The Storm Subsides

Many years ago, in architecture school, I would go through emotional ups and downs and not know why. I would be irritable and happy, happy and irritable. Many years later I realized it was part of the design process. At least part of MY design journey. I start a project with a minimum of knowledge and no idea where I might be headed over the next few months. The volume of knowledge builds along with a good helping of frustration. All the while my subconscious is working out a plan to make all the bits and pieces fit together. I become irritable and difficult. Then out of the blackness a solution presents itself. From that point on each bit of info gathered is fit into the concept. If the concept holds true, each question will be answer by the proposed overall solution.

It’s funny that I did not realize the system I used to solve design problems has become ingrained into the puzzles I have to solve. Debbie mentioned in one of her posts that there is a lot of tension and angst involved in our decisions. I have been trying to solve the system of flights required to get to where we need to be to do what we want to do in Africa.

When I started, there were no parameters to the problem. We are going to Africa, generally in the fall, generally we are headed to East Africa, one spot is Zanzibar,  we think we might want to go on a safari, maybe guided, maybe by ourselves. The hardest problem to solve is one with no parameters. I forge ahead learning what airlines go where, what times they fly and how much they cost. I also find out that the task is very complicated. Since we do not intend to charter an aircraft for the two of us we must fly when the schedule says and of course the times are not ideal for us. The tension starts to build. I get edgy.

We add to the mix. L and R think that Africa would be a good place to see and we have company. They are easy going but now it is four that have to be satisfied. It does however fix a parameter and will in the long run make the puzzle easier to solve. Then our daughter tells us that her graduation ceremony is on Nov. 3 in Langley. Another point is fixed and the puzzle has one more edge piece in place.

Big step, one of the safaris is fixed and that automatically fixes the other. I now have enough to start some serious flight research. True to myself, as the amount of information grows and no solution is clear I get more frustrated. I’m irritable and my temper is short. Debbie avoids me.

There are still too many loose ends for the solution to be clear. I think about how to go about solving the problem and the more I think the less sleep I get, increasing the bad mood thing. We need to fix more of the variables. There are two possibilities. Work from the middle out. Choose the critical African flights and then work the ends around what arises. Or, work both ends against the middle. Choose the long haul flights and fit the intervening flights into what remains. After some discussion we choose to fix the long haul flights.

On our last trip we learned that it was a good idea to break up very long flights with a rest stop at a central point. Africa, as it turns out, is going to very expensive so we decide to tough it out and fly right through, saving a bit of cash in the meantime. Another decision made and the edge of the puzzle is about complete.

From my web surfing I think that British Airways has the most civil flights there and back. We book the trip with them. Very close to the best price and definitely the best routing. The concept is chosen, we are going to work both ends against the middle, and the solution is becoming clearer. With the booking of these flights a good portion of the built up tension is dissipated and I start to sleep better.

A couple of days later Debbie and I sit down at the computer and start booking the flights we need to flit around the African continent. By this time we have a calendar with all the important dates and different flight paths worked out and plotted. We chose the one that seems to suit us best and start. Four different airlines, four websites, mostly return flights but a couple of one ways. Each booking in succession and they all seem to work out. One glitch when a credit card payment would not go through but that was easily solved by switching the method of payment.

Last night I slept. Slept in, in fact. The design problem is complete. I am happy again.

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