I Must Swing

by bicyclemark

Some fairly big news in my life, and what better night to announce it than a sunday when you’re all off doing more important things. I’m fairly certain that as of early October, I will no longer be employed by the university. That is… at my current job, my contract is up and won’t be extended in any way. I’ve got many other jobs, mind you, but they are all freelance. Which means more free time to work on my real passion, citizen journalism. The money part I will figure out, with help from my fantasic network around the world.
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I was thinking about how life will change, while boat riding around town with Brooke the other day. Yup, the Brooke is back as a resident of Amsterdam… amazing how life works in circles, sometimes in a good way. And as we boated around, we came upon these children hanging from a rope off a very tall bridge:
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Watching this somehow put things into perspective for me. As the children swang back and forth, hanging on as long as possible, before letting go of the rope and jumping in the canal. Then came the next group, again swinging back and forth.. almost as if they didn’t want to make the jump too soon; a familiar feeling.
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One thing I decided right then and there: especially considering that I’ll have more freetime this year, I’m climbing up that bridge and swinging on that rope. Because it looked dam fun to jump in.

The Night Before the American Invasion

by bicyclemark

They’re coming.

They’re using planes as their method of transportation.

They leave from various US cities, often travelling alone or in groups of 2 or 3.

They travel with a great deal of electronics, mostly ipods, laptops, and other personal devices.

They are very well financed, with enough money to run their operations in Europe for at least 5 months.

They tend to look suspicious, easily identified by speaking loudly in their distinct accent.

And they will stop at nothing, until they can move into our neighborhoods, put up some posters of the icons their worship, and infiltrate our higher education system, posing as students.

… They are the American exchange students. And they arrive in T-Minus 9 hours.

My mission, which few would be brave enough to accept (I need the money and I’m mentally unbalanced), is to assist in this process. I must not show signs of weakness if they complain or make demands of me. I must be stoic and in control. Although they may be determined to disrupt my freedom and way of life, I must meet them head on, for my mission is noble and I will not give in to their desctructive, my-closet-isn’t-big-enough ideology.

Air Travel Moves Further Back in Time

by bicyclemark

Turned on the TV this morning as I finished packing. I had left myself only an hour to take care of last minute things and head to the airport for my flight back to Amsterdam via Munich. I’ve been doing these types of flights for years and years, I’m pretty good with timing and predicting problems at the airport. But man oh man.. I was so angry when I watched the news this morning.

The annoying British accent-guy on CNN international was going on and on about how New Scotland Yard just foiled a terrorist plot. Bla bla blah…. flights to the US from the UK.. bla bla bla a legitimate threat. I paused during my packing to occasionally turn to the TV and tell him to go fuck himself, him and hus smug “I understand terrorism and airtravel” reporting.

It was too late to try and get to the airport earlier. Not enough time. When I arrived the lines were longer than I’d ever seen, and it seemed like no one understood what was going on. Guess they don’t have time for the news when they wake up.

The line for checkin is long and full of people being turned away for flights to the UK. The people are very annoyed, and slowly start to ask each other what is going on. My own flight leaves mysteriously on time, though I didn’t know it at the time as I was stuck on the line the simply wouldn’t move. I looked up and down the terminal and enjoyed the surreal moment; at every desk there was an airline employee on a phone… waiting.

As I got shuffled from line to line, counter to counter, seemed like no one wanted to give me an alternative flight to my darling Amsterdam. Finally I found someone and pleaded my case, determined not to pay any penalties just because allegedly New Scotlandyard caught some terrorist plot.

I had to stand there and wait for quite a long time. As I stood there I pictured the CNN guy, still babbling along about what a huge deal this is and what a huge threat the UK and the US face today, and how the whole world will suffer. What a bunch of heresay and bullshit.

Think about it. They come on television, the authorities backed by the reporters the repeat verbatim their ever word, and they tell us a terror threat has been averted. They even go on to say it is likely to be a affiliate of Al Qaeda. ( I love how AlQaeda is painted to be like a radio station, like NBC and its affiliates. ) We the viewers, the citizens, are supposed to believe it. Hell, we automatically believe it. If its in the news and its reported by our authorities, it has to be real. And as a result, we all have to be punished of course… longer lines, stricter requirements, etc. As if they finally figured out how to stop terror this time, they’ve finally got the formula. Who doesn’t understand by now that this war on terrorism is the most inexact science / guessing game the world has ever seen? It’s all about acting like they know what’s going on.. and the public believing them. They follows panic at the airports, further stress on citizens who already have to deal with their budget cuts, taxes for their crusades in the middle east and beyond, losing family members to manufactured wars, and no garuntee of any kind of pension after a lifetime of paying for it.

Oddly enough, as I’m waiting for my new flight, which has now been delayed for 2-3 hours, a security guy starts talking to me. He had just found out about the UK situation, he told me. I mentioned that it happened early this morning, but that the truth is we really have no idea if anything happened. His eyes open wider and he leans in with his terrible breath, “I tell you what I think, and I know people don’t like to hear it, but I believe the US government had something to do with 9/11, and they love having these situations to get more support from scared people.”

I looked around a little before responding, as it felt like a setup. In my mind’s eye I could picture me taking the bait and saying “yes, I think so” and then his security buddies jump me and I never make it back to home-sweet-home. – I didn’t see any other security people around, so I quickly responded, “It’s certainly possible, regardless if people agree with you, it would not be impossible.” And I added one more line before trying to get out of the path of his terrible coffee breath, “But really, it doesn’t matter who did it anymore. What matters is what people believe and how they write it in the history books.” With that he gave me a knowing secret-society nod and went back to yelling at frustrated passengers who dared to move the little designated area rope.

I guess I’ll make it to Amsterdam today. But I’m pretty fed up with air travel and global logic regarding terrorism. What’s the point if we can’t really fly as free humans anymore. We can’t carry our things anymore. We have to get on the plane naked. Actually I take it back, that would be interesting. But barring the charm of nudity, I don’t see how the terrorists haven’t in fact won. We may still be alive, but the question becomes, with all the lines, fearmongering, half-truths, and heresay.. how are we really living?

Isolated Somewhere in Portugal

by bicyclemark

The family upstairs lives in Switzerland. The other family upstairs, their car has French license plates. Apparently the other apartment that’s for sale in this modest little building, that guy is Canadian.

We’re all Portuguese, mind you. But this is the reality of Portugal, especially in the summer. A population that probably has more people living outside its borders than the 9 million+ living within those borders. Where every town has its emmigrants, who are like clockwork when it comes to being present in the summer time.

While the alarmist and often xenophobic governments of European nations scramble to adopt some tough policies against refugees. Following the alleged death of the proposed European Consitution. Despite all the hoopla about how Europe isn’t really one block and the dream is far from reality… many of the Portuguese are living the reality. Beyond Europe, they have long made the globe their menu of destinations, in search of a better quality of life, or… just better paying jobs.

Out of the criticisms one can have of Europe, and I’m aware of how long that list is. The one thing I see first hand, almost everyday whether I’m in Lisbon or Amsterdam, is that people are making it their business to be European. Politicians and Diplomats can and will continue to sit around pouting about things they won’t budge on. Disagreements regarding foreign policy or mobile phone roaming costs may go on indefinitely in parliaments. But outside, multiple generations, including my own, are exercising our freedom and ability to move country, learn languages, and then move again if we so choose. At some point we cease to be just Portuguese or French or Maltese, we gain a second if not third identity. It is not one of patriotism or nationalism or even supranationalism. It is the freedom from old borders or language barriers or cultural limits. We have become the living breathing myth that so many so-called important people denounce… European Citizens.

If I can find internet, tomorrow I’ll talk a bit about Raul Castro and how I like his baseball cap.