Archive for the 'Its all about me-My life.' Category

Jun 20 2015

Just a walk in the park

Well, not really. Rather, it is an early morning ride to the S-Bahn station, and then a hike up the non-running escalator to await the arrival of my ride to the main train station. Its traveling time again, and even though I had very little sleep last night, the thought of travel makes my senses tingle and excitement courses through my veins.

Boarding the S-Bahn early on a Saturday morning is always something of an interesting sight. There among the silent or sleeping passengers-heading to work or home from a long night-lays the remains from the carnage of a Friday night. In the trash bins along the side of the car are empty beer bottles, a lone empty bottle of vermouth, and just forward of my seat, a Stolichnaya bottle that evidently had given its contents to the service of someone’s heavy intoxication.

Arriving at the Hauptbanhof only adds to the assault on the senses. Rising from the deep tracks where the S-Bahn arrives, one is immediately able to see, hear and smell the variety of the station’s underground. Passengers and tourists, some with suitcases, some without, scurry in all directions. From the bakeries the smell of fresh bread and pastry, mixed with smell of brewing coffee wafts in and around my nose. The noise of both trains and people is every present, but because it is still early in the morning, its still rather subdued. Come the late afternoon it will rise to a louder crescendo-but for now, it’s a rather peaceful and contemplative sight.

 

Having traversed the length of the underground concourse, a turn left is needed and onto yet another escalator, this one heading up to the heart of the main station with the high stone ceiling so common among European train stations. A quick stop at Starbucks halfway up and then it’s on the main lobby area. As I ride the second and last escalator up, behind me, a man is wailing, possibly drunk, definitely having had better days, holding plastic garbage bag full of bottles and cans. A homeless man perhaps? Hoping to score enough in recyclables to buy a meal or more drinks I think. Departing the escalator, he is quickly accosted by the Polezei, who I assume put an end to his scavenging ways.

The Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof currently has a lot of construction going on. The beginning of the platforms is moved almost half a kilometer down from the station lobby area. I’ve got just 15 minutes to traverse to my platform and board a high speed train that will whisk me up to Frankfurt airport and flying.

These sights and sounds are one of the things I really love about being in Europe and being lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel the way I do. Had I been still in Shopping Mall, the morning would have been a slower start, but with none of this excitement. For all the things that I have to complain about, they all tend to recede into the background on a morning like this. I’m a lucky man indeed. Right now, for a bunch of reasons, the future here is uncertain-but those worries are for another day and time. For today, I can relax and enjoy the movement of the traveling man. And that’s enough for me today.

 

Skippy-san

 

 

3 responses so far

Mar 10 2015

Another orbit around the sun.

Today is my birthday which in the grand scheme of things is not really important-and tomorrow is the 4TH anniversary of the Tohoku Tsunami which is. If had not given up booze for lent ( and believe me I think its a big mistake tonight)-I would probably be drunk off my ass tonight and not typing this post.

So lucky you, I am sober. sad

Its 2015-the year Back to the Future promised us a lot of things. And we do have a lot of the technology toys that were promised, although I am still waiting for  my hoverboard and flying car. Not to mention the demise of all lawyers.

But given the way the future of the world, and in particular the US is heading, we might need those lawyers after all. For certainly 2015 has not turned out the way I thought it would be in 1979. I mean, besides the fact that I am not rich and successful with a svelte young blond by my side-the overall direction of the land of my birth is backwards not forwards. And that troubles me a lot more than you know.

I feel cheated in so many ways. So many things were supposed to be true this years that are not simply in the cards. The world was supposed to be a more peaceful place. Technology was supposed to have improved the lot of all the worlds populations such that disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty were supposed to be a distant, albeit unpleasant memory.

And we won't even get into the fact that the age of "free love", e.g, lots of sex with lots of partners got a real cramp placed on it in the 80's. WTF is up with that? Certainly its not been for lack of trying on our part as a species-after all monogamy sucks.

And what can one say about the United States? Nothing good I am afraid. The direction of the country's politics is definitely regressive, not progressive. President Obama did himself proud when he eloquently pointed out that it does not have to be that way, and that the cruel vision for the country held forth by the tea sniffers is not in keeping with real patriotism at all. It is what teabaggers will never understand:

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?"

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

More on that tomorrow. It was a wonderful speech-but then he had to return to Washington and govern the country with a legislature filled with morons. Suffice it to say, I am not optimistic about the direction of the country. I am deeply concerned what will happen in the back half of this decade, especially when some asshole like Scott Walker gets elected. 

Like everyone on their birthday-especially when in their late 50's I have paused to reflect on the fact that the more of the journey has been completed than is left to run. That's indeed a scary thought. I also, once again, marvel at the changes that have occurred in me and my viewpoints of both my former profession and the world.

For example, I continue to marvel at how completely I have been able to slam the door on my former career as a Naval Officer. While I am grateful for the gifts it gave me, I have no longing desire to go back to it. Especially in the "no fun of any kind" Navy that exists now. I was even able to pick up the latest Navy Times , where the MCPON says chiefs iniations are not "tradition" and not completely lose it. ( Even though the statements by the MCPON are complete and utter bullshit). I find myself speculating on the alternate paths I might have taken-especially as I hear so many people on the radio who left college and do not even , ever, consider the service. At the time I was 20, the idea of not going into the Navy was non-existent to me. But who knows what adventures the alternate path might have led to?

Or not. Either way, I don't find myself missing the wearing of the uniform one bit. That door is closed and will remain so.

There are other things I think about too. I think a lot about injustice these days, and the unfairness of the economic system. I am asking myself what can I do about it? And not liking the answer of, "not very much", at all. I have become a voracious consumer of economic news of late and I find what companies are doing these days quite disturbing. Disposable workers were not what 2015 was supposed to be about either. That they exist,  well that happens. That so many people blithely defend the practice-that is what is truly troublesome.

And it brings me back to the question of my closed door former life. What was it all for? Certainly not to defend this sick and twisted view of life, society, and humanity. If it was-well than may God forgive me for devoting such effort to the profession.

And that brings me back to the idea of what will it take in the future to correct that?

More to follow on that later this week. Have a good day.

hot-sex-fifty-shades-of-grey-birthday-ecards-someecards?

2 responses so far

Dec 31 2014

Sayonara 2014

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

As years go,  2014 was not really a good one for me. I won't be sorry to see it go. It started living under the burden of a poorly thought out merger at work, engineered by a psychopath- who, regrettably will probably try to resurrect the same stupid idea later on in 2015. It also started with a New Years trip to Lisbon that saw me get sick as a dog-not exactly what I had in mind when I checked into the Palace Hotel in Estoril. It was kind of a harbinger of things to come, now that I can look at it in hindsight.

Fortunately for me, in May, the horrible merger was undone when the powers that be finally recognized what a hideous thing they had done. However, enough damage had been done that it cast a pall over the rest of the year and made work, well not miserable, but not fun either.

On the personal front too it was a lousy year. I basically had to come to grips with the fact that my dream of getting back to Japan to live and work will never come to pass. And that's a painful thing to have to accept. I was able to spend 10 days in Tokyo in September, but all that really did was remind me how much I really miss living in Asia. But economic realities are realities and at my age finding a job over there that will support the level of income I need to maintain….just …..isn't ….going to happen. frown

Then again, I tell myself things could be worse, a lot worse. I am healthy, more or less, and I am not enduring the mind numbing, soul crushing existence of living in a suburb of an American city. And I got to travel enough this past year to cement my Platinum status and have me zero in on the million mile threshold this year. God willing I will get to travel as much as I did last year, this year.

The SO is, well she is the SO. She hasn't yet grasped that she needs to provide things I need and she has yet to realize she is not going to be able to change me, no matter how hard she tries. But she is working and making money now and she still keeps a clean house. So there is that. For a guy like me who needs physical passion and lots of sex in his life, however, that's not quite doing it. So that is yet more thing I have to come to grips with.

But as I said, things could be worse and for that I will remain always thankful. I can pay my bills and credit cards still enable most of the things I want, so I prefer then, to end the year on an optimistic note.

Here is to hoping the New Year is a better year. For all of us.

Happy New Year.

lets-never-speak-of-2014-again-funny-ecard-unu

midori_yamazaki_7

Let's see if we can cheer this little expat up, shall we?

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Nov 04 2014

The pilgrimage

Greetings from Frankfurt airport! I am at the beginning of my every 5 year pilgrimage, wherein I return to the sacred soil in Charleston South Carolina. There to contemplate the journey that life took me on since departing Lesesne Gate for the last time as a cadet. To savor the joys of seeing friends again and to feel the sting of all the dreams you had that were later denied you. In their faces, those dreams appear and taunt you. It is at one and the same time a joyous few days and among the most bittersweet of my existence.

Reunions are a time of mixed emotions for me. For one thing, over time, my ardor for my alma mater has faded what it once was. I can no longer answer "yes" to the question, would I have done it again, knowing what I know now, if could go back and do it again? Probably, but then again, possibly not. In the long view of hindsight, and the path that I know,  a different background life might have taken me to. Then again, one can say that about pretty much any experience in life, and my time at the Citadel prepared me well for the travails and joys that followed me through the curving path that has brought me to this airport lounge today.

I have a resolve to remain more quiet than outspoken this reunion, how well I stick to it, is something that remains to be seen. For one thing, it will be hard enough seeing some of the classmates, who by now are clearly what society terms " successful". 8 of my classmates became generals, (none of us became Admirals, although we do have one or two SES's, folks who connived that after leaving active duty), many who run their own companies, a successful newscaster on a major broadcast network and even two successful authors. And then there is me. Well traveled to be sure, literate and well informed beyond compare, but hardly what any would call, "successful" whatever the f*ck that means.

It is also through the lens of hindsight, that I have come to realize that many of the "facts" I was taught, but not the ideals, were just plain wrong when examined in the real world. My view of these has changed dramatically and I count for loss many of the things I used to believe were bedrock truth. I like to think it is the ideals that were instilled by the institution in me, but even that too may be a flawed interpretation of the situation. I just know its been a long journey and I am thankful I am where I am now, politically, philosophically, and mentally. To think were I could have been on my trajectory out of that gate makes me shudder.

So it seems, to be the (sort of) quiet observer is the way to go through the weekend. Wishing all well, remembering well those who will never make another reunion and giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Things could be a hell of a lot worse, and I would be well to remember that.

If you are in the whining states of America today, be sure to vote. It is your right, hard earned, even if some of you will squander it on fools.

10 years ago this week, I was again traveling to a reunion-having turned in miles to fly first class on ANA, NRT to IAD. First Class on ANA does not suck, but it was hardly the flat bed seat world we see now. Still it got me to DC all right where I had decided to break my journey thinking it would be cool to see an election from the standpoint of being in the nation's capital. It was made all the more edgy in my humble opinion because it was one of the first times I had voted against the GOP candidate, this vote being driven by my then and still current revulsion at the disaster that man had unleashed with his egregiously stupid invasion of Iraq. I ended the evening in a bar in Alexandria, awaiting them to call the results of Ohio-which would determine the election. Ohio goes Democratic, Kerry wins. If it goes Republican, the grey hair wins and we get four more years of war.

Well, you all know how that turned out, and the present gloomy world rose up to plague us all. The crowd in the bar was pretty evenly split so it was some interesting people watching, but the tea party had not been developed yet and the GOP had not yet descended into its current insanity, so the conversation over beer was reasonably civil.

I expect I will have reason to drink heavily tonight because the wrong side will win-but at least I will do it in my favorite world. That of the traveling man. Have a great day….AND VOTE!

 

3 responses so far

Oct 13 2014

You only see the “Y” in the road-you don’t see the end of it.

The S.O. has had to work all this weekend, and I have been on call for my job. Basically its a payment up front for the both of us-for we will be in Austria for her birthday at the end of the month. The timing is less than optimum, but I have a deposit on our place to stay already put down and I don't want to lose it. So, this holiday weekend has been a quiet one. It's nice having the S.O. gone, I savor the time alone, probably because I get so little of it.

It is also a good time to think and reflect. That's a part of my inability to write these days-there is a lot to think about. Next few months will become busy and then it will be 2015. That years is going to be one I will have to make some decisions, and I have no idea what they will be. But I suspect I won't like them. The tough times are coming, I fear-and there is little I can do to stop them.

I did go to a festival in the nearby town yesterday. It was nice. It was an open shopping day ( most stores in Germany are closed on Sundays). Walked through the town, and of course stopped for a couple half liter glasses of beer.

No good deed goes unpunished however, and so shortly I will be going out to do the list of errands the S.O. has left for me. I find it odd how much I am enjoying this time alone at home. I should want to be heading out, but I don't. It's fun being lazy this holiday.

Tomorrow will come soon enough and off to work I will go.

Since this is Coloumbus Day holiday, I would like to depart by pointing you to an article by Charles C. Mann in The Atlantic. It was originally published in 2002. But its worth a read again.

Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness. My son picked up the same ideas at his schools. One way to summarize the views of people like Erickson and Balée would be to say that in their opinion this picture of Indian life is wrong in almost every aspect. Indians were here far longer than previously thought, these researchers believe, and in much greater numbers. And they were so successful at imposing their will on the landscape that in 1492 Columbus set foot in a hemisphere thoroughly dominated by humankind.

Have a happy holiday.

5 responses so far

Oct 04 2014

Back to blank paper.

Thank goodness it is a new month. Last month was at the same time, marvelous and deeply depressing. On the marvelous front, the return to Japan was without a doubt the highlight of my year.  Returning to Germany however was a big swoon and a drop to a real low. There are a bunch of reasons for this. 

To start with, there is a lot of churn at my work. The unintended consequences of the megalomaniac's merger from hell are coming home to the roost. The biggest of which is the revelation,  that the merger exposed,  about the great disparities in compensation among people doing exactly the same work. More discouraging in the long term, is the inability of this soulless individual to recognize, that he could take some straightforward steps to correct the worst issues-and also avoid the repeated ethical bypasses he takes to keep all control solely in his hands. Even though we "divorced" because the relationship was most unsatisfactory, and the "customer" we work for recognized he was getting f*cked at the drive through-there is still a lot of damage that was done and cannot be quickly undone. And we who all came in about the same time-with expectations of upward mobility-are becoming more than a little disillusioned. We are probably going to lose one, maybe two people in the next few months-and their replacement process will be iffy at best. So my work level, at least in the short term, will increase. And of course it makes even more bittersweet, my return to Japan,  when it gets coupled with the increasing realization that getting back there to live is / or will be extremely difficult if not impossible. The pain that alone engenders is excruciating.

But life, on many levels, has to go on. For the short term, I have to remain focused and attack my work, but also keep an eye out for the writing that is visibly scrolling itself across the wall.

Which leads me to the public disappointment. I don't think I am saying anything earth shaking when I say that on the global news front-the last month just sucked. Chief among my public concerns is watching the United States sink back into the quicksand that is yet another war for Arabs who cannot solve their own issues-or put their silly religious disputes behind them. It may in fact be that the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is not up to the task of dealing with this issue. But I know with certainty none of his potential GOP successors is up to the challenge-just as his predecessor was not up to the challenge of dealing with 9-11 or it's aftermath. His decisions created this mess in the first place, chief among them being the utterly disastrous decision to invade Iraq in 2003. All of the current agony, as well as the United States political and economic dysfunction stems from that one single disastrous, completely flawed decision by a deeply flawed man. 
 

And its troubling our country has no memory of this chain of events. When the consequences are plainly in front of it. And yet, the march of the war lovers goes on again and again-second ( or third) verse, same as the first.

It would do us all well to think about this:

It’s important to remember that moment now, amid our current bout of war fever. It may be worth attacking the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria for purely humanitarian reasons. After all, the United States launched air wars against Serbia (twice) and Libya without claiming that their regimes posed a national-security threat, and ISIS is more savage than either Slobodan Milosevic or Muammer al-Qaddafi. It may be worth attacking ISIS because of the threat it poses to our allies in the Middle East. If unchecked, the group could destabilize not only Iraq and Syria, but potentially Jordan and Saudi Arabia too. (Judging by social media, ISIS has a lot of fans in the kingdom of Saud.)

But, for the most part, that’s not how this war is being sold. It’s being sold as a war to protect the United States homeland against a profound terrorist threat. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein recently said, “The threat ISIS poses cannot be overstated.” Her Republican colleague Jim Inhofe has claimed that ISIS is “rapidly developing a method of blowing up a major U.S. city” and that as a result, “We’re in the most dangerous position we’ve ever been in as a nation.”

This time, the press needs to aggressively investigate whether that’s true. If it is, then the Obama administration should be considering ground troops, as General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East,reportedly requested—domestic politics be damned. We sent them into Afghanistan, after all. And if the ISIS threat really is greater than the al-Qaeda threat was on September 10, as Inhofe suggests, then there’s a case for doing the same in Iraq and Syria today.

If, on the other hand, ISIS lacks the motivation and capacity for anything close to 9/11, then President Obama’s stated justification for even an air war looks weak. So far, the press hasn’t done a good enough job of determining if this is the case. Many publications have uncritically accepted Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s claim about the number of Americans who have gone to fight with ISIS—a figure that New America Foundation terrorism expert Peter Bergenargues is dramatically exaggerated. Other media commentary simply assumes that if Westerners go to fight with ISIS in Iraq or Syria, they’re destined to attack Europe or the United States. But that’s not true. Bergen notes, for instance, that of the 29 Americans who have gone to fight with the Somali jihadist group al-Shabab, none have tried to commit terrorism against the United States. One reason is that many of them ended up dead.

 

The problem is, no one can answer for me the key question: How does this end?

I don't think anyone in power knows the answer to that question either. And there is one more thing:

I am continuing to come to the conclusion that, despite all efforts to the convince us to the contrary, there is something fundamentally wrong with the Islamic faith. I'm kind of in agreement with Bill Maher on this-even though he is taking a lot of heat for his statements to that effect. Maher called Islam “the only religion that acts like the mafia, that will fucking kill you if you say the wrong thing, draw the wrong picture or write the wrong book.”

Yes, the number of extremists are a minority-but there seems to be no one of authority in Islam, including so called "Islamic" nations,  who have the balls to stand up to this minority. Or publicly denounce it. It's a part of the problem-and its a big reason why the invasion of Iraq, or anywhere else did not work-because of a tired adherence to stupid parochial bickering-Arabs always screw things up.

And thus we are back to the central question: How does this all end?

I don't know, and I don't think you do either. There 1.5 billion Muslims in the world however. So today – the future continues to look bleak.

Have a good weekend.

Lots of things could threaten the United States. The critical question, as the U.S. launches a war against ISIS that will likely take years and have myriad unforeseen consequences, is what “could” actually means. This time, the press needs to do a better job of finding out.

 

7 responses so far

Jul 18 2014

Traveling man

There just are not enough hours in the day sometimes. Leaving this week for business and to visit my father in the USA. Sitting here in the lounge contemplating the long jump across the Atlantic and then a cramped ride in a DeHaviland Dash 8 to my Dad's place. The shoot down of the Malaysian airliner keeps going through my mind. Those passengers were probably doing the same thing I am doing, relaxing before boarding, thinking about what to do at their destination, when on the plane many were probably asleep or reading-anticipating arrival in Amsterdam. Looking forward to life and a future.

And then……BOOM!

It is just not fair. I'll bet some of those passengers had put in a busy week like I did, trying to get things taken care of so they could relax on vacation. In my case it was a week trying to convince my erstwhile boss that he actually should pay attention to the budget up front-instead of relying on the previous author of the stupid merger to take care of things. Oh, he will take care of things all right-right up your ass. I've told you time and time again, money is one of those things its worth taking time to get right. Certainly a lot moreso than esoteric power points that nobody will read.

But that seems to be the story of my life lately, not being able to convince folks I am right. When KNOW I am. It is tiresome, to say the least.

The S.O. was unexpectedly very sweet to me last night. Very much a surprise-made doubly so because she too has had a busy week and got a scare when she went in to work and found a co-worker had screwed something up. We had a marvelous dinner last night at an outdoor Italian restaurant, and it was a beautiful evening to watch the sun set and be thankful for being able to live in an interesting place. ( Even if it is not Japan). It was more than usually sad to kiss her good bye this morning.

And oh you should see the day today!! The weather is gorgeous . It would be a great day to play golf. To go hiking. To be out and about in a convertible. To be driving a boat. Or flying a plane. Or even riding in one I guess.

I had a good deal of nostalgia last night. The song Maggie May was playing on my I-pod. That song always takes me back to the period 74-75, when I was preparing to attend to The Citadel, turning down the Naval Academy to do it-and contemplating what it would be like "in the Corps". I always think of the Citadel when I hear that song. The line, " I wish I had never seen your face" makes me think about what might have been if I had not met the ex. At that point in the song, nostalgia turns to rueful sadness.

In case you have not guessed-this post is really not about much of anything, just I had some time and I wanted to pour some feelings out. Now its time to go board the plane. Dear God please keep it safe.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

One response so far

Apr 30 2014

Vindication!!!!! In other words, today, I was proven right after all. The feeling is marvelous!

Yesterday and today were really good days for me-even though I had just gotten back from a long drive back from Berlin. ( Pictures and narrative to follow).

As you get more seasoned in a profession ( read older), there comes a time when you know you are right about something. Its not a case of having a difference of opinion-and they took another guy's opinion over yours. Not at all. Its that frustrating feeling of knowing you are right, being able to prove you are right, and having to endure the sheer frustration of not being able to convince the people you need to-because of one's position, (or lack of position), lies told by the other side, or just a simple unwillingness to believe-because empire building is too much of a priority to do the right thing.

Usually, you just have to come to terms with it and move on-and bide your time to hopefully wait out the change agent. However, sometimes events come together in such a way, that you get to see your arguments proven right beyond a shadow of a doubt.

And you get to utter those most satisfying of words: " I told you this was a screwed up thing to do. I warned you it would not work and would cause problems-but you refused to listen to me. And now , as I predicted, you have failed."

Because contrary to popular belief-I know how to run organizations, and I know how to lead people. I also know how to do things the right way and can recognize when important administrative things are being blown off or simply ignored. You do you your best, you bide your time, look for an escape route-or pray for divine intervention.

And yesterday, in a completely unforeseen turn of events-the miracle happened.

The big bosses met and decided that we were right, the "efficient merger" was neither a success or very efficient. In fact one big boss finally stated publicly what we already knew privately-the train had gone off the tracks several months ago. We needed to stop before someone got really hurt. Today the big boss said it to the assembled group-making it more than official.

So tomorrow-the stupid merger will be officially "un-merged". The shotgun marriage from hell has been annulled. Seeing as how it was never consummated, and /or, never based on first principles-it was not a hard thing to justify.

"Yes it appears as if you were right, all along."

Yes I was. This is not my first time to the rodeo,  cowboy.

cheeky

yes

Tomorrow will probably be a return to the routine mendacity of work, but last night, as I sipped my Scotch on the porch, I felt a very contented glow.

These moments don't come often in life-and of course- I truly expect payback to be a bitch. But as Scarlett said, that is for another day.

Today its all about those wonderful words: "I told you so!"

Because I did.

Thanks be to God.

 

 

 

11 responses so far

Apr 06 2014

Mission accomplished?

I wish more bars had WI-fi here, this  growing need to decamp to Starbucks to get any internet stuff done is killing me.

The S.O. and I are in the new house. We were able to get the satellite in and working fairly easily with about 45 minutes effort. ( I did pay for some help-which was worth it). Internet however is another story. After saying that Internet by DSL would be available to the new house, Telkom abruptly changed its mind and said no-you must use LTE. "We will send you a LTE router and you will be set to 20GB usage a month". WTF? I can go through that much data in two weeks! Two days later above said router shows up, with no SIM card. I call Telkom to find out when I will receive the SIM card and when my service will start only to be informed by a lady in German, in a rather huffy manner, that my Auftrag ( order) ist "storniert". ( canceled) They claim it has to do with a lack of ports available in the village to provide internet to the house. And even if they could provide DSL it would only be at 2MBps. "WTF" moment number 2. Vodaphone has initially indicated they can provide DSL at 2MBps, but since Telkom owns all the lines, I am not optimistic. It does not explain the inability to do LTE whatsoever.

So for now the S.O. and I are doing home internet through a succession of visits to Starbucks and libraries, tethering our cell phones to the computer and I also purchased a data plan for my I-pad with a 5GB data plan. It's a better situation than when we first moved to Germany-but for the long haul its going to suck. For now I am drinking way more cappuccino than I should and subsisting on old movies and files on my external hard drive. I have a list of I-Tunes downloads that is just waiting in vain.

It is an interesting side note on the state of the German telecommunications industry. During one of my Starbucks trips I was able to Google the town hall notes from our village where people in our village had complained about the lack of high speed internet. Seems Telkom has an interesting metric of not being able to build in a village until they are sure they will get 90% usage. Even more amazing with this particular village is the speed of your internet ( assuming you can get it) is based on where you are in the village. We are in a new section-so we get slower internet-and no cable is available. Figure that one out if you can. They claim they will bring Very fast DSL to our village and the next one over by 2015. I'm not holding my breath. The city that owns all three villages ( one has VDSL already-just not ours) is complaining to Telkom near as I could figure out by reading the German notes.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, we are enjoying the new house. It has wonderful covered back patio and porch where one can sit out in relative comfort and drink beer and eat outside when the temps get warmer. I several ways its better than our other house. However, since the work situation still sucks due to the poorly thought out and executed merger by the latest iteration of the pointy haired boss-how long we get to live here is speculative. Maybe I should have  packed the S.O. back to Alabama and our Hi-speed cable line we had there. C'est le Guerre.

So blogging will happen when blogging can happen. Till then, I unpack, drink, enjoy my new house and hate my my merged workplace. 

Situation normal again.

 

2 responses so far

Mar 30 2014

Disconnecting

The S.O. and I are in the middle of moving to a new house. Sadly, its not the move I wish was I making of some 5000+ miles back to the promise land of Asia-but less than .1KM down the street. As a result I will be without Internet until the monster that is Deutsche Telekom makes my new connection.

We both had known this day was coming-but I had seriously hoped to be back in Asia before this. Certainly that is not happening any time soon-especially as I live through the current hell of a merger gone totally astray. When I can get to a hot spot I will right about it. Till then, you should note two things: 1) this is the first year I have not written a post about Women's history month. ( go to the comments to read some interesting thoughts on that) and 2) I did not write about my blog birthday. Lots of reasons for that-not many of them good, but I am resolved to get back to political postings just as soon as the connections are restored.

Till then:

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One response so far

Feb 03 2014

Traveliing again

On the road again-had a challenging journey yesterday to the other side of the Atlantic. To start with my ICE train to the Frankfurt Airport was going to be delayed by 90 minutes. That was a non starter as it was going to make me late for check in-and my requisite need to "pre-charge" in the lounge. ( The new Lufthansa lounges in the Z terminal of FRA are pretty sweet). Went to the Deutsche Bahn office and got re-routed to an IC train which was taking me to the Frankfurt Main station.

I made it in a ok amount of time-but then using LH's check in kiosks caused a bit of problem when it refused to read my passport. The newest EU immigrant manning the kiosk line-seemed not to grasp the fact that I need to go to a counter where a human could check my passport. Finally got that worked out-and by the grace of God the security line was very short. Landed safely in the lounge.

Then after boarding the plane-saw the change to get an open aisle seat with out someone next to me. Snagged it and figured things were looking up! But I spoke too soon.

The plane required maintenance that delayed us by almost an hour. Now this was a problem because I was hoping to make it time to get in a combat nap at the hotel prior to Super Bowl kickoff. Now I would be lucky to make the kickoff-much less the first quarter.

It turned out ok-made it to my room just as national anthem was being sung. Turns out, of course, I need not have bothered-the game was a Seahawk blowout. They slaughtered the Bronco's, who appeared to have left any offense they had back in Denver.

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

On a serious note, James Fallows has been running an excellent series of articles about the use of Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg. "About the service and sacrifice of this brave man and other men and women like him, we cannot say enough." But as Fallows points out-ALL of us should be outraged that he had to make TEN deployments to the various hellholes America has chosen to fight its war without end in. Furhtermore, there is a dichotomy of purpose when you have the architects of a failed policy somehow applauding him-while failing to do the things that might have prevented his suffering in the first place.

The vast majority of us play no part whatsoever in these prolonged overseas campaigns; people like Sgt. Remsburg go out on 10 deployments; we rousingly cheer their courage and will; and then we move on. Last month I mentioned that the most memorable book I read in 2013 was Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain. It's about a group of U.S. soldiers who barely survive a terrible encounter in Iraq, and then are paraded around in a halftime tribute at a big Dallas Cowboys game. The crowd at Cowboys Stadium cheers in very much the way the Capitol audience did last night—then they get back to watching the game.

 

Later Fallows examines the implications in clearer detail.

There was another moment in the speech that I think will look worse in the long view. It was the emotionally charged ending, the tribute to the obviously courageous and grievously wounded Sergeant Cory Remsburg.

The moment was powerful human and political drama; it reflected deserved credit and gratitude on Remsburg and his family; and as I wrote earlier today, I think it was entirely sincere on the president's part, as a similar tribute would have been from his predecessor George W. Bush. With the significant difference that Bush initiated the wars these men and women have fought in, and Obama has been winding them down. And so the most favorable reading of the moment, as John Cassidy has argued, is that the president was trying to dramatize to the rest of the government the human cost of the open-ended wars many of them have egged on.

But I don't think that's how it came across to most of the Congress, or was processed by the commentariat. This was not presented as a "never again" moment; it was a "this is America's finest!" moment—which Cory Remsburg himself, and with his family, certainly is. (Also see Peter Beinart on this point.) For America as a whole, the episode did not show us at our finest. In the earlier item, I tried to explain why these few minutes will reflect badly on us and our times when our children's children view them years from now. Since the explanation was buried at the end of a long post, I repeat it at the end of this one.

A Congress that by default is pressuring the country toward war, most recently with Iran, and that would not dream of enacting either a special tax or any kind of enforced or shared service to sustain these wars, gives a prolonged, deserved ovation for a person who has dedicated his all to the country. Tears well up in many eyes; the cheering persists; the admiration for this young man is profound. Then everyone moves right on.

Years from now, people can play this clip and see something about the culture of our times. It's a moment of which only the Remsburg family will be proud. 

 

His long exploration of the historical allusions is also worth a read.

Lunch is over-gotta get back to work. Hope it does not snow tonight.

 

6 responses so far

Jan 30 2014

Meanwhile, back at my work.

The most screwed up reorganization since AT&T split up, continues.

The thought police have come home to roost and provide counseling. Guess who was one of the first ones called into see them?

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This hits pretty close to home-since the personal dynamics of my workplace have changed dramatically-and not for the better. Before,  we used to talk, share stories and ask about people's lives and needs. Now with the new office mates-its all business and no fun. And the megalomaniac behind the merger, has pretty clearly shown the only thing he cares about.

Himself.

Exactly as I predicted.

And he has the balls to wonder why I hate it?

The search for new employment continues.

One response so far

Jan 01 2014

And so it begins…..

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out , 2013.

For me, 2013 was, in the aggregate, something of a depressing year. For both personal and national reasons which I will explain in this post. It is my sincere hope that 2014 can turn both categories around dramatically, but I'd be lying if I said I was optimistic.

From a personal standpoint, 2013 saw for yet another year, the frustration of my ongoing desire to return to Asia to live on a permanent basis. Sadly too, I was stymied even in my modest efforts to get back for a short duration visit-a situation I hope to rectify this year. For the long term, my hopes were dashed rather repeatedly. I did make the short list twice for positions that would have taken me back to the right side of the international date line, but when the decision was made, they went with another candidate. I also had a chance to get on with a major US company in Istanbul, but in what can only be a case of age discrimination, they went with a younger and more MBA credentialed candidate, so that door also slammed abruptly in my face. Thanks to some rather bone headed policy decisions by current employer, that were not in effect when I took my current position-it would appear that window of opportunity for a return to paradise is rapidly closing, with scant chance of reopening.  Hope springs eternal, however, and I will keep throwing out lines of effort-hoping to use what ever bait I can to lure a prospective Asian employer my way.

I have to. Thanks to the utterly reckless and considerably stupid decisions being made by the increasingly classless generation of military leadership  that is moving up within the ranks of the American defense industry, the rather productive and likeable team I enjoyed working with was sucked into a vacuum bag of uselessness. And as I expected, the selfish man at the heart of the conspiracy remains clueless to the effects of evil machinations on those who must actually do the work. There are still a host of unsolved issues as a result of this stupid merger-and no one is making a serious effort to resolve them.

The words, "I told you this would happen, you pompous twit!", just don't quite say it completely enough right now.

There were other lesser disappointments, which should best be discussed elsewhere, but which center on the tyranny of different needs and expectations. "A little less conversation,  a lot more action please!" in 2014.

On the national front, I am more than a little pessimistic at the future of the great nation I have given my entire adult life to the service of. The country has become infected by a sickness of selfishness combined with apathy-enabled a by a group of charlatans who sow the seeds of national destruction, while trying to dress their effort up as some sort of "victory march". The infected cohort has not reached a critical mass yet-but I fear that if not cured soon- it will consume the body politic of the nation. In its most extreme form, its victims try to dress their selfishness up as the desire the Deity-even when it is clearly at odds with His teachings. If their attitudes are the result of the direction of the Deity, then He must me a rather vindictive and unfair sort at that. I'd like to believe not. Unfairness and vindictiveness are not values of a divine being. I do take some spark of hope at the efforts Pope Francis is undertaking to identify and shame these worthless hypocrites, and in that effort I wish him well. He is making all the right people very uncomfortable. Nonetheless, you are fooling yourself, if you don't think there is a group afoot that seeks to undermine the very fabric what made the United States, well, United. Which is just what their corporate masters want. 

Now there are those who try to console me with the idea that the country has seen worse and got through it, most notably citing the example of the Civil War. I would remind you that in that little fracas more men died than in any other US conflict, and it corrupted US politics for a 100 years. Now in an interconnected, rapidly rising multi-polar world, the potential to inflict real and lasting damage to the nation of my birth is accelerated. This is the source of my pessimism. 

Because too many people are ignoring the brick wall that Ronald Reagan built. And George Bush, refurbished and dramatically strengthened:

The brick wall, of course, is the concentration of wealth and power among the top 0.01%. That's what has sucked all the money out of our economy, and that's what needs to be reversed before our economy will work well again. That's why the young nurse cannot earn enough to pay her rent, feed her family, and pay back her student loans and must instead send her babies to live with their grandparents thousands of miles away. That's why so many must work multiple part-time jobs with unpredictable schedules, wrecking their ability to obtain safe child care or maintain a healthy relationship with their kids.   



None these problems can be solved without reversing the concentration of wealth we've allowed for the past 40 years.

Any competent look at the economics of the last 14 years, clearly shows that the threads of a strong middle class are being wiped out. As one of those folks in the path of this bulldozer-I will remain more than just casually concerned. It used to be that both sides agreed about the core goals, and simply differed on the right pathways to get there. What troubles me deeply is that this is no longer true. Now you have a group who is arguing out loud, ideas that should not even be thought in ones head, much less uttered in any company whatsoever-polite or otherwise. "Something terrible has happened to the soul of the Republican Party. We’ve gone beyond bad economic doctrine. We’ve even gone beyond selfishness and special interests. At this point we’re talking about a state of mind that takes positive glee in inflicting further suffering on the already miserable."

This scares me for the future makes me very worried. Carried to its logical conclusion it will replicate the class struggles of many centuries before. I would remind you that this the year of the 100th anniversary of World War I, a manifest catastrophe, which set the seeds of unimaginable suffering.

So I view the New Year, 2014 with cautious hope and a strong desire for real change, for both myself and for the country that I will always love, even if I don't always like it. But its going to have to be a watchful caution, because there are real predators out and about in the woods of my existence. And they seek to do me harm. So prudent caution must remain the word of the day.

Happy New Year.

18 responses so far

Dec 22 2013

Feeling some deja vu

Yesterday the S.O. had to work. So of course, I got tasked with filling a shopping list from hell. Which was really OK, I needed to restock on beer for the Holiday anyway-and I am still not to the point that I have tried every beer in the getranke markt. So into the car I jumped.

The morning had started as many German mornings in winter do-with thick fog. But once it burned off, the day was glorious. As I spun the VW out onto the B-464 road with its great diesel acceleration, I marveled at the view before me. The ever so typical rolling farmland here, and the ever so GERMAN view of the buildings.

In many ways, Stuttgart is just like shopping mall. Same issues-shopping malls are the same pretty much, but the architecture of the houses here is drastically different. And thus, it just looks and feels different to my American senses. There is of course the fact that the signs are in a different language, which after two years I can read well. ( I also have become reasonably proficient again in the German language, as I proved to myself when I made our restaurant reservations all in German yesterday. Its the small victories that count).

As the car unwound, I savored the real beauty of the day. The sun was out, it was not too cold, and the traffic was unusually light. The music playing on the I-Pod was Rod Stewart. :Maggie May.

 

 

For some reason that song always makes me nostalgic-makes me think back to the world of my time in High School when the song was relatively new. The bulk of my life was ahead then-and what a glorious life I imagined it would be! I knew I wanted to go into the Navy. I knew pretty much by then I would attend a military college. I was going to fly! Those were things that mattered. I was going to be a pilot!

Now as it turned out, more than a few detours ensued subsequent to those days-and perhaps that is why the song strikes a chord with me. The line "I wish I had never seen your face" applies to the ex wife and others. The tone of missed opportunity in the song is interesting to me. I can always listen to it with a combination of melancholy and resigned acceptance.

And as came up to the exit to head to the Westerhof ( the recycling center, a weekly chore the S.O. and I fight over who will do), I reveled in the fact that despite the best efforts of the evil man, to subjugate me to his program, and his stupid vision for my life-I had prevailed. "I'm still here you greasy bastard!"

And that, guaranteed it was going to be a good day. Living on my terms is indeed the best revenge.

Happy Sunday!

One response so far

Nov 10 2013

It is so close to my current situation, it hurts.

As the totally screwed up merger continues:

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While I was back in Shopping Mall, I learned what I long suspected, the little weasel who engineered this abomination had been hard at work over the past six months planting ideas with all the wrong people. This, after he lied to all of us and said he was not.

Time to keep sending out resumes.

 

 

 

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