Archive for the ‘USA’ Tag

Comey and the Cancer on the Presidency   Leave a comment

The spectre of 1974 returned yesterday as the testimony of James Comey drew my attention away from the UK General Election results.

A few weeks before Nixon resigned in disgrace, I bought “The Missing White House Tapes” which had just been released and was highly predictive — spookily so — of the events to come in the month or two ahead. I dug it out of the stacks and, although I haven’t listened to it in 30 years, could immediately remember some of the tracks verbatim. I may have to correct this later, but I’m pretty sure that “The Swearing Out Ceremony” administered by Billy Graham went like:

God damn you, Richard Nixon.
Richard Nixon, you son-of-a-bitch.
Get the hell out of here, you’ve lied your ass off.
Fuck off.

I’m not sure about this next one, but I think it is also responsible for the first time I heard the term “Hung like a Hebrew National,” which would close the loop back to my hot dog story a week or so back.

Oh, right.  It was the weasel, John Dean, that spoke the words “Cancer on the Presidency” in those 1974 hearings.  He has since redeemed himself in my estimation.  Weasel Comey is getting there, too.  Not there, yet, but on a fine trajectory.

 

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Baseball, Hot Dogs, and Beer (Memorial Day Weekend)   1 comment

Fat kids,
Skinny kids,
Kids who climb on rocks,

Tough kids,
Sissy kids,
Even kids with chicken pox.

Love hot dogs,
Armour hot dogs.
The dogs kids love to bite.  (from a long running Armour Hot Dogs commercial with lyrics that could never be aired today)

We don’t have Memorial Day in England, but the last Monday of May is a Bank Holiday so we consider it the equivalent at the house.  The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 moved Memorial Day from May 30 (regardless the day of the week) to the last Monday in May.  I still find this a travesty and something implemented for the sake of industrial convenience over tradition.  By the time we returned to the States from Australia in 1974, Georgia had adopted this as well so the holiday no longer fell on my birthday but on the 27th of May that year.

 

 

It was 2 months to the day until the House Judiciary Committee passed the first of three articles of impeachment.  The White House had been stonewalling the independent prosecutor and the Congressional investigations and trying hard to rewrite the narrative of its high crimes and misdemeanours.  I had been reading the transcripts of the White House secret recordings since they had been published in April and would most likely have had my copy open next to the pond to read between dips.  Does any of this sound familiar?

 

 

I don’t know specifically how I spent that Memorial Day but I know I didn’t start smoking pot until the 4th of July that year so I probably just sneaked a few beers from the folks’ bottomless stash and listened to some baseball on the radio (WSB, Home of the Braves with your host Skip Carey, and the Braves, uncharacteristically, won 9-1 over the Phillies).  Inevitably there would be a cookout with ribs, burgers, and of course hot dogs.

We don’t have proper hot dogs here, either, but at least I found some that aren’t in a can (yes, Americans, tinned wieners!).  We set up our network speaker to stream the previous night’s Cubs/Dodgers game which the Cubs, uncharacteristically, lost 4-0.  Everything, as far as we could do it, was like it was in 1974.

Come on Judiciary Committee.  You can do it!

 

Treasures from Trumpministan   1 comment

 

Jackie returned safely from the Undignified Stupidity of America safe, sound, and because it is so hard to find decent food there a few pounds lighter.  She also — as usual — brought tequila (despite the new wall stretching the entire length of the border with Mexico) and Goody’s!  She is the best.

 

Posted May 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Drugs

Tagged with ,

Thanksgiving 2016   1 comment

 

trumpsgiving

I’m escaping work now for the Thanksgiving holiday (one of very few American things I cling to).

This year, no recipe to publish but the meal is roast duck, cornbread dressing, green salad, sweet potato pie for dessert, and too much to drink but we’ll give it a go.

I am quite thankful that I am no longer an American, by the way.

UK Passport   2 comments

passport-and-mojito-mixings

 

“When I was an American, I ran as an American, I drank
as an American, I traveled as an American: but when I
became British, I put away those childish things.”

 

The application for your first adult UK passport is another boondoggle (see ILR saga and Citizenship).  Having just been granted citizenship, this should be straightforward but that would be too straightforward.

For instance, Section 4 of the application (required only for your FIRST adult passport) asks for the names, dates of birth, nationality at the time of your birth, and date of wedding of your parents.  Seems fair enough; and, if they have British passports you should also supply these details (mine did not and as they are rotting in hell this should be the full extent of the inquiry).  But, no.  As they were born overseas, I needed also to provide these details for my grandparents even though the application is based on my Certificate of Naturalisation and not on any claim of British Nationality by birth.

Additionally, I had to have the endorsement of someone professional or with other standing in the community that knows me well enough to pick me out of a crowd (or, as is more likely, to avert their eyes if they spot me across a crowded room).  I know loads of people with letters after their surnames like DBE/KBE, FRS, PE or CEng, DPhil/PhD but most of the ones I would usually hit up were unavailable in the time I set aside to take this document to the Post Office.  I opted for one of the professors I work for at Oxford and all he had to do was sign, date, and write this statement on the back of one of my photographs:

I certify that this is a true likeness of First Middle Lastname

Which he proceeded to do leaving out the word ‘true’ and my middle name.  He also failed to date the photo (which I noticed and added myself hoping the other bits would go through).  He also needed to fill in some personal details on the form in BLACK ink (which he did in BLUE ink then when I pointed it out he went back over in black).  At the Post Office, they rejected the photo for those omissions, and the next one (it is my fault for not checking behind him) for leaving out the word ‘this’ then when I returned with my final copy of the photo done correctly the document checker was concerned that the blue ink might make the passport office reject the application.  “But, there’s black ink on top…blue is only bad because it is transparent to the reprographics equipment they use.”  I took a clean form, filled in everything myself, and got his signature on that one in the event the manager says that this one shouldn’t go in.

spoiled-passport-photos

 

But, that’s only the start.  Even though they have seen every pay stub and immigration document I have ever received since the day I applied for the job, have an iris scan, all my fingerprints, and letters of reference from the Chancellor of Cambridge University and a chaired professor at University of Oxford (who is also a Dame Commander of the British Empire) vouching for more than my identity but also my good character — even after all that and granting me citizenship — the passport office required that I come down to an appointment to confirm my identity based on info they have garnered from this application and a related credit check.  They had my US Passport, my Certificate of Naturalisation, and access to roughly 5 kg of documents supporting applications for a Work Permit (starting late 2008), a Tier 2 Visa and 2 renewals, Indefinite Leave To Remain, Citizenship, a Patent, Work and Pensions documents, and specific dates for each house I’ve lived in and every trip abroad whether for work or vacation (and letters from University of Oxford and Cambridge University stating that they were aware that I was abroad during each of those periods away).

The interrogation — they call it an interview — was meant to be a relaxed thing and only in place to prevent identity fraud.  So, I went in relaxed.  My interviewer asked my full name and I gave her those and spelled each of them.  I was probably a bit too relaxed from then on. For example:

“What is your occupation?” I started chuckling at that so before I could answer, she asked why.
“I’m a research scientist and engineer but I generally tell strangers I’m a rodeo clown or an underwear model.  At best, I just say I work in a lab.”
After a pause, she said, “okay, then,” and briefly consulted her computer screen. “What does your job as research scientist entail?”  I resisted, barely, the urge to say, “standing around in my skivvies while photographers and lighting techs work their magic.”

There were odd questions about the house we currently live in and the house we moved from; I tried not to give odd answers but I was already rolling at that point. Then, this came up: “now, I’d like to ask about your family. What can you tell me about your parents?”
“What can’t I tell you about them? My dad died in 2006, mom in 2004 but they were ancient and had never taken care of themselves so they were living in double overtime at that point.”
“They didn’t take care of themselves? Were they workaholics?”
“Ha! ALCOholics, but at least you were half right.”
“Oh, I’m very sorry, we won’t go there, then.”
“Noooo, you brought it up; this is for you.” I couldn’t contain my glee. “Mom was also on a warehouse of prescription meds. She was working dozens of GPs to get ‘scrips. I had a theory that she actually passed away 20 years earlier but the exquisite balance of pharmaceuticals, nicotine, and alcohol gave her the appearance of life or, at least, animation.”  Nodding to myself, I added, “that would explain the weird noises she made.”
The Passport Office woman’s mouth was open as she stared, aghast. I clicked my fingers and she shook her head slightly. “Do you have any siblings?”
“Oh, well, there’s my sister but I disowned her and her whole felonious, white-trash brood and if I never see any of them again it will be too soon. What do you want to know about her?”
“That’s enough,” she answered too quickly.  “One…sister,” she mumbled to herself as she typed.

A couple of questions later she seemed to have regained composure and asked if I could describe the process I went through such that I was now applying for a British Passport. “Do you mean the whole saga or just the bureaucratic hoops I jumped through?”
Wincing as she nodded and pointing at me with her pen, “yes, just the Immigration process,” then in the brief moment before I could continue, “please,” as though she were asking for mercy.
“Okay, but it’s a better story if I tell you how I decided to abandon America,” I offered.
“No, I’m sure it is, but no.”
“That’s a pity. Right,” and we briefly went through what I remembered of the applications submitted these last nearly 8 years.

At the end, she asked if I had any comments about the interview and I pointed out how I felt it was surreal. She replied, “really, you found this surreal?” so, I responded with a condensed version of the first part of this post about how they already have all this info on me having conferred citizenship just a few weeks ago.  “Don’t YOU think that’s all kind of weird?”

“No,” she answered. “I meant to ask how it is YOU found this surreal.”
Her point was valid and I smiled broadly and shrugged. “You do these all day, every half hour?” I asked as I rose to leave.
She smiled and nodded. “But, not usually like this.”

That was just before 9 am Wednesday.  My passport arrived just before 10 am Friday.

passport-scan-pixellated

September 11 Run, Fifteen Years On   3 comments

suicide-pilo

 

I went for a run today, like most days.  Nothing special: I have done roughly 8 miles every September 11 since my flight to Edinburgh got cancelled that morning in 2001.  Then, when I returned home I found the corpse of a Jihadi Sparrow who suicide piloted his ass into the side of my house.  You can never escape it, these days.  But, you must always be vigilant.

 

northolt-hills

 

The run was nice, marred only by assholes on the canals and at the pub stop.  The Great Ealing Battlements (above, now renamed ‘Northala Fields’ for some reason) originally built to keep the hordes from the Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon out of the quieter — and more civilised — London Borough to our south and southwest are now a recreation area complete with a motorway view to add some breathing challenge to a family day out.  I run past this on a regular basis, lately, and it reminds me that the Donald’s plans for a wall (a great wall, the BEST) are nothing new.

 

hm-prison-ruislip

 

Near at the end of the run, I snapped this shot of HM Prison Ruislip.  The photo had only a coincidentally September 11 link (this is where the worst of the potential future terrorists are re-educated to become drones of society); I shot the picture just because the site was used for the high school scenes in the Inbetweeners, a film I TiVo’ed only to see the Ruislip Gardens neighbourhood scenes and fast-forward through the rest.

 

chinese-sex-chair-to-garden-table-1

 

I mentioned the Chinese Sex Chair before.  I removed the arm-rests (which double as *ahem* posing supports) a few years ago and have been using the mahogany piece as a garden table but on the day’s run, whilst not thinking about nor even considering the horrendous anniversary today marks (Pinochet should have died in the Hague!) I came up with this idea that I could turn this piece into something Mediterranean…Greek or Cypriot, like.  Updates to follow (I haven’t yet mixed the right shade of blue).  Just a note, though: while the US frets about Arabs pantsing them in public, the Chinese have been taking their lunch money for decades (thanks go out to Ronnie Reagan for both).  Opa!

7 Years in Britain   1 comment

7-year-itch

 

For what it’s worth, today we have beaten the Statutes of Limitations on most felonies in the United States: 7 years and a day since we moved to England.  Here’s the breakdown of this most recent year (noting that the annual run review already covered the calendar year 2015 so this will be a relatively brief look back at the residence year).

Speaking of residence, we were granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in June.  I visited 167 new pubs (plus 10 in the new Irish category) and ran slightly more than 2515 miles (including 86 miles in one go).  There were trips to Maastricht, Tennessee & Atlanta, and Ireland (where we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary).  There were 22 new Fish and Chips entries to the blog (and 3 kebabs) but not a lot of experimentation in the kitchen (only 6 Recipes added).

Going into year 8 there are no goals, no major plans, and no great expectation of many new pub visits (unless we move house or I do a lot of travelling this year).  Maybe I’ll try to write a little better…don’t hold your breath on that one, though.

Looking at annual recaps, past:

At 1 year, 290 pubs and impressions on British running, mostly in Cambridgeshire
2 years saw more maps (2000+ miles that year), travel, and 240 more pubs
3 years ended with 280 pubs and links about another house move
The 4th year ended with 255 more pubs, another house move, and some brilliant racing
Year 5 yielded 134 pubs, some decent travel, and yet another house move
The 6th year entry was very brief, but the anniversary kind of snuck up on me (only 95 pubs)