Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lost Passport


It is nearly midnight and I have lost my passport. The day before I fly out on a two week, four country trip to work through next year’s business plan financials with the regional managers who have invited management from around their regions to join in. Hotels have been reserved, flights booked, and venues established. A lot of expense has gone into these meetings so that I can get everybody on the same page with their plans and then present the final outcomes next month, and I can’t find my passport. Not to mention all the effort that has gone into preparing to leave for this trip. Since Bridget is joining me she has made arrangements with several different families to watch our children while we are away. Everything is set…except for the passport. I try to figure out a solution, but nothing comes to me. I can’t spend my way out of it, because buying another ticket isn’t the issue, I just can’t get into another country. The only thing I can do is look for it. I tear the house apart looking but it is nowhere. Bridget is looking too, but we’re having no luck. Exhausted, nervous, and depressed I lie down and pray for help. I have a few ideas, but they bear no fruit.

Bridget has an idea that maybe I could get a new passport. The flight leaves at 11:40 a.m. A new passport is out of the question, but since we have no other options I figure I can apply for it and hopefully only miss the meetings scheduled in the Middle East. Of course that means I would probably have to pay for my own flight to London, but I would rather do that than face the consequences of just not making it at all.

The offices open up at 8 a.m. EST so I get up, after sleeping horribly for about three hours, and give them a call. Reporting my passport missing means it is invalid, even if I do find it now. The first appointment I can schedule is for September 11th. That’s enough time for me to make it to Europe…not all is lost. Still sucks, but better than not going at all. I ask if I can just show up at the offices this morning and hope somebody else doesn’t arrive so I can take their spot. I’m told that I can try if I want, but it’s not really advisable. Instead the lady on the other end of the line puts me on a waiting list and tells me they will call if something opens up. Not much hope, but at least it’s something.

I decide I will go to the Passport office and wait, even though my chances of getting in are slim. What else am I going to do this morning? So I pack as though I’m going and a couple hours later I head out. Traffic is about the worst I’ve ever seen it. Stop. And. Go. I need to fill out a couple forms for the passport people and since our printer doesn’t work I stop in the office (after waiting for construction crews to let my car pass). As I’m printing out the forms I get a call from the passport people saying to come in as soon as possible.

That was exciting. And would have been more so if “as soon as possible” wasn’t more sitting in traffic waiting to move. I use the time to fill out the forms. I call Bridget and have her look up some information for me, which she was fortunate enough to find and get back to me with.

When I finally get in to Seattle it is about 8:30 a.m. Only a half an hour or so later than their opening time. After driving the wrong way down a one way street looking for parking, I get to the office and they take my information right away. Then I wait for them to call me up. I know there is nothing I can do to speed things up so I just practice being happy and patient so the person that does call me up wants to help me as much as possible.

When it is finally my turn, I get a lady that I would love to have as an employee. She is very detail oriented, and pleasant. Her detail orientedness isn’t very good for me in this situation however. She notices that on my license my name is spelled Tymon and my passport was spelled Timon. Fortunately she just maks a few notes and is on to the fact that my passport picture is the same as the one on my lost passport. She says that would probably be a problem. Then she realizes my lost passport is only about 6 months old so she goes and checks with her Supervisor if that is OK. It is. Another blessing. Good thing I recently shaved the beard or I would probably have to go get a new picture. I’m now onto another period of waiting for the passport to be processed. I am told it will take about an hour and a half.



Now I am down to just missing my flight to Chicago where I have my layover to Abu Dhabi. Not the worst outcome. By 10:30 a.m. I have gotten my new passport and I am on my way to the airport. The self checker thing doesn’t let me get my boarding pass so I have to see an airline representative. I think it must be too late to check my luggage, but she doesn’t even seem to notice the boarding time and gets me right through. The security line is huge, but moves extremely fast. I get through a few minutes after the boarding time of the flight. I run through the terminal to get to my gate, as much to make it look like a movie as to arrive just in the nick of time for my flight…which is exactly what happens.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

While You Were Celebrating...

On New Year's Eve, while you were sleeping or partying, President Obama signed a bill that does away with due process allowing him to detain any person, including American citizens, without trial and for an indefinite amount of time using the guise of security for the country. If you are an Obama supporter keep in mind that the power to do this is given to the President so anybody who is elected from now on will be able to usurp their authority in this manner.


This bill has passed with relatively little fan fare. Perhaps it is because most people aren't terrorists so they don't think this applies to them. You may be surprised at what puts you on the "suspicion of terrorist" list. Shortly after 9/11 I was contacted by the FBI on suspicion of terrorism. An off duty police officer spotted the driver of a car taking pictures of the Oregon Coast Guard. He was able to get a few numbers off the license plate which happened to match those of my car. Under this new law I could have been detained indefinitely for this. Here are some other things that might get you on the list:



The following article puts into perspective the danger of this bill: http://my.firedoglake.com/davidswanson/2011/12/31/obama-crowned-himself-on-new-years-eve/

Join the FB page "Recall Every Congressman Who Voted for the NDAA" to stay updated on information related to this bill.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bahrain

I hadn't planned on taking any pictures during my stay in Bahrain because I've been here before and took plenty of pictures last time. However, my hotel is beautiful and so I thought I'd share a few pics of the views I have here. This is the view outside my room's window:
This is the view on the other side of my room:
 And this is my bidet:



Sunday, October 9, 2011

Netherlands

I wasn't exactly in Amsterdam today, but the area I am in is unrecognizable to most people (assuming you don't know where Badhoevedorp is) so I had to change the title of today's blog.

My plan today was to see the windmills that are so famous in this region. Fortunately I told my lovely wife of my idea yesterday because I was going to go into downtown Amsterdam and then pay 34 euros for a tour. However, Bridget sent me a map of where I am staying and where I was planning on going and I saw that the hotel I'm at is only about 1.5 miles away from the windmill. So after getting up and ready I took a walk. I wasn't sure how easy it would be to walk to where I wanted to go because it looked like I would have to cross a freeway and I was warned by Google that the route might "be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths".

It turned out to be extremely easy. I was so busy looking at the neighborhood, that I had to walk through to get to where I was going, that I was at the windmill before I knew it. I was there a bit early actually, so I took a walk around the town of Sloten where the windmill is. It was a very nice town...somewhere I could retire actually...if they spoke English. Here is a church in the town:


After walking through the town I went back to the windmill. There were four Romanians about to take the tour in English so I joined them. The ticket was 6 euros, cheaper than the train ride to Amsterdam. Here is a picture of the windmill I got from online...I don't think my pic e-mailed from my blackberry to my gmail account for some reason:


The tour was pretty interesting. Windmills are used here to pump water out of the cities and surrounding areas as they sit up to six meters below sea level. Here our guide shows where the current water level is and where sea level is at the top of this pole. We had to walk down some steps to get to where we are standing.


The tour included a video diorama of the life of Rembrandt who lived in this area for awhile and learned a lot of his art techniques here.


After the tour I went back to the hotel, but not before stopping by an Italian restaurant for some lunch.


When I got back to the hotel I napped, read, watched T.V., listened to conference, and packed for tomorrow's journey to Bahrain. All in all, a pretty good day.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Amsterdam

Finally done with my European meetings I had a full day today to explore Amsterdam. I started the morning off with a shuttle to the airport and a train from there to the Central Station in downtown Amsterdam. I didn't really have a plan for when I got there, but across the street from the train station was a place advertising 1 hour canal cruises, so I took one. Amsterdam has a lot of canals so we were able to crisscross through the whole city by boat. It was a good introduction to the city.



When I got off the boat I went to a big map outside the train station to figure out what I wanted to do next. As I was looking a guy came up and asked where I was going. Since I didn't know I hesitated to respond.

"The Red Light District eh?" he assumed.

"No, probably the Rembrandt museum." I replied.

"OK great, follow me."

I followed him, though after a couple blocks when we were still walking I knew what was coming. I've had similar experiences where people become your guide involuntarily and then ask for money at the end. I looked for a place to ditch him, but couldn't find anything that wasn't too obvious. Oh well...he did get me to where I wanted to be pretty quickly (which happened to include a walk through the red light district, lol) so I gave him 1.50 euros. He asked for more. I told him no. He left angry. I should have just told him when I figured out what was going on that I wasn't going to give him anything. Oh well.

The museum was pretty cool. It was where Rembrandt used to live so it was not only a gallery with his work, it was a museum of his life. After I finished with the museum I was pretty hungry so I walked down a street that was packed with people and full of different restaurants. I looked hard for a place that offered dutch food but couldn't find anything so I settled with a place selling Argentine food. Surprisingly there were probably more Argentine restaurants than any other kind. This was my lunch:

This is a place that resembled a typical city center...though I'm not sure it was. There were a lot of people.


After walking around for awhile I went to the other side of the city to visit the Anne Frank house. Today happens to be Yom Kippur, and the museum happens to be closed on Yom Kippur so I wasn't able to go inside but the walk across the city was interesting enough that I didn't feel I had wasted time.

Amsterdam is a pretty neat city. The architecture is incredible. I'm glad I spent the day getting to see it, but I don't feel like I ever need to come back. I was satisfied with walking around it all day and seeing what I did. I will put together the video I took when I get home from the trip.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

London Day 2 - Mind the Gap Please

After eating breakfast at the hotel this morning I took a bus to the London underground. It is a subway/rail  system that can get you almost anywhere in London you want to go. I took it to a park just outside of Buckingham Palace. Seeing the Palace in the distance I went check it out. There was a huge crowd gathered outside the gates waiting as though a parade were about to begin. I waited with them but had no idea what was going to happen. After about 15 minutes of waiting music began and soon I saw the source to be a marching band. Those doing the marching were the Queen's Guard. I watched the changing of the Guard for awhile, but didn't have a great view from where I was so I didn't stay for too long. It was cool to see though, since I've heard so much about it.



I then took a bus tour of London. There was a tour guide who pointed out all the important landmarks and told of some of the history regarding them. At one point I got off the bus and went on a short boat tour up the River Thames. After the tour I got back on the bus and finished up the bus tour. It was really fun to see so many historical landmarks. After I got off the bus, I walked around for awhile until I came across Hyde Park. It was huge and it was packed with people. It looked like Gas Works park on the 4th of July. I thought something might be going on, but it seems it was just a lot of people deciding to enjoy the warm weather. I spent a lot of time walking through it, but probably didn't make it even half way through. I was getting tired of walking so I went back to the Green Park, next to Buckingham Palace, and ate lunch.

I then took the train and bus back to my hotel room. I didn't plan to sleep but my bed felt so good when I lied down to read that I couldn't keep my eyes open and I fell asleep for a couple hours. Fortunately I woke up before getting too much sleep that I wouldn't be able to get any sleep tonight. I'm hoping to beat Jet Lag by tomorrow.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

London Day 1

It's 3:41 a.m. here. Perfect time to write a blog post. The flight over was good. From Seattle to Washington D.C. me and the two people next to me spent most of the flight working on crossword puzzles together. It made for a quick flight. That and I was given a free upgrade to my seat and put in an aisle row because there was a couple trying to get seats next to each other. On the way from Washington D.C. to London I tried to sleep but probably only got in one hour or so.

I checked in to my hotel at 11 a.m. London time. Apparently by plane ticket was booked using my corporate credit card, which went against the limit of the account. That meant that when I tried to pay for the hotel room I wasn't able because it only has $300 left on it. I had to use my personal funds...so hopefully that gets taken care of soon.

Though tired I didn't want to sleep when I got in because I knew it would be too hard to get up. So I went out. I took a bus to a train station and then took the train (like a shuttle train) to Windsor. It is famous for the Windsor Castle which I toured. I took video but I think I forgot to bring the cable to connect my video camera to my PC so I'll have to post videos later. Inside the Royal Palace you're not allowed to take pictures so I didn't get much inside...but the entire thing was beautiful. I was especially impressed with Queen Mary's Dolls' House. The level of detail was amazing. All the history, and the armor, and Knight's seals, and paintings were very impressive as well.

I got home very tired. I ate a small dinner, read, and went to bed. I woke up at 3 a.m. I think I'll try to stay up until tonight to get on the right sleeping schedule.

Here are a couple pics from my travels.

This is a picture of some street signs. Bridget always wants me to take pics of street signs.

Here are some classic British phone booths.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Meeting with CPS

Today was our big meeting. The last time we saw anybody from CPS they were threatening to take our children because we didn't want to have Kira take unnecessary, dangerous tests. Fortunately a family friend was able to get her in for an MRI without having to use anesthesia, so we went in today having no idea where they stood and what the next steps would be.

We were very blessed to have the Supervisor of J. Brady there with us for the meeting. She is the mother of three boys and seemed to completely understand where we were coming from. She apologized for the psychological hell they have been putting us through and assured us, at the end of the meeting, that the investigation was done. They just need a few character witnesses to write letters and then they'll close up the case as soon as possible.

I believe that means we can be at peace once again. Thank you all who have offered support, advice, resources, and prayers. We truly are a blessed family. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Love Your Enemies


"We have a choice. We can seek for the bad in others. Or we can make peace and work to extend to others the understanding, fairness, and forgiveness we so desperately desire for ourselves. It is our choice; for whatever we seek, that we will certainly find." Dieter Uchtdorf.

I pray that I will have this attitude towards the social worker as we prepare to meet with her tomorrow morning.