Monday, December 25, 2006

So this is Christmas.

And what have you done? Another year's over and a new one just begun. These words from John Lennon's "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" have always made me think about the year that has almost passed, about the choices that I made, and about everything that was going to happen the following year. This year has been full of new developments. I started this blog and graduate school. My wife and I moved out of the apartment we have lived in since before we graduated from college and before we were married. And now we are about to have our first child. Also a good friend of mine decided to follow in his brother's footsteps and move back to Pennsylvania. In short, this has been a good year. These are the things I am focusing on this Christmas since I have been robbed of "a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know" by the Heat Miser.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Person of the Year.

It was inevitable. It was bound to happen eventually. I dreamed that one day my humble contribution to the World Wide Web will be recognized. But I never imagined it would happen so soon. After all, this blog has only been around for less than a year. I, The Ignorant Immigrant, have been named the Person of the Year by Time magazine. I was so flabbergasted by this news that I nearly fell out of my nice, new computer chair. I am still in shock, but once I recover I plan to hold a press conference.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Commercials.

When I am in front of my computer the television behind me is usually tuned to the History Channel. Over the years I have gotten really good at drowning out commercials, but once in a while I come across a commercial I can not ignore. One such example is a commercial for a local law firm. It shows a kid on a tricycle and then a narrator proceeds to inform you that some wheels are safe and some are not. Next it shows a busy highway with tractor trailers on it. Then the voice over says: "every year thousands of people are killed or injured in truck related accidents, if this ever happens to you call the law firm of Munley, Munley, and Cartwright." So if you die in a truck accident you can get a lawyer to represent your ghost in a lawsuit against the trucking company. If you get killed by a car, on the other hand, you are on your own.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's official!

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons are no more. From now on they will be known as the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees. Despite being a Yankees' fan, I am not sure I like the change because Minor League teams named after their Major League counterparts seem to me to lack an identity of their own. I would prefer the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Bombers as the team's new name. But at least the uniforms will be better than the old ones.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Jack the sequel?

It seems that London is once again being plagued by a killer who targets prostitutes. This is the third such case in English history.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Iran.

This is too ridiculous to believe. Iran is holding a conference to debate the Holocaust. It happened, six million people died. Stop debating it already.

Double talk.

Thursday morning, as I was getting ready to go to work, a local radio station announced that a train derailed causing a chemical spill right outside of town. The report also said that a bridge, under which the tracks ran, would have to be closed during clean up. I was a little worried, since the place I work is near that bridge, but went to work anyway. Here is the part that I find bizarre. Both the radio report I heard at home and the TV report I saw at work repeated the same phrase: "the spilled toxic chemicals pose no danger to the general public." Last time I checked, which has been a while so things might have changed, chemicals can not be both "toxic" and "harmless". To reinforce the idea that the spilled chemicals "posed no danger to the general public" a local paper printed a story about the derailment with a picture of firefighters from a nearby town dressed in white hazmat suits being hosed off by the local firefighters in yellow protective suits. 30,000 gallons were spilled, but I guess they are only dangerous to those who come into immediate contact with the spill.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ignorant immigrance.

Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new citizenship test which will be used starting some time next year. This test has 144 (yes, one hundred and forty four!) questions some of which are a complete mystery to those who were born in this country. As Yakov Smirnoff once remarked, "America, what a country!"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hunting season.

Today is the first day of the deer hunting season. Thousands of men left their comfortable homes for cold, narrow tree stands at a time of day that even farmers would frown up on. That is the part I do not get about hunting. I grew up, and lived most of my life, in cities. So after moving to rural Pennsylvania hunting was something that puzzled me for years. I eventually accepted it as a way of life around here, but the one thing I still do not completely understand is this drive to be cold and miserable. We have achieved a certain level of technological development which provides us with a a lot of comfort. This comfort is very important and sadly missed if taken away by some misfortune. And yet these people pay for the right to be uncomfortable. If you figure in the cost of all the equipment a hunter buys before setting out into the wilderness, this outing becomes a great gamble since the outcome, i.e. a deer, is not guaranteed. So like I said, I simply do not understand hunting. Fishing, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Golf.

The latest name in golf is Russian. Mikhail Tyurin hit a golf ball into Earth's orbit. Beat that, Tiger!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Snow.

Today I saw the first snow of the season. It was not a lot of snow, it barely stuck to the windshield of my car. But it was snow none the less. And nothing makes a Russian happier than snow.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Casino Royale.

I decided to see this movie despite my initial reservations about Daniel Craig playing James Bond. And I was not disappointed by the last original Ian Fleming novel to be filmed. Casino Royale was actually the first Bond novel Fleming wrote, so it had to be updated a bit. One major change, since Pierce Brosnan's Bond stopped driving an Astin Martin and wearing a Rolex, was the switch from Baccarat to Texas Hold 'Em poker. The only thing that stood out as slightly anachronistic was M's conversation with Bond about being promoted to 00 status too soon. This makes sense in the context of the first Bond novel, but it is out of place in the twenty first installment in the film series. There was also a nice homage to Sean Connery when Bond won an Astin Martin DB5 which Connery drove in the '60s.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Only in America.

It seems that we do not have enough advertisements. This is either really stupid, or really smart. Any way you look at it, it is really freaking weird.

Oh, Canada?

You have to read this story to believe it. It seems that Canadians are pushing the boundries of freedom further and farther.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Moving.

I hate moving. I used to say I did not mind moving because I moved to this country, but I did that with just two suitcases. It is a lot easier to move with two suitcases because you only pack the absolutely essential stuff. But when you have lived in one place for seven years, you accumulate a great deal of unnecessary crap and you are the one that has to move it.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Speaking of veterans.

Jack Palance died yesterday. He was my favorite actor because, like me, he was a Ukrainian-American. RIP, Jack.

Veterans' Day.

Today is a day set aside to remember all those who fought in wars throughout the world. It is important to remember them more than once a year because we owe them a debt that goes far beyond mere gratitude. We, the civilians, should honor and respect these soldiers regardless of how we feel about the conflict they fought in. I was against invasion of Iraq since the beginning, but the American soldiers who fight in Iraq will always have my support and admiration. Because I owe that to them.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The results are in.

Recently I found out that a friend of mine, whose whole family are Republicans, registered as a Democrat. Upon find this out his family told him that what makes America great is the right to be wrong. And this led me to thinking about the dynamic between the two parties. The election results surprised me to say the least. I expected the majority of voters to buy into the propaganda that the Republicans were dispensing through commercials, sound bites, and Presidential visits. The message being directed at all of us was that the Republicans, and only the Republicans, knew what was good for the country and had the ability to deliver it. And that the Democrats would either invite the terrorists to attack again or help them gain access to some really nasty stuff. It sounded exactly like what Dick Cheney said during the last presidential campaign. I forgot where he was speaking, but the message was simply vote for us and the country will not get attacked. This was a wonderful piece of rhetoric since, if I remember correctly, the Republicans were in power on 9/11. And that is where the difference between the two parties lies. If they want your opinion, the Republicans will give you the party line. While the Democrats will actually listen to what you have to say. The whole situation reminds me of the Cold War since the Republicans sound more and more like the Soviets and the Democrats like the US. It also reminds me of a divorced couple fighting over their children by trying to convince them that the other parent is no good.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Voting machines.

Since today is Election Day I did the responsible thing and voted. I take voting seriously for two reasons. First is that in the Soviet one party system there was no point in voting. And second is that before I got my United States citizenship I could not vote. As a Resident Alien I would pay taxes to support the government, but I was not allowed to pick people who ran it. This was the first time I encountered computerized voting machines. Several weeks ago I started hearing ads on the radio advertising a website which was suppose to help Pennsylvanians get used to the new gadgets. I, being The Ignorant Immigrant that I am, kept meaning to visit this site in order to educate myself. But when I sat foot inside the local fire hall where the voting took place, I realized that I completely forgot to visit this site and became filled with fear that my ignorant immigrance will somehow prevent me from using the machine in the proper manner. However, once I approached the device, trembling like an ape in front of a black monolith, and read through a brief tutorial everything seemed fine. I left the fire hall rather pleased with myself. I have survived the electoral process and am looking forward to doing it again in 2008.

Election Day.

This year Election Day fell on November 7th which is also the day that was celebrated as the anniversary of the October Revolution in the Soviet Union. See, back in 1917 Russia was still using the Julian calendar, which is 13 days behind the more common Gregorian calendar, so the revolution actually took place on October 25th, 1917.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Big Brother online.

It seems that a vision of the future William Gibson wrote about in Neuromancer and other novels is slowly becoming a solid and tangible thing, if only in a completely virtual way.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Kerry issue.

By now, what John Kerry said about poor grades and being stuck in Iraq is old news. But I wanted to take time to ponder it because I wanted what I wrote to be what I thought, and not what I felt, about the issue. I think that the Republicans could not have planned it better themselves. I think that Kerry, without any help, torpedoed the Democrats who are trying to unseat the Republicans throughout the country. What Kerry said came so close to the election that it will still be fresh in the voters' minds on Tuesday. There is no amount of money the Republicans could have spent on negative ads, which by the way they are so good at, that would have caused this much damage. Another thing that Kerry did to help the Republican cause was not apologize right away. And when he did apologize it was a half-hearted apology which did nothing to improve the situation. Before the Kerry debacle I used to think that the Democrats had a chance of winning a lot of the elections around the country. Now I have no idea how this election is going to end. I guess we will see on Wednesday if the Democrats still have a chance.

Politics as usual.

Friday, the local paper ran a story they picked up from the wire about the settlement between Don Sherwood and his mistress. The story said the settlement was $500,000 and that Sherwood's mistress received less than half of this money. As part of the settlement, she will get the rest of it after the election day. She is also not supposed to talk about the details of the settlement or she forfeits the money. And Sherwood got away with not admitting any wrongdoing. Another story in the same issue, this one written by a member of the newspaper's staff, said that Sherwood is confident in his victory. Of course he is confident. He had great support in this election. People like his wife, who should have crucified him, and George W. Bush, who would have crucified him if Sherwood were a Democrat, campaigned for him. The message I get as a voter is that it is OK to cheat on your wife, and even to choke your mistress on occasion, as long as you are a Republican. Then you can buy all kinds of forgiveness and continue to preach "family values" (which exclude gay marriage, but not extramarital affairs) from the pulpit of your elected office.

Monday, October 30, 2006

To the victor go the spoils.

First, the St. Louis Cardinals won this year's World Series by defeating the Detroit Tigers. And now St. Louis surpassed Detroit in the "most dangerous city in the country" category. Sometimes it is better to lose.

October.

October has always been my favorite month. What I love about October is watching the leaves change. September, a lot of times, is an extension of Summer. And November is more like Winter with its rain and cold. There is something magical about all the colors that you see in nature this time of year, especially here in Pennsylvania. The tree-covered mountains take on a beauty which escapes capture by words or by my low-end cell phone camera. You simply have to see it for yourself.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

PA Republicans.

Yesterday, as I was ignoring the nightly news, I heard the anchor announce that President Bush is coming to Northeastern Pennsylvania to attend a fundraiser for the "embattled" Congressman Don Sherwood. Embattled in this case means that Sherwood had a mistress who called 911 one day because she feared for her life. What is interesting is that if Sherwood were a Democrat, the Republicans would nail his ass to the wall like they did with Clinton over Monica Lewinsky. But since he is one of them, there is no mention of this being a problem. Otherwise why would the President come here for a fundraiser? Also recently the other Republican party's gift to Pennsylvania, Rick Santorum, compared the war in Iraq to J.R.R.Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings. My undergraduate degree is in English so I am used to comparing and contrasting things, but after pondering this for a while I still do not get it. One is an unnecessary waste of American lives and the other is a classic of English literature. With senators like these, who needs terrorists. God help us if they get re-elected.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Damn Yankees.

Cory Lidle is dead. He died in a fiery crash when his plane collided with is a Manhattan building. By now this is not news, but I wanted to write about his death because it seemed to me symbolic of the Yankees performance lately. They have fallen into a holding pattern, if I may use an airplane related term here, of signing big names only to see them fail in a spectacular fashion. A perfect example of this is Randy "The Redneck" Johnson who went from being the best left handed pitcher to being just an old guy with a bad back. The Yankees should have traded for him back in 2002 after he, with some help from the Diamondbacks, won the World Series. Alex Rodriguez, whose plane just overshot the runaway, is another example of the spectacular failure pattern. At one point, he was the highest paid baseball player in the Majors. But at the time he played for the George W. Bush owned Texas Rangers and we all know how capable Bush is in the good judgement department. Don't get me wrong I am a Yankees fan, but lately they make it very hard to root for them when they squander money only to see it go up in smoke. If they want to waste millions they might as well sign me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Columbus Day.

Yesterday was Columbus Day, a holiday which should be abolished. It should be abolished not because it may be offensive to Native Americans who discovered America when their ancestors crossed over the Bering Strait from Asia during the last Ice Age. But because Columbus should not be celebrated at all. He did not discover America. He stumbled upon the Caribbean, the island of San Salvador to be exact, where he landed on October 21, 1492. To put it simply, the man got lost and now we celebrate him as a great explorer. Sad, very sad. Also, America was named after Amerigo Vespucci who explored America but we do not bother to erect his statues in public places or name avenues after him. And what about Leif Ericson, the first European who actually landed on the North American continent centuries before Columbus got lost?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How low can they go.

Yesterday, while I was visiting my friend Leather Penguin, actually I was visiting his site since he lives on a small, not-so-tropical island off the coast of New York, I saw something that amazed and amused me. As I was scrawling down his site I saw an advertisement for a blog by non other than our "beloved" (insert massive amounts of sarcasm here) Senator Rick Santorum. I clicked on it and, after viewing a few entrees, laughed. It is truly laughable that politicians will use anything to get us to vote for them. I have already received something in the mail from him, had my enjoyment of C.S.I. and spin offs interrupted by his commercials, and see campaign signs along every road in town. This, however, is something I was not expecting. I know that politicians embrace the Internet in their bid for election or re-election, but this, in my not-so-humble opinion is too far. For Pete's sake, leave blogging to those of us that don't occupy an elected office from which to spew their drivel in form of legislation and sound bites and who will not be seen on Beat The Press or Mace The Nation, as an ex-girlfriend of mine used to call them. Having said this, I would like to announce my candidacy for the US Senate as a Senator from Pennsylvania under the "Blogging for Bloggers" platform. I am The Ignorant Immigrant and I approved this message.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Election season.

October is upon us which means that the number of election ads is going to increase. Actually it has increased already to the point that I don't want to watch regular television. I am tired of politician after politician proclaiming that they approve the message and what follows is an insult to their opponents and our intelligence. I am begining to think that elections should be desided by boxing matches, bare knuckle boxing matches. I am sure that people would pay to see these.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

English vs. American.

Episode #201 of Alien Loves Predator is the best demonstration of the differences between the two languages. If you don't think that American is a separate language, this should, hopefully, convince you.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Yankees are coming.

It's official, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Red Barons are going to replace the Columbus Clippers as the Yankees' AAA team. This is great news since there are far more Yankees fans than Phillies, the team Red Barons were previously affiliated with, fans in our area. There are major changes in store for the stadium where the team currently plays. There is talk of switching from astroturf to natural grass as well as getting rid of the upper decks to increase the demand for tickets. The current team isn't spectacular and neither is the attendance which might, in part, be due to their performance and the Phillies affiliation. All this is going to change. People are going to be coming to the games to see the future Yankees as well as the current ones during their rehab stints. All I can say is: "take me out to the ball game!"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Don't ban smoking.

The city of Philadelphia just passed a ban on smoking in public places. So the heard minded people around here were thinking of doing the same to make the air cleaner. There are a couple of problems with this idea. One is that people will continue smoking in their houses and thereby still polluting the air. Two is that we will still have factories and vehicles belching out such good stuff as carcinogens. And the common denominator of these problems is people. People also cause such problems as drive by shootings and suicide bombings. Therefore, in order to make our public places cleaner and safer don't ban smoking, ban people.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Crusades anyone?

Friday, the Pope pissed off the Muslims with a statement he made about Islam being spread by the use of violence during a speech in Germany. Saturday, he apologized for the huge misunderstanding of his speech. Today, the Somalis killed a Catholic nun. The thing all the protesting Muslims seemed to have forgotten is that Islam was spread by military conquest. And you can't have military conquest without violence. Also, for people who don't want to be perceived as violent they sure do kill a lot of innocent civilians.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Fall.

It seems that Fall has arrived. It has rained for the last two days and when I drove past the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds I saw several tents and stands already set up. The Fair doesn't start until the 23rd but vendors begin arriving well in advance along with the cold weather and rain. Out come the long sleaves and rain jackets, in go shorts and sandals. Even though Summer doesn't officially end until September 22nd, it is only a formality because Fall is here already.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Linguistically speaking.

So, it seems all the people who are trying to make English the official language of this country are wrong. The language is not in any danger from the Spanish speaking immigrants. Funny thing is that the language spoken in the US isn't English. It's American.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years later.

When I thought about what I would write today several things came to mind. One was all the programs commemorating today's anniversary. I did not think they were necessary because it is not going to be a day anybody will soon forget. Another one was the current state of things and the recent arrests in England. It seems to me that five years later we aren't any safer. But then my wife said something that changed my view of things. As I was driving her to work, and we were listening to the radio, she said "it's been five years, we weren't even married then." And I started thinking about all the things that happened in my life in the last five years. The attacks on 9/11 made me realize that I did not want to wait to get married. And so my wife and I quickly threw a wedding together in a couple of months and got married on the fourth anniversary of our first date. Also I stopped wandering aimlessly and decided to go to graduate school. Now I am working on my Masters degree. And the best thing is that my wife and I are expecting our first child. My life has changed for the better since 9/11 and that is what I will remember the next time I hear bad news coming out of the Middle East. Because I am moving forward and this is my small victory over terrorism.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Books.

Today, as I was recycling my soda bottles and unread newspapers, it dawned on me that the so-called Western Civilization is slowly fading into oblivion. Here is why, the Bloomsburg recycling center has two bins for books: one for hard cover and one for paperback. Books should not be recycled. Books should be read, reread, and loaned to friends who would forget to return them. Even to this day, the Library of Alexandria destruction is considered the greatest loss of knowledge known to mankind. But, yet we consider recycling books a perfectly mundane occurance. Prior to the invention of the printing press, books took months to copy and were very, very expensive. And now, thanks to Guttenberg, if you want disposable printed word buy newspapers and magazines. Nobody would fault you for recycling those.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Russians and Donuts.

Today I met another, or should I say the other, Russian in Bloomsburg. Her name is Olga and she works at Dunkin Donuts. She's originally from Kazakhstan which is located in Central Asia, bordering Russia and China. She told me she spent 10 years in Germany and came here because of her husband. She would have told me more, but my order was complete and I had to go.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

To blog or not to blog.

It is September and I have not yet changed the calendar above my desk. I also have not written anything in a while. In fact, the whole month of August went by without much writing on my part. I read other blogs where people post something every day even if it has no significance at all. Yet I find myself unable to write even the simplest things like: today I have nothing to say. My original goal was to write about the things that I, as an immigrant, find absolutely bizarre. I have always wanted to have a platform for my thoughts and now that I have one I fail to use it. Maybe my location has something to do with my lack of writing. My friend Leather Peguin, who resides in NYC, has no problems coming up with stuff to write about. On the other hand, he never had any problems in that department. I know that daily life has something to do with my inability to write, but I always aspired to become a writer and not writing is a sure way not to achieve my goal. Oh, well...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's history.

So I am watching the night news on a local station, and they show a building being demolished in the nearby city of Wilkes Barre. As I am watching a construction worker bring down the building with a back-hoe, the news anchor says that it's a Planters building being demolished because it hasn't been used in a while. Then the anchor goes on to say that Planters was founded in 1906 in Wilkes Barre. So I go to the Planters website and sure enough the news report is right. It was founded there by two Italian immigrants. What I wonder is why wouldn't a company as big as Planters invest a little money and turn the building into a museum to celebrate their roots. This would have been good for both Planters and Wilkes Barre which is racked with drug related violence. I guess there is no sense of history in big business. Somehow I am not surprised.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Apathy rules!

It is August and I have not posted anything since the middle of July. One reason for this is pure laziness that, I believe, was induced by the almost 100 degree heat we have been enjoying. And I can't think of another reason right now. Not to mention the fact that there hasn't been anything of great interest to comment on recently. So here I sit in my ignorance.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

It's official!

The Hazleton city council passed the anit-immigration ordinance with a 4-1 vote. Now English is the official language of Hazleton. The landlords who rent to illegal immigrant and employees who hire illegal immigrants will have to pay $1,000 per immigrant in fines if caught. I wonder how long it will be before other cities around the country start thinking this is a good idea and pass their own ordinances. After all, jumping on the band wagon is a national pastime more popular than baseball.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

And they call me ignorant.

My friend the Leather Penguin wrote about this pro-life goof who read an article about abortion in The Onion and argued with the article's imaginary author in his blog. This goof, of course, received a ton of comments telling him what a goof he is. So he decided to write a few more blogs defending his goofiness and insulting the people who commented. He even said that he knew it was satire all along. Yeah, right. I will believe that when I feed peanuts to the elephants on whose backs the Earth is resting.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

My former countrymen amuse me.

Today, several news agencies reported that Shamil Basayev, the Chechen version of Osama, was killed in an explosion. This is great news since he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Russian civilians, most recently the Beslan school siege. The two sides of the Russo-Chechen war disagree on what exactly caused the explosion. The Chechens claim that he died in an accidental explosion while escorting a truck loaded with explosives. While the Russian security forces claim that Basayev was killed by a bomb they planted and detonated. The amusing thing about this is that back in the Soviet Union they used to claim that Russia was the source of every invention known to man. We even had a joke about it. We used to say that Russia was the birthplace of elephants. And it seems that it still is.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The surrealism of reality TV.

I am watching the Sci-Fi channel and a commercial comes on for a new reality show. This show is brought to you by the comic book legened Stan Lee. And the title of this masterpiece of reality television is Who Wants To Be A Superhero? And all I can think is, has Stan Lee lost it in his old age. This idea is worse than American Idle or Purgatory's Pantry. It sounds as bad as Who Wants To Be A Crackwhore? which is not a real show, not yet at least.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's been a year since the London Bombing.

So I offer a little prayer on this sad anniversary. May the victims' families find peace. May the British intelligence find those responsible. May the British special forces separate them from their testicles. And may the perpetrators rot in hell with 72 hot pokers shoved up their asses on daily basis forever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It was twenty years ago today...

I recently saw an advertisement for quarters commemorating the Mets 1986 World Series victory. This amused me because it is not something I would think the Mets would want to commemorate. Yes, they won a World Series, but it has been twenty years. This, to me, says we are celebrating the fact that we haven't won in twenty years. This is kind of like throwing a party to remember the grand slam you hit in little league. But what do I know, I'm a Yankees fan.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

We have running water again. We have to boil it before we can drink it, but at least we don't have to go the water buffalo to get some. We still have a curfew and mud on the streets as well as in the park and the fair grounds. We might not even have the tradiotional 4th of July concert and fireworks in the park, but it is still a very happy day in my little corner of PA.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

More flood fun.

The Susquehanna river finally dropped below flood stage. However, we now have a dusk until dawn curfew. Good news is that the town has been declared eligible for Federal Disaster Relief. So, hopefully, we'll have running water by the end of July.

Friday, June 30, 2006

More flood photos.

I still can't believe this was not caused by a hurricane. This is horrendous. I feel so lucky that all I have to deal with is lack of running water. It'll be a long time before things get back to even remotely normal.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The flood photos.

Here are some pictures of the flood taken yesterday. I think my little corner of Pennsylvania was an island for a bit. People were telling me all the roads were closed, but I didn't check the county website to see for myself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

This just in.

Water! A lot of water! My little corner of Pennsylvania is flooded. It has been raining for days and now the rivers are overflowing and there is no running water. As Colridge once said: "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." Also there are army helicopters flying overhead.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The problem with living in a rural area is living in a rural area.

Lately, I have nothing at all to write about. This is a side effect of life in a rural area. The sun rises and sets. People go about their daily business. That's about it around here. It is even parts excitement and boredom. Sometimes it is more boredom than excitement. To quote Gershwin: "Summertime and the living is easy."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It was bound to happen.

A local mayor decided to make it illigal for anybody to hire, or rent to, illigal immigrants in his town. He proposed fines of $1,000 for each illigal immigrant. I am not sure whether to laugh or cry. But I am going to find my citizenship certificate and have it laminated. You never know when the State Security will knock on your door and ask to see your papers.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Evil Day.

Well, 6/06/06 is almost over and it was a rather unremarcable day here in rural PA. A bunch of local heavy metal bands held a one day festival called Lucifest somewhere in the wilderness. And the highly pointless remake of The Omen came out. I didn't think it was going to be much to write about, but why not write about it anyway. After all, a day with so much religious significance will not happen again in my life time.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Where am I going?

This morning, as I was driving in the company car (mine is still being fixed, or so the mechanic lies to me) down a local road I noticed something interesting. According to the route marker, I was heading North, but the big, red ball we all agreed to call the Sun was shining in my face. This would mean that I was actually heading East. How could the roadbuilders get so confused? I am sure that the roadbuilders in ancient Rome knew East from North and West from South. But it seems this knowledge did not survive the Dark Ages. And so I find myself in this age of GPS satellites and turn by turn navigation heading in the wrong direction.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The joy of living in a rural area can also be a pain.

Here we enjoy lower prices on gas, food, and lodging. However, everything here requires a car, especially one that works. And mine diceded to take a break. So once again I am longing for public transportation that large metropolitan areas depend on. Funny thing is that walking has become a thing of the past in this rural area. I went for a walk yesterday afternoon to get a cup of coffee from a local bagel shop and did not see many people on the streets. It seemed like a ghost town without the tumbleweeds rolling down the street. Now it is raining. I don't mind singing in the rain, but would rather not walk in it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Back in the USSR.

The NSA is compliling a database of our telephone conversations and reading our e-mails. This makes me laugh because this is exactly why I left the Soviet Union. And now I find myself having traded one country where the government spies on its people for another. Except now I don't find the shelves bare when I go to my local supermarket and the lines aren't as long. Since outsourcing is a big thing among businesses, I think the government should do the same and hire ex-KGB agents as well as former East German secret policemen to spy on us. After all, these people have more experience spying on their own people than the NSA twits ever hope to achieve.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

17 Years Later.

I have been busy recently. So busy, in fact, that I almost forgot the anniversary of my arrival in this country. I e-mailed my Dad to remind him and he couldn't remember if we arrived here on May 9th or May 10th. And neither could I for that matter. It's funny how significant that day felt all those years ago and now I can't even remember which one it was.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day!

It is the first of May, the day that was celebrated as the International Workers' Day in the Soviet Union. And this is the day that illegal immigrants and other protesters of the current immigration policy chose to demonstrate America's dependence on immigrant labor. This to me reeks of socialism which I do not like because it was at the core of the Soviet experiment (what else can you call the now, thankfully, former Soviet Union?) as well as Adolf and the Nazis.
So what is an immigrant to make of all this since something has to be made of it. I came to this country legally and have been trying to carve out a niche for myself ever since. It was hard and I spoke English when I landed at JFK that rainy afternoon almost 17 years ago. People come here because here you can be free, truly free. I grew up knowing that if I spoke up against the government I would be punished for it. But here I can stand on top of the Empire State Building screaming: "Bush is an idiot!" into a megaphone and the not-so-secret police will not drag me away to Guantanamo Bay. It is a pretty heady feeling knowing that I am free to disagree. This is why I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment. I will defend your right to express yourself even if what you say pisses me off. There is room in this country for all of us.
What people who want to change the immigration policy seem to forget is that America was founded on immigrants. Even the so-called Native Americans are desended from people who came across the Bering Straight Bridge during the last Ice Age. This continent most likely did not even have a native population. As for the immigration policy itself, go to Ellis Island and look at the history of immigration. There used to be quotas of how many people from each country were allowed in. And if you were starving, or in fear for your life, but exceeded your country's quota, you were up shit's creek in a leaky boat without a peddle. So I am very greatful that I came to America when I did. And those who think that the current policy is too liberal should be grateful that not only their ancestors made it across the ocean but were allowed in when they arrived.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Let it flow.

This past weekend was a very busy one here in dear old Bloomsburg. This time of April the town usually throws a street festival to celebrate Spring. This event coinsides with the Bloomsburg University holding a Children and Siblings Weekend for their students. And the students hold a block party at which alcohol flows freely. My wife and I usually go to the street festival to partake of the food and listen to the bands. We do not have any children so going to the University sponsored shindig was useless for us. And the booze fest is a something that I just don't understand. This year, however, we would have been better off hanging out with the children or getting drunk because the street fest got rained out. Well, it would have been rained out if the organizers had the brains to close it down since it rained hard and got cold quickly, or to check the forcast and postpone it until the next weekend. But alas, poor Yorick, no such luck. The street fest must be held rain or shine. And so, soaked, cold, and laidened with cheap books we bought from local churches, we went home to watch tv and attempt to get warm. Oh well, maybe next year.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Old dog, old tricks.

Where I come from if people ask you how you are they want to know. But not in this country, here it has become a greating. At first, I used to tell people how I was but the odd looks on their faces told me I was doing something wrong. This was a hard thing for me to get used to, but I eventually did. Depsite all my years in this country I occasionally forget this rule. Case in point, the other day I was talking to a beautiful woman who works with my wife and she asked me how I was. Distracted, I started to tell her about my walk from the campus of Gibbsville University to my wife's work place. Then, all of a sudden, I realised that all she wanted to hear is "fine". It's not a statement of your actual being, it's just a statement. And that is what the interaction between people has boiled down to, statements. Simple statements that do not allow a conection to form between people. It's all very binary.

Monday, April 17, 2006

New fraise proposal.

In view of recent governmental inquiries into steroid use by the MLB players, I propose a new fraise to replace the tried and worn out "Does the bear shit in the woods?" and "Is the pope catholic?". This fraise is "Does Bonds take steroids?" It's about time to update the clich├ęs .

Don't forget your towel.

On Friday, my wife and I went to the Red Barons home opener. It had been raining on and off throughout the day and we weren't sure if the game would not be rained out. We had really good seats and were shielded from the rain by a roof of sorts, but the seats themselves were wet. So the towels, my wife so prudently packed in her purse, came in handy. The game was very exciting and enjoyable despite the Red Barons losing. It is nice to see a game which has nothing to do with multi-million dollar contracts or steroid abuse. It is baseball the way it used to, and was meant to, be.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

America the uniform.

When I first moved to the small town where I now reside it was difference from other small towns. It had its own unique flair, history, and appearance. It was even different from the small town eight miles away that I moved from. It was especially different from the City of New York where I used to live. The things that I use to measure uniqueness of a place are stores, restaurants, and architecture. By seeing all these you can really get to know a place and its people. And now the uniqueness of this small town is being erroded by a massive invation of chains. In the last two years the following have appeared in our, previously prestine, backyard: Super Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depo, Office Depo, Charlie Brown's Steak House, Panera Bread, and Ruby Tuesday's. Also there are a Holiday Inn Express and a Goodwill store being built. Now, because of these changes people traveling along the interstate could not tell our little part of Pennsylvania from any place else. America the beautiful is slowly becoming America the uniform, America the corporate. The issue I have not resolved yet is whether or not this influx of convinience and so-called civilization worth the loss of identity.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Speak now, think later.

Since English is my second language some sayings and fraises baffle me. Here is a perfect example: "Have a good (insert a holiday here) if I don't see you." This makes me think that the speaker is suggesting you will have a bad holiday if the two of you see each other again. So to combat this practice, I wish people to have a good holiday without implying whether we are going to see each other in the near future or not. It seems to make more sence to me. After all, I don't want anybody to have a bad holiday.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Say what you mean, mean what you say.

It is seems that Roger Clemens might come out of retirement again. He did it once, so why shouldn't he do it twice? This is a really poplular thing to do with artist and athletes. Examples? Mr. Air himself, Michael Jordan, who has come out of retirement several times. In fact, I think he is overdue for another come back. Then there are Celine Dion and Elton John. Both made retirement announcements only to come back a little while later. It's called taking a break, or a long vacation, but not retirement. Retirement implies that you won't be doing what you have been doing anymore, that you no longer have to go to work every day, or in The Rocket's case every five days. It does not imply that you will be coming back after a year or so. If you are going to retire hang around the house, travel the world, buy stuff you don't need, but under no circumstances come back. That's what I am going to do.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Play Ball!

Spring officially starts in March, but to me the start of baseball season means Spring is here. And nothing says baseball around here like the home opener of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons. The Red Barons are a Triple-A team which means you get to see a good game for a lot less money. How much less? $23 for two tickets right by the visiting team's dugout, very near the homeplate. This is what makes living in small town America truly great. After I bought the tickets I found out that Mick Foley, the legendary hardcore wrestler, will be throwing out the first pitch and signing autographs (not at the same time). I am excited that the baseball season, I mean Spring, is finally here.