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Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's the End of the Year,not the World!




GOODBYE!

As  2012 draws to an end it's time to reflect upon the immediate past while it's fresh in our minds. In a previous blog I have already said that this has been our Year of the Miracle, so clearly, overall my opinion of the year is favourable.

The news from the United Kingdom in the form of the Olympics and the stunning performances from the Paralympics gave viewers from around the world great pleasure and new respect for human courage. We were simply amazed by what can be achieved after the human body has been destroyed. It has never been difficult to respect top athletes who are able bodied, but no longer will the Paralympics be considered "that other lot." That is a very good thing indeed!

Over in America confirmation was received that what the country did four years ago it is capable of doing at will, not by accident. America chose as its president an Afro-American in the form of President Obama simply because it believes that he is the best person for the job at this time, and that augurs well for the future. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a woman at the helm in the future, be she black or white,
if that is the correct choice to make when the time comes.

On a very sad note, America finds itself at another crossroad. There is overwhelming violence and anger in America, and there is virtually out of control gun ownership, and that is a perfect recipe for a tsunami of Sandy Hook killings to come. America must help itself by getting rid of the violence and anger, or the guns, or preferably both. Until that happens America should not expect the world around it to have sympathy when these things happen. I said when they happen because the next atrocity is already being planned and it will be bigger than Sandy Hook as that is the nature of shock and awe.

This past year has not been kind to Spain. The economic crisis has deepened leaving people in dire straits. The only thing to happen that has turned the situation around for a great many people is to win some money on the national lottery. However, the lottery was never designed to be a financial plan but for many it is the only source of hope.

Added to the country's woes our Summer has been extremely hot and dry and that has led to one massive fire after another that has affected the whole country and even the offshore islands. In a previous blog I reported that my own neighbourhood was over swept by high winds and fire that surrounded my house, burning my hedges and roses and arch and fruit trees, but the house itself was never touched because the fire came with very high winds that created a pressure system around the house that held the fire from actually touching the building. I can only show you where hot embers pitted my hammock and the plastic table cloth on the outdoor dining table. Our situation might have been a lot worse had our hero not appeared to ensure that it did not happen.

Our neighbour to the West, whose house lies in a little valley, has two sons. One lives in our village and the other lives in Valencia city. The son here in the village tried to contact his father at the height of the fire to ensure that he had evacuated, as the father lives on his own. He could not make contact, so he worriedly called his brother in the city at 5am. That brother arose from his bed and made the 50 km drive to our village, and proceeded by foot into the hot zone to see what the problem was with his father. There was no problem, the father had simply slept through the emergency. however, the son noticed that our garden and hedges were well alight and the fire was creeping closer to our house.

He jumped over our nine foot wall with barbed wire on top, picked up a hose and put the fire out! That is the description of a true hero. He doesn't flit from one building to another like a spider; nor does he have a cape and super natural powers, he simply takes action as is necessary to do what is within his power to affect a bad outcome. He is our hero! It is a very peculiar thing to have a real, genuine hero all our very own.

So, goodbye 2012! You have been many different things to many people. You didn't bring the end of the world, nor truthfully did we really expect that you would. You brought the end of life for far too many under circumstances that should have been avoided and that was a real pity. We lost a good and wonderful friend whom we would rather have had more years to share with, although she was ill and her passing was a release to her from her suffering. She has simply gone on ahead of us so we will catch up with her in the fullness of time.

Welcome to 2013, but as a year with the number thirteen the superstitious among us are already pulling their hair out. We will simply have to see what each day brings and take the good with the bad.

Copyright (c) 2012  Eugene Carmichael

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Christmas Day, 2012




It's Christmas Day. We have enjoyed a late sleep-in, and awakened to a wonderfully warm and sunny day. There's no snow anywhere in sight, except our cat, blancanieve, although she is only partly white. Every time she returns home from her wanderings she is another shade of gray from the ash she picks up after the great fire in our region. In fact, she has been all  fifty shades of gray. (Sorry about that.)

Our next door neighbours, the ones below us are still screaming at one another as that is how they communicate with each other. I think the idea is that he who yells loudest gets heard.

The people who won money in the El Gordo lottery draw are still pissed as loons. The lines were long yesterday at the lottery kiosks with those waiting to go in having a look on their face that suggested they were about to have the best sex of their lives. Across the street stood those people who did not win with a look of jealousy/happiness for those who did win.

I didn't win a thing in El Gordo, my numbers all stayed in the big ball until next year. However, this year my family and I won another lottery to have survived the great fire that roard over and around our house leaving no so much as a smudge on the house itself. My neighbours behind us and in front were not quite so lucky.

As a family we are together, my wife, our son and myself. My Bermuda family will all join together over the holidays and form the solid unit that they are. One of these days we will reunite into one big wonderful unit to share the Christmas spirit.

There are many wonderful things about Christmas time for families who are able to be together, but it is also the one time of the year that drives more people to take their own lives or to drink or drugs.  Anything that is wrong in your life is accentuated. Homelessness, loneliness, just divorced,  and inaccessibility to your own young children are some of the things that are so depressing. However, there are two things that top the chart of depressing factors:  The first Christmas without your partner, or parent, or grandparent due to their death this year. The other is the loss of your child because of an act of murder. I find it unbearable to think of the families in Newtown, Connecticut, or in Syria where wanton violence has ended so many young lives before they have even had a chance to start. I am absolutely lost for any idea of how the families are supposed to cope with their losses, or even of how to help them get through this time of year.

If you have your family around you today, I suggest you do not argue and fight over trivial things. Appreciate what you have and how lucky you are and give one another a hug, and say out loud, I love you, and I appreciate your place in my life.

It's not necessary to be a Christian to appreciate this time of year. You can look at it as simply the end of year celebrations and that you have survived the year so far. To have done so is not something to be taken for granted as 100 people were lined up at a bakery shop in Syria to buy bread, and they are all dead today.

On those thoughts of reality, I truly hope that you will make the best of today.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas! Merry New Year!




Ho! Ho! Ho!

So! The world didn't end on the 21st, nor did I win the El Gordo lottery on the 22nd. However, it's the 23rd and the sun is brightly shining and the skies are clear, and I'm wearing only a shirt and jeans because its as warm as a summer's day here in Valencia, so all's right with the world.

Well, not quite. I have some strong feelings about what America needs to do to sort out some of its problems, and there are a number of things that Spain needs to do to deal with the mindset of its wankers, ooops! make that bankers, although I think I was right the first time.

The Syrian problem must be put right, and there is much damage to be corrected in my own country of Bermuda, but all of those things will have to take a back seat as we prepare to celebrate Christmas and the other, just as important end of the year festivities.

To each and everyone, Season's Greetings, and I wish you, first and foremost, the Best of Health!


Copyright (c)  2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Hurray! El Gordo is back!







El Gordo, the Bringer of Happiness!

If it's Christmas it must be time to welcome back El Gordo. In some countries Christmas is recognised by shopping mania. We completely overlook the religious significance and look only to the question, :What did you get for me?"

Christmas in Spain, a Catholic country has never been about that. In fact, gift exchanging takes place on the 7th of January when the Three Kings come to town. However, in Spain the whole country goes mad with lottery fever. Unlike lotteries elsewhere where one person walks away with the top prize where the jackpot could top 100 million, or more, (nobody needs to win that much), here the winnings are spread over a very large area.

The full cost of a ticket is 200 euros. For most people that is far too much to bet on one number, so it is possible to buy a portion of a full ticket. The usual thing is to buy a décimo, or one tenth of 200 euros. i.e. the cost is 20 euros and should the number win, ten percent of the winnings is what is paid out. to  the ticket holder. If the punter is able to afford 200 euros it is probably more advisable to spread the money around.

That idea is taken even further to allow people with a limited budget to buy participation for as little as three to five euros. These are called papeletas, or little papers. These are used by clubs and charity groups to raise funds for their working purposes that are generally well supported. Of course much less is paid to the winning ticket holder, but every little bit helps.

On December 22nd, the day when the draw takes place, more than a billion euros are paid out to so many people, I don't think anyone really knows how many benefit, but it is easy to imagine how much sweeter Christmas becomes if you are one of the lucky ones to win a significant amount of money, at least enough to pay off some of those outstanding bills. That is the kind of gift that really means something and everybody will find a use for it.

So, Good Luck! If El Gordo is not kind to you, there will be El Niño close behind to try again.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 25, 2012

An offer of a lifetime?





Here it is! Come and get it!
I received a seven page letter which begins, even before it gets to the salutation by saying that : " We have just taken a closer look at your profile and it turns out that you are more special than any of us imagined!"

Does that mean that I am a special person in a good sense, or a really good possibility of someone to con?

 It goes on to say that I posses some very rare and hidden traits, and that I am indeed very blessed. O.K. I but that.

Then comes the Dear part, using my full name. That is followed by  the sentence: "This is a personal letter just to you." Throughout the seven pages, this form letter that is especially to me has my full name inserted several times to personalize the material.

The letter tells me that a society of very powerful individuals have studied my profile closely and that they have concluded that I have all the attributes to be invited into their association. Once I am on board I will know riches and happiness without boundaries. Then they say, I can almost hear you saying this is all a lot of hooey. Well, that's not the word I'm using.

Early in the letter they caution me that what they are saying is just for me, and that I should not share it with anybody. Heaven forbid I should share this with you, Dear reader, or with others, such as the police.

The writer wants me to know that this is not a solicitation for money, that in fact the invitation that this letter represents, and the things that the association will make happen for me will all be absolutely free. They state that no fewer than eleven times in the seven page document.

I will say this for the sender of the letter: It is very well written and the spelling is all correct. It is a flattering letter, although it doesn't actually give me any examples of how I might be unusual or special. If they actually did know me, or anything about me they might have been tempted to add detail to be convincing, but the fact remains that they have simply bought my name and address from a bulk supplier and they have fired off this form letter, just to me, full of vague flattery.

This is a very dangerous letter that will beguile and suck in a great number of people. I could have returned the Free-Invitation to say that I was interested, just to see what happened next, but I want nothing to do with these people as I deem them to be rather clever criminals from whom I must keep as much distance as possible.

I am also posting this as people need to be warned that this has all the signs of a trap, and perhaps you might not want to fall for it. For me, this is one of those things that sounds far too good to be true, therefore, that's exactly what it is.

In their defence I must say that they are right about one thing: they said that I posses a special trait, and I take it they are talking about my full possession of my common sense, and that is sense enough to say I'm not interested in this garbage.

If you have received such correspondence please comment and let me know how things turned out for you.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael





Sunday, November 18, 2012

GENERAL STRIKE !!!







Once again into the Breach

November 14th, 2012 was the day of general strikes across Europe. In short, it was a very sad day for the European community because strikes are about anger. This was against austerity measures being imposed by governments, and the loss of some very hard fought for gains that workers have come to regard as their rights.

If you are a member of a trade union, when your union requires that you vacate your post for the period, it is your obligation to obey, whether you agree with the issue being fought over, or not. However, if the business is not unionized, it is under no obligation to close down for the strike. On the day, many schools and businesses and other services continued, although perhaps with some limitations. However, for the strikers this is not acceptable, and every time such an event takes place we see strikers turn on non.strikers.

In the city of Valencia gangs of strikers were harassing shops, and restaurants and bars that were open. Two women were sitting at a curbside table having coffee when the mob assaulted them with verbal abuse for patronizing the bar, when one girl took up the customer's cup of coffee and poured it over the woman's head. How barbaric was that! They then smashed the other tables and chairs and moved on.

If the shop sold shoes a mob would go in and throw things around and terrify the sales staff; or if the store sold clothing they knock over the displays, and we can imagine some must use the opportunity to steal things. Its all about anger. How dare you take something away from me that I consider is mine by right? They demand that the government stop making cuts to its budget, but the irony is that those very same people are forced to cut their own budgets because of less money coming in.

The average citizen has more than enough reason to be angry with the government because of the failure of the government to properly manage the economy, and of course, the ever present existence of corruption. Until about 1998 the Spanish economy was in a period of decline, but then came the time when the euro would replace the peseta, which caused a problem for many Spanish residents who held a lot of peseta stashed away in secret places so that the tax man could not get at it. this meant that something had to be done with the money, so people began to spend it, some on luxury cars and yachts, etc, but the majority  during this period decided to invest it in buildings.

So there followed a building boom that was uncontrolled and that has led to an inventory of empty buildings that is sufficient for Spain's needs for the next twenty years. A lot of people became very rich during this period, and money flowed into government accounts like water, but the government turned it around and it flowed out again into projects that did, in some cases have some sense of logic, but in many others the projects have become white elephants. Now, government's coffers are bare; the citizens are suffering because of the irresponsibility of its leaders, and Spain is mired in one big mess.

There will be many more general strikes to come, and the level of violence will rise and the day will come when a general strike will result in a state of total closure.

This is not a happy eventuality to look forward to, but it is coming, so brace for it.

Copyright (c)  2012   Eugene Carmichael













Sunday, November 11, 2012

Congratulations! Mr President.




Mr. President

For the first campaign the slogan was, "Yes, we can!" For the second term , hopefully the slogan will be, "Yes, We Did even Greater Things!"

The popular vote reflects America as a truly divided country, at 50-49%;  however, the electoral college showed that Romney never had a chance. He needed 270 delegate votes but only received 206, versus the President's 333. After all the shouting it was clear that this president is on the right track and has the potential to achieve great things for America, but he needs the time to make it happen. He also needs a cooperative Congress and Senate, so the choice is to work together to get things done, or just continue to say no and watch the country go down the drain. Yes, working together will make Barack Obama look good, but that will also put Americans back to work, and back in their own homes.

Republicans, you will get your turn again, because that is how the system is supposed to work, but while your team is doing the fielding you have to play by the rules in order to make the game go forward.

So, well done, Mr President. You deserved a second term and you have it. You have not only brought back respect for America around the world, but you have permanently elevated the entire race of black people to a level where there is no going back, and for that you will live on in the history books forever, along with all the other great soldiers in the fight for social justice. At your level , Nelson Mandela took the first step in turning around South Africa, but what you have achieved in America somehow has more gravitas. You have not only done a great thing for blacks around the world, you have changed America's view, that simply voting for the best person for the job is better than voting for a man who has to be white.

My hope is that America's next president will be a woman.

Thank you, and Good luck, Sir!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

America's Decision Time-The Cynic's View




Here we go again!

At the last presidential elections in the United States, the picture was not good. America was in a terrible crisis, possibly because the capitalist system was failing. That was happening on George W. Bush's watch, and it really did seem as though America was going down the drain. Enter Barack H. Obama, a black man who would be president, along with a white woman to fiercely contest him for the Democratic nomination.

It just seems to me that the white guys all eased off their efforts. Sure, they went through the motions, but if America was going to fall flat on its face, let it happen while a black man, or a white woman was in charge. Barack Obama got the nod and through skillful navigation, he, and his team have steered the Ship of State away from the rocks and now it is headed towards calmer waters and the sunshine of reform and recovery.

He deserves another four years to move his program forward, and barring anything disastrous from happening, he possibly could be mentioned in the same breath in the future along with those former presidents who are considered to have been the elite.

I am a black man, but I am not an American. However, observing these events from abroad I have been as involved just as much as though I were a homeboy. I was delighted when Obama was chosen to be the Democratic nominee. That meant that black people were being taken seriously, but I didn't want him to actually win the election because of the risk of failure under such trying circumstances. That would have condemned black people forever as incompetents.

He was elected, and throughout the past four years I have been holding my breath as he has moved from one crisis to another. He has always acquitted himself well, and in fact I can only think of one other black man in public life who would have been as suitable as America's first black president, and that is Colin Powell.

This election presents a very different set of circumstances. The economy is on the brink of a major comeback which promises to be greater than any other that I can think of. America is becoming fuel independent through the vast reserves under American soil, and the new technology of using algae to produce fuel supplies. There are a number of sea change discoveries in health care and various other industries that will drop the unemployment numbers to the point that if you want to work, there will be a job for you. All of that is happening under the watch of Barack Obama, so of course Mitt Romney is spending sleepless nights thinking of claiming all of that as the Romney Recovery.

Whatever the outcome of the election, America as a whole is a winner because they have learned to select the person who they think will actually do the best job. This cynic thinks that that was not the original idea, but it has worked out that way.

If Barack Obama is returned as President, we, as black people will enter another four years of risk, because if anything were to go terribly wrong the racists in America will say it was because he was black. However, placing our bets upon the shoulders of Barack Obama is a very reasonable thing to do.

Four more years, America, and then you can choose your first woman Democratic president. How exciting is that?

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Arnold's Dilemma




Most men will likely tell you that Arnold Schwarzenegger is "The Man!"  His life story reads likes the very best "rags to riches" tale that was ever told. Men really admire the guy, and women, if he asked them nicely, would probably agree to "at least once, Arnie!"

I'm turning my attention to Arnold at this time because he has written a book, called "Total Recall," in which he  details his life's journey through to the "stupidest thing that he ever did in his life."

In case there is one reader who doesn't know, Arnold was born in Austria. His dream was to move to America to persue his talent as a bodybuilder. He went on to become, perhaps the most successful movie star in American history. Having tired of that, or having simply wanting to do something more substantial, he campaigned for the office of California Governor, and won, becoming the 38th governor from 2003 till 2011.

However, before that he moved in circles that did him no harm, to the extent that he married the niece of the late President Kennedy, in a marriage that lasted 25 years.

This is where it perhaps all turns wrong, because for all men who are fabulously famous, and rich and handsome, they paint themselves in a corner. They are admired by men, and adored by women, many of whom would consider it a great honour to be laid by someone of such stature. However, if you are such a person who has made the committment to a woman, you are expected to behave in accordance with the norms of society.

You may indeed be invited by lots of women,, and, of course there is your male ego urging you on, but it is not right, and anyway, you can't be seen going in or out of motels, or the rooms of delicious females, because there are those photographers, the paparezzi who would love to get "the shot" that will put lots of money in their pocket.

There is one way that you can have sex without too much hassle. Hire the right housekeeper, and especially if your wife is agreeable, then everything could be lovely. Arnold admits to a long standing relationship with his housekeeper, although there is no suggestion that his wife was aware, and that produced a son that is fathered by Arnold but the woman's husband is named as the father. I have no way of knowing this, but I suspect that "the women of the house" all across the country are looking at their housekeepers with a jaundiced eye.

This is more a tale of woe about The Hollywood Man, than specifically about Arnold. It's a tale about the "Not-so Tender Trap."  If you are Joe, the plumber, you can live your life being loyal to your wife and enjoying all that's good about married life without the hassle of women throwing themselves at you. Not so, if you are in the glamour business, and married. It takes a very strong willed man to treat the business as simply a career, and ignore all the perks.

By published accounts, Arnold was no angel, even having six women accuse him of sexual misconduct, and another claiming that she carried on an affair while he was with his wife. So, why his wife decided to make a break as a result of his love-child is not completely clear. However, everybody has their own breaking point.

In 1984, Arnold made his signature film, The Terminator, which followed him into politics where he was known as The Governator. His signature sentence is, "I'll be back!"  After losing your wife of 25 years, that may be something really difficult to come back from. He seems to really be feeling the loss as something like that is truly significant.

When the time comes for Arnold, as it surely will for us all to kick the bucket, it's no big thing to predict what the inscription will be on his tombstone:  "I'LL BE BACK!

That should scare the bejeesus out of everybody who reads it.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why the American Political System doesn't Work!







Firstly, I have to tell you that I am a strong opponent of party politics. Party politics only serves to benefit a few people who are high up in the party in power, when I thought the idea was to serve the people of the country as a whole.

Party politics has made two Americas. One America is Republican, and the other is Democratic, and there is a Giant Wall, like in China, that runs between the two. In times past you could find members from both sides coming together on issues to move the country along, but lately The Republican party have just decided to sit back and say "No!" to everything that President Obama has put forward, in the hope of starving him out of the White House.

Meanwhile, Governor Romney is just waiting in line, knowing full well that he has a Congress ready to go to work on anything that he wants to do.

Meanwhile, over in the Senate, the majority Democrats are seething. Bastards! They are saying, anything that Congress sends to us for confirmation and we just say no!

The only way to get anything done is if you, as the president, have a majority in both houses. Then you can forge ahead, until the electorate taks away one of your majorities.

As for those undecided voters, you could get the idea that they actually do matter when it comes to voting for the president. Well, they don't!

America is headed downhill, and the cause is in the very system itself. It's a train running out of control and there is no way to stop it.

Copyright (c) 2012  Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

About That Fire !!!





When all Hell breaks Loose !!!
This was three houses away from our own at 3:30 Monday morning, 24th September, 2012

A few posts ago I reported that my family and I had been chased from our home at 3:15 in the middle of the night by a raging fire that eventually covered 136,000 acres. I also said that in spite of the fire having swirled around and over our house, the house itself does not even have one burn mark on it. I prefer to see this as a modern day miracle that was the work of my family and friends who have crossed over to the other side, and who now function as our guardian angels. It makes me believe in life after death, and it is comforting to know that there is a job waiting for me when I get there.

Well, the scientists never let a good romantic set of beliefs get in the way of the facts, so these folks have explained to me exactly what happened. On the days in question, which were Sunday, September 23rd, into Monday morning , the 24th, we were experiencing something called a Poniente Wind, which in Spain means that the wind is blowing from the west. As it blows across the country in times of high heat, it collects the heat from its travels, and by the time it reaches Valencia on the East coast, which is where we are, it feels like the heat from a giant boiler. Without the fire, the heat from the wind is so intense that everyone usually shields themselves from it.

The wind speed was quite high, and although my wife and I were a bit sheltered, we were wondering whether we had made the right decision to have lunch on our terrace.About 4pm, she noticed a massive plume of dark smoke rising in the west. Apparently, there had been an electrical fault at a power station that may have been caused by the winds, and the fall out from that was probably carried into the nearby trees, again by the wind where a fire started and was very quickly carried away. I was concerned by what I was seeing and I went to find the source.  It was about 16 kilometres from our house, and the wind was blowing it away from us. It was not our turn to panic just yet. However, I was aware that a change in wind direction could be a game changer, so I continued to keep an eye on it.

As I stated in my earlier piece, I had an uncomfortable feeling that grew as time wore on. I checked the location of the fire more regularly, and I found it impossible to sit in one place for long. Finally, I began to think of what I would take if we had to evacuate in a hurry. This was something I had given prior thought to, so all our important papers were in one place. I then took them and put them in the car. I was going through an exercise, I convinced myself, and if not needed I would simply put everything back in its place.

I then thought about what to take in the way of clothing, and I chose both apparel for now and the coming winter, and I packed it in a suitcase, both for myself and for our son who was in Valencia at the time. I placed those in the car. At least I was doing something while at the same time trying to keep an eye on the fire. However, my perspective was limited by the several mountains that stood in my way, and so I could not see that because of a shift in the wind that may have happened only briefly, hot embers had blown from the top of the original mountain and jumped the river and set the hills behind our mountain range alight, and the fire was on its way towards us.

I finally went to bed at 2am, fully dressed, including my glasses, and I just lay there, wide awake, fully expecting something to happen. At 3:15 my neighbour called. "Get out..Quickly!" That was followed by the wailing of a siren. I was ready to go, but I had to wait for my wife to get dressed and packed. During that time I started blowing my car horn. My elderly neighbours wanted to know what was happening and why was I leaving, its not bad. They, nor I, could actually see the fire, but we left them there, and as we drove down our little drive a white van drove the other way. Fortunately for the couple it was driven by a police woman. By that time the couple had started to make a move, but they were moving very slowly and the fire was coming through the trees. The police woman picked up the little lady and plunked her in the van and told the man to get in. But, I have my car, he said. "Get in this car immediately!" she ordered.

Meanwhile, my wife was driving one of our cars and she was in front. Suddenly she stopped. Why on earth are you stopping? To take a picture, because we are not coming back to get the shot. By that time the wind was howling and ash and hot embers were raining down on us, so we beat a very hasty retreat.

I have seen the same thing many times where a fire storm has passed: the fire burns around houses and even barns. I have always given the credit for that to the firemen for having somehow doused the buildings with water or fire retardant, but the truth is something much more simple than that. We experienced a fire hurricane where the winds were so strong that when they collided with something immovable they backed up and created a vacuum, or a bubble around which the winds carried the fire, hence my house was not touched. The winds passed around and over my house, setting alight only my hedges, and in one case we had an archway of spruce, and apparently something hot landed on it and it partially burned, meaning that the wind put the fire out. The tree next to it has since blossomed into bright bell flowers, completely unaffected.

The trouble with this scene is that something that caught fire on the boundary of the property might continue to burn and that fire might  be drawn into the house, as happened with the dwelling behind us, that suffered a small fire to their kitchen, and the house in front that suffered much more extensive burning on the inside.

I mentioned before that a man who should not have been anywhere in the hot zone acted beyond the call of any kind a public duty by scaling our six foot wall, plus the two foot wire fence on top, and the three strands of barbed wire on top of that, and went and put out the fire that was making its way towards our garage. So, we have a genuine hero to be thankful to for saving us a whole lot of aggravation and pain. His name is Rafa, or Rafael, a man I had no idea existed. He could not get in touch with his father, who is my next door neighbour, so he walked through the police cordon to check on him and the house, and that was what became our salvation.

I was telling someone that I feel so lucky this year that I'm certain that this is the year I will win the first prize in the El Gordo lottery. He said that it seems to him I already have.

Good point!

Copyright (c) 2012  Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Doing Much More with Less!




Super Humans at Play!
The Paralympic Games

I have been very delayed in writing this as a result of computer problems and the fire at my home, although I have been living with these thoughts for some time.

The question is: " Do I think that disabled athletes should compete in the Paralympics; and whether the answer is yes or no, then explain?"

My answer is unreservedly, Yes! The Paralympics have come a long way from that original competition when only 400 athletes competed, to today where the Paralympics rise above the Olympic Games, in my estimation . Having said that, I fully realise that is a very strong claim to make. So what do I base that on?

First, it must be said that London turned out to be a wonderful location. I was one of those people who feared the worst might happen from a security point of view. We remember that the day after the announcement was made London suffered a great tragedy in the form of terrorist bombings. So, full marks go to the whole of the security operation for keeping everyone safe.

Logistically, it seemed to be the perfect place, and all was in readiness ahead of time. Even the labour unions fell into line and put patriotism ahead of personal gains. I know that bonuses were paid, but the unions kept working to keep things running smoothly.

We were treated to wonderful performances from Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, Usain Bolt, and everyone who competed in the Olympic Games. For me, it was the reason why television was invented. Sitting at home day, after day watching to my heart's delight, I could hardly have been happier. Time travelled at warp speed, and suddenly it was all over, and I sank into a form of depression.

Then, it was the turn of The Paralympic Games. Here, I must confess that I have never watched the Paralympic Games before. Why? I cannot recall a concrete attitude, but probably I thought they would be a poor second to the Great Olympic Games; and that perhaps I would be embarrassed for "those poor people."  But, the Olympics had been so good, and I wanted more, so I gave it a try.

I went from being the reluctant watcher to confirmed addict while watching the men's cycling time trials. A Russian competitor came onto the starting point with the help of a crutch for his left side. He had his complete right side leg, but no right arm at all. His left leg was missing up to his hip, and of his left arm he was missing his hand and wrist. I concluded that I could not watch because he was sure to fall. I could not turn away!

The cycle was held upright by a clip. He climbed on board, and with his left  arm he inserted it into a modified handle bar that was shaped in the form of an "O". The buzzer sounded and he was off. I winced and gritted my teeth and sunk even further into the couch, while holding my breath. Well, he didn't fall off, and by the time he passed the first marker he was ahead, and he was still ahead at the second marker. "What the fuck!" I sat forward, and by the time he finished he was top of the leader board, and I was standing Up, yelling at the top of my voice, "Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I don't fucking believe this!"

I have never in my life reacted like that to anything. In that moment I got respect. I suddenly realised that all of these wonderful people were not the usual super humans you had to be to compete in such games, these were out of this world super humans, doing so much more with so much less.

I went on to watch blind men run as fast as they could; blind men play 5-a-side football, and not bump into one another any more than Messi and Ronaldo. I watched Ellie Simmons do water magic; and I watched a man who only had his right arm, less his right hand and wrist win his every contest, even against  people who had all four of their extremities. I watched people who had to be lowered into the pool then go off and swim like fish. I watched so much that was unbelievable that I became mesmerized.

I also watched contestants who never had a chance they would win, but who competed and finished. As I sat there and watched, I realised that had I competed in any of the events, I would have surely come in last. That has caused me to look at people who are coping with the loss of limbs or other disabling factors, in a new light. It is simply amazing what the human spirit can accomplish. I have seen it with my own amazed eyes, and I am a believer. What it all boils down to is that we are all humans, and we should be encouraged to do whatever is within our power.

The Olympic Games are the greatest arena for super  humans to come together in a spirit of goodwill and challenge; but it's the Paralympics when the athletes from a higher order strut their stuff. No wonder we save the best for last!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Is there really Life after Death?








HELL !
On Monday morning, the 24th of September, 2012, we got the word to run for our lives. The great fire that consumed six municipalities in the community of Valencia was sweeping through our neighbourhood, and we got out with about three minutes to spare.

On the Sunday afternoon we noticed a hughe column of smoke rising in the air, so I went to investigate the source. It started about 16 kilometres from us, and the wind was blowing it away from our direction. I was greatly concerned for the people who were in the path, but for ourselves there seemed no need to panic in the moment. However, I realised there is always a possibility that the wind might change, and that, as they say, would be a game changer.

As the afternoon wore on into evening, I would periodically check on the fire from afar, but it appeared to have stablized in the original location, but also a smaller fire was burning off the the East, but again, a long distance from us.

Then came a sense of dread in my bones, and it became more pronounced to the extent that I couldn't sit still. From what I could see of the main fire, it was still far away, but I was propelled into taking action, as an exercise, for a rapid evacuacion. If we didn't need it, I would simply put things back. I decided what to take, and I put those things in the car, including winter wear, and finally, at 2am I went to bed, fully dressed, but I didn't really sleep.

What I didn't know was that the wind in that area had changed direction and the other side of the mountain behind us had been set on fire from flying hot embers and the fire was roaring up the mountain. By three am it had crested and was on its way down the othere side where we live. The ballon went up at 3:15am to get out quickly. We were on our way, with about three minutes to spare, although we could not see any fire. My wife was driving one car with me following her in the other. Suddenly, she stopped! "What are you stopping for?" She said look behind you. I could not believe my eyes, although by then ash and hot embers were raining down on us, and the wind was like a tornado of dust and anything that was loose.

Stopping made perfect sense to take three quick pictures, because for sure we were not going to come back to get the shot.

To make a very long and harrowing story as short as possible, we were barred from our house until Tuesday, although the fire further along the mountain chain was still fully engaged. This fire was so big that it fully consumed six towns and their surrounding suburbs, plus a further three communities were less so as outbreaks from flying hot embers were quickly put down. More than 5,500 hectáres were burnt. ( I have no idea what a hectacre is, but it is a lot of terrain:) It took forty two aircraft to dump water on it, and 29 Brigades, consisting of 800 personnel in total on the ground to be involved to knock it down.

A note of clarification: When I say that six towns were consumed, mostly the fire burnt around those towns without actually going into the town itself.

When we went back to our respective homes, we were not sure what we would find. Upon inspecting my house I found that on all sides, our fruit trees and hedges, our rose bushes and decorative plants had been burnt, but the house itself had not been touched. The other houses in my immediate vicinity had suffered some damage, however slight, but there is not so much as a singe mark anywhere on the walls of our house. However, that is not the end of the story.

I did notice that someone had used my garden water hose to put out the fire in our back garden which was evidently advancing toward a window in my garage. I thought at the time that it was a very lucky thing that a fireman had done that, but the story now takes an interesting twist.

It was not a fireman at all, but rather a young man from the village  who was so worried about his father, whom he could not reach by phone, that he walked up the mountain while the fire was still in full leap, and he checked on his father's house that lies next to ours. Having determined that there was no longer immediate danger to their house, he noticed that flames were burning brightly in our back garden. He scaled my six foot wall, plus the two foot wire mesh barrier on top of that, plus the one foot string of barbed wire on top of that to get to the inside of our property. (I certainly hadn't made it easy for him.)

Thereupon, he got himself to the upper level and took the water hose and knocked down the fire. Had he not done so the fire would have made its way into the garage where there are accellerants, such as paint thinners and oil for the cars, and winter clothing and boxes, enough to have made a massive flame to the house. The fire would have also continued to burn the rest of the hedge and the other vegetation around it, and the laundry room/ pallero, and my son's motorcycle parked next to it.

I will present a story in the not too distant future that will introduce the man who should not have been there, but was, and who turned from being a perfectly ordinary guy, into the hero in my life. Stay tuned!

So, is there life after death?  The answer, I am convinved is, Yes! Absolutely! I think that when we end our lives on earth, our souls go on to be converted in what we call our Gaurdian Angels. On the night of the 24th of September, all of my wife's family members, and my own who have gone on to the other side were on duty, forming a protective chain around our home, delcaring, "No Fire, you cannot have this one!"  Even that young man cannot explain why he went to such measures to save our house, nor where he got the strength from.

It is comforting to me to know that there is life after what we call death, and I even have a job waiting for me. If you wonder where all those souls hang out when they are not doing extraordinary things, just look up at the clouds floating overhead. I think clouds are made up of souls united, and once in a while we make them cry.

We call that rain! Think about it, and should you have a better explanation of why our house could survive a blazing fire that passed along all four sides, but didn't even leave a singe mark, I would be happy to hear it.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

THE PUSSY RIOT TRIAL!



In many ways I am sorry that the trial of Pussy Riot has ended.

In case you are someone who has no idea what I'm talking about, the back ground is as follows:

PUSSY RIOT is an all-girl, Russian Punk Band who no-one had heard of before some of the members decided that they were so outraged over the return to the Presidency of Russia by Vladimar Putin, that they staged a protest at the altar of a Russian Orthodox Church to make their point.

They got noticed and were charged, as I'm sure they expected they would be, and they were tried and three of them will spend the next two years in jail, doing hard labour. This is something that ordinarily might just rate a few column inches in the Moscow Times, but no, the world's major media have taken up the story.

It has been amazing to sit and watch CNN and BBC anchors, normally serious people delivering stories about what the latest developments were. It has been Pussy Riot this, and Pussy Riot that as though they had no idea what they were saying, although they said it with a straight face.

I am from the old school where we boys and young men used the word to describe the female sexual organ. It was not a word we would use in polite company. In fact we thought of it in the same vein as pornography. Then, to my utter surprise, James Bond came along and introduced us to Pussy Galore. My mouth dropped open, not just because the woman was a real looker, but I wondered out loud whether we could  really say that word in public.

The word had only been used in a public sense when talking about pussy cats, and even then we mostly simply called them cats. I am convinced that if the girls called their band  "Girls and Curls" there would not have been a word of their naughtiness reaching outside Russia. However, that is not the case, and as publicity goes, the band is now known worldwide. The trial may be over but we have not heard the last from Pussy Riot.

Stay tuned for a concert coming to a town near you, and soon.  If they deliberately sat down at the beginning and decided on the name AND a prank that would get their name out there, then I have to take my hat off to their PR machine. It's brilliant!

While we are on this subject, I have been taking note of some of the songs that are given air time. I don't know if these songs are played over English language stations, but the Spanish play them all the time.

I have decided that I am going to live to be 100 years old, because I have to see where the world will be by then. I am just too curious not to be around  when that happens.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 19, 2012

America's Violence Problem






The Killer Gun

Recently, America's problem with violence has taken a turn for the worse as certain individuals have used guns to commit atrocities upon members of the public. Piers Morgan, host of CNN's Piers Morgan, Tonight! has been outraged by these continuing acts, and he is using his programme to call for strong measures to make it difficult for people, without previous criminal records, to buy guns legally if they are going to use those guns to commit acts of terror.

He invited a guest to his show who had written a book, entitled "More Guns, Less Crime." Piers brought the man onto his show only to savage him, calling his idea ridiculous. Unfortunately, the man was not well prepared to defend his turf, but his theory was that if the shooter who walked into a cinema knew that everyone inside was carrying a gun, presumably the shooter would not have started shooting in the first place, as he could have expected a very robust response.  That idea is no more ridiculous than Piers Morgan's own idea.

The National Rifle Association say that guns don't kill people, people kill people. That is correct! It is also a silly thing to say, but if you placed a gun on a table and left it there for a hundred years without anyone touching it, it will do no harm. It requires a human being to pick it up and pull the trigger.

However, in the real world of America, the gun is used daily in the elimination of humans. It is used for exactly the purpose for which it is manufactured and sold. The gun, and the knife, and any other weapon that may be used to kill humans is not the real problem, these things are merely the tools through which very angry people express their violence.Why are Americans so angry? What made a young man walk into a movie theatre with the intent of killing as many of his fellow Americans as possible? Why would a stranger walk into McDonald's and shoot families? Why go into a church that is in session and kill people who are praying?

The American Indian suffered at the hands of the Europeans and their guns as his country was stolen from him. Now, he lives on Indian Reservations, laughing his ass off as he sees the violent foreigner turning his guns on his own. Reuters reported in 2010 that 129.9 out of 1000 American males,  aged between 15-60 will likely die. Compare that with Iceland where only 64.9 per 1000 are likely to die between the same ages.

Is the difference diet, or even gun ownership, or is it simply lifestyle and a sense of contentment and happiness? I think you can own as many guns as you wish, but if you don't point them at humans, especially in anger, and pull the trigger, humans won't be bothered. I should add that I am not in favor of owning a gun, and I don't approve of hunting for sport.

Americans seem to regard as something sacred their right to own guns. If a person has a criminal background he will have to buy his gun illegally where a shooting gun seems to be as easy to acquire as chewing gum. The bottom line is that no-one can do anything to affect the buying and selling of guns. America has to work on its anger/hate/sickness/violence problems before it can earn the sobriquet of Greatest country on earth. There are some very small and under-developed countries that count GHP as more important than their GDP. What is GHP? Gross Happiness Product! They consider that it is more important that their people are content with what they have, and that they are taking the time to smell the roses and to enjoy love.

If you can live in relative harmony and peace with your family and your neighbours, you don't need all those fancy things that are so much a part of the American culture. Life is idyllic in the small but quiet countries where people go about living out each and everyday in enjoyment.

Why Americans are so angry with themselves is a question for another time?

Copyright (c) 2012     Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Sexy Equality London Olympics




The Winner!

As I write this, it is Sunday, 11th August, the final day of what I think has been the most superb Olympic games I have ever watched. In spite of my initial concerns, mostly about safety, London, and England in general has loaned itself particularly well as host nation.

Having access to a superb variety of channels has meant delightful viewing, but tomorrow will be Black Monday for TV viewers as we go back to the same non-offerings as before the Olympics. Ho! Hum!

Finally the IOC have taken the bull by the horns and declared that women are free to compete in any and all events that men are, and vice-versa. Presumably, at some time in the future there will be a men's synchronised swimming team. What the IOC ruling has done is to take the lead in elevating the status of women right around the world, forcing men to stretch their minds and get some respect for the women in their midst. I work with a community where we found women were treated like beasts of burden, and that is a very depressing thing.

One of the effects of women in competition in certain of the events affects Muslim women in particular, and their male counterparts. The women have had to deal with the abandonment of their traditional clothing in favor of practical sports attire. In general, these games have been a feast of beautifully toned bodies, legs galore flying up and down and wide open, which I have no doubt has had trillions of men around the world glued to the TV screens muttering, "will you look at that!!!"

Curiously, I don't see these sights as being sexy. Its very much like all those bare lady's breasts on the beach. When there are so many, and none are meant for me to touch it simply becomes scenery. I do admit though that I would rather see such scenery as this than to stare at trees.

My favourite sporting segments were the track and field, and Usain Bolt and Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Andy Murray, and a whole list of heroes, but for sheer poetry in motion I was enthralled by the Rhythmic Artistic Gymnastics. I'm sure I would have also enjoyed the Synchronised Swimming as well, but I missed it.

Apparently there has been another set of undeclared Olympic games that have been underway running parrallel to the main events. Judging by the report of Durex, supplier of condoms to the games, more than 150,000 have been made available for the athletes, which gives weight to my theory of the best way to celebrate your new gold medal.

So, as the games draw to a close I take my hat off to all concerned and offer my appreciation to the Olympics for superb wholesome entertainment. The problem I am left with is that I have been sitting in front of my TV for so long I have become fat. So, now I arise to power walk, run a mile, cycle (with motor, of course), swim around our very little pool, ( I won't bother with high jump, or anything high as I just don't do that), and generally try to get back into some sort of shape.

Perhaps I'll just leave my dial set to Euro Sports to watch all the re-runs with best of....and Highlights of the Olympics for the next four years.

Rio!  I'll be waiting!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The London Olympics, 2012





Winner!!!

All eyes are on London and the Olympics as I write this. I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying the games and the coverage. For some peculiar reason I never even tuned in to the Bejing Games. Perhaps it was because of the image that I have in my mind of China, I'm just not sure why I was turned off, but this time around I am glued to the TV set.

The first thing that occurs to me is that London, and England in general lends itself so very well as a host nation. There is so much going on at once, I ask myself why would I have paid a small fortune to actually be there. I'm sure that if you are sitting in preferred seats and feeling the ambience you must be feeling really good. However, if you are at the very top of the Olympic stadium, and you are viewing the insect image of the competitors you may be having second thoughts. I'm sure there are screens that bring the action closer, but that is what we are seeing at home.

It's wonderful to be taken from one event to another to witness the finest efforts of mankind, and what a show. America has its poster boy in the form of Michael Phelps. England has Jessica Ennis, Jamaica has Usain Bolt, and even my own very small country of Bermuda has a hero, in the form of Tyrone Smith, who didn't even win a medal. He did the long jump at 7.97 metres in qualifying, but lost his opportunity at a medal in the main event with two no-jumps. We're proud of him because he has performed at the level of the very best. He will try again in four years.

I'm making this a short post because I want to get back to action central. So far, England as host nation, is doing a great job and deserves a gold medal.

Here's hoping the rest of the games continue as well and in the same spirit.

Copyright (c)  2012   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Hallelujah !!!





I'm Back !!!


My last post on this site was in June, just before Google completed a revamp of Blogspot.com. One of the outcomes was that my site was made read-only, so that I had no log-in page to add posts. It has taken quite a while for that to be corrected, so in the meantime I began a new blog which I called "HappengsValencia."

However, I suspect you may have imagined that I had simply died. That raises an interesting question. What happens to all of these blogsites when people do die?  We won't have time, normally, to say goodbye, so how is a person to know?

My last post to "HappeningsValencia" was three weeks ago because I have been on holiday. My wife and I took a road trip throughout the north of Spain, and although I took my laptop I decided that I would make a complete change from my routine. So, for all our time on the road I did not turn on my computer.

I think that as people we are wired to have absolute down time. We need the change, especially if your life is stressful. In these difficult times I suspect that most people are overly stressed without even realising how dangerous their lives have become. I don't have a lot of stress in my life as a retired person, but even I could feel the tension peel away by ignoring the computer, so then I turned off my mobiles, and just took in the changing scenery.

I came to realise how very diverse is this country of Spain. The last time I did this sort of thing was a few years ago when we drove south through Andalusia. By the time you arrive back home your whole outlook has changed and you are refreshed. That is what a vacation is for and if you can achieve that, you are very lucky.

Normally, summer road trips are a pain because everybody and his cousin wants to do the same thing, but our choice of places to visit were unusual, and as such we had the roads to ourselves. One such place was the tomb of the former dictator, General Franco. There are not a great deal of people who go to visit that these days. Following his death people visited by the hordes, but after all these years, (he died in 1975) people are prepared to believe that he is not coming back, so we had plenty of space.

If you have any interest in the subject you can google it on "Valle de los Caidos."

So, home again to a very pleasent surprise to find I can resume my long-standing blogs.

Glad to be back!

Hallejuh!

Copyright (c)  2012   Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Robbery!





Law and Order!

There is a very personal side to The Great Economic Crisis that is encapsulating the whole of the developed world. When we hear the talking heads on television they deal with the statistical side of things, but the human cost is much, much more serious.

Before 2008, world economies were ticking along nicely and people were hard at work. All was well with the world, but then the chickens came home to roost. The first human cost is when you are called into the office of your boss and given your walking papers. That is a great shock, but when it transpires that there are no replacement jobs then the depression really sets in. The children must be pulled out of their private schools, and your own austerity program has to be put in motion.

When the benefits run out, and both parents are out of work, and there is no more money coming in, you start selling whatever you can to convert things into cash. We have seen a number of kiosks spring up offering to buy your gold items. This is when you realise how over the market you paid for your sparkling treasures; or that the price you are being offered is an attempt to rip you off.

Meanwhile, everything around you that is absolutely necessary to have seems to be going up in price, such as electricity, petrol, and food.

Then you reach rock bottom and realise that you cannot pay the next mortgage payment due, or the rent, and you are being threatened with eviction. Here in Spain, it has been reported that about 500 evictions are taking place per week. These are people who are thrown out into the street, or, if they are lucky, family will take them in to provide a roof over their heads. Retired grandparents are becoming critically important because they have a small state pension. That is used to buy food that can be shared among the family.

Desperation has now set in, and desperate people do desperate things. Burglaries have soared across the country, and in some cases the same house will have been broken into several times. The notion of private property seems to be a thing of the past. Now, it appears that if I have it, and someone else needs it, he will simply take it. They don't even seem to care whether they are caught by the police, perhaps because in jail they are fed and housed and given clothes to wear.

So many people caused our problems while they got rich through bonuses, and they  simply walked away without having to answer for their crimes.

What a strange world we live in!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, II







Queen Elizabeth II
Coronation Day, 1952


Monarchies are peculiar things. They were created a very long time ago, so, in our time we were simply born under the system, and when the ruling monarch died, the successor simply moved into place on the throne. We, the people have nothing to say about the matter.
,
A presidential system is far better, but only provided that it follows the American system of automatic term limits. Good presidents and horrible ones all are limited to one or two terms, and the only way to possibly prolong a really popular president's influence is by electing his vice-president, and then, hope for the best.

History is complete with facts relating to kings who were absolutely awful, and whose reign was felt by all subjects as a very heavy burden. At least, in these times, kings and queens function as titular heads of state, with the business of actually running the country left to prime ministers.

For those of us who are subjects of Her Majesty, either because we are British, or members of the Commonwealth, today, June 3rd is a good day to celebrate 60 years under Queen Elizabeth, II, even if you don't believe in the monarchy. The fact is that we are served by a Monarch, who could have been quite a different person, and our lives might have been very different had she chosen to impose her will upon the masses. Instead, she has played her role to perfection, and we have been comfortable, and proud, under her Reign.  Perhaps others in the Royal household have made mistakes and have caused some embarrassment, but the Queen has not once done anything to really cause her subjects to wince.

There was a difference of opinion as to what she should have done immediately following the death of Diana, but that event was a great surprise, but was made right in the end. So all things considered, we have been very lucky to have been served by such a wonderful and responsible individual, and today is a really good opportunity to demonstrate our good fortune.

It is seldom that we have the chance to be unanimous in agreement. This is one of those times!

Happy Diamond Jubilee, and Congratulations, Your Majesty!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's That Time Again!







President Barack Obama
44th President of The United States of America

The race for the White House in November, 2012 has begun in earnest. You don't have to be an American to be interested in how the presidential elections will turn out. In the past this topic had become a great bore, but never again. The old criteria has been thrown out, that said that you could only occupy the Oval Office if you were white and male. Going forward, the American elector will choose based on the best person for the job at the time, whether black, white, male or female.

I am not an American, so I will write as a person independent of thought, which should be refreshing because in the United States, that is something very rare. I am, however, a black man, and that does influence my opinion somewhat, but not as a Democrat or Republican. I have to say that I was very pleased for America that the Democratic Party chose Mr. Obama as its nominee. That alone moved the Black Race, and America forward by a quantum leap. However, I really was uncomfortable that he might win the White House at a time when the economy of the United States was in such a perilous state.

To use the Titanic analogy, the great ship of state was resting with its bow under water and its stern rising into the air. Had the ship sunk on his watch, he, and black people everywhere would have been given the blame forever.

He was elected, and he has conducted himself in a presidential manner, and he and his team have brought the bow up above water and they are valiantly attempting to settle the ship on an even keel. Whomever serves for the next four years will have to continue this work. It must be done.

The challenges facing the United States, and the world are overwhelming. The new man always comes in with great gusto and hope, expecting to achieve miracles. Perhaps this is as it should be. Then he bumps into reality. If he inherits an up cycle in the economy, all he has to do is avoid doing something stupid that will derail the growth. When things are heading South, that is when the test will be endured.

As stated, President Obama has been functioning in a proper presidential-like manner, and his administration, and his personal conduct have been free of sleaze and scandal. He has taken on and succeeded in a few things that stand to his credit, so personally I can say that in my opinion he has been the perfect first Afro-American President and he has made me proud.

I will not say who I think should be elected to the White House in November, that is a matter for the electorate. I'm very sure that Americans will simply vote for whom they think will take the country forward for the next four years without other artificial criteria. That, at the very least is one of President Barack Obama's finest legacies.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene  Carmichael

  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thoroughly Modern Women







Women who celebrate being female, and who absolutely enjoy sex.

In England a man is currently on trial on a charge of rape. He is fighting for his liberty and dignity that will depend on whether the jury has a modern view of women, or not.

The facts are that the man attended his club's ball without a date, and on leaving he encountered a women at the exit who asked whether he was going her way because she appeared to need a drive home. She and her husband had had a tiff, and he had gone off without her. The man answered that he would be very happy to drive her home, wherever she lived. They never left the parking lot, because on the way to his car, with both people steady on their feet and apparently in control of their speech, she suddenly said: "I want to be fucked tonight..hard! Are you the man for the job?"

He had never seen the woman before, and was dumbfounded, so she gave him a thump and asked again, "Are you the man for the job?" There are men who would say, "Sorry Darling, but no I'm not!" But then, they would go on to say, "I'm looking for the same thing myself."  I simply cannot think of a man, other than perhaps a religious priest, who wouldn't answer, "Of course!"  He may absolutely hate himself afterwards, but even his wife would have to understand.

So she took off her panties and the man gave a good accounting of himself in his car, until another man came up and interrupted, saying, "I say there old boy, what ever are you doing to my wife? That's hardly cricket!" I'm paraphrasing the husband, but it would have been words to that effect.

She then said, "Oh Dear, there you are. This man is raping me!"  And on the basis of that he is now facing years in jail.

The jury must now decide whether a woman would confront a total stranger with such a demand of him. This is a conundrum. If the jury is made up of all women, they could understand the mind of a fellow woman, but men on the jury, thinking of their own dear wives, and forgetting all about the romping they did together when they were single, may want to think that women are dainty things that must be protected at all times, and that butter is difficult to melt in their mouths.

Women are, and have always been fully functioning human beings with similar desires and needs as men. Societal conventions may insist on leaving it to men to take the lead, and for men to be seen as doing sexual things to women, but the facts are that women who are not otherwise artifically constricted want to enjoy sex, rather than to see it as a duty.

There are prostitutes who use sex as a business, but get no enjoyment from it. There are housewives and girlfriends who submit to their men while gritting their teeth; and then there are women who insist on sex on their own terms. They want it when they are ready; they want to be a full partner in the act; they want at least one orgasm from it; and they sometimes want to engage in out of the ordinary activities in search of that orgasm. At the end of the evening they want to be able to look back on the night and declare, "That was great!"

I know such women exist, and I can believe that the woman who is pressing charges of rape would have been capable of  making such a demand, and is only pressing a rape charge because she was caught by her husband. It is one of the curses of being a man that we are so easily manipulated by sex. Women know it is as easy to make us hard as flipping on a light switch, or turning us off as well. I don't like that about myself.

The man at the centre of this problem is just unfortunate to have been the one chosen. Any other man could just as well be in his place. Hope he enjoyed what little he got of it!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael  


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gays and Lesbians




Just Folks!

I intended to write this blog on the subject of sexual preference anyway, then President Barack Obama took a stand in defence of same sex partners to marry if they want to do so. He has no objections, which politically is a brilliant move, if not a little risky, as it leaves his opponent to defend the opposite,and some will say bigoted, view.

The reason I wanted to write this is because lately I have noticed a number of people coming out, without having been asked, and declaring that they are homosexual or lesbian. I thought that this was a little strange because it would not occur to me to walk up to a stranger and say that I am hetrosexual.

Now, let's be clear, it would not be the same thing because in the past people who have found themselves with a sexual preference for same sex partners have had to live in the closet for fear of what such a declaration would mean to their career and family. So, to now be able to be open is a giant step forward, and in the near future no-one will feel the need to make open statements about their sexuality, just as it would be ridiculous for me to go around saying that I am a hetrosexual. I have had to tell a few fire breathing males who wanted me to play games with them that "I was not into that sort of thing," and a few girls have told me to forget my desires for them because they didn't swing my way. Fair enough, but to be generally making it clear to all and sundry what turns one on, is really peculiar.

The subject of sexual preference is super personal, and is simply nobody's business except the participating parties. They should not care a toss about how I feel about what they are doing together, and frankly, I don't give a toss about other people's affairs. I am having quite enough to do to keep my own life on track, so I learnt a long time ago that if I leave gays and lesbians alone to make their own lives, the world just ticks along just fine. I have no stress, and I don't have to worry about the sexual preference of someone close to me.

There was a man who appeared on TV who was a passionate advocate of the traditional description of marriage between one man and one woman. The interviewer asked, but what if one of your own children should find that their sexual preference is for someone of the same sex? He finessed the question, saying that he was sure that wouldn't happen. Maybe not, but he should know if it does it will be his problem, and one of his own making.

For a long time I had only one question, and that was about same-sex couples adopting children, but we are now hearing from those children about their experiences growing up in  a home with two moms or dads. Their experiences included teasing from other children about their parents, but generally they have emerged into adulthood as well-balanced young people.

So, I will continue my life with an attitude of live and let live. I'm glad that President Barack Obama has taken another bold step forward, and whether he has one or two terms he will stand in history as the most significant President in U.S. history.

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Be Nice Day in España



They're Off!

The date today is 6th May, 2012. This is the start of something that I think will become absolutely huge in Spain, as it is a day of concerted fundraising for charities, while at the same time promoting personal fitness in an atmosphere of sheer fun and delight.

BayRadio of Denia, have launched an effort to bring together charities from all over Spain to encourage their supporters to get ready for the summer bikini and to raise much needed capital to allow charities to continue their vital work. The economic crisis means that charities are particularly hard hit, so instead of one sponsor picking up the slack, what is needed is for many people to do a little, so that in the end we will have done a lot.

In Bermuda, such an event has been in operation  successfully, and this year, on May 5th, yesterday as I write this, they celebrated their 25th anniversary. The idea is the same, generally speaking, in that they hold an annual event that brings the whole community into action to raise a ton of money that is shared among a number of charities who have programs that will benefit in the applicable year.

For Spain, there is some new elements to get used to, such as sponsoring your friend or cousin, etc, to do the walk. The combined funds collected go to the charity of your choice, but the one obligation is that Caritas, the Catholic Church charity must receive 15% of your net funds. This was suggested by BayRadio and it is a very good idea because everyone knows Caritas, so they provide a single link throughout all of Spain.

I went out to El Verger where PEPA, the Asociación Protección y Educación para los Animales, and SCAN, the Society for the Protection of Animals combined to hold a walk. The day could not have been better for a lovely stroll and participants had the spirit, showing up dressed in costume. As a first time event they were supported by an encouraging number of walkers, and the El Verger Ayuntamiento, a beautiful and very tastefully done venue, was resplendent in the sunshine with its wonderful pool and bridge in front.

The walkers set out at 11:30am and were back by 12:30.  There were many stalls with some tempting things to buy, and one stall with two very talented people doing face paintings. When I left everybody was getting ready for lunch.

The Malima Project, for which I am treasurer did not participate in this first event because we did not learn of its existance until too late to get organised, but we will do so next year, staring on the first Sunday in Feb with a short introduction walk of only ywo kilometres so as to stretch those muscles after the winter; and we will follow in March with a three kilometre stroll. In April we will do four kilometres so that we will be ready for the five kilometres in May. We will also add a 10 kilometre walk at the same time for those who want slightly more of a challenge.

We will keep our eyes open for some idea of overall results, and we can't wait until 2013.

Copyright (c)  2012     Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Damn Cam Bank!


The Bank has lost it's shine

As a customer of the banking system I am not a very happy person. In that, I believe that I have no shortage of company as people have lots of reasons to hate their banks, and the bankers who run them. This has not been a good decade for banks around the world.

It had always been my perception that I should take my savings to my banker who would protect my money, and who would advise me how best to make my money grow safely. If I wanted to chance more than ordinary growth, I expected my banker to advise me on the degree of risk I was contemplating. In other words, my banker was a professional in whom I could place absolute faith and trust.

I came to Spain in 1999 and I found that houses had walls around them, and the windows and doors were protected by iron bars, much like a prison. I thought that people here went to extraordinary lengths to protect their furnishings, but I was told that it was about protecting their money which was kept under the mattress because they didn't trust the banks. How right they were!

In the decade since, my bank in Bermuda has very nearly fallen over the edge into bankruptcy. I hold an account with Banco de Valencia, which now finds itself under protection of Banco de España because its accounts have a hole nearly one billion euros deep.How does a bank lose one billion euros? I continue to trade with them and my funds have been liquid to me, and they are guaranteed by Banco de España, but I am wary and keep a low balance in that institution.  However, I also opened an account with the Cam Bank because it is located closer to my home, and the image of The Cam was bright, trustworthy and convenient.

I was approached by a senior officer of the bank who was on a mission to convince me that I should seriously consider cementing my relationship with Cam by investing in Cam's products. He didn't mention specifics, but I assumed he meant I should buy Cam shares. The main point is that it was not very long after that encounter that the shit hit the fan, and it is now emerging that thousands of Cam's clients have lost all of their money because of what Cam did with the money entrusted to them.

In a newspaper article written and published by The Costa Blanca News, the spokeman for Cam Bank, Juan Valdés Castelló is reported to have said the following which I am quoting out of context: " Once the restructing planned is carried out, the entity is today amongst the most solvent in the Spanish financial system."  That may be so, but if we look in the distance we will see the horse running over the hill. It is a bit late to be bolting the barn door.

A lawyer and financial expert, Francisco Iniesta, in a public speech, is reported to have stated that " investors have not lost their money- they just cannot get at it." No, investors cannot use this money in anyway at all, and I think that they never will. That to me is as clear a definition of loss as I think you will find anywhere.

He went on to say that banks should not expect their clients to be financial experts, but he says that the former Cam directors appear to have chosen elderly, long-term clients who trusted in the advice of managers whom they knew. So, my question is, what's the difference between such directors/managers and the mafia?

Apparently, the crime that was committed involved three forms of investments, all of which are described as being highly complex and risky, so much so that knowledgeable investment managers would avoid putting any money into them. These are open-ended contracts that the investor can only get out of if the bank redeems the investment, or if the investor can get a greater fool to buy them from him. The bank apparently put their client's money into these contracts calling them "Combined Savings Deposits."

A protest group made of Cam clients, called Plataforma CAM alleges that managers declared that clients knew very well the products they acquired and that they, (the clients) were properly informed.They allege that they have found clauses in certain contracts that state that investors may lose the investment made; and that the entity (bank) is not obliged to evaluate the suitability of the investment; and even that the client was informed that the requested investment is not suitable for them, but insisted on making the investment anyway.  If Plataforma CAM are right about any of these allegations it defies common sense and logic that anyone with the capability to think for himself would place even a penny in any of the investments. I didn't!

Such actions on behalf of directors and staff seem to me to be unfeeling, uncaring, and darn right theft. During the time of Franco many people were simply made to disappear for reasons less than the behaviour I have noted. Fortunately the country has moved on, but I hope that prision authorities are making ready as many cells as are necessary for very long stays, as there are a number of people heading that way who should draw their last breath of freedom. Once they are sent to jail we never want to see them again.

Now you know what I mean by The Damn CAM Bank!

Copyright (c) 2012   Eugene Carmichael