America…

My heart hurts; my country is descending into madness with this idea that it’s our “right” to own guns.  Another shooting and yet again we will do nothing to rectify the issue.  Owning guns and having access to guns doesn’t make you more safe, it makes you more un-safe.  And yet my countrymen will continue to be enraged when the right thinking people of my country ask them to hand in their guns.  Why do you need a gun?  Why do you fight for the right to bear arms?  The amendment that you fight so hard to keep was written before automatics, before speed loaders, and it was written when we were fighting an army that had the same weapons as we did.  While I will agree we needed the ability to protect our infantile country when that second amendment was written, it no longer applies to where we have come.  Having easy access to guns doesn’t make us safer, it adds to the already alarmingly rising rate of terrorism that is happening in America.

My stand on this is this, we don’t need guns to be safe, we need conversation.  The more we rely on a weapon to protect us, the more unsafe we are.  If we continue to rely on weapons to “protect” us, the more times the weapons we rely on will be used against us.

How many more lives will we need to sacrifice to the greed, the insanity and the inability to grow a spine against the people who own our country and tell us what to think will it take before we stand up and let common sense rule?  Of course that’s a rhetorical question, my countrymen will not allow their “right to bear arms” taken away from themselves anytime soon, which means I can’t go back to my country anytime soon.

The right to bear arms was an idea that was not current with the times, in that mind I’m desperate to no longer live in my country.  There’s no reason for to go back, it’s no longer safe for me and the ones I love to live in the country I call my home.  Too many people who shouldn’t own guns do and I for one am through reading about deaths from “accidents” or people who “went crazy”.  My country is no longer the one I grew up with and frankly I’m ashamed to be called an American.  Americans to me are the great melting pot of humanity, the people who are from all over the planet who come to a land with the hopes of a better life.  I still hold those ideals, but I no longer think my country is the place where those ideals are held to the highest.  When I find that place where people respect life over all other things, I’ll let you know.  Until then, I will no longer call the USA home.

Indeed…

My route home from Doha was a trial, literally a trial. It turns out the paperwork that was supposed to have been done back in January in regards to the settlement I had to agree to or be stuck in Doha for two years fighting fraudulent charges on my credit card from 2006. I picked the path of least resistance and paid the fee, went through the court system (which was all in a language I can neither speak or read) and was told all was taken care of back in January. Flash forward to March 1st at 5:00 AM Doha time and I’m at the airport trying to get through passport control and them telling me I was black listed because I had a court case against me… You can imagine the anger I felt. I was ready to puke, punch someone, and torch the country all in the same second. Of course I abstained from doing all of the above and instead I went to the source. I missed my flight to DC and instead went to the bank where the court case started. They swore up and down it wasn’t their fault, I found out later that it was, but I will leave that for the moment.

My journey on March first took me from the airport to the bank to the police station to the court (which was all in Arabic) I originally visited to cancel the court case against me, something the bank should have done and didn’t, back to customs and then back to the airport.

The moment at the airport when I went to passport control and the lady, dressed in the traditional garb, sitting behind the counter said to me “You can’t leave” was one of those moments that you don’t want to have. Not to say that being in Doha was bad, but I was just done with the country and I needed to leave. I was done, dusted and packed. Ready to leave and get home! But that wasn’t to be, Doha had other plans for me and I wasn’t very happy with them.

I was shunted to the side, told to follow a man in a thawb; he took my paperwork and had me follow him to a small office. After a brief conversation with some other official type person I was told I was “blacklisted” and I couldn’t travel. I was sick to my stomach, wanting to punch a wall or someone, but how could I get angry and these people, they were just doing their job. It’s not their fault; it’s never someone else’s fault is it?

Given no choice and no information I had no option but to go to immigration, I asked what the issue was and they said that I had a court case against me from the bank in question. It was supposed to be done in January, but it appeared someone didn’t check a box or call the right person or whatever happens when a government official doesn’t do their job as their supposed to. I was the victim of someone not doing what they’re supposed to do, but again who am I to blame? I don’t speak their language and I’m just a visitor in their country.

I went to the arrivals terminal next, had to pick up my bags, thankfully they didn’t get on the plane without me, and head back to the apartment I had been staying in, something I didn’t’ want to do, but had no choice.

During my time at the arrivals terminal, about two hours, I had a cup of coffee and stared researching what had happened, thank god for free Internet. I ended up calling all the people I could think of that could help me, not a long list given the nature of the issue I was facing. One of the people I ended up calling was the banker that had helped broker the settlement I had to pay for credit card charges that were not mine, but again what am I supposed to do? After calling him at home (waking him up) and asking him what the hell happened, he gave me the advice that I needed to go back to his office and get a copy of the letter saying that I was free of all charges from his bank, which I did. After my time running to the bank and trying to figure out who fucked up, I found a great deal of peace, I don’t know where it came from but I managed to find peace in all the angst I felt. I was able to center myself and go through all the issues of the day with less anger than I feel I should have had.

After the bank and then going to the police station to check my record I discovered that the court case I had thought was complete and done, was not in fact. Someone had not checked the box indicating that I was supposed to be able to travel again. Years ago if this had happened to me I would have put my fist through someone’s face / wall / torn someone a new asshole. I managed to find myself delving deeper into a peaceful calm, no matter what happened to me in the fucked up place I was in, I was determined to not get angry. I was prepared for the worst, as I always am, but in this case it was not the worst I was thinking about.

I managed to make it back to the court I had originally gone to get my court case canceled and had to go through the trials (no pun intended) of trying to navigate a place where I don’t’ speak or read the language and try to get something as simple as canceling a court case done. I got all my files in order and it turned out someone in January didn’t check the box stating that they needed to cancel my travel ban. That mistake cost me an extra 50 QAR in fees to get people to type my forms in Arabic and some fun times following my court file around the building. I didn’t let that file out of my sight; I felt that if I kept it in sight it would get taken care of.

Now keep in mind it’s still the same day I was supposed to travel and it’s now getting towards the end of the day for government and I’m looking to get the fuck outta dodge on the same day.

I ended up sitting in front of a Qatari judge and he looked at me, looked at my paperwork and then back to me and said “You come back Monday”… Given that the day I was sitting in front of him was a Thursday and I was less than thrilled about staying an extra day, I was less than thrilled with his response. I asked him nicely how long would this take really and I had a ticket for this afternoon so I couldn’t come back on Monday as I needed to travel today. He was a nice enough guy to recognize that I was ready to leave and wasn’t ready to wait any more. He managed to stamp my paperwork and get it ready for the guys who had to tick the box saying I could travel.

After all the fucked up things I had to do to get the hell out of the sandbox, it took only a few hours of running around to get myself on a plane. Granted it cost me an extra 3500 QAR to get the first flight out of Qatar, something I was willing to pay to get the f’ing hell out of the sandbox. I was done, dusted, ready to leave and ready to get back to the cold and shitty weather that is Seattle in the late winter.

When it was all said in done, someone forgetting to check a simple box on the form (I know it was a simple check box because I have copies of the forms, not that I can read them, but I can tell they are the same forms with the only difference a simple box being checked) cost me 1000 USD. I’m still keeping my cool, not getting angry about the whole situation, but I’m planning on getting even….

Angry Jude

I’m not in the middle of something, but I feel that I need to be…  Let say there are two people who love each other, but have a tendency to keep an emotional score card.  What does this mean?  It means I’m getting to deal with these two people in a remote sort of way.  I’ve pissed one of them off, and the other isn’t talking so I don’t hear the other side of the story, so here I am forced to hear just the one side and think to myself there has to be more…  Of course there’s more to the story, there always is, but since we’re only getting the one side it’s hard to not take sides, but then I’m Switzerland when it comes to emotional attachment as proven with my own relationships (which is not necessarily a good thing).

So I’m not in the middle of this one, but I have some pretty loud opinions when it comes to the parties involved I’m going to put myself in the middle.  Where I stand at the moment is the deep urge to smack both adults involved around for a while and do some shouting that they’re both fucking up on so many levels.  The most important of which involves the children…

I guess I’m all full of opinions about the whole situation and I’m not happy about any of them, but I’m also not in the relationship in question and I know from experience that I can’t know what’s going on with the two adults in question, but I do know this, if the children are affected in an adverse way I’m going to get involved and no one will be happy when that happens…

Ground Zero

I’ve been listening to the news recently as well as reading up on current events, which isn’t unusual, and have been surprised to hear the uproar that’s been caused by a group wanting to put a mosque a few blocks away from Ground Zero in NYC.  People are up in arms and by people I mean tea baggers, fox new, etc., all over a peaceful group who wants to exercise their first amendment rights. 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So now that we have the text, lets review it, after all it’s the first amendment and since our forefathers decided to write some things down when they created our current political structure and made this one first we should know this by heart.  In this single amendment we have freedom of religion, speech, etc.  Not only does this amendment make it possible for tea baggers to make asses of themselves, it should also give the mosque a right to be go wherever they want.  If they want to put one right at the former site of the world trade center they should be allowed, if not encouraged to put something there.

I’ve read the bible and the Qur’an and I’ve read Buddhist philosophy, all of them are basically saying the same thing, after all they borrow heavily from one another, be groovy to each other and life will be ok.  Something we forget when we hear in the news about the evils of one religion compared to another is that is the interpretation of some whack job.  Most islamists that I’ve met are very nice people and for the most part don’t hate others, they believe in tolerance and understanding when it comes to others beliefs.  Just like christians for the most part are decent people, they believe in tolerance and understanding.  Where it gets all mucked up is when nut jobs start interpreting the idea of a religion to form there own whacked out version.  Usually it involves a serious hatred of someone or a group of someone’s for personal reasons and therefore they feel the need to spread their hate to others to make themselves feel better.

Here’s my interpretation of religion all wrapped up in a nice little bow, and I quote "Be Excellent to Each Other." (Bill S. Preston, Esq.)

It’s just one of those days…

It’s just been one of those days, where I wanted to shove my fist through someone’s face.  I was told to “deal with it” today when I asked a person for some advice on how to deal with the crap product they bought.  My response was to not kill the person but to say “I will and I’ll let you know what I did to fix your problem so you can tell the rest of the team the solution that I came up to fix your inadequacies.”

The Roommate, Final Round

As of the 10th of April, I’ve given my current roommate till the 10th of May to move out.  It’s been a little while coming, and after a conversation with my landlord, I decided it was time for her to move on.  It boils down to the damage to the apartment.  The landlord was nice enough to replace the old crappy carpet in the apartment with some nice flooring.  It’s not the most expensive stuff, but it’s a rental so I’m no to freaked out about it. 

My biggest concern now is what to do when I leave, will the damage to the floor be enough that I’m going to lose my security deposit?  Which if that happens would suck a great deal given the amount of money involved. 

Oh well, what am I supposed to do?

Quoted words from the late George Carlin

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much , and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships.

These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom.
A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit “delete”…

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember, to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

by George Carlin

Idiots and Flat Mates

I got this really excellent text from my flat mate this morning… “Did you eat all the tomatoes?” In which I responded “Yes”, her response, which in all fairness makes me really pissed is “Ok, I don’t mind if you use ingredients but please ask/replace them as they were four the soup I was making.”

Let’s review, she uses my internet and doesn’t pay for it. 
Uses my electricity and doesn’t pay for it. 
Eats the food I bring into the house and doesn’t pay for or replace it. 
Has flooded my apartment on more than one occasion and wants to split the damage bill with me. 
She doesn’t even pay a full half of the rent and takes up more space than I do by a considerable amount. 

I’m getting more and more frustrated with the tart and am close to changing the locks.  I don’t even want to go home and it’s MY FUCKING HOUSE!

I Got This

Politics – A wrap

In what was a record vote in the US, I was absent.  I’m not far from the results given the level of coverage around the world last night and continuing today.  It was a funny thing last night; I was sitting at a Korean BBQ place in Vancouver with my new flatmate and her two friends from Jersey.  I was pretty happy with the results prior to heading out to dinner, last I saw Obama had a good lead and I was thinking there was still a chance for McCain to comeback, but it was going to be really tough (No I wasn’t rooting for him). 

As we got our first round of hot sake, a fellow patron of the restaurant stood up and calmly announced that Obama had won the election (damn iPhone users for having access to information faster than me).  We toasted our new president and went about our dinner.  It wasn’t until I was looking at the returns when I got home later in the evening, well pretty late into the evening to be honest, that it really hit me.  This is history in the making; from the beginning I had an inkling of doubt that somehow McCain would win and we had the chance to continue down the same road we’ve been traveling for the last eight years.  The possibility of a traveled and truly international human to become our next president was almost a dream come true to someone like me.  You get a different perspective on the world when you live elsewhere for a length of time.  You realize that it’s not just about you and your country anymore; it’s about the global community we are all part of and it’s out duty as a human to look out for each other.

We as a nation had forgotten that we’re part of something bigger and our borders are not meant to define us, we define ourselves on how we interact with the rest of the world.  We can be a bully and have everyone fear us and have no respect, or we can be a true leader and use our people to the best of our ability to bring the world together.

Politics or how I became a non-caring part of the population

I was at my local pub last night trying to avoid any and all talks of politics.  It went well for the first few hours, but for some reason a bar full of drunk fools decided to watch the repeat of the presidential debate last night.  Something I’ve learned is you never mix bars with politics.  It’s just a recipe for disaster  given you have alcohol and angry people in the same room with differing views.

Take this example, a couple of friends were in a bar harping on McCain and his choice of VP, they started in on his ability to lead and pointed at his time in as a POW as not how not to fight a war.  Now observe the man at the end of the bar, silently fuming, you can visibly see his anger and hatred for the two friends rising, and yet he doesn’t say anything.  The two friends continue on ragging on McCain and the man on the corner continues to get more and more pissed.  Finally the two friends have gone far enough and the man at the end of the bar shouts “SHUT THE FUCK UP!”  He then tries to pay and the bartender, who in a wise move pays for the angry mans beer, and leave.  He doesn’t tell his story, he doesn’t explain to the others in the bar his point of view, all he does is get angry.

When you hear that story all you can think of is why did he get so pissed?  Was he a POW?  Was he a solider at some point in his life?  Why is he so angry?  These are all questions that could be asked, but he’s gone now.  The lesson is you never know who you’re drinking with and you should keep you politics to yourself.
Now you have to ask yourself why do a bunch of middle of the road people sit in a bar and shout at each other about who they’re going to vote for.  The reality is I don’t really care about it.  I know who I’ll vote for, I’m not going to force that view on anyone else.  Why should they care who I vote for?  Why should I care who they vote for?  We’re all people and are all entitled to our opinions, just like the angry man, if he had just stopped to tell his story instead of just getting pissed don’t you think he could have avoided being pissed off at a couple of people who don’t have to agree with his point of view, but could be swayed with conversation instead of anger?

As far as the presidential debate, basically it looks like McCain had a few mini strokes while speaking and frankly that scares the crap out of me that his choice of VP, one of the dumbest humans on the planet, could be one heart attack away from leading the country even further down the shitter.  At least Obama doesn’t appear to be entrenched in the “system” as much as McCain.  Maybe that simple fact means he would be the better option.