Thursday, March 29, 2007

yo yo yo

yo, I'm exhausted yo. This is the end of day five of working seven days in a row. Don't feel bad for me but they include today and tomorrow which is taking 90 minutes worth of train/walk to and from work and two 3-hour classes, that was intense.

Gotta get up at 8am tomorrow, be on a train by 9.15am. I'm going to grade the rest of the term papers from one school and try and find out about my new health insurance going through or not and working on my taxes, the expenses. That's always tough because it's getting down to the nitty gritty. haha

A big German tv show is coming to Freiburg for Saturday night. Each time the show is on, in a different city each time), there is a city bet. And the host tries to make some bet to see if a city can get a bunch of people in one place and do some stupid thing and well, it's better than I just described it I guess. Anyway, we were part of the city bet last time, going over the to soccer stadium with like 10,000 other people, pretty cool, or rather cold.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

1779

Page 584 of HW Brands "The First American: the Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin" on treatment of prisoners during the Revolutionary War:

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The Parliamentary opposition to the North ministry seized on the suspension of habeas corpus, as it related to American prisoners, and attacked the government for hypocritically undermining essential English institutions in the name of defending them. English prisons were a scandal in the best of times, and though conditions there pri cked few consciences regarding regular felons, the harsh treatment accorded the Americans elicited letters to eidtors and other forms of low-grade protest.
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That was in 1779.
We've come so far.

Monday, March 26, 2007

day 2 of 7

I am at the beginning of working 7 days in a row, something that has happened maybe once or twice in 4 years. Of course there are private lessons at the beginning and end of this stretch but still, gotta work 7 days in a row, ouch!

I also thought I had about 600euros coming my way from one of the schools where I work but actually they had given it me already before Xmas, woops!

I need to send more information into the tax office, to better explain my income and write-offs, yeah!

I'm waiting to hear from the German Social Security to hear what kind of back payment they are going to ask from me, oy vey!

It's Monday.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Different Americans

Last night I went to O'Kellys have a beer by myself. Friday night, 8.45pm, reading my Ben Franklin biography and then a student of mine from the university comes around the bar, drunk and popping off. I'm gently verbally accosted him and his buddy right back at 'em. They weren't ready for my witty riposte and so they told me to join their table. "Their table" ended up being two tables, one with them two and two chicks and the other table with 3 guys and the "Professor". He was at Harvard or something. The students were all from CC - Colorado College - and they were studying in a place not far from Hamburg. I talked to them about the politicization of the justice system and how how we should appreciate the difference in how drunk we were. I had another beer. One of the girls went to pee and didn't come back for awhile so the other girl went to look on her. The dude who liked that second chick went to check on her 10 minutes later. The group left about 15 minutes after that and then I went and had something to eat and then went by a friend's house on the way home. I slept okay. It's gray and cold today, the grocery store accidentally charged me for 23 limes when I only bought 3. On a good day, I might have just taken 20 more limes but this time I took the cash.

I think I am so lucky to live in this era. I wanted to ask the professor from Harvard if he had seen Britney Spears' vagina ( http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_VxK48DWO300/RXli44X18aI/AAAAAAAAAA8/15PQMtxjPuo/s320/20061128-britneyvadge13.jpg if you are out of touch) but the girl sitting at the table with him said it probably wasn't a good idea. But here's my point, it is a conversation topic, no matter how short. We live in an age of pop culture, fullblown internet exposure in all timezones simultaneously and if we can discuss the untoward behaviour of government officials, we can discuss the decine in Ms. Spears' standing on this revolving stage, but as she fades away until sometime 2+ years from now, it culminated in seeing her vagina. It was the modern day version of someone "doing playboy". She got playboyed. And it's up for anyone's consumption at any time. This is the thing that has taken media to another level that actually has made it something you can dip into, instead of being inundated by "Their" carefully controlled exposure. I'm able to take what I want of it instead of having to take what they give me. I can decide. I'm the decider. I think I finally understand why Time magazine said that "YOU" were Time's Man of the Year. George Bush, the leader of the "free" world, said he was the decider. Now I am.

Friday, March 23, 2007

the US Attorney scandal currently

By not issuing the subpoenas now, the Democratic Chairs are keeping their options open and can define the scope of the subpoenas once they’ve built a stronger record. That leaves the WH and Snow just twisting in the wind as the Committees fill in the 18-day gap.


I took the above quote from www.firedoglake.com , which I have started reading the past couple of weeks. There is amazing analysis of what is going on in this case and others and it's interesting to see how blogs are becoming just as important as newspapers and I think that one day they will serve slightly different functions...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Maxwell

I'm home and chilling by 4.52pm, oh yeah...it wasn't an overly stringent day of work but still, with the weather and overall "dampness" of the experience, it is great weather to be home and chill while it's gray and unforgiving outside.

I'm listening to Maxwell's "Now", a great album but I was surprised to find that I didn't have "Embryo", the album before that. That's an album...

I had a bill from St. Paddy's day that I didn't pay. It said 16 shots of "irish kiss". I paid for 8 of them and said the other 8 were not ordered by me, knowing that we both had a damn good idea who ordered them: the soldiers from Sat night! Thank god they were only 1.50/shot. The irony of money and such is that I had just finished a one-hour private lesson for 20euro and then immediately gave 12 of that away and just before the class started, I had a 20-minute conversation on my phone for about 8euro. 20euro, easy come, easy go.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Now I'm involved

I'm almost 33 years old and today was the first time I ever called a Congressman about something. It was about the Iraq Accountability Act which I honestly must admit I don't know too much about. However, I read a short blurb of what it was and Moveon.org sent me an email for my district Congressman and his phone number and I called and talked to someone working there and gave my info.

I don't necessarily think we have to publish the date the majority of our troops redeploy, but rather that large groups get out of there quickly and keeping some in Kuwait for a little, like 3 months, redeploying and providing relief for the groups who are left (something like 20,000 including logistics people) to keep the embassy safe and the rest are training soldiers and helping in some key logistical things, giving advice on water source redevelopment without having american contractors or foreign workers doing the work. We gotta give the Iraqis something else to do and so we have them rebuild their own cities and we'll pay for it, mostly financially I hope.

Assiyeah has Madonna on. I taught two Business English classes tonight and it was work, but I think I did a pretty good job. Next week is going to be a long ass week and I will work 8 days in a row next week, boo ya!

We're gonna watch Lost season 2 episode 1 now...

Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday monday


Life is good, I don't have to work today, and it was snowing when I woke up at 9am. My buddy Erik is going to study in Shanghai, China in September and should be there for at least a year. I got it in my head that damn, I would really like to visit him while he's there. I've never been totally interested in Asia, at least not in the I'm going to buy plane tickets now type sense but what a great reason to go there. My best (only) chance is late Feb 2008, roughly the same time frame that we just spent in Turkey, maybe 17 days or so, give or take a couple. I could even get the VHS in Emmendingen to start my schedule a week later that could get me those couple of days. Like going to Europe for the first time, any extra day would be worth much more than having it at home, ya know? Maybe like Feb 14 to March 8...that would be sweet. I'm also thinking that I'm going to look for a 4-5 day layover in a place like Bangkok or Dubai or Kuala Lumpur. I'm outta control, already trying to scheme for a 20-day trip to China for 11 months away but hey, I'm 32 years old now, I gotta think a bit ahead and plan.


My left foot feels warm, the sun has actually come out. I'm listening to Howard Stern from May 2004, post Janet Jackson with the Kerry/Bush election starting up and Robin just said: And the media is the biggest pussy of them all.


The fashion show is coming together slowly, that is the current version of the flyer we're working on. The shirts will mostly be black with that floating butterfly pattern in diferent bright and earth colors. Pretty cool, eh?
I gotta work down in Loerrach Tuesday and Friday and have pretty full days Wednesday and Thursday and have another private lesson with that German businessman on Sunday. Germany is playing Czech Republic on Saturday night, and my folks will be here in 2.5 weeks, and then I got 10 days off. Head down and push through!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

4 years

Tomorrow will be officially 4 years that I am a resident of Freiburg, Germany. It is also the anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I have lived here since the moment that happened. I've moved numerous thousands of miles closer to "the shit" but my life has increased exponentially here, probably something about getting close to the heat, ahha.

I had a private student here yesterday for 3 hours. We talked about his recent trip to Uruguay, where he lived 15 years ago, and about a private bank in Hamburg that he is on the board of directors and will be meeting with another 4-5 guys in Hamburg next week, flying to/from Stuttgart for the day. They are from US, England, France and Denmark. He needs his English, he says but he is already relatively proficient. 3 hours were over and he gave me 100euro. I'm going to see him the next two weekends and that will be my money for the Berlin trip next month. I might be able to meet him 3 times between Apr 21 and May 24 and that would pay for most of my Montenegro trip...sweet!

American Pie in German just started on TV.

St. Paddy's Day with soldiers

Hung out with 5 soldiers who came back in November from Iraq. Some interesting points:

1)an Iraqi soldier patrolling an overpass and shooting at a car speeding.
2)Iraqi soldiers shooting at an ambulance driving by with sirens on, killing the passenger
3)Iraqi soldiers shooting their guns every now and then just to test them
4)The Joes said that they would almost rather be in Iraq than in Germany because there is nothing to do here except be nitpicked by superiors
5)One of the guys is "promotable". That was a new word for me.
6)They worked 7 days/week without alcohol while deployed and sometimes their assignment was a two-day patrol where they literally slept in the Bradley fighting vehicle and were not allowed to leave the car for any reason, including for bathroom purposes
7)They sometimes have found Iraqi Army-issued weapons in private homes because the soldiers often sold them one they were given them.
8)They don't know why they were in Iraq.

Well, there's a lot more to it than that but that was a few of the things that I learned while having some beers with them. Some might have to go back, some definitely will and at least one for sure won't have to go back.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame testifying

www.cspan.org

Valerie Wilson, the covert CIA agent who was outed in retribution for her husband's op-ed in the NY Times in July 2003. Cheney's assistant just was convicted for lying about this case. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

It's what some did do...

We have all of these fired US Attorneys. That in and of itself wouldn't have been so bad, but to have been done with politics in mind, with help from Rove who should have had nothing to do with this, with some one of the attorneys (Lam) having just gotten the #3 guy at the CIA and a contractor and a Republican congressman indicted/convicted, how in the hell could you fire her and not say it's political? What else would she have found?

And it's not that the attorneys didn't toe the party line and they got fired. It's about the other 85 US Attorneys and what they DID do to NOT get fired. A report out yesterday says that the ratio of Democrat to Republican scandals investigated by US Attorneys in the past 6 years is 7:1. That is 7 Democrats investigated for every Republican. And even if it were somehow conceivable that Democrats could have become so nefarious during the Republican-dominated Congress and White House, it couldn't possibly be 7:1 and still be considered impartial. And so that makes me think.

What did other US Attorneys, political appointees who should have nothing to do with the inner machinations of DC politics, agree to do on or off the record when an inappropriate phone call or email or conversation was had that asked the attorney to investigate specific things, something they should never be asked to do?

This story is getting bigger and bigger thanks to blogs and I know that blogs like talkingpointsmemo.com will become a more important part of my American Newspapers class at the university.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What I just wrote to moveon.org

hey,
I am from Lake Forest but I live in Germany now. Thanks for sending the emails, I would love to say a couple of things:

1)This 2-year cycle is about slowly cleaning up, exposing and convicting on corruption.

2)We of course can't neglect things that are important, especially if a large pendulum swing of power continues through the next election are things that only Democrat-controlled White House and Congress could pass, like universal health-care, convicting white-collar crime like war profiteering, raising the minimum wage, raising taxes but using them in more visible ways, finding ersatz lives for homeless folks, allowing unions but all the while cracking down on corruption like no man's business, even if it eats our own. Our best chance to gain crucial ground is to speak louder than the others, focusing on the illegality of the war, taking a stance that yes, they completely disagree with the Republicans and the president and that hard choices have to be made but only because our country and our Constitution are hurting, our debt is mounting carelessly, the money that is spent on Iraq can be spent thusly:


*giving the best possible care to our wounded soldiers, including funding to help them re-integrate into society, having social programs is not the worst thing on earth

*rebuild New Orleans so amazingly that 18 months after the 2008 election, the Big Easy is going to host a Mardi Gras to end all Mardi Gras, partly by spending enough to fix the Levees and restore architecture Marshall Plan style

*investing in technology education, get more young people involved on computers, thinking of producing a good Anti-Hacking team and they will become more important daily, as the knowledge of computers begins to separate peoples.


Anyway, those are just some ideas. Advertise on the blogs, you know which ones I mean, those things are picking up steam and you could also mention them in your group emails, like: "These are some respected websites that some of our peoeple read daily" type of thing.
cheersJason

Supporting the troops

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/3/10/233214/323

That link shows you short bios of the soldiers who have been killed recently. It is so intense, probably the starkest reminder of war. How many of our best and brightest perishing in a war of greed? Please spend 15 minutes and check it out...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gettin shit done...

Up just before 9am, checked emails and to see whatever scandals could have been rustled up in the 9 hours since I'd gone to bed, then had some breakfast and scooted off into the city to take of some of that aforementioned shit I had to be gettin done, ya know?

I rode my bike to one company to sign some sheet, went to one bank to withdraw money and went across the street to open a new bank account. I then rode my bike about 7 minutes to the German Social Security office and dropped off those dastardly papers they wanted then over to another of my jobs to print out the tax forms and also a homework assignment I made for my Business English class. I met Assiyeah for lunch with some of her friends and then went to two different mobile phone stores to discuss getting a new phone because my 2-year contract is expiring soon. Of course it was confusing and I didn't have all the information I needed so I'll have to go back again, that's fun. I came home and filled in my taxes, crossed my fingers and sealed up the envelope. Please, Mr. Tax Man, be nice to me. I've had a lot of stress with government offices the past year so go easy on me, plleeeeeassseee! :)

Now I'm chilling, gonna do a little work out, organize some more papers and clean off my desk and then enjoy the evening...

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Where we are in life

I'm in my living room, listening to 3-year old Howard Stern shows, relaxing, wanting to feel productive but at the same time so happy that it's weekend. I will go through the Turkey photos again, write in my journal about the bracelet:

On September 1, 2001, almost 1900 days ago, I bought a bracelet in Seattle after a Black Crowes show, promptly dropped it on the ground while walking away but was told I'd dropped it, went back and got it, slept on the 36th floor of a hotel that night, ordering room service. That bracelet just came off last night. It's been through so much. That was 10 days before September 11th. I was one of the few (and now it looks like selfish) people who had front row tickets to see my favorite band that night. I lost my job approximately 12 days after that.

I drove cross-country to Pennsylvania 3.5 months later. I went to Greece 3.5 months later. I drove back to California a month after that.

7 months after that I moved to Germany. A month after that I spent a month in the Czech Republic. I got my work permit a month after that.

Fast forward almost four years.

That's where we are in life.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What happened to diplomacy?

Last year, 11 Sunni insurgent groups working through mediators offered to immediately stop attacks on American-led forces in Iraq if the Shiite-led government and Washington set a two-year timetable for withdrawing all coalition forces from the country, according to insurgent and government officials.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070308/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq

This is just one of numerous things that bother me. I am so disappointed in the government, by which I mean about 5 people, that "money trumps peace" That was from Bush's last press conference.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

In reverse order

so, below are about 20 pictures from our trip to Turkey. They are in reverse order, the end of the trip down to the beginning...I hope you enjoy.

A village near Bursa


The view from Asli's apartment in Bursa


Asli's painting (Asli was a host of ours in Bursa)

reproduced without permission, sorry Asli, I just loved it!

James, me, Erkan, Assiyeah, Sexy Tiger and Conqueror

that's 2am

This is how Turkish dudes get down at a wedding


Rugs in our friend's shop


All that remains of the largest temple in the world


Tissue Wishes from the Virgin Mary House


Kitty Cat in Ephesus Theater


Pamukkale, Turkey

those are calcium deposits, that's why they're white.

Me on Hadrian's Wall


A view of the Antalya harbor, SW Turkey


Our view from a 20-dollar room in Antalya


My view from the boat trip

yes, that's a beer.

Assiyeah taking a picture from a boat in Antalya


Us in an underground city from the 1st century in Derinkuyu


The view from our place in Capadocia


Can you see me up in the cave?


Capadocia, land of the cave people!


Sunset on the Golden Horn with Assiyeah


Sunset over the Golden Horn, Istanbul


Fish lunch with salad and covered beer


lunch in Istanbul

Look at all those dudes fishing off the bridge!

Home cooked meal in Istanbul

lentil soup, rice, tomato salad and boiled grape leaves

Our first mosque - the Blue Mosque


The Harem in Istanbul


my new work space


moolah

Well, the purge has begun. I don't want to go into details (yes I do!) but I have begun sending the majority of my money to the states. This way, once negotiations on a possible backpayment of German social security begins, I'll have MUCH less money here for them to potentially take. My plan is to actually have no money, or rather 1-2000 euros in my account when they send me some letter that they are taking money from me. Is now the time to buy a large, plasma screen TV? haha They will want about 7000euros from me and I am not in the mood to give them money for what is actually a horrible investment. I will be in a position of more strength, or less weakness. I could see myself having to possibly pay starting now for my future but I want to negotiate that even, because 20% of my income is, as you can imagine, quite a chunk and somehow ends up being about how much of my income I normally spend on travelling! Oh, the irony.

Scooter Libby was found guilty yesterday obstructing justice and perjury. I am experiencing schadenfreude today but this is a huge chink in the armor of the invincibility of the Bush Administration. The Vice President's lackey can go to prison, that means anyone can. I wonder in the next 6 months if more whistleblowers will become whistleblowers instead of people who could potentially go to jail for their actions.

We can thank the Democrats for this idea. I'm still disappointed that they cannot find a strong enough condemnation of the President's plan in Iraq to vote on, or that no Senators have filed papers to impeach George Bush. There is ample evidence to suggest that the impeachment papers should at least be filled out. Perhaps he is found innocent but I think it's only right. If you're going to spend 10 times more investigating Monica Lewinsky than you do 9/11, Republicans have to learn that war profiteering, defrauding the US into war, lobbyist and corporate interference into government can all be punished.

I told a US History class today that the best our justice system can do to deter old fat white guys from corporate illegality is that they will be butt-raped if they go to jail. That's the best we can do. Our criminal justice system is in shambles, with more marijuana users in there than murderers (probably), our healthcare is a sham, with the inability of the government to negotiate better prices for medicine and with many young and able people of the US uninsured, all in the name of money. I'm not against making money, in fact it's an admirable undertaking with hard work and know-how but when it comes at the expense of human lives, now we've got to pull out the possible butt-raped future scenario to possibly dissuade them.

Tomorrow is ironic. I have to try and get another 90 day extension on my work permit but they might want me to prove that the German Social Security is working on my case. That's impossible, mostly because I have yet to send in the form but the German Foreign Authorities never gave me proof that they were working on my case. It just got swallowed into the bowels of bureaucracy and a few months later spewed out. Do you understand that I have had a "tolerated" status in the country for 51 weeks? It will be a year next Wednesdsay. In that time I have had 5 photo exhibitions, travelled to more than 10 countries and basically done my best to kick ass at life. Unbelievable...

Monday, March 05, 2007

33rd birthday present (only 3.5 months away!)

I did it. I just paid 75euro for insurance that I was going to fulfill one of this year's major goals and visit Montenegro, what I think is the youngest country in the world, having become independent in June of last year. The 75euro covers the flight from Munich to Dubrovnik, Croatia and what is normally a 40euro train from Freiburg for only 20euro. Again, for less than 100dollars, a train for 4 hours and flight to Croatia. I do not have a return flight yet but because of my bahncard 50 flying back to Cologne, Stuttgart, Munich or Frankfurt are all possible. How cool is that? It'll probably be 8 days and visit Dubrovnik, Montenegro and Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzogina!

quick story

Quick story for you guys...i get back from istanbul at 6am, can't sleep because there's stuff to do like paying rent and open mail and at 10.30am am starting to feel comfortable in my morning development. Ring. or rather vibrate. Hi Jason, we haven't seen each other for a couple of weeks and wanted to remind you you're working at 12 here, right? What? I gather composure, shower and am out the door 20 minutes later, have 30 minutes of prep with the boss and pulled off 90 minutes of listening to MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech and then reading the obituary of E. Howard Hunt of ex-CIA, Watergate notoriety in hopes of trying to show the 60/70s from a different perspective. Man that was tough...

And Assiyeah just now learned that Anne Nicole Smith died. That's one reason I like living in Europe.

Back!

I'm back in good ole' organized Germany and I gotta tell you it feels good. Of course there is the stress of coming back from vacation, answering mail and watering plants and doing laundry and paying rent and figuring out what needs to be done that wasn't done the past 2+ weeks but that's a good problem, right?

Overall Turkey was a good time but mostly because of the people through Hospitalityclub. I swear I don't know how I used to travel before that existed. It's like life before the internet. We met some amazing hosts in Turkey, about 10 people in all and they were kind, helpful, generous, funny, open and let us into their homes without knowing us at all. Hospitalityclub is definitely the way to go. If you aren't familiar with it, you oughtta sign up..

I'll add some pictures this week, maybe even today but Assiyeah's sleeping and I dont' want to disturb her. Why aren't I sleeping? Good question. I just have trouble going to bed at 8am after being gone for a couple of weeks and I got stuff to do. Part of the life of someone who tries to do too much at one time, I guess...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Turkish Wedding

We went to the reception of a Turkish wedding last night. There was no alcohol at the event except for a few people in the corner of the hall. We went to the liquor store a 5-minute walk away and came back with 10 beers and drank with them, keeping the beer under the table while people were dancing and sitting at tables and watching them.

We were hanging out with two guys, friends of our host. They introduced themselves as the Conqueror after the Sultan who successfully captured Istanbul in 1453 and the other dude as Sexy Tiger. I shit you not. The whole night I was calling the dude Sexy Tiger and after a few beers, you kind of got used to it.

Again, big news stories that the mainstream media needs to focus on:

1)the US Attorneys who were fired for "performance-related issues" even though 7 of the8 appear to have gotten positive reviews
2)Our concerns about North Korea's nuclear intentions appear to have been false
3)War Profiteering and also repealing the 2002 Act to give the president powers to invade Iraq
4)Joe Lieberman trying to hold the democrats hostage as he threatens to possibly switch to the Republicans, all the while writing an op-ed saying we have to give the new troop surge in Iraq a chance even though a year ago he wrote that the plan we had in place then was supposed to work

Is it me or does it seem that the Bush Administration has broken numerous laws and treaties in the past 6 years and they are doing what they can to try and cover up what they've done?

We saw the Virgin Mary house yesterday and also where St. John the Baptist is buried. Cool stuff but I enjoy the irony of having stepped in dog shit at the Virgin Mary house...