Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It's time for an update

I know --- it has been awhile since my last posting on this blog. I thought I would add a short note just to give a wave of my hand, say hello, and inform everyone that for the most part, all is well. Again, I will use my oft used excuse of “I am quite busy at work.” Most of the time this is true, and especially in this case, it is true. I have been spending a lot of hours at work, including weekends, catching up on my ongoing projects while at the same time meeting with clients and customers who wants us to do new projects for them. I spend a lot of time out of the office visiting projects and meeting with customers which allow me less office time to catch up on my projects. The one weekend where I thought I would just completely get away from work, I ended up coming to work late on a Sunday afternoon after coming back from a weekend visit of Bamberg, Germany.

As it has been in Seattle, springtime here has been miserable – cold, dreary, and oftentimes, wet. We had good weather this past weekend but was not able to enjoy it because of work. That good weather quickly cooled down during the week with on and off rain. As stated on my previous blog post, I can not wait until we start getting more consistent warmer and sunnier spring weather. Also, I am looking forward to a much-needed break in a couple of weeks. I will be visiting Scotland and Ireland for 10 days starting 17 May. I will still have quite a bit to finish up at work prior to this trip. I expect that work will slow down a little bit by mid-June, just in time for my visit to Seattle.

On another good news (I think?), my request for extension to work for the Corps of Engineers – Europe District has been approved. The initial term is for 3 years – which would have been due January 2009. With the 2 year extension, I can stay here at least until January 2011. The extension does not bind me to any additional terms, but it does bind the Corps to keeping me here 2 years longer. I can go back at anytime and still have the free transport of household items and a vehicle back to the US and a position back in the US, but not necessarily in Seattle. What the extension also provides is a free travel back to the States that can be taken between my 3rd and 4th year of being in Europe.

Although I complain sometimes of the heavy workload, I am not yet ready to move back to the States. Living in Germany continues to be a great experience. Most of my living expenses are paid for (housing and utilities) and I receive an allowance to cover the cost of living difference and to make up for the declining dollar-euro exchange rate. There are still a countless things I would like to do here. There are still a lot of places to see and adventures to embark on. It is also one major reason that I have not pursued further a career with the State Department. Living and working in Germany is too good of a deal to relinquish right now.

Belated birthday greetings to Kyle and Paige who had birthdays earlier in the month of April. I also extend the same birthday greetings to my sister Evelyn and regrets for not able to attend her 60th birthday bash in Cuyapo, Philippines.

I will end this post with a few family and travel pictures. Leah had sent me the following two pictures taken during Gavin's and Taia's birthday last month.

We usually end family gatherings with several rounds of tournament style Texas hold 'em poker. Five dollars gets you in, with top prize going to the winner minus the five dollars that goes to the runner up. Although friendly in nature, the game gets very competetive. The first picture (taken in Oct 2004) shows most of everyone with a smile, but it is early the early rounds. The second picture (taken in Nov 2004) shows Michael flexing his muscle with his big stack of chips and ready to take me out.

When I was in Bosnia, I went to Zagreb, Croatia several times on weekends just to get away for a few days. Zagreb was about 3 to 4 hours away by car from Tuzla, Bosnia. The first picture is of Jelacic Square in downtown Zagreb. The second picture shows the main church in old town Zagreb. And the third picture was taken during New Year 2007 festivities.

The picture below is of the WWII memorial in Bastogne, Belgium. The Battle of the Bulge was fought in this region of Belgium. I visited the site August 2007.

The sunlight that filter through stained-glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris highlights the vibrant colors of the glass. Picture was taken in July 2004.