Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A poor quality blog about a "threat to society's core values"...

So I'm not terribly found of Saving Iceland.

Mostly 'cause the little vegan fuckers broke my washing machine.

No, seriously. Summer before last my upstairs neighbor, the Stoner Idiot aka The SkryrPunterAsshole, decided to let a bunch of these "atvinnumótmælendur" crash in his basement room. So before I knew it, my basement was chock-a-block full of crunchy vegans, 8 or 9 of 'em at a time. They each had a summer's worth of tie-dye and lópapeysar to wash, and most decided it was time to shower the built up patchouli oil off.

Which left me unable to do laundry, as they appropriated my machine as well as Idiot Stoner's (I'd have let them use it, just, you know, ask!) for this massive textile undertaking. In fact, they ran my machine so long that it broke, which meant that they just left it full of slowly fermenting patchouli run-off.

But OK. I'll put up with it. I'll put up with them sitting around the stoop chain-smoking "organic" cigarettes, talking about what the newest cool place to backpack that hasn't been "ruined" by "tourists". Backpackers never think of themselves as tourists. They prefer "traveler" or "nomad" but what they are is the thin edge of the wedge, paving the way for the very yuppie fucks they bitch about.

I'll even put up with the snide meant-to-be-overheard comments about my diet. You don't eat meat? Fine. I do. I don't try to force you to eat the tasty tasty murder, so shut the fuck up...

Top it all off with the fact that thanks to these kids, I've got paper on me in the RVK police files, because they were staying in the same building as me. Now, I think the cops are a bunch of paranoid fascist assholes for putting the unmarked car across the street for two weeks while they were holed up in the basement. But because Stoner Idiot is an Icelander, and doesn't sport a mohawk, the paper probably says its all on me.

Throw in the fact that I've always been a "clean up your own backyard" sort of activist, and that I think they've done more harm than good by not bothering to try to get their message out in Icelandic (even save-the-world-lefties can be guilty of imperialist arrogance that way), I still believe they have every right to have their say.

Hell, I'll even go so far as to thank them for at least bringing the whole concept of civil disobedience and protest into the Icelandic limelight.

They do not deserve to be randomly stopped, harassed, arrested and mistreated by the cops. They do not deserve to be charged with "terrorism" for throwing some green yogurt on fat-cat businessmen. Alot of them may be trust-fund hippies but none of them are "professional protesters". They may be dedicated, they may be focused, but they sure as shit ain't getting rich on it.

So when I read in the paper this morning that a young woman name of Miriam Rose, who's trying to put down roots here, is being threatened with deportation because some asshole in the Ministry of Justice decided that her acts of civil disobedience constituted a "threat to Basic Societal Values" I was all for it.

With a few conditions that is...

Like, if they're throwing her out for "sticking her nose in other people's business", e.g. for not being Icelandic but being politically active in Iceland, then Afghanistan gets to kick the Icelanders working with NATO out, and any Icelander who protests anything outside of Iceland must therefore be shipped home asap.

If she's being deported for her civil disobedience, locking herself to fences and such to get what she wants, then the least we can do is to deport all the ethically challenged cops who lock other people up against their will just to get what their bosses want.

If she's being deported for being part of an organization that the Icelandic government views as criminal or ethically wrong, then Iceland shouldn't be hosting people who really are criminals. Like crimes against humanity criminals. Like certain Chinese officials who ordered the cold-blooded execution and imprisonment of thousands of students. Or raving lunatics who spout anti-Semitic crap on the radio and refuse to pay their taxes.

I mean really, fair's fair right?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cluster Fuck...

So I missed roughly three full days of teaching last week, which I'll admit is bound to cause issues, but as the plan for the week was simply to let the kids finish watching The Commitments, I figured that it the hassle would be kept to a minimum.

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

Still Sick...

...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 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

Sef Indulgent Sickly Blog...

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.

Right then.

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.

Humor me.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

I know it sounds naive...

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

I hate Smoke Free Bay

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!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Autumn of My Introspection.

I always get introspective in the fall. There's just something about the change in seasons, the way the world seems to slow down. The tang in the air as the leaves turn and the ground gets wetter and colder acts like some sort of sedative on little old me. I find myself skipping trips to the pool or the gym, taking the stupid bus instead of walking, laying about on sofas with my nose buried in a book or zoned out on a video, so far away from productive that standing up to try to glimpse it over the horizon seems like way too much work.

This year my usual fall down-time is proving particularly difficult. For starters, my new job while demanding, leaves me with alot more free time than I'm used to. With an appartment to refurbish and a ton of projects I've wanted to take care of, I should have no prob filling up the free time.

But I'm not.

Faced with removing walls and laying flooring and painting and installing and rewiring a kitchen, I just kinda putter out. I want my own place, but goddamn that's more work than I thought at first. Or maybe my autumn induced ennui just opened the proverbial can of whup-ass on my manic summer optimism.

House sitting for Embles & Co. raises its own issues. For starters, giving a confirmed TV junky like me access to so many channels (including three Discovery variants, National Geographic, The History Channel, and BBC Food) means that I fight a constant battle between getting anything done and "just checking to see what's on". Throw in internet at Embles and at home and, well, nothing happens. A whole lot of lazy ass nothing.

Then there's applying for Icelandic citizenship. For the longest time this was one of my most sought after goals, allowing me to live and work in more places with fewer restrictions than my Imperial Passport.

Problem is, the closer I get to Icelandicness, the less I want to be here. I want to take off, and a big part of me doesn't want to take off to a new place, but back to the green and misty mountains and the gooey duck (I prefer the funky old spelling) infested shores of my native Washington. Its just that despite the fact that I hate the current situation there, I can see hope not just for change, but change in the direction I've been thinking about, writing about, and dreaming about for years.

Meanwhile Iceland just bugs the hell out of me. The stupid socio/political crap that seems to never change and that few, if any will ever do anything about. Trust me when I say I've got a load of rant built up about that. But its also the weather (heavy rains just ain't the same without a canopy of evergreens) the lack of well, Washington-ness. I miss fall leaves that don't get blown straight off the trees. I miss pumpkins and making cider, drying apples, starting up the wood stove for the first time, hell I even miss splitting the wood! I miss clam chowder and clams steamed in beer. I miss peroskies and lattes at the Pike Place. I miss Mac&Jacks. I miss Rail Road Books, Peirce County Libraries on rainy days, the Puyallup Farmer's Market and the Fair. I miss driving into Tacoma for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I miss going out the coast in winter to watch the waves crash and the sand blow about and the trees bend half-sideways in the rain. I miss eating local. I miss Dad's garden. I mean, an episode of "No Reservations" when he visited Seattle recently left me in tears.

See what I mean.

Fall has me falling flat.

I have to go take care of the kiddies at recess, more later...