(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On Holiday

Don't have much time for comment because I am on holiday, or on vacation as we say here in America.

Going through Stuff
So far all is well. I started off plowing though my belongings which have been sitting idly in storage over the past 5+ years. By the way, Idaho's dry, cool climate is a great place to store belongings. Things that would have rotted in Dar in less than a month are in almost exactly as I left them several years ago.

I have deduced that my packing efforts back then were less than desirable and that I needed to rethink what I need to hang on to. After a few days of going through a garage and a closet, I am now organized. Much has been donated to people who need it far worse than I do and other less useful stuff has been thrown in the bin. Not the most entertaining use of valuable vacation time but it feels very good when you're done.

World Cup
I have been catching as many Cup matches as possible. I did miss the final US game due to being in the woods but it sounds as though the best team won. Bummer for the Americans but I think there are many other countries that have earned far greater heartbreak than the US.

Eye Surgery
The next thing on the agenda was having my eyes operated on to correct my astigmatism. This is something that I looked into in 2004 but shied away from it due to cost and the freakiness of the whole thing. This time I figured I need to get it done. Throwing caution to the wind, I subjected myself to the laser surgery.

Gazing into my eyes

I have to say, it's pretty crazy. To break it down to just the climax of the story (it's a little more involved than this), they numbed my eyeballs with eye drops and then sent me into the operating room. There, with Priya peering through the spectator window and viewing on a monitor, the laser proceeded to slice a semi-circle ring around the front of my eye. Then, with a layer peeled away, my cornea was blasted by the laser to a precise correction level. This produced the nastiest smell of burning flesh that everyone somehow forgot to mention in the pre-op. Then the flap of the front of my eye was rolled back and massaged back into place by the surgeon (to remove any fluid or air). The eye then begins the process of healing itself with no need for suturing. Pretty cool. Then they did the other eye. In less than fifteen minutes I was up from the table and peering through cloudy, yet corrected, vision. Again, pretty cool.

Nice shot Priya took of the front of my eye being peeled back

The next morning my vision was 20-15 with almost no cloudiness. Now, less than a week later my eyes feel normal with only some occasional dryness, especially when I wake up in the morning. That's supposed to go away soon. After lying low for a day we were off on a backpacking trip into the mountains of Idaho. Gotta love technology.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Art of Recreation

So I'm sitting here at the Amsterdam airport on my way to the US. My vacation and pursuit of recreation has officially started (though unofficially I'm still going through my emails). I actually quite like this place. I've gotten to know it quite well over the years and there are far worse ways to pass the time. AND the first exposure to broadband in six months is not surprisingly refreshing.

Heading away from Africa on the same day that the first World Cup in the continent's history begins is possibly a bit strange. I had at one point entertained the idea of heading down to catch a match or two but it's far more cumbersome and expensive than one might think, even from a country as close as Tanzania (African unity would be a much easier task if it wasn't so crazy expensive and often difficult to travel around the continent). I will be back in time for the final which, in all likelihood, will not involve an African team. Nonetheless, I hope that the African teams play inspired football and at least one of them gets to the quarterfinal.

It's been a particularly challenging six months and I'm very much looking forward to a break. I suppose you don't sign up for this kind of work unless you're up for a nearly constant roller coaster ride. Even so, I've had few professional experiences in my career so far that have created as much stress and insomnia. Now that Priya has left the organization, it will be interesting to see how that changes things. The all-consuming work topics that invade our house will soon be only of interest to one of us. That may encourage us to discuss other things for a change. I'm sure we'll find something else to talk about.

So my brain will need to change gears. I will need to work frequently during the break; there's no way around that. But I will need to disengage and focus on other things. If I don't, I'll be of less use to my staff when I get back. Fortunately for me my family is pretty good at the art of recreation.