah, success on this.

Second, made great progress on item (a) above.  We loaded up 14 boxes of stuff, inventoried it, and got it ready to ship.  Even this "quick delivery" by air probably won't be available to us until October ... but I'm working on that.

Completed the inventory list and separated the items into all the different travel routes/classifications .... and then, totalled the valuations on "each page" just like the instructions said .... I think I now have 20 pages of stuff .....

Next major challenges:  (a) get money from the Expat Center that they owe me, (b) complete Customs forms .... never a dull momemnt

Two Steps Forward ....

July 13 2006

Ah the relocation saga.

Step Forward #1 - Yesterday they finally made an announcement that I was transferring to Indonesia.  Position - Process & Controls Advisor.  Official Date - 1 September.  The preceding was no surprise ... so why the 2 month delay in making the announcement.

Step Forward #2 - Decy and the girls have the S. African VISAs for over nighting in Johannesburg ... on their wait to Jakarta.

Step Backward #1 - Allied International, the shipper, still doesn't understand the various aspects of my shipment ... that stuff leaves here in LDN air freight boxes ... to the US ... to be added to 1/2 of my stuff in storage (in the US) .... to be put in a 40 ft container ... and ocean freighted to Indonesia.  The only other aspect of this ... is an special 48 cu ft "air cargo" shipment that goes directly to Indonesia ..... I BET THAT EVEN DANIEL CAN UNDERSTAND THIS.

TGIF ......

Another Hurry Hurry Wait Day

July 12 2006

Still waiting on the "Center of Excellence" ... man, are they slow.  Urgh ......  And, still don't know what position I am going into in Jakarta ...

... sure wish I was retirement age now .. this is insane !!!!

Finally ...

July 11 2006

Yeah!  Two steps forward and only one step back today. (and thanks for the remarks).

Ok, RE the shipment ... after the company "went silent" from Friday through Monday, they emerged with an answer on Tuesday ... I get 4 LDNs air shipped from Angola to Houston.  I get to combine the LDNs with storage items and then ocean freight up to one 40 ft container from Houston to Indonesia.  I get 3 cargo boxes for Decy and the girls.  I get 2 cargo boxes for me.

I don't know why I get two boxes .... I don't even want to try to figure it out.  Next step - pre-packing inspection (today), receive the empty boxes (today I hope), then finalize the inventory.

RE the medical aspects of the move - our medical dept yesterday sent an email to our Center of Excellence and advised that we are "healthy" (I suspect that was followed up with a clarification such as "healthy but insane")

Next steps - finalize school paperwork, finalize S. African VISAs for Decy/girls, continue purging household goods .... never a dull moment.

Another Day ... Another Challenge

July 10 2006

Ok. Got my 4.5 hours of sleep. Time to get up and go to work. Hmm, the challenge of the day ??? what shall it be?  Oh yeah, the shipment of household goods to Indonesia ... the last really big hurdle over the next couple of weeks.  Ok, here's the issue.

Entitlement Leaving Angola - Entitlement is 4 LDN crates (crates that can fit on a plane).  That is equivalent to a TOTAL volume of approx 7ft x 7ft x 7ft - weight 2000-2600 pounds.  Method of shipment - Air.

Entitlement Arriving in Indonesia - Entitlement is a 40 ft container .... that is something about 7ft x 7 ft x 40 ft ..... or notionally 6 times the volume leaving Angola.  Method of shipment - Ocean.

Also, for Indonesia (because ocean freight is so slow ... and I won't see that shipment until probably November or December) I am entitled to four dish boxes of 10 cu ft each; which is an approx +15% when compared to the 4 LDNs.  Method of shipment - Air.

Seems our company's "Center of Excellence" (CoE) is really struggling with this.  They've "only" had 6 weeks to figure out that the "answer" is .... air cargo my 4 boxes, air freight my 4 LDNs, and ocean freight my stuff that is sitting in storage in the US (some since 2000, some since 2002) ... all of which will be far less than the 40 ft container limit.

What did they do after 6 weeks of pondering?  They authorized only the 4 LDNs.  Now, I don't know about you folks, but just think about putting everything 4 people own in 7ft x 7ft x 7ft ... that's not much space and means that we pretty much have to throw away / give away / sell >50% of everything we have here in Angola.

I am scrambling to find "reasonable" people in the company, and think I have found an ally in Houston.  They say they are working the problem with the Singapore office ... but it will be "behind the scenes" and like a "black box" for a few days.  I can manage the silence ... I just hope they give me an answer soon.

Here's the "ugh" kicker.  They expect me to finalize and send to them ASAP a detailed inventory valuation list so they can take out the insurance .... I've basically done that assuming certain things ... but it is pretty had to finalize the list if they can't tell me what I can take .... think about:  "Sir, tell me exactly what you have in your boxes".  "Madam, tell me how many boxes I have and then I will tel you what is in them".  "Sir, no, I need to know right now what you have ... and while you are doing that I will think about whether or not you can have 4 LDNs, 4 boxes, and one 40 ft container ... or some combination thereof"

Ah the joys of working for one of the largest and most profitable companies in the world ....

Boring ...

July 10 2006

I'm beginning to think nobody reads this stuff. You guys say you want to know what is going on, on the other side of the world ..... but nobody says ... yeah, boo, hiss, good on ya mate ... nada, nothing ... silence.

... guess it is time to go to bed and dream about Daniel walking.

One Step Forward - Two Steps Back

July 08 2006

Relocation status - the nightmare continues. Read on ....

Announcement - why oh why haven't they posted the announcement?  Just learned last night. Because the company is rethinking what position I'm going to have.  Hmmm, so ... I'm supposed to just "trust them" that I have a decent job. SUX.

Promotion - still no news ... but they "claim" it looks good. Guess I'm supposed to trust them on that too. FRUSTRATING.

Interim Living - They are booking us for the Shangri-La hotel in Jakarta. NICE

Interim Car - They are working on that (with a driver of course). OK.

Permanent Housing - They are lining up the agent to show us houses and apartments.  Hoping for a house. PENDING.

Medical Release - Last appty is with Co Dr on Monday.  Getting close.  OK ... but wish it were over.

S. African VISAs for Decy and the Girls - Supposedly ready next week.  OK

Plane Tickets for Decy and the Girls - Done. EXCELLENT.

Plane Tickets for me - Reserved and paid for but not ticketed; they are trying to "clear" my waitlisting on Business Class for Singapore to Jakarta. OK.

Shipment - Seems the Expat CoE (Center of Excellence) isn't so excellent.  They screwed up and didn't authorize any shipment from the US to Jakarta (my items in storage) and they didn't authorize any air freight "personal" boxes from Angola to Jakarta.  DISASTER. Back to the drawing board ... and trying to intervene and straighten this out.

Inventory of Household - Almost done.  But, just learned that supposedly I have to have an itemized list of every CD, DVD, VCD, and book, so customs can ensure I don't have: Chinese Communist propanganda, Christian Propaganda, Vulgar and repulsive music, and "sexually explicit" items.  SAY WHAT?  I'm double chk'g this one.  Didn't do this last time ... and can you imagine trying to itemize our 500 CDs, 100 movies ... and who knows how many books.

Packing - Yikes. Haven't started, but Decy and the girls need to do that this week so I can inventory that set of stuff.

.... I think I go on a hash today ... and run away from my problems.


July 06 2006

Today is the tomorrow I was hoping for yesterday.  Life is much better.

Spent much of Thursday morning, again, at the hospital working on the medical aspect of the relocation. This is a "song that never ends".  But, I received all the paperwork back from the hospital with "healthy" stamps. Now, one last (hopefully) visit to our Co's medical director and we should finally get the medical release to go to Indonesia.

...  Now, if only Allied International would call me about our shipment ... and if only Jakarta would call us about our living arrangements ...

In Two Words ...

July 05 2006

Life sux .....

maybe tomorrow will be better

Whoa is Me ..

July 04 2006

After the Expat Center having received my relocation authorization (remember ~25 May) they just yesterday sent me the official paperwork .... not bad ... 7 weeks (given that most relocations happen in 8-10 weeks time; start to finish).  NOT !!!!  Only recieved about 100 pages of documentation.  Can you say:  STRESS ????

To top off the above, yesterday at the US Embassy reception, I saw the ISOS Dr that has been helping us work thru the medical part. I told him that we trying to get wrap up appointments .... he advised that there is still one more set of examinations before we can close out the process.  URRRGGGGHHH.  Why didn't my medical folks tell me this, and already pre-arrange the appointments?  Can't anybody think more than one step at a time ????

Today, I will do a full court press on this penultimate set of appointments (ultimate being the close out).  It must get done this week ... we are running out of time .... UUUURRRRGGGGHHH !!!!