• Checked Off My Bucket List: Buenos Aires


    I’d like to start this part by busting the first and the most in need to be debunked myth about Argentina – the myth that states that people there speak English. In fact, hardly anyone or almost no one (whichever you prefer) in Argentina speaks English. I am sure that  plenty of fine polyglots are roaming the streets of Buenos Aires, eager to strike a conversation with you in your favorite language, but for some reason they don’t make themselves obvious. Barring an accidental run-in with one of the elusive English speakers, you’ll need to learn Spanish or spend your vacation as a deaf-mute, using an elaborate sign language you just invented and a series of grunts and noises to explain what you want ( I went as far as handing a pen and a piece of paper to an orange juice vendor so he could scribble the price on it). It is also highly unlikely that you will understand anything being said to you. Cab drivers, restaurant employees, shopkeepers, people on the street, criminals – everyone you will need to communicate with – will stare at you trying but unable to understand your words and gestures. Even if you honed your Spanish talking to the janitor at work and ordering your favorite tacos at an authentic Mexican joint, chances are you will have a problem with the version of Spanish spoken in Buenos Aires; it’s a crazy mix of a dialect no longer used in Spain with Italian and every other language willing to contribute. To be fair, hotel employees, travel industry workers and personnel at the tourist-oriented venues will have some degree of English, but outside of these places you are on your own. I highly suggest ignoring what the guide books have to say on the subject and learning at least a bit of Spanish.

    It’s hard to put a finger on what’s so different about Buenos Aires; even after almost two weeks there, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the streets, buildings and everything around me.

    It’s a city with the crazy mix of architecture, where it’s not unusual to see four or five styles of buildings on the same block;

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  • Where The Buffalo (Used To) Roam

    Cue the State Song of Kansas

    Were buffalo used to roam there is now the Glacial Hills Scenic Byway where no one roams anymore, just an occasional car with passengers who didn’t find anything better to do on a gloomy Sunday. Scenic Byway officially starts at Ft.Leavenworth, passes through Atchison, twists and turns through Troy and stops right before the Nebraska border at White Cloud – a place still recovering from the housing bubble of 1929.

    White Cloud is home to the 4-State lookout – a place where you can see Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska at the same time.

    Panoramic view from the lookout can be seen here.
    Miss Teen Kansas lives here (at least until 2010):

    White Cloud was voted the best place to dispose of a dead body:

    Just don’t forget to “dispose of all head and guts” and leave the work area clean for the next person.

    North of the White Cloud you will find an Indian Casino adorned by the symbols of past glory: Eagle Feathers, Eagle without feathers and an unfinished tepee:

    At the casino zombie-looking white people are sitting in the clouds of smoke, mistakenly hoping they can fool the Indians again. Instead, their money is financing the modern-day tepees.

    On the way back you can cross the river, drive past the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge,and return home via I-29.

    Overall, this is a pretty nice weekend trip, but it will probably look more picturesque during the spring and summer months. There is a lot more to be seen in Atchison and there is a 10-mile auto route around the Refuge.

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  • Healthcare Reform-skiy Opportunity Missed

    Hit it! [audio:https://www.kcmeesha.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Tony_Babino_-_LInternationale_from_Capitalism_A_Love_Story_by_Michael_Moore.mp3|titles=Tony Babino -L’Internationale (from Capitalism A Love Story by Michael Moore)]Since I wrote about the healthcare reform last year the situation didn’t get any better. Whatever will be voted in or “shoved down the throats of the American people” – depending on which TV channel you are watching, it will not produce a meaningful reform in this country. If President Obama was even half as good as some people believed him to be, he would have used his position and Congressional majorities to institute a single-payer system paid for by an increase in taxes. That would have been the right thing to do. Sometimes the right thing needs to be done, even if it’s unpopular. Previous administration had no problem doing the unpopular and wrong things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan based on the wrong information and misguided convictions. Obama seemed to have the right information and plenty of conviction but not enough courage, persistence, or desire to do what he promised or implied in his campaign appearances.

    What will be passed soon is in no way a reform – more band-aids; few things that sound good but will be easily loopholed by the healthcare industry; few accounting gimmicks that will make spending increases look like savings; few giveaways and favors in exchange for votes with most of the changes delayed for years. Nothing here says “vision”, “courage”, “hope” and definitely not “change”. More like “lame”, “sellout”, “weak”, “dishonest”, “gimmicky” and “disappointment”. Any talk about this legislation opening doors for more reform or debate is just that. For years no one will dare to touch this subject, and there won’t be another chance of 2 branches of Government being in sync to produce anything meaningful.

    The sad part is that most of the clowns protesting the healthcare reforms and spitting on congressmen are poor schmucks who are one or two paychecks away from begging for the government healthcare and other various forms of assistance, or are already using it based on income, age or previous military service. There may be problems with Medicare of VA but they are free or cheap and, most importantly, available. That’s the most important thing about the government services in general, they may not be the best but they beat not having any. Too bad that many protesters don’t understand that this is the direction we are headed in – not having enough/any coverage. Most of the workplace benefits disappeared or deteriorated and will continue to do so in the future, many people (including myself) now have to dig deeper in their pockets before the insurance payments even kick in. In this situation the failure of the President to pass the real reform is unacceptable; his attempt to mislead the people with the neutered bill they are about to pass is just disgusting.

    After the election, when everyone was crying with the fake tears of joy even I let my cynicism down a bit to see if something really can happen. Looks like my streak of not voting will continue unbroken.

    In conclusion, a few old photos of a socialized healthcare at work. As you can tell it looks worn out and poor. This is a small country hospital where my Father worked, you can see him making rounds with a group of colleagues (he is on the left in the top photo). The system wasn’t perfect and many times was just broken and inefficient but it was there. People were getting treatment, doctors cared, no one lost their possessions due to a medical treatment or a hospital stay. People who remember that time will tell you plenty of horror stories, but at the same time having this system available took away at least one thing to worry about.

    The best chance to have a healthcare reform in this country was wasted months ago. Even when it gets passed there will be nothing to celebrate; it’s a failure at best, but is probably worse because it will allow the President to hang a “mission accomplished” banner of his own and act like the right thing was done. Too bad.

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  • International Women’s Day!

    The 8th of March is almost near us,
    My heart is pounding away.
    Don’t let me down, trusty penis
    On International Women’s Day.
    Russian Folklore (Free Translation by Me)

    Every spring starts with sunshine, melting snow, more revealing clothes on the most beautiful women and the International Women’s Day on March 8.

    International Women’s Day is a holiday for all women; it doesn’t single out mothers or women who have diamond-bearing men in their lives. Instead it celebrates every woman: a woman living alone with multiple cats pets, a woman who doesn’t get invited to romantic dinners, a scary woman at work, a cigarette-smelling waitress at the Waffle House who calls you “hon” and even the woman holding a “slow” sign in the highway work zone. These women may not look like models or be pleasant to deal with, but that doesn’t mean they should be excluded from a holiday based on arbitrary prerequisites such as having children or being in a relationship. That’s why I am surprised this holiday is virtually unknown in the US even though it was first introduced here in 1909.

    All kidding aside, women make our lives happy and exciting, they surround us with beauty and give us a reason to go on, they give us great memories and make our hearts pound. Making a woman laugh is one of the greatest pleasures of life and it never gets old.

    This year I am posting this a few days early so you can plan your upcoming celebrations, purchase flowers and presents, as well as locate and hug your nearest woman and, while she is calling the police, try to convince her you were just trying to congratulate her with the International Women’s Day.

    Happy International Women’s Day!

    This song is called “Million Red Roses”

    Previously: 2009

    P.S. I always wanted to translate the poem you see above this post and I have to say I am pretty proud of myself.

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  • Merry Christmas, Babushka!

    Today is the Russian Orthodox Christmas. Due to some calendar shenanigans Jesus gets to celebrate his birthday again. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate today!

    A Russian believer crosses herself during an Orthodox Christmas service at Christ The Savior Cathedral in Moscow, early Thursday, Jan. 7, 2010. Christmas falls on Jan. 7 for Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, Russia and other Orthodox churches that use the old Julian calendar instead of the 16th-century Gregorian calendar adopted by Catholics and Protestants and commonly used in secular life around the world.

    Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill, center, attends an Orthodox Christmas service in Moscow's Christ The Savior Cathedral, in Moscow, Russia, late Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010.

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