The work is done, the preparations including endless hours on internet are “as ready as I'll be” and the friends have all had their say; “come back” was often heard.
|Open skies in ARIZONA|
I even wrote an open letter to the members of the Right To Die with Dignity association (ADMD in French) to suggest more democracy and less ego in management. I have the hope that this organization founded by my father and friends and which I presided in it's infancy, will someday be able to create a ground force to guarantee the Associative spirit of it's founders.
As I leave I relinquish many roles and responsibilities. My role as a reference person in the IT community giving support to people, my 30 yr of social work for the right to die with dignity, my community work and various IT expertise circles that gave me a role, thus “meaning”. I have the experience of having migrated from continent to continent several times in my life. Each time, you leave friends, situations … the only way to be able to enter into a new “life”.
|Beach France my Country House|
I have found this not only in leaving geographical situations, but also each time I progressed professionally. You have to “give up” your special strengths to evolve into new roles such as expert, manager, chief whatever, COO, CEO ... and board member. Each time your old skills are no longer essential while new skills are a necessity. In a career I'm convinced that changing our roles is now inevitable. Not like our parent's careers. Change even within any field of knowledge is inevitable as our world moves faster and faster at the rate of Moor's LAW due to computerisation. If you are not learning each day, consciously being curious, talking to those who know and reading materials that sometimes you might not completely understand at first … then you are becoming obsolete. As a manager you have to build “learning teams” and manage them with the idea that they must spend 30% of their working time at least in a learning situation. By learning situation I mean some of it can be in the field, some in the classroom, … but most important the person has the right to do things wrong. WRONG is essential for learning. A team that cannot do wrong, is likely not learning. Your role is to insure that WRONG is in a context where it can be managed and not damageable if need be.
So Patricia took me on a last gallop with Adeline her daughter and kindly let me have her horse who obeys well and her saddle which is really comfortable. It did not prevent me from feeling the workout in my inside-leggs, but I was able to spend two beautiful hours in the dunes, on the seemingly endless beach, protected dunes and brush lands that surround our house. This ride also confirmed my thoughts on acquiring an animal to ride once I leave the Pacific Crest Trail. We also dined together and talked about people who choose to travel with a horse drawn wagon. Work animals pull the wagon and they have their horse tied to the back so they have a mount and can leave the wagon to explore remote areas. The wagon is a home with relative comfort that you do not have to install each night. You roll on backcountry roads that are easy to negotiate while keeping the freedom of the horse for roaming. Another concept, not my approach, at least for the present.
This has been a time for good meals, champagne, digging out the old wine bottles and afternoons near the fireplace. Adrien & Bruno our old friend came last weekend and we played BELOTTE a french card game a little like bridge. An occasion for laughter, memories, and mostly sharing in a warm friendly atmosphere. Long walks on the beach and evenings discussing how to change the world … is quite a good life (that I'm leaving!).
My wife & I discussed the final issues with the life organization and the emerging new life for each of us. Interesting to see the slow steady evolution of thoughts over the last year. What is never said is the real love that we share even if life is leading us on different paths. As I am part of it I'm totally unaware of what is really going on, I feel like an “innocent” as I discover other's view of the situation, certainly not the calculating type even if I do anticipate, we'll see where Veronique takes the family and our “couple”. For now I've done all I could to set her up in a comfortable life, and leave without any regrets. I'll have to face whatever happens when it happens.
I've applied for the PCT permit and been told that I MUST have a known start point. Organizations and systems are built with pre-conceived ideas on how things MUST be. In my case I will only know once I have the animals. It does not change the nature of the permit since I'll be traveling on the trail more than 500 miles. As an IT Director, I understand and sympathise with the idea that permits must be issued from place A to place B. But as a real human being, (you know, those that create exceptions because they are individuals and not part of the masses) … I have a real case situation where if the “requirements”for 500 miles are me;t there can be no definitive point A until I am ready to start. Systems are thought out by persons that either have limited real experience or have been briefed incompletely about the task to automate. I graduated with a thesis on applied SYSTEMIC thinking, where I had to develop solutions with the understanding that a system is an equilibrium between all elements that come into play and the ability for the system to adapt to it's ever changing environment. Hopefully as computerisation of our society matures, we will develop systems for whom exceptions are “learning situations” that adapt to real human needs rather than imposing on us a simplistic approach based on bit thinking: O and 1. I'm sure I'll be able to find a solution by talking with the PCT people and hopefully I can help them take this type of requirement into their scheme of thinking. Meanwhile I'd love to be at the ADZPCTKO, the name for the kick off party for those doing the PCT on April 26th at lake Moreno. This will depend on my start date and where I start, which itself depends on where I find the animals.
|Buddhist Stupa Sedona|
On the equipment side, I've finally opted for simplicity and a minimalist approach. The essential gear aside from basic camping and clothing is POWER, GPS /music /phone /camera /radio /compass /display interface /barometer/... and MAPS. I'm still working out on buying either a dedicated GPS or phone integrating GPS … Maps are the issue. The satellite solutions are excellent but require about $5000 so I'll start without and hopefully along the way I can find a sponsor or collect enough money through my productions to warrant this type of purchase which would provide better security. In New York, aside from trying to see friends, I'll be shopping and either buying on the spot or via internet once I have selected the item (lowest cost and no taxes)/
Of course I don't want to pay VAT (value added tax; tax on work, what about tax on profit?) and obtain items at the lowest cost. As long as we have societies where some can buy without paying and other cannot, I'd rather be on the “without” side of things. Once our societies understand (realize?) that laws and regulations should apply to all, and do what's required (example eliminate fiscal Paradises) then I'll willingly contribute by paying VAT to paying for the country's useful expenses … we all need theses services, we must be able to influence the choices through our votes, AND all of us, either rich or poor, need to participate proportionately. Today, the rich get away with not paying and it's the middle class, the lower middle class and the poor that pay while our governing bodies, made of lawyers and lobbies insure a small clique remains in power and gets rich. Until each of us decides “it's enough” and DO something about it … these few can continue to oppress the poor and milk the middle class.
The day I left France, I had my wallet stolen (did they unzip my pouch or did it undo itself?) anyhow when I started calling the credit card companies I learned someone was trying to use my credit cards. Aside from loosing the cash the main problem is recuperating my French Passport. I find incredible that the new passport emission organization, having been put into place recently (less than 3 yr) with a new electronic chip passport with fingerprint identification, is unable to provide me with a duplicate passport on an emergency basis (taking the plane next day). Again a case of a technocrat not thinking the system through despite implementing the required equipment throughout the country. Even the “main office” in Paris cannot deliver a passport without a few days to “process” the information. Having renewed my passport only a few weeks ago I can testify that the database access, the fingerprint scan and the mechanical production components should be able to produce a unfalsifiable passport within 10 minutes. The person who did mine took over an hour to fill the form on the computer and it took another week to produce the passport … no wonder our federal services cost so much. If we ran our firms the way the state runs it's services, we would have failed for lack of efficiency long ago. I called the consulate in Los Angeles and they require over a week, cannot make an appointment before 2 weeks and it takes two visits. The person on the phone even recommended I wait for my return to France to get a passport! Happily there are exceptional persons, Cecile from the the embassy called me back having read my parallel written request and she organized both a special appointment within 2 days and delivery in Phoenix at the consulate! I believe in PEOPLE, they make systems work and ARE CAPABLE of making JUDGMENTS.
Going once again through the whole procedure of check in at the airport, passing through customs and security screening, it appeared to me once again that we are a highly vulnerable society. People at service desks attempt to compensate computer rigidity, deal with exceptional situations … when they are conscientious; but had I been a terrorist I could have sneaked in any number of items and when their computer did not work they had to write the ticket by hand or freeze the check-in. With my electronic gear I always get the security zealous treatment, and yet without intending to, I shut down the whole system twice. No one seemed concerned that stuff passed by without machine checking despite the hoard of personnel. We are lucky that real terrorists are not well organized nor are they able to study in depth our vulnerable systems, at least up to now.
So I arrived at Yamuna's in New York, how wonderful to see an old friend with whom I can speak of and share without barriers what is important to each of us. Life in New York is so demanding, that we did our best to share our lives but it takes real availability and at least this weekend was not conducive for it. I did get a real chance to see her in her life, admire her daughter's maturity and talk with her companion. It is difficult to accept that what I can see is not something I can act on. Each of us has to work out our own way in life. You try to say “useful” things, things that might provide handles for awareness, yet in truth you can only “be a friend” and love the other person.
This short visit to New York also confirmed that retailers that carry sales items that are not specifically “fitted” to the user, like clothes, or shoes, are cheaper and delivered faster by the internet. Millions of shop keepers and their staff will be put out of business by the internet way of sales. Going around stores in New York, where 20 years ago I would find real deals, I found nothing of interest. The stores I visited reminded me of african shopkeepers who thought they were rich because they had a boutique full of obsolete items (such as electronic gear, household electrical items or pharmaceuticals). The internet society is like a tsunami going to leave millions stranded with debris from the destruction. Their present life schemes will no longer support their way of life. The speed of required change is too fast for people and no one can make it slow down. The gap between those who are leading the change and those who must adapt to it is widening with the people who cannot follow becoming a major handicap in the world competition. This can only lead to totalitarianism or revolution as our ruling oligarchies become aware that the “obsolete” people have become the major “problem”. Too many humans consuming the limited resources and no economic justification for maintaining these “useless” populations in decent living situations. Unless we change the rules of the “game” our human society's narrow financially based present values will lead us to solutions of a dramatic nature. We are in a multidimensional clash:
- those who have verses those who have not
- waste of resources verses destruction of our planet
- western individualism verses asian focus on group welfare (disregard of the individual)
In a global world we are ruled by local interests or very powerful focussed communities such as Energy companies, Water companies, Waste disposal companies, Al-Qa’ida terrorists or religious fanatics. Have you though about where YOU fit in the overall picture?
I am now with my friend Maureen in Flagstaff. Airline flying used to be a joy, it now has become worse than riding the subway with the controls, the minimal service, the nickel and dime charges by airline carriers milking you at each phase of the transportation. It is considered that people MUST travel. The internet allows you to compare pricing and purchase at the least cost, so now the real overall cost is hidden. The announced price is low, but you can spend up to 50% more than you expected initially in airport taxes, ticketing fees, food and beverage, … . And remember that I had bought a ticket that was confirmed by the Ebookers agency but they called me nearly 2 weeks later to inform me that the price had gone up 150 Euros.
|3 generations of American Women in Arizona: Maureen, Meghann, Reilee the little one|
There are some hikes you remember all of your life. Maureen took me on a 5 mile hike up the bear creek trail in Sedona to wake up the muscles and discover Arizona at it's best. The views on the red rocks and the strenuous but invigorating trail gave me the feeling I was cleaning out the body, the mind and the soul. Needed after long plane travels. It's always quite wonderful to be with a friend with whom you can talk about anything and everything. Even after years of separation you just take up the conversation where you left off as if there had been no interruption. Sometimes friends grow apart and you no longer are able to share. People who have counted for me like my old friend François R, whom I knew in 8th grade, have accompanied my life regardless of each other's profession, activities, or social roles. We share an understanding, an acceptance of the other, a profound self assurance which makes it possible to be ourselves with the other. Maureen is facing her demons which put barriers between the man and woman that we are, but we profoundly recognize each other and enjoy the other's presence as friends.
|Meghann archeologue reviewing a site|
The important news is that I have met Susan Thompson from Dreamchaser Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation Facility http://www.dreamchaserpmu.org/index.html. Nathalie mentioned she knew someone who rescues horses so I suggested (somehow insisted, why? I don't know) we stop by this place at New River on her way to Phoenix. Susan quickly asked me the questions needed to insure I was “real”. Then she offered me to call Jim, arrange for a pair of donkeys and let me stay at the ranch until I was ready for the trail. Jim is a retired professional who has a natural feel about animals and Susan is sure that he can pick 3 pairs of donkeys our of the herd that would work for me. I'll then be able to pick the pair with which I can establish the best contact. Astounded, I mentioned I was going to California and would decide from there, but I sense that she is just the person to help me organize the right situation with the animals. We talked about cleaning the animals of parasites, of insuring I had a proper medical kit, that she would verify I could give the animals injections in case of colics … I like the matter of fact, simple, direct and anticipative thinking Susan has. Martine in France, with whom I trained in Donkey Lore, is of the same mind set. You cannot be devious with animals, this makes those who work with them every day quite direct and whole as people. I look forward to this relationship with my animals.
|Navaho ball playing court|
Sitting in the desert prior to arriving in California, I'll close this chapter here so I can post it. I drove from Flagstaff to the Los Angeles basin going through beautiful desert country. In one day I drove what should take me a month with the donkeys. I imagine looking at the distance and saying to myself that I can cross to the distant hill over there in 3 to 4 days … today a whole month of walking took 4 hours of driving, another rhythm of life. It seems right to stop writing here prior to entering a new setting. Meeting the Sundown Ranch people, the Bureau of Land Management, organizing the last preparations … next time I arrive in California it will be to “hit the trail” … or else...
PS. Let me know how you read this, feedback helps me focus and adapt my content. Beware pictures are not always timed with text due to the lack of pictures for some sections, prior to starting the journey.