Monday, November 27, 2006

2007 holidays are slowing shaping up!

I'm a freak! I have been trying to tell myself that I would travel less often in 2007 and while that will end up probably being true, it is already starting to spiral out of control. For example...

I will still be in California the first five days of the year. In late February we plan to go to Turkey for 16 days. In April I will go to Berlin, Budapest and Vienna with my folks. And then I got an inspiration while watching football last night. I have been interested in Montenegro for quite a few months now and really want to see it. It became independent on June 3, 2006. Before that it was part of Serbia. I want to go for my 33rd birthday next year. I want to see Serbia and Montenegro. It may not be the cheapest trip (I'm sure while there it is cheap but getting there will cost more than other European holidays I've been on) but it should be fantastic. And then in August, instead of a 2-month trip like this year, I thought I would probably scoot away for about 3 weeks in August to Romania and Bulgaria, two new EU countries and then in September one more week with the Timeshare if possible. That already looks like more than 50-60 days of holiday though only the first couple are assured.

Sorry, this stuff consumes a good portion of my thought when I am at work sometimes and I wanted to unburden myself and let ya in on the secret!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Two beers

I went from saying I would have two beers and be home by midnight to peeling myself away sometime after 3am. How does that happen?

Here is an article about we can impeach George Bush ourselves, or at least begin the proceedings, something we have to at least read... http://english.ohmynews.com/articleview/article_view.asp?menu=c10400&no=330834&rel_no=1

Life is still in chaos but always stuff to update on. I couldn't get through the Francisco Goya biography because it seemed to meander more than even I like, and so I started this book about treason in China in the late 1720s, pretty good so far. I want to read David McCullough's biography of John Adams next but it is such a beast that it would be difficult to cart around all the time.

I bought some more plane tickets, from Bratislava, Slovakia to Basel, Switzerland for April 15, 2007. That kind of connection, for less than 50bucks per person one way didn't exist 5 years ago, let alone 20 years ago. I bought 4 tickets, for my folks and Assiyeah and I. We have a nice little 10 day trip lined up for April. So far holiday is shaping up like this

February 2007 - Turkey for 16 days
April 2007 - Berlin/Budapest/Vienna 10 days
May 2007 - ?? I dig the idea of using a timeshare or going for a week to somewhere new, Croatia?

Oh yeah!

There is so much to do but I just don't care. I am so happy to have Saturday to chill out and do nothing. I had not been so excited for a Friday night in so damn long, it was even that I wanted to go out and get crazy but the concept of Friday night was huge. I am going to do some dishes, cook some pork with curry and rice and maybe watch 40-year old Virgin again, with 3 German girls. As I said, Oh Yeah!

I got interviewed by local radio yesterday afternoon and I hope to have a two-three minute piece on the radio in the next week or two. I also bought tickets to see My Morning Jacket in January, don't know if I mentioned that already or not but oh yeah!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thanksgiving

I'm thankful I got to eat Thanksgiving dinner with 3 other Americans here in the middle of Europe, watch a bit of football. I am thankful for having enough work and free time to allow me to live my life exactly as I wish. I am grateful for my mom's health after having some cancer "issues" earlier this year, as well as my pops of course too. I am grateful to still have some friends in California after 3.5 years away from home. I am grateful to be alive. Thank you.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Istanbul, horst!

As I said last week, our flights to Morocco were cancelled and it threw our post-semester plans into the air. This year we were in Paris for 9 days and it was fantastic but the most important thing to us for this holiday was definitely a new place and perhaps even a little exotic. That was why Morocco was a great choice, it was cheaper than Germany, cheap to get there and for sure an exotic place compared to SoCal and SW Germany. Our short list of possible alternatives got short quickly when we remembered exactly what we were looking for, something new, something exotic.

February 16th at 10:20pm, we are going to be on a plane from Basel, Switzerland to Istanbul, Turkey! This is huge news, instead of our first trip to Africa, this will be our first trip to the Middle East and probably one of the "easier" Middle Eastern to travel in first. What is really amazing, we have booked one way tickets. Calm down mom (and friends who pass info on quickly), of course we are coming back to Germany but with these cheap airlines, they are point to point airlines which means that flying back from another city isn't always such a penalty like it usually is for American flights. We will have at least two weeks, maybe even a whopping 16 days if I can find out when the next semester at Furtwangen starts. That is huge. It means we have many possibilities, of which I have no idea and must research, namely:

*Istanbul, with a trip to Gallipoli, the site of a huge WWI battle
*Istanbul to Ankara, the capital with a few days in Capadoccia
*Istanbul to Izmir
*Istanbul to Bodrum
*Istanbul to Antalya

Hell, we could even travel through Bulgaria or NE Greece, it is totally open to us. With 16 days, you can cover a lot of ground but at the same time, spending it all in one country does give you an awesome sense of "getting to know it".

One of the my university classes is getting out of control because of this charity presentation thing. These 100euro I am going to donate could grow into something much larger, at least 200euro now, actually, because students said they would also donate something. That is exciting. I feel I am giving the students a forum to make a difference in the world, to learn about something new and to do it in a foreign language no less. It might not be my exact job responsibility at the University but in a way, it is exactly what I should be doing: giving the students a chance to think. By making it vague, they can fill in the holes. This could really get big but don't wanna blow it out of proportion.

Morris, of "I wanna go to Philly" Morris, astounded me last Friday by saying that he had collected over 600 bucks for his Philly trip so far!!! That's f*cking insane! I told him not to spend it at the poker table or stripclub and he said he'd already put it into his savings account. I think Morris is going to Philly. I hope he can get tix to a game, go on top the city hall, see the main museum there, also visit the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, man oh man!

I guess that is it for now. There is probably more to babble about but I need to get back to life. Oh yeah, I have been telling everyone that there was a small revolution in the US 10 days ago. They give me a blank look and I remind them about the election and the fact that during a war we were able to change the legislative branch, a branch that has been giving Bush way too much carte blanche on his thoughts on the country's direction, and at least the Democrats can, as Bill Maher put it, obstruct Bush. That is not a bad thing being an obstructionist, not in this case. All right, before I start getting into it, I will wish you "adieu" and I will try and update this thing more often. I have a sense of responsibility to get it together but it's tough. That just about sums up life pretty well. It is really hard to get everything lined up how you want, and go to work and create more possibilities for life to flourish and have weekends. Man, I need to start playing the lottery!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Respect

I wish I was talking about Otis Redding when I think of "Respect" but in this case it was some kids in a tram at 7.30am. Actually, it was one kid, about 5-6 years old acting fairly obnoxious, trying to draw on each other with hilighter pens. Now I'm not usually to get annoyed at this stuff but it was early. After one tram stop, I told him that he should calm down just a smidge.
Then his sister or older girl next to him, in a different way, calm down. Oh, I'm calming down, he said. He said something to me in what I thought might have been Arabic and then I said in English, "Whadju say?" He repeated me but only as a parrot would. Yeah, I told him in German, let's keep this in German. This was a 6 year old kid I'm talking about. Anyway, he says something like A' salam malekim which is Arabic for something like "May god be with you, good day type of shit" and I answered him back the same, that being the only Arabic I know. Then, as he was getting off the tram at about 7.35am, young kids and adults pouring out of the trams to go to school, work, buying bread, who knows, he said to me, if you could picture like a young rapper saying to the camera, "The party is going off, dude!" and then was gone into the morning. That was two days ago.

I learned today from a student that I am in a magazine. I had done an interview for Accents Magazine, the English language magazine for Baden-Wuertemberg, which is the name of the German state I live in, like California or something. It is about my work permit problems and is about a half page. I am happy to be getting my story out there, it needs to be told, without a doubt.

Our flights to Morocco in February were cancelled today. It had something to do with an Open Skies treaty between the EU and Morocco to have these cheaper airlines fly there and it wasn't agreed to on time and so now 13 days in late February have just been thrown in the air. What should we do?

1)Turkey, like Anatalya to Izmir
2)Ljubjlana, Slovenia and Zagreb, Croatia
3)a ski holiday in Austria
4)Northern Spain
5)???

you see where this is going? I have good problems.

Here is a letter I wrote to my boss at the university today, explaining my idea about how students in a class of mine will give a presentation about which charity is the most deserving at this time. We will hear 5 presentations and then vote, me getting one vote as well. The charity that gets the most votes, I will send 100euro to that charity. It is starting to spiral, check it out:

----------------------------

hi boss,

I was inspired by my journey in South Americathis summer. It was an eye-opening trip and sort of another view of the earth. I saw a lot of poverty there, more than you can imagine at times and it was disturbing. I went on a mine tour in the mountain in Bolivia that paid for the Spanish Crown's power in the second half of the 16th century. The silver is gone and now people mine for tin or some other inconsequential mineral. Long story short, it got me thinking about wanting to donate money to a charity. I've never done this before and already started enjoying the feeling.

Then two weeks before the semester started, after initial searches about where 100euro of my money my do the most good, I had an epiphany. Reading and Discussion Course (I teach)!They have to give presentations. The last two semesters I have let them present on whatever they wanted. This semester I'm having them do group presentations about which CHARITY should receive 100euro at this time. After all of the presentations, we will then vote as a class, with me getting one vote as well, and whichever charity gets the most votes will get my 100euro!Needless to say, after I'd shown them 100euro was valuable to all of them, I presented the idea. On the first class, I told them that there was the possibility other people in Freiburg, companies and private individuals, might be interested in the idea that a University class is to do a set of presentations and determine to the best of their knowledge, a certain charity is the most deserving at this time. So many people live off the university,they might want to support the university in its endeavours, like in a research situation. Anyway, I brought up the topic again today and then we started discussing who and how we would try to show people what we are doing and that they should take part in it, i.e., donating money of their own. These are some of Germany's best and brightest, in a foreign language class, trying to find out who needs their help the most in this world. We talked about the following things:

**making fliers
**press release or article in the BZ
**writing a few letters or visiting some companies
**a small webpage/blog with updates and info
**Rotary/Lion's Clubs
**and getting a bank account so everything is on theup and up.


Here's where it gets good. They raised the idea of whether it was legal for us to accept money and send it somewhere or what kind of receipt we could give so that companies and such would have a legally binding receipt. Then one of the students said the following extremely German word:

Spendebescheinigung (donation certificate kind of)

I'm not sure if I spelled it right but it's prettyclear what it is.
Anyway, they asked me if the Uni or Englisches Seminar had one of these stamps or letterhead of that they would "back what we're doing"with a stamp. What is great is that they have already given more thought to my course than I have! All right, I think I've used up enough of your peaceful morning time, I guess the odd request in the subject line is if you had some sort of stamp and authority to tell me that what I'm doing is okay andnot going to get people's feathers in a ruffle. I'm normally totally against giving other people more work but do you think you could check for me so that"alles ist en Ordnung, weissh?"

cheersJason

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Morris and Jason

THIS POST HAS BEEN EDITED

Believe it or not, I am not the Jason referred to in the subject line. That's a different Jason. Morris is first, actually. I met him at O'Kellys last night, just back from 6 months in Iraq. He is a super nice guy and you can see the goodness of the world in his eyes. He has learned a little bit of Arabic and I encourage him to learn more. He is stationed in Germany now but will be going back to Iraq in probably "oh eight", Jason said.

It was great getting to meet soldiers, to buy them a beer and let them know that I am happy they are in Germany safely. It's a hard thing, having me here living it up on a small scale and then there are other Americans basically in the eye of the storm trying to help a troubled nation clear its streets of bad guys. It's got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. And who knows, maybe they stay inside the the barracks all day and clean guns but even still, not being able to even enjoy the country that you are stationed in seems a tough assignment.

Originally I had wanted to help them but I see now that I will only be able to help them on a small scale. A lot of info is missing from this post because I edited it but basically I wanted to help one of them go to Philly and one to Chicago for various reasons. I know we all support the troops but in what way? Is paying taxes merely enough? In 98% of all cases, yes it is enough. But I just thought I could help them in other ways. What I did this weekend was buy a couple of beers, give them a keychain from my friend's bar back home, a little shoutout for Boscoes in the wonderful city of Lake Forest and a Guiness bracelet. It's meager but I think it is the thought that counts. At least that is what my mom taught me.

Also, Corrie and her boyfriend Tony were here to visit last week. I was sick the whole time but we had a blast, eating some fine dinners, have at least one night where we were out to late and then poof, they left for Rome. I think they are still in Rome as I write. Another friend of mine from College is in Italy right now. A friend of a friend lives in Italy. Another wants to move there. Don't they know that Italy is for Italians??? hahah

I will be home in 5.5 weeks, from Dec 15 to Jan 5th. For those of you in the SoCal, please make a note of it and let's try and hang, shall we?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Back in Germany

and poof, just like that, I'm back in Germany. It was such a good thing that I went home this past week. It was only 5 nights but it was worth it. I was glad to be there for my pops and it was great to see some of his friends show up for the funteral. We got to play golf. My mom and I went to a movie and did some shopping. I saw some good buddies and had some beers and watched sports with them. I ate Mexican food 5+ times. It was just what I needed.

However, now I'm back with lots of work to do. I just don't have enough free time to accomplish all of my goals. I need to get writing on Selling to the Norwegians, my fifth book, again because it has been 4 months probably and I have at least one or two other books to write, and the photo exhibitions and fashion show and work and on Thursday I am going to Ben Harper in Strasbourg with Corrie and her boyfriend who live in Philly. Corrie will be my first repeat visitor besides my parents. She must get some kind of prize, right?