Saturday, August 30, 2014

When Will We Learn?

My father fought in World War Two in Europe.

I believe he ended up in Czechoslovakia.

When the war was over a thing that looked like him came back to Seattle.

My mother always told me it wasn’t really him.

Impaired he may have been; silent he was: silent about anything that had happened to him in Europe during that war.

But he always, once in a while, said one thing: “we are going to have to fight the Russians”.

He said had that in the immediate aftermath of VE Day. 

That was when he was still over there.

So, since he would have had to participate in that view of things, I would guess that he felt it to have been a necessary thing.

He really wanted to get out of there, I would suppose.

I know I felt that way in Vietnam.

But he said that we needed to fight the Russians on VE Day.

And he had not been alone.

On that day, he and all of his fellows fully expected to get orders to move on to Moscow.

But the orders never came.

And we now live in a post Soviet world that would seem to be an exoneration for the decision not to complete our (United State’s) job in Europe.

Except that now Vlad the Invader is borrowing the Big Lie from Hitler and moving under his lies to redesign the map of Europe.

And we are standing on the sidelines like Walt Kelly’s Pogo saying “my my”.

We are dithering around the edges of Russia’s imminent takeover of Ukraine.

We want diplomacy and reason to “solve the problem”.

Since “the problem” is that Putin is going to take Ukraine that is a very weak idea.

Unless we inject – NATO and the United States – the number of fighters necessary to cause Vlad to back off, we are going to have a Hitlerian done deal real soon.

Anyone that thinks that he will stop there is an idiot.

There is a stack of states: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – maybe Finland – that will be next.

My father was right.

He just was too aggressive about the time frame.

The United States needs to reinstitute the draft.  That won’t help for awhile, but this problem is not going to go away in any time that any of us are going to know about.

We need to get our ass in gear to stop this thing.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Inconvenience of PayPal

My Paris landlord represents a number of other property owners.

I am going to rent one of those others in a few months.

My landlord and I have always just settled up when I show up in Paris – no deposit, no problem.

It turns out that the next apartment is not owned by my landlord and the person who does own it wants a deposit.

That is absolutely no problem.

I hate cash rent.

It always feel like a drug transaction when my landlord and I count out several thousand euros on the breakfast table of my then current apartment.

I love paying by credit card.

It’s clean, easy and you get points.

Not so fast.

This deposit needs to be made via PayPal.

Here is the body of an email I just sent to my landlord.

It follows on one in which I had told him that I don’t have a PayPal account.


“Actually I do have a PayPal account. 

But it doesn’t work. 

I had forgotten that it didn’t work: two years ago PayPal told me I was condemned to limbo until I sent them a bunch of information. 

I sent them what they wanted but they told me they didn’t like it and if I didn’t fix the problem I couldn’t use my account. 

They wouldn’t tell me what they didn’t like – they had asked for and I had sent my drivers license and my passport -  so I sent them again. 

And they didn’t like it. 

I sent it again. 

And they didn’t like it.

So I gave up.

Today - after you told me that I needed to make a PayPal deposit for the rental - I signed on to PayPal for the first time in two years.

The first thing I tried to do PayPal said I needed to send them my drivers license and passport.

That was when I sent you the email saying that I might have a problem with PayPal.

Since them I have managed to talk to a person who told me that she would fix the problem – sort of – and I would be allowed out of limbo if only I would do several other things.

I have done those several other things.

No change.

The site still is telling me that I have to send them my passport and my drivers license.

Undaunted, I did a test run of transferring funds, and PayPal acted as if it had forgotten about the drivers license and the passport.

So maybe I can transfer the deposit to Michael.

I am willing to try.

However, if PayPal won’t let me do it, I am fresh out of ideas.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Solstice Song

I wrote this when I was in Paris this June.

I forgot to publish it at the time.


“The longest day of the year”

I heard myself thinking.

“Mid-summer night’s eve”.

As I sat in the darkness drinking

The calvados still not gone;

Not gone yet from Tuesday

From the bottle at the sink

“Or was it left from Jeudi?”

Whichever - no real difference;


“It won’t last long now”

I heard myself say.

“The bottle or the year”

Seemed to sum the day.

Friday, August 8, 2014

How High’s Your Camel, Mama?

I have been listening to the BBC while I have been eating my mid day meal.

There is a lot of interesting stuff today, as always is the case, on the BBC.

My ears really perked up, though, at the discussion of the fact that INOI (islamic nuts of iraq) have taken over Mosul Dam.

Actually I heard yesterday that they had taken it over, but nobody much wanted to talk about that grim fact at the time.

Today – apparently - grimness is more popular in the international newsfeeds.

The short story is that if the INOI either decide to let the dam disgorge its store of water, or, because they haven’t a clue how to maintain it (and apparently the thing needs daily maintenance by high tech hydraulic and geologic engineers – a skill set sadly lacking in INOI, they being more versed in things sharia) the dam just plain fails, the resulting flood will cover Mosul under 30 meters (I think that’s what I heard) of water and then move on down to Baghdad where it will only cover that city with 5 meters ( I did hear that) .

Five meters is more than fifteen feet.

Where is Noah when we need him?

Maybe Russell Crowe can get his boat to Baghdad in time for the event.

It would be a hell of an entertaining documentary.