Thursday, January 31, 2008

Predicitons in St. Louis?

A Foot of Snow....
Oh COME on!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"Heinz the Piper"

The English crew that we work with hosted a social event for our project in honor of the famous Scotish poet Robert Burns. He was the guy who wrote Auld Lang Syne. The night was largely as incoherent as that song. He wrote some other stuff, and fathered 19 children...with five different women.

"The Haggis" which was 'addressed' in a ceremonious way was first led into the bar by a real-live kilted bagpiper. It's intestine-y stomach was stabbed and opened infront of the whole crew and we sang songs about it.. it was sorta weird.

After the tasting of the Haggis.. (which is basically sheep organ meat ground up with some oats...cooked inside an intestine...) and tatties and 'nips (potatoes and turnips) there were more songs and toasts.... And people asking for pizza, which was also available!

Me giving the Lasses reply to the Lads toast. (Men are like Parking Spaces... the good ones are taken, the rest are handicapped, or just too short). Whiskey tasting... ( was ok...)

Brilliant Evening... lovely just lovely. I had a microphone.. a captive audience, in a bar...(where have I done this before??) Much fun. I hope I don't get mad cow disease from eating sheep parts.

Much love.. I have more ski pictures to post. Do not fret.

I come home in two weeks, then progress on the tub. And maybe then I'll write some real, Jesus, being old, etc.

I know you are on pins and needles (better than Haggis, Tatties and Nips).

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Craplift

Well not unless you count SKIING. Oh man. I should probably make this a separate post (and I did). We went this time with a much bigger group of folks to Flims Laax Falera, which is a ski area somewhere in the eastern part of Switzerland. The last outing was to Engleberg, chosen because it was sure to have snow at that time of year, not for it's friendliness to begining skiiers. That time we had five people that skiied, three onlookers and wonderful crisp clear mountain views, crappy snow and hard slopes. This time we had a foot of fresh snow falling, NO visibility, 15 people including two clients, and just overall a better, more enjoyable day. We went to this place over another at the last minute because some other folks on the project team were going as well and they recommended this place as a better place for beginners, so we changed plans.

After the typical mayhem of getting boots, poles and skis for 15 people, getting to a locker, and dividing up into skill levels we boarded the various gondolas and began the day. About nine of us were together at the beginning of the first "green' run. That whittled down to five quickly as we got separated. I was with the two clients, Marc the adorable German friend of mine, Elgin the great new addition to the CRB team and to my church finding team, Bob an American client who is a pretty accomplished skier, and my favorite guy Dave as I mentioned in previous ski posts who has no fear of anything and is just natural on skis. This is Bob.We had a rough morning. The first run of the day was very difficult given the zero visibility, foggy goggles, deep snow, ill-marked trails, but the silence of the fresh power under the skis and the softness of any fall was a welcome blessing. We did a couple on the green before Dave found his hole. Dave, who went off trail for some adventure, found some indeed. He was skiing in a valley. If you can picture the triangle, point down, this valley was intersected by a catwalk, so the deep snow disguised the catwalk and he plowed into it, essentially doing a belly flop against a wall, and sunk completely into powdery quick-snow, lost a ski, and his wind. We waited for him at the bottom for awhile and when he returned he was not doing well. Not injuired, but exerted. We took a different lift to the top of the next hill intending to do one more longer green and then get lunch over by the half-pipe snowboarding competition, but this was easier said than done. Dave, once we reached the top of the next run, was in bad shape. He had really gotten clocked by the wall, or "Dave's Hole" as we dubbed it, and was dehydrated, exhausted, at higher altitude, hungry, and we feared, had a concussion. To make matters worse, the wind and snow made skiers and trail markers disappear about 40 feet infront of you and the snow was even deeper and more disguised. The green trail we picked out was closed, so blue was the only way down. We all were a bit slower on this one. This normally would have been cake to Dave, but he had to stop and collect him self between sections and I was truly worried about him, but he was a champ and made it down (and also took the focus of of ME struggling to make it down!! Whatta guy!) Above: Dave in the front, Grace behind. Below: Dave and I. I got to the bottom and completely wiped out in a full on yard-sale, threw a ski and a pole and landed backwards. It was glorious because it was so soft and puffy that it just didn't matter. I do wish that I had buttoned the "powder skirt" feature on my inner jacket which exists solely for that reason, but alas I did not. Snow in your knickers never hurt anyone I guess. That was when we found Grace (below, with Elgin), who got separated from her group and she joined us for the rest of the day.
We got lunch and ended up running into the guys from work at lunchtime that had told us about this resort. An adorable Irish boy about my age gave me a swig of this hilarious hip-flask with amaretto in it. My friend taking the picture took awhile to get the focus right so I was taking sip after sip thinking, I should fake these last ones, or I am going to be 'snockered' before I go hit the slopes again! How great is this? (for U my brudder). After lunch we made it to the Craplift. I did not stutter, I said Craplift. The second peak we went to was called Crap Suon Gion and it had a t-bar lift called the Craplift. Couldn't leave without doing that one, now could we? After the morning that we all had, we were leery about the rest of the day, but the visibility improved and we went down some of the best runs I have ever been on. Soft, almost mogul-ly snow, just gorgeous runs. Not crowded, quited, peaceful. NOT Crappy at atll. The lifts were serene and so spiritual. I just felt so... HUGGED. It was nice indeed. After the boot fiasco last time, I got a better size, so my feet didn't hurt quite as bad and I got to finish the day strong. I got separated from the group in a miscommunication, so I ended up doing the last long red (blue) run alone. It was the most challenging one for me, and it was a little icy in places and had been carved into some pretty good moguls. So yeah, I can do moguls now. I'm pretty proud of myself. In fact, I feel that after this trip I can do anything now. (I say hesitantly). But I think I have enough experience that I could get myself out of any trouble that I could get in.

I could have just taken the lift the rest of the way home, because I was cold and was starting to lose my legs, but then I just said, "Lindsey you are in the freaking Alps, you are going to DO THIS." And I did. I wiped out a couple of times, and I heard people laughing at me from the lift above, but I did not care. I was a gold medalist in my head. Shooshing. Afterwards it was a crazy round-up game, trying to collect all of the sweaty, soaking skiers and their various pieces of equipment and their stories and funneling them all to the bar for story time. Oh and how fun, to randomly run into the Irishman and his posse and to drink a few! Laughing, drying out, getting warm and just basking in the glow of ale and a day well spent. Above: John, Marc and Grace. Below: Kyle (CRB), Mary-Beth (Other Firm, but from Philly), Alistair (Irish Hipflask guy) and Wilhelm. Below that, Chris and Jill trying to be the same height for the picture. All of us "good tired" we boarded the bus back to the train station where the ride home was even more mirthful with stories of the day and translating jokes into German. My favorite quote of the ride home was when Heather pulled out a pack of "Wet Ones" for wiping off her hands and Marc (who is German) reads "Kills 99.99% of Germans. Let's try it. I bet I am in the 0.01% of Germans who survive." Thus will begin chapter 2 of the CRB quote/story log.

Above: Marc and I. Below: Chris and Tami, then Chris and Heather. In the grand plan of my life, I don't know why God has me here right now. I don't know at all. I, however, will choose to trust that these experiences, this time, is for my good. For His good, and that is giving me peace.

Signing off 'til next weekend..(when I think we are heading off to the mountains AGAIN for more ski-fun).

Yes... for my good, indeed....

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I've been asked to write, and write I shall.

If you don't already know. I will be in Basel, Switzerland for the next 6 months. Six months at least..(as I heard today). The project I am working on then moves to Singapore where it will be built. I am not sure I will go there, but there is a chance I might. I think I'd like to go once or twice and only once or twice, if I could. I hear it's a fabulous place and I've never been anywhere but Europe and Mexico. A new culture, especially one as melded and fused and modern as Singapore's is tempting to me.

I spent my break at Christmas at home with family and family-like friends (watching Arrested Development, Playing Guitar Hero, going to WU basketball games, waiting in line at the Cheesecake Factory). My brother lives in my house now, so any of you planning to rob me while I am away will now have to deal with that gun show. I like having him in my house. He is a happy guy and makes me laugh. He is a peach for helping out by staying there and taking care of things while I am gone.

I also spent my time working from home and catching up with things. Basement things, dentist things, prescription things, haircut things, laundry/dry cleaning things, life things. If I did NOT get to see you or catch up with you when I was home... by all means, send me an email while I am out here. It's very strange being away from your life like I will be over the coming months and familiar people dropping a line, or even just a facebook or blog comment are very succulent little morsels of joy for me. Only know that my time except for typical weekends, is really booked solid, I can't email at work, cant usually email on workdays due to the packed schedule we keep and just know that if I haven't responded to notes you have sent that I am dizzyingly greatful for getting them and love you for sending them. It means so much.

I arrived uneventfully in London last week and ran into the English contingent of folks who work for the new Engineering Firm we are dealing with and they are 'lovely' not 'wankers' at all. Except they woke up minutes earlier and I woke up an ocean earlier, so I was less than cordial and less than showered. So with a slight nod to the project manager, and a switch of the ipod, I was fast asleep for the whole flight, mouth gaping open. As usual. Slept pretty much the whole way to Basel like this, interupted only by the jolly stewardess asking me in her almost Cockney accent, 'Dear, would you like a bacon and mushroom biscuit? Or a Vegetarian?" In my semi-awake state, I didn't know how to explain why I replied with an emphatic "NO" to the Vegetarian version of what was just set down in front of me...when I meant to really say "NO" to any sort of snack at all. This thing was hideous. A cold roll with unidentified green flecks in it, slathered in something dressing-like topped with a few mushrooms hidden under a blanket of a few pieces of cold, strange-looking bacon. I couldn't even open it, I didn't want the smell to be as awful as the visual presentation. I didn't however want to seem ungrateful and give it back unopened... so I asked the gentleman next to me if he would like mine as well, since he POUNDED his with ease. He declined. So I had no choice to give it back unopened, thankfully to the other steward and not the jolly other one.

The arrival in Basel was a little sad, given the last time I was here everything was a warm, sparkling, twinkling, gorgeous, winter wonderland decorated up in neat Swiss fashion for Christmas. Now, by comparison, everything was drab and grey. Since I didn't post these yet, here are some belated pics of said loveliness.Nevertheless, the dreariness of Basel constrasts with the warmth and energy of the team I am working with now. We have, as a multi-national team (17 nationalities to be exact) moved into "our" space now. The project moved last trip to a new office building that is on the seventh floor and overlooks the Rhine. Of course in true Euro fashion the entire floor has windows all around and you can see the sun come up and go down which absolutely helps a person deal with the 7 to 7 day which is becoming more typical as the project goes on. It is in a train yard, as opposed to a park like the old one, but it's brand new and we dont sit in our comfort zones, we sit intermingled with the others grouped by dicipline areas, which has been a total change in the general workings of the team. The team is gelling with both the client and with the new firm and our CRB team is complete. Only a couple more new faces to welcome and get to know next week and then we will be living, breathing, eating, skiing, biting heads off, and accomplishing things together over the next few months. This is the 'fun part'.