Joe Biden

January 31, 2007

Joe Biden is running for president. I’m sure he’s not perfect but he’s the guy who has my vote so far. I watched him on Realtime with Bill Maher awhile back and liked how he said what he said. I can’t believe we are 21 months from the election and I have even said who I so far am voting for. What’s happened to me?

Probably the most amazing commentary on where American potential lies:

Joe Biden, on the day that he has announced his intention to run for President, he will be appearing on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Now just think about that for a second. Where our society is, the guy who is running for president is going to go on a news satire show that has a very specific demographic (hello, online petition dude!) that could become politically active in the next year and a half. I just want to say again that this is a time in America where great people will emerge from this experience as part of the new America that has sort of shed a certain reverence for all that is decent, not necessarily in the Stewart/Stern kind of way, but not to be as blinded by relative comforts while great injustices happen in the name of our country every single day. I almost feel guilty about enjoying how great my life is here. I want the soldiers out of there, and what I’m talking about is still having a force in Kuwait to active as reminder. We need to actually accept that our country in many ways is hitting one of the lowest points of its history and this where the heroes escape, showing us to the light again because it propels us upward, always yearning, always hoping always dreaming, praying. But in a nondenominational kind of way. We need to understand the impact that our large footprints can leave around the world and perhaps think about spending more for some things if it means we don’t have to send extra aircraft carriers to the Persian gulf, ya know?

Anyway, watch or TIVO Daily show tonight!


Ryan Adams Rapping

January 31, 2007

Unbelievable. The dude has like an eight-minute rap on the main page of his website. It’s hard to describe, but he did just shout out, “one and a half stars, oh shit, my record went balsa wood in India or some other country I don’t know”, with the rap beat behind him and the metallic monster background vocals of “go to motherfucka”. No exclamation point there, I’ll let that one sit there.

It feels good to be home. 10:49pm. My train from a town twenty minutes away was about 10 minutes late and I missed my normal tram. Another would come in 15 minutes. Should I walk down to the pub for one and catch a later tram? Nah. I had left the house at 7:25am, not the earliest time to be leaving the house for work but at least a time that couldn’t be sniffed at. I huffed it with beanie and gloves, took a tram for 5 minutes and then walked 30 seconds and connected to another tram for one stop. I didn’t have to take that tram but when the timing works out, it saves me a couple of minutes of walking. Then made some photocopies at the company while two interns were making colored photocopies of things like mugs and can openers that they then taped into the small kitchen they have on the 4th floor, really just a fridge, a sink, a large, out of date calendar, a dishwasher and one very important fresh coffeemaker. I had to admit, I have been going to that building for the past 3.5 years and never once really (a birthday or tailend of something might be on the list but…) seen some chirpiness, especially at such an early hour and it was somehow refreshing. I also had a second cup of coffee before my class started at 8am.

There are 4 people in the class: two women and two men. The women are about 50 and 40 and can’t improve their passable English to save their lives. I gave them a kickass handout I got from a buddy that is basically two columns going down a page. The two columns, from left to right are: I said AND I should have said. They didn’t use it the entire class after I had prompted them a few times that this would help them stop making the same inane mistakes over and over. The two guys are about 60 and 37 and while they’re not much better, they definitely are because the older one is a travelling maddog, not doing the kind of travelling I like to do but the dude in the past 3 years has definitely been to Thailand area 4-5 times, South America 2 times, Australia and the other guy has two young children but they try. They try and to be honest, what more can you really ask of someone? So I just sort of encourage them as best as possible and thank them for continually allowing me to end the class 15 minutes early so I can get to my next class 50 meters back up at the corner where the trams go.

It’s a nice building with an amazing interior and there I (normally but not today because they were busy) have 4 students, all male lawyers between 42 and 27, two partners and two associates. Their English is excellent and we discuss a wide range of topics with them supporting their beliefs quite well in English but me always having a sense of the upper hand because it’s my language. It’s a joy to spend with those guys, and they always have free coffee and I usually open up one of the little orange juice bottles they have in the small conference rooms. The fourth of them probably earn a combined 700euro (900bucks!) an hour between ’em. And I like them. And they have an interesting relationship to my work permit problems because one of the associates had helped spoof up my letter to the foreign authorities back in May of last year. But since they weren’t specialists in that type of law, they weren’t going to stick their necks out about it. Fair enough, no problem.

Then I walked 10 minutes through the main gate at the entry of the old town and turned right in the direct center of town and then bought a Danish-type thing (Nussschnecke) and about 60 more steps brought me to the next class, a group of about 15 students in their early twenties at a “Kultur Management” university where I teach American history.

Today they learned about the following:
*Charles Lindbergh – his flying across the Atlantic to Paris in 1927 was the probably the largest event of the 1920s
*Herbert Hoover – I gave him a good rendition, making sure that they had an idea of just how amazing Herbert Hoover’s life really was, organizing post WWI emergency supply logistics and earning millions in mining, helping to keep a revolution in China to overtake the town he and his wife were in, sending a simple telegram that said “safe.” after the siege was over. It’s just his inability to see that the government wouldn’t recover from the Great Depression that history has decided to paint him as the fall guy for an event largely precipitated by the old fat white rich guys propping up stocks to make a shitload of money and then selling them to idjits.
*FDR and the New Deal, stressing importance of the alphabet agencies (google them)

I went home after that and had lunch with my girlfriend and roommate, fishsticks, some fried veggies and some french fries from the oven. Then I chilled hardcore, youtubing for a couple of hours, reading the New York Times and Washington Post, and read more of Joe Wilson’s autobiography, also known as Mr. Valerie Plame, the woman who was outed as a CIA agent by Bush administration officials in retaliation for Wilson’s NY Times op-ed article in July 2003 that said we were perhaps deceived by our leaders about why we went to war in Iraq, most definitely the largest mistake the United States has probably made since I was born. That would be 32 years for those still alive and counting.

I got dressed again, took a train to that aforementioned place 20 minutes away and taught two business english classes. In the first class we learned how to take effective phone messages and also a small quiz about business small talk. The second we learned about innovation and vocabulary like: pioneer, prototype, entrepreneuer, things like that. I’m meeting both classes in a pub for our last class next week, really looking forward to it. It’s almost always really enjoyable to meet with one’s students in a public place and reassociate your thoughts about your environment and who you’re with.

So now I’m home. Assiyeah is reading John Dos Passos’ “Manhattan Transfer” for a class. It’s like a 1920’s harlem “Great Gatsby” poorly described. Always aksing me bout words that no one ain’t said since who knows whence, ya know?

So now I’m listening to Ryan Adams online, not the rap but some straight up country: I miss all those girls at the bar all loaded like freights, he just sang. One shot, one beer, and a kiss before I go.

So now I am.


me and Assiyeah going to Getty Museum

January 30, 2007

A sunset just before New Year’s

January 30, 2007

What is your bank account number?

January 30, 2007

Seriously, the weather shouldn’t be so good. It’s about 50 degrees and sunny, I went for a run earlier this afternoon because one of my classes got cancelled. I have another 2.5 hours off before taking a tram just before 7pm. I have a class from 7.30-9pm that I prefer not to teach but it’s nothing personal, it’s just that once you are home for a few hours, it’s hard to get motivated to go out again, even if the weather is nice!

I just put in a Curtis Mayfield song while typing this entry. Thanks to for giving me Daily Show segments a day or two after they play. They’re definitely going to be taking my time away from youtube but that’s probably pretty good. What have I gotten done on my list of stuff to do today:

2)research on Bratislava hotel
3)research on train times to Berlin
4)confirmed my classes for Berufs Akademie starting in two weeks

I’m pooped. I haven’t been sleeping enough lately for a variety of reasons. I have either been going to bed too late, or having to pee in the middle of the night like an old man (at 32, am I?), or getting up too early. Saturday night got a little out of hand but it was fantastic, we had a blast and it was cool too because we spoke German the whole night pretty much.

Yesterday I had the day off and I wasted the hell out of it, it was great! I watched a movie called “Jarhead” about a day in the life of a Marine during the Gulf War, watched some My Name is Earl, got some new headphones and dropped off some film for Assiyeah. Last night we had schnitzel for dinner and it was tasty but I really do need to think about what I’m eating and when I’m eating it. It’s easy to want to eat something at midnight or later after going out all night but it’s definitely not best for the waistline, ya know what I’m saying? Especially after buying 5 new pairs of pants when I was home, hahah but things are okay. I’m going to try and get a workout or two and one more run in this week. Unfortunately I have to work on Saturday but it’s a private lesson for 3 hours and it’s definitely worth 130 bucks so I’ll not go out too much on Friday so I can have a semblance of professionalism.

Speaking of Friday, one of the most important days since I’ve lived in Germany. I am going with an acquaintance of mine to the German Social Security to officially make them aware of me and also to beging our negotiation to try and get me out of a backpayment. God, not having to pay back 4-12,000 euro will be like the best feeling ever, that’s what this struggle has done to me, after 10 months, that just not having to pay all of my money into a bad investment is a great feeling, oy vey! We’ll see, one very likely scenario is that they take my tax return for last year, which I believe says 10,500 euro earned after write offs and all that jazz and make me pay 20% of that every month starting this month. That would make it: 2100euro/year and when you divide that by 12, you get 175euro/month. I would not be happy at all about having to pay that for many reasons, namely because it’s more than my current rent but mostly because I don’t think I should have to because I have my own private IRA in the States. We are going to negotiate down to 79.50euro/month which is the voluntary payment and it’s funny but 80euro a month for the rest of my life here so that I never have to talk to the Auslaenderbehoerde or the Regierungspraesidium or the German Social Security and I might actually get payments of 50euro/month when I’m 70 make it totally worth it. If I had to hear any bad news…Please say: Mr. Brown, I’m sorry but you have to pay something and so let’s make it the lowest amount but you’ll be done with us forever. And I will say, what is your bank account number?

I’ll keep ya updated…

A rally? A 10-km walk?

January 28, 2007

What should I do next semester with students in my classes? A peace rally, or make a 10-km walk fundraiser for my buddy’s charity in San Diego? We have many possibilities, how can I get people to do great things?

German American idol

January 27, 2007

It’s super cold, gray, lightly snowing, watching the German version of American idol, slippers on, chillin, going to the Irish Pub, tomorrow I’m going to correct tests, prepare an invoice, finish making another test, maybe go for a run, depending on the weather of course. It may not appear that not much is going on but trust me, it is swirling around me.

There’s a scandal in a conservative German political party. The head of their party is going to step down, after running Bavaria like a prince’s kingdom. There are two dudes who are vying for that guy’s job. Well yesterday, there was an article about one of them who is apparently having an affair with a lawyer in his office and she’s pregnant. And the whole time this politician has played himself as a “family man”. You see, Germany is just like American, somehow!