Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What timezone........

I was planning to post several times since the last one but I didn’t get time so I’ll compile a bunch of things into this one. I tried to get online in London before I got on the plane but I couldn’t get my wireless to work so I’m typing this as I’m doing 515 mph over the Atlantic headed for home, hopefully I can post it from Minneapolis.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts since my last posting, some good, some bad, a few maybe even profound, and a few forgotten. I’ll try to post the ones I can remember and of course only the ones that can be put into print. Don’t tell anyone but I do have to censor a few things since I know my family and my bosses wife read this from time to time. I can’t have them all knowing that it was because of too much gin, tonic, and champagne that I can’t remember a few details of the last couple of days. It can be a little difficult when flying business class and a charter plane where all drinks are free. When I’m in coach I’m too cheap to spend money on drinks so it isn’t a problem.

I just looked out the window and the North Atlantic is amazing! Pretty big icebergs floating around out there! It looks like Greenland is falling to pieces.

Ok back to my thoughts. Think, think, think…..
Oh yea, Algeria. Sunday was my last day to do any sandboarding and as I standing on top of my favorite dune Sunday afternoon, I thought of my Mom’s comment the day before about the last pictures I had posted. She said that with my long hair and baggy pants I looked like a hippie. Can you believe? So as I was standing there looking out over the dunes listening to the Greatful Dead on my ipod I had to ponder that thought. After picking myself up at the bottom of the slope I determined that although I might indeed look like a hippie, there are a few fundamental differences. The first is I don’t smoke pot (or anything else for that matter) and most importantly, I have a job. Aside from that I have no objections to living free, loving everyone, and just going wherever life takes you. Then that thought led me to the question, if I am a hippie would I be considered a Right Wing Hippie? Then I got back to the top of the dune for my next run and the ipod shuffle was playing Motzart’s Divertimento in Bb Major I. Allegro, and I was reminded that the last poll I took to determine my political stance came back that since my political feelings are as diverse as the music I listen to, I was considered a Radical. I have to say that growing up in a Republican family, being married to a Democrat, working for an oil company and being a little bit of a tree hugger cause my feelings on politics to be all over the board. Next thing I knew I was on my back staring at the sky with a new sand burn and decided I was thinking too much.

The project I’ve been assisting with hit a pretty major snag that has set them back two to three weeks so there wasn’t much for me to do other than sit in the sun and sandboard but since they really didn’t want to pay me for either of those abilities I headed out. Luckily I had my trusty traveling companion Hans with me to keep me out of trouble and from getting lonely. Monday morning we set off from the site and flew to Hassi Messaoud to catch the 757 back to London. Once we got to London we got on another flight to Florence to attend a meeting with GE. Unfortunately we got into Florence late and were in a meeting all day Tuesday so I didn’t get to see too much of the city. I did wander around a little Monday night after we got to the hotel and I have to say the architecture is stunning. It is really too bad that noone in today’s world puts that kind of effort into making a building look breathtaking. After our meeting we headed straight to the airport and flew back to London. I was originally planning to wander around London for two days like last time before heading for home but I thought the opportunity to go to Florence was a better option even if it was just to sit in a meeting all day.
We got back to London last night around eight o’clock and Hans had an early flight so we didn’t go into the city. I made sure to get a good night of sleep so I’d be assured not to sleep on the plane! This is my fourth transatlantic flight and I haven’t slept a wink on any of them. I got some Ambien from my doctor before my first trip but I’m afraid if I took one they wouldn’t be able to wake me up to get off of the plane.

I just finished watching the movie Into the Wild on the inflight video. I never read the book by John Krackour because I was never really interested in some crazy guy who walked into the wilderness and starved to death in an abandoned bus less than 150 miles from my house. Although the facts of the book have been disputed, I think they did pretty well on the movie. One of the reasons I wanted to see it is because it was filmed (the wilderness scenes anyhow) in Cantwell, which is a tiny town about halfway between my house and Fairbanks. Last year I went with Sandi to a mid-distance dog race across the Denali highway (she was a trail veterinarian) and the crew we worked the checkpoint with all helped with the filming of the movie. So it was pretty cool to listen to some of their stories about filming and then see the movie.

I was supposed to go with Sandi this year to help but the race was last weekend. So instead of spending the weekend camping out at minus 25 degrees with my wife, I was sandboarding (and working) in the Sahara. I was bummed that I missed it until I heard what the temperature was. When I talked to Sandi after she got home, she said that she had frostbitten her nose! I sand burnt my elbow and shin on the dune, but I don’t think I’m going to get too much sympathy.
She said that we finally got some snow at home so I guess I can finally stop complaining (about lack of snow anyway). The best part is I have two weeks before I have to go back to Alpine so I have lots of time to play on my snowmachine. Hopefully I’ll have some good pictures to post in by the end of the weekend.

The charter flight from London to Hassi is operated by Astraeus Airlines and I have to say it is hands down the very best airline I have ever flown. While I was in Algeria one of the electricians told me that one of the pilots for Astraeus was (is) the Lead Singer for Iron Madien which was a really popular heavy metal band in the late 70’s and 80’s. The guys all know him from flying back and fourth and apparently they have gotten together for a world tour and Astraeus sponsored them a plane. They have a whole plane that has been painted with their logo and the lead singer (Pilot) is flying it from concert to concert worldwide. We went right by the plane on the way out of Gatwick airport today so I thought I’d post a picture of it. I wouldn't normally be too impressed by it but I've heard some great first hand stories about the guy that make it worthwhile.

Here are some pictures from the last few days.

North Atlantic

Astraeus Plane in London

Nightime view from Florence Hotel Room.

Morning view from Florence Hotel Room.

Florence side street.


Bigshow said...

I've been reading your blog since i found a link to it from a fellow timberframer.

Up the Irons for Bruce Dickinson's Plane!

raymakesmyday said...

i'm 23 and just saw Into The seems like a lot of people, especially alaskans, think he was pretty stupid but the movie makes it look like he did a decent job of roughing it...what do you think and would you recommend making a trip out to see the bus?