Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Expat Living’ Category

Happy 4th of July!

Nowhere near as eloquent as my ancestor Mr. Lincoln, I spent the 4th of July on a few occasions while living in England in the mid-1990s hosting a celebration of the event passing around finger foods with the reminder to my guests … all Brits, of course … “We kicked your butts!”

Politics is apparently not my forte, no matter how good a slap-up of barbecued Americana might have tasted, since I can rarely manage even the vaguest vestige of political correctness. I’d say my English guests employed a well-honed sense of humor on those occasions, but that would be stretching it; there’s still nothing funny about a vanished empire to many and the audacity of America to go all independent on them continues to grate.

History being history and all, there’s no turning back either Big Ben or the clock on the Old North Church, and with another 4th of July about to pop it seems a good enough time to give some thought to my old stomping grounds.

It has been nice the past couple of years to once again feel free to proclaim my roots. For the eight years of G.W. I would often pass myself off as Canadian when strangers would hear my accent and approach. I simply had no answer to the deluge of questions that would invariably start off with something like: What the hell is going on over there?

What did I know? I left the US pre-OJ … a dividing line between the reasonable and the totally unexplainable … and had nothing in my repertoire to trot out when asked to give reasons for stolen presidential elections, coordinated lies, embarrassing gaffs and backward stumbling toward the bad old days.

Don’t misunderstand. I have always been proud to be an American, but the longer I’ve lived outside the borders … and the range of Fox News … the more trouble I’ve had figuring out just what that means.

As this 4th rolls around my confusion is compounded, as it is beyond my scope to calculate just how people in the US have grown so stupid. I mean REALLY, folks! Michele Bachmann? Talk about giving the Brits an opening for get-backs!

As this article in The Independent indicates, America is now in the position of having England “get it” when an apparently large portions of those in the US are missing so much.

… three questions pose themselves. Could she seize the White House? Can she even win the GOP nomination? And just how thick or crazy, or both, is Michele Bachmann? In tribute to the late Eric Morley, we will take them in reverse order. While accurately gauging her idiocy-derangement ratio is hard in the absence of a psychiatric report, Bachmann’s mouth is a reliable launch pad for astounding foolishness. To cheer us all up – if you can’t have a giggle at the thought of the codes falling into such hands, when can you? – here are some highlights.

Wittily replicating the Vidalian impertinence that reshaped her political allegiance, she mocked the Founding Fathers in January by lauding them for “working tirelessly until slavery was no more in the US”. Those would be the FFs who in 1776, a mere 89 years before abolition, agreed that an African-American legally constituted three fifths of a human being, and enshrined slavery in the Constitution?

According to Bachmann, meanwhile, the greatest threat the US faces is nothing so footling as the deficit or long-term mass unemployment (let alone the global warming she inevitably regards as “a hoax”), but gay marriage.

Passing over her defence of carbon dioxide, which she says cannot harm humans because it (like arsenic and uranium) occurs naturally, let’s end the resumé with this peach. “It was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out under another Democratic president,” she said in reference to her erstwhile idol Mr Carter. “I’m not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.”

In the above lies her appeal to the frothing far right … bewildering lack of knowledge; blind terror of otherness; and – the latter’s kissing cousin – paranoid hatred of Barack Obama. Add to that her Palinic gift for viscerally resonating with her base and its prejudices, the facility to raise fortunes, undeniable can-do charm and good humour, and a talent for spouting drivel with sublime confidence then blaming the lamestream media for accurately reporting it … and this is one formidable candidate.

No, I don’t live in England anymore, but I am surrounded by Brits here and like many American expats the world over I find myself progressively more and more stumped by what truly are well-thought, and concerned, questions.

I can harken back to the words of Founding Fathers, pointing out that they were actually a pretty bright bunch with little in common with the present field of GOP hopefuls:

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

~ Thomas Paine

A far cry from:

”There are hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel Prizes, who believe in intelligent design.”

“I just take the Bible for what it is, I guess, and recognize that I am not a scientist, not trained to be a scientist. I’m not a deep thinker on all of this. I wish I was. I wish I was more knowledgeable, but I’m not a scientist.”

~ Michele Bachmann

So although peeps are mostly okay with swallowing the formation of our great nation, much of what’s on offer now makes an unpleasant chewing experience and creates some fear of regurgitation.

Frankly, I don’t much like the taste of it myself, nor do I have any answers for those struggling to comprehend how an idiot like this Bachmann woman … or that fuckwad from Texas, whatever his name is … hasn’t been laughed off every platform she makes a dive for … from … whatever …

The Brits seem to be enjoying the show, though:

All we know for sure is that her name’s Michele Bachmann, that she’s running for president, and that watching her do so will be as much fun as anyone has a right to expect within the law.

No matter … we did kick their butts …

We must be free not because we claim freedom, but because we practice it. ~William Faulkner

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Wiki Image

A bit of backseat kid talk overheard by Gay as she drove them home from school the other day:

Cj: Do you know about phones with circles? There are places for your finger, and you spin the circle around.

Sam: Yeah. Those are from the olden days.

Cj: How did they work?

Sam: I have no idea …

Seems time has been passing.

While I’ve been spending recent years surrounded by kids and kidults, water has been flowing rapidly under my bridge and the damned dam designed to deny the dribbling drip of days into decades has apparently sprung a leak and allowed splashes of senescence to wear the bloody thing away.

In other words, it’s now dawning on me that I’m old. Good timing, I suppose, since I have a birthday looming, but I could do without all the reminders.

Rotary phones, TVs that required a trip across the room to turn on and off, handwritten letters, Thomas Guides in spiral-bound form are all items that may now require explanation and illicit comments about the “olden days” when dinosaurs roamed the earth and the only way to see a photo without a trip to a lab and a wait of a week was with a Polaroid.

Living where I do I am limited to how much of the modern world I’ve actually seen and still find myself wondering “What the heck does that doohicky do?” when confronted by many items others take for granted already.

Yes, the speaking GPS in cars puts me in mind of HAL … we don’t have those here, as that would just be silly on an island 17 miles long and 4 miles wide … and I’ve not yet come around to loading some of the apps available for my iPad that might make life easier, but can’t be bothered to learn how to use.

I can be comforted by how much hasn’t seen some of the predicted changes we’d been led to believe would leave us in the dust. Since flying cars, robot maids, beds that pop you up like toast and other Jetsons / Carousel of Progress stuff haven’t been incorporated into daily life, we aging Boomers do manage to get along.

Although Sam and Cj may find it had to believe, airplanes, vacuum cleaners and televisions are all pretty much what they were when I was a kid. Blenders still blend the way they did, dentists continue to pull teeth out with forceps, babies come out of mommy’s tummies, cars move along on tires, and it still takes almost two days to get from LAX to Seychelles.

Heck! If I somehow instantly transported from my teen years to present day even much of my wardrobe would look like the latest thing …

Can we tell I still have more than a month before my calendar clicks over to a new decade? Yes … we can.

Read Full Post »

Yes, Mondays are weird.

My dream this morning started out with a giraffe in the kitchen. Granted, it was a baby giraffe I recognized immediately as a young version of Tisha, a long-necked friend from years back … but I still nudged her out the door. Finding her buddy Brutus … and he was a treasured kindred spirit for a long time … waiting outside was a real treat.

Examining the contents of my fridge, I found … What else? … carrots and cucumbers and jack fruit and acacia branches, so loaded up some buckets and headed out to share the treats.

I wasn’t alone, however, as my daughter Jennifer was with me, also much younger than she is now, and a monkey who’d brought his own bucket. Together, the three of us had a great time feeding Brutus and Tish, scratching that itchy place between their horns and being licked and nibbled in appreciation.

(Readers I worked with at the Sacto Zoo might appreciate that the monkey looked a lot like Pinot. I said it was weird … )

Mondays lately have also been annoying. Kokonet, the local ISP that takes both the “S” and the “P” out of the “I”, has been total crap all weekend and even worse this morning. Since not only my work, but also my desire are accessible only online at the moment, I’m threatening to loose a squad of testicle-munching, starved and angry versions of Pinot on those “in charge”.

Given the circumstances, I’m in no mood to post anything particularly profound today … if, in fact, I’m able to post anything … so you poor readers get weird dreams and aggravated bitching.

Sorry, ’bout that …

Read Full Post »

Hat NOT optional

A couple of caveats lead into this post, the first being that, yes, I have lived outside the good old US of A for going on twenty years now. The second, perhaps even more obvious to frequent readers, is the fact that my take on most Republicans is that they’re morons, evil or self-centered assholes, or, often, all three. The point in putting provisos in paragraph one? Fair warning.

I’ve managed to ignore most of the issue that’s now referred to by the unlikely title of “birtherism”, but in my time off from writing about annoyances this one has grown beyond the boundaries of ignorance … ignorability … whatever … into that dimension we used to call “The Twilight Zone”, but now has gone really scary.

An article in Slate that reports 45% of Republicans saying President Obama was not born in the US had me giggling … at first … with the thought that about that wide a margin in the GOP hasn’t quite got the scoop on Hawaii actually being a state. Although that’s probably true, it gets worse:

Among Republicans, 45 percent believe he was born abroad, while only 33 percent say he was born in the United States. More than a dozen state legislatures have discussed or are discussing “birther bills” that usually seek to force presidential candidates to prove their birthplace, although at least five states have been reluctant to actually turn the bills into law. Oklahoma could soon become the first with a vote expected next week.

What a fucking waste of time and money! And that’s not even bringing up the idiot factor.

As mentioned, I’ve not followed the the buildup to this pile of smelly residue, so followed this link to, TA DAAAA!, “Where it all began”, and am forced to admit it makes even less sense now.

That theory first emerged in the spring of 2008, as Clinton supporters circulated an anonymous email questioning Obama’s citizenship.

“Barack Obama’s mother was living in Kenya with his Arab-African father late in her pregnancy. She was not allowed to travel by plane then, so Barack Obama was born there and his mother then took him to Hawaii to register his birth,” asserted one chain email that surfaced on the urban legend site Snopes.com in April 2008.

Another early version of the theory, reported by the Chicago Tribune in June 2008, depended on a specious legal theory that was, for a time, the heart of the argument: that Obama was born in Hawaii but had a Kenyan father, and his mother was only 18 years old. Therefore, under existing immigration law, he was not eligible for automatic citizenship upon birth — a claim that depended on an understandable, but incorrect, reading of immigration law. Other theories suggested that Obama lost his U.S. citizenship when he moved to Indonesia or visited Pakistan in violation of a supposed State Department ban as a young man. (There was no such ban.)

A birth certificate was produced — produced as in “handed over by the State of Hawaii”, not “run off with the help of Photo Shop” — but apparently proved about as much to “birthers” as any old piece of paper might, not surprising when many dedicated to the concept of Obama being foreign-born most likely have fake diplomas from Whatsamatta U hanging on their walls.

FactCheck.org, the non-partisan website, was allowed to examine the physical copy of the birth certificate in August 2008, and concluded it was real, that it had a raised seal, a signature and met all the State Department criteria for proof of citizenship. Combined with the state’s recognition that the record was real—and contemporary newspaper announcements of Obama’s birth, submitted by the hospitals —they concluded that he was a natural born citizen.

Hawaii has repeatedly confirmed the document’s authenticity.

“I, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, director of the Hawai’i State Department of Health, have seen the original vital records maintained on file by the Hawai’i State Department of Health verifying Barrack (sic) Hussein Obama was born in Hawai’i and is a natural-born American citizen,” one exasperated state official said in 2008 and again in 2009 in a statement.

“Of course, it’s distantly possible that Obama’s grandparents may have planted the announcement just in case their grandson needed to prove his U.S. citizenship in order to run for president someday,” FactCheck concluded. But, “those who choose to go down that path should first equip themselves with a high-quality tinfoil hat.”

As 2012 looms … as an election year or the end of the world, you make the call … those tinfoil hats should be mandatory.

Of course, not all Republicans have fallen under the lobotomy blade …

Some Republicans take the position out of a basic respect for facts, but they also worry about its consequences for their party.

“It makes us look weird. It makes us look crazy. It makes us look demented. It makes us look sick, troubled, and not suitable for civilized company,” one of the first conservatives to turn against the birthers, talk show host Michael Medved, said in 2009. “I’m not a conspiracist, but this could be a very big conspiracy to make conservatives disgrace themselves.”

Hm.

What if …

Donald Trump has been hired by the Dems to stoke the fire under the bonkers birthers … cuz just maybe he’s needing a few extra bucks for those hair plugs he’s needing … so finds it worth it to make a complete ass of himself on the alter of complete assdome in hopes of either fooling all of the people all of the time or just enough idiots for long enough to be president or make the GOP a laughing stock.

There’s a theory …

Read Full Post »

Treading water while burdened by worry prompts a shutdown. A bit of verse and some photos on offer, though:

Hue Cares?

Not ice, nor powder
no robin’s egg,
no nothing royal
neither slate nor steel,
electric or baby
Cyan’t and indon’tgo …
just BLUE

Thankfully, there are kids!

Cj in her birthday crown

Birthday Strawberries

Beautiful Girls! Cj and Amber ...

Sam waters Alex

Photos by JP and Christine Larose. Thanks!

Read Full Post »

What a lovely dawn! And bloody good thing, as I’m on Day 2 of no Internet connection. Once again, beauty and BlackBerry save the day, but frustration levels are high.

Yes, I am aware my ISP is called Kokonet and that does convey an image of a company run by Gilligan, so I guess I must now assume he and the rest killed off the Professor.

One truly crazy-making aspect of life on this rock is the un-charming tendency for peeps to answer questions with what they think one wants to hear.

Yesterday, for example, I was told every hour that my connection would be restored, “in about an hour”. Not that that was ever a real possibility, but it must have been assumed the answer would please me.

It didn’t.

Professionalism often here means nothing more than one is paid for what he does, no matter how poorly they do … or don’t do … it, and when their pay is partially supplied by bills I pay for a lack of service … well, pleased I am not.

Do I phone with the request: Lie to me more, please.

Uh … nope.

If I had less work pending, I’d say fuck it and head for a beach, but I do have stacks of things needing doing, and doing online, so I’m heading to town where I will threaten testical removal in hopes that inspires some action, then finding friends with another ISP that may or may not be working in hopes of getting something accomplished.

Sheesh. If only I was Mrs. Thurston Howell the Third! I’d just pour martinis and not bother with work …

Read Full Post »

Shit asteroids ...It’s Chinese New Year and today kicks off the Year of the Rabbit.

Because I am a rabbit … a metal rabbit to be exact … today is supposed to begin a year of good luck for me and all the rest of us rabbits, and I am more than ready to be a happy bunny. More than ready, so shall we all give a hallelujah in hopes for a turn of the dial toward easier?

I’d really like to do some bitching today, but can’t. Nope. Can’t. Sure, I have no water, but I do now have an electrical supply again, so that’s something. And the water saga has kept David busy, if not actually repairing the problems … well … at least the ever-more-convoluted set of circumstances screwing up the plumbing and that fact that pretty much everything he touches ends up breaking off in his usually-so-capable hands have his brain running in very active circles, and that must be better than being bored. Heh? Maybe?

No, really … check it out …

A couple of days ago a branch fell off a tree and disconnected pipes from my water tank. Okay? Dave fixed those pipes, but suddenly there was no water coming into the upstairs of the house, or into the solar water heater on the roof. Interestingly, hot water WAS coming out of the cold water taps in the downstairs shower. Hm.

Yesterday he managed to completely bypass the only possible area that might have proven to be the problem, yet … guess what … nothing changed. Well, almost nothing. He did decide to repair the leaking toilet downstairs since there’s no pressure today because someone ran over my neighbor’s meter at the top of the road and that cut off all water to everyone and in doing so broke the bloody toilet thingy. Since the toilet tank is oddly shaped, the only sort of replacement part available in Seychelles doesn’t fit, so he needed to modify that … so it’s fixed … but it leaks.

Ah … before I go any further, I should do a bit of describing of yesterday and our efforts to secure the bits needed to get to the point we’ve reached today …

After calling in support in the shape of an Irish builder named Patrick, it was established that what was needed was a length of 1″ pipe with appropriate fittings. Okay. Off we went to town in search of same.

First stop, Bestway Plumbing Supplies where we were told 1″ pipe was not available, but they did have some of the fittings that would sort of work when we found 1″ pipe at any of the three other places we could look.

There was no 1″ pipe. Loads of 3/4″, but 1″ napa (Kreole for “we ain’t got none.)

We decided to get 25 meters of 3/4″ pipe, but now needed new fittings, so more looking around was required to find those. And we did, eventually, find most, and David spent the rest of the day on the roof hooking all the stuff up to the solar tank, etc..

(By the by … Patrick was completely wrong about the 1” thing.)

As mentioned, this accomplished fuck all. Theory had it that it might be a pressure issue, so he connected the house directly from the mains, rather than the tank, but then someone ran over the meter and disconnected all the water except for that in the tank.

The next phase of whateverthefuck is going on involved no water coming into the house AT ALL. No idea why …

BUT … since there is no water, seemed to David a good time to fix the leaking toilet.
Which broke.
And there are no replacement parts to be had.
So, he fiddled it and got it to fit and to work.
Then, we got a bit of water.
And it leaks.
And now there’s no water again.

But some guys did show up and sort out the mess with the electrical situation so we can turn on the light in the bathroom for mopping up the mess in there.

Okay … now I need to explain a bit about David …

He’s a big, brave man who spends a lot of time jumping from cliffs and flying around on updrafts and also enjoys diving, motorcycles and all sorts of guy things involving guts and brains and adrenalin.

We’re calling his time here a holiday …

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »