birra's Journal

birra's Journal


Honor: 13    [ Give / Take ]


3 entries this month

The adventures continue....

04:51 Aug 25 2007
Times Read: 859

...I had some wonderful company on a recent road trip. And Morrigon didn't even mind me posting this video here... she's amazing.

It is so much better to not travel alone....




Another Sunday afternoon in Cloud City...

09:33 Aug 13 2007
Times Read: 878

I forgot my MP3 player, again. I haven’t had it for months. I can’t even say for sure where it is.

Quite distressing.

So on the second leg of my trip – cross country from Philadelphia to Seattle – I had to get a free-bee headset from the attendant to listen to the movie. “Spiderman 3” is the selection of the evening, and although it’s playing and I can watch it and hear it, the video screen quality is so bad I’m not even tempted to pay attention to it.

Instead I’m writing on my laptop. Writing this, of course.

My mind is tied around the conversations I’ve had with you today. So wonderful. For hours we were able to talk on the phone – today while I prepared for my travel, while I sat and waited for my connecting flight. It was wonderful – we make each other laugh all the time, I can’t imagine better conversations.

I glance at the little LCD screen to check out the movie. The shadowed areas are awash as if they were photographic negatives. Difficult to watch and painful to focus on. Especially the action scenes. My headache begins screaming every time I glance up.

Time for music.

My flight from Buffalo to Philadelphia was amazing. On time. We landed in Philly and didn’t even have to taxi to the gate – just hit the end of the runway, made a right turn and we were there. Didn’t have to wait for a plane to leave the gate, didn’t have to wait for a ground crew to guide the plane in or move the jetway – all the pieces were in place.

Just as it should be but never is.

I must be in some bizarro world today.

Even more interesting was my conversation with the gentleman next to me on the flight. His name is Shahryar, and he originally hails from Tehran, Iran. He does consultant work for IBM and has been traveling to Philadelphia weekly for over a month.

It’s amazing to speak to someone, intelligently, who has a different view of the world from my own. Different from anyone I know. He’s from a different culture and can see the world beyond the borders of America, which is quite unique from the garden variety traveler I sit next to virtually every flight.

Interesting tid-bits of insight:

Iran, of all the middle-eastern countries, is the least conservative. In Shahryar’s view, even under the Ayatollah, Iran is practically a liberated society compared to places like Saudi Arabia. The people and government of Iran actually like America for the most part – a concept far off of what our media would impress upon us.

We discussed the Bush administration and how it differs from the Clinton administration. How Bush focuses mainly on oil, resources and the industrial military complex – where Clinton focused on industry on the whole. During the Clinton administration, American auto manufacturers regained prominence on the world market. Since Bush has taken office the market has been virtually dominated by the Japanese companies. And then there's the whole surplus/deficit issue...

We discussed our general disdain for our car rental companies trying to give us cars like a Ford Taurus or a Chevy Impala. They’re crap. Give us something decent for our money.

We discussed the war in Iraq. The Bush administration deemed it necessary and duped (or tried to dupe) the world into allowing it. The military out sources everything from tanks to bottles of Coke for thousands more than the American economy would support, when selling it to the military.

He feels America would really be doing the world and ourselves a huge injustice by attempting any military action in Iran. By sheer numbers alone – Iran is the most heavily populated of all Middle-Eastern nations – if Iraq’s insurgency is difficult to contend with, Iran’s would be impossible.

Regardless, he said America doesn’t realize they’ve already conquered the world without flexing their military muscle. Between the Hollywood influence on those cultures (in India for example) and the TV influence; did you know there is an “Arabian Idol” in the Middle East that is as popular as American Idol is here? All the nations participate and it's generally nation vs. nation as much as talent vs. talent.

We discussed the military actions of Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s. His wife was working in the northern areas of Iran near the Iraq border when thousands of Shiites were brought in with chemical burns from the weaponry the Iraqi military was using on their villages. Many of the victims were purposefully transported to European medical facilities in an attempt to bring attention to the injustices the Hussein regime were perpetrating, but for the most part the world didn’t even blink.

Shahryar’s view of America was a little different from concepts I’ve been taught and believed in over my life. Of course, he is a good twenty years older than I. He has traveled the world, from Asia to the far reaches of South America. Places I dream of traveling to.

Perhaps, someday.

In his opinion, America really became the world leader it is, not because of the money and wealth we’ve accumulated. Not because of the military might we displayed across the globe – but because of the social revolutionary actions of our people in the 1960’s. The attitudes and social changes of our previous generation shaped the world – it changed the western cultures of Europe and Asia. Conservative leaders, even those of the Middle East, shun the values of the American culture, particularly those of the ‘60s. The social liberation of people all over the world began in the grass-roots of America forty years ago. Aided by the expansion of instant media and the new speed of travel – the corners of the world began to close in and the changes here could be seen and felt around the globe, not over years, but in an instant.

The good ol’days, I guess.

He recommended I watch the movie “Pleasantville.” He said, most people don’t get the message of that movie, but it’s just that. Through the late ‘50s and ‘60s, America re-colored the world.

It’s always refreshing to catch someone else’s point of view.

Ah, but now I sit in silence. Five and a half hours of flying to get to my destination. I sit and consider the week ahead.

It’s bright with amazing prospects.

Seattle. A city I’ve always wanted to see. I can’t imagine a more appropriate way to see it for the first time than to share it with you.

I look forward this week to seeing you again.

I can’t wait.

I wish I was going to see you right now. I can’t get you off of my mind.

It’s 11:00PM for you right now… I’m still 35,000 feet above the Earth and will be for hours.

Sleep well… I will see you soon.




I feel like a cheese steak...

06:09 Aug 10 2007
Times Read: 891

I arrived at the airport yesterday heading to Philadelphia. A typical occurrence these days – except this time, no connecting flight. Philly was my destination.

I booked at the kiosk, it said my flight was running on-time. I was skeptical, of course. A flight to Philly that runs on-time happens about as often as a Congressman says, “No thanks – I don’t need your campaign contribution.”

But, skeptical as I might have been, I had hope. No one seemed to indicate anything different. I made my way through a light security line and heard in the distance an announcement for a flight, to Philadelphia, in final boarding.

Odd, since the last flight should have left two hours ago, and my flight doesn’t leave for another 45 minutes.

But as I rounded to corner into the left side of the terminal, sure enough, there’s a flight bound for Philly still boarding at Gate 6.

I approached the gate agent and had to ask, “Which flight is this?”

“Flight to Philly that was supposed to leave at 5:30.”

“And why is it still here?”

“Everything in Philly is on a two-hour delay.”

Just as I figured when I checked in. Wouldn’t it be nice if the bastards actually updated flight statuses when there was a TWO HOUR delay?

“Can I get on this one instead of the 7:40?”

“Sure, we have seats because of all the other folks that had to re-ticket.”

Lucky me. Once in a while, things to work out.

I had a great day up to that point. It was nice I didn’t have to sit at the airport for two extra hours.

Today hasn’t been nearly as good as yesterday was. Perhaps that will change tonight when I meet a couple more VR’ers I’ve been looking forward to meeting. Meanwhile though, I work and try to distract myself from thinking about you too much…

The job here in Philly has gone as expected so far. No major hang-ups despite this customer has not really put too much attention into this project. We have extra services to deal with. No big deal. Just means some longer days here.

But as I sit around these offices, I’m reminded of a time when I too worked in an “office.” Not my home office where I spend time alone for the most part. Not on the road which usually includes long days of solitary work, and nights alone (usually) in hotel rooms. But an actual office.

Daily commute.

Working with the same people, directly, every day.

All the good and bad that goes with those environmental dynamics.

The interoffice politics, back-stabbing, flirting, affairs…

….the daily drama of it all.

At times I miss that. But here, in this community hospital, I’m reminded that for the most part I don’t miss it a bit.

Hearing the conversations in the cubicles. Who did what… who said what about who… who is doing what to who… why a certain job isn’t this person’s responsibility and who is to blame for the latest faux-paus.

Is faux-paus French for, “Fucked it up?”

It seems even a bit more catty here. In a community hospital, dedicated to serving the immediate community which, where I am, is for the most part impoverished. Explained to me by the local staff – the hospital is always in financial straits. The client base generally can’t afford the care they receive here. They try to attract the brightest and the best doctors, nurses and other staff, but can’t afford to compensate well enough to attract the staff they desire.

And you know damn well it won’t attract clientele from outside of the inner city. Who would dare to lower themselves to be treated here if they can afford to go somewhere else? Somewhere they perceive as “better?”

At least they’ve finally come up with the money to invest in this product – something that can really help improve the care they give. It’s a step I know they’ve wanted to take for a number of years – I’m glad I can be here to help them get it in place.

The people I’m working with are very pleasant. I was warned they can be abrasive and unfriendly but I haven’t found that to be the case at all.

Funny how that seems to work in most cases… the people I’m warned are not friendly tend to warm right up to me. I’m told, “Oh, but you’re in IT – you’re used to dealing with unfriendly people, aren’t you?” That’s a perception thing. Not sure why, but I have my suspicions.

Usually though, it’s not the IT people who create the most interpersonal conflict. They tend to be completely apathetic towards these projects and with that apathy comes complete cooperation because they just want it done.

No, the nurses and admins tend to be the biggest obstacles. They see these implementations as “me” changing their jobs. As the vendor changing their lives – and they resist. They put up a fight and make things as difficult as possible. Those are the ones that need to be won over. And generally, I do win them over.

I guess that is why the vendor likes me on these jobs. Even if things go wrong, and sometimes things do go wrong, the customer never comes back to complain that I didn’t do a good job or wasn’t willing to go the extra mile.

That makes me feel better about what I do. I take pride in my work, I honestly do. Seems to be as rare a trait these days as… an on-time flight to Philadelphia.

As part of my “extra” services on this job, I’m actually installing two servers. The second one is actually a virtual server, and is running slower than… air traffic through Philadelphia?

Ok, I’ll stop beating that metaphor to death.

But it gives me a chance to get some of these thoughts down.

These are actually my thoughts. I’m trying to distract myself from other thoughts. This is the best I can come up with, but if I didn’t come up with this, I’d go crazy. Consumed with thoughts that would best go in the “Why? Why? Why?” section on my journal.

I wish I had answers to all the why’s I need to ask you. I need to know, I really do.

Yet, I know you might not even have the answers yourself.



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