Category Archives: Blogs' Archive

The Alternative to Corfu

Our plan  for today was to take a ferry  across to Corfu, just to be in a different country for a  day,  and we  all like boat rides.  But, when we found  out it was going to  be 290 euros for a family of four, we scrapped  that plan.   We decided just  to drive south to  Greece instead, as  we’re less than  two hours from the border.
I think it was a very good decision.  We swam  at two different  beaches, the second of which was  absolutely the classic beach you look for.  Free, sandy, not too  many people and most of them locals, showers  and changing rooms.  There was even a playground for the little ones, but our little ones are already quite a bit too  big for that.
We had a lovely Greek lunch after our swim at the first beach.  I  had shrimp,  the kids had souvlaki, and Helena had  a hamburger which was the only thing that  wasn’t very good.  The side  dishes – a Greek salad and a  plate of tzatziki – were excellent, although  the  tzatziki  was thicker, creamier, and less cucumberish than I remember from previous visits.  The price was  less than I thought  it would be and  they gave us  a free dessert, a plate  of  watermelon, because there’s always  room  for watermelon.
We made it back  to Ksamil before  dark  because  Helena didn’t want to drive at  night and we went out for waffles, because  nobody was hungry enough for  a full  meal.  Despite the  over-commercialization  of the beaches here, and the  fact  that some parts  of town look like a rubbish tip, there is a bustling main drag for tourists, and  our table  was right  next to the sidewalk.  An excellent spot for people  watching.

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Winning Strategies

In sports,  in  business, certainly in dating, when you find a  strategy  that succeeds  for  you, you are likely to  repeat that strategy.  The same is true  in politics.
Donald Trump is an  extremely  stupid man.  Just based on his  spelling and use  of language, I’d guess  his IQ is in less than  triple digits.

But, he knows this.  Way back when  he  made  his Mexican rapists and drug dealers comment, and all Democrats (myself included) said “Well, that’s that one gone, he’s  toast,” and his poll numbers didn’t plummet but actually  rose, he realized  he had a winning strategy.  He  doubled  down  on  it again and  again.  And he won the election.  So, he’s doing it  again.  The ‘go  back  where  you came  from tweet’ is as blatantly  racist as you  can get.
It makes sense, and it might  even win him  a second term.
The Democrats, on  the other  hand, lost the  last election.   If this were sports, or business, or dating, and they were trying to succeed, they would not repeat the same strategy (i.e. doing everything they can  to keep a candidate  who is popular with a wide cross section of the public from winning the nomination)  Yet, they  are.  Either they  are incredibly incompetent politicians, stupider than Donald Trump, or trying to lose.  I  suspect the last one.
It’s not that over 50% of the American people are  racists.  That number  is  probably  closer  to  30%  It’s the same percentage  of Americans who believe that  the  world  was created, in a single day, 6,000 years ago.  It’s  the same percentage who believe the story of Noah  and his  Ark is literal.  It’s the same percentage who believe that  global  warming is a hoax.
It’s always around  the same  number,  because it’s the same people.
One might think that 30% is not enough  to win an election, but it  is when only 50% of the  people  vote.
So, all the Democrats need to do is field  a  candidate who  people are excited  about, who  people  will turn out in droves to vote for, and there’s only one  of the  current crop of  candidates  who  has that appeal.  It isn’t creeper  Joe  Biden.  It isn’t Kamala  the crooked cop.  It isn’t Elizabeth Warren, even  though  she’s saying  all  the right things.  It  certainly  isn’t Corey “steals medicine from old people” Booker, and it isn’t  the  failed  mayor  of South  Bend, Indiana.
It’s Bernie Sanders.

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Ksamil

My wife read last night’s blog and  complained that I wrote about politics again, I  guess she wants me to  write about nothing but our vacation.  And I guess she’s right.  People for  the most part ignore my blogs, and  even my comments and  posts, on politics, usually.  And a vacation is an interesting thing, especially now that  we’re in a country  I’ve never been to before, and  which  a lot of  people, over 90% of those  in  the  world, I’m sure, have never been to  at all.
As with  every vacation  to parts  unknown,  there’s going to be some  good  and some  bad.  On the good hand, our apartment is quite nice.  Oh, we had to go  out  to the shop  to get our  own toilet paper, and a shower curtain but that will be going home with  us.  We have  two  balconies, and  we can sit out  there and  eat dinner.
Also to the  good, people here are very  friendly and welcoming.  And the food’s great.  Huge portions.  Somewhere between Greek and Turkish.  I had moussaka  for  lunch  this afternoon,  and Izzie had  a  meat skewer yesterday. It isn’t quite as cheap as I  expected, but for  a resort  town, the  prices aren’t bad at  all.
On the bad  side, almost all of the  beaches are private beaches.  The places marked ‘public beach look very much like a ‘free speech zone at an American major party political convention.  They  don’t really want  you there at all, if you’re  not paying 1,000 lek a day (about $10) for a deck chair, so you’re allowed an area just a few meters  square where it’s possible to lay  out a towel.  On the good side, once you’re in  the  water that doesn’t matter, and the water is  lovely  and just the right temperature.

There is a spot,  close to our flat, where  the  land meets the water, but it’s not really a beach.  Some boats are tied up  there, but there’s algae in the water, and garbage everywhere.  Like piles of it in some places, and even human feces.  In fact, there are a lot  of  places in  town that look  like that, and a lot  of unfinished construction projects.
So, despite the fact that the scenery, long view, is absolutely  spectacular, with mountains behind us and  the  island strewn Adriatic in  front of us, I wouldn’t recommend Ksamil.
Which is a shame.  A couple  of small  changes  and it  could  be a downright spectacular place.

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Bernie or Bust, Again

The blue no matter who people who were so obnoxious in 2016 are at it again, and I know  this post will fall  of deaf ears because it’s not as if we haven’t already  told them they are being obnoxious, they just don’t see themselves that way.
But, here’s the deal.  There’s a candidate in the race now that I actually like, and am enthusiastic about, and  he has earned my support.  That, of course, is Bernie Sanders.  I also like Tulsi Gabbard and Mike Gravel but neither one  has a realistic chance of winning.  I probably could be persuaded to like Jay  Inslee, because I agree that saving the planet should be the number one issue, but he also has no realistic chance of  getting the nomination.
If the Democrats (as they seem hell bent on doing) nominate Joe Biden, who hates raves and  marijuana, there will  not be a  candidate in the race who I like.  If they nominate Kamala Harris, who loves private prison and thinks cops should be able to beat the fuck out of anybody they like, and isn’t particularly bothered about priests raping  little boys, either, there will  not be a candidate in  the race who I  like.  If they  nominate Liz ‘see I  can drink beer like a normal person’ Warren, who will  not stand up to the oil companies who are destroying our planet, there will  not be a candidate in the race who I like.  If they nominate Pete  Buttigieg, who was not even  a good mayor of South Bend, Indiana, there will not be a candidate in the race who  I like.  (Yes, Bernie started his political  career  as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.  The difference is  he was kind of spectacular as a mayor.  Turned a dying industrial town into a wonderful  place to live.)  If they nominate Beto O’Rourke, there will not be a  candidate in  the race  who I like, no matter how many burgers he  eats.
I think that about covers it.  And if I don’t like a candidate, I’m not voting for him or her.  That is done.  That argument is over.

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Trouble in Tirana

Well, our Air B and B experience here was even worse than in Zagreb.  We finally arrived in Tirana, Albania at about 9 in the evening, after a one hour wait at the border, and then getting stuck in traffic behind a herd of  cows, then a flock of sheep, and then a very slow moving truck. We had to follow that bastard  for about 30 kilometers of solid no  passing zone.
Still,  that should have been plenty of time.  We had booked the accommodation, but couldn’t reach the  host by phone, and there were no e-mail messages from him, either.  About 11 p.m., we started looking for a hotel.  The first 3 we tried were all full and the 4th couldn’t fit  us all  into one room, and it’s a really nice hotel so this  is setting us back 160 euros.  We’ve contacted booking.com, and we hope we don’t get charged, but still, it pisses me off.  If someone is  offering their room (and making a pretty  penny off it), they should at least answer the damned phone and show up  with  a key.
I don’t expect everybody  to leave  biscuits  in the room and provide us with detailed tourist  information on  the town, the way our last  hostess did, but answering the phone is sort of a minimum.
Outside of that, I am  quite  surprised at Tirana.  The rest of the country looks 3rd world, with sheep  in  the streets, geese in  the  garbage, and half built buildings everywhere, but Tirana is a modern city of bright lights and outdoor cafes.  A bit on  the garish side, actually.  Something between Paris and Las Vegas.

I’d heard there is  crime here, but plenty of people  are out walking around late at night and even though we felt inconvenienced, we never felt  endangered.  All the people we  asked for directions or information were helpful and friendly, and even the hotels which couldn’t fit  us  in were polite and sounded genuinely remorseful.
But the guy hosting that Air B and B room is a dick,  and he will  get a scathing review.

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Day 4

This is going to be a very short blog tonight because we are camping and I am writing this on my phone and we are all in the tent both because it is raining outside and because it is night. Had an incredible lunch of mussels which I had ordered because it was one of the cheapest items on the menu and I was a bit worried it would not be enough but they brought out like a bucket of them in a garlic sauce and it was wonderful. Despite the perfect sand beach with turquoise waters and the initiation of our new tent, which is a mansion among tents with two separate sleeping compartments and a section in the center that is tall enough to stand up in, at least for anybody in my family, the mussels were the highlight of the day for me.

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Day 3

It was a lovely, relaxing day, which is  just the way we planned it.  We got a bit  of  a late start, but we were up touristing by about 9:30, and started with the marketplace in this picturesque city of Mostar.  Lots of beautiful stuff on display, but other than some baklava and Turkish coffee, made no purchases.  It probably took us an hour to get down to the bridge, which is sort of the spiritual center and biggest tourist draw in town. (Mostar is named after the original inhabitants, the Mostari, defenders of the bridge)

People dive off it, which is  a show for  tourists, and it  sure looks scary as hell, because the stream is very  narrow and so you might think it’s not very deep but right below the bridge I guess it is.  Wandered around the other side a bit, saw some buildings which  still bore the scars of the war (93-95. After gaining their independence from  Serbia, the Christians and Muslims turned on each  other) and the  High School which is supposed to be a way  of bringing the two communities together, a lovely  example of  Islamic architecture.  (I think Islam is a dumb religion, even among religions, which I  think are all a bit ridiculous, but I am a fan  of their architecture and their cuisine)
After that, we took  a  trip  up  to Kavica Falls.  I had no  idea what to expect, hadn’t even  seen  any pictures.    It’s actually  several falls, a wall of water plummeting over the edge and forming a sizable pool at the bottom.  Which was seriously, almost painfully cold.  I got in and  swam for a bit, Isabel did too but never put her head completely under, Helena dabbled her toes, and Sam stayed out entirely.
Had a truly excellent meal at an outdoor cafe afterwards, and tomorrow we’re off to  Dubrovnik.

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