End of the Week Observations

It’s Friday, the big relief, the dawn of the weekend. Even people who like their jobs still like the weekend, a chance to stay up late, a chance to sleep in, a chance to sit around the flat without getting completely dressed and not have to get anywhere on time. A chance to recharge the old batteries, a rare metaphor that is gaining power with the rising wave of technology and not being submerged by it.

I got lost on the way to pick up Isabel from her Street Dance lesson. I know exactly where the place is and how to get there, of course. At least, one way of how to get there, and two or three variations of that. But, I was early, and the evening was warm, relatively. Above 0, anyway (for all you unenlightened Fahrenheit folks out there, above 32. Had been raining, but not currently raining. No wind. So, I decided to walk and I took a little hinkwamp uphill about halfway there, on the logic that I wanted to come up on top, where the school is, and not slog up that high hill, but pretty soon I was hopelessly lost, and tried to backtrack, but that was no good, and eventually found a bus stop which would get me back to where I would have gotten off if I taken the bus in the first place.
I do stuff like that now and then. Keeps life interesting.

Got a call that the poetry event at Žižkov Šiška is on for the 15th, which makes 3 poetry readings in the next two weeks. More than I’ve done in – well, I don’t think I’ve ever done so many in so short a span, except maybe back in the day, like in the last century even, when they’d sometimes have them at the Iron Door and than later the same night at Radost, which was kind of ridiculous. Glad the different poetry gaggles of Prague have co-operated for once, so that has been avoided.

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Bitch Session

Just a couple of things I want to complain about tonight, not major things, nothing that’s destroying the world although there’s plenty of that going on, but I’m just going to focus on these little things, crank out my 250 words in less than 10 minutes if possible because I want to get to bed and am not that interested in ‘Food Factory,’ which is the best thing on but definitely not worth staying up for.
First, a lot of people are posting stuff saying that we should all try to get along and we should stop calling Trump supporters stupid. Well, fuck that. Stupid is as stupid votes. I think Forrest Gump said that.
I’m still glad Hillary lost, America dodged a bullet there, but the Trump presidency is shaping up to be a real horror show, his (still theoretical) cabinet appointments are all nightmarish, from the villainous, Snidely Whiplash style banker he wants as Secretary of the Treasury, to that horrible, anti public education, billionaire lady he wants as Secretary of Education, his picks are a gallery of America’s most comically evil people.
So, no, I’m not going to praise, talk nice to or even try to find common ground with his supporters. That’s ridiculous.
The other is a kind of post that’s more of a long term, chronic irritation. I saw a lot of posts of this type before this election cycle, even. The wording is always almost identical. “This is my page and I don’t want any bad language/hateful opinions/disagreement in the comments.” I had a guy the other day tell me he didn’t want to hear anybody defending Castro and then he proceeded to tag me in links to articles about what an evil dictator he was. I haven’t defriended that person yet, but I am thinking about it.
O.K., that took closer to 15 minutes. Good night.

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Rough Day

I am glad this day is over. Some good came of it, but it was rough. First, bitterly cold. Then, I screwed up buying the train ticket because I take the same train Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday morning but on Wednesday I have to take it to Kralupy and Tuesday and Friday not so far. I got confused. No biggie,just had to pay the difference on the train, but the conductor only gave me a one way ticket to Kralupy and I got dinged again on the way back so in the end paid more than I should have. Not a big amount, but irritating.
My students in Kralupy are all bright, interesting people but I teach them one at a time, back to back, for 3 hours, and one at a time is my least favorite way of teaching.
Then, the monster 2nd grade class and they were as always, trying to talk over me and absolutely determined to turn the time into a play period instead of a class but,in the end, I did get at least one of them to know all the words to “The Eentsy-Weentsy Spider,” which made me feel proud far beyond what I should for such a minor success.
Then, the two hour wait before my last class, which is Isabel’s friend from school and her downstairs neighbor. I sat in the food court at Flora and got a poem written. Well, one stanza or, you could say one poem in a series of very short poems which are part of a longer poem and I intend to present in the format of a children’s book, which it is not at all, but the first line of each stanza is like a flashcard theme, because that’s just such a part of my reality that that’s where my thought process starts.
Anyway, it’s a strange thing when you write a poem you don’t actually agree with, but it’s good enough you figure you should let it stand,it’s like letting your kids be whatever they want even if it’s something you’re not happy about.

This is a swing set, this is a slide
We stay indoors when it’s cold outside
the problem with the human race
is, we view the world as a hostile place

which we do, and today felt like it,but I don’t think that’s the problem with the human race. I think that’s one of our defining features, and a worthy one at that. It’s because we have been committed, over the last million years or so, to taming our environment and shielding ourselves from it, that we invented clothing, houses, submarines and spaceships. The oyster only makes a pearl to counter the irritation of the sand.

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A Good Question

Someone in my Bernie or Bust group posted a really good question on Facebook: When are we going to stop raging against Hillary and start treating Donald Trump as enemy #1. It’s a good question.
On the one hand, Hillary has been defeated. She should be irrelevant. Donald Trump has been elected and so he is a very real threat. His appointments indicate that underneath that imbecilic demeanor beats the heart of a true teabagger. He stands ready to rubber stamp any damned idiotic thing a Paul Ryan led congress passes, and that is bound to be some seriously evil shit.
On the other hand, Hillary Clinton is like that stray bit of bacon between your teeth, the one mosquito in the tent, the turd that won’t flush. We can’t let it go because she continues to exist.
After losing the election, despite having the support of the media, the banks, the large corporations, the Democratic party establishment, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders and almost all celebrities more famous than Scott Baio, which is something that required a massive amount of negative charisma, she refuses to release her death grip on the Democratic party. If Howard Dean becomes the DNC chair, and Chuck Schumer the Democratic party’s leader in the Senate, it is clear that the Democratic party has NOT learned its lesson.
So, we can’t let up. There are plenty of people willing to criticize Trump, and I will certainly join them in time. There is no doubt he is an ignorant, bigoted, horrible excuse for a human being.
But, for now, we still have to fight against Hillary Clinton. She is down, but apparently not out. The stake has not been driven through her heart. The bacon is still between our teeth, the mosquito is still buzzing in the tent, the turd remains unflushed.

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Pizza Night

Goddamn, but it was cold today. Painful cold. When the sky is assaulting your skin. That’s neither here nor there, this is not California and seasons are to be dealt with and accepted, but I don’t really have to like it. My favorite seasons are spring and autumn, my favorite days are those when the weather is so bland you don’t think about it at all, but can focus on more important stuff.
Shortly before taking Isabel to her street dance practice, H called, office dinner outing, so I had to make dinner. Which is not a big deal, I actually don’t mind cooking, but I do, indeed, hate shopping and that was pretty much part of the deal since we’re out of everything.
At first I thought “Well, we’ll stop at Albert after the rehearsal, no problem” because her rehearsal is kind of in the boondocks of Prague 10 (I think, it might still be Prague 3, I’m not sure exactly where the line is) and I knew of no supermarket within walking distance and any further and I might not have been back in an hour. But, on the way there, I did notice a little grocery store in the housing project we walk through to get there.
My plan was to pick up some ground beef and bread and cheese and make cheeseburgers, the kids don’t complain too much when I do that. Some, but not too much. But, they didn’t have ground beef. So, I bought a couple of instant pizzas instead, just heat, and the kids were very happy. As Sam said (not in these exact words, but close enough I knew exactly what he was thinking) “even you couldn’t screw this up.”
Faint praise but I’ll take it.

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Two Sides is Not Enough

There may be more than two sides to every question, in fact the number of sides from which a question may be viewed is only limited by our imagination, and we’d be a lot better off if we’d try to find 20 or 30 alternative sides, before jumping in on one or the other.
Because that is what we tend to do, and you can see that very clearly on Facebook. You’re either for or against the Dakota pipeline, for or against legalization of marijuana, for or against abortion, for or against guns, and it’s a damned shame because positions get hardened, there’s no room to back up or maneuver, both sides are massed at opposite ends of a high walled canyon, ready for a clash, and somebody’s going to get hurt.
The latest bifurcation is Castro. Some love him, some hate him, and there are not nearly enough people adding the almost necessary ‘but’ after that initial phrase, or looking beyond their initial viewpoint even a little bit. Someone could say “I love him but, on the other hand, throwing people in prison for being gay was a bit harsh,” or “I hate him but, yeah, health care and education.”
We can deal with this one, because he will still be dead two weeks from now, but everybody will have stopped talking about him.
The Cubans in Miami will go on hating him until they die, but they are never getting their villas back. And most people don’t really care that much.
One of the scarier comments I saw (and most people won’t see this as scary, some might see it as benevolent and well intended, some might see it just as obvious) was “Cuba deserves a better government.” Of course, the comment came from an American, as if we had any moral authority to lecture other countries on their leadership at this point in time.
Let Cuba decide what kind of government Cuba wants. We’ve tried to beat them down no for more than half a century, and it didn’t work. Just let it go. The Monroe Doctrine was a dumb, and arrogant doctrine.

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A Long Day of Dance

Had to go to Pisek today, site of oldest stone bridge in the Czech Republic(very historical), for Isabel’s dance competition. We got them (Isabel and her friend) to the theater on time, and noted right away the advantage of this over going to Sam’s football games: this was indoor, in a theater, with comfortable seats, as opposed to outdoor with no bloody seats at all.
Still, Izzy’s team wasn’t scheduled to compete until 6 so we watched the first 3 or 4 acts and then went out for some lunch and a walk around the town. We crossed the bridge in a light mist, it was a beautiful view of the town and the river, just below the weir. But the perception of the beauty of mist is a tenuous thing, and dissipates with time, in this case about 5 minutes and I was anxious for something to eat and then it kind of actual rain, so we ducked into a passage to get out of the rain and at the other end of it, lo and behold,was a restaurant. Chicken and fries for me, Pork, dumplings and sauerkraut for Helena.
Then we went back to watch the rest.
I was kind of amazed at the talent, and I’m glad Isabel is involved with it. Competitive dance is a sport, it’s good exercise and teaches teamwork, and discipline, and sportsmanship, so that’s all good, but the music is all brash and aggressive and often has words I am quite certain the Czech audience doesn’t exactly understand, but they’ve got the gist, the angry, rebellious tone and all of the kids are doing scowly poses while flashing what looks a lot like gang signs, it’s a bunch of young white kids doing Hakas, which is bizarre, but what the heck, I’m not their art director.
On the way home we were listening to Lyse Doucette (not sure of the spelling, can’t be bothered to look it up)on the BBC, on the occasion of Castro’s death, and she said something like (not exact words but I’m not exaggerating) “Only time will tell if Castro is remembered as a significant world leader or an anomaly.” What an incredibly stupid thing to say. It’s very clear that history will regard him as a significant world leader. He had millions of American schoolchildren taking cover under their desks, he outlived and outlasted Ike, JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
You can argue good or bad, plenty of ammo on both sides there, but you can’t deny he was significant. That’s just silly.
Another thing that bothers me in the conversation about Castro is that they (they being mainstream Western media) always say is that the embargo was necessary because Castro was so horrible and one of the reasons he was horrible is because he wrecked the Cuban economy. No, he didn’t. The embargo wrecked their economy.
In any event, he is dead. At 92. Which is not a bad age at all.

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