Education “system”

I’m still in Bangkok, so devoid of travel stories I am ranting on whatever I feel like. A few hours ago it was hip hop, but now onto more serious subjects.

I often read news stories from the early 1900’s and earlier and think to myself, wow, these people sound much, much more educated than people today… I never quite knew how to explain it. I’d pass it off as just being a coincidence that all of the people interviewed in the articles just happened to be in the upper echelon of intelligence.

However, I just received an email which outlines an eighth grade school exam from 1895 and it has made me realize what is going on.

Whether you realize it or not, the BIGGEST problem on earth is not terrorism, or climate change or whatever else you may think. It is government. Nations. The slaveholders of today.

Anything within which they have a monopoly is a disaster. Ask anyone around the world what their main problems are… terrorism? caused by governments. War? Guess who. Traffic jams? Streets are operated by governments. Crime? The police is a state monopoly. Taxes? That one is too easy.

Education? That word in itself is an oxymoron in today’s “modern” age. State run education has evolved into a race to dumb down the population as fast as possible. Why? Because the stupider we are, the less chance we will figure out that we are slaves to the nation (and the banks that control them… note: banks wouldn’t be bad in themselves if it weren’t for their ability to control government… take away government and banks are fine).

Want proof? Try to answer a few of these questions from an 8th grade exam more than 100 years ago. Now, most of the people who read my blog are highly intelligent.. so don’t be surprised if you can answer quite a few of them… but ask yourself, could all the people you interact with on a daily basis come close to even scoring higher than 15% on this exam?

DO NOT VOTE. FIGHT GOVERNMENT. F**K THE POLICE. LIBERTARIANISM IS THE ANSWER.

—-

1895 Eighth Grade Final Exam

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , KS , USA It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , KS , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no Modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb. Give Principal Parts of. lie,
lay and run
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft deep, 10 feet long! , and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1050lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per meter?
8 Find bank discount on $300 for! 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U. S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U. S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus .
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States 5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas .
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, sub vocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals ?
4. Give four substitutes for caret ‘u!’.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ‘e.’ Name two exceptions under each rule.
6 Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup 8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name thesign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America 5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena , Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall & Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Also notice that the exam took five hours to complete.

Gives the saying “she/he only had an 8th grade education” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

*final comment: notice how each of the questions requires a well thought out, written answer… compare this to today’s multiple choice, retardo check the box exams.

Hip Hop is Dead

Rap died in 1989. Want proof?

Here are the top 5 most identifiable moments when rap died:

1. Corky the retard from the 80s show “Life Goes On” raps Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power”

2. The 1989 episode of Teen Witch with their rendition of “I’m Hot”

3. Hitting close to home, here is the Jeff Steel Crew, with 1989s “Dig This Hype”

4. This happened in 2003, but it still qualifies. I was living in Santa Monica, CA, and was walking down the boardwalk when some young mulato teens approached a 60 year old white woman and asked, “Would you like to buy some hip hop?”, to which she replied, “Yes, I love the hip hop!”

5. This one’s too easy, Vanilla Ice’s, “Ice Ice Baby”

I still love Bangkok

Everyone, whether they realize it or not, has a place in the world where everything just fits for them… from the moment they arrive there, everything always goes perfectly… well, for me, it is unquestionably Thailand.

I can’t even fully explain it… but if I even spend a week or two in Camerica or Weurope my skin starts to look bad… I feel unwell… I start to look and feel old… I am always in a bad mood… there are always problems and nothing seems to work out well… But within days of arrival in Thailand, I look 10 years younger… I feel like a million bucks… and everything just seems to work like clockwork.

I have pretty much decided I will always partially reside in Thailand (or at least as long as this place remains my utopia)… likely spending approximately half the year in LatinAm and the other half in and around Thailand, with travel destinations such as Africa in between.

It appears my most recent stop in Thailand may be short-lived, however… a bit of a family emergency has popped up and I may have to leave on a moments notice to Canada. i will likely spend some time there and then go to the caribbean, Mexico and Panama through September and October.

In the meantime, here is one of the non-stop interesting moments in Thailand for your amusement:

-We went to Jane’s hometown as her mother is sick and in the hospital. While we were there, her father asked her something in Thai… something seemed to concern him… I asked her what’s wrong and she said he told her he is scared to go in the elevator by himself because he doesn’t know how it works. Jane gave him a 1-2 minute education on the elevator, with him asking questions like, “how do I open the door when it gets to the floor I want?” and “how do I know when I am at my floor?”. lol.

PICTURES

And finally, some pics… Take a look at the first two pics… the girl on the right is TOTALLY in love with Jane… she would do anything to be with Jane, but Jane doesn’t like her much… the funny part is, this is almost always how I see them when they are together… the girl on the right will always try to kiss Jane and Jane always winces and pushes her away… on a side note, nearly EVERY girl I know wants to kiss Jane… I don’t know what it is… girls just love her… well, guys too… but I’m amazed how many heterosexual girls go crazy over her. Anyway here are the pics:

The before pic of Jane and the girls
The after pic – WHEN GIRLS ATTACK!
Me being the usual virus with some other girls

Istanbul by foot

*note: this is a rather long entry, but well worth the entertainment factor… grab a cup of coffee or a snack and enjoy.

I have travelled into many towns, by many different means, but my arrival in Istanbul is noteworthy.

I was supposed to get picked up by my crazy friend in a taxi and drive with him and a friend to Istanbul, but somehow we didn’t connect, which left me sitting on the steps of my hotel wondering where I should go midafternoon.

I had already booked a hotel in Istanbul and was looking forward to it, plus I was dreading another night in the carnival like atmosphere of Sunny Beach, so I decided I must get to Istanbul, somehow, some way.

I tried looking for a bus, but almost every travel agent shop was closed for lunch, which apparently means from 12pm until 3 or 4pm in Bulgaria, and so I decided to find a taxi.

I found one, for $400 (which, when discounting that I had already booked a hotel for $150/night which was non-refundable, plus I’d have to book a new hotel in Sunny Beach, for approx $100… plus a bus would have cost me between $50-$100 anyway, so it made economical sense, plus personal happiness sense to pay $400 for a 5 hour taxi ride) and jumped in. The ride was longer than expected, and hotter than expected including the time it took for my taxi driver to find his passport and go to some office to get his ‘green card’ stamped.

The border crossing into Turkey 2 hours later was typical. At least 8 people (4 on the Bulgaria side, 4 on the Turkey side) must have looked at my passport… Each of them would look at it (barely) then tell us to go see someone else… they wouldn’t tell us exactly who and would vaguely point in a direction, after which we would have to meander around a huge bureaucratic maze, upon which we would regularly walk up to someone either playing solitaire on their Windows 98 computer, or eating their lunch, who wouldn’t even look us in the eye as they would point in another vague direction, passing us off to the next disgusting bureaucrat… this went on for about an hour, after which my views on government and the whores that work for them were yet again realized (on that note, here is another interesting article by a guy who I respect more the more I find out about him, Doug Casey on that topic: http://www.escapeartist.com/efam14/clearing_customs.html.

We ended up paying 50 euros for a visa (read: theft by government) and then had to pay another 50 euros to another guy (read: theft by government prostitute) and then we finally got through.

We got back into the taxi… his a/c wasn’t working well, and he didn’t have tinted windows, so after 2 more hours of the kind of driving where I would have to constantly point out to him that he was crossing the dividing line, or about to drive into the ditch, my jetlag started kicking in again, and I decided, if I am going to die in a taxi going to Turkey, so be it… not to mention, quite possibly, a fitting end!

I passed out in the back seat.

My taxi driver shook me awake some time later. I awoke in a puddle of my own sweat to him saying something like, “Istanbul. We here now�.

Before I had fallen asleep we were driving through beautiful, serene countryside… fresh air and blue sky the entire away. After clearing my eyes, my view was something that made me do a double take.

I didn’t know anything about Istanbul before I got there, but I was about to get a quick lesson. As I propped myself up and shook off the cobwebs, my senses were overwhelmed by a massive traffic jam, grass that had turned brown from pollution and the sounds of cars honking and street hawkers selling what appeared to be pretzels on a pole… it appeared to be a neverending sprawl of humanity, cars and haze.

My taxi driver told me that if he were to go through the toll booth ahead and actually drive into Istanbul, he would have to spend the next 6 hours trying to get out, which I understood completely given the view… he then drove around an exit and dropped me on the other side of the road, telling me I should cross back across the 30 lanes of 100mph+ traffic and enter Istanbul and find a taxi there to take me the rest of the way to a hotel.

I have seen crazy traffic before… I’ve waltzed through Bangkok traffic… I’ve easily traversed huge, chaotic traffic circles in Shenzhen, China, back before they had traffic lights… but maybe it was just because I was recently awoken and disoriented, this particular highway had me feeling like a 13 year old girl on her first date.

My taxi driver sensed my hesitation and stated, “don’t worry, just put your hand up, they will stop for you,� and then gave me a loving nudge forward.

I thought, “well, what other choice do I really have,� and decided to give it a shot. Oncoming traffic was coming at warp speeds, but I trusted my Bulgarian taxi driver and raised my hand, which, of course, had no effect.

I quickly entered into a life and death game of Turkish frogger and stumbled my way through… car mirrors were breaking off on my backpack and my hands and elbows bounced off a few buses, but after about a minute or two I had made it across, much to the amusement to the many men who were inexplicably just standing at the side of the road having a leisurely conversation with each other.

My next realization was that there were no taxis anywhere. The highway was lined with razor-wire fence, which made me wonder why… was that to keep people out, or in? I found a hole in the fence at one point and squeezed through, into what appeared to be some sort of barrio/slum.

Some kids were happily playing football amongst the dust and dirt while others were playing with garbage. From a distant tower, ear-bleeding muslem propaganda chanting was deafening, but these denizens had obviously grown used to the droning. Fittingly, as I looked up into the darkening sky, a crescent moon, exactly the shape of the flag of Turkey, glowed through the haze, making me reflect on the fact that as uncomfortable as the last few hours have been, I am definitely getting a taste for the true life of Turkey, which you would never get on any tourist excursion.

I spent at least an hour walking through a maze of ghetto streets and markets, to which I took note that, yet again, every time I see people in complete poverty they seem 100 times happier than anyone I know with money. And speaking of money, much like them, I was penniless at the moment… I thought back to my ATM withdrawal in Sunny Beach, and my thought that, “I better not take out more Bulgarian Lev than I need as I probably can’t exchange it in Turkey… and I am sure I’ll easily find an ATM there, so no need to exchange any money here into Turkish Lira or Euros� as being not one of my better speculations.

I had given every penny I had to the Bulgarian taxi driver, who actually ended up paying the extra 50 euros himself to pay off the Turkish government for me as I didn’t even have that… so as I walked through the streets, parched from my long drive in the intense heat, I looked with great envy at some of the kids eating watermelon… my throat was as dry as the Saharan desert and unhelped by the dust and pollution in the air. My tongue felt like sandpaper.

Finally I found a taxi, and then spent another hour making our way through sprawling Istanbul and finally found my hotel.

A shower and a bottle of water hadn’t felt that good in a long time!

And so ended my adventure getting to Istanbul and began my adventure in Istanbul.

The one thing I noticed very quickly here is that everyone seems very talkative. Everywhere I go, everyone is attempting to engage in conversations with me.

I have since realized that about half of them are trying to talk to me because they want something from me… either to sell me, or get from me, or get me to go somewhere. However, the other half just seem to be overtly friendly, curious, nice people.

Not being an overly talkative, outgoing person, it made me miss the anonymity of Asia… but yet, it was kind of nice to be engaged, on an almost constant basis, with all the residents of the city… this is definitely a unique place, I’ve never been anywhere like here.

I went out to a number of clubs in Istanbul… the Taksim Square/Beyoglu area is packed with hundreds of thousands of people… but it’s not really my style… think Granville Street in Vancouver… loud, seedy, obnoxious.

I then took off to the beautiful discos on the shore. Places named Reina and Sorte. The crowds there were opposite to the people in Taksim… everyone there was trying as hard as possible to look rich and glamorous.

I do have to say, that these discos were some of the coolest, nicest discos I have been to in terms of design and style. Overlooking the ocean, they were almost completely open air (my favorite!) with top of the line sound and lighting systems and a cool layout, with numerous restaurants actually encompassed in the facility, with numerous people still dining well after midnight and then blending into the disco itself. It even had a small dock right at the back of the disco, which gave me the idea that if I were to open my own disco, it would be amazing to have a dock connected to it where a few big yachts could tie up and become part of the disco for the night!

I then moved on to a few other places… everywhere I went someone was trying to rip me off. I ended up becoming friends with some sort of mobster guys and their girlfriends… they had initially tried to rip me off, but once I told them that I would kill them or die trying, they took a liking to my spunk and took me around… They drove me around to a few places for a bit and that is the last I remember…

I awoke at 5pm to the ringing of my phone… it was my Thai girlfriend. I miss Thailand so much.

I thought about it and figured that I had already done a weeks worth (if not more… a life’s worth maybe?) of things in Istanbul in only my first 8 hours… I then looked for the next flight out to Bangkok… there is a direct flight that leaves at 11pm on Turkish Air (only 4 hours from now)… I just booked it.

It’s time to go home.

Bulgarian it up

Living the semi-charmed life that I seem to do, I managed to get through customs, walk from the arrival terminal to the departure terminal, check in and get to the gate in Bratislava all within the 20 minute time window between flights to make my connection to Bulgaria.

I arrived in Bourgas, Bulgaria on Tuesday night and took the 30 minute taxi ride to Sunny Beach.

Sunny Beach was a very small little resort town only about 10 years ago, but since then, hundreds of hotels have been built and it has become a fairly major destination, with flights arriving from the UK, Finland and other colder climes during the summer.

The town is unlike any I have seen before… it is very eclectic. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was how Russian feeling it is here… their alphabet looks the same as russian and their language sounds russian to me, with their ‘da’ for yes and ‘nyet’ for no.

If you are looking for a nice, quaint, relaxed Black Sea holiday, do NOT go to Sunny Beach! Most of the people here are hooting and hollering, drunken Europeans… the clubs all stay open until morning and it appears to be just a 24 hour party place. But unlike a place like, say, Ibiza, it is a lot more college-crowd style… very downmarket… no one seems very cool… actually, 95% of people are irritatingly un-cool… and then you combine that with some of the local people such as the ubiquitous mafia guys and your random gypsy and this place has almost a low-brow, carnival like atmosphere…. very odd… but interesting to experience!

One of the more laughable moments were when a friend and I ordered two shots of tequila… we drank it, then we looked at each other, perplexed, and my friend says, “was that tequila?”… we asked to look at the bottle, and it was called something like “Mexican Express” and then it said, “Tequila Flavored Mixed Drink”… super!

I hooked up with a friend here who I have never met in real life but we met through another friend through email and had always stayed in touch because we have similar interests… this guy was the most interesting part of my trip! He may be the craziest person I know, and that is saying a lot! The entire 3 days I saw him here, he was never without a beer in his hand… he got into a fight with some bouncers at one bar (my buddy is a big guy too, which made that all the more interesting)… I got used to finding him in a club by following the trail of people who looked shocked and stunned as he would accost almost anyone who came in his path. In his defence, not that there was anything wrong with the way he acted, he is headed to Iraq on a contract next week for 3 months and he is trying to enjoy every minute now because he doesn’t know when or if he’ll get that chance again!

So, what would have been an otherwise fairly boring stay in Sunny Beach was definitely full of interesting times and some good stories!

Him and I are going to take a taxi to Istanbul, Turkey today… it’s a bit of a long story why, but the taxi appears to be our best option to get to Istanbul from here in a reasonably economic and quick way…

I am looking forward to Istanbul… it sounds like it may be more my style, from what I’ve heard. Actually, now that I think about it, any ‘vacation/resort’ place I visit, I usually don’t like too much… something about the crowd… I prefer a bit more upscale, cooler crowd that you find in larger cities than the usually sunburned, drunken revellers you find in towns like Sunny Beach (Boracay and resorts in Thailand maybe being the only exceptions I can think to this rule).

But all in all, whether it be Amsterdam, or Croatia, or Bulgaria, Europe has once again been very underwhelming. I don’t know why I keep trying… I guess I am the kind of person who has to go see everything for myself before I give up on something… I hear that the baltics are supposed to be very interesting, but I look at the map and I am only 9 hours flight from Bangkok when I am in Istanbul… that is verrry verrrrrry tempting… I don’t know why, but Bangkok makes me feel so happy… it just has everything I like… I think I am getting homesick, for Bangkok, again… I may just end up back there in the next few days…

However, I will likely go back there and rest up for a month or two (and maybe even get a place in Phuket so I can do some surfing and golfing and get back into shape) and then I think I’ll go back through Camerica on my way to Mexico, the caribbean and possibly Panama and South America by October-ish.

It is still basically my intention to try to get a small place somewhere in either the caribbean or latin america somewhere and to spend half my time in asia and half in latin america…

Now that the global real estate market is in complete collapse I’ll likely spend the next year or so scouting out some cheap spots.

Time to Split… off to Bulgaria

Well, it’s time to Split… I am at the airport in Split, on my way to Bratislava. Upon arrival in Bratislava I have another flight booked to Bourgas (Sunny Beach), Bulgaria.

But the flight is only 20 minutes after my scheduled arrival, so I am not sure if I am going to make that flight or not. If not, I may just look for the next flight out to a sunny, Black Sea destination and head there.

In the meantime, here are my final thoughts on Split and Croatia.

Croatia is an interesting place. I am sad I could not visit some of the neighboring areas around here too on this leg, such as Serbia, Albania, Slovenia etc… They all seem to be recovering quite well from the fall of Yugoslavia and subsequent wars and it seems like a time of renewal here.

Everything is relatively new and modern (likely due to the fact that a lot of stuff in the 90’s was burned to the ground). The people seem fairly nice… and they know how to have fun. I was in a small town called Zadar for the first few days… the population there is a few hundred thousand, yet it had night clubs that held thousands of people, and they were packed. The nightlife vibe was pretty good there.

I then went about 150 kilometers south to Split where I stayed at Le Meridian Hotel, not out of choice but because it was the only hotel in the whole city that had rooms… The hotel was very nice, right on the water, with excellent gym and pool facilities and is modern and nice and new… however, I don’t know if it was just my room or not, but I had the kind of room that has a door (locked) connecting to another room… well, the door must have been made out of paper or something, I heard every snore, grunt and even breath the two guys next door were doing… after 4 nights of that I felt like I had an intimate relationship with them… I’m not what the one guys deal was, but every night he would wake up at 4 and start grunting and sometimes even yelling… SUPER!

The main nightlife area in Split is called Bacvice, which has entire complex of clubs and discos… it is not too bad there. There is also a place a bit further away called Vanilla that was just packed both time I went… they also have a club there called Tres Toros which is a huge afterhours… as per Zadar, Croatians really enjoy nightlife, bigtime!

The only thing that wasn’t so great was that the girls there weren’t that open to quickly getting to know a new guy… they seemed almost shocked if I suggested we go to my hotel or something… although 3 cute girls drove me around one night to show me around…

So, that being the case, I heard about this Sunny Beach place on the Black Sea in Bulgaria and decided to make a run for it… especially because I dreaded another night getting cozy with my neighbors… considering I was paying $300 USD per night it would have been nice not to feel like I was living in a hostel!

Nonetheless, Croatia was enjoyable… if you are looking for a European vacation in the summertime, definitely consider it… it’s nowhere near as hot and humid as places like Italy and way more laid back with fairly reasonable prices (except for taxis, which were almost ludicrously expensive… definitely worth it there to rent a car if you need to get around). Although it is starting to get a lot more expensive than it used to be (from what I hear) as a lot of people seem to be discovering it now.

I’ll update you soon on where I end up today.

*note: i did make it to Bulgaria… update from Sunny Beach soon

A-Dam Final Thoughts / Croatia

Although the nightlife in Amsterdam leaves a lot to be desired, I have to give the city credit in the ‘interesting’ category.

For starters, the canals, which the city is riddled with, are very neat. They really give the city character…. Even moreso, however, are the floating vehicles which populate the canals. Whether it be bicycles or boats, it is quite clear, that Amsterdamians do not subscribe to the bling lifestyle… in other words, no one feels the need to buy or own show-off style modes of transportation… in fact, it almost seems the opposite. In A-Dam, the older and crappier the boat or bicycle you have, the better, it seems.

Most of the boats which revelers seem to be floating along the canals wouldn’t pass any sort of safety exam, much less beauty contest… 9 out of every 10 boats are multi-decade old contraptions which surprisingly float, if anything… and bicycles are much the same. Most bicycles in the city are decades old… I was fortunate to have a friend who had recently moved to the city meet me… she had actually owned a relatively new bicycle at first, but it was quickly stolen, which is probably the biggest reason why everyone, and I mean everyone, rides soviet-era museum piece two-wheelers.

It was cool to live like a local for one-night… I met my friend for dinner and then I doubled her on her bike to a café where we bought a marijuana joint and enjoyed a few puffs…. Then we proceeded to bar-crawl on the bike… the bicycle itself was almost un-ride-able… it felt as though the tires were square… instead of gliding along it felt like I was pushing the bike through wet cement…. But it was neat nonetheless…. As the great majority of denizens of the city also employ similar modes of transport.

In the end, however, the lifestyle of this region does not suit my personality… if I had to pick a European style that most fits me, I’d say the Spanish style, with their late evening dinners and laid back attitude is more my style. The Netherlands lifestyle of pancakes, no-sun (ie. pasty), coffee shop sitting, straight laced (most Netherlanders don’t partake in things such as marijuana, despite its legality… the average person there is very low-key… the great majority of people in weed-cafes are tourists) veirdness is definitely not natural for me… but it was interesting to see.

Other than that, I don’t have much to say on the city… it seems to attract a plethora of hippy/skater looking lowlifes who seem to think its free lifestyle is the cats meow… which makes for quite an eclectic vibe…. But I had numerous people be very rude to me, from a girl on her bicycle who informed me to, “get the f*** out of the way’, even though I was on the sidewalk and not greatly impeding her progress, to the McDonalds staffmember who greeted me with a, “wuddya want� and a scowl… as usual, it left me yearning for Asia, where it is quite the opposite.

But, as I said, it was an experience, and for that reason, I am glad I went.

CROATIA

I knew nothing about Croatia, other than hearing good things about it from a number of people, prior to my arrival. As background, Croatia, and all the neighboring states in the region (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Herzgovena, Albania etc) were all part of what was called Yugoslavia from 1918-1991… From 1991-2001 there was a terrible civil war in which each ethnic group tried to cleanse each other… it is very interesting to see how in most towns in Croatia, half of the homes are destroyed (via fire mostly, from molotov cocktail type devices) where, up until just a few years ago, people like Croatians would attack and kill Serbs in their homes.

That ugly period has passed and you would have thought it was a century ago, for it seems eminently peaceful and calm today.

Croatia is proof that even if humans make the worst of things, new life springs eternal… much of Croatia is modern, polished and new, thanks to the manual destruction of much of its material property over the last few decades… the nightlife is massively vibrant, with towns such as Zadar, with a population of a few hundred thousand having nightclubs that play host to 5,000+.

The girls, in general, are beautiful. The lifestyle is laid back and enjoyable. Of all the places I have been in Europe, East or West, Croatia is definitely one of the most livable countries, for my taste.

The weather in summer is great, but in the winter it gets very chilly here, which takes it off my list of possible semi-settling-down locations… but if my first few days are any indication, I would have no problem visiting this region every summer.

I have only been here for 3 days so far, all spent in a town about 1.5 hours north of Split, called Zadar, because I had a friend who lives here. Today I am going to go to Split for a few days… after that I am not sure, maybe Bulgaria… but I am sure I will have more comments on Croatia before I am done.

The only place worse…

Many of you, by now, have read my rant on Camerica. Well, after my 3rd or 4th unsuccessful trip into Western Europe, I have to admit that the ONLY place worse, in the world, than Camerica, is Western Europe.

Camerica and Western Europe are very different on the face of things… there are things about W. Europe I like, such as how so many people in Amsterdam all ride bicycles, which I consider to be much more at one with the energy of the planet than are automobiles.

HOWEVER, the nightlife here in Amsterdam is beyond horrific.

Again, in some ways, it is cool… it was especially nice to roll into almost any cafe and be able to order marijuana… the drug which is the least harmful and least addictive of any drug, including tobacco, caffeine and alcohol.

However, that was not enough to outweigh the fact that there were about 10 guys to every girl here… and every disco was terrible….

After spending 7 or 8 hours in this city, I never saw one attractive person.. the canals are cool.. being close to water is very wholesome, but it still wasn’t enough to cancel out the ultra-negative vibes here.

The over-regulation here is beyond suppressive… there are laws on top of laws… there is a government mandated point system in order to rent an apartment… certain people fit into certain ranges and thereby qualifies them for certain specific rents… the whole system is unbelievable…

And I tried to catch a cab 3 times, and each time a policeman pulled up and instructed the cab driver to eject me, because I had not hailed the cab in a properly designated area… Each time I got out and told the police exactly what I thought of their police state, even ending up in pushing matches a few times… sigh. As pathetic as they were, they still got their way…

The end result is that I had booked in Amsterdam for 3 nights but am now looking for flights out tomorrow (Sunday).

One of my inspirations, Doug Casey, says that W. Europe is essentially a petting zoo which will likely be the supplier of houseboys and gardeners to Asians over the coming decades… as usual, he is probably right.

I am looking for flights to Eastern Europe as I write this and hope to be there tomorrow… as for W. Europe… thanks but no thanks! Once again I have attempted and yet again, I have declined!

I just hope not many people read my blog and figure out how good Asia and Latin Am are and end up ruining those places too… so keep it quiet!

Retirement Tour

I have decided that, with summer waning, this is my last chance for the next year to see some parts of Eastern Europe and Scandinavia… I also feel like it is time I retired after that. Not in any meaningful sense, but in terms of being a complete nomad who lives a crazy life.

So, this will likely be my farewell tour before I ratchet it down and become semi-stable (likely in Thailand and either Mexico/Dominican Republic or Argentina). At that point I will take the odd fun trip, but nothing like I am doing now.

Here is the pseudo plan:

Aug 3 Amsterdam
Aug 6 Zadar and Split, Croatia
Aug 13 Sofia and Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
Aug 18 Vilnius, Lithuania
Aug 23 Riga, Latvia
Aug 28 Talinn, Estonia
Sept 2 Helsinki, Finland
Sept 7 Oslo, Norway
Sept 11 Copenhagen, Denmark
Sept 15 Brussels, Belgium

After that I’ll likely make my way back through Canada to Mexico, the Caribbean and South America for a month or two. At least that’s the plan.

I’m pretty sure on most of this plan (as opposed to past plans) though… I have already booked for Amsterdam and Croatia.