604: Slavery in modern times


Not all Civil War monuments celebrate slavery – many memorialize the Americans who served and died, whose relatives raised the money to erect a memorial in their honor, as a remembrance of lives lost in armed conflict. There is nothing stopping others (whose views and memories are different) from raising the funds and erecting new memorials that reflect their differing views. There is room to coexist.

I come from that part of the USA that has a unique history. We are the only American citizens to suffer defeat in armed combat – if you don’t count the recent military “actions” that were never rightfully called a war, even though Americans also fought and died there in armed conflict, too.

Georgia (and her Confederate sisters) was defeated. Yankees still to this day call what we did in those times as “treason,” although no Southerner calls what we did (honorably seceding from the federal union), treason. Many southerners fought that war for state’s rights, since many (most) southerners were not wealthy enough to even own slaves – what we are continually told (lectured) was the sole cause of that conflict. If the North thought the South committed treason when they seceded, perhaps freeing the slaves was not the sole reason they fought, either. Especially considering that when they freed the slaves, they did not promote them to equal status even in their own self-righteous northern homelands. Even into the 1960’s, a white boarding house owner in Green Bay, Wisconsin (among other northern states) was not allowed, by law, to rent a room to a colored man, even if he *was* a team member of the Green Bay Packers that they were all ostensibly so proud of.

My Wisconsin-born husband tells me gleefully about when the other sports fans disdainfully referred to his Green Bay Packer fans as “cheeseheads,” and how they  took that slur and made it a point of pride for the Packer nation. And he completely and willfully ignores how the term “Rebel” came to be a point of pride for oppressed Southerners during the very long years of Reconstruction that the entire region suffered under the hands of rapacious Yankees and the low-life Southern-born who sucked up to them, and who should have been raised better. Blacks like to claim that the repercussions of slavery still resonate today – and that, to a large extent, is still true for Southern people of whatever skin color.

LEGAL slavery ended in the USA as a result of the defeat of the Confederacy – and states’ rights died there, too. Slavery in modern times is primarily economic (overlooking the recent horrific actions of the Islamic State). Modern slaves are those people who, through economic need, are forced to submit to providing their labor for less than a living wage. I’ve been hearing a lot (from liberals, primarily) about how illegal aliens are beneficial to the USA economy and their illegal status should be overlooked and forgiven because they take the jobs no American citizen will take.

Well, DUH.

What do you think the South’s primary reason for importing forced labor (slaves) into the cotton and tobacco fields (labor-intensive cash crops) was, idjits? They were imported to perform necessary work that few free Americans would take, because the work was not worth the wages. That legal slavery wasn’t a whole lot different from the sharecropping that white and black Americans did, and it wasn’t much different from laying those railroad tracks across the West that the Asians did, and it wasn’t much different from the coal mining that the Irish immigrants and poor whites did. It was economic slavery. And now, in your enlightened liberal minds (ha!), you want to PROMOTE economic slavery for a whole new crop of human beings who happen to be primarily Hispanic.

Yeah right – we can be SOOOOOO proud of our self-righteous humanitarian progress in the USA, can’t we?


488: Busy, Busy

This weekend is a three day holiday here in Kazakhstan: it is Women’s Day. Different from Mother’s Day in the USA, because you don’t have to actually procreate to celebrate and be included in this one. My last school, which shall remain nameless, worshipped the procreation part so absolutely that women on staff who had not given birth were shunned on Mother’s Day, and got no little gift remembrance on the day. Meh – they could have skipped me, too, for that matter, not that I don’t love my children, I just don’t define myself by that. Anyhoo – idiocy aside….

The first celebration was a very sweet and heartwarming show put on by the male faculty at the school to entertain the ladies, complete with very, very nice gift drawings. You must understand, local Kazakhs earn on average about 300 USD a month, and the men had to chip in to purchase those gifts. VERY generous of them, truly.

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I did not want to win one of the prizes, which from previous experience means that I will. I said this to the lady sitting to my right, and she did not believe me, so I told her “watch this,” and gave my number to the girl sitting to my left, and they called my number.  If I do not want to win, I will. It has happened that way too many times to count.

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I was introduced during the variety show they put on for us to a traditional Kazakh instrument whose name I cannot spell yet. Dumbra? It has only two strings, and they make fascinating and lovely music with it.

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Then, the next day of the three-day weekend, I got to enjoy a cello band concert sponsored by the American Embassy. In a lovely small theater, an American modern cello band of three classically trained-cellists (and a talented drummer) performed one Brahms concerto, and then many selections of their original, modern compositions – some incorporating our city’s native Kazakh musicians as well. Delightful! I think the group called themselves Breaking Reality.

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And it snowed again…… 😦

399: Waffle House and Children


Waffle House is an American (mostly, but not completely, Southern) diner. It is plain, simple, and honest. The people who generally go there are two kinds; working people who need a filling, inexpensive meal (blue collar) and people looking for the authentic diner experience (white collar).

Waffle House has the real ambiance of the American diner. There are booths at either end of the small diner, and a bar in the middle which is located in front of the grill. Restrooms and office rooms are at one end or the other of the place. The format of the places is so similar that frequent customers feel instantly at home, even if it is a location they have never been to before. That is part of the charm, if such a word is not totally inappropriate when discussing this restaurant chain.

Plus, the menus still feature a picture of nearly every item they serve…which is so customers who cannot read can still order. Not kidding. No sensitivity training needed here. You can tell that by the variety of the clientele – Waffle House gets all kinds. And they all, for the most part, coexist peacefully. America in action.

I found Waffle House restaurants to be quite helpful when I was raising my small children. I took them there fairly frequently in order to practice going to restaurants. I do not include most fast food places in that category. They have no dinnerware, or cutlery, no glasses….and no wait staff.  You are not training a child to go to a restaurant in one of those places. Waffle House is different from fast food places, while still relaxed enough that you do not (usually) offend every single person in the place when you come in for a meal with two small children.

Waffle House has real people who wait on tables (OK, booths). Points to Waffle House. Waffle House also has real dishes. Plates, bowls, glasses, mugs (with SAUCERS), knives,  forks and spoons. Paper napkins, true, but they are THERE. Points to Waffle House. I can have my children practice being in a restaurant there, as close as I can get to the experience of a fancy place, that is still kid-friendly (and that I can afford).  I owe the fact that I was able to take my children out to eat at fancier restaurants while they were still small – and not be completely and totally embarrassed and asked to leave – to good, old, reliable Waffle House.

340: FRUSTRATION plus one, times infinity

I don’t KNOW any expletives of sufficient strength and quality for this, and I have an impressive vocabulary of both G and X rated cuss words. Cuss you never know when you’re gonna need ’em, and when you might just need to use all of them at once. Like now.

I have a sincere, abject apology to make to Morocco. I just thought they had their head up their a…….bums. Not so. I have learned that Morocco is astonishingly efficient and competent in handling government documents……compared to Panama. Now, Panama has had a long and intimate relationship with the USA, and you would THINK (and you would be WRONG) that the get-‘er-done American attitude would also have taken effect in Panama – oh, heck no.

I believe, honestly and sincerely, that the attitude in Panama for government employees (hell, spread that toe jam out to any employee in any business here whatsoever) is that the longer you can delay doing anything useful to help anybody, the more secure your own job will forever be, because the line of people waiting for your attention (read: lack thereof) NEVER, EVER gets any shorter, thus proving that you are a vital and necessary part of the Panamanian economy, and therefore, worth keeping in the position you currently occupy. I am not joking. I wish I was joking.

These people specialize in the art of delaying progress. There is another document you don’t have that is vital to completing this mission – and when you have it, it must be photocopied (and they don’t make copies here, thank you very much) and notarized first. When you have THAT one, then there is another one you also don’t have, that we did not tell you about when we told you about the first one you did not have, that you now do have – do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. And believe me, there is NO LIMIT to the number of times they can play this game out – I think there is an office lottery for stringing people along using this particular ploy………..

Then there are the “professionals” who you pay money to, who then just don’t show up – and then who call you AFTER the scheduled meeting which they did not make it to, to reschedule: MULTIPLE times. NEVER pay these mofos ANY money up front for ANYthing. That is the only way you have a prayer of getting anything accomplished before you DIE.

FML. Seriously.

312: Euthanasia

I am stranded in the Orlando airport, a full day after I was supposed to already be on the ground in Panama.  I was refused boarding by American Airlines because they decided I did not have sufficient documentation for my cats to fly: after telling me that they could not fly because their kennels were too big (not) and that they could not fly because the temperatures on this early morning flight would exceed 85 degrees F at their destination (Panama) where they will be living for the next two years.

See, you have to have a veterinarian health certificate (done), within ten days of the scheduled flight (done), authenticated by an office of the USDA (done), and then apostiled by EITHER the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy (in Washington, D. C.) OR the Foreign Office in your state, Georgia (done). Then, you have to e-mail these scanned documents to the Panama Embassy in Panama to let them know the cats are coming (done) three days in advance in order to request that they have home quarantine (done). Oh, heck, no. American Airlines said that I needed additional documentation from the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy that the cats were good to fly. One eensy-weensy little problem: the Panamanian Consulate/Embassy does not provide any such certification, which would essentially be clearing the cats through their customs even before we board a flight to get there to submit ourselves to their customs. Not happening – either on the Panama side or on the American side.

I looked into renting yet ANOTHER car to drive to Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, so that I could have my existing paperwork apostiled in Florida, like I already had it apostiled in Georgia, but I don’t have enough room on my credit card, since another rental car company (rentalcars.com) refused to refund my pre-paid rental online when the pickup was refused in Orlando because I have a USA driver’s license, meaning I had to rent another car for 600 dollars cash (plus the 400 dollars they would not refund). Because of this, there is not room on my card to book another car, and they won’t book a one-day rental for cash, even though they were perfectly willing to book an eleven-day rental for cash. Obviously, if I can’t afford to rent a car, I also can’t just bypass American Airlines and book tickets on another carrier, either. I thought of that, too.

It does not matter anyway, because even if I went to Tallahassee to get this Florida apostile, since I am departing from a Florida airport instead of a Georgia airport, I would still only have a STATE apostiled health certificate for my cats (like I have now), not a PANAMANIAN apostiled document, which is what American Airlines is demanding.

I have one option left. I do have enough money to book a cab to the nearest veterinarian, and I can ask that my three beloved pets be euthanized. I cannot just turn them loose to scrounge a living on their own in Orlando, and I won’t take them to the animal shelter, because that is where adult cats are most often euthanized anyway: kittens get adopted, not adult cats. I am out of options, and I am already a day late getting to Panama for my new job – which I have to have. I’ve already notified them that I will be late reporting to work, and I can’t take much more time. I am not independently wealthy such that I don’t HAVE to work. I am already in tears as I write this, and I have been in tears on and off for the last thirty-six hours. I’m out of ideas. I did my best, and it was not good enough.

Meanwhile, I am here in the airport, sleeping on a bench with three cats in small crates who need to be walked and relieved every few hours, fed and watered. The wifi works here only on the third floor, and I have to go to the first floor (with them and all my luggage for two years’ stay) to take them outside to pee. And every few minutes, an announcement is made at this airport not to leave your luggage unattended. I am here alone – I have to pee sometimes, too. Oh, well.

And people wonder why I left America.

302: La, Shokran (No, Thanks in Arabic)

No, thanks. I don’t want any, but it was nice of you to ask. I don’t want to, but I am honored that you asked. I remember in Girl Scouts (back in the day) when we girls were actually taught how to politely refuse a man’s proposal. We were all about the age of eight, but you never know – it might have happened………. Anyway, we were taught to let the gentleman know how very honored we were at receiving the proposal, but that manners dictated that we had to consult with our family before we could reply. Safe exit. I don’t think girls this day and age are taught how to respond to a proposal that they don’t immediately want to say ‘yes’ to. And nowadays, the proposals are often not proposals of marriage, but offers for other things most of us would rather just pass up, too.

My brother  (it shames me about my family to admit this, but *I* didn’t do it) reported that in his heyday (30 years ago) he would walk up to attractive girls in our college town, of which there were innumerable, and just baldly ask them, “Wanna ____?”  I am also equally ashamed of my sex to admit that occasionally he got an affirmative reply, which encouraged him to keep asking that very, very rude question to perfect strangers of the opposite sex. I have NEVER responded positively to come-ons of the rude and crude sort. I have often not responded positively to come-ons of the polite sort, either, but that’s neither here nor there.

I remember being in my little ’66 Ford Mustang and having guys on the street shout unmentionables at me as I was driving by. Here in Morocco, it is fairly common for men to whisper/mutter suggestive things to a lone woman who is passing them on the sidewalk, and to shout juvenile things at women who are walking as they pass by in their cars. WHAT are these guys thinking? That women are actually flattered?? Seriously?

My second husband was just coming off of a disastrous relationship and decided that he didn’t want to ask women anymore, judging by his previous luck, and he decided that he’d just wait to be asked. It apparently worked out fairly well for him. American women did ask, I asked, and so have a number of other women here in Morocco (to be his second wife, not to dance).  I think that should work well for the rest of the world, too – let the woman ask. She is very unlikely to be turned down, knowing the average man. When a guy asks, his chances of a refusal are actually statistically pretty high – even if there are a few alcoholic drinks involved.

My advice? Let her ask – and then you can be the one with the polite refusal: La, Shokran.

262: Jokes

Jokes have fallen into bad repute lately. It seems that everyone is offended by any sort of joke there is, unless you count the really, really lame ones we used to tell in second grade, and even then……

I like to laugh. I had rather start any day with a laugh, particularly a Monday, but even on a Friday, things just seem to go better for me if I have had a laugh or two before I have to settle in for the work of the day. That’s why I always check my e-mail first. I understand that SOMEBODY has to be the butt of a joke. Sometimes it’s me,  and sometimes it’s you. It’s like that old adage that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue – it also works that way with a joke.

Lots of jokes are stereotypical. Stereotypes got established because there was some truth there. Whether that fact is difficult to hear or not is your problem. I can accept and live with that, even when the stereotype applies to me. As an American, Republican, conservative, Southern, Christian woman living in an Islamic country overseas, I get slammed with a lot of them. I understand where they are coming from, and I am not offended, unless it was the person’s INTENT to offend me, then they are just stupid, sad and pitiful, and I usually chuckle ruefully at the silly person they are, and let it go. Life is too short, ya know?

None-the-less, I like jokes. I like to hear them, read them and tell them. Besides, I’d rather laugh off insults and start my day right with a good joke.  So THERE.