Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back again

Okay, so I'm back to try this again. Over the last few months, I just haven't had the energy, or the time mostly, to do this. I've been working nights, and sleeping days, and trying to adjust. I've also moved into a new place, and getting that painted and cleaned and fixed up is time-consuming. On top of that, my father is visiting, and I've been spending time with him, so there just aren't enough hours in the day.

My father is still here, but will be leaving right after New Years. I'll be able to have more of a regular schedule then, and with the crappy weather, should be able to get back into this, at least on a semi-regular basis.

It's been great having him here, and he's been to see Neeve every time I've gone. They get along great, and she'll be sad to see him go. She talks to him a lot, and will play with him whenever they get the chance. He gets things out of her it took me months to get, but he's a grandparent, and I'm just Daddy. And I don't mind.

Things are great with Neeve. She's turned six, and doing great in school. We're getting along better than ever, and there aren't any issues between us. There is one, but I'll cover that separately.

Her mother and I have seemed to form some sort of symbiotic relationship at last. In that we both have to deal with the other, and we've learned to do it without making things more difficult for Neeve. More on that one later. But no arguments or silly games for quite awhile.

I'm working as a Night Porter in a hotel. I don't like it, but it's more money for fewer hours than I was making before. And better working conditions. I want to move into days, but it isn't happening right now. The main thing is, it's work. Steady work.

Those are the main things right now. There isn't much happening, as usual. But things to fill you in on. I'll try to get all things caught up by the end of the year. I still don't have a lot of time, but it's getting better.

Be back soon.

Friday, July 31, 2009

25 Random Things: # 3

3. Someday I will buy a tropical island in the South Pacific, move there and never leave. Special invitation only to visit, so be nice to me.

That would seem to be a fairly simple statement. Who wouldn't want to live on a tropical island in the South Pacific. The weather, the simplicity of the life style, the lack of stress and bother would be something most people want. I can be an obsessive-compulsive type of person at times, and can get a little Type-A when I need to. But I've worked hard all my adult life, and I also enjoy it taking it easy.

I'm not talking about some deserted, Gilligan's Island-type of place. But an island, none the less. Maybe the end of an island that has a town on it, for the basics of groceries and some socializing on occasion. I'm not anti-social, I just spend a lot of time by myself. But even better would be a small island all my own, but close enough by boat to get to another island with stores and civilization, when needed.

And not desolate, either. There would be electricity, or generators for power. I would still have my Internet connection so I can keep in touch with people, and my satellite television for watching baseball, news, and old movies. And a phone to make calls as wanted. And obviously, refrigeration for beer and steaks.

But can you imagine the lifestyle. You get up in the morning, and go for a swim. Check the trot line for fresh fish for breakfast, with some fresh fruit. Spend the day doing home improvement and gardening, or exploring the island. Maybe a sail boat for when the weather is nice. Or scuba diving. Time spent watching baseball and writing about it. I can see it. And in the evening, lying out on the beach with a cold beer watching the sun go down? Oh yeah, I can see it.

And I'm not looking to be lonely. People would be allowed to visit, of course. Especially family and certain other visitors. There would probably be a guest house for most of them. They could stay as long as they wanted, but not longer than 3 weeks. 3 weeks is the max. Except for Neeve. She can come live with me. That's actually the only drawback, is the time away from her. So this would have to be when she is older.

And of course, as stated in a later item, there is one person who can come and stay forever. And when I ask her, I know she'll say yes. I think. I'm pretty sure. Yeah, she will.

Anyhow, I can see this happening. I mentioned this to a few people, and they thought I was crazy. They said I would be bored. Maybe. They could be right. But right now I'm bored in Bournemouth. My way, I would be bored in paradise. Not hard to figure this one out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are English people polite?

This is another mini-poll I found that asks the question:

England is widely known as one of the most polite nations in Europe, yet the English themselves often complain about a lack of politeness in their country in recent years. Compared with the situation a decade ago, how do you feel about the issue?

We are as polite as we have always been........................7%
We are not as polite as we used to be and I wish
we could return to the previous standard......................67%
We are not as polite as we used to be but we are
still sufficiently polite; there is no need to change... .....12%
We are more polite than we used to be...........................1%
We have never been an especially polite nation..............7%
I don't know...................................................................7%

As I've said many times before, I'm not here to bash the English. That's stupid. But having lived here, and been around English people for a long time, I can freely admit that most of them do feel that they are very polite.

At least to each other. But when it comes to foreigners, it doesn't always come across that way. We all know about the stereotypes of the French, the Germans, the Russians, New Yorkers, etc. Everyone can be characterized as something without it necessarily being true.

What I've experienced at times with the English is that they can be extremely rude at times. The difference is, they just don't realize they're doing it. If you would try to explain to them how they were rude, they wouldn't believe it. And would be offended at you for even suggesting it.

One of the great quotes I've ever read from a book, (and I can't remember who said it, but it wasn't me, I'm not taking credit) was about the English. In the book, the character says,

"You can have a conversation with an English person and remark how polite and respectful they are, and it isn't until 3 days later that you realize you've actually been insulted."

People here have treated me great, and some of my best friends I've ever had are English. But that quote is so true. But, much as they've learned to accept me as who I am, I've learned to accept them as they are.

After all, it's sticks and stones.

Thanks to Lightspeed Panel for the poll.

Friday, May 29, 2009

25 Random Things - #2

2. I've been on television in six countries (United States, South Korea, Germany, Angola, Latvia, & Slovenia)

I’m not claiming any type of fame off of this. It’s more timing or circumstances than anything else. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really mean anything, and I haven’t gone out of my way to be on television. In some cases, I’ve went out of my way to avoid it. I don’t care for the media, and think they are mostly hacks who sensationalize everything for ratings, and don’t really care about the real story. It was a couple of interviews, a couple of game shows, my own little ‘Band Stand’ moment, and just being where they needed someone at the time. Some long shots and just shots where I happened to be in the picture. Which also includes my great acting job. I’ll break them down by country.

United States:

The first time I was on television was back in 1975, when my mother won a slot on ‘Bowling for Dollars’. My two brothers, myself and a friend of my older brother went with her for the taping. It wasn’t that big of a deal. You stand up and they introduce the family members. It was taped, so I got to watch it at home when it aired.

When I got out of college, I moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, and got a job at the Hilton, in the banquet department. We would do some of the main events in town, and the news crews would come down at times to do interviews, or get shots, or whatever it is they do. I got to know them, mostly because there were only two channels in town at the time. They would do some extras at the end of the interview, like filming the buffet, or things like that. Every once in awhile, they would ask me to add a comment or make a remark about something. It was all silly, and pointless, but it happened several times.

This would lead to my big break later. More on that at the end.

I was on television a couple of other times in the states that actually kind of meant something. The first of those was at the end of Desert Storm. I got lucky and was on the first plane out and back to the states. We landed at Fort Stewart, Georgia. There was going to be a big ceremony, obviously, but not for me and the guys I was with. We were stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and had to catch a connecting flight. While they were getting everything set up, they decided to take us out the back door of the plane and get us out of the way so the ceremony could go on at the front door, for the soldiers stationed there.

We didn’t really care, we were just ready to go home. I was sitting by the back door, and when they opened it, I was the first one out because I was the closest. CNN thought that was the start of the ceremony, so they started filming. So I was the first soldier filmed landing back in the states after the fighting was over. I didn’t even know it. My aunt told me about it. She thought it was me, and a friend called and asked her about it, but she said it couldn’t be me, because I was still in Iraq. We hadn’t had a chance to call anyone and tell them we were on the way home. It was only a few weeks later that we figured out what happened.

The other time I was on television was when I was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during Somalia and Kosovo, and other operations. I volunteered to go to all of them, but they wouldn’t let me go. They said I was too valuable where I was at. Yeah, right. Anyhow, I was running the MARS station, which was a radio station/message center for the troops. We were able to do radio/phone patches so the troops could call home from overseas.

I’ll leave it at saying we did a lot of good work. If anyone is interested, give me your e-mail address and I’ll send you what happened. Anyhow, we started to get some publicity for what we were doing. We started on the back page of the weekly post paper, then started moving up page by page every week. Finally, I got a call one day from the Sergeant Major telling me to get to his office. He threw the paper and told me to explain myself. I was a little nervous until I looked at it and realized he was giving me crap. We were the top story on front page, above the fold. Pretty cool, if you ask me.

The next day, the Colonel ran into me picking up the distribution, called me into his office and showed me the front page of the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, where we were once again top story above the fold. In full color. We were all pretty happy and proud of ourselves. Then the next day, the Sergeant Major called down to the station and asked if we all had proper haircuts. I replied that we did, and asked why. He explained that one of the stations from Nashville had seen the story and was on the way up to interview us. Lead story, 6:00 news, and third on the 10:00 news. Let’s just say that everyone from the Post Commander on down was very happy with us. I still have a tape of the interview somewhere, and will need to get it transferred to CD. Neeve might want to see it someday.

Also, while stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington, I did some part-time security work for the Tacoma Dome, the Seattle Mariners, and a few other places. We would also be seen in the long shots, but enough that people would mention that they had seen me. Oddly, the most time I ever spent on television was 12 consecutive hours, at the Seattle International Speedway, working the start line for drag racing. I was on ESPN all day, and no one knew it was me. Mostly because I was wearing sunglasses and a ball cap, and they couldn't recognize me. Oh, well.

South Korea:

Germany should have been next, chronologically, but I wrote it like this originally, so it will stay. I was actually on television several times in South Korea, to include the Armed Forces Network and Korean television. The Koreans are very supportive of their military, and have game and talk shows geared exclusively to them. It’s kind of nice to see. They don’t just use the military to bump the ratings when something bad has happened, then turn around and shed a tear when public opinion is high. Anyhow, I was walking down the street in Seoul, and a television crew stopped me and asked if I would help them out. They were doing a segment where someone would say things in English, and the contestant would try and guess what the subject was. It wasn’t a big deal to me, and I like to support this kind of thing, so I said okay, not thinking much of it. It aired the next Sunday, and all of a sudden I was a huge star. Every Korean I met for 2 weeks told me they had seen me on television and how much they appreciated me supporting their military by doing that. Yeah, sure.

The other time I was on television in South Korea was on the Armed Forces Network. My roommate was ‘dating’ one of the girls who worked there, and she would come out with crews to do interviews and on the spot report type of things. Whenever she would see me, she would always get me in the shot, or get me to say something for the spot they were doing. Nothing big, but other people didn’t get to do it. People would actually come up to me and ask me if I worked for the Network, and if I could get them on camera. Yeah, don't think so.


There wasn’t much to it in Germany. I was just in the shot, and didn’t do anything. But it counts as being on television. I worked in a Special Weapons unit, and the tree-huggers would protest, and the stations would come out and film. Because of the job I did, I moved around a lot, while others stood guard. Somehow I ended up in some shots, and some German people I knew told me they saw me on television. Yay!

Side note --- do you know the best way to save a tree? Kill a tree hugger and use the body for fertilizer!!


I was on television twice in Angola. The first was for a visit by the Deputy Chief of Staff for the European Command. He flew into visit the Angolan military, and his wife came with him. It was acceptable, as he has to pay all of her costs out of pocket. There is also an expectation that she will do a Humanitarian Assistance project while she is there. She brought a bunch of toys and medicine and medical equipment for a pediatrics hospital we had helped to refurbish. I was her official escort for the visit, as my boss was escorting the General (there were only two of us), and we needed to come up with something to do with her. We had some money left over, so I suggested we have her donate that to the hospital while she was there. Everyone seemed to like that idea, and it all went ahead.

Unknown to me, the Public Affairs office had arranged for the local news station to show up and cover it, and do an interview with her. I was just in background shots and tried to stay out of the way as much as possible, and told them ‘not’ to mention my name. Anyhow, the General (the official visitor) got page 6 on the newspaper, and his wife got the lead story on the 10:00 news. The General’s wife was happy, the General was happy, my boss was happy, and I was happy when the aide came up and said, ‘The General’s wife is happy. What do you need? Give me a list?’ Happy days. Because when the General's wife is happy, we're all happy.

The second time was at a fundraiser the President’s wife gave for a children’s charity. $100 a pop for tickets. I went, and took a date. We had a good time, the wine was flowing, the band was playing, ‘other things’ were going to happen, and we started dancing. We were doing some pretty good swing dancing, and there was hardly anyone else dancing, and we stayed out there quite a while. So for some reason we ended up getting more air time for the story than the President’s wife. My own little ‘Band Stand’ moment.


There wasn’t really a lot of television time in Latvia. We did have the biggest NATO exercise in the history of the Baltics going on, and I was in on the planning for that. I ran a lot of it. We had visiting dignitaries at times, and a NATO Chiefs of Staff summit while I was there. Actually, the Latvians really ran those, but I was heavily involved and ran the American portion of things. Mostly I was on while they were there filming the big shots, and was the guy telling the aide to tell the big shot that it was time to stop talking to the press and get on with the next meeting. No big deal, as far as the television stuff. A big deal as far as the summit.


A great country. Not as great as Latvia, but still great. I was there for a NATO-integration meeting, and we had a day to kill while we waited on our flights. A bunch of went into the city square and did some sight-seeing and shopping. There was a television crew doing man on the street interviews. They asked me, but I don’t speak Slovenian or Russian, or any of the other common languages, and my German isn’t good enough for that kind of thing, so I declined. A couple of the others did it, and there were shots of me in the background. We watched it on the news that night at the hotel. That was it, really.

So the big break I was talking about?

While working at the hotel in Rapid City, we would get most of the entertainment acts that came into town. They would play the Convention Center, and until they built a hotel next door to it, we were the closest place to stay. A week before the Ice Capades came into town, the advance lady came in and stayed at the hotel. She was going to address the City Council that night and needed someone to go with her and wear the costume representing the show. My boss suggested me, as I was big enough to wear the suit, and would be available. I was asked, and agreed and went down to the council. We went into the meeting, handed out flyers, I shook hands with all the council members and the Mayor, and the crowd, and got a big cheer. The news channels were there and filmed it all for the 10:00 news.

What part did I play, you might ask?

Poppa Smurf.

Yup, the original Blue Man himself.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Brits show good taste in music

This is the results of a poll I found:

Which British band do you think is the best ever?

The Beatles......................30%
Pink Floyd.........................6%
The Rolling Stones.............5%
The Clash...........................1%
The Kinks...........................1%
The Stone Roses..................1%
Depeche Mode....................1%
The Streets.........................0%

I don't know......................10%

Much like me, the most votes went to the Beatles. Great, they are the best. Queen at 26% surprised me. I like Queen and they are without a doubt a top-10 band for me, but I was surprised they got that close to the Beatles. I guess the demographics matter also.

The Pink Floyd result doesn't surprise me, finishing 3rd, or at 6%. They aren't every one's favorite and you have to learn to like the music. I was surprised, and happy to see the Rolling Stones finish so low. I'm not a fan, and never have been.

What I don't get is 18% (almost 1/5 of the vote) going to Others or I Don't Know. Who are these others that are so good? And how can you not know? Jeez, pick someone.

But the main thing is, the Fab Four continue to rule. Eleanor Rigby might even approve.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A new thing

A bonus for people today. Two new posts. Well, actually three if you count this, but I don't.

In the first one below, I passed on some information about a blog a friend of mine in the Sudan is writing. Check it out. You'll enjoy it.

Below that, is the first installment of my 25 Random Things. I threatened, and now I've done it.

Each week, on Friday, you'll be treated to my ramblings about my 25 Random Things.

For those of you who don't know what it is, it's something that started on Facebook. People will write 25 random things about themselves, then post it on their Facebook profile for everyone to read. Pretty simple, really.

I did it there, and posted it here one day.

I need to be on here more, writing and posting, so I'm going to use this as a way. I'll still write about Neeve, of course, but things are going well, mostly, and there isn't much too write about now except for the weekend visits.

Those will still be up on Mondays, and the 25 Random Things on Friday. So you'll have those to look forward to. In between, I'll do my best to find something worthwhile to post here.

Monday is a holiday here, like in the states, so maybe nothing then. But I have a visit with Neeve on Sunday, so Tuesday for sure.


Under This Blue Sky

I've been lucky in my life, and done quite a few things. And lived in a few countries. I've loved every minute of it, for the things I did, and mostly because of the people I've met. There are more than I can remember, but a few stand out.

One in particular, from Angola, is Gabi. She was an aid worker living in Luanda, running the office, and doing a lot of good stuff. I met Gabi when I first got there, and she introduced me to a lot of people, and helped me learn my way around.

Gabi is a Hungarian, who grew up in Switzerland, and has lived in Angola and Madagascar, and speaks about six languages. She's married now, to Vinnie, a Canadian, they have two children and live in the Sudan right now. Yup, that's right. The Sudan. Oh, the life of an ex-pat.

It was great, I miss it, and I had more fun than anyone could ever imagine.

Anyhow, Gabi is now in the Sudan and writing her very own blog. She's just starting to find her way with it, and is doing well. I suggest you go by and see what it's like to live and raise a family outside the mainstream.

And leave comments. She loves them.

Under This Blue Sky

25 Random Things - #1

1. I think the 5 greatest musical acts in history are the Beatles, Elvis, Merle Haggard, Pink Floyd, and Allison Krauss. You don't have to agree, but then it just proves you don't know what good music is. I love music.

I have absolutely no musical talent, and can't sing at all. I wish I could. I would love to play an instrument or being able to sing. I can't, so I'll listen instead.

I like a lot of different types of music. Rock, southern rock, country rock, classic rock, Motown, classic country, the 60's British invasion, the 80's British invasion, country, blue grass, jazz, blues, early country, pop, original 50's rock, swing, current country, big band, etc. I have albums in all these forms of music. I think people who limit themselves to one type of music to listen to limit themselves in life. They're missing out on so much. Variety is the spice of life, and everyone should be able to enjoy different types of music.

Even though I'm not big on opera or rap, in its way, to those who enjoy it, it's good music. I've been to the opera, and would go again. It was fantastic. But I wouldn't buy any records. Same with rap. I've listened to it. Some of its good, some of its crap, and I just don't enjoy it that much. Just the way it is.

My musical tastes come from my family more than anything else. I think most people would say their friends, but not with me. Some, yes, but mostly my family. My older brother is 5 years older than me, and he started listening to music in the late 60's/early 70's. And there was some great stuff there. Music, rock music mostly, changed during that period and several new genres appeared. My brother listened to lots of different music, and I used to hear it from his room.

My parents also were a big influence. They used to listen to a lot of different types themselves. My mother grew up as teenager in the 50's, with Elvis, the Everly Brothers, etc. My father was a country boy who listened to Webb Pierce and Tex Ritter. I also remember my father listening to ZZ Top when he was in his 50's. Lots of music, lots of different types of music, and the ability to listen to it for the value of it individually, and not because it fit into a genre or someone told you it was good.

As an example, I could care less about the Rolling Stones, and I'm not really a Bruce Springsteen fan. But I love del Amitri and Queen. I prefer Earl Thomas Conley over Garth Brooks. Frankie and Deano over Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. It doesn't mean I don't like all of them. I do. I just don't pick my music based on the popularity of the performer. I pick it based on whether I like it or not. Some people might laugh at that statement, but we all know people who only buy their music based on what's popular. Popular doesn't mean good.

And so on to my picks:

The Beatles: simply the greatest, in my mind. They changed music in a way that no one ever has. The top 5 songs in Billboard in one week. No one has ever done anything like that. My parents were in England in '63 and '64. I was born there. I remember them telling me about watching the Beatles on television before they ever made it to the states. The first pop movies with 'A Hard Day's Night' and 'Help'.

One reason I refuse to listen to REM is because Michael Stipe, lead singer of REM, said the Beatles were no big deal and had no influence on modern music. Yeah, he's an idiot and I hold grudges.

Favorite song: I Should Have Known Better
Bonus Track: Help

Elvis: forget about the movies and listen to the music. Buy a CD, open a bottle of wine or a beer, and listen to the songs with no distraction. I didn't like Elvis for a lot of years. He died on my 13th birthday, and ruined it. It was the only year my mother actually remembered my birthday on the day of my birthday. And then she sat and cried all night. Good times. And in the 70's, in Kansas City, Channel 5 used to have a 3:00 movie every afternoon. And at least every two months there was a week-long Elvis festival. And never King Creole or Jailhouse Rock. It was always Viva Las Vegas and the ones where he played twins, or something.

But over the years, I listened more and more and came to realize why they call him the King. Remember, at one time, this guy had more #1 singles than anyone in history. He sold more records than anyone else. Some of that was the hype, but not all of it. He was that good. There was a lot of schlock involved with Elvis, and he didn't go out the best way. But the man could sing.

Favorite song: Suspicious Minds
Bonus Track: Always On My Mind

Merle Haggard: of all the country performers, he's my favorite. I don't know why one person makes an impact more than any other, but the Hag Man does. He writes most of his own songs, he's lived a hard life, and made a success of himself. He doesn't have the greatest voice, but he can sing. But more importantly, he tells a story that gets you to listen to it.

He was the first concert I ever went to. And he has an unusual show. He walks and says hello. Then he sings to you. About half way through, he'll stop and say thank you for coming to see him. Then he sings some more. Then he says thank you and goes home. No light shows. No laser shows. No dancers. Just the music and song. What a concept.

Favorite song: Kern River
Bonus Track: My Favorite Memory

Pink Floyd: I was never a huge Floyd fan, at least until I saw 'The Wall' for about the 5th time. I loved the movie, and the music was good. But I never really listened to it. It was just a part of the movie, without being individual songs. That's a hard concept to get used to, unless you're into album rock, which I never was. Then one day I bought the sound track and listened to it without the movie. And I was hooked.

When I was in Turkey, I found a store where I could buy every (bootleg) Pink Floyd album for $2. So I did. And there wasn't a lot to do in Turkey, so I listened all the time. And I was hooked. There is one thing I know. Put on the sound track to 'The Wall', open a bottle of wine (or other means of relaxation) and by the time the song 'Comfortably Numb' comes on, you will be.

Favorite song: Comfortably Numb
Bonus track: Shine On You Crazy Diamond

Alison Krauss: I usually buy greatest hits albums. I would rather spend my money on an album that has 7 or 8 songs I know I want to listen to over an album that's popular and might have one or two songs I might like. The first album I ever bought based on one song and nothing else was 'I've Got That Old Feeling' by Alison Krauss. The video of 'Steel Rails' come on and I loved the song. I went out right away and bought the album, and have bought every album of hers since. I don't care for every album she has. Some are straight bluegrass. Some are straight country, or variations. Some are a combination. She's even performed with Robert Plant.

She's a very versatile performer. She's an award-winning fiddle player, a Grammy-award winning singer (among many others), and is extremely talented. You never hear a lot about her, which is good. I don't care about performer's personal lives. I care about their music.

Favorite song: Steel Rails
Bonus track: Carolina On My Mind

That's it. Not much, really, but this is the first post. My favorite performers and a little about them, and why I like them.

So who are your top 5?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One year in

I've been in country now for 1 year. Well, 1 year and 5 days as of writing this. It's not that big of a deal, really, just a mark on the calendar. I've lived in a lot of other countries for longer than this. Those were different situations, obviously, but mostly harder than this. In some aspects. In other ways, this is still the hardest thing I've ever done.

Some of the negative things that have happened this year:

I still don't get Neeve for overnight visits.
I still don't get a lot of time with Neeve.
I went for 7 of those months not working.
I'm still living in a room in a shared house.
I'm still broke most of the time.
I've left Bournemouth twice since I've been here. Once to Southampton, and once to Bristol.
I still don't have a car.
I still don't have a girlfriend.
I owe my solicitor £2500.

Some of the neutral things:

Still don't have a good relationship with her mother (that just makes it harder on Neeve)

Some of the positive things:

I get to see Neeve more than ever.
She knows I'm her father, and there are no issues with that.
I have a job.
I'll have a place to live soon.
I'll get overnight/weekend visits soon.
I'm getting the bills paid instead of putting them off.
I have a great group of friends who have made my time here good.

And the most important thing:

I get to see Neeve more than ever.

So, some good, some bad, some indifferent. All-in-all, it's been a good year, if a rough one. But I'm glad I'm here, and I'm not going away.

It's just hard to believe a year has passed already.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A crazy idea

A friend of mine has suggested that I write up my story for a magazine and sell it. Or try to sell it. I guess the woman's magazines are into these kinds of story. The story that I have. Now, I'll admit, it would seem egotistical to me to write this up and try to sell it. It just seems strange.

Another friend suggested I do it as a book.

I had never thought of it until she suggested it, but I'll admit I am kind of curious about it. I don't want to just regurgitate what I've written here, so it would be a challenge. So I was wondering what you all think about it.

Is it too egotistical?

Would it be worth reading?

Would anyone care?

Could I make any money off of it?

What tone would I take with it?

How much information would I put in?

Should I even do it?

Let me know what you all think? After all, you'll be the ones doing the proofreading.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Did you know that Americans are pushy?

According to the Discovery Channel, Americans on the Titanic were rude and pushed ahead of other passengers to get on the lifeboats, while the Brits:

on board the sinking Titanic died while politely queuing to get their place on a lifeboat, while Americans pushed their way on

This is according to:

new analysis of passenger data
Nothing like having concrete evidence to prove something:

David Savage, a behavioral economist at Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and Bruno Frey, of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, spent more than a year studying survival rates from one of the worst maritime disasters in history.
Because as we all know from saber metrics, the numbers tell the entire story, and there is no evidence needed. And by all means, let's pick a bullshit hypothesis and make the data fit it in order to prove a point:

"The Titanic was built in Great Britain, operated by British subjects, and manned by a British crew. It is to be expected that national ties were activated during the disaster and that the crew would give preference to British subjects, easily identified by their language," the researchers said

They found that British passengers, who queued for a place in one of only 20 lifeboats provided for the 2,223 on board, had 10 percent lower chance of survival than any other nationality.
So lets look at this. The ship, built by, and manned by, the Brits, sank because the British captain was trying to set a speed record and was going too fast at night for the conditions. The British company that built the ship decided they didn't need to spend money on binoculars for the look out to actually spot the iceberg. And the British crew let the lifeboats, manned by British seamen, pull away from the ship half full.

But the Americans are rude, pushy, murderers, who jumped into the lifeboats at the expense of other passengers:

In contrast, Americans, who reportedly elbowed their way to the front of lines, had a 12 percent higher probability of survival than British subjects.
Now, lets look it another way. The ship, sailing to America, was carrying Americans. Who were going home, not immigrating. So lets assume, since this is what this entire study does, that most of the Americans had money and were traveling in first or second class, and not steerage. Therefore, they were close to the decks, closer to the boats, and more likely to have loaded before the immigrants from the lower decks were able to get up there. While all the Brits were not immigrants, it is certainly reasonable to assume that many of them were, and were in the bowels of the boat with others. Proving my point:

Passengers of the first and second class were advantaged: they likely had better access to information about the imminent danger, not to mention that they were closer to the boat deck.
Remember, Brits comprise English, Welsh, Scots, and Irish. British here is a handy word for English, and ignores the nationality of the others.

When the sailors were loading the boats, it was most likely in a first come-first serve basis of women and children. From what I read, the study doesn't break it down by gender, but says younger women and children were more likely to be saved. This all jives with those who survived, and doesn't prove a damn thing at all.

Americans can be pushy, and might have pushed their way to the front. But Brits are just as likely to be pushy. I live here, and I see it all the time. Think of hooligans. It's nice to think of all Brits as being the polite, Jeeves's the butler robots, who would stand by and let themselves drown while others save themselves. Much as many Americans did, to include John Jacob Astor, who died on board. This is conveniently overlooked.

I don't understand the point behind this. The sinking was done in a British boat, with a British crew and captain, and owned by a British company that failed to provide enough boats. So, in order to make sure they don't get blamed, Brits now want to blame America's for the deaths because of some numbers on a list. This is just blatant anti-Americanism, and they don't do anything more to prove their case then I have done to disprove it. And I'm not even trying.

With all the problems in the world such as terrorism, the economy, children dying in Africa by the millions, and no clean water, is something like this really necessary. Seriously, what was the point of this. I just don't see Americans can be considered guilty of anything.

We are, however, guilty of James Cameron's awkward moment at the Academy Awards, and that song by Celine Dion that just won't die a natural death.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pole-ar opposites

I had a little bit of a dust up at the house on Saturday night. There are currently 10 people living here. A Spanish couple, me, a British woman, a Polish man and his son, and his girlfriend (who isn't supposed to be here, but is), and a young Polish couple. As you can see, I'm kind of outnumbered.

The Polish couple like to go out on the weekends, and have friends who come to the house on occasion. I don't care about that, they live here and can have friends. We all can, and have. Having guests isn't the issue. Having guests who are rude, abusive, and violent is.

They guy has a friend who comes over several times a week. He's in his early to mid-20's. A typical punk. The way the house is laid out, I'm on the second floor just to the left of the front door as you look at it. The Polish couple live right above me. Their friend will come over, stand outside the house (my window) and shout at the window to get his friends attention. It's kind of annoying, rude to the neighbors, and just plain stupid. He's done it several different times, as late as 11 pm.

After listening to it for a month or so, I finally got tired of it. It's obnoxious, and I live in the house and pay rent, and I don't want to listen to it. And I don't have to. So one day, when he was doing it, I went to the front door. He just walked right in and tried to go past me, like I'm the door man and he can do whatever he wants. I stopped him and told him not to do it again. I told him to use the bell, knock, or call. He just laughed and went upstairs. He did this a couple of other times and I told him to stop doing it, but he didn't take it seriously.

So on Saturday, I was in the kitchen, fixing my dinner, and he did it again. I went to the door and opened it, and he tried to walk by me like he owned the place. He and his girlfriend started up the stairs, and I stopped, and let him know in no uncertain terms not to do it again, or I would call the police on him.

He started with F^*) you, which I don't take from anyone. I told him people didn't get to say that to me in my own home (shared or not), and to stop acting like a child. At that point, he started back down the stairs and told me he was going to kick my ass. Then I was pissed. Big time. And I wasn't afraid of him, but I didn't want to get something started. I'm on a visa, and I'm trying to renew it, and I don't need to get into a fight over stupid shit. So I told him to get the Polish guy and have him come down stairs.

The Polish guy, Jurec, came down to the kitchen, and as I was talking to him, the punk walked in, brushed past me with his shoulder trying to knock me off balance, and yelled, "Don't touch me."

So he's acted like a child, laughed at me, cussed me, threatened me, made contact with me, and just generally acted like a complete dick. And in someone else's house. I could see it getting out of hand, and wanted to kick his ass so badly. But he is half my age, and it's been a few years. Instead I decided not to get stupid. So I called the police and had them come over. The emergency operator told me I should wait outside until they showed up.

I told her thought that was complete bullshit. I mean, it's my house, why should I have to go outside and wait while the idiot stayed inside. The operator told me it was to keep things from escalating, but I wasn't worried about it. I can take care of myself, he was in the wrong, and he wasn't going to try anything. Or if he did, he was going to jail. But to get her to shut up, I went outside and waited. It was only about 2 minutes until the police showed up.

They came up, took all my information, and of course the first question was, "Have you been drinking?". Which of course, I had not been. Because I'm so broke I can't afford to pay attention. I always hate when they do that, like sobriety solves every problem. Then they told me they couldn't really make him leave, because its a shared house, and only the landlord could make him leave, and someone would have to call him. I informed the police that I wanted him out, I wouldn't call the landlord, and if they didn't remove him, they shouldn't get to far away, because they would be back.

They stated again that they couldn't remove him, and two of them went inside while one stayed outside to get my information. They got mine, but didn't get his. Nice. I don't know what happened inside, but it went from "we can't make him leave" to "you have to leave now and don't come back", and the punk being escorted out by angry police officers. So he must have said the magic word.

I stayed out of the way while it was going on, but his girlfriend, who I had not said a word to, now decided to get involved by walking by me and throwing an elbow into my ribs. Right in front of the cops. Stupid. They didn't arrest her, but they should have. I told the police that if I would have done that to her, they would have arrested me, and it was only fair that she be arrested, but they wouldn't.

So I went back in the house to discover he had spit in my dinner, and I had to throw it out. Since I'm pretty much broke, and only have enough food to last a few days, and will likely end up borrowing money to buy food, I was really pissed off that I had to throw a meal's worth of food away and fix my dinner all over again. Then the Polish couple started in on me, trying to tell me all the things I've done wrong, and how they are so perfect and don't bother anyone, and I was wrong to have their friend made to leave by the police.

So lets review the facts:

He doesn't live here
He stands outside my window at all hours shouting at the people above me because he thinks its cute
When I tell him to stop, he laughs at me
He cusses me in my own house
He threatens to kick my ass
He shoves against me trying to intimidate me.
He threatens me again
He spits in my dinner
He gets escorted out by the cops and told not to come back
He comes back that night at 1:30 in the morning, stands outside the window, and shouts again.

And I'm the bad guy who's done something wrong? I don't think so. The Polish couple told me I didn't have the right to tell their friend not to stand outside and shout, and that he could if he wanted to. So I told them I was going to have friends of mine come over and stand outside their door, banging pots and pans together. And when they complained about it, I would tell them it was too bad and they couldn't do anything about it. All of the sudden, they kind of, sort of, somewhat got the point.

They ended up apologizing to me for what they had said to me. I explained I wasn't concerned about their actions, but I wasn't going to be threatened and pushed and cussed in the house I live in, especially when the punk had been given fair warning to stop, and wouldn't because he thought it was funny. I explained to them that he had no rights in the house, and I did. They still aren't happy, but it's all cool now.

They did say they would have him apologize to me, but I told them that after he spit in my dinner, there was no way I was accepting his apology. I can be petty like that, but I don't care. And I told them if the girl came back and got within 10 feet of me, I would call the police again. I can't hit her, so she doesn't get to hit me.

Seems fair, does it. Man, I can't wait to get out of here.

I've lived a lot of places in my life, and been the foreigner many times. There are a lot of Poles living in the UK, and a lot of Brits aren't happy about it. They don't want them here, as the crime rate has gone up since their arrival. That doesn't mean all Poles are bad people, not by a long sight. The ones that live in the house with are great, and I've never had an issue with any of them, at least until Saturday. The problem is, when you're a foreigner, it just takes one shithead to ruin it for everyone else.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A job at last

Yes, I've finally gotten a job. After 5 1/2 months. It was getting hard. I've never went that long without working before. The longest I ever took off was the last 3 months in the Army, but I took terminal leave for 89 days. So even though I didn't work for 3 months, I still got paid for it. And I did umpire baseball games, which is more work than people think it is. Especially on those hot Missouri summer days.

The job is working for a lawyer, who does family mediation. Kind of ironic, isn't it. It's writing letters, doing financial disclosures, and any other admin job that needs to be done. Just up my alley, I think. Also, she has an office in London, and another out west, so she's out of the office quite a bit. And will be in Spain for 3 weeks.

I think I only got the job because of my gender, which is a switch. I don't know for sure, but just going by what she said. She has all women working for her, and she thought it might look like she was always taking the woman's side if there were no men in the office. I explained my situation to her during the interview, and I think the fact that I have experience going through what the clients are going through made a big difference also. I don't really care, it's a job.

It was supposed to be 30 hours a week, which I didn't have a problem with. I have enough going on right now that those hours would have been okay with me. But when she called to offer me the job, she said she wanted to go to 40 hours a week. The office would be open until 5 instead of 3. Okay with me. If I'm done with the work, and I'm just sitting around, I can get some writing done. No problem to me.

I'm a little nervous about going back to work. It's been a long time, and while this isn't brain surgery, it is important, and there is no margin for error. It's about people's life, particularly the kids. And I know how important that is.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dan Seals (1948 - 2009)

Everyone might not have been a fan, but I was. From his days as 'England Dan and John Ford Coley', to his solo career, I always liked the music of Dan Seals. I was sad to hear that he had passed on.

It's not quite Elvis dying on his toilet, or John Lennon being murdered, but it's still sad. He had better songs, but this is the one I want played at my funeral.

Dan Seals (1948 - 2009)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Just as an exercise to keep on here and writing, since I've been so bad lately, I'm going to add this. This is my 25 Random Things About Me From Facebook. Not everyone who reads here is on my list on Facebook, so some people haven't seen this.

What I'm going to do, for what it's worth, is break this down and make each item an individual post. Just to expand on it. Some will be good, some will be boring, some might be revealing. Stay tuned.

This is it. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

1. I think the 5 greatest musical acts in history are the Beatles, Elvis, Merle Haggard, Pink Floyd, and Alison Krauss. You don't have to agree, but then it just proves you don't know what good music is.

2. I've been on television in six countries (United States, South Korea, Germany, Angola, Latvia, & Slovenia)

3. Someday I will buy a tropical island in the South Pacific, move there and never leave. Special invitation only to visit, so be nice to me.

4. People think I talk to much, and I should shut up at times. They're right, but I don't care. People who knew me when I was young know how painfully shy I was and how hard it was for me to interact with people. I would take F's in school, so I didn't have to get up in front class and read a paper. I know how I was then, and I know how I am now. Yeah, I irritate people at times, but I will not be silent. I will never be that way again. Deal with it. I have.

5. Beer, pizza, ice cream, buttermilk biscuits. I believe that pretty much says it all.

6. If they offered me a place on a space mission to explore new planets, I'm gone. No doubt, no hesitation. I won't even pack. I'll buy it when I get there.

7. I think a lot of people are jealous of me, because they always show it when we trade stories. The problem is, their stories start: last fall, when I was in Sheboygan for a convention. My stories start off: when I was in the middle of Africa watching the wild elephants; the day I came face-to-face with a North Korean soldier; one day in the middle of a tank battle; yesterday, when I met the President; or this time I got arrested by the police in Latvia. Sorry, that's what I have. I'm not going to apologize for living a charmed life. I think instead of being jealous, people should stop reading about my life on Facebook and go get their own. Take a chance. Explore. Experience. There's a whole, big, bright, beautiful world out there, and it's yours for the taking.

8. I love my daughter more than anyone in the world, but I know it's a good thing she was born at the time she was. If she had come along 10 years earlier, or 5 years earlier, or even 2 years earlier, I'm not sure I was the man I am today, and I don't know if I would be doing what I'm doing now. I would like to think I would, but I also think I might have been the guy to walk away. I guess timing is everything.

9. I don't know if I'm the person I am today because of my family, or in spite of them. If you know my family, you know what I mean. That's not meant to be an insult to my family; it's just the truth. And they all know it.

10. The only thing I've ever really wanted to do is be a writer (realistically). Someday I will get paid to write something. There has to be a book out there I can write. And I will do it. Eventually.

11. I've only ever loved 2 women in my life, and they were both the right woman, at the time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it work with either one of them. But I'll keep trying until I get it right.

12. I think my friends that I have are my greatest asset. I have the greatest group of friends anyone could every want. And because of the places I live, I have friends all over the world. Thanks to e-mail, I talk to people everyday on six continents. Whether or not they want to take credit for it, I am who I am today because of my friends.

13. My favorite vehicle of all time that I owned was a piece-of-shit '75 Dodge Ram pick-up. The breaks were shot, the suspension was a distant memory, and I swear it got negative gas mileage. You can have your Mercedes and Volvo's. Give me that pick-up again, and I'll never own another vehicle again.

14. I've had six surgical procedures, have been to the emergency room 29 times, but have had only one broken bone, and only received stitches one. Sure, I need to lose 15 pounds. But I bounce.

15. I hesitate to use the term soul-mate (since Jorgen has said we shouldn't), but I know who the perfect woman for me is. Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I wasn't able to do anything about it at the time. But I know she's the one, because any time you can get a woman to smile like that, you're doing something right. I know where she is and what she's doing. And one day, when my life is better, I'm going to go knock on her door and ask her to move to an island in the South Pacific. And I'm 90% sure her answer will be: "What took you so long".

16. I'm one of the 5 smartest people I've ever encountered. Sure, there are people out there with higher IQ's, and who are smarter than me. But of all the people I've ever met in my life, there are only 4 as smart as I am. That sounds egotistical, but it's true. Deal with it, and don't complain. And if you have to ask if you're one of the 4, then you aren't.

17. I don't understand people who like to play, "What if?". Because you can't. You can't go back and change things. You can't redo decisions and change situations. What you know is what you have. I could have made better decisions in my life (we all could), but I wouldn't trade what I know for what might be. If you change, you relegate the people you know and the things you've done to nothingness. If you're not happy with your life, make better decisions in the future, stop complaining about the ones you've made in the past. And stop asking me, "What if?"

18. I've ordered beer in 35 different countries in 12 different languages. It's important to have a hobby.

19. Every day I doubt myself about whether I'm doing the right thing for my daughter. I know I am, and she's better off having me here than not, but it's still rough for her, and if I can't make her life better, then I should go away. I know I am a positive influence on her, but I still doubt myself everyday. Maybe that's a good thing, because it will make me try harder.

20. I wish I could have a better relationship with my daughter's mother. Not because I want to be friends with her, but we do have a child together. We are supposed to be the adults in the equation, and some days we fail miserably at it.

21. I like beer.

22. I subscribe to the 3 B's theory of life:

Blond hair
Blue eyes
Big tits

Sure I'm a shallow person, but I'm having fun. Are you?

23. I plan on living until I'm 100. The day after my 100th birthday, everything is fair game. Before then, I'm going kicking and screaming and taking the bastards with me.

24. I think people who engage in exercises like this only do it try and impress people with how smart they are, or the things they have accomplished in their lives. I, however, am able to pull it off successfully. It's the truth, you know it, deal with it.

25. I love this crazy tragic, sometimes magic, awful beautiful life.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Life in the U.K. - 6

I don't think anyone is advocating that the police start carrying guns here. That's something that everyone agrees on here. They don't want police to do that. And it's a good idea. There isn't violence against the police here like there is in the states. The police here aren't killed at the rate of more than one a day.

They do have weapons, but they don't carry them on routine patrols. They are kept locked up until needed, and if I remember correctly, they have to have permission of a supervisor to use them, or have come under fire. Carrying them would probably just create more violence as the criminals would then start to carry them also. I think the US is in a position now where we can't turn back.

But the idea of gun ownership here is a lot more common than most Americans would think. There are a lot of difference in between Brits and Americans, but in some ways we are a lot more alike then they might want to believe.

Lots of people here still think they should be able to have guns. Not so much the concealed carry like we have, but the right to have them in their own homes, or places of business. Since the expansion of the EU, there has been an influx of immigrants from eastern Europe. I've lived there myself, so I'm not condemning them all. But along with the immigrants who come here to work and have a better life, criminals are making the trip also. Why steal from poor eastern Europeans who don't have anything, when you can come to the UK and steal from people who have something. So now that they can move to the UK, they are coming in force, and because of that there is a marked increase in crime in the UK.

There are an increasing number of house break-ins and robberies at stores, and many people feel that having their own weapons could either prevent robberies, or provide "protection" when it does happen.

I grew up in a gun society. My father didn't keep one, but most of my family and neighbors did. I went hunting for the first time when I was six. Didn't fire the game. Oddly, it was my uncle who took me, because my father was in Vietnam. Most people I grew up around hunt, and have pistols in the house. Of course, I spent my adult life in the Army, and know what it is like to carry a live weapon, point it at someone, and have one pointed back.

According to most studies I've seen, the places where guns are allowed (and particularly concealed carry) have lower crime rates. Of course, like any other issue, there are counter studies that show the exact opposite. I don't know who's right or wrong, but it is interesting that DC has one of the highest crime rates in the world, yet gun ownership is banned by law. (Or was, until the recent Supreme Court decision). When I lived in Arizona, where everyone had guns, the crime rate was low. So to each his own.

I'm not advocating anyone own a gun. I'm not advocating banning guns. Everyone should make their own choice. They might prevent crime, or they might increase it. There isn't one overall reason why the crime rate here has risen at the same time that gun ownership was banned. But a lot of people here want their guns back. And will do something to get them.

Outlawing the legal possession of guns doesn't get rid of guns. The criminals who want them can and will get them. They're criminals, they don't care about the law. The idea of getting caught with a gun doesn't really faze them as they already spend their time committing crimes. Outlawing guns doesn't keep them out of the hands of criminals. But it does keep them out of the hands of their victims. This might be a good or bad thing.

But I already know what is going to happen. As the crime rate increases, people here will get guns. It's easy. Finding guns isn't a hard thing to do, and they aren't that expensive. With the open borders in the EU now, it's not that hard to get something in or out of any country. So the ordinary citizen will get guns, and eventually, one of them will use one to protect themselves. And they will probably end up wounding or killing someone. The criminal will then become the victim, and the victim will be charged with a crime for protecting their home.

It's an interesting conundrum. As Buffalo Springfield said, "Nobody's right when everybody's wrong."