Sunday, April 30, 2006

Been there, seen that

8:28AM IST

I’ve recently awoken from a good night’s sleep. The flight was uneventful, if not dreadfully long. It is amazing that during a 15 hour flight, it is the last 90 minutes or so that seem to go on for ever.

I was told that this flight would go over the north pole, but that was in error. We took off to the north from Chicago, and tracked along Canada (ended up a little north of Montreal). We then crossed the Atlantic, south of Greenland, then Iceland, and entered the Norwegian Sea. We then crossed over Europe (passing over Copenhagen, Warsaw, and southern Russia). We crossed the Caspian Sea (a little to the north of Tehran), crossed over Kabul, into Pakistan, and landed in Delhi. I constantly wonder why it is safe to fly over some of these regions!!!

The first thing that you notice when departing the aircraft is the smell. India has a peculiar odor caused by the small woodfires used for cooking by most of the lower class or poorer people. It is a smell that you don't really ever get used to, and one that you really don't forget. A colleague was waiting for me at the airport and escorted me to the hotel .You do NOT drive yourself in India (in fact, when you rent a car in India, a driver comes with it.) and depending on public taxis is a no-no.

My flight mate was an interesting fellow. He was flying with a friend and we taking a 7 week holiday in India, Nepal, and Tibet. They had no agenda, just a flight in and a flight out. When he was explaining what they had planned, I was a little envious. Imagine having no responsibilities and could basically disappear from the world for 2 months…As he was going through his guidebook, taking notes, my envy was replaced with gratitude. Almost everything site that he was jotting down I have already seen. Not only have I been able to experience all those wonderful sites in India, but I’ve basically done them on someone else dime. Maybe I don’t want to disappear too much from the world…maybe just for an afternoon.

I have a real busy day coming up, and don’t expect to sleep much for the next two days. I’ll blog about it.

In case you’re interested, here are some really amazing historical sites to see in Delhi. I don’t expect to do any site seeing until my weekend in Chennai, but I have been to all of the places listed below.

Qutub Minar
Red Fort
Lotus Temple
Humayun’s Tomb

And, about 2.5 hours south (by train) is Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

Taj Mahal
Agra Fort


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Now I know how the other half lives...

2:28PM CDT

I’ve probably flown close to 500 flights in my life, most for business purposes, and most have been in coach. I have been fortunate enough to sit in business class many times. However, I’ve have never sat in First Class on a plane that had three classes of service. Today that changed, unfortunately for me, it was on a flight that was on 800 miles long.

I’m sitting in seat 4J on a Boeing 777 (Triple-7, for those in the know), My seating area is bigger than the guest bathroom in my house. I have an ottoman – yes, an ottoman. I have a desk with a chair that swivels 90 degrees. Most importantly (especially for a longer flight), my chair opens flat into a bed for sleeping. It is really the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. Now my brain is working to see how I can get into first class where I could really use it – that long flight to Delhi. American calls it Flagship Suite, and it is unreal.

Interestingly enough, the pilot just gave us some interesting numbers. The plane will be traveling at 670 miles per hour at 49,000 feet and our takeoff weight was over 430,000 pounds (I think that is what he said).

3:16PM CDT

I worked on e-mail during this flight, and eliminated about 450. Unfortunately, most of these did not require any action on my part. Obviously, the remainder will require more work. My battery has 69% power left, which is over 2 hours. I have another battery, but I think by the time I land in Delhi, they’ll both be dead.

4:35PM CDT

Sitting in the Admirals Club at O'Hare. Since I'm platinum level on American Airlines, I'm entitled to get into the club when I travel internationally. They have relatively inexpensive Wf-Fi here, so I'm connected. Gonna send my e-mail, finds some gnosh to pick on, and call home. My head is pounding (think it's sinuses, since I woke up like that), and already wish I was home.


Around the globe, or bust!

Today I leave for a twelve day trip that will bring me to three cities in India (Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai) and to Manila, Philippines. Normally, I look forward to these trips, but this will be my fifth time to India and my second time to Manila (the last was last October).

Visiting this part of the world can be undeniably difficult. Forget the long flights, homesickness and incredible heat, being in that part of the world presents some interesting challenges.

For one, you have to be very careful as to what you put in your body. Eating and drinking very well cooked foods and bottled water are a necessity. I’ve gotten sick in India on two different occasions, even while being extremely careful. It is no fun.

Also, the long hours and busy agendas are difficult to work through. Because of the time difference, and the fact that they work US hours, it means that a typical work day is between 8:00PM and 5:00AM. Although you don’t have to worry about time zone changes too much, it just isn’t natural to work during the evening.

I thought for this trip that I would blog about the trip itself. Since I’ll be flying over 21,000 miles on 8 flights, and will have some downtime, as well, I think there will be some interesting items to share. Not the least of which is the 14.75 hour flight from Chicago to Delhi. It will be my second time on a flight that long, and the first in coach.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Dallas to Chicago: American Airlines Flight 66
Departs: 1:50PM CDT Arrives: 4:06PM CDT
Duration: 2:16 Miles: 801

Chicago to Delhi, India: AA Flight 292
Departs: 7:15PM CDT Arrives: 8:30PM IST (Sunday)
Duration: 14:45 Miles: 7475
Total Duration: 17:01 Total Miles: 8276

Today I will be in the air for over 17 hours total and will arrive in Delhi, India at 8:30PM Sunday night (local India time). I have ten movies with me, but my batteries won't last that long. I have about 1000 e-mail to read (I've been on vacation or traveling the last two weeks), so I have a lot of work to catch up on. I will be as busy or as bored as I want.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

5th Anniversary

Last week I celebrated 10 years with my company. Although I take great pride in that accomplishment, there is another, much more important anniversary that I celebrate today. Angie and I were married five years ago today in Las Vegas.

I cannot believe that it is already five years. It has been such an amazing time, filled with both laughter and tears, ups and downs, and some really tough times - but as I look back on that day I can only offer up thanks to God that He gave me Angie as my wife. As I think about where we've come from, I am struck at how much has stayed the same and how much has changed...Allow me to share:

Angie looks as good today as the day I met her. I often tell her the story about how I wanted more than anything to nibble on her neck when I met her. I still do. You see, Angie has those natural good looks that only get better with time because she doesn't need make-up or flashy clothes. She's always been my ivory girl, and always will be.

Few things make me happier than when I make Angie laugh. She has such a friendly, infections laugh that is pleasing to my soul. In fact, you know you've really tickled her when she covers her mouth with her hand when she laughs. It is a little quirk she has, and sometimes I just try to get her to do it by acting goofy.

Angie is my best friend. We tell each other just about everything. I can share my day with her, and she can share hers with me. I end up trying to fix everything, but I'm working on that. Angie and I did the long distance thing for a while before we got married, so we learned how to talk. We lost that for a while during the tougher times, but I think we are getting better. I look forward to practicing for another 50 years, or so.

There are many more, but some things have changed dramatically, as well. You see, although Angie and I have many of the same hang-ups that we had when we married, we have also lost many of them. We are clearly NOT the same people that married each other. Although we both believed in Jesus Christ, we really didn't live that way. We try to now. Because of that, we've both changed - and for the MUCH BETTER. If it weren't for that, we can both honestly admit that we wouldn't be celebrating our fifth anniversary. We were too selfish, too into our own needs. I guess that means that Jesus has saved us twice; both our eternity and our marriage.

Love (1 Corinthians 13)

1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

I love you sweetheart, and look forward to continuing to change, and staying the same, with you.

Happy Anniversary!


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Day 6 update...

Ok, so the first day back in the office is hard...real hard.

A colleague comes up to me and asks if I want to "go get some air". This is smokers code for "wanna go smoke?" What's ironic about this, is that this person just restarted smoking again after a very long time of giving it up. I proudly proclaimed that I had quit, and wouldn't be joining him.

Two minutes later, we were puffing away. I ended up having 3 cigarettes yesterday.

I'm actually not too disappointed. I had gone four days without one, and only three on my 5th day (which was the hardest as I was back at work). Today will be less (or none), and I'll be good to go. I's hard. Real hard.


Friday, April 14, 2006

"Cassie, did you cry?"

"Daddy, did you smoke?"

These two questions are the beginning of most exchanges between Cassie and I these days.

You see, Cassie has started crying again when we drop her off at school, church, whatever. For some reason that we haven't been able to determine, Cassie is going through separation anxiety again. She hadn't done it for years, but for the last 6 weeks or so, she cries real bad when we try to drop her off.

So, about a week ago, I came in from having a cigarette, and she told me that I stunk and needed to stop. She doesn't understand the health implications, just that daddy smelled bad. I can understand that. I told her that I would stop smoking if she stopped crying when we dropped her off. I don't exactly remember how we made a connection there, but it made sense at the time. She said she'd try real hard and I told her I'd do the same.

So - for a week or so, we've both been answering 'Yes' to our respective questions. I've been smoking and she's been crying. However, that changed yesterday. For the first time, and I answered 'No' to the question when Cassie asked me. I could tell she was expecting 'Yes', and was pleased not to get it.

Now that I blogged about it, I can't hide it. I've quit smoking, and ask that you help keep me accountable. Pray for me, and also for Angie and the kids, I'm going to be a jerk for the next couple of weeks (months). She'll need your sympathy. Also for Cassie. She needs to answer 'No' to her question, too.

I'll keep up with my progress on the blog. ***STARTING DAY 2***

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Daddy who? Who is this strange man?

I've blogged before about how fortunate I have been to have done some business travel to some interesting areas. I look back at some of the places I've been and am struck that a bozo like me gets paid to go to different places. I've always enjoyed the travel, particularly to new places, even though business travel is not nearly as glamorous as you might think. Hours on planes and in airports can get pretty old, pretty quick.

I've been fortunate that I don't have to travel nearly as much as I used to, so it means that I am home much more than I have been. That's a good thing, since it lets me be with Angie and the kids more than otherwise.

However, it seems like my travel is cyclical. I can go a month or two without as much as a one day trip, and then I get weeks where I seem to be on the road all the time. I've just begun one of those travel periods.

Week1 - I am in Half Moon Bay in California. It is absolutely beautiful here, and we are staying at the Ritz Carlton on the ocean for a sales offsite. Will be home Friday night.

Week2 - I will be flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina for a day and a half site visit. Basically, 20 hours on planes for 10 hours work. At least it is somewhere new, and leaves just Africa as the unvisited continent (and Antarctica, but I won't count that). I should have taken advantage of a Capetown, South Africa trip back when we had an account there.

Week3 - I'm actually home AND on vacation studying for a calculus final. Will be nice to reaquaint with the family.

Week4 - India! Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai in one week. I am flying the new American Airlines Chicago to Delhi flight. 18 hours in coach. At least I get the 7500 miles.

Week5 - Manila, Philippines. More site visits as I spend 4 days in Manila. I will be arriving back in Dallas on Thursday afternoon.

Friday (week5) - SLEEP and reintroducing myself to the kids.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Career Growth

I am approaching my 10th anniversary at my company (is it 10 years already???) and I've come to the conclusion that I'm in a little bit of a career funk. For over half of my time with McAfee, I've been on what I would call a fast track. I'd work hard, gather up some successes and get a promotion. This happened at least annually for the first 6 years or so. However, for the last several years this upward movement has all but ceased. Yes, I have more responsibility than I ever have, I'm largely responsible for over $10 million dollars in budget, and my salary hasn't suffered - but I'm basically in the same position I've had for a while.

Unless you think about why, the assumptions come pretty easy - and there's a good chance they're wrong...I say that because in my case it is mostly true. I look around, and look at all the external factors and reasons, but I really didn't turn my search inward. Instead, I've been thinking that perhaps my time at my company is coming to and end, and I should start looking for something else (and work on my degree while I'm at it).

I thought this way until pretty recently. I report to a new VP, and he's been coaching me on my career. His first question to me was a bit of a shock. It was, "where do you want to be next?" I've never been asked this question, and I've never considered it on my own. For far too long, I just assumed that where I would be had nothing to do with my plans. I gave that question some long and hard thought, and shared the answer with my boss. His next question was even more of a shock. He asked, "what's your plan to get there?".

I realized I didn't have one. Now he's helping me identify the areas that I need to improve in, and is helping me create a plan of progression in my company. It's amazing the effect it has had on me at work. I'm putting in more time, working smarter, and am generally more energized and motivated.

Come to think of it, that's how I worked when I was getting all those promotions. Makes you stop and think where the problem has been these last couple of years. Invariably, I have to turn inward and think about me and my responsibility for my career. Unlike that opportunistic youngster I once was, I now try to balance work and family. However, I still am motivated by achievement and want to provide as well as I can for my family. I'm just real thankful for a new boss who seems as interested in my growth as I am.