Thursday, December 27, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Both of them are tied to Iceland's growing pains, the trials and tribulations of a country that has gone from being a little-known poverty stricken outpost of Denmark in the North Atlantic with one of the most ethnically and religiously homogeneous populations in the world to being an independent player in international business and an ever-increasingly multi-cultural and polytheist society.
Issue the first is mainly due to a badly worded letter from the Ministry of Education regarding trips organized by elementary schools and the State Church for students about to be confirmed, which caused debate to re-erupted about the place of Iceland's State Church in the school system.
Some claimed the letter was the first step to driving the Church out of the schools.
But no, such appears not to be the case, as the Minister of Education recently explained, claiming that the wording of the letter had been twisted to serve the purpose of "fundamentalist atheists", a phrase so unbelievably fucking ridiculous that for a second after reading it I thought I had time-warped back to the Excited States of Hysteria.
The minister went on to say that Iceland is a society based on Christian values, and that the vast majority of people would oppose the Church being separated from the schools. This same minister recently decided that Icelandic kids should no longer be forced to learn Danish, as such was a anachronistic hang-over from the days when the Danes were Iceland's ruling power. Yet she defends the teaching of anachronistic mythology derived from a culture of desert dwelling semi-nomadic tribes from the Middle East dating back to the time when the Pharaohs ruled Egypt, David ruled Jerusalem, and Cesar ruled Rome as a necessity?
What the sweet leapfrogging Buddha Mohamed Christ kinda bullshit is she selling?
The powers that be have tried to make religious education more palatable to religious minorities here by including brief (and often very slanted) sections on Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism, Hinduism, and very grudgingly Ásatrú. The only religious belief they refuse to acknowledge is the lack thereof, i.e. Atheism. In fact, many of the questions posed in the classes and books give kids the impression that it is impossible to be a good person without some form of belief in the supernatural. Now they've gone a step further and labeled anyone who doesn't agree with them a "fundamentalist atheist".
Well, guess what, we can call them names too. How about "self-righteous bible thumping hypocritical pompous asses"?
Bad enough that every time I change my address they re-register me as a member of the National Church, giving my hard-earned money to a bunch of collar-wearing wankers who get paid twice what I get (not to mention free housing) for talking about one branch of Middle Eastern Mythology once a week and pushing malleable children's minds down the rabbit whole of cognitive dissonance.
Bad enough that these same wankers automatically register every foreigner who moves here as a member, regardless of their religion or lack thereof. Or the fact that they charge for weddings, funerals, and baptisms, despite the fact that they're already supported by the tax-payers (the same could be said of the RUV the state-run radio and TV network, who despite getting funds from the tax-payers and from "licence fees" for TVs, still sell millions of króna worth of ads...). Bad enough that they continue to drag their feet when it comes to bowing to the will of the VAST majority of the population and allowing same-sex couples to wed.
Now they get to call atheists names and make hints about a conspiring minority set to destroy the "Christian Values" of Iceland?
What fucking Christian values are those? They certainly have nothing to due with the whole camel and needle vs rich man and heaven deal, not to mention the whole "render unto Caesar" thing. The whole bit about not coveting thy neighbor's whatever is totally lost on the average Icelander who doesn't just covet, he goes into debt to something even better. Hell, the only thing keeping the banks over here from putting their logos on the churches is the fact that the churches are REALLY WELL FUNDED unlike the schools, care-homes, and welfare system. Otherwise I'm quite sure the Bishop would be all for something along the lines of "God! Brought to by Glitnir, Iceland's most popular bank!"
Talk about money-lenders in the temple...
And anyone who lives here knows damn well that the whole "Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery" thing is fucking null and void...
Alas, I have to go take care of the good Christian children of Iceland now...so I'll have to hold off on ranting about the ever-increasing rise of xenopohobia in this rainy island paradise...until next time my sweaty little minions, this is the Sma saying why go to church when you could do some good?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
So I try to get enough sleep, work out, take my lýsi, and relax like all the nice (although frankly all-too-often incompetent) doctors tell you to.
Yet I'm still just tired, unmotivated, and grumpy all the damned time.
Part of it is a very hard to shake anger/sadness cocktail resulting from the stupidity of last July, part of it is the inertia of living out of a suitcase for this long, and part of it is grandma. Add in a healthy dose of I've-been-working-overtime-galore-to-pay-for-a-ticket-home and a pinch of the-last-thing-I-wanna-do-after-being-surrounded-by-screaming-children-all-day-is drill-holes-in-concrete and you get a very unmotivated Sma.
But I can't keep going like this. The landclan (as opposed to a single landlord/lady I've got a whole mess of relatives involved in my housing situation) is getting pissed about the lack o' progress on the remodel front, so if I want to have any sort of say about what kind of kitchen I get, I'm gonna have to get my ass in gear and take charge again.
So tired or not, grumpy or nay, I've got to paint and drill and tile and chisel and all that all this weekend and all the next.
Anyone up to coming over to help?
Monday, November 26, 2007
Friday, November 23, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Monday, November 19, 2007
I always wondered what she thought of my decision to become an immigrant myself. She'd probably have approved, but only because I went somewhere she could easily confuse with her beloved Scandinavia.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Les Temps de Lup (Time of the Wolf)
Le Pac de Lup (Brotherhood of the wolf, oddly enough completely unrelated to the previous film)
Paint Your Wagon
The Quiet Man
The complete super-hidden-crouching-monkey extended Lord of the Ring Trilogy
Pretty much any movie set in a post-apocalyptic land...no matter how cheesy
Other Stuff: (ditto the ditto)
Black hoody size L
Plain black leather bracelets/jewelry
Nikki McClure Posters available at Left Bank Books and http://www.nikkimcclure.com/portfolio/
Fun T-Shirts size L
A cheap ink jet printer
An Internet connection
See, I'm a man of simple wants...
lolz @ me
Friday, November 9, 2007
Thursday, November 8, 2007
In the end, you have to ask yourselves, do you want an enlightened world or The Light of The World?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
work with money are more important than people who work with people. Hence bankers, investors, business owners and investment groups deserve better service from the government, tax breaks, and more say in the organization of society than teachers, nurses, child-care workers, municipal employees, or people in the (non-financial) service industries.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Monday, October 1, 2007
Anyone know where I can download Peter Paul and Mary's acapella version of "Because All Men Are Brothers"...The Great and Powerful Google has failed me...
So we had an "starfsdagur" today at work, as if all the other days we aren't really working.
But I was productive as all hell, holed up in the classroom that soon won't be mine anymore, grading papers at suicidal speed, listening to various odd bands found on You Tube.
Not terribly exciting, I know. About the only amusement that part of the day provided were all the copy-paste papers that the kids tried to foist off on me as their own. For starters, there are maybe two students in the school who even know what adrenaline is, let alone how to use it in a sentence. Add to that the absolute laziness of their scams! I mean, seriously kids, if your going to plagiarize, please don't use something from the first hit thrown up by googling the fucking book's title! Use some guile! I give bonus points for guile!
So I stayed until 4, using my mad deductive reasoning skills to figure out who owned what paper, as a goodly amount of them were either unsigned, or included just the first name. "Anna" for instance. I have 7 fucking Annas in my classes!
Don't even get me started on the pathetic attempts to make the page and a half minimum by filling an entire page with clip art...
After that, I walked over to the paint store and bought some lovely autumny green and yellow paint. Every body's got a red kitchen these days.
Proceeded to carry the paint 2km to my much neglected housing, painted the trim in the bedroom (after removing 12 screws necessitating 5 different screw-driver bits) and got all the obviously loose tiles on the floor removed.
These tiles will be the death of me. The fuckin' things are hideous for starters, mismatched around the edges, little thumb-pad sized bits of white, and grey and black, the grout turned to powder, or worse, a chemically orange goo. I want to remove them. Seriously, give me a broad-head masonry chisel and a mallet, and I'll be good for a couple hours of wonderfully cathartic thwacking.
Come to think of it, give me a mallet and something to smack and I'm generally just in hog-heaven.
But the owner(s) can't decide if they want to fix the damn things and have me lay laminate over it (WTF?!?!?) or just let me take them out and then lay the laminate. So for now my floor is in limbo. Not wanting to start painting the walls as late as it was, I opted for a slightly different cathartic destruction, namely stripping old paint and plaster off one of the idiotic architectural features in what will hopefully someday be my kitchen.
Stripping paint by hand is kinda fun. The same kinda fun that picking your nose is when your a kid, only less gross and less likely to make your nose bleed. Its the whole digging for grip and then the satisfaction of pulling off a really big piece at once. Good times.
So yeah, that was my 15 hour work day. 8 hours of grading papers and useless meetings (I've sat through 5 meetings about the importance of keeping up moral, and not one on emergency drills, what the hell is up with that? Nobody notice that we live in one of the most seismically active spots on the planet?!?!?) followed by 7 hours of painting, tile-prying, and paint stripping.
If I had to choose, the latter wins hands down.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Monday, September 24, 2007
Forgot I lived in Iceland.
So, even though I told them repeatedly what the plan was, even though I left everything all set up and ready to go, did they get a sub (or even a TA) to do it?
Nope. They just canceled English classes for the week, meaning that now I have to re-rent the movie, and spend my last week (as far as I know) as the English teacher showing the kids a movie they should have finished last week.
Not to mention that the 9th graders, a group that already missed the first week due to a trip to Denmark, then three days due to a trip to Þórsmörk, then nearly a week due to the student council elections, (OMG!) are currently hosting a class from Denmark, which means they miss their classes today and tomorrow.
On top of this, I've got about 8 kilos of homework to grade (yes, I said kilos..), but frankly, if they can't be bothered to let me teach the little buggers, then I can't be bothered to do all the asinine grading crap they expect me to do.
...The Saga Continues...
It's now a couple of classes later, and I'm killing time, waiting to sub for another teacher who's out taking the forever absent 9th graders somewhere. I'll fill in for him, have his class take the test he's left for me, and all will be good.
I mean, its just a test, nothing nearly as complicated as say turning on a DVD player...
Friday, September 21, 2007
...but tired of inactivity.
So I'm going to throw in my two krona about the mind-bogglingly stupid "debate" surrounding the "war zone" in down town Rvk on the weekends.
Before 2000, all the clubs and bars in Rvk were required to shut down at exactly 3am, resulting in thousands of drunken party-goers pouring into the streets en-mass to try to catch cabs home (all at the same time) or to continue partying out in the streets. Now, sometimes this was fun. There was a sort of carnival atmosphere to it, on a good night. But there were also a lot of brawls, a lot of pointless vandalism (actually, almost all vandalism in Iceland is pointless. Fucking shit up for political purposes is unknown, but blowing up bus shelters, torching public parks, and kicking in windows is considered "kids having fun") and serious crowd control issues.
Back then, the Rvk city council came up with a rather brilliant solution to this problem. They simply granted the bars permission to remain open longer, which led to downtown emptying out in trickle rather than a flood. Smart.
Fights decreased. Property damage decreased. Gettin' a cab home became much much easier.
7 years later and things are supposedly "totally out of control" downtown. Random gangs wander around beating people up. People are doing drugs right and left, pissing on people's cars and houses, all the while hurling bottles and glasses around like confetti.
And so the brave men and women of the political establishment have mobilized to make downtown safe again.
Listen up you whiny political sub-urban bitches on the city council: YOU BROUGHT THIS ON YOURSELVES.
And you know it.
First, you started closing down most of the public restrooms, leaving Joe and Jane Barhopper, not to mention Jack and Jill Homeless (you know, the people you adamantly deny the existence of) with no other place to relieve themselves but public spaces.
Then you ban smoking in all bars and clubs, meaning that people who smoke (and Iceland has a whole lot of "party smokers" on top of the regular black-lungers like me) have to go outside. But thanks to noise ordinances you passed mostly as a result of feud between the old council and the old Grand Rokk, many places aren't allowed to use their courtyards and balconies as smoking sections, and even when you do allow it, you tell the bar owners that people can't take their drinks with them.
So now you have groups of drunks loitering outside all the bars all the time, and they interact with other drunks walking past, and the whole scene gets noisier and rowdier.
Then your little yes-men at RUV (the state radio and tv station) and Möggan (the oldest newspaper in the country, and an unapologetic supporter of the so-called Independence Party's neo-con agenda) start pumpin' out stories about violence and drug use downtown.
Now, the drug use is there, but that's hardly the fault of the bar owners. Its the fault of the Rvk police, who like to pad their bank accounts and arrest records by putting a couple of plain-clothes officers outside the residence of well-know dealers and arresting anyone who comes out, fining them, and letting them go, instead of cutting off the supply at its source.*
As for the violence, well, aside from the documented fact that its actually decreased, there's two factors at play here. One, up until recently the cops were nigh-invisible downtown. They might cruise around in their vans, and maybe try to break up impromptu concerts, but they aren't out in any sort of force, certainly not enough to deter some drunken idiot from taking a swing at someone. The other factor is the whole "if you report it, they will come" scenario. After months of stories about fights and violence downtown, the kind of people who like that sort of scene start to show up for it. You know the type: Barely graduated school, spends hours working on his car/motorbike, wants to move to the States "cause they got guns there". Basically the little shits who have nothing better to do than drink, fight, and listen to crap techno.
Thing is, most of these guys, like most of the people pissing out in the open and throwing glass and shit, they aren't from 101, or even 105, 107, or anywhere near downtown. The hnakkar fuckers and their yuppie parents (ask almost anyone who works at a bar or late night eatery in Rvk who the worst, most annoying, most violence prone asshole customers are, and they will tell you: Yuppies) are from the suburbs. And because they don't live here, they think that anything goes downtown. After all, that's what the media keeps telling them. If there were pubs or clubs in their neighborhoods, they wouldn't put up with that shit.
But of course there aren't pubs and clubs in their neighborhoods. Because yuppie shits don't want anything disturbing their Sunday brunches or frightening the little yuppie-spawn. And thanks to that, there are almost no bars outside of 101.
So what are the brave folks of the Rvk council going to do about it?
Well, they could have had a bit of common sense and foresight and say, re-opened the public restrooms, worked out a "night bus" to keep people from having to hang around all night for a ride home, given the bar-owners the option of choosing to be non-smoking or not**, tried to clamp down on the other reason for all the drunks in the streets (i.e. the infamous and annoying artificial lines that many clubs create at the door to try to look "cool" and "popular", another thing I blame on yuppies, who get such a kick out of being seen outside the "coolest bar in town"), and not have handed the policing of 101 over to underpaid undertrained little wannabe cops who do most of their work sitting in an office watching shit hit the fan on all the Big Brother cameras the shity...city put up.
But they're not going to do any of those things. Instead, they will "fix" the problem they created by the most asinine means possible.. They've already talked about getting rid of the downtown liquor store, especially the beer cooler (cause people buying a couple of cold beers are really the problem) and sent large squads of police out with orders to arrest anyone "disturbing the peace"(not to mention arresting/fining them for drinking in public, what was previously the single least enforced law in Iceland***). For the first time since I last left the Empire...I mean U.S. I've heard that hideous phrase "zero tolerance" thrown about. They've proposed shortening the opening hours again (one step forward two steps back much?), putting up even more useless cameras, and some have even proposed forcing all the clubs to move to some "new" area so that they don't disturb the locals.
Meaning that the locals close to this new Gomorrah will be disturbed instead.
But mostly, they'll just keep bitchin' about it. Because the main reason for all this debate and hyperbole is distraction.
Teachers, child-care workers, nurses, and social workers in Rvk are being paid ridiculously low wages, children are on mile long waiting lists for day-care and after school care, disabled kids can't get the extra helpers they need, a few politically connected developers are busy buying up and tearing down the old downtown (makes you wonder about that fire doesn't it?) the city power company, buses , and most other things are in the process of being privatized (all under the guise of "making them more efficient") to benefit the already hyper-rich while the public parks are slowly falling into ruin and the aforementioned public restrooms are closed for "lack of funds/to keep unfortunates**** from doing drugs in them", and to top it all off, the city is throwing billions of krona into building a monstrosity of an opera house that the majority of its citizens will rarely see the use of.
But none of that matters. People are pissing on cars! Breaking bottles! Its the end of the world! Don't think about where all the money for police and public infrastructure has gone! Don´t question why we can´t afford to pay for social programs anymore! Don't think about how the very area we're labeling a war-zone is amongst the most valuable property in the country! Don't think about the plan to turn it all into luxury housing and a mall...
I have a simple solution to at least one of the problems, namely the lack of hygienic places to pee.
From now on, until Rvk reopens public restrooms, stops this bullshit about closing times for bars, and gets their fucking priorities straight, I say that all of us barhoppers and unfortunates take turns pissing in the pond in front of that concrete monstrosity they call a City Hall here.
A piss protest! Mígamótmæli! Its so stupid it might just work.
*If you are going to make drugs illegal (a stupid idea to begin with) then you should at least try to make it impact as few people as possible, by cutting it off at the source i.e. the importers, who being rich and well connected never seem to get busted.
**Bar owners should have been given the right to choose to be smoking or non, and those who choose to have smoking bars should have then been required to put in ventilation (actually all Icelandic bars could do with that) and pay a certain percentage extra for national health insurance.
*** Yet another example of an agency creating a "problem" to fix and hence look necessary to the public. I have never in 15 years of Icelandic life seen this law enforced and all the better for it. People ought to be able to have a cold beer in the park. Fuckers!
****The newest code-word for "poor" "drug-addicted" or "homeless". Not that there's homeless or poor people in Iceland...nooo... just lazy people.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
So as soon as I got to work yesterday, my guts twisted seven ways to Sunday, and I wanted nothing so much as to go home.
But I had to hang on, clutching my gut and snapping at my students for the three hours or so my presence there was truly necessary.
Its funny how time stretches out when you're feeling poorly. Those three hours seemed to last ten, the bus home (counting the time spent doubled over in a public restroom) seemed to last a day.
But really, I was home by about 2.
There was an eternity between 2 and 6 when I rolled uneasily to and fro on Embla's couch, holding my distended guts and trying very hard not to think about food.
The only time that flew was from 6 until 7 the next morning. 13 hours of sleep went past without my really noticing. But getting up to go to work was just not happening (teaching being one of those jobs that hard to do when one is running for the john every couple of minutes) and the bed sucked me back in until 1.
Since then I've lounged about, feeling sorry for myself as the hours crawl by with asinine slowness.
There's something about being ill that makes all the facades one builds up to make life better come crashing down.
So my stomach aches, my throat is raw, my head is pounding, and I'm stuck with the realization that I have no idea what I'm doing with my life.
I don't want to do much of anything. I'm in debt, homesick (yet unable to go home anytime soon), basically homeless (unless I can get well and fix the place up in record time).
I'm lonely. The cadre of friends that I've spent most of my time with are mostly abroad. The cadre of "friends" I once spent most of my time with are the reason I've been living out of a suitcase for the last months.
My love life is confusing at best, a mix-mash of flirtation that can't go anywhere and long-distance desire that would require a miracle to consummate.
My job, a position that I sought for so long only to have thrust into my hands, is depressing me. I've found myself yelling and punishing kids lately, as I unwittingly and unwilling slip into the role that system demands of me.
I don't know what to do.
This scares me. When I know what I want to do, when I have a plan and a goal and mission, I'm happy, productive, good. When I get like this and I don't have any of those things, bad things have happened to me.
And I will not let that happen.
And I know its pathetic to whine about this stuff on the 'net. I know its kinda lame.
But hey, I'm sick.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Sunday, September 9, 2007
For years now the plan has been that I would be an English teacher. Don't let the occasional typo and slang-ridden silliness that is this blog fool you. I'm damn good at it.
But I'm begining to see that as much as I like teaching, as wonderful as it is to see a student's eyes light up when they finally get it, I can't teach at the school I'm at much longer.
The job is only 50% teaching see. The rest is control, power, authority. Forcing kids to "learn". The more I think about it the more it makes me feel dirty. They have no choice. They'll be punished if they don't go, and I'll be complicit in that.
Do that to an adult, force them to be somewhere, do something, for no pay under government edict, and that's called slavery.
And don't tell me I'm being over dramatic. Its true. These kids are forced to attend school, unless they want to suffer the consequences, which no kid does.
If you think I'm making this stuff up, think of this, when I asked my boss how I was doing she told me I was doing very well, but I was too nice to the kids. As she put it "A teacher shouldn't smile until after Christmas".
The kids should be afraid of me, apparently.
Cause nothing breeds mutual respect like being bullied into learning by someone appointed over you.
Does anyone see how wrong this is???
Friday, September 7, 2007
You know what sucks about non-smoking bars?
I'll tell you.
You see a girl who so matches your personal definition of perfect that you can't help but try to chat her up.
So you go with the tried and true standard and buy her a drink.
Which, my being Sam and all didn't work.
But it got her to notice me.
Out on the dance floor our eyes met, she smiled, and started drifting towards me (along with the mandatory plain-Jane friend chaperon).
That is until some one let off a beer-fart.
Honestly, for once it wasn't me.
But boogying to salsa only goes so far when the girl of your naughty dreams thinks nerve gas comes out of your bottom.
If they'd only let people smoke I might have been having rather lovely sex right now rather than drunkenly scribbling out this stupid blog entry....
stupid health Nazis!