Saturday, February 27, 2016

Random Travel Thoughts

The following is the product of a jet-lagged and overly-caffeinated mind that has not slept in 28 hours. Any logic or lucid thought is purely accidental.....

  • This now-concluded trip to Brazil is the 32nd trip I've made to that country. As expressed in a previous post, I have a love/hate relationship with the country. I do really enjoy aspects of the culture and country. I am very fond of the friends I've made down there. That said, I'm greatly concerned at the changes I've seen recently. Clearly, the economy has slowed down dramatically and a air of cynicism and pessimism amongst the people towards their government and future is evident.  According to one of my friends, there is a growing drain of Brazilians who do have money leaving the country for places such as the U.S. and Portugal. Government corruption, the Zika virus, and the rush of preparation for the Rio Olympics are the hot topics in the news with a sense that, as one Brazilian told me, "everything is broken". Unfortunate. 
  • As a seasoned frequent flier, there are really only a couple of things that try my patience or unnerve me:
    • The destination airport being shut down due to weather while the plane I'm on is on its final approach, thus causing the pilot to have to circle the airport in a holding pattern until the airport opens. This happened yesterday coming into Sao Paulo. I counted 9 complete "orbits" of Sao Paulo over the course of an hour with the thought "I wonder how much fuel this thing has?" crossing my mind a few times. 
    • Mindless fellow travelers that are completely unaware of how their behavior and actions affect others on the plane. I believe Robert Fripp termed such people "boobies". I encountered an exceptional "boobie" yesterday who had no awareness of his butt being in my face for the better part of 10 minutes while he organized his carry on luggage. 
    • Excessively long queues at customs. Last night a "leisurely" 2 hour layover turned into 2 stressful hours waiting to get my passport, leaving me 5 minutes to get to my flight.....ugh!
  • When the aforementioned stress-inducers happen, a good remedy is to listen to some good music on the iPod. What worked for me last night:
    • Mike Monroe
    • Jimi Hendrix
    • Djivan Gisparian
  • I don't care how hygienic a person is. 24 hours + of travel will make the cleanest and prettiest amongst us a stinky mess.
  • After a long journey, there is no greater joy than coming home to loved ones, taking a shower, and sleeping in ones own bed....something I plan on doing in approximately 5 hours..... 

Monday, February 08, 2016


I am, by any definition, "middle aged". Just focusing on the "temporal" validation of this fact....:

  • The music I grew up on is now part of the "classic Rock" format of radio airplay
  • "Han Solo", "Luke Skywalker", and "Princess Leia", all pivotal icons of my youth, looked to be ready for the old-folks home in "The Force Awakens". 
  • Many of the talent from my youth has started "dropping like flies". 
Prior to this year, there had been deaths of "heroes" that have affected me (John Bonham, Randy Rhoads, Bon Scott). But in the past 1.5 months, the pace of celebrity death has been shocking. A small sampling of names that gave me pause....:
  • Lemmy
  • David Bowie
  • Jim Bain
  • Alan Rickman
  • Natalie Cole
  • Glen Frey
  • Maurice White
Aside from the seemingly ridiculous pace at which celebrities have been dying, they have been dying from health conditions that can be associated with aging. This has given me some pause for....not concern...but reflection. 

I'd like to think I'm not overly concerned about growing old and my mortality. And, for the most part, I'm not. However, it is the mortality of those that I care about that agitates my peace of mind. 

In the past year, I've had multiple moments where people near and dear to me have had serious health issues related to aging. In some cases, they have been life-threatening. It one case, it led to death. These are the things that shake my foundation. 

It seems to me that our societies make us very ill-equipped to handle the aging and dying process that is and inevitability. There are exceptions to this statement but, for the most part, most humans are not prepared for growing old or dying. Hence the "mid-life crisis", depression, youth obsession, etc. In actuality, I can't comprehend being prepared for the death of those I love. Its something I fear. 

As to the celebrities that have died, I've not met any of those mentioned but they have affected my life. In the case of Lemmy, Jimmy Bain and David Bowie, I have had many moments of my life that I associate with their music. They were part of the soundtrack. I had emotional responses to their art. They, in fact, affected my life in a very real and tangible way. They were not strangers to me and, as such, I mourn their passing in a very real and personal way. Not as real or personal as, say, if a family or dear close friend passed....but real nonetheless.

I don't really have a point to this posting except to express how life, as its reaches a point, starts taking more than it gives (from a certain point of view). But, that said, I do look at the passing of those and the associated mourning in a positive light for one reason: If the absence of someone causes pain and grief, then you know that you were blessed to have those people in your life to have created such a void. That goes for friends, family, and the celebrity whom I've never met....