June Gloom

It’s June,
So one would assume,
The weather would be pleasant,
And warmer still than clement May.
But then Ms. Gloom comes to stay.
Always with her clouds and rain,
And you sigh and mutter, not again.
No point in moaning or in asking why.
Just wait inside the house till warm July.

Pray on, Everyone.

Pray on, everyone.
As they prey on everyone.
Ask God to make it all okay,
While they’re ripping their own flesh away.
Because God had told them what to do.
The very same God you’re praying to,
To ask for comfort and help from Him.
Should He listen to you or to them?

Are you not entertained: Donald Trump’s Greatest Hits

That everything Donald Trump said during his election campaign was lies, empty campaign promises and spin, certainly comes as no surprise to the two-thirds of Americans and about 99% of non-Americans who woke up on the ninth of November to the horrifying news that a grossly under-qualified, emotionally unstable, ridiculously quaffed man-baby had just been elected President of the United States. Whether or not the Russians had anything to do with it is currently being investigated, but that’s not what I’m concerned about at the moment.

Most people understand that about 95% of what politicians say on the stump is complete bullshit, and he sure shoveled a lot of it during his concert tour of a campaign. Donald Trump knew nothing then about being president, and he shows absolutely no inclination for learning the nuances of the job now. His last job was in the entertainment industry, and we the people so love to be entertained. We love to be deceived under the right circumstances. Election campaign theater is always popular because we know we are being shown what we want to see and being told what we want to hear in big beautiful grandiose lies, the more outrageous, the better.

And there were some doozies. “The system is totally rigged” was on the charts for several months, although it didn’t do as well as the break out single from the album of the same name, “Make America Great Again.” And of course we all remember the old crowd favorite, “LOCK HER UP!” chanted enthusiastically at rallies. After a series of scandals and gaffes, during which the song “Grab ‘Em By the Pussy” landed him in hot water with fans, he released the number one hit single, “Drain the Swamp” and his popularity soared once again.

And then when it was all over, and still flush from victory, Trump continued to hold rallies. Being president was harder than he thought, but he was good at stirring up the crowd, so why not just keep right on campaigning? When it was rightly pointed out to him that, in fact, he had won, he clarified that these rallies were for his reelection campaign.

In 2020.

If Donald Trump had his way his entire presidency would be one long endless campaign. He’d delegate the being president stuff to other people, while he would hold rally after rally, in city after city, feeling the heat from the lights on his fake bronzed skin, his ego swelling from the roar of the crowd. That’s how he would Make America Great Again. By gracing the country with himself. And his adoring fans would eat it up. They wouldn’t care, and they do not care, that every word coming out of his bleached anus mouth is a lie. He actually told them, to their collective faces, that his greatest hits were nothing more than campaign rhetoric. That he didn’t seriously mean that he would lock up Hillary Clinton. He didn’t even like the phrase, “Drain the Swamp” until the crowd went wild the first time he said it. He used to repeat often how unfair and rigged the system was. Now he doesn’t mind because he won.

Donald Trump once said that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and he wouldn’t lose any support. He meant it, and it’s true. He told a stadium full of people at a victory rally that he didn’t mean a word of what he said. He told it to them in a totally dismissive way, like he doesn’t give a shit what they think. And his adoring fans were not only okay with that, they seemed inexplicably to love him even more because of it.

After all, he’s the Donald. He’s their guy. They know he’s a scumbag, but they don’t care. He’s their scumbag.

Fearless Girl…

…and the fearful male.

An instigator decided he didn’t like Fearless Girl disrupting the integrity of Charging Bull. In response, he slapped together an intentionally poorly designed dog to urinate on her leg, installing her last night.

Alex Gardega insists he’s a feminist. He says he’s simply incensed by the marketing ploy by State Street and feels Fearless Girl doesn’t belong. Ergo, he’s protesting. Protesting by having a dog urinate on a child’s leg. A female child, at that.

Let’s say Gardega is genuinely enraged by the disruption of Charging Bull. Is it remotely appropriate to have a dog urinate on the leg of a child, even in statue form?

Additionally, even if Gardega is a “feminist” (which I doubt) how is it not blisteringly obvious that misogyny isn’t alive and well in 2017? That someone would think it’s wholly appropriate to urinate on a woman, without consent. To shame a woman in public. To degrade a woman “in the name of art.” We are not your tools, men.

On Twitter, someone suggested placing Fearless Girl elsewhere. And, you know what? I agree. She needs to be moved. She needs to face the White House until our society recognizes and accepts that a woman can effectively govern this country.

Lastly, sponsored/commissioned art has been going on for centuries. Stop making State Street the problem in this scenario. The statue is brilliant. It stands on its own and conveys a message. Making it about its sponsor dilutes the message. That said, I’m thinking a dilution of the message might be the intended consequence given how intimidated many are by women in positions of power, especially women of color.

The more vehement the protest about Fearless Girl, the more obvious one’s feeling threatened becomes. It says everything about the protester and our society, in general. We live in an age when a bronze female form is a threat. Think about that.

Go Fuck Yourself Anytime: Paul Ryan and the House GOP

Well, they finally went and did it, didn’t they? After talking shit about Obamacare and making over sixty symbolic attempts to repeal it over the past seven years, the House of Representatives just barely managed to pass a huge kidney stone* called the American Health Care Act. Americans are either celebrating or shitting in their pants, literally and/or metaphorically depending on whether they have a pre-existing condition.

Unlike the abortive attempt to put forth a version of the AHCA bill back in March, this time they managed to persuade/bribe enough GOP members of Congress to vote for the bill by promising to put their pet issues in future bills. They set up the President with his favorite craft activity (calling people and pretending to make deals with them), before sending him out for a play-date at one of his rallies. Then after they put him down for his afternoon nap, they got down to the business of finally getting rid of President Obama’s signature health care law and thus his entire legacy once and for all.

And, oh yeah, replacing it.

Donald Trump once said in a TV interview that the repeal and replace plan would be a lot better than Obamacare, a lot less expensive, and that it would cover everyone. Afterward in Congress, crickets chirped for a few seconds. There was a collective gasp and repetition of, “oh my god, what the fuck did he just say” and then finally they they started pissing themselves with laughter over how precious little Donny was for saying something so unbelievably cute. Later on, he did learn that health care stuff was really, really hard, didn’t he?

Congress had been pretend-trying to repeal Obamacare ever since it was signed into law in 2010. Of course they weren’t serious about it. If they really wanted to they would have done it, but instead they kept making attempts in order to reassure their constituents that they were working, like, so hard on it. However, now the pressure was on. They had to actually do something. They weren’t really concerned with what was in the replacement plan. If they were they would have bothered to discuss it for longer than three hours. Or to have it scored. Or to read it.

One of the nicer things about Obamacare was that it made it illegal for insurance companies to charge exorbitant rates for people with pre-existing conditions. The AHCA is not concerned about providing actual health care for actual sick people, and thus it allows the insurance industry to go right back to charging the most money or even flat out denying coverage to the people who need it the most. They have also added a few interesting new pre-existing conditions to the list. There are very few people who have not suffered at least one of the many ailments listed, but nevertheless, according to the GOP we’re all scumbags. Those of us who have had or do have one of these conditions is sick because we’ve obviously made very poor lifestyle choices, and therefore we don’t deserve any treatment for being such bad people.

Those of us undeserving of health care can be denied coverage for any of the following pre-existing conditions:

AIDS/HIV, acid reflux, acne, ADD, addiction, Alzheimer’s/dementia, anemia, aneurysm, angioplasty, anorexia, anxiety, arrhythmia, arthritis, asthma, atrial fibrillation, autism, bariatric surgery, basal cell carcinoma, bipolar disorder, blood clot, breast cancer, bulimia, bypass surgery, celiac disease, cerebral aneurysm, cerebral embolism, cerebral palsy, cerebral thrombosis, cervical cancer, colon cancer, colon polyps, congestive heart failure, COPD, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, DMD, depression, diabetes, disabilities, Down syndrome, eating disorder, enlarged prostate, epilepsy, glaucoma, gout, heart disease, heart murmur, heartburn, hemophilia, hepatitis C, herpes, high cholesterol, hypertension, hysterectomy, kidney disease, kidney stones*, kidney transplant, leukemia, lung cancer, lupus, lymphoma, mental health issues, migraines, MS, muscular dystrophy, narcolepsy, nasal polyps, obesity, OCD, organ transplant, osteoporosis, pacemaker, panic disorder, paralysis, paraplegia, Parkinson’s disease, pregnancy, restless leg syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder, seizures, sickle cell disease, skin cancer, sleep apnea, sleep disorders, stent, stroke, thyroid issues, tooth disease, tuberculosis, ulcers.

Notice how breast cancer, cervical cancer, hysterectomy, and pregnancy are on the list and erectile dysfunction, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer aren’t? At this point, being born female is pretty much a pre-existing condition.

Okay guys, enlarged prostate is on the list, but all you have to do is wait for it to turn into cancer and then you can get it treated. How’s that for winning?

Last Night in Sweden…

…Kickstarter project update

As of this evening (04.13.17), the project has been funded!  The first two of the three stretch goals have been met, as well.  Hooray!

The third stretch goal, a major traveling exhibition consisting of the 50 best images, is within reach (Note to organizers:  a visit to the RTP area is expected as you do have a consulate here).  The goal is SEK 350,000. Currently, the pledged amount is SEK 337,489 or $38,423.  The project is short SEK 12,511 ($1,384 +/-).

Of course, one can make contributions at any level.  In terms of rewards, the lowest tier is a pledge of SEK 200 ($22.13 +/-) which will yield a copy of the book in either Swedish or English (supporter’s choice), along with the satisfaction of knowing that this pledge contributed to reaching that magical, third stretch goal.  Only 63 additional people are needed to make this a reality.

Alternatively, if one is feeling unusually generous and/or slightly cheeky, one could opt for the next level by contributing SEK 1,000 ($110.65 +/-).  With that, your name goes in the book and when your copy arrives, you will see it.  WITH YOUR OWN PEEPERS (eller med egna ögon – and I will continue to slaughter Swedish until the third stretch goal has been reached).  Do you know who else will see your name? Orange Foolius and every member of the European Parliament. Mmmhmmm.  Only 13 relatively big spenders are needed in this category.

For those with some serious cabbage, a commitment to the arts, a love of Sweden, a deep respect for journalistic integrity and possibly a pinch of spite, there’s the next tier which requires a pledge of SEK 3,000 ($331.94 +/-).  It comes with all of the bells and whistles offered at the lower tiers along with the signatures of every photographer contributing to the project.  Oh yes it does.  Only 34 remain at this level.

There are only 14 days remaining.  Alternatively, there are 14 days left for nagging.  Do the right thing, please.  :flutters eyelashes:

The Swedish Flag

Bang on.

Paddy K

This Friday there was an awful truck attack in Stockholm, where four people died. I wasn’t personally affected, even though it was just up the road from where I work, although I know several people who were scarily close to it. For the people who did lose somebody, it must be the worse thing in the world, and I can’t even grasp it.

A horrible situation, although on the day after I made damn sure to get into town and do the whole carry-on-as-normal thing. If life doesn’t go on, then we’ve lost.

2017-04-07 17.07.59 The view from my office after the attack

A few positive things came from the attack, though. One was the immediate and professional response from the police and emergency services, closing down the city and catching the guy a few hours later. The police were getting hugs and flowers from people all weekend, which was great to see in usually-reserved…

View original post 260 more words

I’ll always be a teacher…

…just not professionally anymore.

“Miss Kitten,” one of my students said to me one day, “Can’t you just work here for the rest of your life?” Those words really sting in a bittersweet way. My god, it’s heartbreaking when I think about them. My students. My kids. I see their eager little faces, rapt with attention. Hanging on my every word. Enjoying the Miss Kitten show. Their eyes lighting up with laughter.

I was that teacher, you see. The one the kids all love. The one the kids all want as a substitute teacher.

“You’re my favorite teacher.”
“You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
“You’re the coolest teacher I’ve ever had.”
“You don’t talk to us like you’re our teacher; you’re more like a friend.”

When you’re a teacher, the kids are everything. They are why you do what you do. And they are amazing, inspiring, and truly remarkable young people. Particularly the latest group of kids I had the great pleasure and privilege to teach. There are no behavioral cases among them. Even the ones who try to get away with being naughty are no match for Miss Kitten. My greatest weapon is my sense of humor and it’s been sharpened and perfected over the years.

“Shut up.” I tell a student who keeps whisper-yelling during a test and hasn’t responded to anything less direct and more polite.

“Hey, you can’t say that to me!” He responds with feigned dismay, which I know is entirely for the benefit of his classmates. Every class has its clown.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Please shut up.” I say, and the entire class erupts in laughter. You can’t out clown the master.

*sigh*

But I am tired. Sick have I become. Old and weak. Well, maybe not that old. However the sick and weak part is true. Sort of.

In January of last year I experienced a breakdown that led to me having to stop work. I was diagnosed with acute stress reaction, which was caused by a number of factors, all of them work-related. It’s very common for teachers to experience this due to the nature of teaching as a very demanding high-stress job, but usually you can transform the stress into productivity. In my 15 year career I never experienced anything like that before, what I can only describe as a kind of paralysis. I simply could not do it anymore. I had to stop working and went on sick leave. The doctor prescribed me some anti-anxiety medication and told me to get as much rest and relaxation as possible. It was incredibly hard, because I was also dealing with depression and guilt for having abandoned my students. Every day I questioned whether I was really sick. I was convinced I was faking, that this was all in my head. That I just needed to pull myself together, forget about my stupid problems and get back to work. My students needed me. I realized much later that this reaction is completely normal for highly productive people (aka: workaholics).

The medication and instructions to relax were the only treatment I received. I only found out later that usually some kind of therapy is recommended in such cases. In Sweden they have a system in place whereby if an employee is injured on the job, they are referred to a company health care service. The company is responsible for rehabilitating the injured or sick employee and for fixing the problems that caused the injury or sickness in the first place. No such assistance was forthcoming from my previous employer. They had this service available, but they elected not to refer me to them, saying I should get treatment through the local health care service. I was told that this is their prerogative. In the end I was put on paid leave because they either could not or simply would not fix the conditions that led to my breakdown. I couldn’t go back to work, so they decided to pay me for the remainder of my contract.

This arrangement seemed reasonable and fair. Eventually I started feeling like myself, ready to start teaching again, but determined to be very selective in the type of school at which I wanted to work. I wanted to work at an international school, so I applied at all three of the international schools in the area. I got interviews at two of them, and was eventually hired. It was only a part-time position, which was perfect because I was in no way ready to jump back into a full-time position after my breakdown.

The school was wonderful. The students were, as a previously described, amazing young people, and my colleagues were fantastic. It was an international staff, reflecting the profile of the school. Yet, even though the work was satisfying and rewarding, after a few weeks the symptoms started creeping back. My employers were well aware of my previous breakdown. I informed them during my interview, and they were not at all surprised, knowing full well how common it is for teachers to suffer such breakdowns. They were very reassuring and supportive.

During my initial interview, they gave me a tour of the school. It was a small building but there was an atmosphere of positivity and happy looking students working on projects everywhere. However, there was something very unusual about this school and that was the location of the Home Economics classroom. This was the position I was interviewing for. There was, in fact, no Home Ec classroom at all. There were four kitchen units set up, oddly enough, in a busy hallway. I’d never seen anything like this before. The practical Home Ec lessons were taught in an area that was completely exposed. I would find out later how just how impractical it was to teach in that space.

However, at first, it was kind of exhilarating. Home Ec lessons are usually very lively, smelly, and noisy. I was used to teaching Home Ec so all the chaos didn’t really bother me. We were reminded on several occasions to try and keep the noise level down, since there were other classrooms nearby. We were also located right in front of the principal’s office, and just around the corner from the assistant principal’s office, as well as student toilets, staff toilets, and the staff lounge. This meant that colleagues were walking through the area constantly. Students weren’t supposed to go in there during practical lessons and were instructed to use different toilets when lessons were taking place. Our solution to prevent students from walking through there was to place traffic cones at the entrances to the hallway. The older students knew to keep out, but the younger ones frequently walked right past the traffic cones and right through a lesson. It was also normal for a colleague to walk through the hallway during a lesson, pushing a large cart of iPads or laptops, and forcing me and students to move out of the way. In addition, when lessons were happening, we were very entertaining. Students and colleagues alike tended to stand just outside of the hallway and watch the show.

It sounds completely crazy, and it was. However that was simply how Home Ec lessons were taught at this school. I actually enjoyed it. The exposed situation made it really exciting. At least at first. After a while, however, it made it increasingly difficult. I had no control whatsoever over that area, even though I was responsible for it. On the days when there was no Home Ec, the hallway was used by other teachers. The kitchen counters were used to place computers and books, pretty much anything. Each kitchen was equipped with a set of utensils, dishes, and cookware, and these were constantly being removed when I wasn’t there. At least once every lesson, I would have to hunt round the staff kitchen for a missing whisk or a skillet or something that was definitely there before, but which had since disappeared. No one seemed to understand or respect that that hallway was, in fact, my workspace. To them, it was just another public area.

Eventually it became unbearable. My anxiety level increased and I started having panic attacks. I couldn’t stop thinking about work. I obsessed about those kitchens, and the state they would be in the next time I had a lesson. Before each lesson I would have to spend time putting them back in order, checking that each kitchen was fully equipped, tracking down items that were missing, removing books or other items that had been left on the kitchen counters, make sure we had enough clean dishtowels and start a load of laundry if we didn’t, empty the dishwashers from the previous lesson, check to make sure we received all of our grocery delivery, and whether it had been put away, anticipate a trip to the grocery store in case anything hadn’t been delivered (a regular occurrence). It was a lot of responsibility for one person, and too much for me.

During lessons, I had to supervise up to four groups of students working in the kitchens, while attempting to minimize disruption from other students and colleagues walking through the area, as well as trying to keep the noise level down so as not to disturb other ongoing lessons. In other words, we (the students and I) had to accommodate everyone, but no one would accommodate us. I still enjoyed the practical lessons very much, but after a while, the conditions made it almost impossible to maintain a proper classroom environment. I’m usually a very effective teacher who has no problem with classroom management, but under these conditions, I had no control and ownership over the environment and this made it extremely difficult to have control and ownership over the class.

I know I’m making it sound like it was complete chaos, but it wasn’t actually that bad. The worst thing about it was the psychological toll it took on me. After this experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get out of teaching, for my own sanity. It’s time for another career. What that will be, I have no idea, but after fifteen years I’m pretty sure my time as a professional teacher is over. I don’t make this decision lightly. I always promised myself that I would keep working until it was no longer “fun,” that I would quit before I turned into one of those totally burnt out and bitter teachers, who obviously hates their job but keeps on working out of spite or lack of ambition.

The kids deserve better than that and I won’t let that happen. Who knows what the future holds…

Last Night in Sweden…

…a shameless plug.

The Swedes are a curious lot; thoughtful, considerate, kind and very concerned about the welfare of others.  They are also fiercely patriotic and damn all to hell if you criticize their society or country.  Not only will they reject such criticism, they will go to extreme lengths to correct the erroneous assumption.  Once finished, they will kill you in your sleep.  Need proof?

So, when President Orange Foolius decided to besmirch their reputation, Sweden reinstitued conscription.  IKEA laced its köttbullar with horsemeat.  There was no sharing of the semlor.  40,000 ocean containers full of Kalles kaviar were dispatched to the US disguised as Easy Cheese.  The government hired scores of actors to set fire to certain areas of Stockholm for the sole purpose of giving Katie Hopkins something else to bitch about.  And for all of the Trumpeting Deplorables hoping that any of this is true:  the conscription happened well before your Dear Leader opened his foodhole, the horsemeat scandal was from 2013, you don’t deserve semlor, Katie Hopkins is a cunt and if there is any justice in this world, you will be eating Kalles (and nothing but) for the rest of your miserable existence.

Seriously, though, Swedes have had it with Donald Trump‘s misinformation campaign about their country.  HAD IT.  Over it.  And an angry Swede is not something you want to deal with for the angry Swede is not only incredibly stubborn and relentless, it’s slightly cheeky, too. Also, largely emotionless but very dignified.  The angry Swede will not wrinkle its clothes or muss its hair in battle.

To that end, a Kickstarter was born.  The project is titled “Last Night in Sweden – The True Story.”  The scope is to compile pictures of everyday life throughout Sweden between the hours of 18:00 – 0:00 (or 6pm to 12am for the unable-to-tell-time Deplorables).  These pictures will be taken by award-winning photojournalists.  That’s right.  They mean business.  These pictures will not be taken by suburban women who have their part-time “photography business” focusing primarily on children or families in bucolic fields, newly engaged couples in burnt out parts of cities and babies in wooden barrels.

Once the photos have been selected by a jury, they will be compiled and published in book form.  The first copy of the book will be presented to Shitgibbon, himself.  Stretch goals are listed on the project’s page and they’re pretty damn nifty, too.

So, for all of you truth loving folks, why not chip in and support this project?  If you love Swedenland, why not help portray it in its wonderfully magical form?  If you want to tell Donald Trump to eat a bag of dicks, kick in a few kronor – or kick in several kronor and your name will be printed in the book.  If your name is American enough, Foolius may even understand it when his grandkids read it to him at bedtime.

Supporting the arts is never an exercise in futility.  In the United States, supporting the arts is going to become the provenance of the private sector so why not get a little practice in entering that credit card number right now?  You can also consider this a multicultural endeavour as you channel Swedish customs: enforcing the truth via art and very dry humor while not taking shit from anyone who doesn’t understand their society.