The National Playlist
Globe & Mail
Arts & Letters Daily
Leaving Juneau Muzak
Allan L. Gibson's Blog
The Only Outlet
over the hills and far away
The Known Universe
Body & Soul
New Left Review
if you manage to turn off the tv
1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
4. No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod
5. The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe
Saturday, November 06, 2004
The bush victory
I, like many others around the world, am amazed the US electorate allowed bush and his cronies to stay in power. Already the economists (and Mr. T) are predicting that the US dollar will continue to fall due to the large imbalance in the US import/export economy. Which is bad news for new teachers stuck overseas trying to pay off student loans.
But on a non-selfish note, I am appalled that this election victory not only gave bush more Electoral College votes, but more of the overall popular vote. It was the overall popular vote where bush lost to Gore in 2000, yet this time around, after much fear mongering, the populace elected him winner in both categories. It just blows my mind that in a country that proclaims to be one of the most educated, the people allow themselves to be mislead either by media or by religion or by a combination of both.
So, fine, we got another four years of lies and false pretenses. Get over it, Jay. Call it hindsight, but maybe Kerry was never going to win, as his campaign at times seemed remarkably rudderless, bounding from Vietnam bickering to Iraq to the economy to whatever other flavour of the day landed in front of him. For all the talk about him being too far above the average American, what I think killed his chances was the fact that he never hammered bush on one consistent issue. I feel that had Kerry's campaign nailed bush to the wall on the economy, the fact that bush is the first president since Hoover to oversee an presidential term that ended with net job losses, maybe Kerry would have finally dished that flip-flopper label that dogged him throughout.
So now we must wait, and I for one am hoping that when 2008 rolls around, the Democrats get their shit together and run a smooth, coherent campaign. I offer a grudging respect to the Republicans, not because I agree with any of their policies, but because when they come to play they come to win. They seem better organized, more determined, and frankly like they have practiced for this. The Democrats, this time around anyway, looked like a junior high girls basketball team from Kuwait who only practices for a half hour a week.
The rumour mill has already begun spinning for a possible run by Hillary Clinton in 2008, and I for one think that if the Democrats want to win, they better stop their sad-sack moaning now and get going on actually formulating a game plan for Hillary (or another dynamic candidate) that will result in a win. Pick your golden one now and do everything you can to make her (or him) a contender. I think Hillary would be a good choice, mainly because she knows the game and, unlike Kerry, is known by the population already. But we now have to wait and hope the world does not slide into the crapper in the meantime. Sigh, and to think I went to school for so long to end up living in a world run by a guy who can barely speak his native tongue.
Onward, and isn't it true that some days everyone wonders why they moved to the Middle East?
Let us recap my Second Week of Hell That I Have Had Since I Got to Kuwait.
Saturday- Nothing much, but it is the first day back at school, so it is the normal back to work grind.
Sunday- So I go to school, with a terrific sinus headache and I forget the Advil at home. I get to school, check my email there, and find out that Meg had a shitty night and really wanted to talk with me. Ok, now I am feeling guilty that I took off and left her alone. I then go teach the Grade 6 class, which is stupid as usual. I spend the rest of the day running around, teaching and meeting with parents. During my 1pm meeting with a parent, the power goes out. I really am not too worried about it, although the drive home, with no traffic lights working, is rather interesting. The power stays off until 9pm, meaning that the entire city was dark, the AC was off, and I was starting to wonder just how safe this country is as thoughts of terrorism ramble in my head. It gets dark her at 5:30pm, so it was a long boring night. I subsequently miss my conversation with Megan that we had scheduled for that night, although I do managed to call her on a cell phone, so at least she knows I’m not dead.
Monday- The power is back on, but my internet, and the internet at school, is down. So no emails to set up a new chat time with Megan. Teach, including a week of student presentations that no one takes seriously.
Tuesday- I still have yet to talk with Megan, as my internet went out this morning as well. I go to teach my Gr 6 class, during which they are supposed to get an exam. I walk into the classroom, which is empty, put all my stuff down, turn around and go back to the staff room for a grand total of one minute, and come back to find the exams are gone, some little shit took them. So the principal and I yell at them a bit, but no one comes forward. So I am left with a full class of students with no lesson plan. Babysitting ensues.
I then find out at the end of the day that if I want to get my license, I need to go to the Canadian Embassy to get something stamped, the Kuwaiti Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get something else stamped, and finally to the Traffic Office to get my license, which is going to cost me about $200Cdn, if not a little more. And that is if the prices do not change, the requirements do not change, and I can somehow manage to get there during the wacky Ramadan hours, where places are open from 9am-11am and 7pm-9pm. So now I am leaning towards not driving, although I have to talk to Neil about this, as I do not want him to feel like a chauffeur for the entire year. But I am not too keen on paying $200Cdn, plus $120Cdn per month, for what will end up being no more than 6 months worth of driving. Go home, internet works but Megan isn't online.
Wednesday- I had scheduled a talk with Megan for Wednesday morning, so I got up, walked the dog, and was eagerly looking forward to my chat with her. But a breaker blew in Jan's apartment, so the router seems to have reset, thus ensuring that I will have (at least) a weekend without internet. I cannot describe how pissed I am, it feels like someone has punched me in the stomach. I really depend on my chats to keep me going, both with family and with Megan, and when I keep getting screwed out of them, it just kills me. So I go to school, early for a meeting, all bitter and hating the world. At the meeting I find out that after my November break, the Gr 6 class will be 10 minutes longer a day, which means 10 minutes more of these kids having to sit still, which they cannot yet manage. Plus the discipline issues are enormous in the Middle School, yet the administration seems unwilling or unable to deal with them adequately.
An example: This one kid, lets call him Joey Joe Joe, is picked up by his driver at the end of school. By the way, these kids all have drivers. Anyway, Joey Joe Joe reaches into the back of the car and pulls out a BB gun, which he then, naturally, starts shooting at the kids. And what does he get for this? A frozen suspension, which is basically a 2nd strike. If he screws up one more time he gets, wait for it, a 2 day out of school suspension. What a joke. If he pulled this shit in Canada, he would be lucky not to be sent packing to a juvenile detention school. But that is why I am so lucky to teach high school, the middle school kids are just monsters. But what a joke, 2 day suspension. Obviously there is lots of bitterness in this meeting too, which kind of adds to my overall hatred of Kuwait. The internet is still down at the school, so I cannot even send a email to Meg explaining why I missed our chat. Go teach for the rest of the morning, including the last of the presentations, which suck, frankly. Run around on my break. And lastly, at the end of a shitty week, life decides I have not yet had enough of a kicking, and I find out that the Spain trip has been cancelled, meaning that I am stuck in Kuwait until January 20. And then I find out that bush won the presidency again. Thoughts of kayaking back to Canada cross my mind.
A note about the Spain trip: I am of two minds about this, one being that it was going to be a pretty hectic week, full of 24 hour supervision and not much time to myself. But on the other hand, it was going to be a nice break in December, something to shake things up until the January break. I am not overly pissed about it, just kind of disappointed. However, I do not have to eat crow, as this decision was out of my hands.
And on Wednesday night, after so many failed attempts, I chatted with Meg from the Cancer Cafe, where everyone smokes as they check their email. My internet is still down, but hopefully Tarek, our local tech dude, can get things working again soon. But it was worth more than money to chat with her.
And it looks like, hopefully if I do not run into anything unexpected, that I will be flying home for my break in April, mainly to see Megan (wherever she might be on her placements) and my family too. This is still tentative, but I am really really really gonna try to make it happen. It is not a financially smart decision, but I don't care about money anymore. My girlfriend is worth far more to me than any money. So screw it, I am a flying home in April, which will also break up the final stretch of teaching from 4 months into two nicely halved sessions. Peace of mind and true love is something that one cannot put a price tag on.
And on Wednesday night, at about 9pm, Lori, Neil, Jan, and I went to watch the Kuwait Mooseheads play the Kuwait Screaming Eagles in a friendly hockey game. You read it correctly, good ole fashioned desert ice hockey. The level of play was not great, but I was surrounded by Canadians, I got a little tipsy off some homemade booze, and I got to sit in an ice rink, which was nice and cool. It was good fun and I am sorry that they only play two or three games a year. After that I went with everyone to a gathering at another home of a teacher, where we all drank some more and finally called it a night at about 2am. So the week ended well, even though it was garbage most of the time.
So this week is a short week, as report cards go home on Tuesday. I then have ten days off, which I am looking forward to, although I am sure I will be going crazy after three. But when I go back it will be November 20, so that is the end of month three and thus only two months until I see Megan. This stretch, from November 5 until January 20, is the longest I will have to go (in Kuwait) without seeing her, provided that my April plan comes through. So, again, I am counting days and breaking up the calendar in an effort to keep myself sane.
I have managed to secure some books and am now reading Dude, Where's My Country by Micheal Moore, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (school) and 1984 by George "I Have Predicted the Future of the USA" Orwell (which is also for school). I also stole a book (The Kite Runner) from one of my smarter Gr 10 students, so I will read that sometime.
Monday is good, she has all her shots now, and is proving to be a great companion, although I will be happy when I can leave her in a yard and not worry about when she needs to go to the bathroom. Which I think she does right now, so I best be signing off and doing my duties. Thanks for reading, I miss Canada and I hope to have internet back up and running soon. Cheers to your weekend and hope this finds you well.
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
2:08 AM ~~
0 bonsai trees
shout out out out out out
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Good Morning, D-Day, welcome to the main event...
Well here we go, those of us privledged enough not to be born in the ole US of A must now sit back and hope that common sense, which we all know isn't that common anymore, will prevail amongst the voters of the world's last superpower. Provided that we don't have another long drawn out court battle, which could very easily happen, we may just find out if the world gets to live with another 4 years of bush-isms and illegal wars, or if we are gonna give the new guy a shot at making things balanced again.
All the polls that can be reasonably trusted show the candidates neck and neck. And god only knows why people think bush is a good vote. Why just today it was announced that the tour of duty for troops is going to be extended for another two months, into the proposed January Iraqi elections. Plus he lost the chance to secure 380 tonnes of power explosives. Plus that whole WMD, "oh shit I guess they weren't there" gong show.
Plus the fact that Osama popped up again a few days ago, just to remind the US voters that the main terrorist behind the 9/11 bombings and the subsequent war on terror is, in fact, very much alive. And hey, what about the record deficit that bush ran up financing this war?
Oh and don't forget the fact that he is the only president since the Depression to have been the proud owner of a net job loss in the economy. North Korea? Iran? Nukes? Oh no, Iraq is the problem.
Foreign relations are shot, as the western world is increasingly pulling away from the US. The environment has been neglected and abused for the past four years. Conflicts of interest with Halliburton and numeorus other oil companies have come to light. Oh yea, and what about the Geneva Conventions, those pesky human rights agreements that keep us from de-evoloving into animals? No thanks, says bush, hey lets throw innocent Afghans into a jail with no name and forget about 'em. And lastly lets not forget the increasingly religious fever that bush has when it comes to making any decision.
So I don't know what I'll do if bush gets in again. Frankly the idea of just moving to the remote part of Siberia, where I am unlikely to ever hear the news, becomes appealing. I don't know if the world can handle another 4 years of screw ups and lies. But because I am not a US citizen, my voice echoes weakly and drifts away on the breeze. I can only hope that perhaps one or two extra people will get off their ass and vote for Kerry. Hey, I never said Kerry was a god, but picking the lesser of two evils is a more appropriate cliche than the devil you know.
And away we go....
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
5:11 AM ~~
0 bonsai trees
shout out out out out out
Monday, November 01, 2004
Oh another adventure to start your week off with a bang....
Yesterday at school, regular day until 1:00pm or so, when the power goes out. Not too much of a panic, the sun is still up and it is nearing the end of the day. Rumour mill gets rolling, and turns out that the power is out all over Kuwait City. So we all drive home very carefully, as the lights at the intersections are all out. Apparently this means that right of way, if it ever existed before, quickly becomes passe and a Darwinian-every-man-for-himself attitude takes hold. but we make it home to our now very humid apartments, as the AC has cut out too, safely. My dog looks hot, but a little water fixes that.
So, what to do? Walk the dog, come home. No internet, thus no life. I read until Neal shows up at my door, telling me that the Hilton is open on a generator. Ah luxury. So off we go to the Hilton, swim in the empty outdoor pool, and return about 5:15pm. The sun has almost set and there is not a light to be found anywhere. So I come home, just about trip over my black dog, and basically lay on my bed, snoozing for an hour or so. I was supposed to have a chat with Meg, one I didn't want to miss (for reasons you don't need to know about, nosy). So at about 7:30pm, me and Monday go find a cell phone and call Meg, just to let her know whats going on. Then, with the girlfriend up to date, me and Monday do a very quick and very dark walk, without incident. Usually our night walks are done in well-lit areas, but not much we could do last night. Come home, crawl back into my humid bed, and go to sleep. Power comes on, finally, at 9:00pm, only a mere 8 hours after it cut out. Such is life in Kuwait. But my internet is working again, so I'm happy about that.
Part Two, life in Kuwait. I now have my civil ID, which means I am a person in the eyes of Kuwait. I also have my passport back, as I had to give it up on and off over the past two months. But now I need a driver's licence. Well here is how this is gonna work. Firstly, I must go to the Canadian embassy and get them to stamp the offical translation of my Alberta drivers licence. Then I must go to the Kuwaiti Foreign Affairs branch to get something else stamped. Then I must go to some place that will give me a drivers licence. Apparently last year this was all done for the new teachers, but this year we gotta fend for ourselves. Lovely. I'm not overly bitter, my spirit has been successfully crushed by the bureaucracy, but some people are pretty pissed, and I think it is justified. Neal, my carpool buddy, is gonna be around on our break in November, so he's gonna spend a day or two shuttling me and Jan around to get this all done. Lots more waiting in line coming my way, I can hardly wait. I figure I may be driving by the end of the break. It will have only been three months since I got here, what should I be complaining about? Cripes, I miss Canada right now....
Anyway, the countdown continues, this time with electricity to pass the time a little more wastefully. Hope all is well. Cheers.
A sovereign thought, delivered to your door at
6:35 AM ~~
0 bonsai trees
shout out out out out out