Monday, 19 December 2016

Nannied to exhaustion but not to desperation

So I rented a car again because it was snowing and the ice from the last snowfall was still on the roads, making them very questionable for bicycle riding.  When I needed to park the car for a short while, I made sure that I found a spot by a curb with minimum old snow and crap and I even picked one going slightly downhill so that I could just slide out of it.

I get back in the car.  Try going forward to get back in the lane. There is an old snow/ice rut between me and the lane, so the car just goes forward but not sideways.  Oh Great.  Let's back up a bit and try again.   NOT.  The car is not backing up, I guess the tires are slipping on a bit of ice/snow.  No problem, we'll just spin the wheels until they grip.  Done that many many times before. NOPE.  I hit the gas pedal but I don't get the desired noise and spinning from the front wheels.  WTF is happening?

It takes me 2 minutes to figure out what is going on.  The STUPID car has a wheel slip detector.  So when a wheel slips on ice, a computer stops delivering power to that wheel.  Must be a brand-new and highly desirable  SAFETY feature.   Unfortunately it also doesn't let me back up.   I'm STUCK in a friggin almost level parking spot.

I've driven in snow all my life.  I know how to handle snow; I know how to drive in it.   But this friggin car doesn't let me !  After 10 minutes of trying to wiggle back and forth I finally give up.  I can't beat the computer and its dumb gas pedal over-ride.

This is the moment that I decide NEVER to even consider buying a Hunday ( I wish I could figure out how to spell that right now, but Denny's has abandoned the idea of providing its own Wifi and went with Telus Internet and Telus today (as yesterday) is NOT even appearing in my Wifi list.  There is that old saying "If it's NOT broken, don't fix it". In Canada, the 'NOT' seems to have gotten lost in translation, so anything that IS broken, doesn't get fixed.  NO Wifi at Denny's, NO usable Wifi at my hotel, half the time NO Wifi at Earls.  This country is going to the dogs. And Canadians can't even blame foreigners for it, LOL.

Anyhu back to my Hyuanday Accent, the miserable piece of shit with the anti-slip electronic.system. After hacking at the ice with a screw driver for a minute, I try a few moving a few more times and finally come to the conclusion that I do have to call a tow-truck to get out of that parking spot.

Think about that.  It's unbelievable.  And all because of some idiot in South Korea !

Busters Towing shows up after only half an hour instead of the predicted full hour.  Good Work!
The tow-truck driver, who I believe I met before somewhere, looks at the situation and decides to get in the car and drive out of there himself.    My mind is caught in a dilemma: Should I hope that he gets the car out of there, which would make me look like an idiot, or should I hope that he doesn't? 
Fortunately he GIVES UP before I have to make up my mind.   But I have an idea. With him in the car, and trying to reverse and me pushing from the front, we finally build up enough wiggle to trick the anti-slip system and he and the car move backward.  YEAH!

Then he tries to drive forward into the lane and suffers the same fate as I did earlier.   Thank you city and citizens of Vancouver for clearing the small of snow that fell more than a weeks ago. NOT. Lazy bastards that blame their problems on  foreigners.  Or was that Americans?  The problem seems wide-spread, LOL.

But now the tow truck has the necessary angle to get it's implement under the car and tow me out of there and he does.  Yes, it costs me $90, but the alternative would have been taking a bus home and hoping that in 1, 2 or 3 days the predicted rain would melt the ice.  

The conclusion? Be careful what you wish for.  Being perfectly safe sounds like a good thing. But it will cost you. Maybe a tiny bit of money, but that's OK, because the whole point of money is to be exchanged for something else that is useful.  
No, the price you will be paying, will be charged in loss of adventure AND freedom AND ability. 
Or in other words, you'll be paying with a tiny bit of LIFE.  And paying with a bit of life for 'safety' just doesn't make any sense, does it?  

So YES, I'm exhausted by the constant annoyance of the First World delivering forcing things on me that are trying to run my life into something that I don't want it to be.

On the other hand I don't really care anymore.  This is not home, this is not where I belong.

To put it in the words of Gnarls Barkley:
Anyone that needs what they want, and doesn't want what they need
I want nothing to do with

Let's not forget Lorde:
But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair.

To put it in the words of Bob Dylan:
I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin'
I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I'll tell and speak it and think it and breathe it
And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it

With Christmas upon us again, why not think about what that holiday is REALLY about.  Hint: It's not about iPhones !

So I'm heading back where 'the people are a many and their hands are all empty' and Zulema is coming too !   

Somehow I have the felling that it's going to be FUN !

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Oh, just GO FUCK YOURSELVES !!!!! or I can't wait to live in the 'Third World'

As if the new Trump Era wasn't bad enough, today I get MINDBOGGLING news in the matter of renewing my Passport.

I already knew that the slow German machinery would take 8-10 weeks (2-2.5 MONTHS !!!) to provide me with a new passport, once I had jumped through numerous hoops in fulfilling the requirements to hand in an application for said passport.

AND I already knew that the German consulate NOW requires you to make an appointment for the submission of said passport application ONLINE (NO, NO! Appointments can be NOT made by phone!  WTF?)

So today, I checked out the ONLINE appointment scheduling system.  And all I find is confirmation for my previous bickering about the inefficiency and walking-through-molasses syndrome that has taken hold in the 'First' or Western World.  People are being treated like CATTLE but because they can choose from 200 different Shampoos in the Shampoo Aisle, they think they're living The Life ! 

The amount of nannying AND stupidity are APPALLING!

Harsh words, you say?  Maybe, but get a hold of this:

The NEXT AVAILABLE appointment for SUBMITTING the passport APPLICATION (YES, there is a LINE-UP to get to the LINE-UP !) is January 12th.   That's a Friggin MONTH from now!!!

So, just so you got this atrocity in its entirety, I'm going to repeat it:    It takes 2.5 MONTHS to get a new passport issued.  But to be able to just SUBMIT that passport APPLICATION, I have to wait ONE MONTH.   


So did I book the appointment?  NOPE.  Because my OLD passport still allows me to travel to my Beach Hut.  So while other Germans will patiently wait for their appointment to submit their application for a new passport and will shiver in the friggin cold and will suffer from SAD (Seasonally affected Disorder, i.e. lack of sunlight), my ONLY worries will be whether that sunburn will have turned into a tan by the respective 'tomorrow' (or whether I have to stay a day in the shade) and whether Julian will have another beer.
There are only TWO pictures in this post. I sincerely hope you get the connection !

Hakuna Matata, Cattle !

"There must be some way out of here
Said the joker to the thief

Monday, 12 December 2016

Obstacle Course Living or A Fairly Frigid Ferry and a Brilliant Bus Bozo

Reserving my beach hut has changed things.  Gone is the lack of energy or motivation I felt only two days ago at the prospect of freezing my behind off for another 3 months.  I wake up EARLY, because I'm looking forward to running all the errands necessary to provide for Grandma, get my life organized, and to deal with the remaining obstacles in the way of actually getting to that beach hut.
 One of the obstacles of daily Canadian living presents itself already at 8:53 am.  I have walked to the General Store to buy a bottle of wine for my gracious hostess as a small Thank You for a big favour she once did for me; a favour that keeps giving!   But the store clerk informs me:  You have to wait 7 more minutes; we are not allowed to sell you alcohol before 9 am. So I walk down to the beach. Better to get better at the beach than to get bitter.

Oh, for Friggs Sake, Canada, stop nannying your citizens !  This is getting ridiculous.  If anyone wants to get fully alcoholised at 8:53 am they could just buy one MORE bottle the night before when it is legal to do so.  NOT selling wine at 8:53 am does NOTHING, except piss people off and constantly remind them that they are at the mercy of the state.  Is that really the kind of citizen you want to have, Canada?   The sad part is that the answer might just be YES.

Having finally succeeded at buying alcohol at a legal time, having delivered that alcohol to the intended recipient, I rush to the bus stop to make the ferry connection.  In the 5 years that I have been coming here, this is actually the very first time that I take the bus to the ferry terminal.   It reminds me of the bus in Ha Noi because just like the Ha Noi bus it gets to its destination by seemingly unnecessary loops and detours, just to reach as many customers as possible.
Langdale Ferry Terminal

Here comes the Queen

 Looks COLD?  Try walking on the upper deck to take pictures ...

 The seagull does not seem to notice the cold, it keeps playing air games in the ferry's air draft.
WHY have I never seen seagulls in Vietnam ?

The ferry ride is uneventful, but as I find out in Horseshoe Bay, the ferry left LATE, 10 minutes to be precise.  How do I find out?   The Express Bus serving the ferry terminal LEFT EMPTY.  It left about 4 minutes before about 50 ferry passengers arrive speed-walkingh at the bus stop, shivering in the cold and desperately looking for their bus.  Oh Canada !
 After waiting for 5 minutes at the bus stop while I'm slowly loosing the feeling in my finger tips (I really notice it while typing this) and realizing that I would have to wait another 15 minutes and that the bus that will arrive is not even the express bus but the slow one, a thought forms in my mind.  I would have lunch when arriving back 'home', so why not have lunch here and after lunch catch the next express bus.  I might be able to save some of my finger tips from the frightening result of Vancouver bus drivers deciding to drive an empty bus just to be on schedule.  

Done.  I'm sitting in a semi-warm restaurant, sipping a yummy Sauvignon Blanc while the rest of the deserted bus passengers keeps shivering on the street.  I've reached an age where I refuse to suffer from the capriciousness of public service employees in the so-called first world.  And it works out very well.  The Fish & Chips at Bay Moorings is delicious (new management finally?) and much better than anything I would have gotten at Denny's ;-) 

I've finished the meal and I STILL can't feel my finger tips.  Thinking thoughts of beach huts warms my heart and soul but unfortunately does NOTHING for my finger tips ;-(

It's a good thing I finish lunch earlier than anticipated, because the 12:25 257 Express Bus is full and leaves at 12:22.   Go Canada Go !

When I finally get to my hotel (I walk from Park Royal instead of relying on another bus), I almost crack up laughing:
NO, they're NOT renovating the place;  Next fall the motel will be torn down to make room for more overpriced high-rise condominiums.  Oh Joy !

The last obstacle?   When the photocopier of the hotel reception refuses to photocopy my passport (paper jams), the receptionist tells me that she is applying for her Permanent Resident status right now and how she is amazed that everything is so complicated and so SLOW, especially after hearing from a friend travelling in Asia how unbureaucratic and fast things get done over there.  NO, I didn't NOT put her up to it, LOL.

Last obstacle of the day?   I am about to sign my application for a citizen search, when I have to run over to reception for the umpteenth time because I only have a pen that writes dark blue.  So? you ask?   NO, NO, gotta do it properly! The form specifies that the signature must be made in BLACK ink.   

So, where IS John Galt?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Birthday, Mental Relief, and Ooops, I did it again!

Actually, a sunny break in the grayness ;-)
December 11. It's Denise's birthday today.  Hans cooked up a 5-course storm and Dr. J and family came over for dinner.  And even though frequent verbal skirmishes with Hans might give another impression, I'm really just flattered pink to be welcome to be here in this setting of friends and family.
The obligatory beach walk with Denise & Max
 I am fortunate to have friends like this.   

On another front:
Frantic wiggling in trying to speed up the renewal of my PR card and passport has not shown ANY sign of being helpful or successful. SIGH !
I'm STILL looking at another 3 months before I will have a new passport with enough empty pages to allow me to travel to Asia and actually travel through more than one country.  

For a brief moment I actually thought I would be able to meet U&W in Sri Lanka at the end of January because that country would let me in with the limited amount of empty space that my passport has, but then I had to realize that I don't have the space that I would need for the stamps required for the two 20-hour lay-overs in China.
Sri Lanka (NOT my picture)
Yes, Dear Korbachers, I ALMOST made it to Sri Lanka, but it hasn't worked out yet.  But I will still inquire with the German consulate whether I can get a temporary document that will allow me to be in Columbo at the correct time; all is NOT lost yet ;-)

In the meantime I realized that I theoretically could go for 2 weeks to Vietnam with my present passport (No Visa required) or even 4 weeks to Cambodia  (with an advanced e-Visa, I'd only need the space for a simple arrival stamp).   
A group photo, LOL
OOOOH, the temptation !

THEN, when I 'just for fun' (Yeah, right) checked availability in Sok San Village, all that temptation finally got too much.  

Julian had (Note past tense) one single beach bungalow available.  And offered free cancellation until January 9th.   They know what they're doing, because .....

HOW could I NOT book that Hut in Heaven (TM)???? 

So I did.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Colourless views of FranticTown and Escape to the Snow Coast, eh, Sunshine Coast

It's been a while since my last picture post.  Why?  Not much to report.  Sure, there is the outrageous amount of wine in a large glass at Denny's delivered by a waitress that is happy to see me again.
But otherwise life is a bit colourless (NO, the following is NOT a B&W photograph, Vancouver is that GREY ;-(
The appalling absence of COLOUR !
But soon it gets worse than just GRAY, namely WHITE:
When it clears after that first snowfall, temperatures drop to MINUS SEVEN CELSIUS.  Going for a cigarette after a shower in the morning, I can feel the hairs of my eyebrows freezing together. NOT a nice feeling ;-(

When it starts snowing again and I no longer have a rental car, I decide to ride my bicycle. Yes, that is snow on my hat and eyebrows.

Why the public transit SeaBus has to be decorated with Candy Canes is still a mystery to me.  Maybe to evoke the Christmas Shopping Spirit in this otherwise GREY world?

On Saturday, it's finally time to escape the door-slamming neighbours, constant traffic noises, and general unpleasantness of the place I stubbornly refuse to call home when I'm staying in Vancouver.  Hans & Denise just arrived back from a 1-week stint in Mexico and I'm looking forward to seeing them again.

5:55 am.  Strange how when something is important you wake up just in time.  By the time my alarm clock rings at 6 am, I am already sipping my first coffee. 

7:30 am. Showered and packed, I head over to the office to 'steal' another not-included breakfast and chat with the receptionist staff, Carlos and Behnaz.  This hotel is a good fit for me; talking to people from Cuba and Iran over breakfast is much preferable to hearing just the same old usual ;-)

8:03 am. The bus arrives almost on time, but after an only 5 minute long journey I have to wait for the connecting bus to the ferry terminal for 20 minutes.  That time is sufficiently long to realize that I am NOT dressed properly for this weather.  I also note that Commercial Stores are pretty much the ONLY respite from the colourless monotony of Vancouver.  No wonder people flock there to shed their excess wealth ;-)

8:25 am. Hans & Denise get on the bus, but they haven't got sufficiently used to the new Trump-Days to understand when I tell them that 'Mexican's' have to sit at the back of the bus !

9:20 am.  We're on the ferry.  Another one of those monochromatic views.  But at least it's warm inside.

That's why you should always take 2 pictures,so you can use the one where everyone has their eyes open ;-)  Is Hans related to Trump?
10 am  It was drizzling rain in Vancouver, but it's snowing in Horseshoe Bay and it will be snowing even harder when we get to Langdale where Dr. J will have trouble to get his 4WD truck up the hill.
Some Colour!  Some Colour !
My kingdom for some COLOUR !
NOPE. NOT around here ;-(

Is it any wonder I am so drawn to other places?

Friday, 9 December 2016

ooooh,. That HURTS ! YVR to SGN for CAD $ 558

My mother is acting strangely, so Grandma already suggested I fly to Germany  and check on her.  A direct return flight Vancouver to Frankfurt before Christmas would cost me about CAD $ 2000.  WOW!

Then I see something else.  I know I shouldn't have looked.  I could have spared myself the pain.  Not having a passport and not knowing when I will get my new one does not allow booking flights. 

Otherwise I would have booked this one in a minute !  Just look at that price !  Unbelievable !  I NEED a passport !

If this isn't a burning bush, I don't know what is ....

There is another thing that hurts.  But it hurts in a different way. When I order a Clubhouse Sandwich at Denny's, the waiter asks me whether I want the regular one or the SENIOR's portion.  Holy F..K!  I just barely got used to not being ID'd when buying cigarettes.    

I know I've said this before, but it's worth repeating:
LIVE NOW, tomorrow might be too late !

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

The Pathetic Peripatetic Prussian

WHOOOAAA. What a title.

What pages of a long-lost dictionary did THAT come from?

Chris, my accountant, has a foible for alliterations (that means that several sequential words start with the same letter), so in a recent e-mail he called me a Peripatetic Prussian.  Alliterations are often used in literature because they do sound good in a strange way (Long-lost lovers pounding the pre-dawn pavement!).   Some writers just use them to show off.  Because they're difficult to create.  One either has a large active vocabulary or must be willing to look up synonyms to exhaustion.

Anyhoo, I'm getting carried away (I wish, LOL, preferably to distant shores!), The Prussian was simply a way of saying German, even though this German is as far removed from Prussian mentality as is possible.

 But for the next word even the size of my passive vocabulary didn't measure up. I had NO CLUE what Peripatetic meant.  I had to look it up.  'One who constantly travels from place to place'.  HOLY SHIT.  There is a word for me and I didn't even know it existed !

But there is the pathetic part. ESPECIALLY pathetic if you know that Prussians are known for their obeying of rules and their almost military discipline. Definitely NOT me.  And it gets even more pathetic.

I have been back in Vancouver for 10 days now and I can't wait to leave again. I can't stand this city and its people.

I walk down Robson street to get to Cafe Crepe and traffic is mad.  The road is blocked further down for a special event.  It's a parade. It's the ROGERS Santa Clause Parade.  ????

Oh, Thank God, Santa has found a sponsor. 

The pedestrian traffic on Robson today has added a third component.  People with elf noses, and garish paper mache extremities have joined the usual mix of shoppers at the high-end stores here and the final component made up by the homeless and destitute.  The view of seeing this man,wearing at least 3 pairs of trousers against the cold, tied with string at the knees to keep them from slipping, going trough the garbage bins  while everyone else is either trying to buy the latest outfit or is overly excited to pay homage to the great Rogers via the secondary figure of Santa Clause is noticeably shifting something inside me.  It's like that British TV series 'The Prisoner'.  Everything is perfectly normal on the surface but EVERYTHING in your being SCREAMS that there is something FUNDAMENTALLY WRONG !

This is WRONG.  I DO NOT BELONG HERE !   This CAN NOT BE REAL ! (o.k. so the homeless are the ONLY part of this that is real).  But watching the happy elves and busy shoppers effortlessly flowing around the destitute as if they were located in some invisible fifth spatial dimension is UNREAL.  The odd and almost funny thing is: Writing this a few hours later I can remember 3 THREE individual poor people, their faces, what they were doing, but NONE of the faces or actions of the other two groups. 

Yesterday I watched a documentary about the retirement of Lufthansa's highest-ranking pilot.  One of the things the retiree said in connection with the desire in his youth to become a pilot was

Live your dream but don't dream your life.

That's what Vancouver today feels like.  The Matrix all over again.  Sure, the ROGERS Santa Clause Parade is something to do or watch on an otherwise uneventful Sunday. But what does it mean?  Personally, I'd rather be at Castro's funeral today. Who is Santa Claus?  What does he represent?  Besides SHOPPING, I mean.  Are these people here today learning or experiencing something new (semi-relevant, I mean)?  Or did they just find a way to pass the time?.  Are they dreaming their lives?   

I'm afraid it's even more than that.  What more? you ask?  THIS VIDEO of Patty Smith singing Bob Dylan at this year's Nobel Prize ceremony could give you a hint, google the lyrics ! My gut feeling is causing an anxiety attack and I have to get out of their badly.  Of course, all the roads are plugged.  I feel strangely like the Prisoner, insisting that I am NOT # 6.  I know that I am a prisoner here, that this is NOT my world, but like in the original TV series, I don;'t really know where I belong.  South-East Asia was an insight.  

It's everywhere, starting with the morning news.  Trudeau (Yes, the WIMP who let himself be bullied NOT to attend Castro's funeral) announces a PEACE mission. But in the same sentence he mentions Canadian troops on that mission. Cat Stevens once sang of a Peace Train, but I don't think he envisioned that to be an armored train.  Double-Speak is here to stay because no-one seems to notice it anymore. 

Given all that it should be no wonder that I want to get out of here badly.  Easier said than done. When I arrived in Vancouver, I had ONE empty page in my passport for visas.  Not anymore.  The utterly brilliant Canadian immigration official put his small arrival stamp NOT anywhere on the number of half-empty pages, but smack in the middle of my LAST empty page.   Thanks a LOT MORON!  Why can immigration officers in Asia be bothered to leaf through the entire passport and place the departure stamp neatly next to the corresponding arrival stamp, and Canadians can't even be bothered to look for an empty page?  Who knows?

But it's probably a symptom of the same disease that allows me to send an e-mail to a Vietnamese Visa service over there, have a reply within 5 minutes, and the signed Visa Approval Letter within 4 hours, whereas applying for a German Birth certificate has not yielded ANY response within 7 days.  Infuriating is a term that only barely scratches the surface of what I feel like.  It's like trying to walk through molasses. 

WHY can an application for a Search of Canadian Citizenship Records be submitted ONLY by MAIL to a processing centre in Nova Scotia?   The mail delivery alone will take 3 business days !   Oh, sorry, I just looked up Canada Post's Delivery Standards, and my letter would arrive on Business day 4 (FOUR), EXCLUDING the day of mailing,i.e. a letter from one end of the country to the next takes FIVE FUCKING business days or a whole week.  

Now THAT is a joke.  Do they still use ponies?  Or have the fat union-employees negotiated a settlement that prevents them from touching more than 10 envelopes an hour?

 If anyone is looking for ways how to 'make Canada great again', this is somewhere where they could start.

No pictures? NO, because the white page background works very well to exemplify the frozen white snow covering the roads and sidewalks of Vancouver.   

I believe 'bleak' is the word that best summarizes my world right now, LOL.

Here is the latest piece of 'progress'.  Last time I renewed my PR card, there was a form one could take to the bank and pay the fees.  NOT anymore.   NOW you HAVE to pay online. No problem really, but WHY do I have to REGISTER with immigration Canada first just to pay a fee? Fine, I register. e-mail and password.
 NOW, they want me to give them the answers to 3 (THREE) of those 'name of my first pet' security questions.  Remember, all I want to do here is pay a fee to have a document renewed.  
Who comes up with this Bullshit?  And who actually approves it?  Isn't there a SINGLE person there who dares to shout out "We don't need to know the name of this man's first pet just to let him pay the fee!"  ????

It's a good thing I'm not Abraham, because if I had to play his numbers game with God, I'd be haggling down to lower numbers too "What if I find only 30 righteous people in the city?  Will you still destroy it?"

Yes, strange thought patterns, but at least I have figured out why anyone looking back deserves to be turned into a pillar of salt.  

Friday, 2 December 2016

Thinking of visiting Australia? Earn some good Karma by staying away !

In my despair with biggots being allowed to spew the most outrageous and inhumane venom in the daily Western news, I remembered that Julian in Cambodia had mentioned the Phnom Penh Post (how is that for an alliterlation, LOL?) as a decent newspaper. 

So I check it out this morning.  And there it is!   What I have been missing so much.  Empathy for human beings, not just cute kitty cats stranded in trees.  This is still news written by people who are NOT terrified of offending one of their big corporate client advertizing accounts.  This is human beings writing about other human beings, NOT a bunch of billionaires who got rich of fleecing the government (i.e. the people) promising to do good for the 'common' man. LOL, most ridiciluous thing I ever heard ;-)

There are two stories I stumble upon that involve Australia, an entire continent of only 30 million inhabitants with a HIGH living standard.  In the previous year, I already have been telling Grandma that I have absolutely NO desire to travel to Australia, a country with a population that elected a recent Prime Minister for his promise of "No more boats", i.e. he promised to keep the voters' affluent and sunny lives free from having to look at those dirty refugees from war zones and starvation. (And NO, I do NOT intend to spend any money in the US in the near future either). 

But these two stories still came as a shock.

Not enough for you?  Another reason for NOT vising Australia is that it is OUTRAGEOUSLY EXPENSIVE ;-)