Brett Back In School

I have now finished my time overseas and have been home for almost two years now. I've decided to go to Palmer Chiropractic College as a means to create a career for myself. I miss the traveling, but the hope is that I'll be able to afford to travel all I want in my nearish future.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Remember Me

Since my return to the motherland of Iowa, I've been confused and perplexed by an all-to-common trend I've seen. Perhaps it's just an Iowan thing and the rest of you won't have any clue what I type of, but I've seen at least 10 cars/trucks/minivans/etc. with some sort of memorial sticker in their windows. E.g. "In Loving Memory of Scott Miller (or any name) 1935-2004."
Now, what exactly are they doing to remember this person? Scott we'll say for now. Is it something along the lines of "Scott, I loved you so much I'm dedicating my new Oldsmobile to you." Or perhaps Scott left them money in a will which then allowed them to buy a new Cutlass Sierra. I'm not sure. So that's a possibility, but then I've seen dedications to infants as well. Is this helpful in the grieving process to the parents? Everyday they walk into the garage and see their custom made sticker on the side of their Astrovan. That helps them cope? I was recently spreading mulch at an apartment complex and saw three such vehicles (remembering people of various ages) withing a six-parking spot row. I was blown away.
I remember seeing one or two of these during my 3-month stay over the holidays, thought it a bit queer, but didn't realize it was a full-blown trend. I don't remember seeing any of these before I left for Zambia, I surely would have taken note had I crossed paths with them. So all of this must have popped up in the last 3 years, which then brings me to the point that people at some point have driven along, seen the first trend-setters, and then had a conversation along the lines of...

John: "Sally, look at that car up there. Isn't that a great way to remember someone?"
Sally: "That is unique and quite touching, John."
John: "I know how much your uncle Roger meant to you, and I know it's been 2 months already, but I think we should get a sticker in the back of our Durango to make sure that we don't forget him. Everytime I check my blindspot he'll be looking over my shoulder. In a way."
Sally: "Oh John, that's a swell idea. Roger would be so happy. I love you."

Perhaps this is a touchy subject to jest at, especially when I bring dead infants into the equation. I mean, to each his own when it comes to dealing with the death of a loved one, but I really would like some input from the one or two of you still reading this as to what may be going through people's heads when they go to the sticker store and ask for a custom made sticker to put on their Lumina's window to remember their fallen comrade. All I know, is if I die and anyone dedicates a vehicle to me, it better have T-tops, or be an Iroc-Z.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Return to South Africa

I got back here a week and a half ago after a full 36 hours of travel. I thought it would go quickly because at first glance I thought I only had 3 and 4 hour layovers, but upon landing in Frankfurt I pulled out my itinerary to look at what flight I was connecting with. I looked more carefully and saw I had a 10 hour layover there. That's sweet. Unfortunately it was only a couple of hours until dark set so I didn't feel like going out into a city I've never been to just before dark.

Spending that long in airports sucks, but it is an entertaining way to watch people. Although there are far fewer in Europe, Bluetooths (Blueteeth?) are really stupid. When I was laid-over in Chicago, it seemed like one-third of all people in that airport had a ridiculous Bluetooth in their ear. From the right angles it just looks like a throng of crazies talking to themselves. The other part of people watching is seeing how impatient and annoyed so many people get in airports. Most of us have traveled via air and know that it takes time. Especially in these crazy post 9/11 times, yet you still have self-important asses bitching and moaning or just getting huffy in every line they stand it. I get a little bit of enjoyment seeing it all take place.

Anyways, since being here I haven't really done a whole lot. In Cape Town I met up with Chris who picked me up in his Land Rover. It was good to see M (the Land Rover) again. Later that evening we met up with our Capetonian friends and my Norwegian buddy that was coincidentally back in Cape Town when I came in. I basically spent my first few days of jet lag drinking with these folks, and going to the beach. One night we went to the cinema to catch 'We Own the Night.' I highly recommend it. It is so bad, that it is like a comedy. It is so far below the line, I can't get enough of it. One very good thing about Cape Town is that Chris and I met two Danish girls that are making the same route we are over the next 4 months, so it looks as though we'll be having some traveling partners to chip in on gas. They're very high energy girls, so they may actually drive us nuts, but we'll see.

Chris got a new suspension and several other things fixed on his vehicle, and then we've relocated to the wine fields of Stellenbosch now. About a 45 minute drive, it's a nice place. Large mountains and sprawling wine estates. Today we actually head out to do some wine tasting and figure out what cases we want to take to Mozambique together. I lost a few cases in some pool games to Chris, but luckily you can get good wine for $3 or so a bottle.

Hopefully we can head out tomorrow and start up the coast en route to Jeffrey's Bay. Our goal is to then cut up through Lesotho (mountainous country) and then back into South Africa through the Draakensburg Range for some mountain camping. Then over to Durban, up to Swaziland, before finally getting to Mozambique just before our February 10 start date. Take care and I'll update as I get time.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Rollin' Hard

The day has finally come for me to return to Africa. It actually doesn't seem all that long ago that I just stepped off a plane from there. After coordinating with my friend Chris, I have a better idea of what my next few months will look like. Friday I'll touch down in Cape Town and stay there for a few days visiting friends. From there he and I will take a month to drive north and east seeing various friends we made along the way and just keepin' it real. February 10 we are scheduled to be in Tofo and begin our work, or at least our accommodation hunt. After that it should be about 3 months of work and training until I get back in early May.
It's great having had some experience not only in Africa, but also the town in which I will be living a month from now. I was pretty relaxed before leaving in 2005, but now I'm not nervous at all. I know exactly what to expect, and my only concern in life is if I can get all my movies and videos loaded onto my iPod in time before I leave. Speaking of rolling hard, I just got a 160gb iPod for Christmas from the folks and have all but finished loading stuff onto it. I've a bit more work to do tomorrow, but as it stands I have 23606 songs and a few South Park episodes. (PS, iTunes sucks ass, you should use floola.) Despite the fact that I have 36ish hours of travel tomorrow, (DSM to Chicago to Frankfurt to Jo'Burg to Cape) I've got no worries with my updated iPod. Hooray!
I'll update on here what my new address is once I find out in case any of you want to send me anything awesome. Music magazines (Spin, Paste, Below the Radar, etc.) are always welcomed. Booze isn't at all necessary because in Mozambique they have this rum called Tipo Tinto that comes in 500mL plastic bottles for $1.75 and is absolutely delicious with Sprite. I'll be sure to update you all on how difficult my life is when I'm lying on a beach sunning myself in between dives with whale sharks and manta rays. I'd like to update this along the way so check back occasionally.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Puerto Vallarta

For Christmas this year, the Pearson Clan met in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week of fun in the sun. My dad's best friend has a timeshare and was kind enough to invite the whole family down from the 9th-16th of December. It was the first family Christmas in four years. We stayed at the Grand Mayan resort that basically has everything you could possibly want, including an endless supply of scantily clad senior citizens and retirees. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Because my sister and I are nearly 7 years apart in age (she'll be 33 in a couple weeks) we had little common ground growing up. Thankfully, I turned 21 several years ago and that provided us with alcohol to serve as a liquid bridge to our age gap and allow us to catch up for lost time of bonding. And the good thing with booze is that is accelerates the bonding like some sort of mind-bending time machine.

On our first full day, we decided that 10am was a good time to go to the main pool and start ordering piƱa coladas as the aquarobics provided us with a nice view/conversation topic of the aforementioned retirees flailing around, arms akimbo to some sort of Mexican techno music while the instructors were counting loudly in Spanish. By the end of the first day, we'd met a nice gal named Jenn to hang out with, and had our fill of alcohol for the week.

We spent the rest of the week playing cards and eating with Jenn's family, so that was great to interrupt the monotony of one's own family. For my personal entertainment, I spent several days playing beach volleyball in the morning, went on two SCUBA dives, and played a few rounds of golf. The diving was really cold and unremarkable, but it was great to get back into the water. My golf game was fairly bad, but I broke 100 each time, so I was happy with my performance seeing how I've played less than 10 rounds in 3 years. I still have my patented slice, so I've got that goin' for me.

I really enjoyed laying on the beach each day, so if nothing else it has just reaffirmed to me that I'm really going to enjoy Mozambique where that's my daily routine.


Upon my return to the United States, I had to find a way to make some money for my upcoming plans. Although I didn't spend all of the resettlement allowance provided by the Peace Corps, I knew the unfortunate reality was that I would have to make some serious cash to afford a ticket back to, and living expenses whilst in Mozambique. I spent my first few weeks back in denial and avoided the need to get some sort of income.

The first job I secured was going up the the summer camp I used to work at and clean all of the buildings once/week. It has paid quite well and I decide when I work, so it's a perfect job actually. It wasn't the first time, but hopefully is the last time I'm employed as a janitor. I've been doing that and have two sessions left before I head back.

I did interview at Wells Fargo for a job in a call center, but just a few days after my interview I decided that there was no way in hell I could handle that. Plus, the gig was downtown so I'd have to do the 7:00am commute five days/week and I know I'd
fail to show up in a timely manner so I called them back and told them I found another job.

I ended applying for a job as a night stocker (just like Richard Ramirez) at Target. During my first interview I was told that I was way overqualified for the position. Not to sound like a dick, but I was well aware of that, but where else can I get hired to work for two months. And at $10/hour, it pays relatively well. After two more interviews (they're thorough) and a passed drug test I was officially a New Team Member at Target just down the road from my folks place.

I attended the mandatory orientation and was informed by the President and CEO via video that Target's goal was 'To be the BEST Company Ever!' No shit, that is verbatim. Pretty lofty goal to be better than any company in the existence of the Earth, huh? Next I was told how Target revolves around the FFF principles. That's, Fun, Fast, Friendly, service. They have all kinds of propaganda like that, e.g., in the back room there are signs everywhere that say, 'Speed is life.' I'm surprised a company with a mandatory drug test would promote amphetamines so openly.

Each night begins at 10pm and ends at 8am. During the holiday season I was given the option of overtime, but only took them up on it a couple times. My job is to work in the back rooms and carry my little PDA (a pricing gun with a laser and computer on it) and it tells me how many of what product to remove from the back shelves and push out to the sales floor. Then the FLOW team takes the carts of things I send out and puts them out to be sold. It's repetitive, mind-numbing work, but isn't too bad.

Perks of the job are; 10% at Target stores, two 15 minute breaks and a 30 minute 'lunch' at 3am, a name tag that says 'Brett,' a box cutter, and a chance to listen to the radio for 10 hours straight. I'm assuming most of you don't listen to one radio station for 10 hours, but I hear the same awful songs 3-6 times/shift. It sucks. For coworkers, I enjoy one girl I work with, and can talk to two others, but most of the people just communicate with grunts and random noises. They're who you'd expect would have this job as a career. I mostly keep to myself and try not to look anyone in the eye.

Last night I finished my second to last shift and look forward to finishing my final shift and preparing to leave for Mozambique. Aside from conversation with the one girl, I can honestly say I'll miss nothing about the place. That's only because I'm keeping the name tag, otherwise I'd miss that too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not Done With Africa Yet

During my travels, I wrote a fair amount about my diving experience at Tofo Scuba in Mozambique. After diving with them for a couple of weeks, the manager was talking with me one night and said, 'Brett, I've got a business proposal for you. We like having you around the shop. You're a smiley type of guy and a good diver. Would you like to come back in February to work?' My first reaction was 'Of course.' Then I got to thinking about how I hadn't been home for a couple of years and that maybe it was time for me to grow up. My 26th birthday was near and I wasn't sure how long I could go faffing around the world before needing to buckle down and getting a real job (or something that at least resembles it).
I gave Steve (the manager) a tentative yes to his question but kept saying, 'unless I get some great opportunity back home, I'll come back.' I don't recall if it was on the airplane or during the rest of my travels, but it dawned on me that getting to work at a diving shop on a beach in Mozambique is a pretty good opportunity so I emailed him and gave him a positive answer. I just bought my tickets yesterday and will be leaving home on January 9.
My official title there will be, Dive Master Trainee, or DMT. In diving, there are a plethora of certifications you can get, and Dive Master is the first one that you can find a paying job with. I need to get a lot more experience diving before I can become DM so Tofo Scuba will give me all of the training for free if I do pro bono work there for three months. It will basically come down to me getting $9000 worth of dives and training for free. I'll work in the shop and go on two or three dives each day where I'll act as a sweeper. I'll hang around the back of the group and make sure that none of the customers are doing anything stupid or having any problems. I'll work 6days/week and should end up with about 150 or 160 dives at the end of my time. I already bought a wetsuit and dive computer, so I'm ready to go.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More Photos

Hey everyone. Life continues at the same pace as before. In new news, my job search is fruitless, but I got a haircut and shave. That's good. Now I look like a contributing member of society once again. Hooray!
I just added a bunch of pictures onto my website, so if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, check out the link to the right to see how Lesotho, Mozambique, and Cape Town are. I have pictures of Swaziland, but haven't gotten around to adding those yet.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No Place...

I'm finally back. After 45 hours of being contained in planes and airports, my ship has come in. The reunion with the folks was heartwarming, and my first shower back was fantastic. Unfortunately, my bag didn't show up at the airport, but supposedly it's in Denver and will be dropped off tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, my sister flies in and doesn't know I'm back yet, so that should be fun. I haven't seen her since May 2005 which is the longest ever. She's bringing her boyfriend, so that will be fun playing the 'getting to know you' game. I've met him before, and he's a nice guy, but haven't gotten to spend the quality one-on-one protective younger brother game yet. Sounds great.
In other news, after years of resisting signing up for something as foul and awful as facebook, I finally did it. If you want to look me up, I'm the brett pearson whose picture is that of an African garden gnome.
PS, I got a ticket to see Modest Mouse at the Val Air Ballroom, so if anyone is in DSM and would like to go, then pick one up yourself and we can go together.