My Religous Musings
Bear with me on this.  I am comfortabla with the thought of a God and a holy spirit (guardian angels, to some), but the 3rd piece, the son, doesn't make some sense to me.  That is why I can't say I'm a true christian, however, I can say I believe Jesus was a real person who did great things and made himself the ultimate legend. Call it the  MODEL son of god, not the ACTUAL son of god. 

There a many questions that I think would bring some interesting discussion:

A) Jesus be considered a demigod? He fits the definition, like Thor, or Hercules. Each is a son of a God (be in not THE God, for those who already are feeling the blasphemy coming) and each is a man in form, but has divine powers (strenth, power over people, fighting ability).
a mythological being who is partly divine and partly human; an inferior deity. 
  2. a deified mortal.
Both of which (depending on your definition of inferior) fit the description, no?

B)  How can Jesus be God's only child when most people say we are all sons (daughters?) of God? (See demigod) This goes back to my first thought that Jesus was the model person for everyone to follow, and he just had a good sense of what it was all about.  Maybe he did have a discussion with the Big Man at some point and just understood it all.  Keep in mind he was a very good Jew, so that probably played a part in it.  He was good with people and understood what good things are.

My view of Religion tends to come back to a very few, reasonable fundamentals.  This is putting aside those beliefs in eastern religions like Hindu, which also have a lot of the same fundamental principles.  (think the 12 points of the scout law: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, etc. and yes, I do remember them all still, even though I havne't been active in BSA for nearly 10 years)
A) There is a higher force (aka God) that has a presence among people.

The Grand Design:
 We are masters of our own fate, but we do have support to get us there.  This is where I give the 'Father' part of the triangle a good bit of credit.  This is based on my family life.  I say "I want to play baseball" when I'm a kid, dad signs me up to the leagues and gets me to practice.  It's up to me to actually play the sport.  If I decide to do something else (as long as it's not something to the detriment of others), then he supports me to do it.  College, school, philosophy, advice, there's one place to get help on all that: Dad.  For me that's been my actual worldly father, so the parallel is perfect.  The fundamental principles are all there and it makes perfect sense when you really put it together.   Many people have said it, but I put a lot of stock into the fact that the Father is much more important in someone's life than anyone realizes at the time.  Dad gives you the guidance to be independant, Mother (just as important) gives you the nourishment and environment to get there.  That will be a different discussion somewhere else in here. 

Getting into 'Heaven' (The higher plane, for some):
We aren't perfect, but everyone knows that.  So why does everyone say Jesus died for our sins?  That doesn't make any sense.  If we have sinned and we are truly regretful about it, and do something to be forgiven (apologize, jail time, cry to sleep everynight with the wish one had never done whatever it was), then the only fatherly thing to do is say you've served your punishment and love you still.  That I fully believe without a doubt.   That being said, it cannot be false or taken for granted that one will be forgiven even having done that. It is for the judge to decide, and we all know it will be a fair trial.

My Creed:

"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy."
Max Ehrmann

The Wedding
Got married on September 24 2011 to the beautiful Heather Leigh Mourck (now Robison).  Everything went according to plan, even if the plan was only finished the night before.   There were shuttles to move people from the hotel to the place and then from the reception, so that was really nice.  They were great folks and really made things work out well. 

The wedding party was 8 people strong: Fish as the best man, Will Zivich, Brent McCrum, and Russ Harrison (my brother-in-law), and for the women there was Danielle Fish (Fish's Wife..and yes, he does just go by his last name), Erica LeMon, Erin Jenkins, and Doracy Harrison.  I couldn't have had a better wedding party.  They were really great and did exactly what they needed to to make things work as they should on the day. 

We had the ceremony at Morris park in Fairmont, WV on the 15 fairway of the yellow disc golf course.  The weather was cooperative, though, it did threaten about halfway through the 17 minute ceremony.  We wanted it short, so it worked really well, actually.  He had some readings, we did some 'stock' vows, and then we kissed and walked out.  For those who didn't catch it, we walked in to a really nice lullaby that Heather loves, and we walked out to the slow part of the throne room theme at the end of Star Wars Episode IV.  I mentioned it as a joke, but it stuck, and actually sounded really nice, haha.  

I had on a white tux with a dark green vest, which was rented. I mean, what else can you do with a white tux and white shoes..not a whole lot.  Her dress was an off-white halter top that hugged her right down to her thighs before flaring out a little.  It has a sort of beaded belt that looks really nice, and a very pretty train.  Too bad it sort of fell apart as the night went on, tearing out some of the bustle ties, and popping a clasp or 2.  We thought it popped at the top of her top, but it turns out it's just a POS clasp that came loose as she was dancing.

Speaking of, the reception was really something.  She did a good job of finding a very pretty location at Lakeview golf course.  There was a conference room they gave us next door which turned into a sort of quiet room for babies and worn out friends/family. 

The band was a group called 'Hollywood Bulldozer' who's a local cover band.  they were really good, just arranged in a poor manner for their style. The room was long and narrow and they were playing across the short side, so the sound was really loud.  As the night went on it got really good, though, so all is well.  The first dance was a song called 'Breathing' by Lifehouse.  The rest was just good fun, and of course the last song of the night was Country Roads in tradition when in WV. 

Europe Trip 2010
Dates of travel
Heather Arrived w/ Michelle July 31
Paris Aug. 4-8 Michelle went home Aug. 8
Barcelona Aug. 9-12
Rome Aug 12-16
Venice Aug 16-18
Heather goes home Aug. 21

July 31
I want to get this all down now so I don't forget it completely.  Michelle and Heather came to visit July 31 to Aug. 21 and what a trip it was awesome.  I brought the 2 of them over for 3 weeks (Heather) and Michelle was in for just over a week.  They laned on July 31 and the trip started pretty much from there.  I picked them both up from the airport and broght them to my apartment.  I actually  had to buy a whole new sheet set so that Michelle had a good place to sleep.  I definitely was cleaning for about a week before the showed up due to the wreck my apt. had become.  We dropped off their stuff and took a good nap, since they arrived silly early in the morning, roughly 6AM!  After the nap it was off to see the crown jewels and the tower of London.  That was cool, and definitely had a bigger appreciation for the value and workmanship beyod the last time I had seen them from long ago with Mom and Dad.  They were simply incredible in that the jewels were jus everywhere and the workmanship was amazing.  I'd post pics, but don't have any as they are not allowed.  The following day was Stonehenge.  There are pics from this on Flickr if you want to look.  We got there late morning/early afternoon, and I thought it was going to be packed, but it really wasn't too bad.  There weren't too many people there to make it unbearable, so was fun.  I think Michelle really enjoyed it.  We spent the usual amount of time (somewhere between 1 and 2 hrs) seeing the circle, which was interesting to learn about and see/hear the interesting little things to see about it.  They give you a little free audio tour of the circle and what it all means, which isn't much becuase no one really knows just how old it is or what the intended purpose really was.  They know a whole lot of interesting things and facts that are, but no idea why they would do it.  Getting back to the trip, we went from the circle to get some food, then ona little walk/hike around the grounds where virtually no one goes.  We went a few miles (no more than probably 4) around the Curses and the Barrows (burial mounds), to see what there was to see.  They have tenant farmers that keep sheep and cattle to graze the land, so got some cool pics there.  So day in a nutshell was that we go to see some mystical stones and some pretty country-side for the day.  Was really nice. 
I worked for the next 2.5 days to save some of my vacation time for the end of the trip for just me and my now Fiance (still a little strange/good to say).  During that, Heather took Michelle into London to see the sights of the things I'd already done, so I wasn't missing anything.  They did Trafalgar square and the surround, including Southbank and Parliament.  It was good bonding time and so was totally worth it.  On the last day of it, though, we all went to see Phantom of the Opera, which was a real treat for hte 2 of them.  I really liked it too, but they really enjoyed it.  I haven't seen it in YEARS, so it was really interesting.  I get why I can't watch it on tv though, since the live show is so good.  I really have to see musicals live or not at all to give full appreciation.  We got on the train the next day,had to be out of the house around 1330 to be at the train station to catch the Eurostar to Paris.

Paris, Aug. 4-8  Matt vs. travel 0/1, Matt Vs. Lodging 1/1
We really only needed 3 days, but 4 was nice to be able to take our time in most things.  We did Notre Dame, and the Eiffel tower (finally for me), and a whole sleu (sp?) of other things to keep it interesting.  It took way too long to get there though.  It is supposed to be a 2 hr train ride from downtown London to downtown Paris... it took us 4 due to the train ahead of our having to limp from about 50 miles out.  We were stopped at a station for an hour before they told us what was going on, then another hour to make the last 1/4 of the trip, go figure.  So far on the trip I was 0/1 for travel plans. Keep track of that number, it gets better...or worse depending on your perspective.  So after a really bad day of travel, we get inot the Hotel 123 by taxi at some really late hour and settle in for our trip. Dinner that night was a bear!  It seems no one serves food at 11PM, who knew!  We found a very sympathetic server at a bar, who sent us down the street to the Hippopotamus (said with a very french accent makes it more entertaining) which had a very observant waiter who spoke english well and was able to make things a little better.  He brought us our drinks along with some chips (Lays I think) which is what the doctor ordered for 2 Mouricks who were tired, hungry,  little wet, and had a very long day.  I also liked them, but was much more about the beer I got than the chips.  He followed this up with some bread and then the real meals, which was very tasty. The place is sort of like a diner-type of place, but the food was fantastic, and would recommend it to anyone who goes who is looking for something simple, yet very tasty.  This settled the nerves and ended the day on a reasonable level. 
The following day was the familiarization process.  We went and saw the Arc de Triomphe at the end of the Champs Elysees as well as Concorde, then down to the Eiffel Tower.  When we got that far we saw the line and realized just how crowded things get in August in Paris, though, I'm not sure it ever really gets better.  We decided to make our journey upward the following morning after asking one of the workers what the best plan is.  He said to be there about 8:30 or so for the tower to open to open at 9:00.  This was an excellent plan as the weather was fantastic and the light could not have been better (pics on flickr to prove it).  We basically walked around and got oriented since everything was really crowded and we (probably mostly meaning I) couldn't get organized enough to get into anything at a reasonable time. 

Barcelona:  Matt Vs. travel:  0/2, 2/2
Heather and I were planning on catching a train from Paris and sleeping the whole way there, but as it turns out there were no trains to catch, they were all full!  I ended up having to call the travel agency, the same I use for work, to get a plane from Paris to Barcelona.  As it turns out, the price wasn't too far off, and we were able to get a flight at a good time.  We caught the train to the airport and waited for our flight, which was delayed 30 minutes.  But, it gets even better!  I can only assume Vueling is a new airline and had just moved into Orly Airport, since the line management was the worst I've EVER seen.  They had one line that funneled from that one line into 6 lines to check in.  The bottle neck was the ticketing, taking nearly an hour and a half, while security only took 5 minutes!  That is the only time I've ever taken nearly the whole 2 hours they recommend to check in for a flight, which again was delayed 30 minutes.  So after the whole leaving Paris crisis, the rest was pretty good.  The hotel was called the Pullman Skipper Barcelona.  If you ever go to Barcelona and want to live like a king/queen, this is a good option.  The hotel is located very nicely in Port Olympic, so there is lots nearby, and the rooms are really nice.  Heather and I laid out by the pool on the afternoon before we left and it was really nice.  Back to day 1, though.  We settled in, then went for a walk down the boardwalk, of sorts, along the lovely beach.  It was really nice, and felt laid back.  We did our stroll then headed to a restaurant called the Rembrandt, which was an homage to the painter.  From there it was out to enjoy the sights of the evening then sleep.  The following day we got a 48 hour open top bus ticket, which proved to be just what we needed to get around as well as see it all.  The pis you see of buildings with a rail in it are from that bus trip.  We did the blue route the first day, and the red on the second.  The blue route took us north to see the Segrada de Familia, northern Barcelona, and the FC Barcelona Stadium.  We didn't really go in anything like that since the lines were horrendous and we were pretty well museumed out from Paris still.  They were nice to see from the outside, and I was OK with that.  The red route took us west and up the mountain to the Olympic stadium and a few other places.  The views on that trip were really cool, where I took most of the cityscapes in my flickr albums.  I can't imagine how crowded and busy it would have been in '92 when the Olympics were actually going on.  It would have been nuts trying to get anywhere!  It really must have boosted the economy of the whole area.  Anyway, I got my pics and we saw what we wanted to before hopping back on the bus and heading down the mountain.  On the blue route, we ended getting off a few stops early to take a walk down Las Ramblas to see the street performers and artists and such.  It's sort of like walking down a really long Southbank, or along the market at the Basillica in Paris (closer to the latter).  That was really fun to see, but was mighty crowded.  Dinner was simple enough at a local place where we talked to a South African couple who were having a discussion about whether or not 'niggler' was a word.  Blackberry to the rescue, which proved that it was a word, and that it did indeed apply to the girl, haha.  I will reserve judgment as to whether or not I agree with that, but that's what the boyfriend said.   We finished our meal and headed back to get some downtime.  I'm pretty sure it was that night that we went to see a movie in the theater.  I can now say I've seen the latest movie from the 'Twilight' series.  It was pretty good, I will admit, even with the Spanish sub-titles.  We were due to fly from Barcelona to Rome the next day, so we took it easy that morning, simply walking around a little more in the nearby area to get some money and a meal.  We had a lovely tapas meal down by the beach in the heat of the day, laid out by the pool, then off to fly to Rome. 

Rome: Travel score 1/3, 2/3
This was a cool city.  We spent 3 days there and was worth it, so very worth it.  We had to fly from Barce due to the distance using Vueling Airlines.  We were delayed 30 minutes with that one, go figure.  So far Matt still basically 0 for travelling smoothly, grrr.  We got into the hotel after taking a cab driven by Michael Schumacher late at night.  The cab from the airport was going fast enough Heather and I were trying to figure out if the gps speedo was in km/h or mph, since the cars we passed on the highway were all looking like they weren't moving at all.  It was crazy to see that.  I think we were doing soemthing like 150 km/h all the way in, even on the narrow Roman streets, but the hotel was nice enough, once we got in.  Another fail for me, though the upgrade was worth it.  It was 10:30PM when we got in and I said "we have a reservation for tongight through Sunday night for Robison."  To which the guy behind the counter says "Are you sure about that?"  I was a little miffed that they didnt have me on the books.  My travel agency came through again and proved that I did indeed have a room reserved there and had been that way for the previous 2 weeks, so they said OK, here's an upgrade. We got a lovely suite (bedroom, living room, and bathroom) that overlooked the Villa Borghese (Bor' ges eh) and was right near one of the main drags with restaurants and everything.  The hotel was the NH Vittorio Veneto.  It was a good hotel, but damn was it hot the first night.  The heat and humidity in Rome in mid August is simply oppressive.  Got dinner at a lovely place across the road, and we were the last ones there in good Robison tradition.  Lovely wine, lovely food (had an awesome steak) and great night overall.  We spent the next day, Friday, going to the Vatican Museums and doing the City, since it seemed the place was closing down for the weekend.  We caught the train there and were walking over to the City where we got side-tracked by a tour guide salesman offering is company's service.  It skipped the line and gave a good tour of the important stuff in the Vatican, so we said sure.  Our guides name was Amanda, with romaround tours, and she was AMAZING!  We could have had a tour with her for 6 hrs and I doubt would have regretted it.  She was interesting and had good insights, so was totally worth the little bit extra we paid to skip the line for the tour.  On any given day when it's open, the tour for the Vatican is about 1.5 hrs, so for us to skip that and go for 3 hrs through with someone who could point out facts was really nice.  That was basically Day 1 of that trip.  Day 2 was the Coiseum which we got the same company to guide.  I was all about our guide, Mark Anthony from Ohio, in the Forums, who was really nice and informative, but our other guide was a little too much about the fun and didn't give quite as much information, but for the price was still good to have.  I would recommend the tours for the big stuff.  We have lots of pics, so you can see what we saw.  Got some good stuff from lunch, though it started a bit rainy.  It was really nice though, since it took care of the humidity.   Closed the day with a nice dinner again, and then off to bed to CRASH.  It seemed we liked to take a nap mid-afternoon to help the day, and it worked really well.  During the really hot part of the day we slept, then came out to explore more before and after it, totally a good way to do it.  Day 3 was an open-top bus tour.  It seems that on Sunday, Rome goes to sleep.  So we did the passive sight-seeing option.  Got to see the pretty stuff, and got off at the Piazza Novaro followed by the Pantheon.  More pics to tell you about it.  For the evening time we went for a walk to see the Villa Medici, which turned into a visit closer to the Piazza del Popolo, but was still worth it.  Hearing Heather say "this place is GORGEOUS!"  made me kick myself for not carrying a very important piece on me, but no matter, I would just find a way to get back there..more in a second.  So we walked down to the Piazza de Sagna, which incidentally was a massive tourist center, but didn't realize it, though it did take us to a wonderful place for dinner with really good food.  (WHY DIDN"T I HAVE THE RING!!)  So after dinner we went back and cleaned up since we wanted to go out, find a good bar or something to spice up the night, which we did and had a really good night, though were totally exhausted by the time we got back to the room.  There is this really fun club called Cica Cica Boom, which I would recommend to anyone of my friends, though none of my parents (sorry Mom).  


This is the part everyone's been waiting for:
The next morning I HAD to find a way to get back to the overlook Heather liked so much, so decided to use my camera as the excuse.  I told her the lighting was much better than the last time, so I wanted to take some with the brighter light.  This she bought so off we went to walk back to this place while the whole time she's thinking about the checkout time, train to catch, packing, my wierd thought processes...  we get up there and I snap a few pics to make it authentic and then start looking for my photographer, claiming I want a pic of her and me up there for proof that we were there.  I find a guy after a couple of minutes, despite her getting a little impatient, and ask him to snap our pics with the Vatican in the background (it's St. Peter's Basilica that can be seen between us in the pics).  He takes it and I make sure he's in position before I reach in my pocket for the box.  "Heather, I lied to you. I didn't come up here to take pictures".  This is the part where she starts nodding profusely and crying even more profusely. " Heather Leigh Mourick, will you marry me?"  Of course she says yes, without much hesitation, and the rest is what you can see in the pictures which my trusty stranger of a photographer snapped as I expected him to, hehe.  I'm glad she didn't take too long to answer, since I was shaking pretty heavily from the adrenaline (totally didn't expect that).  It showed in that I just sort of gave her the box, instead of putting the *** ring on her finger.  We re-did it later a litle more informally to make it right, so it's all good.  When the guy gave my camera back he said "Well that's a first". I sort of wonder just what the context was, but was pretty funny anyway, since it was a bit creative to document it, right?  That's the only part of this whole trip that I had planned, taking pictures of her saying "yes".  After that we hurried back to get our bags and catch the train to Venice, which actually went fairly smoothly.     

We only needed 1 day, not 2, to see what we wanted to in Venice.  The streets are unreasonably narrow and everything happens on the water, but was still a nice city to have seen.  I will go to the basillicas and museums and churches next time I visit when I'm not totally tripped out from all the other cities.  We got in by the train from Rome at around 4 or so, so we got our water bus and went to the hotel, which incidentally is in half of all pictures of the Rialto bridge.  If you look at the pics and see a red building with a green awning, our room was the one just above that green awning.  We were on the first floor overlooking the bridge and the canal.  Sounds grand doensn't it?  It was a great view unless you wanted to sleep early or sleep in.  Boats are really loud at 6AM and all the service folks are making deliveries.  They called it an upgrade, but I'd call it a wash.  The upgrade was that we didn't need to leave the room for the wireless since the hub they have was in a room on the floor below which had decent enough range to reach us.  Made it easy for Heather to get her HW done for her lass that started that week.  The full day we had was spent walking around and seeing the sights after going to the island called Murano.  They had a lovely glass facory with demonstration for us to see the little plack horse you'll see in my flickr posts. It was made of black glass that was still glowing red when I snapped the shot!  We went from there back to the main Venice island and went down to San Marco square to see all the pigeons (lots o' pigeons)  landing on people and eating from hands. This was kind of nice so we had lunch and decided to just sort of be in town.  We got dinner at a nice little place across the grand canal from the hotel, with some nice wine and food.  We went out that night to see what there was, and found an english pub sort of buried down this alley not too far from the hotel. I thought it was pretty cool, so went inside and found there was a soccer game on.  We stayed in and saw that, had some drinks with all the other english speaking folks in there and was able to sort of feel at home, which was nice.  Also was the first liter of black and tan I've ever seen. He floated the guiness on the Harp just right, was pretty cool.  The next night we went and saw a Vivaldi concert ding 'The Four Seasons' and a couple other pieces in the same hall they were performed in when he was around, which was fantastic.  The soloist was something else.  He was so involved in the music that you couldn't help but be submersed in it yourself.  Caught our plane home the next day after realizing there was a reasonbaly cheap way to catch the Alilaguna boat back to the airport.  Don't take the taxi if you can help it, since the way we did it was 1/4 the price, no lie. 

Weekend Update Apr. 25

This weekend was fairly productive.  On saturday I went to Basingstoke because I had to get the other half of my prescription, but then I continued on the Stonehenge!  It was a pretty cool sight/site to see, with some really old rocks.  What they don't tell you is it is literally right on the main drag. Once you get close it'd be really hard to miss the turn for the parking lot, and there are a lot of people standing around looking at these things.  Now don't get me wrong, the rocks are big, like 10 feet tall and 5 tons each (not sure if the little commentary meant tonne (~4,000 lb.) or ton (2,000), but they aren't a massive towering sight that dwarfs people.  The conservancy group had put together an audio commentary that was part of the admission price (about 6 GBP) which was very informative.  Talked about the formation of the rock, where it came from, now it was arranged, all that sort of thing.  It also talked about the significance of it and how no one is really sure what it would be used for besides a very large calendar. 

Besides the big stone rings that make Stonehenge, there was a good bit of hiking around the open country to be had to see the barrows, old burial sites that date to about the same time.  that pretty cool, and gave me a chance to walk.  Out of ALL the people there, which must have been a few hundred, I found myself all alone for a copule of hours while I walked around to see everything else.  I guess it's sort of a lost thing, since you have to use a little bit of imagination to see the curses and other things that they talk about.  I even took a short jaunt through the woods, which will be shown in the Flickr pics. 

I finished that out with a visit to Windsor with a couple of colleagues and their girlfriends, which was a nice way to finish out the evening. We went to Brown's restaurant, which had really good food at a very good price.  Everyone got something that was fairly typical, but everyone raved about the food, which means we have to go back sometime.  From there we went to another little club up the street called King and Castle (yes it's got Windsor castle out the front window) and had a couple of drinks to finish out the night.  Got in a little after midnight, which meant I had some time to chat with Heather, which was a nice finish to the evening. 

Today I went to the local wakeboarding park with Nathan to try to learn...emphasis being on the try part.  They have a cable tow setup with tow ropes that can be dis/engaged by an operator, which makes it really cheap to learn how to do it.  Unfortunately I didn't get off the kneeboard, since the rope turns 90 deg. and I couldn't figure out how to keep up with the acceleration that follows after the turn.  I could set up.  I could get in the right position.  I could make the turn.  I couldn't keep my knees on the board when it came to speed up coming out of the turn.  It's ok though, the only reason I stopped was because I was pooped.  I will go back again sometime and get it right, then move on to busting my...on the wakeboard.  Nathan had a little more success and got as far as being able to launch on the wakeboard.  Then he had the same problem but on a different medium.  The water was cold, very cold, but they had wetsuits to wear, which made it bearable.  I will be very sore and tired as a result of today.  Overall though, was a very good 2 hours spent on a mild weathered Sunday. 

March in England
So March was very much more memorable than February.  Again, I'm giving a very retroactive update, so I will update this as I think of things. 

First Keynote, Heather's visit!  March 6
She came for a week and it was really really nice to see her.  I worked as usual, though I did cut my hours as much as I could to save my holiday time.  She arrived on Thursday, and flew out the following Wed.  I know it's not quite a week, but it was still a very good trip to have.  She now has a stamp in her passport.  On the weekend we went into the city and saw the major sights: Big Ben, Leicester Square, The Portrait Gallery, and the waterloo area.  Spent the day there and had a fantastic time.  Sunday was spent domestically, and Monday we took in a show, Avenue Q.  I think it was a really good trip that covered a few of the major points of England.  We even fed the squirrels in the park in the city.  Check the pics in Flickr.  Overall was really really nice to have her in for the week. 

March 28ish:

I went to Portsmouth with George and took some fun pics, which are up on Flickr for anyone who wants to see them.  George had a good time, and the sights were fantastic.  We went and saw the Mary Rose museum, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, as well as a harbor tour of the active naval station down there.  Portsmouth was a really nice little place to go for a day.  The weather was cool and overcast, which really made it nice to be walking around in the bowels of really big, old wooden ships.  I will have to go back to see some of the other sights and the monitor (old iron ship) just to say I've seen it.  The drive there was really cool too.  One road that takes me all he way tere, no turns, and not motorway so there was actually something to see instead of 6 lane highway.   
The HMS Victory was neat to see.  It was a warship, and huge for what i was expecting.  It's amazing it had nearly 1000 crew on board.  Some of the decks were really short too.  While I was walking around I couldn't help but think how loud, smelly, and just really poor conditions they must have dealt with.  There was a huge cannon every 20 feet or so on every gun deck, so during battle I oculdn't imagine how they operated.  And the rigging was soemthing else.  I've never seen so much rope, or line, or cable (depending on size/era).  There are some cool pics from that, but it really was very fascinating to see just how it all worked.  Some of the ingenuity to put it all together to move the weight they did.  The curators did a very good job in signing the route to get through the ship and see most everything from the very bottom of it up to the poop deck.  They had people stationed through the ship to answer questions and give demos for some things, so they really had a nice little tour set up.

The HMS Warrior wasn't quite as well set up, but they did have it completely (90% anyway) opened up to explore and see.  The cool part for all the engineers out there is the propulsion system.  It had a massive steam engine on board that had a propeller that could be pulled up and out of the way while it was under sail. They give a good shot at the engine, which basically operates on high pressure steam being fed alternately to each side of a piston (2 pistons total), which were HUGE.  Each cylinder must've been 4 feet across. The pics just don't do it justice.   It also had iron cladding over it's timbers, which was neat to see.  I spent some time walking around that, before heading home.  I

February in England
I had completely lost track of the time and haven't put anything in about Feb. while I was here.  I will keep posting as I think of things.

I bought an apartment, moved in Feb. 26.  It's 2 bedrooms, as my family knows about, but I'm not sure just how much I've put on here as far as the memory purpose of this goes.  I will have some pics posted in Flickr. I got all moved in and settled, so it was good.  Only catch was getting to and from the office.  I don't think there really was anything partiularly interesting going on in February besides the major date at the very beginning for Heather and myself (she got flowers, how good am I). 

So it's been a while....
Where to begin, since it has been a very long time since I've updated this thing, so here goes.  And it will be in reverse chronological order, estimated dates in front of the entries...or something like that working back, probably going to do it by month

April 18:  I can't travel this week because there is a massive microscopic (I know it's a good oxymoron) hanging in the air from an erupting volcano in Iceland.  It has grounded everything between here and Italy, believe it or not.  Apparently the hanging particles will gum up the engines, so no aircraft can fly, minus little RC (remote control) planes that people fly in the fields nearby my apartment here. 
     What this really does is eliminates my trip to Qatar and Kuwait to see some customers and make some presentations.  Not cool, but does allow me to get some other work done on a proposal that's going to be bought, or at least that's what I'm told.  We'll see when I actually travel.

April 11:  Trip to Milan/Office Move
I went to Milan for Monday-Wed. this week, and it was Awesome.  The trip was really to talk to a customer, which we spent all day Tuesday doing, but then Wednesday I had a chance to see a sight, the Duomo Cathedral.  We stayed in the Hotel Michelangelo, which is literally next door to the central station, so that was really cool.  Best part is virtually everything was company paid :-p   I have to get back to see more, sine there is so much history there to take in.  The story windows were really neat in the Duomo. And yes, Heather, I got a shot glass to add to the collection.  :-)    The meeting with the customer went really well and got most everything accomplished. 

Also this week was the office move!  I now can get to work in 15 minutes walking, or half that on my bike.  It's fantastic not having to get up before 6 to get to work on time.  Lost the day all day Thursday though to just getting everything wired and settled in.  The truck with our stuff didn't arrive until a little bit after lunch, so what do you do when you don't have any office supplies?  You check out what everyone else does, and find the local restaurants to find a good lunch spot of course.  The second half of the day was much more productive since my box showed up and i had my materials to use.  Friday was work as usual, just had to find some time for the plumber to install my shower riser.  That took long enough to get done (about 2 months). 

The new office details
The new office was signed off on on Wed. either this week or last..don't really remember. 

It is located in downtown Chertsey, Surrey, UK.  I will post real address when I know it. 

If you'd like to find it on Google maps just type in Chertsey, Surrey, UK. It's not that big of a place.  It's right to the northwest of where M3 meets M25 (ringroad/beltway around london) on the southwest corner. 

The building has 3 floors, top floor will be sales, middle floor goes to Applications, and ground floor is administration.  It's really not big, but will be good for customers and such since now is pretty bad. 

Currently the Elliott Ebara EMA regional sales office is in a 'portakabin' (trailer attached to the building) behind the global service department.  There's no conference room to really use, nor is there enough furniture/phone for all the employees (myself and 2 new guys included) to manage with.  Hence the new place I speak of above.

Update 1/30, very good week, saw london, met Ania

Another week has come and gone, and it was a mighty good one.  I got a proposal finished up and out the door with approval from the salesman, saw a good movie, and went into London to see the sights.  So I guess you can say I was productive.  Ania was a very good guide through the streets of London, with her hubby, Sergei (sp?). 

Ania is my sister's friend who lives right next to Hyde park (been there for the last 5 yrs) and who was my guide through the city.  She and Sergei were very nice and fun to talk to. She was very good at pointing out the sights and giving pointers on what to see, when to see, and what not to see, like the London Eye.  Apparently it's very expensive to just go high up to see things you can see from other places just as well. 

We met up at Oxford circus and had a little bite to eat before heading down through the shops to piccadilly circus and the theater areas.  This is all walking, too, so as you read you'll see why Saturday was rough on the feet.  Walked around and saw some of the circus there (meaning the intersection, not the mayhem that it caused).  From there we went down to trafalger square to see the parliament district, Big Ben, the London Eye (giant ferris wheel), as well as stop to eat.  It really didn't feel like a whole day spent doing it with all of the talking and walking, but I was in the city really from 12:30 to 7:00 just walking around seeing the sights.  And that was just getting an orientation to the city!  I have yet to see any museum, gallery, or big store.  I have my work cut out for me on how to become an efficient tourist, haha.  The other big bonus from this trip is that I finally figured out the train systme, so it won't take me rediculously long times and headaches to get there.  I can be in waterloo (downtown london) in an hour by train.  Discounting the 20 minute walk from the hotel to basingstoke station, that's not too bad at all, and much better than last weekend going to Richmond (2.5 hrs to go about 3/4 the distance).  After Trafalgar square we walked across the Westminster bridge to the southbank area to look for a nice place to eat.  We ended up at a place called Doggett's.  It's a good pub with decent food and a good view over the river.  Unfortunately there is lots of construction right there, so it could have been better, but it made a good spot to get warm with food and drink before I made the trip home.  

Tomorrow I go over to Staines to meet up with one of the guys in sales, Sam, to watch Egypt in the Africa Cup against Ghana.  Should be a good game, I suppose.  It's a good chance to get out of the hotel, and the football (soccer) is starting to grow on me.  I can watch it and enjoy it, but I'm not a fan of any teams yet.  I like getting out of the hotel and with other people and be social. 

And Monday I go to look at some potential apartments to rent.  I'm trying to keep my distance to work 3 mi. or less so I can ride on a bicycle instead of driving and dealing with bad morning traffic, being right at the junction of 2 major motorways.  Funny note:  Americans give directions by major road intersections, names, directions and the like, while the Londoners have no idea what tat means.  You really have to say toward a city or a direction.  I can't just say "Chertsey is where the M3 and M25 come together."  That means nothing to some people.
I digress, I'm giving serious thought to getting a cheap bicycle to get me around while I'm here.  I think it'd be much easier to commute to work that way. 

Ok, so that's it for this weekend, I'm not sure if I talked about last weekend.  I went go-karting with a guy from applications, Nathan, and some of his friends on Saturday, which was a blast. Out of 8, I came in 4th, so I'm pretty happy, considering the one who got 1st is a rally driver.  The race was set up with a 10 minute qualifyer, which they had a computer failure on, so we couldn't get our times to really qualify, but it set us up to know how the cars handle.  The race itself (after a few minutes rest) was 15 minutes timed, the one with the most laps in that time wins.  I did have the second fastest lap of our heat though, so that's fun. 

After going home to clean up, we went out to Richmond (remember what i said about how long it took me to get there.  The return trip was just as bad) to get some drinks and dinner.  That was really nice.  We went to this place called Strada for some good italian eats, then ended up in a bar called Revolution to end the night.  We were there until about 11 or so beofre we had to catch the train home.  I didn't get in until 2 AM!  But got to sleep in some on Sunday and be ready for work Monday. 
That was really the only interesting thing that was missed last weekend.

That's it for this update unless I have anything else to add when I think of it.  Check the Flickr page too. 

Update 2
I've started to learn how to reduce my costs a little, now that I have a "cooler".  It's a fridge, but technically it's not cold enough to be considered it.  I keep some cold cuts, butter, and cheese in there..oh yeah, and some beer.  I've picked up a few different types to try (slowly of course)  and it really has dropped the daily cost to eat about in half.  I can have a sandwhich for lunch and/or dinner, with some munchies.  I think some eating out is still in order though, to suppliment. 

Huge cost problem though, is laundry. No one really uses them, so the rates are really high.  It cost me about $30 USD to do it all, so not fun.  The only one nearby is small and really not that clean, but i guess when it's all i've got besides the bathtub, I'll deal with it. 

I got a haircut on Thursday.  Not quite what I wanted, but close enough to not require anything mroe until time for the next one.  I have to let it grow out alittle again to get back to what I liked.  I'll have to get to holiday hair in may (Heather knows what I mean).  The hair dresser was a nice guy, really knew how to talk, and really probably does a nice job, just didn't quite get my hair the way I wanted. 

The snow melted a few days ago and now it's business as usual.  Gotta say I'm glad there was snow when I learned how to drive.  Kept the wrong side craziness down until I could get used to it a little better.  I'm pretty good now, just have to remember not to wander to the left out of my lane.  My orientation sitll wants to be looking down the left side  of the lane, not the right; so I drift.  I got some good practice this past Sat. though going up toward London to look at flats.  Have a few places in mind, but gotta find the agents when they are open to see what they can do for me.  It seems it all gets taken pretty quick if it's furnished and decent.  I'll find a 2 bedroom in my price range, I know, though.  There are lots out there, not worred one bit.  I went to a place just near the airport, so a bit loud, but a good starting point.  A little farther south and I think it'd be nice.  I want to try to get toward the city so I'm opposing the flow, since my office is actually outside what would be the Beltway in the States.  It's called a ringroad around here, for those who are wondering. 

Work's been work, trying to get what I need to done, but it'll be close to getting what I need to finished before the deadline rolls around.  I have the workload of 2 people right now, just because of how activity is.  It wouldn't be so bad if they weren't both due pretty much at the same time.  It means I'm asking double from the departments that support the effort..and I'm not the only one!  I will let you know how it goes in a coupld of weeks if I made it or not. 

There was a party here at the hotel on Saturday night, which went into the weeeee hours of the morning.  Someone was missing "Mike"  and let the entire hotel know it.  Apparently he went missing under some seeming unfaithful circumstances, but I don't really know.  I just know there was lots of crying and yelling, and conferring going on....right outside my door.  But, I digress.  It was pretty silly when it all started, so I got some entertainment in watching all the characters walk around as I had my snack.  It was a dress-up party, so it felt more like halloween than a christmas party.  I'll be glad to be out of here and in a more quiet area when I get my flat. 

Well, I don't really know where to start with this part, besides this past weekend being very hard for everyone who knows.  Any details will have to be requested.  I don' t know how to respond, or really anything regarding it, it's just so..inconcievable.  I wish I could fly home and do what I can, but it's just not an option..and I wouldn't be much good.  I thoughts and prayers are with you.  My phone is always on for anyone who needs it.  Beyond that I'm at a total it shock...for what to say or do from this far away. 

Flickr is updated too.


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