Friday, July 30, 2010

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Remembering Buster & Wiley, London & the 90s

I'm still scanning photos. Not all my photos. Just enough so that, if there were some horrible flood or fire, I would have the best photos preserved.

Since I last blogged, I've posted photos from my infamous first trip outside the USA, when I went to London, England through a program by WKU. No Ashley Judd photos -- sorry. Even more sad -- I really don't have that many photos from that glorious trip. I was so busy being overwhelmed by being outside the USA that it often didn't dawn on me to take photos.

I've also uploaded many photos of Buster and Wiley, spanning all our 12 years all together, starting when I got Buster in Williamstown, MA in 1990, then when Wiley joined us in San Jose, CA, when we took some road trips together, living in Austin, Texas, and our first years in Bad Godesberg, Germany.

I've also added quite a few more photos from the 1990s, making the decade look a lot more fun than it actually was.

And now, back to my lazy life among the unemployed. Thanks to Republicans Greg Sargent, Ben Stein, Senator Richard Burr and other Republicans for letting me know that myself and other long-term unemployed can't find a job because we "are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities... who do not know how to do a day's work." Thanks for setting me straight!

Monday, July 19, 2010

July ups & downs

Congrats again to my Spanish friends regarding the Spain World Cup victory. I'm so happy a team that never won it before won the World Cup this time. Although I would have preferred that first-time country be the USA or Ghana...

We watched Germany playing for third place (again) at the Highland Still House, a Scottish bar in Oregon City we adore. It was a nice little vocal crowd watching it with us in the upstairs lounge, all for Germany! DIE MANNSCHAFT!

I'm stunned at how much more people in the USA were into the World Cup this year! It was talked about every day on TV (and not just on The Daily Show and the Colbert Report) and in the status updates of my very diverse FaceBook network. Portland even had a public viewing/fan zone downtown for the final in Pioneer Plaza!

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You don't have to be my friend on Facebook. But won't you at least be my fan?

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As of the moment I'm writing this blawg, I've ridden more than 2000 miles on my own motorcycle, since November 2009. I'm really proud of that. We ride almost every weekend. I even dared to ride on my own for the second time -- just to Oregon City, to send off my passport for renewal. We tried to do a ride to Mount St. Helen's a week ago, but whereas it was completely clear in Canby and Portland, it was cloudy and rainy anywhere near the volcano in Washington -- at least in the early morning when we headed that way. We ended up going through Gifford Pinchot National Forest, also in Washington state, and got to a view point at just the moment Mt. St. Helen's decided to peak out and the weather cleared up.

Yesterday, we headed down to Albany, a cute little town that's deader than doornail on Sundays. The highlight was finding an open barber shop and, while Stefan got his hair cut, I got to look over some awesome vintage barber tools.

The big upsides of living in this area has been all the motorcycle newbie riding time I've gotten, something I'm not sure I would have gotten any other state (as much as I've not liked the sunless weather here, it has been dryer than and not as hot as anywhere else we considered moving to), and Stefan getting his motorcycle titled without a bond on a total fluke that probably wouldn't have happened anywhere else. Those two things were so hugely important to us, and I can't imagine life without either right now.

I just dumped a bunch of money in my bike's woefully-bad steering. Yes, I bought a clunker of a motorcycle, we know that now; the mechanic was unhappy to report that the bike has been in an accident at some point and he's not at all pleased with how it was repaired. But the mechanic also assured me that it's road worthy. He just made me promise never to buy anything off of Craigslist again. Which I won't.

Craigslist is the biggest joke ever -- I knew most of the jobs and rental announcements on it were frauds; now I know that stuff for sale isn't so great either. Bring back newspaper classifieds, which screen out the fraudsters by making people pay for ads!

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My unemployment continues. I lost out on both jobs I thought I had a really, really good chance for.

I'm obviously doing a good job at fooling people with my professionally-related online activities; their impression is that all is great for me professionally. At least that's what I keep hearing from them, or from people interviewing me for jobs. There was a time in my life that, when I interviewed for a job, I got that job. But that's changed. Now, interviewing feels painful, like I'm a single girl desperate for a boyfriend of any kind. And it's been this way for almost two years.

I moved to the wrong city and the wrong state, and probably the entirely wrong part of the USA. I know that now. I've known it for a few months now, actually. Where should we have gone? The D.C. area. Many more jobs for me there. Though, who knows... maybe I'd still be unemployed there too... There are very few jobs here in the Portland metro area, and what ones there are, there are a few hundred applications for each. Organizations won't grant informational interviews, because they have been overwhelmed with requests. One organization that I had been trying to get to know (and that everyone said, "You should work for such-and-such!") now charges people to attend their public meetings, because most of the people coming to their events were actually looking for a job rather than coming to learn about a particular project (the organization is looking for collaborators from other agencies with these events, not desperate job seekers like me).

And before you ask, "Why don't you move?": we cannot afford to move to look for employment. We can move only if one of us gets offered something well-paying.

It hurts like hell when the right-wingers on TV rail against people like me, saying we're unemployed because we're lazy, because we aren't trying hard enough, because we're too stupid to get hired, etc.

I just really want to thank my friends who email and call and check in to see how I'm doing, give me words of encouragement, send me job announcements, etc. I just cannot say enough how grateful I am for you. I've learned yet again that you know who your friends are when you go through an uncool period (when you're unemployed and looking for a job, when you've been dumped, etc.) -- some friends are there for you, some friends stay as far away as possible. When I win the lottery, I'm going to remember you great friends who have been there for me!

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My favorite FaceBook wall post of late: my former singing partner from the United Nations basement band, writing, "Dear Emmy-Lou, I'm off to Toronto Thursday where I will jam with Brian. Any requests?" I really need to get back to that -- Stefan has said he would like it as well (he's always been a terrific audience for my singing). I need to put together a living room concert for my husband and doggy.

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The cornhole game was called on account of dog.

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To celebrate the 4th, I watched 1776, which I had never seen before. And what a little jewel it is! On a related note: Peter Hunt threw his Tony Award at me once. No, I'm not kidding. Ah, memories of my career in theatre, so long, long ago, when I was so much younger and thinner...

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It feels great to have a garden again, for the first time in about nine years. I have so missed gardening. It's not much, I know, but since we're renting, since we're living on a tight budget, and since we're always hoping some fabulous job opportunity will take us elsewhere, I couldn't get too crazy. I'm just stunned at how well the Topsy Turvy planters do. The guy that sold them to me at Home Depot didn't sound very enthusiastic about them, and the other people in our neighborhood who have them aren't doing so well with theirs. But I've had terrific luck with mine!

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For the record: I was encouraging women to travel LONG the book "Eat, Pray, Love" -- I should have written a book and had Julia Roberts starring in MY movie! Actually, Bitch magazine called the book "Eat, Pray, Spend," saying it promoted travel in such a way that would "exclude all but the most fortunate among us from participating." That's NOT how I promote travel for women.... I certainly don't have the finances for traveling that way!

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Someone used instead of getting a human to translate the unsubscribe instructions: "If you don't like to be informed, discharge yourself from our list by clicking on the link below."

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A good friend of mine is a Christian. He's also gay. If you find that hypocritical, let me ask you: how much bacon have you had this week? And are all your clothes of the same fabric? And are you divorced?

He had a heart-breaking post to FaceBook, noting that a Christian friend he'd just reconnected with after oh-so-many years and used their reunion to tell him he was going to hell. You could tell it hurt him. Amazing how much pain you can see just from a few words on a computer screen. I wrote an impassioned defense of him. And he passed on this to me, from Parker Palmer, theologian, from the book, Promise of Paradox: "Next to a Christian eclipsed by theological arrogance, an honest atheist shines like the sun!"

So, pardon me whilst I go shine...

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Albi is watching yooooooooooooou.

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The Google Ads experiment is proving a success! If I have as good a month as July every month, I will make enough money to pay for my web site hosting, domain name and web backup annually! And for someone who is unemployed, that's way, way important!

Want to help? Just go to any of these pages and click on any of the ads (more than a few ads, please?). And please feel free to recommend these pages to friends seeking specific information on volunteering abroad, on fulfilling community service requirements, etc.:
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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Still whirling in the World Cup: DIE MANNSCHAFT!

Sadly, Stefan had to work in Virginia, and could not see the incredible Germany v. Argentina game today. I called him and screamed "Gooooooooooal" when Germany scored within the first four minutes of play, and then kept him up-to-date with text messages after that.

As you all know, I fell in love with the World Cup when Germany hosted the games in 2006. The German team wasn't given any chance by anyone that year -- too young, too inexperienced, coach is too young and unorthodox, etc. -- but they played with spirit and grace, and they had FUN. Their chemistry together was irresistible, as were their personalities. So many players from four years ago are still on the team. If the USA had played Germany, I would have pulled for the USA, no question, but it would have been with a lump in my throat.

But coupled with my enthusiasm for Germany is my loathing of the Argentina and Brazil football teams (no one dives, cries and whines quite like those guys -- certainly not WOMEN soccer players), and my detesting of Maradona. I didn't even know who Maradona was until I moved to Europe in 2001, and my dislike was almost immediate. And when in a "friendly" match a while back Maradona refused to share the press conference podium with Germany player Thomas Müller, storming off and saying he would not share the stage with a "ball boy," I was LIVID. So when Müller scored against Argentina in the first four minutes today, I was yelling "Whose your ball boy NOW?!?" at the TV, sending poor Albi to the back bedroom for some peace.

Since Stefan wasn't here, and FaceBook was mostly silent, I read the commentary during the game to feel not-so-alone. It was hysterical. My favorite comments:
"Thank you Soccer Jesus"
(at half time) "Heinze trips over the corner flag and demands the referee issue it a yellow card. Maradona takes him out and replaces him with...Maradona. Germany continues to combine deadly accurate passing with ridiculously inaccurate shooting. Messi scores an own goal. Germany up 2-0. Wait, Messi was offside--goal disallowed, still 1-0. Pete Townshend asks Neuer for his jumpsuit back."
But even with the terrific German victory, I'm still grieving over the Ghana loss yesterday. It hurt soooooooooooo bad. And that FIFA banned Uruguay's Suarez for just ONE game for that handball is outrageous -- his butt should be on a plane home and his World Cup should be OVER.

And a side note: a group of US senators is getting behind an effort to bring the World Cup to the USA in 2018 or 2022! It was here in 1994, but few noticed (I was one of the few that noticed, mostly because I really liked Alexi Lalas and because the Italian sandwich shop I frequented at the time was decorated as a shrine to Roberto Baggio). I think next time, people in the USA would most definitely notice. I'm stunned at how much more people in the USA are in tune with the World Cup (Canby being an exception, ofcourse).

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I have a garden for the first time in nine years! It's not much, and because of the cold weather of Oregon, I got a really late start. I'm doing all raised beds and upside down hanging planters (Topsy Turveys or Turvies or whatever): lots of peppers (most started from seed from bell peppers we've eaten over the years), five tomato plants (two in hanging planters), six strawberry plants, all in upside down planters, squash and a lot of herbs. Yes, ofcourse I have photos (look towards the end of the set). I probably won't have any food to eat until late August, but I've already started using the herbs.

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We knew the weather would be bad for a lot of the year -- but not this bad. June and the start of July have been COLD and rainy. Even Stefan, who hates heat, is craving sun. So I'm now applying for jobs elsewhere in the USA, in addition to here in Oregon. We haven't lived in Canby a year, but we know this isn't it for us, and we're ready to move anywhere that either of us could get a great job and where Stefan can, at last, be a volunteer or reserve firefighter again.

Yes, I'm still looking for a job.

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"This was a private incident between me and a bear," he said. "I was chomped on by a bear, and he was a bad bear, but that doesn't speak of all bears." First recorded bear attack in Kentucky! Scary...

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Thanks to everyone who has clicked on any of the ads on these pages. Really appreciated!