Thursday, September 29, 2011

It could be bronzed and used as a doorstop

Jewish Memorial Berlin
It is amazing the amount of crap that collects in the short time a person is away. Of course most of it is not useful to me.

I am having a particularly busy period because at this time of the year Suzanne gets lots of mail from banks and finance companies. I have to take a sack down to clear our letterbox.

Suzanne is the person who used to live here – with her husband - now more than three years ago - and left without bothering to tell anyone about her new address. Perhaps she was in a hurry. 

I returned mail to the senders for about two years but then gave up because it was clear that neither she nor they cared much and I was still getting mail from the same people all the time – after sending back hundreds of letters.  Since then I have been throwing it all in the bin.

I opened a pile once. It included bank statements, dividend statements, cheques, bills – or sorts of stuff. She seems to manage without it. 

Some people can do this – not me – I need to be highly organised. The thought that I was missing mail – any mail – would send me into a panic. I would chase junk mail deliverers if they missed my letter box. But there may be a special I need this week!

Suzanne clearly does not have this problem. Her husband was better organised – we get no mail for him. Although I do know that he is a liar – he lied about the air conditioning. I hope they have a housekeeper and cook in Dubai – I suspect that she is not very tidy.

In another act of complete bastardry the Vienna Polizei have given me a speeding ticket while I was on a mercy mission.

I was at Shopping City Sud buying urgent supplies of wine at Wein and Co to replenish the cellar prior to the arrival of Liz and Darryl - and was caught doing 63 in a 50 zone. (All this is KPH)

But – and here’s the rub – the Polizei were standing less than 30 meters in front of the 70  sign. Now that is just ridiculous. This is just revenue raising nonsense. 63 – hardly a dangerous speed in a Mercedes Benz E 200 – which can stop on half a Euro - with a metal fence on one side and a shopping centre wall on the other – with no possibility of a pedestrian appearing – unless from the sky by parachute - or out of a person hole. 

I am of course totally pissed off because I now have more speeding tickets than Cate – who drives like Sebastian Vettel when she is out on the open road – and is never caught.

Except on one famous occasion when she was caught and passed on an autobahn by a Fiat Panda. Cate was – as usual – hammering along at about 140 – and being passed by gigantic Audis and BMWs – when we heard this terrible whining noise which got louder and louder. Is that Sarah Palin?

Thinking our gear box was overheating and readying itself to explode we started to panic - when this ancient Fiat Panda – circa 1982 - howling like a banshee – hauled itself up alongside us and – blowing massive amounts of blue smoke – dragged itself slowly and noisily off into the distance. Holy shit!

Clearly this man was on a mission and had no further use for his car after this trip. I am guessing he was delivering it for a friend who wanted it in a hurry. I am guessing that the only thing it would be good for on arrival would be to be bronzed and used for a doorstop. As a car it would be well and truly fucked up beyond all recognition as a going concern. 

Cate was so stunned by the audacity of this ancient beast she was unable to respond. In fact she became quite circumspect and hardly went over 150 all the way home. This is always a relief and enables me to unclench my knuckles and other delicate parts of my anatomy. 

But every time I exceed the speed limit by even a smidgeon I get nailed. It’s just not fair.

But I do like to ride the Autobahn train when I am boxed in by giants. I will tell you about this tomorrow. Shit it is scary!

Never forget the gummi bears

I had a brief encounter with Frau Katzenjammer today. She was back in the apartment doing those tidying up things and handing over keys and stuff like that and we said our good byes. We said we might see each other in America because she and Herr Katzenjammer are probably going to end up there as well after a brief sojourn in their home town of Hamburg. I said sure thing knowing that the chances of the Katzenjammers ending up in Peoria are somewhat remote - but whatever.

I sometimes in the past tried to speak German to Frau and Herr Katzenjammer but they just used to give me a little smirk – sort of a smirkette – gritted their ears - and ignored this.

They both spoke grammatically perfect English with almost no trace of an accent – as do almost all young professional people in Austria and Germany – and had no need to listen to people mangling their language – which is perfectly capable of being mangled by native German speakers –it being such a bastard of a language in the first place.

Incidentally – I have been waiting for the inestimable esbboston to comment on the origin of Katzenjammer – but he has not. It derives from the cartoons from my childhood ‘The Katzenjammer Kids’. This is course is not the name of my former neighbours but something that popped into my head when I started writing about them.

So now you think Cate and I are going to settle down and rest until our trip to Norway at Christmas don’t you? Wrong.

In two weeks Gwenyth arrives and then we are going on a two week cycling trip from Bruges to Amsterdam. The cycling takes only 7 days – you could do it in a day if you really tried – but we are taking a couple of days at either end to tour Bruges and Amsterdam.

It is one of those boat and barge things but this time we really are on a proper barge with air conditioning and good food and stuff like that.

I know you think that Cate is always on holidays but really she usually just takes very short breaks. This one is a bit longer than usual.

Her boss – Huggy Bear – complains whenever she goes on leave – but also complains whenever he sees how much leave she has accrued – but he does not really mind if she is on leave as long as she works while she is away and takes phone calls – which she does – on the basis that there is no one else to do it.

I think that when Rozalin tells him Cate is taking two weeks off he may pop a foofle valve but she will have an emergency supply of black gummi bears on hand as these work on him like adrenalin and these will bring him to his senses.  

Cate never goes into his office to discuss sensitive issues unless she has a supply of gummi bears with her.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Vienna is an expensive city

Tiergarten Berlin

We are home again.

We saw lots of new and exciting stuff in Berlin this time including some more buildings that escaped complete annihilation by Bomber Harris during 1944 and 1945.

He would have been most distressed to learn that anything at all remained tall enough for a Meerkat to see over without standing on a banana box  - but indeed some rather beautiful buildings have been lovingly restored – albeit with considerable amounts of bomb and battle damage – but this does add to their charm and character.

Our favourite place was called Einsteins. I don’t think it was related to Einstein Bros. in the USA because it did not sell bagels – but it had great coffee and croissants – and Cate had a jar of jam – because they always sell the croissants without butter or jam and they are a bit unsurprising without anything at all on them – but the jam caused a problem in security on the way out of Germany. She was allowed to keep it.

Our rather relaxed travel habits have finally rubbed off onto Liz and Darryl - who now roll out of bed at about 10:00 AM and approach the day in a decidedly haphazard manner.

It seems that they are now discovering the meaning of holidays (i.e. they are different from work – these are days where you get up at 6:00 AM and go to an office).  And it is not necessary when visiting a foreign city to visit every single point of interest – some of which are not interesting at all.

We arrived back to discover that the Katzenjammers have fled back to Germany. The last of their possessions were being loaded into a truck as we got home and their apartment is now in darkness. So we are alone on the top floor of our building and will have to wait to see if we get new neighbours.

I also got the bill for the new keys. This was €617.94. This converts to $849 at today’s exchange rate. Vienna is an expensive city.

Oh and I forgot to tell you when it happened. The new SIM card for the Handy/Cell/Mobile phone was Fedexed to Peoria by my son Lenny and arrived on time. As decreed by the Foo Fairy I burned  some chicken feathers and hog scrapings while singing the team song of the Peoria Indians (who at the time were playing Ohio across the road in Victory Field).

It worked and in the nick of time I was able to make my banking transaction and save the day – and my bacon.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

We are back in Berlin

Berlin Wall - Mitte

We are back in Berlin staying in a – ahem – modest apartment in Mitte.

Last time we were here we could not find Checkpoint Charlie – possibly the only tourists in the history of the city since 1961 to have this problem – but we were tired and emotional at the time. This time we are actually staying in something call Go-apartments Checkpoint Charlie so we do not have this problem.

The apartments are of the type that Cate would refer to as a ‘shithole’ but my brief was to find something ‘nice and economical’ which of course in Berlin are mutually exclusive.

The rest of us are quite happy with the accommodation. It is very clean and tidy - the rats are very well behaved. Once we determined the problem with the beds it was relatively easy to reconstruct them.

Well Cate and I decided we could not plug all the holes in the wall with newspaper so we needed to huddle together for warmth and I moved to her side of the bed and this sent it into a spasm and it collapsed onto the floor.

A temporary fix was made and – in the belief that it was her bed that was faulty we moved to my side – which also threw in the towel and after much popping and snapping this also collapsed in a heap.

This necessitated closer investigation so we had to disassemble the bed and then discovered that some moron had at some stage put the bed together without putting the middle legs firmly on the floor - so that there was nothing the take the weight. Problem solved.

That – and some minor adjustments to the paper clips holding up the curtains in the living room and everything is pretty well shipshape.

We do have a nice little garden where we can see that balloon thing that Cate made me go up in today. I did not enjoy that one bit because I don’t like heights in balloons or tall buildings. Mountains and cliffs do not bother me at all – balloons I hate.

The actual re-creation of Checkpoint Charlie is quite possibly the most awful piece of tourist kitsch in the history of the universe.

There are two slovenly thugs lounging about in filthy US army uniforms with threadbare caps – looking like they eat their Spaghetti Napolitana off them - holding tattered US flags – being photographed by desperate hordes of eager tourists trying to capture a piece of history. Sheesh.

The US Army should take legal action against these people for defamation.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Badger is better

I got one of those buggy things and put off doing anything about it until I collapsed almost lifeless into bed and felt almost too ill to move. There was no point going to doctor Mordor about this because in three years he has never examined me apart from taking my blood pressure and wishing me well ‘despite my problems’.

This is the same doctor who once prescribed medicine for a lump in the centre of my chest which turned out to be part of my rib cage.

Well I felt it one night and thought ‘has that always been there?’ which of course it has but you have these thoughts in the middle of sleepless nights when you think that death might suddenly sneak up on you unawares. So I was in doctor Mordor’s surgery a week or so later to get a script and I said I have this lump here and I am probably supposed to have it  - can you feel it for me - and he said I will give you a prescription for it - and I said no no I am sure it is a piece of bone - but there was no stopping him and there was nothing I could do to get him to touch it. He wears a white coat though.  

Perhaps he never examines anyone. I seem to be his youngest patient. Perhaps he works on the basis that all his patients are going to be dead within a week anyway so why bother examining them. To him I am a curiosity that I have survived so long even with a lump in the middle of my chest for which he prescribed who knows what. I actually had the script filled – it looked and tasted like chalk so I threw it away. I am taking a poll on which of us is more stupid.

You think I made that story up but it is a true story and it is how I know that there is no point in going to doctor Mordor for anything at all other than prescriptions for things I know I really do need and have needed since before I left Australia.  

I did confirm later with my niece doctor Lani that the lump is in fact part of my chest so was much more relaxed after that but when I can’t sleep I still play with it and wonder about death.

In any case I was too ill to get out of bed and I took my blood pressure which was 74/47 and I thought that did not look good because I think when they get to be the same you start flat-lining so Cate rang Doc Around the Clock who arrived within an hour and said I had a bug – relieved me of €230 - and gave me some scripts for some stuff to stop me from feeling quite so bad.

It was by now Saturday afternoon and there is a penalty for people who are ill after hours in Vienna. The penalty is actually for those who minister to them.

To celebrate the misfortune of these people - almost all the Apothekes in Vienna close. The few that do remain open shut their doors, turn off their lights and the one staff member on duty hides behind the counter.

Should you have the utter bad luck to need a script for urgent medicine to stave off death you will need to determine the one that is ‘open’ - and it is bloody hard to tell by looking at it – press the doorbell and wait – perhaps for a long time.

Someone may appear and open a tiny glass window in the door or in side panel in the window and you will hand over your script. They may reappear every now and again to shout at you.

They will then give you some medicine, take your money, turn the lights out and disappear.

This is how the Apothekes work after lunch time on Saturdays in Austria. My advice to you is do not get sick or go to another more civilised country where being sick outside business hours is not a crime.

I am much better now.

I have been cooking sensational meals for Liz and Darryl who have returned from Wales. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Badger is resting

The Badger has been ill for the last week and has been unable to blog – or do much of anything really. Normal service will resume shortly.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

We are not ideal travelling companions

County Kerry Ireland

We are not the ideal travelling companions for Liz and Darryl because they are the types of people who like to maximise the use of daylight and examine the landscape closely – from top to bottom – using food and drink only as a means to sustain life. Unfortunately they have the constitutions of camels so need watering only very infrequently.

They are committed explorers and will examine a ruined shepherd’s hut with the same zeal as they would the Louvre - reading thoroughly every morsel of literature available on the subject.

They will only reluctantly return to their sleeping quarters as dusk falls and – given a torch powerful enough – would be happy to continue their explorations by night.

When on holidays Cate and I regard bed as a place which should only be left if there is something much better on offer – such as a very tempting breakfast – which should then be savoured to the last crumb   and we tend to move slowly and warily into the day. Our first stop is inevitably a coffee shop and we are frequent visitors to these throughout our days – which tend to end early – and finish in bars well before the sun sets.

Naturally travelling with Liz and Darryl is a tremendous shock  to our systems and we both need sedatives to cope with the frenetic activity and dramatic assault upon our biorhythms. The lack of caffeine nearly sends us into apoplectic shock so we have to suck tablets to overcome this.  

While Liz and Darryl went on their way to other Irish counties and then to Wales we caught a train to Dublin from Killarney. We learned that having a reserved seat is the same as not having a reserved seat.

Apparently it is customary to sit wherever you like. There was a woman sitting in one of our seats and we informed her of this fact. She was most miffed and said ‘are you sure?’ It was incumbent upon us to produce our tickets and she was most reluctant to move.

She moved huffily and wandered around to find another empty seat. The true story became apparent a few stops later when about 30 people got on and apparently not one of them could sit in their assigned seats because they were all occupied.

When people produced their tickets and said ‘you are sitting in my seat’ the occupants  simply said ‘well someone is sitting in mine’ and that was the free pass to stay where you were. It seems to be just a very Irish way of doing things. You see a seat – you sit in it. Well – it was empty.

There were frequent announcements asking people not to sit in reserved seats – but as far as I can tell there is no way of knowing if an empty seat is reserved or not. You could ask it but even in Ireland seats do not have the power of speech.

I was unfortunately sitting opposite a woman who looked more like a turtle than the average turtle. In fact – had the average turtle seen this woman it would have taken action against her for falsely impersonating a turtle.

She was obsessively engaged in grooming and spent a long time on her flippers and this included scraping and painting and varnishing. Thankfully she finally moved on from this task and spent a long, long time scrabbling around in her handbag. I think she was missing a hatchling.

This is what four hour trains trips do to you  – even when you have beautiful Irish scenery to admire. Not for me the stunningly beautiful Irish creature sitting on the opposite side of the carriage. I get to sit opposite a turtle.

In Dublin we checked in to the Radisson Blu Dublin Airport Shithole. We get the room with the sign on the bed that says ‘Thank you for not smoking’ but in which people have been smoking all day and all night – and in which they have also possibly been smoking haddock – or burning the carpet - but there is no air conditioning.

Of course – it is still Europe – you keep forgetting about economy rooms and air conditioning – you dickhead. So soon you are back in the lobby and the man says yes I can give you an economy room with air conditioning but I should warn you that it is next to the elevators and it is not a room that we let out very often – and it may be a bit noisy. Perhaps you would like to upgrade?

Aaaweeoooha!!!!! It may be a bit noisy!

When the hotel actually warns you about the room it tells you something.  Yes please – we will upgrade. It comes with a breakfast but as this arrives at 4:45 AM all I am likely to do at that time of the morning is to pummel the deliverer senseless for the effrontery in waking me at an hour that begins with an ‘f’ and sob aloud for a few minutes.

Whenever I have to get up really, really early in the morning – I can never get to sleep – so I am still awake at 3:00 AM. Just when I think I am never, ever going to get to sleep I nod off and then there is a knock at the door and it is 4:45 AM and the breakfast man is there. Before I know what is happening he is putting the tray on the table.  I reach for his throat but he is gone.

The child behind me on Aer Lingus kicks me in the back for three hours. There is no particular beat and it is quite erratic. He is unlikely to be a musician – and by the look on his parent’s faces he is unlikely to reach puberty.

I could ask them to make him stop and they would say they are sorry and move him to Cate’s side and he would kick her for a while but what would be the point? Or they would yell at him and he would shriek for hours. Or the father would punch me senseless. None of these options appeals to me so for a while I count the kicks. The maximum he can achieve is 76 per minute. Not bad but I have felt better.

It becomes quite hypnotic but he senses this so every now and then he puts in a Beckham bender and tries to sever my spinal cord. Somehow the turtle was better.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I really did not fiddle with it

County Kerry Ireland
Apart from the leaking water heater and the oven for which we could not find the switch (why would you turn an oven off?) our time was uneventful - in the sense that nothing too dramatic happened.

Now of course we sense that Brian and Maeve have blamed us for the hot water heating  going wobbly but it really was not our fault. It ran out of hot water one morning and when we got home that afternoon there was no hot water so we looked at the system instruction book and – as instructed in the book – re-booted the system.

Then we rang Brian and he told us ‘it had never done that before’ (yeh right) and he said he would get his friendly plumber to call – which he did the next morning. Well the plumber called and said that we had done the right thing and right after the plumber left the system started spraying water all over the place and we just knew we were up shit creek because we were sure as hell going to be blamed for that and Brian was already unhappy about a number of things including – I suspect – being Brian.

So we put the biggest bucket we could find under the heater and when we were leaving the next morning I rang him and told him the good news and he accused me of ‘fiddling with it’ which would be a bit hard to do as there are only really two buttons but he already knows he is dealing with a moron who left Austria to find a place in Ireland without even knowing where it was - so one can hardly blame him.

Anyway just as we left the cleaner arrived and she may well have been the unhappiest cleaner in all of Ireland - and has clearly not found her raison d’etre working for Brian and Maeve. I explained the heater problem to her and stressed that there had not been any fiddling but she had been talking to Brian and she did not believe me either - so we got out of there as quickly as possible before she could give us all a good beating for daring to rent a house which it was beyond our capacity to find and occupy.

We are now back in Vienna for a whole two weeks – although Liz and Darryl are gallivanting about in Wales for a while. The cats are very glad to see us and I am recovering from my cold which was really quite nasty.

I have put some Ireland photos in the Picasa Album attached to this blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turns out we are Irish

County Kerry Ireland
There is a view by some commenters that we are unlucky – or even cursed. Far from it – we live lives so privileged that it beggars belief. Most of our misfortune stems from the fact that I am only marginally smarter that a honey-glazed roast leg of lamb.

This is evident from the fact that I embarked on a voyage to the wilds of Ireland without knowing the address of the place to which I was going or how I was going to get in when I got there. Now sure the owners were supposed to send me that information – but would it not have been wise to check to see that I had it before embarking on the epic and perilous adventure?

Now back to Ireland.

The following morning we had not received any responses to our emails and the phone numbers were not answering so over a full Irish breakfast we decided that we were indeed completely fecked and would move to plan B.

We arranged with Betty to stay in her establishment that night and would then B and B our way around Kerry for the next four nights. We then set off on our journey around the Ring of Kerry.

We had done most of the Ring of Beara the previous night – albeit in the dark – and at fairly high speed because we were running late. I am writing a guide book 'The Ring of Beara by Night' but I do not expect it to be a bestseller.

We became un-fecked after five minutes when Maeve rang to say that they were just leaving the Scottish Highlands and had telephone coverage again. They had received our many messages and they could give us the code for the locked box which held the door key. We had to traipse back to Betty and give her our good news and her bad news.

It was not easy to get into the house even with the key. Irish keys seem to be different. I think they make them child and adult proof. We eventually cracked it by sheer luck after we had all had a go and we worked out that you have to hold the handle at a 76° angle as you turn the key. 76° it is – any other angle will not work – the locksmith is a right little bastard for detail.

It was a sensational house set on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Cyclone Katia was in the process of trying to blow it into the next County so we had a fine time at night sitting in the front room – which had glass windows all around it – watching nature do its best.

I had never imagined that a country could be so beautiful. It is just sensational and the landscape and the colours are unlike anything I have seen before.

Cate and I felt an immediate kinship with the land and decided that we must in fact be Irish - and this was confirmed by the fact that I immediately started talking with a thick Irish accent and drank nothing but Jamesons the whole time we were there.

Cate then revealed that her grandmother’s name was Annie Muldoon. That is enough for me. We are moving there as soon as we can. 

And here is a link for those who do not know what a goat thing is. Feck is just a polite Irish way of saying fuck. As this is a family blog I am attuned to the sensibilities of all of my readers and do not wish to offend them more often than I have to. 

Tomorrow: No Brian we did not 'fiddle with the water heater' and it is not our fault that it is spraying water all over the fucking house and if you did not want us to call about the fucking stove not working it would have been a good idea not to turn it off and hide the 'on' switch behind the fucking microwave oven for christ's sake. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another one of those goat things

Things went pretty well on our trip to Ireland until our arrival in Dublin from Vienna – then they went a bit pear-shaped.

You will note that I have not blogged – but that is a story for another blog.

Liz and Darryl had hired the car and acquired a new Tom Tom so we were well equipped with navigation tools. Now all car navigation systems have their little quirks and this one – as we discovered – was no exception.

Our destination was so obscure as to not even register so we input the closest town we could find. As soon as we did so it flipped to the main street – we thought of that town – so we said OK and off we went.

Four hours later we arrived at a place called Castletownbere which – we discovered upon inquiry at the nearest Pub– was on the Ring of Beara. The place we were looking for was on the Ring of Kerry.

We had no maps other than those in our guide books and discovered that we were in fact in the wrong part of Ireland – but not by all that much – we had missed it only by about 80 kilometres.

A couple of hours earlier I had started looking at the many pages of instructions I had for getting to the house only to discover that they were not in fact instructions for getting to the house but were mainly the terms and conditions for renting the house.

There were almost no details about how to get to the house or how to get in once there. There were however two telephone numbers for the owners – Maeve and Brian.

There was no answer from either of these. Uh Oh!

So we got to Rossmore Island at about 10:00 PM which was not the tiny island we thought it was – with only one road as shown on Google maps. There was indeed a big long road with quite a few options so we ploughed along through gates that opened as we approached them  and eventually – out of desperation into someone’s front yard.

This kind man did not know Brian and Maeve but he made a phone call and sent us way back out again – turn right at the cattle crush – down the long road and it is the last house on the peninsula.

It is indeed the last house – we recognise it from its photos - it is in pitch blackness – the wind is howling off the Atlantic ocean – it is freezing – there is no way in – the phone numbers are still not answering. We are fecked.

It is 10:45 and we are running out of time before we have to sleep in the car. It is 20 kilometres back to the nearest town – Kenmare – and we stop at the first hotel. It is in darkness but a man appears and says he is full but he makes a telephone call and give us the name of a B and B.

Five minutes later we pull up at Leebrook House and Betty is waiting for us. She shows us to our rooms and lets us use her kitchen to make sandwiches and pots of tea for our supper. We sit there until 2:00 drinking wine and Jamesons – contemplating the way forward.

We know that Brian and Maeve go away for weeks at a time.

Are we temporarily fecked or completely fecked?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

There is no good time to vomit at a wedding

The White House from the rooftop of the Hay-Adams 
There was a problem blogging in Washington because the advertised WiFi connection in the Lombardy Hotel did not exist and my MacBook Air does not even fart in the general direction of hard wire connections – I mean they are just so 20th century.

But the hotel was notable for providing us with the most expensive American breakfast we have ever had – at $98 – and I only thought about this later and wondered about what we had had that had cost so much. Well sure the fresh OJ was probably $12 and my honey dipped nut-encrusted French toast was $14 and the Espresso coffee was $8 but even so it is very expensive by American standards when  you can get a Bagel and a coffee at Starbucks for $6.

But we had to stay there for the first two nights because that was where everyone else was staying because the room rate was cheaper – well I guess at breakfast rates like that they could probably throw the rooms in for free.

For the wedding we moved to the Hay-Adams which should have been a wonderful experience but unfortunately I got a very bad cold which meant that I had a sore throat and a migraine which I could not shake and a fever and the sweats and just felt really bad during the entire wedding thing. Which was not just a wedding but a pre-wedding family dinner and a post-wedding family brunch.

There is no good time to either faint or vomit at a wedding – especially if it is not your own. For a man my age both of these will be attributed to alcohol and it will forever after be know as the ‘drunken uncle Phillip incident’.

Wishing to avoid this I stood pale and sweating and clutching a table at the rear of the room – with trembling knees – but determined to maintain my equilibrium.

I got through the important parts of the evening and improved enough to start drinking wine - after which things got markedly better.

The reception was held on the rooftop of the Hay-Adams hotel which overlooks the White House. It is an astonishing venue at any time and especially when you have had a couple of handfuls of Ibuprofen – some Migraine tablets – and about 8 glasses of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

We are only back in Vienna for a day and tomorrow we fly to Ireland for five days. I hope to blog.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How do people get to be this dumb?

We are staying in the JW Marriott hotel which is a few rungs above the hotel in which we usually stay – and in this place Ducky Pharma people are treated like royalty. They have their own Ducky Pharma breakfast cards printed and their own shuttle bus to Ducky Pharma HQ.

We are on the 25th floor and I can see Victory Field where the Peoria Indians play ball and the Lucas Oil stadium where the Peoria Colts play football (there is some consternation that Peyton Manning may not start the season after surgery earlier this year).

I cannot see the brickyard where the world famous Peoria 500 race is held each year. In fact I have never visited this most holy of race tracks and am saving this for a special occasion.

This hotel has its own Starbucks – which I am planning on visiting today – and oodles of very friendly staff who just cannot do enough for me. Yesterday in the Velocity Bar (which moved not an inch when I was in it for lunch), Meghan told me that I was ‘very welcome’ on seven separate occasions.

At breakfast Shannon is our server of choice and gets us double Espressos and Cappuccinos as fast as her legs can carry her. What a woman.

Last night Cate had dinner in the hotel with her two bosses – one of whom is the Grand Fromage.  I was instructed to be invisible. I think she had this fear that I would get drunk and lurch into the restaurant, vomit on the table and tell them what I thought of the hours that she had to work to keep me in luxury in Vienna.

I was in fact asleep so missed this opportunity – but I am not sure why she would think I would do this – I am quite positive I have not done it before.

I do have memories of getting smashed in the cocktail lounge in the Swissotel Bosphorus in Turkey when she kept me up till 3:00 AM while she was having a meeting with her boss - but I sort of lost track of time and I certainly don’t remember molesting anyone. In fact I did not even know where they were. She had told me to wait for her and – ever obedient – I did.

There is man in the streets here with a big sign telling me that the end is nigh and that I need to repent or I will go straight to hell on judgment day.

Well – he was here last time I was here and the end was nigh then - and it still has not happened and I have it on good authority from the Catholic Church that there is no hell anymore. Not that I believe the Catholic Church in particular but they must be at least as reliable as a man in Peoria with a sign on a stick - and who shouts a lot.

There are also many panhandlers and buskers but they seem to be home grown - unlike those in Vienna who we have to import from Romania. The Viennese being so snooty that they will not even do their own begging.

Anyway it was about 86° here yesterday and tomorrow it is going to be 96° and I saw on the weather report this morning that right across the mid-west it is near the century. According to Fox this is nothing to do with global warming – even though Oklahoma has had its hottest temperatures since they began recording them.

I have refrained from commenting on the Republican candidates for the Presidential nomination but I must say that I am shit-struck in awe by the stupidity all of them – except one - who think that god created the world 6,000 years ago - and that this should be taught in schools.

And almost all of them think climate change is a giant hoax cooked up by 97.5% of the world’s scientists working in cahoots - and then there is Ol’ Crazy Eyes – she who thinks gayness can be cured – and the first thing she would do as President would be to shut down the EPA.

Well we have seen what good old corporate America has managed to with the EPA in place. Can you just imagine what those corporate citizens would do without the EPA? I just cannot wait for that!

This is dumbness on a scale so unimaginable that it makes me frightened for the future of America. What is really scary is that there are certainly enough stupid people to elect someone like Perry or Bachmann President. (A recent survey showed that 35% of Republican voters in Iowa believed in evolution and 21% believed in global warming).

Can you imagine it? Someone who would make George W Bush look like Albert Einstein.

How do people get to be this dumb?