Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Terrified (or Worried, depending on the day)

My bipolar symptoms and mood swings are getting worse. Pity Ed for a moment.


Okay, moment over. So Ed has helped me a lot, but now I have to go to a doctor to get new meds. I have been on an anti-depressive (Effexor) for a long time and it worked well. Then less well. Now, not very well. Therefore, next week I am going to a new nut-doctor. I am apprehensive to terrified, depending on the moment.

I definitely want to get better. But I do not relish the idea of trying drugs to see what works and what does not work.

I have tried Paxil - which I LOVED because it may me fun-high, but didn't love because it made me fall asleep without any warning. After falling asleep in traffic twice (including 1 accident) Eddie put the kibosh on Paxil. 

I have also tried Prozac. It kind of works. But I used to not need it too much (I thought) and I would forget to take it. But it did kill my appetite so maybe that is good.

Th number 1 treatment seems to be Lithium still. I am terrified of Lithium. Not so much the drug itself, as the side-effects. Now, I know that a lot of my trepidation is from my grandfather, who was on Lithium but hated it. But, crazy or not, everything he hated is listed as a side-effect, so he wasn't just paranoid (plus that doesn't seem to be a side-effect).

Long story short, stay tuned, we are all in for a fuck of a ride.




Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Worrisome One Off In Eastern Europe


Something very odd happened this week-end in Eastern Europe. A plane was traveling from Athens Greece to Vilnius Lithuania, when it was forced to land in Minsk, Belarus. (Friends connection; Minsk was where Phoebe's boyfriend had to go to study, back when it was Minsk, Soviet Union.)

Now this particular Ryan Air flight had a Belarus dissident / opposition politician on it, one Roman Protasevich. And even though the flight was between two sovereign European Union countries, Greece and Lithuania, it was forced down in Belarus, a notorious dictatorship allied with Russia supposedly for a bomb.

Once on the ground, all the luggage was taken off and no bomb found (no surprise there). But dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was taken into custody. Three other men, assumed to be Belarusian KGB agents left with him (as did 1 unrelated Greek man, who was going to Minsk anyway and decided to exit as long as they were there).

This caused no small amount of consternation to European officials. As a rule, airspace is considered to be out bounds to things like this. Europe has cut off Belarus from flights and money. This probably does nothing to Belarus, as they are dependent on Russia for aid, military support and money. But it may push the EU closer together. 

It also should worry Americans since both Greece and Lithuanian are in NATO - although Ireland, where Ryan Air is based, is not. If this results in any border skirmish with Poland or Lithuania, we could be drug in. It is a reminder that international "norms" can be broken just like national laws or rules. When we start ignoring some rules, other people will also ignore the rules they don't like. 

And, in Russia, Belarus has a friend big enough to insulate them against problems.



Back From Eagle Lake

We visited friends last week0end in Michigan (I know! - Michigan!) and it was fun. We went out on a boat on the lake and toddled around. We cooked out. We watched Eurovision (Italy? - really?). It qas a kick. some pictures.

The view of sunset from their deck

A good image of the lake with the Swans and houses in the back

The lake and my toes

Mama Swan and Cygnets

This is Lake Michigan - too foggy for a better picture.

It was fun.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Off With Friends

Eddie and I are off today for a long week-end with friends at a Lake House they own in Michigan. It should be great fun.


During this visit I will try not to focus on the bad in the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

I Didn't Know This Was An Option

 I didn't even know this was an option when I was 2.



Kotor Bay (back bay)


The Bay of Kotor in Montenegro is often called Europe's most southern fjord, even though it is not a fjord because it wasn't caused by glaciers. It is a three part bay, with the back bay being where the port of Kotor is, connected by a narrow channel to the front bay, where the international yacht port of Tivat is. From the front bay, there is a longish passage that is wide that connects this to the Adriatic Sea passing by the port of Herceg Novi.



The back bay is gorgeous and where I would like to spend a few months. They fascinating thing is that because of the mountains separating the front and back bay, you could get a house that faces either the sunrise or sunset over the mountains.



The spine of mountains that separate Kotor from Tivat is traversed via tunnel that is about 1 mile long and takes an hours long journey and turns it into 10 minutes



Inside the back bay is the town of Kotor (where the ship is above). It is a gorgeous old city I have posted pictures of. Up the coastline on the right in the picture above are the towns of Dobrota and Orahavoc where you can get a nice new condo or an older village home.
Looking down from the Kotor Castle towards the passage between front and back bays.

The village of Perast. Paradise

Past these, the mountains jag out into the bay and there is perched the city of Perast, jewel of the bay. It is a city with scores of ancient villas, and 11 churches in a less than a half mile large. it is gorgeous, albeit old, small and expensive.
The less stunning city of Risen - still beauitful

Politics of Anger: Montenegro Edition

My future retirement home, Montenegro, has been experiencing the growing pains of a young Democracy. Last year saw the peaceful exchange of power as a new party came to power for the first time since independence. So a (VERY) short history is in order, particularly with regards to Serbia.

A Brief History Since 1990 (Simplified)

The breakup of Yugoslavia started with Slovenia leaving the federation. After that, Croatia left and forced the Yugoslavian breakup with Bosnia Herzegovina and Macedonia (now called North Macedonia) leaving, triggering the Bosnian War. A vote,  considered unfair by pro-Independence voices, was held in 1992, and 99% of the population voted to stay in federation with Serbia.

The war ended in 1995 and left the rump of Yugoslavia as Serbia and Montenegro. But Serbia was a political pariah because of war crimes committed in the Bosnia war. In 1996, the Montenegro President (Milo Đukanović) put distance between Montenegro and the Serbia President / War Criminal Slobodan Milošević. Because of Serbia’s war crimes the country faced international sanctions that devastated the Yugoslavian (now Serbia and Montenegro) economy and currency.

Select image to enlarge

In 1996, Montenegro adopted the German Mark as the currency and moved to the Euro when it was adopted. 

In 2003 a new Constitution was adopted, and “Yugoslavia” became the federation of Serbia and Montenegro. In 2006 a Montenegro vote called for Independence peacefully and Montenegro became independent again. Milo Đukanović was the President and his party ruled the country. To cement independence, President Đukanović joined NATO, started talks to join the European Union and opened his country to investors from not only Russia and Ukraine, but Europe and the United States. The many Serbian nationals that still reside in Montenegro grumbled, but prosperity and peace meant that most people were happy. Still Serbian nationalism was displayed in some cities and through the Orthodox Church.

In 2019, Đukanović made his fatal error. To fight the Serbian nationals, he tried to split the local Orthodox Church from the Serbian Orthodox Church. A law passed said that any church property that could not PROVE ownership of land from before 1918 (the last time Montenegro was Independent) would be transferred from the Serbian Orthodox church to the Montenegrin Orthodox Church – which was not recognized by the Orthodox Patriarchy.

Protest brought down the government and a new national vote was called. In this vote, the ruling party that brought independence (headed by Milo Đukanović) lost by the most narrow of margins. The new coalition was made up of Serbians, but they do not have a majority, so they rule in conjunction with a Bosnian Party, a smaller Albanian Party and a few members of the local Green party.

New Problems

The new government coalition runs the Parliament, but not the Presidency, so Milo Đukanović is still President of Montenegro.  Parliament can pass laws, but the President can veto ones he doesn’t approve of. If it is repassed by Parliament, it becomes law - usually. 

This week, Milo Đukanović refused to sign a law - for the second time - that will change the way Judicial System works and make it easier to appoint prosecutors with no experience. He has stated that the new law runs counter to European Union rules – and he seems to be correct. But this has set up a showdown with Parliament. In part, this clash is a microcosm of the national problem. Does the country align itself with the EU, or does it align itself with Serbia – which is, in turn, aligned more with Russia. Parliament does not have enough members to push Montenegro back into a Serbian Federation but has too many members to ignore Serbian demands.

Parliament is now attempting to find enough votes to send this law to the Constitution Court. They need 26 members, but it is unclear if they have 26 members willing to defy Europe while they are in negotiations to join the European Union. This is all complicated by the fact, that everyone in the region wants to join the EU, but Montenegro is by far the closest to joining. Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia are all far behind. So does the Parliament jeopardize this by flouting European rules. 

Most European experts think this law would give some members of the EU a great chance to reject Montenegro now. And those members will use any excuse to keep out of the quagmire of Balkan politics. (link)



Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Eurovision Semi-Final 1


Running Commentary on Eurovision Semi-Final 1. Feel free to ignore (it's long).

Each act opens on empty tiny house / stage, that is slowly populated with more intimate and personal touches so you can learn a little about each on.

Rinse, Lather, Repeat

Palestinians are getting killed by Israel, with American purchased bombs and no regard for Palestinian lives or the truth. And it is just a rerun of a movie that we all know. Our "the two sides should stop" is the international equivalent of "hopes and prayers" to shooting victims. It is callous, unproductive and untruthful.


The latest violet death making is purely a product of Israeli arrogance and shitting on international norms. This round started because (a) of a law suit. Israel passed a law saying that Jewish people living in East Jerusalem can sue to get their land that was taken before 1948. Now remember, (one of) the biggest sticking points for peace is that Palestinians CANNOT sue to get back land that was taken after 1967. In fact, those Palestinians, the ones that had their land taken, are crammed into smaller and smaller reservations with more and more people.

The day the fighting started the Israeli courts were about to rule on whether 6 families in East Jerusalem have to give up their homes to Jewish people who had the land before 1948. But, those people aren't really the in case. Those original owners sold their rights to Israeli settlers from the West Bank. Settlers who are already violating international law and US policy in taking Palestinian Land. So they are being deliberately provocative.

The other immediate cause (b) is the Israeli's not allowing Muslims to congregate near the holy places during the prayer moth of Ramadan. Next, in the How To Vilify Humans - 101: A Playbook, the pushed out Muslims fight back against armed soldiers. 

Israeli soldiers kill a few Palestinians. Palestinians fight back, and after Israeli police kill enough, Gaza militants fire (95% useless) rockets at Israeli. Israeli then bombs the entire Gaza region with fighter jets, missiles - focusing on schools, homes and news organizations all the while claiming that is where "Hamas' fighters opperate" without proof.

After 10 Israelis were killed (2 children) and 212 Palestinians were killed (including 61 children and 36 women)- the United States finally allows the Security Council to meet, still blocking a call for a cease fire. Then, and only then, we call issue our hopes and prayers' comment that "the two sides should stop".

Who benefits from this? The Israeli Prime Minister (Bibi Netanyahu) who is now more popular as he faces his 3rd or 5th corruption trial (depending on how you count).

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Gentoo Penguins

Lynn sent me a note that scientist have discovered that Gentoo Penguins are not 1, but 4 different (and similar) penguin species. I investigated to post about it, but got lost in the deliriously cute penguin pictures.










Monday, May 17, 2021

We Do Not Approve

That would be the royal "we". To wit, I disagree with NY Pride's decision to ban the NYPD from marching in the parade.


New York Pride (the parade people) have banned the NY Police Department from marching in the Pride Parade until at least 2025. I get the idea behind this. There is a history of police intimidation and racism against trans and particularly trans people of color that is on-going.

BUT

Those police that march with us in support of freedom and acceptance are not the people we should be standing against. We should support those police and public servants that want a more inclusive department. Lumping all police into the bucket of "people we oppose" is not going to facilitate change. It is, in fact, as disappointing as lumping all gay people into a bucket that says "not acceptable" and not allowing us to march in (for example) Boston's Saint Patrick Day's Parade.

It is a bad policy choice.

But it bugs me much deeper than this. I remember the first time police marched in Pride parades. I remember the community that responded with joy when the police had decided to stop fighting against us and, in some areas, started fighting with us. I saw the happiness as crowds in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Sydeny responded to seeing police on our side. It changed the communities in many ways.

Institutional, why piss off police departments.

Individually, why call out allies as bad actors because they choose to serve the public. Rarely do people (in major cities) get into police work to be racists. They mainly join to serve their communities. 

When Police are racist, call the individuals out. When the Police Departments are racists, work to correct the institutions. But to exclude people who are trying to help us is counterproductive. Moreover, it's mean and uncalled for. That isn't who I want to be.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

The review of A Dozen Dreams

I reviewed my first piece in a long time. It is here, but here is a taste.

A Dozen Dreams Pulls Us Out of the Catastrophic

A Dozen Dreams is the theatrical / artistic installation designed to pull us out of our pandemic dreams and 
nightmares and then journey beyond them. I experienced A Dozen Dreams the day after the CDC mask 
mandate was lifted (although, still required during the show) and the installation could not have been 
better timed. 

Ellen McLaughlin’s “My Dream in this Moment"

A Dozen Dreams is a collaboration between 12 female artists and playwrights and an all-female design 
team; it was conceived by the team at En Garde Arts. It is a walk-through piece where you travel alone 
or in pairs, with voices (via sanitized headphones) guiding you through a labyrinth of dreamscapes. Each 
room was conceived, created and performed separately, but they all work in unison to help us make 
sense of the past year plus in isolation.

The artists’ voices’ themselves direct us, confront and comfort us in unexpected moments of clarity, 
empathy and exhaustion. The program will give you a description of the various rooms but the emotions 
generated by these spaces rolls up to hit you unexpectedly. Guided by the artist voices, you are in each 
of the 12 rooms less than 10 minutes. 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Brexit: Northern Ireland and Scotland Impacts


Brexit: Consequences.  I was originally going to say “unintended” consequences, but past a primal scream of “You’re Not the Boss of Me!” from England to the EU, I am not sure they intended anything in particular.

But on to the questions at hand. How had Brexit fallen out from what the voters wanted and expected, and what were the effects “no one” thought of, but everyone should have. Today, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Per Patti LaBelle: I've Got A New Attitude

Ok, I don't really have a new attitude - but I loath the political sink hole I fall down into and so I am going to refocus in a few ways.

1. I am going to write slightly longer items about things I find fascinating. I was a Geography and Economics major at UCLA, so I find foreign political and social movements interesting. I always enjoy a dialog, so fell free to comment. Also note that I left school in 1981, so a lot of this will be talking out my ass - feel free to disagree.

2. I like the visual texture of the world (gardens, castles, waves, penguins) intoxicating. So expect pictures that I love.

3. Theater is starting back up (post-Pandemic) so expect a few reviews (copied from my Reviews site). I am hoping the return of New York's heartbeat will help me brain.

4. you may see more TV and Movie (even older movie) comments. I think this will happen as I want to write about politics and I will try to redirect.

Now, oddly, no one has asked any of these questions. But hell, writing is therapeutic for me, so I just went ahead anyway.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Friday, May 7, 2021

Call It. May 6th - 20:35 GMT

 Call it! Completed at 20:35 GMT on 6 May 2021.

I have spent most of my life trying to avoid being crazy. Either: a) crazy like my father - Sociopath and Narcissist (later to learn his was a pedophile) or b) crazy like my first step father - Violent, Anti-Social and pedophile or c: crazy like my Grandfather - Bipolar and just fucking mean (albeit not to me).

In an attempt to avoid these consequences: I have been put on medication - off and on - since 8th grade, I have been in therapy multiple times, I have self-medicated with exercise, meditation and drugs, I have tried to find the humor in life with nincompoopery. I've tried being: gregarious, quiet, contemplative, educated, well-read, self-deprecating, braggadocios, polite, charming, introspective, ingratiating and anything else I can think of at various times. I have tried to be the best person I can be for the people I love.

Yesterday finally broke me. I don't have to go through a litany of the worlds' problems right now. But I do want people to understand that I am spent. 

The proverbial straw:


6th grader. So... 11 or 12 years old (I was 10 in 6th grade, but I skipped 1/2 a grade).

And you know what, that story barely made the news.

This isn't a "I'm going to kill myself" or I'm giving up on life" post. But it is a "this isn't working anymore post." I don't know what to try next. But I know THIS (he said gesturing at the world) is not working.

for a funnier take on this same theme....

.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Escape Hatch

I haven't asked for my Xerox pension yet, because it is only around $500 per month. It will go up as I age and we certainly don't need it. 

But, hear me out! What if I take that $500+ a month and rent a 2 bedroom apartment in Sarajevo. I can rent a nice place in a nice neighborhood where you are not allowed to open carry weapons. Where food and drink are cheap and I don't have to listen to people tell me that vaccinations include the mark of the beast in a computer chip. Just a place to get the fuck out if I need to.

I can get this nice little 2 bedroom, right near downtown for less that $500 / month. Isn't that a good use of my pension?




That $500 INCLUDES furnishings and utilities (including wifi and cable TV).  Makes Texas fuckwads seem less imposing.

And, with two bedrooms, plenty of room for guests.

PERMITLESS Open Carry: Coming to a state near you soon.

Texas is set to joining 5 other states this year in allowing people to legally carry handguns, both openly AND concealed, with zero training or licensing requirements.  I have no problem telling you I find this trend troubling. 


Texas is set to join 5 other states in permitless carrying laws THIS year. The other five are Montana MT, Iowa IA, Wyoming WY, Tennessee TN and Utah UT.  The laws are being passed faster than the maps can be updated.

Look, I know I am a libtard from a blue state, but in this country we haven't gone a WEEK without a mass shooting in over 5 years*. Not One Week. Is letting every wack-a-doodle with a small dick and zero smarts carry a concealed handgun a good idea? 

Is there someone, ANYONE who you know that could not get a concealed carry permit that you want with an unlicensed handgun at the bar or K-Mart? 

Why are we doing this? We are already the land of killings. And, with the on-going Republican lie that Biden lost the election and it was stolen (he won by more than 7 million votes) we are begging for more killings and drifting further from reality.


*A shooting of more than 3 people were at least 1 person died. As opposed to a mass killing, where more than 4 of the victims died.

Cloisters in Bloom

For a treat last week-end we dropped by the Cloisters for a quick Spring visit. Niiiice







Okay that last one isn't in bloom, but it is a small CARVED head piece for a column. That took some work!

An Odd Recount Request - Check for Bamboo

Good Heavens, nincompoopery is raging in Arizona. Arizona was one of the states that Donald Trump had won in 2016 and lost in 2020. It is also home to my friends and in laws, all of whom I try to disassociate with the bat shit crazy ideas running around that state (and the Phoenix area in particular).


There was the official vote. Which Biden won by very slim 10,457 votes (out of 3+ million cast). 

Then there was a recount of the state - no change. 

Then a requested recount of the counties that Biden won big - no change. Then the official results - no change. 

Now, six months after the vote is a recount which the Republicans have paid for and are using a team that has never completed a recall. A team from Florida that has already said it doesn't believe Joe Biden won.This is an odd recount where the current team is no longer counting ballots, but checking them for bamboo fibers. They are doing this to "prove" 20,000 votes were flown in from China (via South-East Asia) to be cast for Biden. This 20,000 bamboo fiber votes would then be tossed and Donald Trump would be declared the winner.

Donald Trump has endorsed this idea ("Bamboo ballots? Sure, that's possible.") and thinks it will usher him back into the White House. Which would all be hilarious, if it wasn't dead serious.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

May

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.


Just so we are clear, I am totally aware my Mental Health sucks ass. (I had too much wheat this week-end.)

Just a Reminder: Slavery was Evil

At the risk of upsetting my Republican friends*, I would like to remind them that slavery was a very bad institution. The idea of owning people, forcing them to work, fuck and serve someone 24 hours a day at their master's whim was bad. It is (in my estimation, although not the Bible's) an evil.


You may think this is obvious. As obvious as the fact Nazi Genocide of Jews was bad. 

But Republicans right now are defending it. It being, yes, I swear to God, slavery.

Tennessee State Representative, Republican Justin Lafferty just defended the 3/5 compromise in the US Constitution (where in the census a slave was valued as 3/5 of a "real" person) as the slave states "realizing that slavery was wrong". It was not. It was a "compromise" that let slave states have many more votes than they had free (and voting) population. In fact, it perpetuated the power of slave holders (link to the fucking idiot).

Then there was the Louisiana Republican representative Ray Garofalo who this week argued that we shouldn't dwell on the negative and should teach "the good of slavery" (link to this fucking idiot).

Just to add another dumb-fuckery talking point about minorities we treated horribly, Rick Santorium, who received millions of votes for President said this: “We birthed a nation from nothing,” he said. “Yes, there were Native Americans, but there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.”  (if you need the link)

The only way to function day to day in this country were 70% of Republicans believe our election was fraudulent and 67% of them won't get a Covid vaccine because they are afraid of tracking chips in the vaccine and where we haven't gone a week without a mass shooting event - is to pretend all is great.

So yeah, all is fucking great here.

*My guess is that by this point I no longer have any Republican friends. But I live in hope.

The tale of Chiselborough

 Our second dog sit in England this past month was in Chiselborough. Which is a village of about 100 - 125. It was in the middle of nowhere....