Monday, September 11, 2006

Unbearable Lightness of Not Blogging

So, just what the heck have I been doing since July 21st? Some of this hiatus was a needed mental break. Some of it was procrastination (I've continued to find and read articles like crazy - I just haven't completed the writing part of that troika). Some of it was that I have just been plain ole' busy.

What things have I been doing, these last weeks?
  • Moved into a new apartment. The first week of August, Katja and I left the renovated old mill building in Exeter and moved into a larger (albeit less historic) apartment in Portsmouth. As Katja has been at the apartment during the day, she did most of the packing/unpacking and cleaning. Me, I get to do the heavy lifting.
  • Field engineer on a construction project in Lynn, Massachusetts. Originally my company was only going to put me on the project site for the first week of construction, but that changed and I was out of the office for roughly 6 weeks, working about 50-55 hours a week.
  • Procrastinating. Ever put something off for so long, that you even become nervous or anxious about completing it? I was a little bit like that. I have a list of articles that I researched and started, but never completed. Topics range from the 15th anniversary of the coup, Levada polls regarding Russian's persistent belief in economic collapse, NHL vs. Russian hockey contracts, Lay's potato chips in Russia, Vodka Train tours, how to make the perfect blini, and on and on. I'm sure to revisit these someday (sure I will - just like that Rostov Veliky article I've not completed).
  • Trip to Vermont. Little did you know that besides Russian culture, I also have a bit of a genealogy hobby. I can actually trace my Shedd family lineage in an unbroken line back to 1360 England and John de Schedde. Daniel Shed of Finchingfield, England, my g. g. g. g. g. g. g. g. g. grandfather arrived in the area of Quincy, Massachusetts about 1645. Of my grandparents, I can trace two other family names back to the 1700s (the Jones family name I can only take back to about 1840, but what do you expect with a family name like Jones). Anyway - one of my more notable ancestors was Abel Shedd ( g. g. g. grandfather) of Albany, Vermont. He was a farmer and US Civil War Sharpshooter. I had purchased a historic map of the region last year, showing where his old farm was located. When I showed this to my father, he knew the exact location of this farm, as HIS father and grandfather used to take him hunting in that area when he was a boy. But he was never told WHY they went to that area - turns out it used to be the old Shedd family farm. From that we were able to locate Abel's grave, along with some other family members. I spent a weekend taking my kids and Katja up to Albany, Vermont to see the area where the farm was, and to visit some other still living relatives in Vermont.
  • Doctors Appointments. Katja has had a series of medical issues that we've had to deal with. I took her to 5 doctor's appointments in August (she isn't driving here yet). Nothing too terrible, but she had to contend with various ultrasounds and eatings of radioactive oatmeal. She is impressed with the hospitals here for their newness and cleanliness - if not so impressed with the range of diagnoses and the tendency to prescribe pills. Katja pops Russian pills like there is no tomorrow (she brought a huge stash of things like Mezim with her), but is loathe to take any American pills. Go figure.
  • Job Hunting. I've been sending my resume around to various firms, considering taking a position in Russia. My education and work are related, at least in part, with construction and the oil industry. However, I don't have oil drilling and construction experience, which is really a different animal from the geotechnical and environmental drilling that I do. There are geotechnical engineers in support of oil construction of pipelines and other things, but those jobs are a bit scarce and my experience doesn't fit 100%. Still, I have been looking and applying. I sent my resume to Parsons in regards to a hazardous waste engineer position on an environmental cleanup project in Russia as well (actually disposal of chemical weapons if you can believe that). Also applied for two geotechnical positions related to the gold mining industry in Kyrgyzstan (I have friends in Bishkek, remember). Nothing has come out of it, just considering some of the different options. I spent most of my teenage years as an expat living in Germany, so I was weighing options for becoming an expat in Russia. It is a long-shot.
  • Fantasy Baseball / Fantasy Football. One season is entering playoffs and the other is just beginning. I don't get as into this as I used to, but still wasted some time preparing, trading, drafting teams. I am crushing everyone in my baseball league this year. Also, along these lines I was ...
  • Witnessing the SPECTACULAR Collapse of the Boston Red Sox. Wow. Was this team really in first place? For a team with a history of failure in August - this was one of the most stunning stupendous stupefying failures I have ever been witness. It is a bit like a car wreck, you know you shouldn't stare, but GAWD! Besides the lack of deadline trade (thanks Theo), the injuries to key starters, and the failures of starting pitchers who shall go nameless (cough cough joshbeckett cough cough) - throw in their 22 year old rookie starting pitcher being diagnosed with cancer (!). Maybe the BoSox sold their souls to the devil to win in 2004 and this is Satan's payback. Also sports related there was ...
  • Patriots Training Camp. Whooo Hooo! Just as the Red Sox start to suck, you have the Patriots starting another season.
That is about everything. It really isn't that much, now that I look at it. But it kept me occupied enough to take a mental vacation from writing about all things Russia. I apologize to anyone who was wondering what I was off doing. I'll be making more steady postings, life has settled down, and besides Katja is out of town until the 20th, visiting friends in Arizona.


Anonymous said...

re: Job Hunting.

I've encountered geotech engineers here in the US working in the telecom industry. Maybe there are such opportunities in Russia. Just a thought...


W. Shedd said...

It is possible. I've actually done probably 200 communication towers prior to 9/11/2001, when that industry was really expanding here. I have this feeling that Russian communication networks are pretty well built up in urban areas, and non-existent in rural areas (just because of the size of the country). Usually as an ex-pat, you are working for a foreign company doing work inside of Russia.

Anonymous said...

You're probably right about the state of the build-out there (I'm thinking here about cell phone systems, which is where I've been making a living for 11 years).

I believe that here in the US, the government has encouraged through law - perhaps in some ways subsidized - some rural coverage. (Will have to check that -don't know for sure because I've been working in urban markets). Perhaps this kind of thing would not be high on the Russian government's agenda yet.

Have you looked to see what any of the European headhunters may have available for contract work in Russia? Haven't looked myself since the boom ended. Jobserve used to be a good place to look.

Anyway, good luck.


Lyndon said...

Wally, if you want to get over there, I think now's the time. The current boom can't last forever. Let me know if you have any questions about being an expat in the country we all love so much - if you do wind up negotiating an offer to go over there, I may be able to give you some advice on what to be sure to ask about. Good luck.