Sunday, March 13, 2011

"I'm so scared."

Since Friday I've been waiting to hear from a friend from Sendai. She now works at the Naval Base in Yokosuka. She was at work when the earthquake struck and the trains between work and home were stopped. It's Sunday morning now. She's just arrived home.

She is safe and trying to connect with her friends and family. So far she's not entirely successful. Now that she's home she's been updating her facebook status. It's like a narrative of what's happening for so many people in her situation, surrounded by devastation, struggling to connect with loved ones, and then having to face the increasing possibility of a nuclear meltdown. She mentioned "another Chernobyl" but actually, it could be that but times two. The world seems without foundation at the moment. She's scared. Really scared. Pick one - earthquake, missing family, tsunami, nuclear meltdown. Each alone are terrifying. She's trying to stay focused on doing the next best thing in the situation. Right now that's securing food and clean water. And continuing trying to locate her family in Sendai.

I don't know the extent of the organizations that are supporting earthquake and tsunami relief, but if you can, please donate to the Red Cross. And then go home and makes sure you're as prepared as possible with extra food and water (and a can opener) in your own disaster relief kit - and no candles or open flames, but flashlights and extra batteries please. In the pictures that are coming out, I have to say, I was impressed with the forethought in the little paper masks and the hard hats that so many office workers were wearing. You may consider adding those too - if there were to be a large earthquake in CA you know it's not just the initial shock that damages but the aftershocks too and the dust won't settle for a good long while.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Oh, let the courting never end!

I'm in London for some dealings for work. It's been a great few days but now it's time to pack up and return to Prague. I love London, and while I haven't had time to do any sightseeing I have had a lovely time here... my days have been full of work and wooing.

The meetings were scheduled for 30 minutes each - they last all day but never last too long. Each meeting is a different speaker. We're given ample time to ask questions, to return to previous speakers and to eat. Oh the eating. The food has been glorious. Yesterday's lunch was at a very popular Italian restaurant - wild boar wrapped in fresh handmade pasta - followed by a truly extravagant meal at the Montague - I've got the menu somewhere and will fill in my meal later. It started with goat cheese wrapped in a delicate pastry and ended with creme brule - my absolute favorite dessert. Yesterday's lunch included all of the delegates and a number of the speakers plus a few others, my dinner was much more intimate with only three attendees, myself included, but was also quite warm, very friendly, and had an overall lovely work-free feel. Today was a more focused business luncheon and I loved it - it was a one on one preparing me for a much larger and more important meeting later in the day. My companion was Chinese and she explained to me that she prefers to do business over a meal, to work out the details then and really go head-on in to potential issues and the like while eating, as people are more relaxed... that you can be effective and efficient in your job when you're not in a "work-mode" and also able to enjoy yourself. She was definitely right today.

I had an incredible meal at the British Museum. It was my third venture in to that building during this trip, and while I didn't see anything other than the stairwells I got a lot out of it.

The care and concern and the courting I've experienced while here are amazing - (outside of my family) I've never been treated so royally before and I have to admit, I love it! I've been in what can only be described as quite posh places and been treated to some elegant experiences and it's been lovely. It's also a once in a lifetime sort of thing as they're all beyond my means... and for that I'm grateful. I've been able to come over, be effective, be efficient and be courted all at the same time. I just wish it didn't have to end so soon. (Maybe, if this all translates in to numbers for us, I'll be able to come back fairly soon - I've already been invited to return in May for very practical purposes) :)

me and my army, that's who!

According to the party remaining on the premises I have my own army. An army of nice people. I wouldn't say that party is feeling smothered, not necessarily, but rather... well monitored, fully checked up on and with an abundance of offerings for food and friendship. My army has no need for training or coordinated attacks... they're independently functioning extensions all successfully working for the same goal - and they're succeeding - the party on the premises has not had a party, nor is she starving, lonely, staying up too late or sleeping too late but rather is well fed, homework and laundry are done, sleeping appropriately and at school when expected - and she's even checked with me about going to after school events and quite responsibly passed on an invitation for video games and pizza.

I adore you all, the party person and the army.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

money makes the world go round, the world go round...

If you're ever in London and you find you're suddenly Midas but your gift is GBP not gold then I'd suggest you touch a lot of things then put your hands in your pockets and check in to The Montague, right around the corner from the British Museum. If you're Midas gift doesn't give you pounds, only Euros or USD then you may want to consider just dinner or possibly, depending on the weather, high tea in the garden. Luxury and opulence are appropriate words for the experience.

However I'd double check those magic money making hands of yours first, and ensure that they're make the current version of those lovely pounds as there seems to have been a bit of confusion at the bank... yes, the bank issued outdated forms of currency to the finance officer who then gave it to me. Try taking all the money you need on holiday with you in the form of cash, get far, far away from the world as you know it, and then discover your cash is useless. For some reason it brings to mind this song...