Well, it s 7:45 and I feel like I've been hit by a truck and left for dead. I'm pumping caffiene into my veins as fast as my system can process it this morning, but it might as well be water for all the effect the coffee's having. I came home yesterday afternoon from work and promptly relaxed in my new chair, trying to wind down a little from the stresses of the day before April came home. Sadly, I don't think I lasted twenty minutes before drifting off to join the world of the dreaming... the next thing I know it's 9:30 last night and I'v slept for 4 hours.
Naps aren't good for me. Never being one to take naps my whole life, they throw my internal clock into a tailspin. I wake too lethargic to do anything of substance, yet too awake to go back to sleep. Once I wake up, the chances of me going back out anytime soon are one in a thousand. So, with little to do I puttered around the house for two hours or so, my mind still seeking sleep, yet my body relentlessly denying me the solace. I laid down at 12:00 and at 4:00 am my mind was still racing and not letting me get to sleep. Sometime after that is when I finally passed out completely, only to wake three hours later to April's incessant, yet cute, urgings to join the sentient world.
So, here I am. I feel like there should be a drum roll, or a "ta da" from somewhere in the wings, but I'm sans energy for theatrics at the moment, sorry. What is the rest of the world up to?
Sassenach, where have you been? I know you spent 9 minutes reading the blog yesterday, but I haven't heard from you. Bill, Scarlette, and Will have all told me to tell you Hi the next time I spoke to you. Anyway, you are missed, as always. Write or call when you can, Shaunauch.
Bill and his family went with me last week to catch Backseat Romeo's show at Moe's Grill. It's amazing how fast time is flying past all of us. Whitney, his daughter is ten now, and little Will is 5, going on 13. Scarlette is as beautiful as ever, not showing any signs of letting the last five years touch her, and Bill, well he's just Bill. Unflappable, unchanging, good ol' Bill.
This is a good time for a segway. I need coffee anyway.
Ok. Enter new thought here.
I think my mind is rotting. I'm serious. It's seriously just falling apart neuron by neuron, failing me in little ways all the time. My latest bane has been keys. Having grown up enough to get past that phase in life that makes a person want to walk around with a giant keychain filled with useless crap and tons of little rings, balls, toys, and other crap, I carry three sets of keys depending on the day. One is to the house and related places, one is for the office, and one is for the truck. Lately I spend five minutes every morning trying to track down all three sets. Of course I could combine them on one key ring; that's not the point. The point is I can't remember where I put stuff lately. Two minutes after I sit something down it's gone from my memory. Then I get to play detective, thinking "Ok, If I were Tommy and I were coming home from a long day at work, where would I be likely to drop my keys... Eureka! There you are!" I'm usually quite fastidious, at least in my mental inventory of things, so this development bothers me to no end.
Another example of mental retardation, and I'm referring to the essence of hindrance, the antithesis of acceleration, not making a pun about mental capacity here; I havent' had a deep thought in months. I remember the time I could sit down here on this blog and compose myself eloquently, thoughtfully, and carve out my thoughts on this etherspace canvas in a manner common to the actual processes going on in my head. Lately, that skill too seems to have atrophied and dried up. I've been meaning to write on here, really compose something rathern than post pictures of events, yet I haven't had the ability to get a single original thought from my head to my fingers long enough to eloquate it from my head and put it down in text. Rather more disturbing is the dreadful fear that the it has more to do with not actually having any real thoughts, more so than the lack of ability to compose them.
When I sit and ask myself, what have I been thinking about, I'm left with only the mundane. The list is surprisingly short and repetitive, not to mention depressing. Money, work, plans for a day off, money, bills, saving money, paying taxes, saving for the future, planning my team's work week, ad nauseum, ad infinitum forever... blah! It's disgusting how little an original thought enters my head lately.
Even my hobbies have suffered. I've tried to focus on the guitar but get little time alone to work on it, and when I do get time alone to work on it, it seems like other things are occupying my mind too much for me to practice efficiently. Rather than practicing and learning, I feel more like I'm repeating the things I already know without gaining anything from it, so I might as well be a parrot in a cage, incessantly repeating things with no meaning.
On a different, less demeaning train of thought, I am very much looking forward to returning to Africa. We are supposed to be leaving shortly, but I'm not sure of the reality of that situation. And even if we DO leave soon, I still have to convince the PTB of what needs to be done. Trying to explain to people why we need 154,000.00 in tools to do a job and then procuring them is a major stumbling block I'm having to overcome at the moment. The nature of our job over there this time is such that we need to be able to be a construction crew, masonry crew, scaffolding team, electrical team, engineers, and office workers. The downside is that we have to purchase equipment for all of these trade skills and carry them with us because we have no chance for resupply once we're there.
And very much on my mind is the fact that of the original thirteen man crew that was present the first time, I was for awhile there almost the only man left standing once the dust cleared. However, I still have Tim, which I wouldn't trade for any other five men I've ever known when the tires meet the road. We have two new guys I'm taking over though and this is going to be the most physically demanding trip we've ever made, so I'm not sure what my retention rate will be once we return. The last crew varied from 23 to 46 and eleven of them are down and out for one reason or another; money, headache, too much stress, family travel problems, etc. It's a pain to have to train and equip a new team each and every time we go over there. I think that is the most draining part of the job; wondering if I'm wasting my time training people that I'm liable to lose because the can't hack the job or the environment.
This is where we're going; nothing but sand for hundreds of miles in any direction. At least the last time we went over, we were in the city with access to local and regional resources. This time there is no shopping, no communications, no english speaking people (for the most part). Hell, even the locals won't go where we're going for long periods of time.
I've never experienced anything like what I'm about to go do, and the interesting truth is that few others have either in this age. Being able to say I lived in the desert for three or four months running crews and navigating off GPS coordinates, eating camel and cous cous, and surviving the sweltering climate will be a memorable perosnal experience I'll have for the rest of my life.
I didn't know this until I went over the first time, but just because it's the desert doesnt mean just anyone can go explore it. You can be shot on sight out there if you don't have proper clearance to be there. I guess they figure that the few companies adn people who DO live there have their reasons for it and they have things that they feel they need to protect. Getting caught in the Sahara without a desert pass, which is akin to a passport for the sand, can result in a bullet and becoming scorpion food. The guys who issued my last pass didn't speak much english but they found someone who did just long enough to express the sincerity of the words "dont ever lose this piece of paper."
This is a picture I took the last time I was over there, while doing a survey from the company plane we were flown around in. You can see for yourself, it's miles and miles of nothing in every direction for as far as the eye can see.
Truth be told, I'm amazingly excited to be able to do it though. I'm a little worried from time to time; there are lots of things that CAN go wrong in a climate like this, but I'm hoping that a little common sense will prevail over most of the issues and that it will be an uneventful experience, at least as compared to what the word "eventful" might mean in a place like this.
I really wishthat Qadaffi would open the borders to Americans and others so places like this could be seen by everyone. I wouldn't ever want to see it exploited and ruined, but to see a place that only God could have made and that few creatures on earth can even survive is a wonderfully humbling feeling. It reminds you almost immediately upon your arrival that parts of the earth still belong to nature and have yet to be tamed by man.
Just standing on the sand here can give you second degree burns on your skin. During the sand storms that plague this part of the earth, being caught outside in one can literally flay the clothes and skin from your body in a short amount of time, not to mention disorienting you completely amidst the ever-shifting sands of the desert.
Travel here, even by locals is often done using your previous tracks for navigation, akin to following a bread crumb trail back to your starting point. Losing that trail can get you lost in a matter of moments. There are nine million square kilometers of sand here!
Lol.. you'd be surprised how many people can't actually find east when standing in the middle of the desert like this. Growing up on the coastline, internal navigation seems to be somethign all coastal people have to one extent or another. I can close my eyes in a dark room, spin in circles, and always tell where east is just by sense. I don't know why, I just can. It's something thats left over inthe primitive part of the mind I believe. I dated a girl, Allison, who was the same way. She couldn't get lost adn could point out east in the dead of night or from inside a building. I have other friends who swear they can do it, but point south with a dead certainty that they're correct every time, although North seems to be the most common mistake people make. Now THERE is a thought. I wonder if it has anything do with pole sensitivity in humans? Seriously.... it's been my experience that when asked, people often mistake North more often than any other direction. Agh.. nevermind. Sensibly speaking, it's probably because of the fact that the sun has a northern angle in the afternoon where we live. In other words, though the sun sets in the west, it sets slightly to the north of west because of where I am on the planet. Oh well, anyway... it was a thought.
Now that I think about it though, it's not that useful in the sense of getting lost over here. First, because the Sea is primarily north of where I'll be, and secondly because even if I could get to the shoreline; what would I do then? You certainly can't drink the water...
Hmm.. got to remember to take extra batteries for my extra batteries for my GPS.
Well, onthat note I have to end this rant and go get a shower and get to work. I'm gonna be a few minutes late as it is. I've been here at the keyboard longer than I thought and it's 9 AM now. Gotta run! See you all soon!