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Local Unmentionables: Notes on YOUR corner of the world

tomierna's Avatar Picture tomierna (Admin) – December 07, 2007 08:50PM Reply Quote
Hell, it was a popular icebreaker on the ancien boards ...

Get up close and personal with excruciating details of your quotidien

How's your dirty laundry?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/07/2007 09:44PM by tomierna.

tliet – January 08, 2008 03:59AM Reply Quote
Well, not precisely my corner, but close enough. The waste mountains in Naples have grown to a full blown crisis...

Cloudscout – January 08, 2008 04:41AM Reply Quote
Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær!
Are they going to put a giant glass dome over the whole thing?

Steve Cordova – January 08, 2008 08:02AM Reply Quote
History passes the first time as tragedy, the second time as farts. - Roy Edroso
yeah, the M-I-L doesn't have anything good to say about Naples and she married a Neopolitan.

El Jeffe – January 08, 2008 08:05AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
she married a tub of ice cream?

What a journey.

Madaracs – January 08, 2008 09:20AM Reply Quote
Ooh! Scary! Scary! Don't we look mean? You can't see me! But I can see you!
It could be worse.

El Jeffe – January 13, 2008 04:56AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
I can't recall why or how this topic came up in one of my meetings last week. But, somehow someone mentioned some sort of traveling. It might very well have been me, but I can't recall. Perhaps I mentioned something about Spanish language. I currently listen to a few hours of Spanish a day. Having never taken Spanish in any formal setting, I have wondered if I could truly pick it up, so to speak, by the audio offerings - either 'learn' cds, or podcasts, or just listening to spanish language news or some such. I think perhaps that topic spurred the question WHY? I probably offered that it's the first language that I might actually have the local opportunity to use. Over the past 8 or so years, the latin population has sprung up around here, and there is even a spanish radio station that my radio is tuned to all the time. I have no clue what they are saying, most of the time, however.

I think that's where I was curious about other folks' foreign-language/travel past. It all led me to ONE question I have never really asked a group of people. "Have you flown out of the country?" I used flown, since it's relatively easy to drive to Canada and end up in an English-speaking country.

Everyone in the meeting had indeed flown out of the country. Now, I KNEW the guy that works for me had, since he had mentioned on numerous occasions having lived in London, and traveled to Brazil or so. But the other guys there seemed like fairly normal midwesterners. Aside from my sister, who had her OB/GYN office fly her down to I think the Bahamas for a 'day trip', which seems BIZZARE!!!... none of my family/friends had ever really flown out of the country until just recently. My in-laws took their ONE trip of a lifetime and flew to Rome for 10 days or so. Now, in MY opinion, they travel A LOT, but all the time that I can think it's been in-country.

So, there I sat with a new and interesting perspective that I was the only one that had NOT flown out of the country. Granted, I am bending the truth a little. I flew eight hours to Hawaii once for a 5 night stay. That trip is longer than most foreign flights, but TECHNICALLY we still ended up in the country. But for the life of me I don't know WHY Hawaii wants to remain a state. It's nowhere near the US. And that really was the primary reason we went there. Because it was still "USA" (law-wise), and we felt fairly comfortable in doing so. Though it was like $1500 just for the flight/transfer/hotel/car. Not something one can do often.

Okay, so here's the question.... Am I the only one HERE, TOO, that has not flown to some foreign, far-away, destination? I mean, going to Vegas on a biz trip last year was strange enough for me. I hid in my room. Okay, well, I didn't hide as much as HIBERNATE. I have always joked that if anyone really wanted to get me a present I could use, it would be a night at a motel. Where I could sleep in peace. And, staying true to my word, I finished up the day's conference sessions by eating Clif Bar with some milk, putting my ear plugs and sleep mask on and turning in at like 7 or 8 or 9 or whenever. Ahhhhh... sleep. (I got up at 3:30 am yesterday because I could not sleep!!!)

Coincidentally, this last week I have been trying to add some European podcasts to my mix. Since I just splurged on MY FIRST iPod with a DISPlAY (I had the [$29] shuffle up until now). For those that might not know, Apple hamstringed the shuffles (unbeknownst to me) and hamstringed the podcasts in doing so, by NOT allowing podcasts to sync with ANY SHUFFLES!! I bought three of these things for my kids, but I can't set up automatic podcasts syncing to them. That was very high expectation of mine for that expense. So, I've been holding out for a year and a half or so to get one with a display, that DOES SYNC WITH PODCASTS!! Lo and behold, my 1st gen 1 GB Nano for $59 does that. So, I've been absorping the podcast genre to no end. In doing so, I have wanted to hear LOCAL news from a variety of English-speaking foreign countries. Lately, I've found a few in Northern Ireland that I get some entertainment from. But, if YOU have any suggestions on English podcasts for Eureopean locales, let me know.

Anecdotally, my father was in the US Navy for 20 years active (10 years after that mandatory reserves, according to his papers I have reviewed, though I was totally unaware of that). He had served in the Atlantic and Pacific, so pretty much travelled the sea-going world. Every continent, many times, etc. Well, my family growing up, and just him and my mother before me, never once travelled overseas. He had had enough. The topic of travel like that never even came up that I could tell. Funny, we watched home movies (for the FIRST time) from my childhood and we had DRIVEN the US. My oldest son told me last night, "Gee Dad, you guys sure travelled everywhere but we don't really (now)". Anyways, once in college, my Dad finally 'free' of the Navy, and of children (having begun fatherhood in 1947, finished with me in 1965 - and shipped me off in 1983) at the ripe age of 61 my Dad and my parents both were together, alone. So, I eventually found that being a USA military retiree (more significant than just someone that spent less than 20 years in the military), he was eligible and HAD BEEN ELIGIBLE for 'space A' (space AVAILABLE) flights. I looked this stuff up and they were FREE. The nearest space-a flight was St. Louis. They could fly with their spouse and any DEPENDENT children, of which I was eligible by being a full-time college student and STILL having an active military ID (dependent ID - had it since I was 12, when they require it)... they were eligible to fly. The ONE instance I specifically looked up was St. Louis to I think they called it K TOWN in Germany. I think there were 2 or 3 flights. They DID have to pay AIRPORT TAX, since the local St. Louis airport would not waive that even for military. That was $5 per person. So, they could fly to Germany for $5. Every week of their lives. And that's just ONE example. He and she NEVER TOOK ONE FLIGHT. He was wholly uninterested. That amazed and amazes me in some ways. But, I can appreciate him for not being swayed or persuaded by things, if he truly did not want to do it.

This brings me to last night. Rick Steves. He has a podcast. I thought I might like those. I do. But, his podcast loops right back around to the [hey it just started snowing outside I see on my CCTV monitor!!!!] travel topic... of course. (And it didn't help that a friend of mine just sent me an email today that he spent 2 1/2 weeks in Sydney, either!) Rick's podcast has a call-in aspect to it. Mostly USAmericans call in and offer tips or ask questions about travel to Europe. It's interesting and if I had a millions dollars I might be able to go, too. Of course, some of my hesitance I mention above, and don't feel comfortable/safe often times. Even though I have not flown out of the USA, I have walked across to Mexico, from Brownsburg (?), TX for about an hour. I was so uncomfortable that an hour was about as much as I could take at that time, and scurried back. Though, I do have some ugly clay pot thing somewhere from that time. Unless we threw it out, since it's pretty much worthless.

Okay, now I have one more puzzle piece sort of related to your answer. Did any of you watch MAXED OUT? If not, you can google it. I watched it last night. Holy crap! PEOPLE! What percentage of people are even TRYING to have some self control and not buy cars, baubles, gifts, electronics, cable/payTV, etc. in order to leave WITHIN their means, or even below it? We try our UTMOST to live beneath our means, and save something so that we do not negatively affect our fellow man. But if few others are joining us in trying, it's kind of hard to reckon why we care! From a young age, and I'm sure I will live to EAT MY WORDS because I have bad luck (just like many); but from young on, being the youngest of the/a youngest, and an offspring of a guy that lived through the depression, I soon learned from their hardships, and one could say tried to avoid the pitfalls of their mistakes or missteps. That being, the potential to spend more than you make, the hardships (emotionally, developmentally, and financially) of divorce, bad habits such as drinking and smoking (parents/sibling all drank and smoke, I've never even TRIED anything) and not going to school. So, we forego or have foregone, paytv(cable/dish/whatever), (save for one) expensive cars, travel, lavish meals (my lunch yesterday was $3), etc. And one of the main reasons is we try to be mature, self-sufficient, unburdening, adults. I can foresee a time when we will have to dip into the reserves, because I have SEEN it with my family, for unexpected circumstances. Unrelated to this, and in a different conversation with my oldest yesterday, I asked him to name me those things (tangible) he thinks will remain the same during his lifetime. He's still thinking. And having watched the home movies last night, where for the first time they got to see their uncle, a cousin (younger than them) for the first time, it kind of tied it together. In one movie, my then 8 year old nephew, my 40 year old brother, dad, uncles (6?), aunts(5 or so), then 12 year old nephew... ALL DEAD now. It was a good moment to point out that EVERYTHING changes, and to plan so accordingly. Having been to funerals since I can recall, and being pall bearer in more than I recall, too, I have always seen the unexpected, urgent side of life in that way. I never expect good things because of it, but in a pragmatic way, not a worrisome manner. Better safe than sorry, be prepared, etc. The ground is getting white outside in this short note.

What a journey.

Madaracs – January 13, 2008 05:43AM Reply Quote
Ooh! Scary! Scary! Don't we look mean? You can't see me! But I can see you!
I've of course flown out of the country. I've posted about it enough, I suppose. Aruba, Bahamas, Italy (Oh and technically we landed in Amsterdam for a few hours in either direction to/from Italy), Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta. Out of all of the places I've been... K'auai Hawaii remains the most beautiful. We are returning to our timeshare this fall... and I'm looking forward to it like you can't imagine. We will also go to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico this year and Cozumel, Mexico which are right across the way from eachother. I don't really want to go to Cozumel for reasons I won't get into right now. But it will be interesting nonetheless.

Rick Steves books are a CULT. Stay away. IMO, Rick Steves books (if they are to be read at all) should be read before the trip. People carry them with them like Bibles. In Italy, one of out traveling companions actually walked and read her RS book wherever we went. She drove the "vacation" at an alarmingly fast pace--as well she could. She didn't need to mingle, ask people questions, enjoy or immerse herself in the culture... Rick Steves had done it for her. He told her where to go, how to go, when to go and I wanted to do nothing but tell her and Rick where to go. She actually took us to a restaurant (one of the few times I didn't cross her on a decision for dinner) which was alright... but in walks another dude and she points to the member of her cult as he waltzed in... with Rick Steves Italy in hand. My philosophy on travel? Read before you go. Bring maps. Ask the locals where they would eat... not where the American tourist has been directed to eat... and now, due to my experience... never ever give Rick Steves a dime. Don't act like an entitled American in foreign countries. You are their guest... be appreciative. These are the philosophies I have when I'm out of country--business or otherwise.

I think it's great you're using the tapes/CDs/podcasts to learn. I also think it's great you order milk when you're in Vegas. But I think you and your wife should start planning for that 10 day European vacation or heck, even a Mexico all-inclusive. Put your knowledge to the test! If you don't plan it will never happen--that's kind of why we bought TimeShare in Hawaii. It makes up our mind for us.

tliet – January 13, 2008 05:52AM Reply Quote
Gee Bill. That is one heck of a post. Having just read the last paragraph, it dawns on me now what you meant many moons back when you said that you wouldn't be able to discuss a particular incident for a very long time. Reading all this makes me feel humble as I've only lost very few people around me.

At the moment I'm working in an international environment (although living in a country smaller than the state of NY makes most things international) the superficialness of 'travelling' is evident. My parents took me to France and England on holidays when I was young, but most of the time we stayed within Holland. We never went to a different continent, which is basically what travelling means in the US. Still, I've seen more of the US than of Europe. I've never been to Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria or any country around the Mediterranean.

Having said that, being around people and cities in different environments have made me more open minded than anything else, if only because you're confronted with your own fixed ideas of how things should look and be when you see things differently in other places. India was one of those experiences, although it was just one week and more work related than holiday.

Not having raised a family of my own (had a relationship for six years with someone who had a kid that's now 8 years old) I can't really relate to the family part. From what I read I think you're a wonderful father to your family. By raising your kids in a relatively sober environment you're doing them one of the biggest favours you could do as a father.

Would you ever feel the desire or have the need to see more of the world, don't be a stranger. I'll be more than happy to be your host around here to make you feel at home.

rino – January 13, 2008 05:56AM Reply Quote
In America, the only respectable form of socialism is socialism for the rich.
I think that snow storm is supposed to inflict us over on the coast. 6 - 10 inches... we just had our January thaw for about a week and still have near a foot on the ground. We got a bit over 40 inches since the first snow fall in December! I haven't been skiing yet.


Thanks to my short military career I lived in Germany and traveled to quite a few places within, traveled to France (Nice), Netherlands, and Britain, and Berlin && East Germany before the wall came down! Since being continent bound I've traveled to Mexico, Quebec, Toronto, and the US Virgin Islands outside of the country. My wife did a 3 month stint at the Getty so I finally got out to California in 2005. I've been to Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Baltimore, DC, MA, RI, Florida, Louisiana, OK, MO, and lived in Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Maine.

Bill, I hear ya on Maxed Out. Surprises me what people do. I don't know what you do or how much you've saved ... I make a modestly comfortable salary as does my wife and I save about 18% of my income, and have quite a bit elsewhere. That said, we don't carry debt on credit cards, will take a decent car loan if interest rate is less than what I'm making in the market ... but the kicker here, we live in a modest sized house. I carried debt after putting myself through undergrad and graduate school but otherwise I've stayed in my budget. Putting myself through school really helped me budget my life. I've always loved to cook and that saves a ton of money.

I've just never had very much and have always focused on Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling on the consuming front, and, always saved or waited to get things. (until recently when being comfortable has put me on the brink of spendthrift but still largely within my means).

> Don't act like an entitled American in foreign countries.
Hah! Not likely with the price of things and the dollar's value.

Oh yeah, I'm still largely mono-lingual. It's a certain generational thing in the US. Largely the continent spoke english (still does but so many more languages now) and one could see amazing sites just by going to national parks.
I was doing OK at German but it's all lost now.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2008 06:01AM by rino.

rino – January 13, 2008 07:20AM Reply Quote
In America, the only respectable form of socialism is socialism for the rich.
Holy crap -- Maxed Out is great. If you thought I was a wingnut for saying an oligopoly runs this country, go to about minute 53 in the film.


- MBNA, 2nd largest contributor to GWB's campaign.
- Bankruptcy the only way a consumer can save themselves sometimes
- Credit industry wants to change the bankruptcy laws
- 2005 GWB makes case to congress to change bankruptcy laws against regular ppl to file for bankruptcy
-- MBNA wrote the bill

People get into bankruptcy for many reasons, not only because of a lack of personal responsibility.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2008 07:20AM by rino.

Madaracs – January 13, 2008 07:22AM Reply Quote
Ooh! Scary! Scary! Don't we look mean? You can't see me! But I can see you!
Does it say how Bank of America is involved since they bought out MBNA?

El Jeffe – January 13, 2008 08:50AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
tliet - you impressed me with your powers of perception, tying it back to what I mentioned years ago.

Who knows what the future will bring. I desire to travel abroad in some ways. But if it's just to spend money looking at things and eating AND if I don't have much to spend, I'll just have to stick with google earth! :)

What a journey.

tliet – January 13, 2008 08:20PM Reply Quote
Just finished watching Maxed Out, it's a great film.

The guy at 1:19:36 says it best, people don't get it, they just don't know how corporatism has them by the balls.

stan adams – January 14, 2008 08:42AM Reply Quote
I dunno -- I have not seen Maxed Out. I might, sounds interesting.

I think I'm the same age as Bill, my dad was an stationed in Europe for WWII, he was not big on foreign travel, though he did love the car trips around the US, so I can relate. When I was a kid we did travel to Poland, where he had distant cousins. Things change a lot.

On the debt thing, I live in a community that has a fairly balanced mix of people close in age to me and those considerably older. The older folks homes tend to be paid off AND considerably less expensive than the homes of younger folks who tend to live in homes constructed on the torn down lots of people that have moved away. A bit odd, but not wholly uncommon. Anyhow, a few months I paid the extra $10 or whatever when I got "free annual credit report" to get a credit score and compare my indebtedness to those in my area code and others. I was frankly surprised that people were not in MORE debt than the data showed. As I recall it broke out revolving debt(credit cards) an mortgages but not car loans. You have no idea how many really expensive cars I see every day. Within half a mile of my house there are dealers for Porsche, BMW, Audi. Lexus, MB, Lamborghini, Range Rover, Ferrari/Maserati, Bentley. There must be tens of millions of dollars tied up inventory on their lots.

I can't understand why anyone would want to sink big money into such a thing. They few jobs I've had were I had to commute I spent nearly all the time moving at about 20 mph.

El Jeffe – January 14, 2008 09:26AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
You know, if one's not too pissed off to begin with, MAXED OUT is worth a see. I still think at times they over-demonized the company side of things. And did not delve far enough into personal lack of responsibility. But, as for companies' abilities to charge double-digit interest, and 'pile-on' fees and such, I think it goes over the line.

So, I got more pissed off in a variety of ways. Many, most or a large percent of my family have gone through bankruptcy. But, there were always two sides to it. The fiscally irresponsibility side, and the lure of credit. Those are a dangerous combination. But yet, if financial institutions start cutting people off, it seems that lawyers and congress cry foul, and want them to offer credit more freely. Short of having the gov or banks review your monthly balance sheet, I'm not sure what the solution is. Free, readily available credit counseling.

I still go back to I wish schools prepared us better for day-to-day life. And this is one place I see it fall down. Much like the accident videos in HS driver's ed. class, show perhaps this Maxed Out video. And they MIGHT already be. Expectations - setting expectations is another good thing. Keeping up with the Jones' can get you in trouble. Stay within your means. I would kind of parrot a commandment - and not coveting thy neighbor's possessions is a good bit of wisdom and it MIGHT keep you out of HELL, too! :)

Yes, I'm saddened that I am not rich and won't pass onto my children a life where money worries will NEVER exist. But, that's the hand we're dealt. I am also NOT so money-driven as to forego all personal/family matters just to chase the almighty buck, either.

Okay, time to stop typing... :)

What a journey.

tliet – January 14, 2008 10:03AM Reply Quote
The apparent lack of personal responsebility is indeed a good point. Having said that, the current culture developed by corporate media, advertising and lack of proper governmental guidance gives young people no chance to develop that personal responsebility.

If generation after generation are being told that it's a basic right to consume and that cash is something that is obtained by borrowing in stead of saving, how can you blame these people?

I know that some of us around here think the idea is hideous, but in my opinion, this is a role the government should play. Educating people of the dangers of irresponsible lending while at the same time restricting certain bad business practices.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/2008 10:03AM by tliet.

El Jeffe – January 14, 2008 10:07AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
I agree. But government has a hard time NOT pushing consumption (aka THE ECONOMY to them). I don't honestly see them making more than a warmed over effort to really do some good things here. People will only rethink this entitlement/consumption 'right' with another great depression, sadly, I think.

What a journey.

stan adams – January 14, 2008 10:13AM Reply Quote
I wouldn't be too saddened about not "pass[ing] onto my children a life where money worries will NEVER exist". Take a gander at Paris Hilton, Michael Jackson, the Menedez brothers, the Pritzkers, Paul McCartney -- it is probably more likely that wealth is more associated with "screw-up-edness" than anything else. Pass on a desire to improve one's self and a sunny outlook -- both you and your offspring will benefit immensely.

johnny k – January 14, 2008 10:16AM Reply Quote
Bill, I probably live almost as cheap as you do, with the exception of travel. I bought my car well-used 8 years ago and hope to never buy another. My house is a small boring tract home. I love window shopping for gadgets, but I don't have an iPod or a digital camera (I did pay $100 for a used cell phone that does both of those things well), and I buy new Macs when the old ones run down. Rarely see movies, don't own a TV, let alone cable (wow, that's a huge expense), and I'm thinking of just mooching off open wifi.

I'm just a cheapskate, and it's allowed me to invest and travel when i want to. Been to a couple of countries in Europe, Australia, and Sri Lanka. I've enjoyed it a lot more since I haven't been pushed around by my mom's itinerary and just do things on the fly, planning one day at a time. So I don't know this Rick Steve guy, but the point of travel is not to see the postcard monuments but for happy accidents and human connections. I met a bunch of great people the last time i just backpacked around Europe (including Sporkers of course), in bars and hostels and trains. Even more so than just traveling around the States, you get a general warm fuzzy feeling of your place in the universe. You feel smaller, but bigger in the sense that you're connected to such a wide range of people.

El Jeffe – January 14, 2008 10:24AM Reply Quote
What a journey.
I envy you and would probably like to do similar. Feeding five mouths curtails my actions on doing so, though. And I will likely have to soon support my Mom, too, I think. Not saying that in a negative manner, but just factually, of course.

I have bought newer cars, but mainly because I could rely on them with the warranty in-force, that way. Last week was my last car payment. I have not been without a car payment since 1989. (here's hoping my dumb car doesn't BLOW UP today! :) )

I, too, desire to run my current car for as long as possible. But, it doesn't have power anything, and no safety features like anti-lock brakes. That would be nice to have, too. Man, it was so slick coming in today. Saw 7 cars including a cop car, slide off and slam into stuff. That's another thing. I had the luck of OTHER people dictating my car's survival, too! Totalling them by not paying attention. :(

Oh well, anyway....

What a journey.

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