Welcome to Flying Alligators & Empty Shovels

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Source of Alligator Pix

The alligator in the stamp on the book cover is a photograph of the one tattooed on my upper left arm.  The tattoo artist did the conceptual design as well, adding the wing and empty shovel to represent both parts of the book title.  One caution: never get a tattoo while on blood thinners!
Above that tattoo is Debbie's name in cursive Russian with swirls and a heart.  I was asked about it in a grocery store while checking out.  I explained that my wife made me get it to let any Russian ladies know I'm spoken for.  The check-out lady thought about this for a few seconds, and then turned to her colleague, who was also listening to my reply, and said, "Hmm, that's what I should have done with my first husband."  Her colleague quickly added, "Yea, but on a different part of his anatomy!"  Ouch.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Our Russian Adventure

Our reasons for choosing to pursue work in the Former Soviet Union are covered in our book.  And once the opportunity became available, we never looked back.  So much was new—language, culture, procedures, subsistence, plus all facets of work—but did not overwhelm or discourage us.  Each component was a challenge but also an adventure.

Those above me in the U.S. marveled at our willingness to go wherever potential work existed, which in turn surprised us.  You want to succeed and there is thus little value in placing numerous restrictions on your ability to contribute.  And there is no question that our being a team was fundamental to all we did and accomplished.

And truth be told, certain aspects of life—such as airline or train travel and societal controls—have a basic commonality everywhere.  Plus still reeling from a Soviet mindset, everything was highly structured.  Even if one didn’t know how to proceed, those in charge insured compliance.

We'd enjoy hearing from others who have undertaken similar adventures as well as from those who would like additional information about Russia, especially traveling and living there.