The chance of a lifetime
Writing these Friday essays is one of the best decisions I made in my life. Even if no one read it I would still do it, and here is the reason – if you know that next Friday you have to say something original, you keep your brain in the creative mode.
And if week after week you leave this trail behind of thoughtful examination of the world, you can’t help but get better in whatever it is that you seek to do. And if other people read it and trust you more – that’s a jackpot, no?
Being good at something is not a good enough reason to spend your life doing it.
I realized that some time ago. I may be a bit out of place as a structural engineer in the pharma industry, but I learned and I’m good at adapting.
Still, I prefer writing, which may be also a decent retirement plan.
But when I walk into a slick design like Toronto terminal 1 or Gdansk (Danzig) airport I see right away how the loads are transferred through the exposed structure. This gives me a strange sense of pleasure.
You never forget your first profession.
Gdansk, by the way, is comprised of 3 cities, the best kept secret is Sopot. I just spent a few nights in the Grand Hotel there on the beach, typing on the famous molo.
It was absolutely fantastic.
I started writing about 10 years ago, because imagination is the power to bring to mind things that aren’t present, the ability to step outside the moment. And I love it.
The step up from imagination is creativity, which is making something that is original, never experienced by anyone yet. How cool is that? You create something that wasn’t there before.
When we write our resumes, we make them sound like the life ran a narrative course, when in fact it was no-linear random process and that made it interesting. Life is a process of improvisation between your talents and the circumstances. Never clear where it will lead.
The most efficient people are the ones who absolutely love what they do.
If you say – “why don’t you stop it and try something new for a change?” they wouldn’t know what you’re talking about, because they’d say – “this isn’t what I do, this is who I am. This defines me.”
It’s just this something in life that you get right away when you put your hands on it. Dancing, sailing, flying, writing.
Like my brother, who would show up for work and fly the big birds across the Atlantic to the JFK even if they’d stop paying him. He wouldn’t likely even notice that they’ve stopped.
“What’s the best airport from pilot’s view?” I asked him.
“LAX, hands down, Chicago’s O’Hare close second.”
“On the Dream (787)?”
“Good wings, pull up quick.”
Wings are the most important part of the plane, the rest is just mechanics.
Wings are art.
Some people have figured out how to be naturally more productive than others per minute, and the way you do that is by having the instinct to ship. Not the instinct to polish, to justify.
You may call it “staying ahead of the pain”.
Don’t wait for the perfect alignment, just jump in, and then jump out if you lose interest.
Sing in the shower, write a poem, take chances in life, at the end you came to the world with nothing and you will leave with nothing.
It’s all about making the best of the meantime.
Beirut seems to be a coursed city under permanent civil war, now also troubled by tragic blasts, like the one on August 4th that caused over 200 deaths and about $15 billion in property damage. Official explanation for it is a fire in ammonium nitrate storage that didn’t have proper safety measures. This material is as a strong of an explosive as TNT and from the same family of chemicals.
It was stored there for the last six years, and during that time customs official sent multiple letters to judges requesting the resolution of the issue.
The chemicals were confiscated from a Moldovan-flagged cargo ship that set sail from Batumi, Georgia to Beira Mozambique. Back in November 2013 the ship made port in Beirut, officially due to technical problems, but it seams that the owner didn’t have the funds to pay tolls for the Suez Canal. To get the money, he had taken additional cargo of heavy machinery, which was stack on the top of the cargo space causing the doors to buckle, and an inspection of the port state control deemed in not seaworthy, it was not allowed to leave and this is how the ammonium nitrate ended up in the warehouse on the shore. The ship sank in the harbour in February 2018 by the way.
In a press conference after the explosion president Trump said that according to his Generals, it was a bomb and so it was an attack. The media didn’t pick up on this statement, but the interesting thing is what he didn’t say, because he couldn’t.
A stash of explosive chemicals sitting in the middle of a war-thorn city where tensions run high will give someone ideas sooner or later. In the aftermath of the event the whole Lebanese government resigned.
Beirut is a happening place these days and for all the wrong reasons.
On September 10 the port was ablaze again with black smoke rising into the sky causing panic and people leaving the city for safety. Official explanation was a fire in the oil and rubber warehouse.
Truth is – the city is on fire.
And I get the feeling that there is something deeper going on there and I’m uneasy with it, but I know full well that we will never find out.
Media provides mostly bullet news and the message is kept simple, which is easier to coordinate. What’s more important – local media outlets can’t afford to keep reporters all over the world, they need to buy the news from one of the big guys, like Reuters or Bloomberg, so it’s really a narrow feed.
And there are other ways to coordinate the message and I can give you a real life example from a chief editor of a newspaper in Poland. Back in the day the Batory Foundation, paid for by one of Soros’s funds, was publishing the annual donation amounts to specific media outlets. So, it was no surprise when you open a newspaper what’re going to read - they were then singing from the same key (Batory stopped publishing the info since). I suppose it’s no different in other countries.
I also got an early glimpse into how newspapers work long time ago – so this young journalist discovers some irregularities in the local supermarket operation (that’s in the US), writes an article about and gives it to the editor.
He takes it, goes to see the owner and comes back with a fat advertising contract. Nothing gets published.
Apparently everybody cares about the integrity of the media and the journalists.
My experience is - when everybody says that they care about something that means nobody really cares.
Wild times at the Junior High
What I learned back then, at school, was that the formation of a character is in a large part knowing who you should care about and who you should not. Bad as it sounds at the first take, it is true. Also knowing whom you should listen to and whom you should not.
If you’re willing to learn, you will listen to people who have something original to say. They’re not exactly easy to find, but you might get lucky.
I have a rule here – pay attention to the ones who can express themselves and convey a message in a minimum number of words. These are the best brains.
I was lucky enough to have teachers like that, back in the day in the high school, far away from here behind the Iron Curtain.
These days in the West the confusion continues. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) in the US admits that more people are dying from suicides and overdose than from Covid.
In Europe, the German health minister Jens Spahn has come out and publicly admitted that the lockdowns of the economy were a mistake.
That, I think, is an understatement of the year.
Just wait for the avalanche of lawsuits from businesses that folded for no reason whatsoever, except for the government incompetency of handling the situation.
Listen – the politicians know full well that there is no pandemic. They push the topic because their economies are collapsing and they’re preparing to try to cleverly default on national debts.
Another distraction, the BLM (black lifes matter) movement has a strong presence in the media. The black community is the most heavily armed (estimated at 10M people with guns in the US) with the highest criminal record by far. Are we missing something here? White lifes don’t matter?
All lifes matter equally to me.
In life, every good initiative starts as a good cause, attracts attention, then becomes a business and eventually degenerates into a racket. BLM is no exception. I think we’re entering the racket stage here.
And spare me Gates and his buddy Anthony Fauci saying that we may have to wear masks and keep distance from each other for years to come.
Okay guys, you will make your money when the second wave hits, the panic will go insane and you will have the vaccine at the high of the hype and price it accordingly.
Make your money, hope it’ll feel good.
It will be like the old Dire Straits song – Money For Nothing.
Billionaire high school dropouts are suddenly experts on viruses, CO2 emission, population growth (decline in fact, if you dive into specifics) and Marxist Equality, excluding them of course. Bill Gates is an example, and he recently got $79M from Canadian prime mister Justin Trudeau without a real explanation for what.
Hell, I stopped watching the news, there's nothing they can tell me I don't already know. All I check is the weather before I leave on my motorcycle on a Saturday morning and I drive hard, you better believe it.
A guy at the gas station asked me what’s the fastest I went.
“I don’t know, the dial was showing 190 last I looked down and I was still accelerating. Thing is – at that speed you stop watching the dial because the scenery is moving so fast around you.”
“Wow,” he said.
I just ride, hope better times will come. Gonna stop when the last drop of gas turns to vapor.
Or, possibly I'm on the edge of an endless fall, sure enough she's come to call.
Got to go now, get on that bike.
Me and the wanderlust.
When things get out of control
This week marked an anniversary of a significant event, widely understood as the beginning of the World War II.
On September 1st 1939 German troops invaded Poland from the West and just two weeks later the Russian army invaded my country from the East.
The Americans call it the double whammy.
This was a complex event that requires some effort to unpack in order to understand.
This is my take on it:
Adolf Hitler didn’t want a war with Poland – there was no gain in it for Germany any way you could imagine. His concern was Russia and the spread of communist ideology in Western Europe, but even that wasn’t the main driver. He needed to secure the supply of natural resources for the German economy, meaning – control the countries who had them.
That was the only way to sell the war concept to the German industrial complex, which really runs the country, and he got the okay to do it.
This is why the war happened.
Hitler wanted Poland to align with him against Stalin, which would be the right thing to do for both countries.
Poland refused, and there are records surfacing that the critical levels of Polish government were infiltrated by the Russians who drove the decision.
You need to understand the complexity of the situation – the eastern border of Poland moved with some (war) frequency. The loyalty of people there was not obvious, in the sense – which is actually my country? The language was floating between Polish and Russian, and the speaking always reflects the thinking and so the feeling of belonging.
Poland would be better off aligning with the Germans, avoiding almost total destruction of the country, genocide and then the following 45 years of Russian occupation, which ruined the economy and cost the lives of many people.
One thing about war is that it causes hatred and the conditions deteriorate quickly. There is no control of what happens anymore.
For me this is the definition of war for any leader – you lose control.
In 1941 the Germans were so close to Moscow, that they could see the Kremlin towers. If they didn’t lose some strength fighting Poland, but would have Polish divisions supporting them instead, Stalin would be out of the picture there and then.
And if you ask me how far out, I say all the way out.
What saves Russia every time is the endless space that makes logistics a nightmare, and also the weather. Brutal winters, wet springs and falls and short summers.
Plus you can’t conquer a country from the air; you need to put boots on the ground and this is when the real life starts, in the mud, mountains and snow.
The Russians are also an emotional nation, they can really get together in the time of need. When the German troops were storming St. Petersburg, in a long and nasty battle, the Russian tanks, the T-34, were leaving the assembly line firing hard just out of the factory gate. At the end they made it all the way to Berlin.
It’s a loaded week in historical sense and what happened then shaped the fate of Eastern and Central Europe for decades. We’re not over it yet, not even close.
Now, I am sitting here by my pool under a big red umbrella on a beautiful summer evening sipping the Montalcino wine and typing.
Music is playing in the rhythm of a slow cooking minestrone soup, so you can tell I live in an Italian neighborhood.
As it got darker, I can hear coyotes, haven’t seen wolfs yet, but they’re quiet hunters. A coyote is like a dog on steroids.
I like the nature around me, wouldn’t like to be chased in panic through the bushes by a wolf, don’t have the speed anymore, but the rest is fine.
Tom Kubiak is the author of The Traveler