Say it with a sign

Say it with a sign

Off- beat Syntagma Square when Greeks occupied Syntagma square(tent city) and nightly demonstration sessions in front of Parliament were taking place for weeks…in order to prevent the government from signing in effect new austerity measures before Europe agreed to send the next installment of the loan.
June 2011
Then Prime Minister George Papandreou aka Jeffery

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Hmong Hill People

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(not my own picture)

I first stumbled across this word while reading a blog. I read that they travel long distances just to be at family events, no excuses…a tremendous bond that connects them.  

It was intriguing, I had no idea who or what they were.  So I started researching a bit.  What I found out was astounding…I am not a fan of British phrases, but GOBSMACKED was something that popped into my mind!  

Coincidentally, in one of my classes we are required to give a 12-15 minute presentation on a topic of our choice: Hmong Hill People is what I picked.
An innocent term such as nomadic tribe, gives rise to an idea of indigenous peaceful people, living a bit behind time – pretty much in an environment that knows no haste, stress or violence.

The Hmong lived in small village communities in the Highlands of North Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and South China. They built their homes for short term usage, just for a few years before they moved on and settled somewhere else. They planted crops of rice, corn, soy and fruits and kept a few chicken and pigs. They also participated in the opium trade(planting poppies) and sold coffin-wood, until both were prohibited. The differences between the two main tribes are especially visible in their traditional dress. The WHITE Hmong women wear black pants, with beautifully embroidered aprons and black turbans. The BLUE Hmong -Green as they call themselves, wear embroidered indigo skirts and black velvet shirts, their hair tied up. Both costumes are adorned with silver jewellery. As most Hunter-Gatherer cultures they are nature oriented. They are torn btween Shamansism, Ancestry Worship and Christianity, which arrived in Indochina in the late 18th century via their French Colonial Rulers.
So far, so good! Right in tune with the picture of a people who live in harmony with nature and their neighbors.
Until the proverbial shit hit the fan…
In the early 60ies the CIA recruited the Hmong to help fight the onslaught of communism in the area.
While the first moving pictures of the war in Vietnam occupied prime time T.V. for the first time in history and the spirits of the world’s youth ignited against the horrors of war and an anti war movement came to life, a much more sinister scheme was taking shape in neighboring Laos.
It turned out to be the biggest military operation in modern history. Conducted by the CIA, a test run for wars to come. While photographers and reporters were busy capturing the grotesque monstrosity in Vietnam, this abominable exploit was taking place without the knowledge of the American president, public and the whole world.
More than 40,000 were on the payroll until 1975 in Laos. Between 1964 and 1973 the CIA built and operated a secret air base called Long Cheng in the middle of the jungle in Laos. It was not marked on any maps and the village next to it swelled to one of the major cities in the region, reaching a population of almost 100,000! It was a place of Hollywood movie proportions, a playground for the CIA, secret agents from all over the world, businessmen and all the businesses they attract to be entertained and of course thousands of soldiers. To finance this secret war, drug & weapons trade reached incomprehensible magnitude. The hill tribes in their small villages were expected to make available the men and grow poppies in return for rice. As the years went by and the death toll grew, the number of grown men diminished and more and more boys were sent to replace them. Exposing the remaining villagers to hunger and not just the terrors of the war.
The CIA trained pilots and soldiers, dressed and supplied them with the equipment. They hand-picked a Hmong general, Vang Pao, to lead the hill tribe troops.
In those 9 years in the Laotian Jungle 2.1 Million tons of bombs were dropped on the area. Cluster bombs and Agent Orange(from yours truly – MONSANTO) devastated the country side. To give some idea of the proportions, just what 2.1 Million tons are, that was more than was dropped over Germany and Japan together in WW II! All this damage to stop the supplies for the Vietcong coming in from China and to fight the communist rebells inside Laos.
Needless to say, when Saigon was captured in April 1975 by the Vietcong, Americans admitted defeat and pulled out of Vietnam. They also left the jungle of Laos and the Hmong. That fateful decision to become allies is something they are still paying for today.
Thirty-eight years later they are still a doomed people. More than a 100,000 Hmong have died either as a direct consequence of the war, its repercussions and retributions. The few that were granted entrance visas to the United States for their service to the CIA are the lucky ones. The rest remain targets of at least three of the four Nations in South East Asia. In Thailand, they subsist mostly in work camps and are viewed as illegal work-migrants, with no rights nor claims to medical attention. Doctors without Borders pulled out of Thailand in 2011 after a 35 year long presence, because they were not granted the freedom to give the Hmong medical treatment. Thailand frequently deports Hmong to Laos, where they vanish into jail like compounds, never to be seen or heard of again.
None of the International Organizations are granted the right to inspect or visit.
In Laos, the remaining free Hmong are hunted down and massacred to this day.
China, Vietnam and Laos refuse to recognize them as an official ethnic group.
The United Nations to date, can not actually grant them Human Rights nor give them any official Refugee status.

The “efforts” of the Western World to improve the conditions of other Nations or ethnic groups does not always bring about the intended progress nor positive results. Often the collaboration brings far larger problems, danger, misery and death.
From this point of view, the fate of the Hmong stands for the fate of many others. Especially, the use of the so-called “civilian staff”, becomes a predicament when the foreign military depart. Whatever their purpose in the country may have been, be it as Occupier, as Liberator or as Observers who have hired locals as translators or for cheap maintenance labor, or trained them as soldiers and policemen, is of no consequential importance. The dangers which these people and their families face, cannot be put aside with an indemnity(financial compensation). It is not the job or the position, which is lost with the withdrawal of the troops, but their ability to continue their lives peacefully. This chance no longer exists – without the protection or the presence of the foreign army.
All International Security Assistance Forces inside Afghanistan today will have to deal with this problem.
Thousands of Afghanis are in the service of America, England, Canada and NATO countries, amongst them- Germany. Those locals and all their kin, young and old – are seen already as traitors and collaborators. Their fates have been sealed. They will be stalked, hunted and killed. They do not stand a chance unless some alternative efforts are made to prevent this from happening.
Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, as a sub-theme on the War on Terror, presumes success. How can this be achieved by exposing the locals to such risks, which have nothing to do with freedom nor endurance when your life is threatened.

How can you bring freedom while armed with a gun?
Enduring freedom can only be brought about when we arm all people with books!
Education is the only road to freedom!

Green on blue

Green on b

Unexpected beautiful days, not just raising much needed Vitamin D levels in the body, but simply heartwarming(Ok, as compensation is is rainig buckets since the morning, who cares).

Apropos heartwarming, yesterday I read a delightful and stirring post by my friend. I think I will ask her permission to re-post it. Grasping the weight of her words, made clear to me again, how many things and experiences we have in common.
Call it fate, karma, MOIRA(Greek) or circumstances, participating in this further education program brought us together. It was meant to be and meant to happen!
I am thankful for the magnificent weather and more than anything else: my amazing friend(woman).
Das Leben ist schön, unser Leben ist schön!

Daily Post: Say your name

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When I was born one Sunday morning many years ago, it was my father who came up with my name.  On the way to the hospital, so I have been told.

I do not know what possesses parents to ponder, consult and study books- to come up with a “suitable” name for their off-spring.  These days a lot of serious factors play into the decision.  Class is a major one and Germany has many lovely examples of just how wrong you can go with what turns out to be a “LABEL” for life.

I was totally unaware of this before I moved here, I must however admit that those names did already have negative connotations before the eye opening socio-economic disclosure.  

You see, I am talking about names like Kevin and Justin or Chantall  and Jacqueline  These boys names are perfect examples in English speaking areas, as are Jacqueline and Chantall in French speaking countries…but here in Germany, you only hear those names on “imported” daytime soap operas.  What appears to be an innocent connection between the daylight viewing time, is in fact equal to work day showing time – with emphasis on the “work-day”.   Thus it directly brings the people who are able to watch, while others work, into the foreground:  And here in Germany that is akin to the group or class of people who receive aid from the government and do nothing but watch T.V. and give their kids the names of their favorite characters.

This is not my opinion, but is very visible in the German school system.  Starting with Elementary School – teachers treat children with such names differently.  Teachers prefer children with classic names, such as Laura or Luca, as a matter of fact there is a trend to return to names ending with the letter “a”.  It appears that such names inspire respect and presume intelligence.  Or so people seem to think.

I agree that attention should be paid to choosing a name.  After all, we are stuck with them until we die.  With a chuckle, I remember Frank Zappa’s daughters’ name:  Moonbase or his sons’ –  Dweezil.  For sure, they did not have an easy time in school, but perhaps because they were privileged by their fathers’ fame, it was bearable for them.  There are endless strange choices out there, but keeping in mind that those children and later grown-ups do not live in a bubble that protects them from the ridicule of others, we should choose wisely, uninfluenced by trends or soaps or drug induced creativity(some surnames are plenty of a burden, no need to make it worse).

 I was named Dorothea Roberta, and baptized, as was the norm on the third day before being taken home from the hospital.  Honestly, I have no idea what inspired my Dad to come up with such a mouth-ful of letters, for such a tiny thing that I was.  I remember asking him about it, but i don’t recall what he said and I can no longer ask him.

Growing up, I found it hard to have such an uncommon name.  No one else in all my school days was called the same.  There was one girl on my street, in my childhood, but her name was actually Dorothee.  I often asked myself, why I could not have been called something cooler or at least more every day.  One relief was that the nickname Doro stuck from the beginning.  As all kids know, when the parents address their ‘spawn”  by their full christian names – something was up! But the rest of the time the shortened version ruled(so why not forget about the long string of letters)?

Of course, I came across the meaning of my name at some point in my life.  Doro+thea(Greek) = gift  of  god or more accurately, gift of the goddess(Roberta, coincidentally is old German and means bright fame, if you believe the books).

While I lived in Iran and then the States, I was called Dorothy.  I was constantly asked about the red shoes (How was I supposed to know about the Wizard of Oz…)  Click your heels and you’ll be back in Kansas!  I guess it seemed funny, to them.

Dorothea,  became the center point of many small talk discussions after I arrived in Greece.  It being  a Greek name, it led to questions of whether I was Greek.  If no then at least my father or mother must be Greek.  Then the assumptions were carried to the generation before my parents.  No to those queries, we usually met with-well then your father must have had something to do with Greece at some point.  That was not the case either.

I don’t think that my father had any idea that life would bring him and all of us to Greece one day.  Nor do I believe that he was  thinking of the meanings of the names, that Sunday morning on the way to hold me in his arms for the first time.  That would have been unlike him.  “I am going to see my new born daughter and for good measure I will name her – gift of god, bright fame!” Nahh, unbelievable!

I do hope that while he was alive, I made him proud and that he felt that I did his choice justice.  I have grown into my name and am pleased that I can at least work on being that part of the “gift” –  to his memory and still now to my Mom.  I tried and am still trying.

A lie is still a distortion of the truth, no matter how you twist it or as the Greeks say Ξεκολα!!

truth

The “Ghost on my dashboard” was a huge personal success.

Not only was the culprit identified, but he also stepped out of the so called “closet”!
Spam is a pretty cool thing, there are filters for that sort of mail, too bad it has nothing to do with one’s personal spamming ideas.  At least here there is the option of approval.  Not so easy with the email.  I could easily just send it to the spam messages, that action or option does not give me insight into “what is going on”…The real question is, why would I want to know? And what exactly will I know, that I did not already know before?

Ξεκολα is excellent advice from the messenger. As I mentioned above, my email is being trashed with undesired, unrequested and unwanted youtube songs, by afore-mentioned stalker: Unmasked on wordpress by his ip address and fake email, not to mention his writing(in)abilities. As the recipient of both words accompanied by music on the one hand and nonsensical garbled Latin characters that are a poor excuse to logic or writing filled with dubious advice or “enlightenments” – (Note to myself: the opposite of information is ignorance) – I keep asking myself, just what is it supposed to mean?
Why on earth, if he thinks he is in love, would he want me to know? I don’t care!
If that were a fact, then would his energies not be spent on that person in “love”?
Does he imagine, me being in anguish over that???
What a relief, if it were true!

Ξεκολα is a wonderful little Greek slang word, it means as much as “get unstuck” or if you want you can say “leave me be” “give it a rest”.
I am not stuck, I so don’t care.
Just be on your merry way and create mischief somewhere else, shower someone else with whatever you want.

On the other hand Ξεκολησε…is more like “to become unglued” and that is what I see more and more.

When you insist on many kind of TRUTHS of which none is a fact and behave outside the parameters of acceptable social behavior, when communication can not be achieved because you lack the proper setting for it and the coding and decoding process is disturbed because none of the tools are in place- then an exchange of messages can not take place. When one party is unwilling to participate in this transaction, because no common ground can be found:
Rule one: mutual respect(non-existant)
Rule two: Common understanding(missing)
Rule three: Candidness(ambiguous)
What is the purpose then, other than just to annoy?
So practice what you preach and just “ξεκολα”!!!
(images not my own)

 Iyou always lie

Of light and shadows: the week in review

Of light and shadows:  the week in review

Like a padded carpet, tiny petals of chestnut blossoms arranged in the shade of an aged tree – flecks of sunlight illuminate the shadows, a picture of another week gone by. Nothing stays the same, everything around us constantly changing.
Spring showing its presence just long enough, not to let all hope die. This week felt more like the beginning of November: a sharp chill in the wind and rain and the threat of snow to come sends you back to the closet to find another woolen sweater to warm the bones.
First the coldest and darkest winter since the beginning of weather recordings, now -cold and rain and the possibility of snowfall!
Despite the many holidays this month has to offer by way of reprieve-no chance to enjoy it outdoors. Oh well, there is always the central heating!!!
Highlights of the week, time spent with my friend, deep discussions about serious issues that we share. Maybe a bit too much wine and too many waking hours, but thoroughly enjoyable and touching. Well worth the lack of sleep the next day.
The course is winding down, another test came back with a great result, I signed a contract for my internship starting mid June, things falling into place. Ideas in the back of my head of which direction I want to take when that is completed and I have my certificate in my hands…
I managed the challenge of being in school full time and all my housework duties, my Mom was on vacation for 10 days, with no incidences what so ever.
My own dark spots and lows of the week of course are directly related to my past. The trespassing, relentless and tiring efforts to meddle and to provoke problems always lead straight back to the reason why I came here in the first place. This always happens in cycles, starting with bad mouthing and threats, moving on to preacher like sermons/prophecies and absolutions which graduate into sweet talking angle tongued flatteries.
Despite the distance and time – no remission.

This made me think of of this wonderful poem by Rudyard Kipling…beautiful words to take into the new week:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
(Of course in my case: a woman)!

La vie est belle

La vie est belle

Life is beautiful…just like this flower.
If we take the time to look at the positive details and focus on them. Rather than giving into our natural complaining negative bearings and tendencies, keeping the spotlight on the affirmative from which we have so much more to gain, almost everyone stays stuck on the counter-productive ambiguities.

Good friends, good music, good conversation can be very inspiring, but then again it takes more of an effort to search for and feel attracted to the immaterial qualities life has to offer.
Always paying attention to what goes wrong, or what others do wrong and even looking for the proverbial “hair in the soup” gives one a comfort-zone that does not need much thought. Pointing fingers and blaming others or circumstances does have an advantage: You occupy yourself with outside factors and never have the time to look to yourself for a solution.
A life spent like that, in my opinion, is not only wasted but also too miserable to amount to anything.

Life is short, too short to miss out on the simple pleasures in it.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.
Confucius, 551 B.C.-479 B.C.
Teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history.

The meaning of Eurovision escapes me

Every year the week before the Champions League Finals we have to endure the Eurovision procedure….every year, since I was little this event takes over T.V.  No possibility of escape…the sound of dix points for bla bla bla is forever stuck in my head.  

But what is that really?  The State T.V. of every country puts forth their candidates and throw them into this money wasting event…the actual figures could probably feed a mid sized 3rd world country for quite some time, but instead it is wasted on the promotion of a candidate, elected to the representative position by some fraudulent means, thrown out into a flashy self important competition that is for absolutely NAUGHT.

From a pure musical aspect, almost every song absolutely Sucks, by some sort of coincidence, it is either a varied theme of the previous years’ winner, or some sort of oddball concoction. The voting is so biased:  all the Eastern Block gives votes to neighboring countries, the Scandinavian countries vote for one another, so do Greece and Cyprus and the cheating goes on.  

It is not about musical achievements.  Nor about promoting some unknown talented countryman or woman, but it is all about show and favoritism, then why not scrap the whole program and put the money needed to promote an unfairly selected representative to good use??  Why does the poor country that might win the contest- need to spend money on constructing a super-structure for the event? Just the urban planning that takes place for this arena of the follies, is often a challenge to people’s lives, who are forced to move from their homes to make space for this edifice.
Is there a real need to fund musicians or support artists, then by all means set up government programs which will work for the benefit of the general population, not for the selected few!
Hardly anyone has a real chance to even obtain a ticket to see the actual event, too much money is made there as well and where it goes is also questionable. The artist tours not only his own country but also visits neighboring nations to advertise his or her tune. The cost of sending them and their entire entourage is staggering. So in the end you vote goes for those who are able to propagandize best. And then we get to the real income.
Every country participating(another by the way- I get Cyprus, it is after all in the E.U., the same goes for Israel- but for other obvious reasons. But Azerbaijan, Georgia, Morocco???And then why refuse Lebanon or Qatar participation in the absurdity)? The Plebeians are offered the grand opportunity(so they think that they actually have a say in it) to call and place their votes, which are then counted and presented. Each call of course representing the sound of money falling…where does that go? To pay for the preposterousness that is called the Eurovision Song Contest! For me it is an exploitation on a grand scale. We are being fooled into thinking that we de facto have an influence in the matter, but we are given only a series of alternatives which have one exclusive aim: Profiteering
Does anyone profit from taking part outside of the artist(if he or she was an unknown, but most often is an established virtuoso, picked to enhance the chances of scoring successfully the number one spot) and the entire industry behind it? Does it increase National Pride? Do the winners, as countries have something to share with the people who make up the Nation?
I am disgusted every year by the flashy excess, there are wo/men and children out there in the world who struggle to survive and we dare to celebrate this insane waste of capital, resources and time.
I propose to end this sham and concentrate on projects for the welfare of all. Better education, better medical treatments available for all, prevention of violence, climate change – whatever; just not another year of the so called Euro-vision Song “Contest”. exploitation
-Picture not my own-

A weekly wrap up…

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These pretty blossoms are a thing of the past!  In no time all the petals fell on to the ground and covered it in a beautiful pinkish carpet.  Unfortunately, the rains we have been having turned their vibrant colors to a slimy brown and thus not really worth another look.  The tree is now going full speed ahead to sprout the greenest leaves, from tiny timid flecks, they are rapidly increasing their size…one day soon they will provide ample shade for the park visitors…that is if the sun decides to come out and “play” again(it has been so damp and rainy, that I was thinking of putting the heating back on)!

It has been a fast week, too many things to take care of, an interview for an internship as a Dialogue Marketing Agent, which I got almost on the spot, without many questions- the moment of glee, when I found out that my friend would be joining me in the same company; an English test, on which I got a 100%(not many surprises there); then a night time visit to the airport to collect one of my sons, who had been away- consequently only 4 1/2 hours of sleep; then a meeting and a tour at the company where we will be “working” for 7 weeks starting in mid June and a great sense of let down, when we realized that this may not be the right place for us after all, good thing is that we have not signed our internship work contracts…a great deal of clarifications are necessary to even get to that step.

A lot of back and forth communication between the progenitor of my children and me, neither productive nor beneficial.  A person unwilling to step up to the plate and do what is right and who on top has altered the factual/actual events  (which led to the end of our 26 years together )to better soothe his guilt or life, is not part of my idea of a productive contributor:  not as a role model for his own sons nor as someone to turn to for advice.  Someone who can not be bothered to think about the consequences that his actions will have on the choices that said sons will make in their futures.  No one can deny the co -relation and  the  influence we have, like of how we live and lead our lives.  In all practical terms, we as parents do need to keep that in mind.  We help shape their decisions and behavior and therefore are somewhat required to “think” about what exactly we are passing on to them.  

No one is perfect and I myself am not free of faults, but I have not fallen victim to petty messages of hatred, nor have I instigated any legal steps, not even then when my life was threatened…and most of all I have not altered the facts.  All those involved know full well what happened and I do not see the need to agree to a phantasy, I can not fool myself and I know full well, that my children, as witnesses to the sordid truth, would not expect nor accept me to do so.  I can not run from myself(maybe if I had a split personality), just how I would look them in the eyes, is enough motivation for me to be steadfast and to keep going.  Yes, I am not a male role model, but teaching our sons to be responsible decent human beings then –  is a double “burden” which I am willing to take on as a challenge.    Someone HAS to insist that right is right and not enforced by MIGHT and wrong is simply wrong…morally, ethically and consciously.

Almost 8 months after I have left my home of 34 years, I am not putting myself first, nor am I projecting myself as neither hero nor victim.  I am trying to deal with the consequences of the past without the necessity to constantly “pat” myself on the shoulder and congratulate myself for what I am doing.  Nor am I surrounding myself with people who for their own agendas tell me what I want to hear.  I do not seek the company of people whose moral and professional ethics are blemished and tainted, because I am fully aware of just how this will reflect on my children.  For them I am willing to do everything, along the realms of what is just and right, as a living example:  Practice what you preach….words without the proper actions are totally meaningless.     

Taraxacum aka Dandelion

Taraxacum  aka Dandelion

Beautiful – edible – therapeutic
The Latin name Taraxacum originates in medieval Persian writings on pharmacy.
The English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French dent de lion meaning “lion’s tooth”, referring to the coarsely toothed leaves.

Uses of Dandelion

Dandelion has been used for its nutritional value in addition to other uses including diuresis, regulation of blood glucose, liver and gall bladder disorders, appetite stimulation, and for dyspeptic complaints.