Trip Report: The Other Kind of Drilling

The Well

Every once in a while I clamber down from my ivory towered headquarters at launchday inc and intermingle with you, the great unwashed. Last week was one such event and let me tell you, the fresh air and sunshine nearly killed me.

I plunked my benjamins onto the countertop and bought a roundtrip ticket to destiny. Hey, guess what – apparently there’s a whole world out there.

The country was called “guatemala” which i thought was some sort of fruit or melon but no it’s a whole country.

According to the guidebook i read on the flight, apparently it used to be full of people, then the spanish came in the 1500s and killed all the people. Now its a mix of spanish and those people, whose ruins in those jungle attract the tourists.

But that’s not why we were there.

We were there for destiny. One tall order of destiny, please, with a side of rice.

So – imagine this. you’re born. and you live in a thing, like a house or a hut or whatever. And all your life you get water from some dirty creek. And sure yes sometimes that doesn’t go well. People being people, that dirty creek gets used for all kinds of things.

To illustrate, more people die of diarrhea each year than AIDS.

So i connected with a team of folks to go somewhere like the above and do what i could to fix it. Call it a random act of kindness. When you make about a dollar a day, and you get paid about six months out of the year, you just can’t afford that 2nd SUV like you can here in the states. Or the plumbing infrastructure. The challenge is tangible – they dont even have cable. I do. So i decided to clamber down etc etc and go somewhere and actually do something.

And one thing I learned (queue the theme music) is that people are really nice. It’s not just about water (or whatever it is you’re into), its about (wait for it) humanity. One little human at a time. You pull up in some random community some where, get out, and boom – mobbed by a bunch of little kids. Apparently – and I didn’t realize this – but apparently they’re people too.

So there’s this organization that’s good at drilling wells in out of the way areas, and they’re kind enough to let people like me (high powered fancy-suited control freaks pulling the strings of commerce, etc) go on some of their trips and do some work with them. One community at a time, they’re sinking wells – very simple hand-pumped wells – and giving folks a chance at some clean water.

And while the well is a pretty good excuse to go – and heaven knows how much fun it is playing with someone else’s extremely expensive portable drilling rig – when you’re there, it becomes more about the peeps, which was weird. I’m more used to using fellow humans as stepping stones, not actually interacting with them.

And i’ll tell you what, fellow americans. We may have the color-coded set of mercedes and track suits, but they have something we’ll never have. And i don’t even know what it’s called. Probably: each other.

1. the team
The rag tag team of ruffians I hooked up with were from my small group at church. (remember churches? me neither. small groups? nope.) These are weird people. They do things like go to prisons and help inmates. Or go to mexico and build houses. Or go to guatemala and build wells. Bunch of whack jobs. One of them started a little charitable organization for chicks to ditch the pedicures and facials (snicker) and give the money to the well instead. So she spearheaded “raising funds” whatever that means, people chipped in, and once that happened, we all wanted to go build the sucker because – how can you not. About 8 grand to put a well in, people. Let’s face it, my lunch yesterday cost more than that. (Not that I’d skip it to put a well in.)

2. the organization
its, or “living water international.” These are the guys working around the globe putting wells in. They’re smart, and they have cool toys. – with a couple clicks you can be hooked up with one of these trips. I double dog dare you.

3. the community
we ended up in a place called Masagua. Could have been anywhere. The last time I did one of these, we ended up in a place called Nicaragua. (Also not a fruit, rather an entire country. I’m telling you people, who knew these things were out there??) you’re going down a road, then you’re going down some other road, and it’s made of dirt, then you keep going, then you’re there.

4. the well
the well itself is (surfer voice) “pretty cool, man”. You dig, then you shovel some mud, then you send a drill bit down a 100 feet or so, then you do it again, then you dig some more mud, then you lug some gravel around in wheel barrows, some other stuff happens then you’re done. along the way you work with the “dudes,” the locals who shovel way better than you and work harder than you and who mostly keep you from killing yourself with tools. plus they’ll occasionally pull down a coconut for you chop it with a machete and let you drink it. muchas gracias senor – muchas gracias.

5. the chocolate and the coffee
final note here. respect to guatemala. i got a chance to do a little poking around in a city called antigua, and let me tell you. this country takes its coffee and chocolate seriously, and ive got one word for that – respect.

The Well

My Buddy Billy

Back in the old days – I mean waaaaay back, when people read things called “newspapers” – or hell, when people read, period – I, perhaps in eery predilection of my current creepy habit of pacing the ivory-towered headquarters of Launch Day Inc back and forth all night, nervously polishing the ash trays every 20 steps precisely – wait I forget what I was saying. I think I was just trying to say I used to clip newspaper articles. And I just unearthed one of these clippings (don’t ask) from May 23, 1993, a short little diddy from a former Chief Justice of blah blah blah William Rehnquist giving a speach (a “speach” is a peachy speech btw, patent pending) to the bright eyed and bushy tailed graduates of George Mason University, named of course after the great George Mason, purveyor of those precious white man wigs (whigs?) of which I cannot be seen in public WITHOUT. Also tampons. Anyways, this is what old Billy R had to say, so try to put down your gameboys and ho hos for a minute and pay attention retard, this is important:

“Another way to look at life is as a shopping mall – not the usual kind where goods are purchased with money, but one where items such as worldy success, love of music, a strong backhand, close relationships with your family, a few good friends and countless other things are on sale. The commodity with which they are purchased is not money, but time. And as we have seen, contrary to the capitalist system of money and goods, every one of us has exactly the same amount of time in each hour, in each day, in each year. Bear in mind this message from the older generation to your younger one: The most priceless asset that can be accumulated in the course of any life is time well spent.” – Billy “William” Rehnquist

Wait, wazzat? Rewind. Back that mother up. Did someone just say, “close relationships with your family?” Ha ha, remember those? Families? It almost seems like old Billy was saying – and this is shocking to me – that pursuing a strong backhand – which has so far been my life’s defining work let’s face it whose isnt’ – may not be all that important after all? And that we are all on equal footing in regards to the purchasing power of one of our most treasured and misspent of precious resources – our – our – OUR TIME?? Where does money fit into all this? Where’s the part where you get to whine in that annoying little voice of yours about how much money someone else has?

Here’s one more quote from billy –

“Ideas with which we disagree – so long as they remain ideas and not conduct which interferes with the rights of others – should be confronted with argument and persuasion, not suppression.” – Old Billy “William” Rehnquist

Wait – argument and persuasion? What are those? That doesn’t sound funny. But I’m going to try to remember that the next time someone says something I don’t like. Or maybe I’ll go one up on it, and simply try to put myself in their shoes, and understand their point.

Anyways. Thanks Billy, for the reminder. Quite a speach.

The Quit Coffee Project – Day 30 of 30

Singing “weeeee are the chaaaampions … something something…”

Here in the ivory towered headquarters of launch day inc, responding to new market needs is what we do. Finger on the pulse of society and all that. And somehow embroiled in all of that we (third person plural) undertook, more or less on a whim (whimsy, the preferred tool of the powerful), anyways we quit coffee for thirty days. and we (third person plural again) did. more or less.

thats right folks, for thirty days, four thursdays ago, we quit. we started the Quit Project.

Spending the first week or two curled in a fetal ball, devising new techniques for combating the basest and most pedestrian of medical conditions – the throbbing headache – we slowly reached a zen sea of tranquility, harnessing the kinetic power of such long-forgotten artifacts of bygone times such as “walking”, and “sleeping” – to redefine the chemical pathways in that most abused of modern wetware, the human brain.

this achievement however comes with a most significant asterisk. A stain, if you will, on this supposedly great feat. A performance enhancing drug, most certainly. A hair of the dog, in fact – coffee. A lone, single cup per day. I combated coffee with coffee.

All that to say, I took a cup a day for thirty days. And as i cast myself onto the trash heap of asterisk’ed flunkies like barry bonds, mark mcgwire, um, mark mcgwire, and barry bonds, oh and lance, i suppose, but let me just say in my defense that it was different in this era, everybody was doing it, i thought it was cocoa, etc etc.

but really. i won’t go into details but lets just say my daily intake, before the Quit Project, was significant. so i’ll take the win.

also, tea. My heart felt thanks to the kind hearted folks at Twining. Lapsong Souchong (the best tea nooone’s ever heard of), and Earl Grey (Gray? Grey?) were subtler, kinder, replacements.

Also – Dandy blend. The strangest little powdered concoction containing, as i read the label here in my mahogony-paneled board room, “extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root, and beet root.” whatever. stick it in my cup, add hot water, choke it down. good enough for grampa, good enough for me.

Thank you, good night.

Quitting Coffee: Day 20 of 30

I’m still holding strong. Shakes have stopped. Eyes able to focus. Colors mostly retain their vibrancy.

Still at one cup of coffee per day, taken in the morning, in a ceramic mug. Occasional pain killers in the form of ibuprofen, tylenol, or aspirin.

Feedback has included, “you seem way less stressed out,” which I don’t know what to do with. I can manufacture more stress if it’s missed.

Occasional nights of continuous sleep.

In the name of science, I continue.

Also, the word of the day is, “kaizen.” google it yourself. i learned of it reading about a swede that runs a junk shop.

Thank you good night.

Quitting Coffee, Day 6 of 30

I’m still getting mild headaches so I’m still doing a single cup of the black juice a day. Also some tylenol will be in order shortly.

Feel a little sluggish. I miss my old poisonous pal. But overall things are fine. I can still see straight, the world is still spinning (I think!). Also one unanticipated side effect is I think I’m sleeping better. Usually the midnight beast awakens and we prowl the cold dark hallways of LaunchDay Inc’s ivory tower headquarters alone with the cleaners and our thoughts, but not this week. Just sawing logs.

The Ibuprofen has little if any effect. Will try tylenol. different pain pathway.

To be continued. Thank you good night.

Quitting Coffee, Day 4 of 30

Bone shattering headaches over the wknd not relieved by 600mg ibuprofen. Hair of the dog worked – ie, a single, lone, solitary cup when eyesight starts to blur. this is how it went down –

Thurs noon – The Quit Project begins

Friday – fine

Saturday – 2pm, nasty headaches. lasted hours. doing a single cup of coffee at 5pm helped. ibuprofen didnt, as far as i could tell.

Sunday – 12pm, nasty headaches. doing a single 4pm coffee helped. 800mg ibuprofen didnt seem to make a dent.

Monday (today) – preemptive single cup of the black juice, 10am. so far fine.

Friends are checking in to see if I”m ok. I am. Had a couple of eyeballs pop out with “why???” when i told them i had quit for 30 days. i’ll be ok. together we can do this people.

i admit to growing less fond of the black juice upon learning of the nasty things it does to me if i dont drink it. that’s not what friends do.

im also amazed at what to do with all this extra free time i have now that i don’t spend it peeing forty times a day.

thank you good night.

Also: Mulling a new fake band – “Dance, Greybeards”. And you know what that leads to – nothin’ but trouble and heartbreak. It’s not Thursday though so I don’t have to make any decisions.

Quitting Coffee – Day 0 of 30

30 days of no coffee. I predict:

1. splitting, gut wrenching headaches
2. failure by the end of the day
3. fatigue, loss of energy, loss of focus
4. bitterness and angst
5. long dark conversations of the soul in which i ponder why am i doing this

to future self, wondering “why are you doing this?”

1. i don’t know.
2. it seems like a marginally fun idea
3. see what if anything happens

additionally i predict:
1. my age old tired joke of “of all the vices if this is my worst one im doing ok” will echo around my brain

Meetings, Deconstructed

In meetings, you have distinct phases.

First, there’s the pre-meeting. This is a jokey time, vapid small talk, canned jokes. Hows it going? Oh I can’t complain, well I could but noone would care anyways, har har. Vacation, kids. Out sick, feeling better? This is where you pick your seat and fill time until:

The opening soliloquy. This is the opening speech by whoever feels is driving the meeting.

Then, there’s the secondary soliloquy, or, sometimes, the rebuttal speech. Either way, it’s another speech, by someone else. There will always be jockeying for who gets to give the secondary soliloquy.

Then the meeting will devolve into the Chaos and Circular Arguing phase. Someone will say something, then someone else will sound like they disagree, and talk for a long time, essentially saying the same thing the first guy said. This will go round and round in circles. This is the real meeting.

Eventually one of two things happen: either Time’s Up, or the meeting Runs Out Of Things To Talk About. In adroitly managed meetings, these happen concurrently. Either way, there’s some sort of grunt of consensus and the meeting adjourns for the first time.

Then there’s the After Meeting. the act of standing and slowly moving towards the exits creates a new meeting of small talk. If not controlled tightly and carefully, this can launch into another phase of Chaos and Circular Arguing. Keep it simple here folks, dumb jokes, good to see yous, etc, as you move towards the door and wrap it up. If you have a couple “real” friends in there, this is where you banter and shield each other.

Then, The Exit. Clean break, out the door, back to your hole.

Meetings, deconstructed.