Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lezioni di Italiano . . .

. . . are kicking my butt.

I'm not being parochial here, being a lifelong English speaker, but why should ALL nouns have a gender?

Bambino (baby boy) and Bambina (baby girl) make perfect sense. So do amico (male friend) and amica (female friend). Even better, because Italians can say in one word where it takes us two.

Mela (apple) is OK because there was Eve, the garden, and all that.

Macchina (automobile) and barca (boat) make a little sense. We sometimes refer to our cars as "the old girl," and all ships are called "she."

But, please explain why penna should be feminine. It's a thing, not a she. Worse yet, you pluralize it by replacing the a with an e, and have penne for more than one pen. But make sure you pronounce the nn double consonant. Pen-nah, if you please. Yesterday, I asked my professoressa di italiano for a pen. Hai una penna? Had I said, hai un pene, she would have denied, with righteous indignation, possessing that particular piece of equipment.

Another double consonant trap is set by anno (year). Mio bambino ha un anno (my baby boy is one year old) is perfect. Mio bambino ha un ano is anatomically correct, but should not be said in polite company.

Non ho nessuno comprensione.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stating . . .

. . . the obvious

John Kerry, worrying about some democrats turning away from Obama, said, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening."

John, don't you realize that is precisely what elected Barry in the first place?

Good questions . . .

. . . easy answer

In 2009, as unemployment soared under Obama, the U.S. government issued 1.131 million green cards, 808,000 of them for immigrants of working age, the fourth highest number of foreign workers brought into this country in history.

Why, with 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, are we importing a million foreign workers? Why are we not sending the illegals back, as President Eisenhower did, and imposing a moratorium on new immigration, as FDR did, to save American jobs for American workers?

- Patrick J. Buchanan

Because the party in power relies on the Hispanic vote to stay in power. And, a significant proportion of the Hispanic vote believes that ANY action on immigration (legal or illegal) is racist.

Any more questions?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sometimes, I wonder . . .

. . . about bureacrats

Belay that - it's not true. I always wonder about bureacrats.

Even though I technically qualify as one.

Today, we had an urgent - and by urgent, I mean a "get it here right now" - data request from our minders in Washington.

D.C., that is.

The urgent request, you ask?

Please review this list of facilities and advise us:

a. If they are still in service, and,

b. Why are they not on the register of historic places?

Perhaps that someone in Dee Cee should have noticed:

a. That we are in freakin' Italy, not the U.S., so these facilities would not be eligible for the register,

b. That Italy has shoes older than our entire country.


They give us all a bad name.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An offer . . .

. . . I couldn't refuse.

Two of my direct report local nationals had planned a trip to begin negotiations on a rather large lease that must be renegotiated by March next. They asked if I would like to come along.

Friday. Nice day. Road trip. Why not?

Good choice.

The meeting was held at Signore and Signora G's casa at the lease site. This is not their main home - just a get-away place in the hills. Some get-away! Although rather small and attached to some of the maintenance and storage buildings at the lease site, it was amazingly elegant on the inside. Arches and vaults and marble and tiles. Antique furniture filled every room.

It wasn't so much a meeting as a visit. It was pleasant conversation followed by a little business followed by pleasant conversation and espresso on the terrazza.

Signore and Signora G are both from old-line Napoli familes, and were perfect hosts. Elegant is the only description I can muster. They even listened patiently while I tried to answer some of their questions about me and my family in my fractured Italiano.

It took me back to the times when I was very young and in the homes of my grandparents and their friends. It was a totally different world.

Oh, and I don't drink coffee, but I absolutely would not have refused that cup of espresso. I was prepared to grit my teeth and get it over with, but it wasn't half bad. Not that I intend to be a coffee drinker. That was my first drink of coffee in 49 years and I don't intend to make it a regular event.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Troubling statements . . .

. . . from the head shed.

At least based on Woodward's book.

When Woodward dissected the Bush administration, all the dem tongues were wagging "I told you so." Now, the he provides an insight into Barry O's playpen, and, as they say, "It ain't pretty."

Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”

The context of that statement should infuriate every soldier, sailor and Marine in the fight - not to mention the families of those who have given their last full measure. Their CinC puts more priority on keeping his party in line and in power than success in the theater. No more need be said.

The president concluded from the start that “I have two years with the public on this” and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says.

While in the Senate, Barry wanted nothing less than full withdrawal. He even wanted to withhold funding. Now, he is strategizing on how to stay in power. He is more concerned with his party's idealogy than a successful end to the war.

Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.

Having grown up in Illinois, this does not surprise me. It is simply Chicago politics writ large. It's also illustrative of the fact that Barry does not have the executive experience and ability for the job.

"The (Afghan military strategy) document - a copy of which is reprinted in the book - took the unusual step of stating, along with the strategy's objectives, what the military was not supposed to do."

Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam redux. I don't like what my professional military is telling me, so I will write my own rules of engagement.

Of cours, as CinC, that is his perogative. However, like any chief executive, he should be focusing on overall strategy and relying on his operations folks to execute that strategy.

My hope now is that the Republican party does not shoot itself in the foot by proffering non-electable wingnuts.

They have already started . . .

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How to . . .

. . . Balance the budget

The U. S. Budget, that is.

Coffman Introduces Federal Furlough Bill to Save Taxpayers $5.5 Billion

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) this week introduced a bill that would subject federal civilian employees to a two week furlough in 2011. The bill, H.R. 6134, is a one year measure to reduce federal spending and combat the unsustainable deficit spending in Washington.

"I would like to make the U.S. government as cost conscious as the states. My legislation is a start.”

Thank you, Mr. Coffman. You have just confirmed that high altitude kills brain cells, and that your occupancy of an office in the (formerly) hallowed halls of congress is simply a waste of federal administrative space.

Allow me to offer an analogy:

Children, I am sorry to inform you that I have blown my entire paycheck on drink and fast women. We have almost no money for food or fuel, so, Muffy and Billy, you will have to spend two days of each week living elsewhere.

Coffman, let me remind you that this mess was NOT made by the taxpayers. It was made by YOU and your cohorts in congress and the White House. You and your gang of idiots on both sides of the aisle have squandered the wealth and reputation of the United States by paying attention to your ideology instead of your constituency and common sense.

So, instead of bailouts, pork projects, federal give-aways and 2,000 page laws that no one reads or understands, go back to minding the checkbook. Spend our money like it was coming out of your hide. Combat that unsustainable spending by making logical, financially responsible decisions.

Small wonder that the populace is ripe to toss the incumbents’ collective arses into the gutter.

Disclaimer: I am a government employee, AND a taxpayer. I am competent and successful at my job. I can afford the two weeks furlough. That is not the point. Rather it is the pure comedy of the “solutions” these clowns offer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hallelujah . . .

Brennig mentioned Georgia Garrett, a 16-year-old vocalist from Essex (and competitor on the forthcoming series of Britain’s Got Talent), so I went looking for some of her music on YouTube. She does have a terrific voice for her age. I particularly liked her rendition of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

After listening to Garret's version, I looked around for more, and found this amazing cover by K. D. Lang. Lang started as a country singer, but has amazing versatility and a golden set of pipes.

Listen, if you have a moment.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dental . . .

. . . nonsense

I have a loose crown on #4 (upper right pre-molar), so I went to the dental clinic in our very nice, new Navy hospital. Of course, I couldn't make an appointment, so I had to go to sick call.

I had gone to sick call last week, and filled out all the paperwork. However, I had to leave because there was no dentist available for my problem. Since I didn't actually see a dentist, they shredded my paperwork, and I had to do that all over again.

After an hour's wait, I was ushered in for X-ray, and had a very thorough exam by a very qualified dentist. The clinic has all the latest equipment, including a direct-to-computer X-ray machine. I stood in a framework, a scanner made a half-loop of my head, and the X-rays showed up on the computer screen.

At this point, I'm pretty confident - then, the results . . .

Dental Tech: Since the crown is loose, we cannot fix it, because that procedure is only allowed for uniformed service members. However, if the crown were detached, we could re-cement it, but cannot do any other remediation. (Flashback to Catch-22).

So, I go to the front desk for a reference and referral.

Desk Clerk: You will need to see an Italian dentist.
Me: Can you recommend one?
Desk Clerk: We have a list, but we cannot ethically make recommendations.
Me: OK, then could I have a copy of my exam and the X-rays?
Desk Clerk: We can't give you a copy of the X-rays. The equipment is new, the only people who can repair it are from the U.S., and it has been down for about 8 weeks.
Me: Any idea when a repair is scheduled?
Desk Clerk: No clue.

Government at its finest . . .

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stars and Stripes . . .

. . . over Naples

When in the states, I fly the flag year-around. While in Italy, we are advised not to, because it advertises us as stranieri (foreigners) to the local low-life crooks. However, today is one of the exceptions, and the low-lifes be damned.

Posted at 0845 EST, 11 SEP 2010)

We're still here
and you're in a cave in Wherethefuckistan

Karma sucks, doesn't it?

Monday, September 06, 2010

Since we have this monster yard . . .

. . . I bought this monster mower.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Oops . . .

. . . misquote!

Barry O had a makeover of the oval office. I'm not thrilled with the beige-y colors, but I don't work there.

Someone gave more thought to the colors than the quotes, however. The quote attributed to Martin Luther King was used often by King, but the original staetement was made by Theodore Parker, a 19th century Unitarian minister and abolitionist.

Parker said: "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

I'm guessing that the rug was designed by the same person who drafted our new National Socialist Helth Plan.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Renters' insurance in Naples . .

. . . sucks swamp water.

It apparently isn't worth a plugged nickel. That's probably because there is more burglary in Naples than anywhere else in Italy. Here's how it works.

You prepare an inventory and submit it to the agent. The inventory requires exact descriptions, down to the model and serial number of televisions, computers and other valuable items. Then, the agent sets a rate. The rate for approximately $30,000 in coverage is about $400 per year.

Here's the catch. They don't pay off. If the entire contents of your house were taken or destroyed, you might hope to collect 10-15% of the underwritten value. That's because they require invoices for everything you own, then depreciate it for use. There apparently is no "full replacement value" policy available in this area.

If you don't have invoices, they make determinations like - "Well, maybe it was a gift, and didn't cost you anything." As if that was relevant. Do you have invoices for everything you own?

No, I haven't had a loss or a burglary. I'm just covering all the bases.

I have found that this is a typical way of doing business in Naples. No one is willing to take responsibility for anything.

If someone rams the rear of the car, and you don't have photos and witnesses, the other driver will show up with ten "witnesses" that will swear on the Madonna that you backed into him.

Not that all this really makes a difference to me. Forewarned and forearmed. Once I know the rules of the game, I can play.