Off to Houston to go House Hunting

I am currently in the air port in Malaysia on my way to Houston to meet Christine and go house hunting.  We have narrowed down the area to southest Houston suberbs since it is not that far of a drive to the Houston office.  The houses are going quick but there are quite a few that will make us happy, it will be around 300K for the type of house that we want. Ry Birge hooked up with a realtor and there is some good Texas BBQ in our future!  I am taking the flight from Taipai, Taiwan to Houston which has only been going for about 2 weeks, so while it is a 15.5 hour flight at least I only have one layover!  I am in Houston until Monday morning when I head back to Malaysia.

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Cinnamon Trials and Recovery

For a few weeks now my poor cat cinnamon has been having a tough life. When I arrived back from R&R I found she had almost wilted away to nothing losing more than half her body weight.  Luckily I got back during the day on Monday and was able to take her to a very nice vet here in town. She immediately put an IV drip into her and force fed her some food. I don’t think she had been eating of drinking for a long time.  She stayed over at the vet on Monday and Tuesday she was slightly better due to the IV but was still not drinking or eating on her own. It was about the extent of what the vet could do so she recommended that I take her down to the University of Putra Veterinary Hospital in Kuala Lumpur. SO early Wednesday morning I med-evaced Cinnamon with an IV in her leg to Kuala Lumpur.

I printed out the directions to the university but I should have known better to think that I could follow them.  Kuala Lumpur is the most difficult city in the world to drive in, nothing is north south and multiple highways have the same number. It was soooo frustrating after getting lost for about 45 minutes.  I finally turned on my US cell phone and used roaming data to find the University.  Once there I handed her off to their most capable hands, the poor girl that started checking her out quickly found she was out of her league and called in a couple doctors.

The first order of business was to get her stable.  They immediately gave her a blood transfusion from a donor cat since she was extremely anemic.  She almost has not cells left in her blood and was still very dehydrated.  After they stabilized her they were able to start doing some diagnostics. And over the next few days they determined that it was hemtrophic mycoplasmosis, which it looks like she got from a flea. usually there are no symptoms in a cat but couple with trama it can start the chain reaction. Must have been from when I left her and friends looked after her that she got sad and sick.

I drove down that Sunday to visit her, but was not able to pick her up yet, they needed to monitor her until the next Thursday.  During the week I was back up in Lumut about 3.5 hours away getting daily updates from the nice staff.  That next Sunday I was about to go get her and bring her back to the house here.  The dispersed several medicines from me to continue to give her which included an antibiotics, steroids, and liver medicine.  I had trouble getting her to take the medicine until I went and got some soft food from the vet here and was able to wrap the pills in delicious soft food and place a gob of it at the back of her throat, then she had no chance but to swallow.

She is now well on the mend and eating and drinking by herself and has moved back to some dry food so it looks like she is going to make it. We had one setback this last Tuesday when one of two things happened, she either got a  chemical burn from something the cleaners were using or she had an allergic reaction to the anti flea medicine that I gave her. We are still unsure  but she has a nasty swell on the back of her neck and some red marks down each shoulder. She is losing the hair around the affected areas which the internet says is common. She is still happy as can be and eating and drinking fine so I think it is just a matter of time before she can recover from that.

So all in all it has been a bit of a time consuming 3 weeks here by myself takig care of cinnamon, but it looks like in the end all is going to be okay. I am now investigating sending her back to Christine in Washington so she can care for her back to health!!

My custom med-evac!

My custom med-evac!

Hanging out with Cinnamon on my day off

Hanging out with Cinnamon on my day off

Down at UPM Hospital, she was quite skinny

Down at UPM Hospital, she was quite skinny

Chemical burn from cleaners or frontline anti flea medication

Chemical burn from cleaners or frontline anti flea medication

Kitty on the recovery as of tonight!

Kitty on the recovery as of tonight!

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Malaysia Arrived!!

We made it!! After a pretty hectic week of traveling and figuring out which way the grocery store is Christine and I are getting settled. The travel here was quite long and painful, we started leaving the tri-cities about 4PM on Wednesday when we picked up Christine’s sister Danielle who took us to the airport in Seattle. After having our last supper at the cheesecake factory we arrived at the airport about 9:30 PM for our 1AM flight. We figured the baggage check in was going to be pretty painful, and we were not disappointed. We had 5 bags which was one over the limit for the two of us so that cost us a little bit of money… then three of them were over weight so that cost a little money…. and we brought two cats so that cost us a little money… All in all about 500 dollars later we were on our way! Our biggest hiccup was in Christine’s carry-on. Rarely does the airline enforce the weight restriction on the carry-on but lucky us we got a rookie check in person who was still going through the checklist. Christine’s carry on came in just over 30 pounds, crap!! unfortunately they had already sent our bags on down the conveyor so we were in a bit of a pickle on how to unload some of her stuff. Finally the airline had to send a person after our bags so we could redistribute the weight. This time we were definitely those people that took forever at the counter!! The cats were actually the easiest part of the whole saga, a quick inspection of the cat carrier by the TSA and a cat loving airline employee took them from us and assured us she would check on them till the flight left. So after about 1 hour at the check in counter we were on our way!

The flights themselves were pretty uneventful, we did not see the cats in Taiwan but I had to secure a transit permit and inspection request ahead of time that the airline executed for us. After 4 hours in the lounge in Taiwan we were off to Kuala Lumpur. Upon arrival in Kuala Lumpur a local agent from the animal import company I hired met us at the baggage claim and already had the paperwork done for the importation and quarantine done with the government and off wet the two cats to their 7 day stay in the air-conditioned room we secured for them previously. The only part that took a while was my one missing bag… that for some reason took about 45 minutes to come up the oversize baggage area.

But all ended well and our car was waiting for us at the exit and after loading our 9 bags into the van we were off for the 3.5 hour drive to our new house in Sitiawan. The drive was nice, mostly just lots of palm oil trees along the road. The driver was nice enough to let us stop at the local grocery store called Tesco on the way to let us buy some food for dinner and breakfast the next morning. Upon arrival at the house everything was in order and after a quick shower we were dead to the world in no time, with an alarm set to wake me at 5:30AM to catch the bus to work on Saturday morning. More of our move to Malaysia to come along with pictures over the weekend!

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Joining the Surface Revolution!!!

I am officially joining the future of computing!  I ordered the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 this evening. The 128GB version with the Intel I5 processor.  I also ordered the blue type cover and the docking station along with a neoprene sleeve!  This is in anticipation of having a big enough house here in the next few months to actually have a home office where I might want to have external monitors.  Amazingly enough I bought all the accessories from different place, seemed that different websites had different deals on all the different parts!  I sent them to Christine’s Grandma in Oregon to avoid sales tax so I will be able to play with them around Christmas time down in Washington.  A couple days ago we also bought Christine a new laptop, so we are using black Friday and Christmas shopping to the max!  We might have to buy a flat screen TV here soon too depending where I am going to end up next.

Still no news on where I am going next, I hope to make some progress on that this next week, it is time to know…

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The End is Near!

After more than 2-1/2 years here in Kitimat my time is coming to an end.  I finally have convinced the powers that be to release me from this assignment. We have spent long enough up here in the cold wet weather and are ready for some sunnier skies!  I am done here at the Christmas break just right as the casthouse area is nearing to completions so it is a natural time for me to move on.

The next  questions is naturally where to next, and that I do not know yet…  There are various people in the organization that are working on that for me and I hope to know by the end of the month. There is an opportunity in the UAE as well as back in the tri-cities and perhaps down in Houston. M&M’s next mega project is going to be the Al-Shaheen Alumina refinery in the UAE but it is still under just limited notice to proceed and has not really staffed up yet.  The site manager here used to work for the Bechtel government division and worked at the WTP while I was there, so he is working his contacts to see if I could go back to the US for BSII.  Then OG&C has the most work in Bechtel and a coupe guys that used to work here with me now work down in Houston and are inquiring about the upcoming work there. So while I do not know where I am going next hopefully there are enough people looking that I will have some options soon. They always wait until the last minute to sort these things out which makes the waiting a bit stressful for my better half.

We are not in a hurry to go to the next assignment, just want to know there is something on the horizon. We would like to take 6-10 weeks off before the next assignment, maybe starting in February or March.  we are the preliminary plans to be in the tri-cities for Christmas as that is where I demobilize to, then off to Boston/New York for new years and then down to the D.C. area to visit with Zach followed by visiting Christine’s sister who lives in the US Virgin islands through to the end of January.  Then fly back to Colorado and spend some time skiing and up at the cabin for the month of February.  It would be nice to be able to spend some time with Christine without having to work 6 days a week!

So there is the plan, we will have to wait to see how it works out!

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Roma!!

After filling ourselves with food and wine in Florence we ventured down south a bit more to Rome!  we were luck enough to be there on a Wednesday when the Pope was in town so we were able to get the free tickets from the Swiss guards and see him speak at 10AM in the morning.  We skillfully placed ourselves at a hotel right across the street from the coliseum and a subway station that took up right to St. Peter’s square.  There were maybe 100,000 people at the blessing, so it was a bit busy!  After seeing him speak we walked back to the hotel through the old town of Rome and got lost among the thousands of small streets and eateries. It took us upwards of 6 hours to get back to the hotel after getting distracted repeatedly by pizza, pasta, and gelato. While also in Rome we toured the coliseum, Spanish steps, and many other random cool little sights in the city.  Once we got off the subway and started walking about I really enjoyed my time there, the streets in the old town were just like you see in the pictures and the food and wine was not as expensive as I was expecting.  A fun fact is that the st.peters church took 160 years to build!

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square

Top of St. Peter's basillica

Top of St. Peter’s basillica

100,000 people just hanging out waiting to see the man in the robe!!

100,000 people just hanging out waiting to see the man in the robe!!

The Pope zooming by on the pope-mobile! If you blink you miss him.

The Pope zooming by on the pope-mobile! If you blink you miss him.

Swiss Guards looking pretty snazzy.

Swiss Guards looking pretty snazzy.

The under workings of the coliseum to make it all possible.

The under workings of the coliseum to make it all possible.

Inside St. Peter's Church

Inside St. Peter’s Church

Not sure what it is... but it is pretty cool.

Not sure what it is… but it is pretty cool.

Christine the Gladiator?

Christine the Gladiator?

In Love in Rome!

In Love in Rome!

Outside of Colesium

Outside of Colesium

Pretty Huge!

Pretty Huge!

the hill next to the coliseum where everyone with power and money lived

the hill next to the coliseum where everyone with power and money lived

Wine!!

Wine!!

Street performers

Street performers

A really nice fountain in Rome.

A really nice fountain in Rome.

Christine's favorite place in Rome! Floating shoes!!!

Christine’s favorite place in Rome! Floating shoes!!!

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Florence Wine Country!

After getting our shopping fix in Milan we hopped on the high speed train for the 80 minute trip to Florence. The first day we got there and explored the town a little bit and waited in the ever present line to see the statue of David. It was pretty cool, just like I imagined, definitely was not disappointed. The first night we went out to dinner with Christine’s parents at an amazing riverside restaurant with great food. The sunset was also not bad… the next morning we woke up fairly early for vacation time and jump on a tour bus for a wine and food tour of Tuscany. We stopped along the way to taste various wine’s and visit the small towns that dotted the country side. The last stop was the leaning tower of Pisa which was pretty cool, it is definitely leaning!! After a full day of drinking wine and eating cheese we were all ready for bed by the time we got back. The next day we were to continue our trek to the south and visit Rome!

Hold it...

Hold it…

Sister Power!

Sister Power!

Ah....

Ah….

Danielle climbing the stairs to the lean tower of Pisa.

Danielle climbing the stairs to the lean tower of Pisa.

Counter Lean!

Counter Lean!

cute Couple!

cute Couple!

ah... looks like we are in love!

ah… looks like we are in love!

Feeding cows in designer dresses... only in Italy!

Feeding cows in designer dresses… only in Italy!

Not a bad countryside

Not a bad countryside

I wish this was my basement...

I wish this was my basement…

Wine making!!

Wine making!!

Just another large painting....

Just another large painting….

I think the church hires some pretty awesome architects.

I think the church hires some pretty awesome architects.

Sunset in Florence

Sunset in Florence

Churce in Sangiomi

Churce in Sangiomi

Sangiomi!  They runs horses in a circle around this square once a year.

Sangiomi! They runs horses in a circle around this square once a year.

Church all lit up!

Church all lit up!

Night in Florence

Night in Florence

Dinner on the water front in florence

Dinner on the water front in florence

Very Large Church in Florence

Very Large Church in Florence

Florence Water Front

Florence Water Front

Danielle beating Steve at the pushing game!

Danielle beating Steve at the pushing game!

Who is stronger? Looks like Christine is winning!!

Who is stronger? Looks like Christine is winning!!

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