Tuesday, January 30, 2007

THIS Is Why I Love My Capitalist Country...God Bless America!

THIS one is worth a look-see...GaP (Not sure if the link worked...if not, just copy, paste, and pop it into your browser. It's worth it...GaP >http://www.cnn.com/video/player/player.html?url=/video/business/2007/01/23/b2.101.dumb.northwest.bofa.cnn.cnn<

Monday, January 29, 2007

Back From Kay-Bec

Salut... A week ago, I rented a car for one-week sojourn. A visit to my dad in Marston, Quebec was LONG overdue. But for the first half of my vacation, I hemmed and hawed about how to get up there. Bus(economical but damned inconvenient...and LONG.) or car-rental?(Very convenient,VERY expensive.) I opted for the car rental...Got myself a good deal but it turns out that the insurance was more expensive than the rental. SO... I promised a recently relocated friend up in Milton, VT that I'd pay him a visit. For the definition of a wrong career-move, all you had to do was look at this cautionary tale. My friend went into debt moving up here to open a new store for a mattress and bed company. They didn't pay dime ONE for his moving expenses. He was promoted to manager of this place in Burlington...No promotion, no real back-up...Long story short: They're miserable and in the red up there. I wouldn't be surprised if they headed back home. Hey, it was a wrong turn. He doesn't know what to do next regarding job, career, LIFE...I know how he feels. His wife is stuck out on the tundra being mom to little Dom and J. when he's back from school. And they're not big fans of the Yankee Stepford Stinkeye that they get up there. I got a small taste of it in a drug-store. That impolite size-up. Luckily, my job has taught me to completely ignore asshole behavior completely... I said good-bye to them, crossed the border at 89 North and used the internet's Mapquest instructions to get to Marston...(I can't say enough good things about MQ. USE it...Better than getting lost...) I spent five days with my dad and his two dogs up in the wooded north. I took in an amazing amount of Westerns on the LoneStar channel, visited some relatives, drank a bit with the old man, did some reading...all of the things that make an ideal vacation... But by the last two days, I was wishing I was back home...rather than enjoying the very valuable time with my dad...(And let's face it, he's not getting any younger...none of us are...)my mind was dazed, envisioning my beloved living room, just being HOME and NOT traveling. And I was missing Bill...and he was bummed out at home without me. It's awful, isn't it, marking off time, wishing your life away? Only when the party kicked off in high gear at my uncle's camp did I get pulled back into the present. We had a dozen people in there, drinking beer, speaking French(and a some English), smoking, and just having a good time. I don't know...I guess I'm becoming more misanthropic? Anti-social? Anyway, it was good seeing my uncles again...and I really enjoyed that last tail end of it... I left Marston at 0800 this morning...I tried to put my mind in that timeless state as I crossed the border, made it onto Route 3, and then onto the highway...It was a smooth journey...And god, am I glad to be home...GaP

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Perfect Day With My Loved One

Bill had an appointment to change the oil in his car. It was going to be a long wait so we decided to walk over to Barnes and Noble to browse around. We had to stop at Wal-Mart so he could buy a hat to cover his right ear. He has a recurring ear-infection problem. We did our thing(and made a killing on some DVD's...but one television season on DVD, get one free...I got myself THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO SEASONS 2 AND 3. And the complete original (British) version of THE OFFICE along with the complete FAWLTY TOWERS.) I know I'm trying to save some cash but that's a good DEAL! Anyway, on the way back to the car dealership, Bill started to have problems with his ear again. His equilibrium was being affected. So I held on to his arm as we slowly made our way down the hill. I was happy to be there for him... We've been hiding from the howling winter winds, watching SEASON 1 of 24. The heat of the woodstove was making us drowsy...We took a nap. We lay there in bed, enjoying the quiet, the warmth of each other's company. We lay side-by-side, our hands joined together. I never thought I would be the one to say that love IS worth it. Especially when it's REAL and when it's based on kindness and respect. There's only one Bill...and I'm very happy with him...GaP

Friday, January 19, 2007

Taking Stock...

Salut, Danny... Many thanks for your phone call...Not to worry about the lack of a Christmas Card. Contrary to popular belief, they are not mandatory. And truth to tell, I would rather receive nothing than a card that was sent out with the air of obligation(which is NEVER the case with you. You put your heart and soul into everything that you do...) You know the type..A generic card from a bulk box-set with only a person or couples' signature at the bottom. Usually written by one person. You can almost picture them at a table, speed-writing through them all, assembly-line style. It's the afterthought that counts, apparently. So no worries there... Back at home, I'm trying to continue the futile task of getting my library in order. I come across books and magazines in an unruly pile(your highly organized manner would probaby have you commiting me to a sanatorium.) There's more than a little of my sister in me. (The one who rushes out and snaps up bargains and lets them pile up on the floor until her house looks like a junkyard.) Organizing all of the books/compact discs/and other minutaie is a daunting, depressing task...Especially when you look at the souvenirs of...not necessarily happier times but certainly times when I enjoyed my job, my profession a whole HELL of a lot MORE...Stuff I picked up in Glasgow and all around Scotland...England as well...Those memories seem like they belong to another person...one who enjoy life, adventure, and TRAVEL a hell of a lot more...I envy you your call to return to Scotland on a regular basis. I miss the culture, I miss the burr, the hospitality, the WARMTH...I also miss my PASSION for the place. I remember when I wanted to move there. I'm not saying I'm unhappy...I'm saying I've changed. Some things are for the better...(losing my fear of relationships...at least with Bill) other things NOT so...(I find it hard to even PRETEND to be friendly at work anymore...) Call it ageing... ... Hope you're well, my friend...Say hello to Margaret and Sara for me...GaP

Homage To La France!

Salut, Charles... I'm laid up with a cold and I'm a "kept man" in Bill's house. I'm just keeping warm in his house while he goes to work. I feed the woodstove, take care of his cat, drink liquids, read, listen to music, and watch movies. The closest to Paradise that I could ever envision...He really is a sweetheart... It's better here because I don't have to deal with walking the dog. Cats are WAY easier to look after... I imagine you must be looking forward to visiting the land of your ancestors. France may be seen to be living in a dreamworld with it's affectations of social justice and equality...and the French's complete refusal to abandon their easygoing way of life..but I say GOOD FOR THEM! They realize that to be human means having some downtime and that not EVERYTHING is related to money...Unlike this Economic Concentration Camp known as The United States...The same culture that demanded that I take a 40 percent paycut so that upper management to keep their salaries and keep their cash-cow airline afloat...(Bitter? Moi?) Anwyay, winter is halfway over...we got off light with the first half...so the rest should be tolerable... Visiting mon pere on Monday if the weather cooperates...Wheeeee! More travel. But I look forward to spending time in the blazing warmth of his shack, watching westerns on the LONE STAR Channel, and hearing tales of his youth... Hope all is well with you, mon ami...A la prochaine...GaP

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Last Son Of Middle-Earth

Salut, Tonez... Laid up with a cold at Bill's house...Just finished reading TELEGRAPH DAYS By Larry McMurtry. I am no literary connoisseur but I dig his prose enough so that I'd read all of his books. We did a run of LORD OF THE RINGS films and while I know you have BIG issues with them, I was wondering about what aspects worked WELL with the whole project...what scenes/portrayals/approaches that enriched Tolkien's mythos rather than detracting from them. Let me give you a semi-analogy. As much as I like Superman, there are some aspects of his media portrayals that --->I<--- hate. Movies III and IV are the big ones. But even THEY had aspects that I think they nailed correctly. For example, the Smallville depiction/Superman and Clark fight in III, the very LITERAL dumbass comic-book aspect of IV.(It read just like one of those dumbass stories from the 1960's when every other issue had Lois trying to trick Clark/Supes into revealing his secret identity and/or into marriage. (Always the basis of a sound relationship, you know?) Also HATED LOIS & CLARK but there was an episode where Lois got busted for her abject stupidity of not being able to tell Clark from his caped alter-ego. ("How STUPID was she?", I believe the villain spouted. PLUS, I think Terri Hatcher made a FINE Lois Lane. (And sorry, YES, I did like SUPERMAN RETURNS. Let's make that official.) Anyway, the reason WHY I bring up Middle-Earth is that the films has whetted my urge to revisit the source material. I still have the original paperpacks that I read in high-school so it's only fitting that I read them again and appreciate some of the details that I missed the first time around. (There's no WAY I'm going sit there and try to translate an Elvish poem or some shit like that...You know, I like--even LOVE---Star Trek but I'm not going to devote any time to speaking Klingon, Vulcan or whatever...) Any thoughts you have on the above would be welcome...GaP

Telegraph Days

Being laid up with a cold means that one has a ton of time to read. So racing against a library deadline, I tucked into Larry McMurty's TELEGRAPH DAYS. A relatively short book compared to LONESOME DOVE and it prequels/sequels but Mr. McMurtry is a master at packing a LIFE(or most of one) in just under a three- hundred pages or so. Being a failed aspiring writer, I can admire the craft and the effort that must require. I've only read a handful of his books but the death of the REAL West seems to be a recurrent theme. The bittersweet longing when history passes into myth...and this book centers on a lady who witnesses one of the most famous historical events(The gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona). She even sees the events of her own life turned into a Hollywood motion picture during Tinseltown's own golden age. I'm not a literary connoisseur but I know that I really like Larry McMurtry's books enough to eventually read them all. Next--Time for a re-reading of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS Trilogy. Of course, a marathon-viewing of Peter Jackson't movies has whetted my longing to visit Middle Earth again. My first and only visit was back in high school. To my young, impatient, impetuous mind, I found the saga slow-moving. Maybe I wasn't yet old or seasoned enough to appreciate it. And (contrary to the opinion of a couple of friends of mine,) Peter Jackson's rendering of the saga captured enough of it to make me return to the source material. Maybe even beyond...It's a big world to explore... GaP

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NOW Winter Is Here...

What a way to wake up. The dog is barking up the stairs, asking to relieve himself...which always good. But because of the glare ice outside, I wiped out TWICE with him pulling on the leash. What a way to wake up... Nursing a scratchy throat right now and quite honestly, I don't really have anywhere to go...so I'm going to stay in and continue my reading. Current book: TELEGRAPH DAYS By Larry McMurtry. He's fast becoming my one of my favorite writers. Loving my quiet life and NOT traveling...GaP

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

IS There An Answer?

Russ___________ wrote: Hi GaP! I just opened the package with the Aimee Mann iTunes Originals. I will put them on the player tomorrow. Thank you. I particularly want to hear "I Hate To Hear People Cover Beatles Songs." She has a wry, wicked sense of humor. Kind of like mine. That's why I liked the Christmas card I sent. Yes, it looked classical, proper and all that. Until one gets to the caption. Yes, I do have possession of the familial high ground for the time being. This year, though, the place will be put up for sale and then we'll see what happens. The adventure continues. So does the drama. This past week has me wondering how much of the drama I'm creating. My friend in Oregon reminded me that I create my own reality. That's something I've preached to her over the past couple of years. It stings to hear one's own words directed at one's own ears. As I've mentioned before, it is the relationships with the women in my life that provide the challenge and mystery on my path. My spouse, the doctor's wife, the Norsk goddess and now my friend in Oregon. My God! When does a man find peace and comfort? Can a man ever find lasting peace and comfort? It's true that I am more physically comfortable being in the house with room to stretch out for first time in a year. Spending time with my boy is a good thing, too. (Yesterday we got back from a weekend skiing in W. Va.). But the emotional anguish of loving a woman continues. Sometimes I feel the current of several relationships coursing through, and the combination threatens to electrocute. But yes, this is a story that must wait for the draining of a bottle of single malt. There is a lot of stress in our lives. Too much. The job is a Faustian myth on its own. The hostile working conditions, the financial stress and the decay of the society provide more crap than any of us deserve (unless this world is some kind of a cosmic school like some of the New Agers preach). Add the personal element and, well, sometimes I wonder about exit strategies. We are characters in an Ibsen play. I hope your eschewing AMS provides some relief for you. Let's keep the faith, stick together and try to imagine it all is for a reason. Take care, brother. Russ. _____________________________________________________________________________ Salut, Russ... I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't look that closely at the card itself. (It has a place of honor on the desk so I just took it down for another look...) I thought it WAS all proper and reverent to the holiday. I was so in LOVE with the envelope and the written content of the card, I missed the punchline. I thought you were going all Christian on me for a minute there...But at the risk of sounding like I'm blowing smoke up your ass, you're a classy gent...so there'd be nothing wrong with a proper, classical card... That sounds like such a Northwest Pacific thing to say. I'm given to believe that the left coast produces that oh-so Ageing Hippie Worldview...But still, do you think she has a point? Relationships have a learning component...About the other person and especially one's self. It's a mirror to one's self if one cares to look. I don't know about the dynamic you have with the opposite sex but this is how I see it: You're a tall, handsome, romantic, introspective, PHILOSOPHICAL pilot...A CAPTAIN, at that. That's a heady, desirous mix for any self-respecting, intelligent female...But see, you like to examine...you like to analyze. You are SEEKING the answers to life and the universe's BIG questions. I would imagine that quiet, philosophical aspect is attractive. Maybe the lady in question thinks that her LOVE will be the answer. But this is the kind of quest that has no real definitive answers. LOVE, a life-companion helps with the journey...but it doesn't provide the answer. So when said lady finds that her love and understanding isn't enough...or heaven forbid! The end-all, be-all destination to life's journey, she may feel frustrated, she may feel betrayed...that she's just another question to be analyzed in this great cosmic riddle. So they back off... But what do I know? I could be just talking out the other side of my ass...Like I said, this is the conclusion I've gleaned from your past writings and observations...I could be way off. Apologies if I've overstepped my boundaries...but I care about you too, Russ. You are on of my best friends. I'd like to see you happy as well...but like I said, maybe happiness is a journey. I don't think it's a continual, achievable state. Life and all it's experiences are not linear... If you want the dark side of NOT finding happiness nor purpose in life, you should check out SAW. Bill and I recently absorbed the LORD OF THE RINGS in all of it's extended epic glory. It covers it all...Love, betrayal, redemption, friendship, loyalty, war, peace, death...Like all good stories... I'd rather be a character in a Kevin Smith movie... Many thanks for your friendship and your insights, my friend... Keep the faith and keep in touch...GaP

Monday, January 15, 2007

In The Bleak Midwinter

1710...and it looks like midnight. It's the perfect example of mid-winter bleakness...Grey skies, perpetual dusk, and freezing rain have coated everything in a cold, crusty glaze of ice...I guess I should feel lucky that I have power. I remember this crippling ice-storm about ten years ago across New England and Canada that actually made world-headlines with the power-outages and damage done to trees and property. I was on a layover in India and their STAR TV had a piece on it... Had a bash at trying to organize the piles of books in what is to become my study some century or another. I came across the books on Britain and Scotland that I purchased when I was flying over there back about fifteen years ago. Remembering past journeys and past interests that feel like they belong to someone else is somehow appropriate to the mood described above. As I type this, I work by the light of the monitor and two candles while listening to a forlorn tune on an internet folk station. In the bleak midwinter, indeed... GaP

Some Friendly Advice

Marc wrote: Hi GaP Hope you have an good vacation time off and enjoy and I would use this time off to find out more what you want to do with the rest of your life. OK to know what you not want ( brings you better to your goal ) but better to want what you want. How do you get there ? Reading some books ( personally I got some things out of Tony robbins books and seminars see http://www.tonyrobbins.com ) or going to an seminar could help One tip I could give you also do not throw out one job before you have some new goals and an job will miss you on the AMS - BOS route however you have to follow your dreams and if you feel more happy with domestic do it ! Had some good flights last weeks with Rachel and Heidi Greetings my friend and enjoy ! Marc D.---- _________________________________________________________________________ Marc... Many thanks for the advice...and make no mistake. I don't plan on leaving the airline in a huff without a plan. I think part of the reason for burnout is a need for change...even WITHIN the job. Hence, the switch to domestic. The USA routes may leave at ridiculous hours but there never seems to be enough time for some passenger to lose their mind on a 2-hour flight(or ME, for that matter...) Knowing what you want and how to get there...THAT's the question... I have to admit, I'm pretty skeptical on motivational business speakers...It always seems to be that they're always busy trying to teach business leaders new ways to brainwash their workers into being more productive. (The DILBERT cartoon and OFFICE SPACE make fun of this rather nicely...) But hey, any advice to better one's self can can come from the most unlikely sources... I have been looking for you recently...but I had a hunch I was always just missing you... I hope your holidays were excellent... Rest assured, mijn vriend...I will be in touch. Tot ziens...GaP

Friday, January 12, 2007

Getting A Clue?

My vacation has begun. I won't have to see the inside of a plane or even be NEAR an airport for the rest of the month. Yesterday, I puttered around the house got a few little procrastination projects done...and then went to see my significant other. I made a quick stop into town to get an errand done and stopped in to see my lawyer friend. I reiterated the reasons why I was done with the international trip bullshit. So I got the fatherly(but friendly) advice speech about what my next step in life was going to be. Now that is the scary question that's been hovering in my mental periphery for a good long time now. This man, this lawyer, this ex-Ambassador(to Belize), this respectable pillar of society and extreme Democrat(Thank God)was challenging me to realizing some of my potential, to maybe even become GREAT. He's basically asking me to fan the embers of some of my talents and/or interests to begin the next chapter of my life. But change is frightening, isn't it? And then there's my sputtering motiviation factor...gung-ho one second, fuck-it-all the next. It's endemic to my Gemini stature. Two extremes in one personality, the yin/yang flipping over each other incessantly. Kind/Viciously Sarcastic, slacker/respectable citizen, can-do positive/nihilistically negative, laser-focused/lackadaisical... How am I going to start fresh if I don't even have a destination or game-plan? All I know is that I don't want to be breathing other peoples' air in a steel-tube on my way out to another hotel-room exile for the rest of my life. I stand at the path with many other directions branching out in front of me. Am I going to wait there forever for the giant hand of God or some other imaginary all-purpose spiritual deity/cosmic-force to show me the way? And then there's the money factor. I'm barely keeping my head above water as it is financially. I don't want to become yet another American buried in debt and spending month-to-month feverishly scrabbling and clawing my way out? What do I do? How do I evolve? GaP

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Air Travel Follies

You know...if I needed a more vivid symbolic sign and portent that I should kiss the AMSTERDAM trip good-bye, the sight of the absent-minded professor yakking into his puke-bag across from my jumpseat really couldn't be more appropriate. Earlier in the flight, I nearly ran over this woman who was lying on the floor toward the back of the plane. She wasn't feeling well...(people were getting sick right and left during the final approach. Wonder why? On second thought, who cares?) She didn't need oxygen so I prompted her to take herself out of the path of harm. After all, if her head was cracked open by a meal cart careening down the aisle, I'm sure she'd feel a lot worse... Oh and then there was the guy that threatened Miss Sheila up at door 2 that if he couldn't use the Executive Class bathroom he was going to "piss all over the fucking floor". Our purser had a nice, long talk with him. This shit is insane. At least on domestic flights, people don't generally have the time to create/experience this kind of absurdist drama. Air-travel is a special kind of hell...GaP

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I Only Wish This Were Going To Be True...

This gives me hope...but it can't come quickly enough...GaP __________________________________________________________________________________ DANIEL C. DENNETT Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon The Evaporation of the Powerful Mystique of Religion I’m so optimistic that I expect to live to see the evaporation of the powerful mystique of religion. I think that in about twenty-five years almost all religions will have evolved into very different phenomena, so much so that in most quarters religion will no longer command the awe it does today. Of course many people–perhaps a majority of people in the world–will still cling to their religion with the sort of passion that can fuel violence and other intolerant and reprehensible behavior. But the rest of the world will see this behavior for what it is, and learn to work around it until it subsides, as it surely will. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we will need every morsel of this reasonable attitude to deal with such complex global problems as climate change, fresh water, and economic inequality in an effective way. It will be touch and go, and in my pessimistic moods I think Sir Martin Rees may be right: some disaffected religious (or political) group may unleash a biological or nuclear catastrophe that forecloses all our good efforts. But I do think we have the resources and the knowledge to forestall such calamities if we are vigilant. Recall that only fifty years ago smoking was a high status activity and it was considered rude to ask somebody to stop smoking in one’s presence. Today we’ve learned that we shouldn’t make the mistake of trying to prohibit smoking altogether, and so we still have plenty of cigarettes and smokers, but we have certainly contained the noxious aspects within quite acceptable boundaries. Smoking is no longer cool, and the day will come when religion is, first, a take-it-or-leave-it choice, and later: no longer cool–except in its socially valuable forms, where it will be one type of allegiance among many. Will those descendant institutions still be religions? Or will religions have thereby morphed themselves into extinction? It all depends on what you think the key or defining elements of religion are. Are dinosaurs extinct, or do their lineages live on as birds? Why am I confident that this will happen? Mainly because of the asymmetry in the information explosion. With the worldwide spread of information technology (not just the internet, but cell phones and portable radios and television), it is no longer feasible for guardians of religious traditions to protect their young from exposure to the kinds of facts (and, yes, of course, misinformation and junk of every genre) that gently, irresistibly undermine the mindsets requisite for religious fanaticism and intolerance. The religious fervor of today is a last, desperate attempt by our generation to block the eyes and ears of the coming generations, and it isn’t working. For every well-publicized victory–the inundation of the Bush administration with evangelicals, the growing number of home schoolers in the USA, the rise of radical Islam, the much exaggerated “rebound” of religion in Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union, to take the most obvious cases–there are many less dramatic defeats, as young people quietly walk away from the faith of their parents and grandparents. That trend will continue, especially when young people come to know how many of their peers are making this low-profile choice. Around the world, the category of “not religious” is growing faster than the Mormons, faster than the evangelicals, faster even than Islam, whose growth is due almost entirely to fecundity, not conversion, and is bound to level off soon. Those who are secular can encourage their own children to drink from the well of knowledge wherever it leads them, confident that only a small percentage will rebel against their secular upbringing and turn to one religion or another. Cults will rise and fall, as they do today and have done for millennia, but only those that can metamorphose into socially benign organizations will be able to flourish. Many religions have already made the transition, quietly de-emphasizing the irrational elements in their heritages, abandoning the xenophobic and sexist prohibitions of their quite recent past, and turning their attention from doctrinal purity to moral effectiveness. The fact that these adapting religions are scorned as former religions by the diehard purists shows how brittle the objects of their desperate allegiance have become. As the world informs itself about these transitions, those who are devout in the old-fashioned way will have to work around the clock to provide attractions, distractions—and guilt trips—to hold the attention and allegiance of their children. They will not succeed, and it will not be a painless transition. Families will be torn apart, and generations will accuse each other of disloyalty and worse: the young will be appalled by their discovery of the deliberate misrepresentations of their elders, and their elders will feel abandoned and betrayed by their descendants. We must not underestimate the anguish that these cultural transformations will engender, and we should try to anticipate the main effects and be ready to provide relief and hope for those who are afflicted. I think the main problem we face today is overreaction, making martyrs out of people who desperately want to become martyrs. What it will take is patience, good information, and a steady demand for universal education about the world’s religions. This will favor the evolution of avirulent forms of religion, which we can all welcome as continuing parts of our planet’s cultural heritage. Eventually the truth will set us free.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Work Decision

George... Good to hear from you. I'm in AMS as I write this. Once I get to a crew computer, I'll be trading away any of these trips I have for my vacation in January. They finally wore me down, George. With the addition of duty-free and the pain-in-the-ass, high maintenance of Euro-passengers has finally burned me out. I am SO finished with this nightmare of a trip...time to do domestic. See you soon...GaP --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- GaP, I had the nicest flight attendants on Air China in both directions. Pleasant, helpful, accommodating. They made the trips easier, and I thanked them. Must have caught them on good days. I understand your frustrations. Earning a living sometimes takes a lot out of us. It is not all perfect, but it is necessary. It is also important to make the most of all opportunities. I met a cab driver at JFK from Sri Lanka yesterday who is so grateful to be in the US despite his hardships and the absence of his family for 15 years while he waited for them to immigrate under the US system. The are now in the US finally. Last month he met a man in his cab to whom he was helpful. He told the man is life story, and his hardships. On the man's next rip to the US from the UK, the man asked to meet him. He gave him a ck for $7000 to buy his own used limo. It was the cab driver's dream come true and all because he was nice to someone. So, good things happen. You never know the impact you can have on someone else at times. What is the lesson: I guess it is to try to do your job well because other people depend on you. I depend on you at times. The other lesson is to make the most out of every situation. To learn, to advance, to grow. Take a break from AMS for a while to get recharged, then try it again. Visit the museums, go to The Hague and watch a human rights be argued, take a boat ride on the canals, take some language lessons. Don't let other's interfere with your good karma. You have it you know. Maybe I am going to far, but just wanted to share some thoughts. Hope you have a great Christmas. Tell me your plans for the holidays. I will look for you. George