Sometimes just being away is enough. I could almost have checked into a motel across town from my house and gotten the same benefit of “away-ness.” Of course dramatic surf, art galleries, and amazing restaurants are a plus, but not really necessary.
The perspective is what matters.
Being warm is good, too. My house is very cold and hard to heat. Being chilly all the time makes me feel as pathetic as Oliver Twist.
This, too, shall be remedied in time, but right now, it’s fantastic to remedy it simply by turning a thermostat. The wood stove here is just atmospheric gravy.
Just waiting, in a comment on yesterday’s blog eloquently expresses my exact feelings about the ocean and being near it.
It seems strange to “recreate” next to such a powerful, unpredictable killer beast.
I brought most of my own food for this getaway, but promised myself one Big Indulgence meal each day. Today it was breakfast. To wit: a Dungeness crab omelet topped with Havarti dill cheese and half an avocado, served with a bowl of fresh fruit on the side. I’m not actually that huge a fan of either Dungeness crab or avocados, but it sounded exotic enough to be interesting. And it was. Very tasty, with enough crabmeat in there to feed several sailors.
I promised you some photos, and the omlet was so pretty I whipped out my camera to take a picture of it. But — groan — “lens error.” Funny how carrying a camera around in a pocket full of lint and dog hair will do that. So no personal pix from this trip. Not one. :-(
But since I promised, I’ve posted a ‘Net-found photo below. Um, not of an omlet.
This town is noted for its art galleries: I gallery hop and admire, but don’t touch. Between the galleries are shops full of high-class beach kitch, fancy novelties, and inexpensive imports. Some of those are nice enough to be tempting. (And get this, there are two shops devoted solely to dog-related merchandise.) I’m resisting. So far.
I’m Christmas shopping for two friends. One is easy to buy for; the only problem in shopping for her is finding too many things I know she’d love. The other friend is the hardest person in the world to buy for. She is so self-effacing, so self-sacrificing, so eager to place her interests beneath everybody else’s that finding anything just for her is impossible. Last Christmas I gave her a gift certificate for a massage; I have a sneaking suspicion she never used it, maybe even gave it away despite my stern admonitions.
I want to ply her with small luxuries. She patiently resists being plied.
A seagull just landed on the deck railing outside my window and is staring in at me as if he expects a handout. Sorry, bird. Ain’t happening. He looks pretty well fed without my help.
Even if I were inclined to share goodies with him, it’s apparently verboten. The one thing I don’t like about this town and the whole yuppie culture it exemplifies is how much is controlled or forbidden. No feeding the seagulls is just a sample.
Before being “allowed” to stay anywhere in town, every guest over the age of two has be be registered, in advance, on a police form. Ugh. The instructions on what I’m supposed to do with whatever trash I generate during my stay are so complicated (complete with penalties for not putting the exact right thing in the exact right recepticle) that I’ll probably just pack my trash back home rather than risk committing a grave and costly offense against local propriety.
Today was trash day and I swear I counted at least four different hauling/recycling vehicles rumbling up this tiny street. I wanted to run out and apologize for not having anything for them.
Meanwhile, Mr. or Ms Gull is still staring and I think I’ll have a late lunch now just to drive the poor old bird crazy.
So I’ll leave you with that promised photo. Now everybody who knows the Oregon coast knows exactly where I am:
It has been. Since last spring. A crazy, crazy, hectic, maddening, stressed-out year. Not necessarily a bad year, understand. But … difficult.
A modest sum of money (long awaited, overdue) finally landed in my vicinity a couple of weeks ago. Glory hallelujah! But I immediately put it to work creating more chaos. Which got more chaotic as it went along.
My head. Was about. To explode.
So yesterday I went online and found the lowest-cost vacation rental in an Oregon beach town, booked it, and dropped the poor, pathetic, protesting pooches at furrydoc’s kennel (thanks, furrydoc!). Today … here I am, watching a seagull pace the ridgetop of the beach cottage across the road.
I don’t travel gracefully. I am not a free spirit. I fret about the preparations, the getting there, the what-might-be-happening-at-home while being there, and … well, everything.
All the way here I worried whether my sight-unseen studio apartment might be in a tsunami zone and where the nearest evacuation route might be. Yeah, I think like that. Sorry. I kept wondering (ala Marvin the Paranoid Android) why I was making this little getaway because I’m not going to enjoy myself.
Then I got here. It’s on a nice, satisfyingly tall hill that looks out at the ocean (from a nice, safe height) over the roofs of several houses. Tsunami frets blew away.
And I was floored by the wonderfulness. My goodness. For less than $50 a night, I’ve got an apartment with big windows on three sides of it — including one lovely stained-glass window. The front windows open onto a deck with a view of the waves. Rear windows look onto an intimate fenced garden.
Awaiting me was a gift bag with coffee mugs and half a pound of certified organic fair-trade coffee beans (this is the world of Portlandia, after all; and yes, there’s a coffee grinder in the room). The queen bed has a feather duvet. There’s a woodstove with a complimentary Prest-o-Log already in place and a store down the road that sells bundles of wood. There are books! Wicker furniture. Even musical instruments (not that I know how to play them) and a cabinet full of board games. And need I mention free wifi?
Wow. I’m also the only occupant of this whole house and practically the only occupant of the entire street. You know I love that.
I made one miscalculation, though. Tonight is V for Vendetta night and, figuring there couldn’t possibly be a DVD player in the room, I didn’t bring V along. But would the folks who provided coffee beans and a grinder forget the DVD player? No, they would not.
So the only thing I’ll be missing tonight is movie tradition. And that’s my own fault.
But heck, this place is so fabulous, I might just stay here until next Guy Fawkes Day. My friends can bring V when they come visit.
Or … more likely I’ll ask to stay three days instead of the two I booked. This is just too fabulous.
Now to rest, relax, and renew …
(P.S. I did bring a camera and if I get any good pix I’ll post them.)
“13 nutrition lies that made the world fat and sick.” It may not be instantly apparent what this one has to do with resistance to Authoritah — until you consider who promulgated the lies that are being debunked. Yes, what you eat and how you learn about what you eat has changed since gov and agribiz introduced the old pyramid and had it accepted as 1980s gospel.
Here’s another non-obvious sign of hope: IBM sales plummet in China. Because NSA is inspiring distrust in all its collaborators, or even suspected collaborators. If US tech companies want to thrive, they’ll have to prove to the world that they aren’t the UberGovernment’s sock puppets.
Swarms of tabs are buzzing ’round my head again. Some contain news that fills me with such loathing I can’t decide whether to blog about it or run for cover. I’ll avoid the most loathsome for now and merely blog the good, the bad, the indifferent, and the funny to clear my browser and my head.
The NSA disguised itself as Google to enable even more spying. Part of me says this is bad in the same sense that the CIA’s longstanding practice of disguising its agents as journalists is bad (for the health of actual journalists). Part of me sez, “Hey. Wait. You mean somebody still thinks Google isn’t the NSA?”
Got an E-Z Pass (or your local equivalent of one)? You’ll be very unsurprised to learn that you’re not solely being tracked at tollbooths. Article applies only to NYC, but was sent by S, who’s pretty sure the same thing’s happening where he is, also. Convenience. Why do we expect we’ll never be made to pay — and pay and pay — for it?
Oh goodie. Our Masters now want to decide who’s an authorized journalist and who isn’t. If this goes anywhere, those without a federal stamp of approval would not be entitled to First Amendment freedom-of-the-press protections. Hm. We’ll see about that …
News of the weird: Did the Vatican steal Jesus’s … um, body part?
Oh well, gotta laugh about it all. Here, thanks to Brian Wilson, is the ObamaCare version of the Capitol Steps’ “Ten Pills and You’re Fine”:
This was a week for getting reminded of unconventional freedoms — and unconventional Outlawry (though some might call it just plain criminality).
First, we got fascinated with Christopher Knight (aka the Maine Hermit), whose solitary life some found irresistible. Imagine speaking only one word to another human in 27 years and sleeping outdoors through 27 northern winters. Imagine doing that, yet remaining so un-resourceful that you think stealing from a camp for handicapped kids is a legitimate way to survive.
Then yesterday afternoon, NPR interviewed Mike Brodie — not their usual sort of book author. At 27, Brodie is a freelance auto mechanic who disdains any claim to thinking of himself as a writer or photographer. But at 17, he started hopping freight trains, taking along a Polaroid camera. Now he’s published A Period of Juvenile Prosperity, a photo memoir of that Outlaw life.
Most of us are more respectful of property than the Maine Hermit and more settled than Mike Brodie’s friends. But tell the truth: Do you envy them a bit? Do you sometimes wish you could just walk away from the life of earning and spending and getting, the life of being responsible, filling out paperwork and carrying credit cards and IDs? Do you sometimes long even to give up some of your comforts? Do you think you could do it in the future? Or have you done something like that in your past?
I’m not asking if you’re ready to chuck it all, or if you approve of train-hopping hoboes or thieving hermits. Just wondering if you ever feel the urge, ever acted on it — or ever might.
Sandy is a writer, businessman and soi disant recovering lawyer. Currently, he’s getting ready to relocate from Panama to Chile to work on the Galt’s Gulch Chile community project. You’ll find contact information for him at the bottom of this post.
But first, Sandy offered to answer some questions about going offshore. I asked him a few — Q&A below. Please feel free to ask your own questions in the comments. Sandy says he’ll check in to answer, but won’t get into debates — both because he is, after all, a recovering lawyer and because going expat is yet another question people are going to make up their own minds about, no matter what anybody says.
Q. The arm of the U.S. government is long. It reaches clear around the world. Why do you think anybody might be more safe outside the U.S. than in it?
A. Good question, but it is based on the false assumption that just because the USG can do ANYTHING,* that it therefore can do EVERYTHING. Well, it can’t. It lives under the sames laws that underly all economic calculations — cost benefit analysis. With limited resources (and all resources are limited) you have to pick your battles carefully. Yes, any given target can be smashed, but that just mean other targets get off Scott free. So for all practical purposes, out of sight, out of mind.
Q. There’s a lot of truth to what people say about expats being welcomed because they have money (or because the locals think they have money). So this is a two parter: How vulnerable to do you think Americans abroad are likely to be in local hard times? And what happens to American expats if the USD turns to toilet paper while they’re living in another country?
A. First the assumption about why Americans and other expats are welcome. Sure some locals want to suck off the gringo teat. However, they can be easily avoided by living away from tourist and expat enclaves. I will soon be moving to live in my fifth country. I have acquired many genuine friends around the world. People everywhere like friendly, interesting people and expats are some of the most interesting people in the world … even Canadians.
As to hard times and the dollar’s decline, I would have to ask the questions why are you contemplating moving to countries that are headed toward hard times and why are you still holding your wealth in US dollars? There are countries with exploding economies, budgetary surpluses, low cost of living and (relatively) hard currencies, not to mention the availability of land, gold, etc.
Q. A lot of people mention age or health as reasons not to uproot and go to another country. What do you have to say to that?
A. Much of Latin America, Asia and Oceania have better and cheaper health care than the US. Google medical tourism. With regard to age, I am just a few months away from the 2/3 of a century mark. The reality is that old folks think old. What that means in practice is that they are unwilling (not unable!) to accept change. Well if that is you, brother, do I have bad news. Change is coming to you and I believe it will be far greater and far more devastating than moving to Uruguay or the like.
Q. Most people just don’t want to be foreigners, which is understandable. They are genuinely content where they are. They have a stake in their lands, homes, families, etc. Why are you so adamant that everybody needs to get out of the U.S.?
Q. First, who says you have to be a “foreigner”? I have found it surprisingly easy to become a part of every local community I’ve lived in. People are people wherever you go and you already know about people.
I am not adamant that everyone leave the US. However, if YOU personally feel it is to your benefit to do so, you should. Family and friends? What I advocate is that rather than everyone going down the tubes together, that you get yourself out, show the way and provided a soft landing for others to come later if they feel the need.
With regard to property, well a lot of Jews felt they should stay in Germany to protect their assets. Most ended up with neither their property nor their lives. If that seems a big overly dramatic or unlikely in your “free” country, okay, how about just the property. What guarantee do you have you will be allowed to keep it? The answer is none. In the US everything you own can be taken by the USG via eminent domain or executive order. Ditto for most other advanced western countries.
Consider the monkey trap. You bore a whole in a gourd, basket or whatever, that is just big enough to admit a monkey’s paw. You tie the gourd to a tree. Then you put a banana, sweets or whatever the monkey likes to eat, inside. When the monkey grabs the banana and tries to pull his hand out, he cannot, because his fist is now too large. When you approach the trapped monkey, you can simply throw a net over him. Right up until the net drops, he could easily escape simply by releasing the banana. Don’t trade your freedom for the illusion that you can hang onto your things.
Q. You’ve commented that a lot of reasons for not wanting to leave the U.S. aren’t real reasons at all. People are either just afraid of change or they’ve gotten a wildly distorted idea of what some other country is like via the media (e.g. Mexico is nothing but violent drug lords from border to border). What would you like to say to these people?
A. You have to be true to yourself. If you are simply afraid of the unknown, drop the rationalizations and admit the truth. Then if you still want to get out, make the unknown known and base your decision on facts, not dark fantasies.
To get the facts, turn your TV OFF. Do not read newspapers nor Department of State warnings. Instead, there are two things you should do.
First, go on line and look for expat blogs and mailing lists in the countries you are considering. There you will get the day-to-day reality from people who are living it. Sign up for the lists. ASK QUESTIONS.
Second, if at all possible, visit one or more of your target countries. The longer the visit, the better, but anything is better than nothing. Talk to expats, but be sure to talk to locals as well. Don’t know the language? You will probably find English-speaking locals who will fall all over themselves to talk to you in English (yes, really). You should also learn polite and inquiry phrases such as “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “good evening,” “how do you say?” (accompanied with a pointed finger), “do you speak English?” and of course the all important, “where is the bathroom?”
Q. Some people say, “Yeah, I’ll bet millions of people in Europe talked just like that when others were starting to up and leave. They were just making excuses for not wanting to take a risk.” Others say, “Sure, but back then there was someplace to go for genuine freedom. Now there isn’t.” Your comment?
A. The biggest lie in the world is “My country, (fill in the blank) is the freest country in the world. It says so right here in the government Cliff Notes.” Understand this, there are two “freedoms” in the world — theoretical and practical. Constitutions are theoretical, but as you already know, they are honored more in the breach than in the observance. Practice is what really happens in the street. Given a choice, I always choose freedom in practice rather than theory.
* In practice even the assumption that the US can do anything it wants is false. The Vietnamese kicked the US’ ass and the ragtag people’s army of Afghanistan is doing the same, just as it did to the Macedonians, British and Soviets before them.
For further information, you may contact Sandy at: ssandfort at galtsgulchchile dot com.
Um, well, not exactly. They say it’s solely because the machines were slowing up their probing, poking, and stealing.
So, did they send them back to Rapiscan and demand a refund? Is anybody investigating Michael Chertoff’s lobbying company for bamboozling the taxpayers?
Naw, don’t be silly. The TSA is just moving the Rape-o-Scanners to smaller airports. I mean, after all, who gives a damn if the hicks from the sticks get radiated? And no doubt bored TSA agents in those -ville sort of places need the laughs they’ll get from peeping at less-than-toned rural bodies.
Oh yeah, and city airports will still use snoopy millimeter-wave machines. Whose health impact is still an unknown.
But of course, that’s just business as usual. If you really. And I mean really. Really, truly, as in this will turn your stomach. Want to see why it’s never time to rejoice about the TSA or its Big Daddy, the DHS, appearing to do something good, it’s because you know they’re always up to something like this at the same time:
A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).
This bracelet would:
Take the place of an airline boarding pass
Contain personal information about the traveler
Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage
Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes
The Electronic ID Bracelet, as it’s referred to, would be worn by every traveler “until they disembark the flight at their destination.” Yes, you read that correctly. Every airline passenger would be tracked by a government-funded GPS, containing personal, private and confidential information, and would shock the customer worse than an electronic dog collar if the passenger got out of line.
Granted, it’s just a gleam in some “security” official’s eye at the moment. But any government that would even consider regarding all people in this light is one that’s already dead and deserves to be buried. At the crossroads. At midnight. With a stake through its heart.