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Monthly Archives: July 2008

When I lived there, I knew nothing about this.  Then again, neither my family nor my neigbors had any pets.  All I knew about toads in Bermuda is that cars hit them.  All the time, and they lay on the road a litterally cook.  Yes.  It’s gross.  However, according to Bermuda’s SPCA, they’re a nuisence in a completely different way too:

Now that the warmer weather is here, these loveable (!?)creatures are starting to make an appearance again.They tend to stay hidden during the day and venture out in theevening or when it’s dark.

Dogs, in particular, as they may try to play with or bite these toads, will be exposed to the toads’ defense mechanism, a toxin secreted from its skin.

Signs or symptoms of toad poisoning are drooling, head shaking, crying and eventually loss of co-ordination, convulsions and death.

If you suspect that your dog has toad poisoning, thoroughly hose it’s mouth out with water and immediately seek advice from your veterinarian.

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Ditto what I said last post.

Sick Leave for Family Care or Bereavement Purposes

Most Federal employees may use a total of up to 104 hours (13 workdays) of sick leave each leave year to-

  • provide care for a family member who is incapacitated as a result of physical or mental illness, injury, pregnancy, or childbirth;
  • provide care for a family member as a result of medical, dental, or optical examination or treatment; or
  • make arrangements necessitated by the death of a family member or attend the funeral of a family member.

A covered full-time employee may use up to 104 hours (13 workdays) of sick leave each leave year for these purposes. Part-time employees and employees with uncommon tours of duty are also covered, and the amount of sick leave permitted for family care and bereavement purposes is pro-rated in proportion to the average number of hours of work in the employee’s scheduled tour of duty each week.

Amazing some of the minutia you need to look into when writing fiction.

Chronology of General Schedule Pay Legislation

Expats, once they’ve returned home after a long time abroad, can have trouble adapting.  Their vision of their mother country is somewhat strange and out of day, colored by the reactions and beliefs of host nation locals.  There is a such thing as reverse culture shock, and routinely, overseas brats and third culture kids feel once they step arrive in the airport.  There are many different ways this can manifest itself, but speaking from my own personal experience, there’s one thing that has happened to me.  As noted elsewhere on this blog, I used to not like answering the question, “Where are you from?”  My reason for hating that question had another wrinkle to it for the longest time.  Some lesser informed people tend to react poorly when given the answer.  In my experience, some have reacted with, “Will you please stop bragging about your travel experience?”  The thing is: I’m NOT bragging.  It’s just the way I was brought up, moving from base to base.  That’s like saying to somebody, “Will you stop bragging” when they talk about growing up in small town North Carolina.  So, the result is thus:  you clam up.  It’s just one facet of the Third Culture experience.

I’m thinking about this because recently found an article that seeks to dispell some notions about living abroad. There’s a paragraph, though, about alienation that hits pretty close to home:

Adult TCKs also recall occasional feelings of painful isolation and adjustment, most frequently noted in the form of reverse culture shock upon re-entry into their home country. Not surprising, most of these memories were concentrated around the teenage years. “Most people in their early teen years don’t want to be different,” said Peters. “So feeling that you’re out of synch with other people your age can be really frustrating.”

I moved to America when I turned 18 and entered college.  The above aptly describes a good bit of my college experience.

One of the more popular complaints about the government and military is that’s gross and innefficient.  Sometimes, that takes on a new poignancy when you’re a host nation picking up after the American military, once it’s shut down it’s bases and left for good.  Such is the case of Bermuda and the US Navy, which back in the 1990’s shut down Naval Air Station Bermuda and The Navy Annex.  Bermuda has been left with a pollution problem, one which the US Government refuses to take care of.  The American government has maintained that over the course of its stay in Bermuda, it has provided much to island chain — like building the Air Port at no cost to the locals (of course, the runway was shared by naval air craft).  And so on.  Since Bermuda is a self governing part of the United Kingdom, most of those in parliament look at the environmental damage done to Bermuda, shrug, and say something to Bermudian politicians like “Uh, that’s your problem.”  So, it’s no surprise that stories like the following end up in the Royal Gazette:

A war veteran has flown to Bermuda from Texas as he builds his case for compensation amid allegations toxic waste was dumped at Kindley Air Force Base.

Andrew Moore, 64, believes his ill health has been brought on from his time as an air passenger specialist — whose job was to dump tons of human waste in a deep pit — at the US baselands in 1963-64.

Cancer victim Mr. Moore’s concerns have grown since The Royal Gazette reported former serviceman Ronald Slater’s claims that he knew of numerous barrels of lethal defoliant Agent Orange being dumped and burned in a Kindley pit from 1965 to 1967.

Other veterans have claimed substances such as mercury and hydrochloric acid were disposed of in the same manner.

When one thinks of NASA, one thinks of rockets, lift off, and outer space.   NASA’s Cooper Island Tracking Facility in Bermuda also concerned itself with some of the more mundane and natural aspects of aviation.  They tracked and monitored birds, as nasabermuda.com states:

The Cooper’s Island station was also called upon to do the bird migration studies. The reason for doing this was that flocks of birds might get into the intakes of some of the jets taking off from Bermuda. So they wanted to know the migratory habits of birds flying over Bermuda, and what kind of quantities. Bill Todd noted “There are a lot of birds that fly over Bermuda and if you only realize, some of them go right over and don’t stop. There are a lot of them that do stop as they come by. We saw some flocks of ducks, big flocks, … they flew in a ‘V’ formation. Some of those ducks flew pretty high – several thousand feet.”

“We were tracking this very small target and scientist David Windgate looking through the telescope would say what it was we were tracking. ‘Look! this is very tiny what ever it is’ so we tracked it, and he said that the only thing he could see in the telescope was a grasshopper. David said that grasshoppers do migrate when the winds are favorable they get up there and migrate from island to island So we tracked grasshoppers as they migrated from Bermuda to the other islands.”

There’s more ethnic food in supermarkets. And when I mean “ethnic,” I mean strange Polish stuff you’ve never heard of before, even with a bit of Polish heritage in you, as well as the very small amount of time spent you spent in Poland….

Imagine this: Californians wake up one day and find that all the Mexicans have vanished. Not all Latinos, mind you — the Guatemalans, Costa Ricans, Salvadorians, and so on are still there. It’s just the Mexicans that vanish. Farms are forced to go without migrant workers, houses go uncleaned, children go un-nannied (is that even a word?), and much more. The economy goes into a free fall.

So, one wonders than, how did the Mexicans disappear? Where they rounded up by police-state type immigration officials and shipped south of the border? Genocide? No, nothing that extreme. They just simply vanished in an unexplained manner, and the whole state is surrounded by a mysterious pink/purple fog that has cut off communications.

On the whole, the concept is interesting. There’s an apolalyptic overtone there, as well as one that’s speculative. For instance, George Romero and his zombie filled social commentaries come to mind. The comparisions have to stop there. Romero made compelling films, and A Day Without A Mexican is — how shall I put this nicely? — a peice of political propaganda.

I don’t say that lightly. For the record, I agree whole hearted with the sentiment behind the film. I totally understand it’s political point of view and respect it. However, sometimes politics can trash and artistic medium and devalue it. Romero makes compelling films because he’s focused on the drama at hand. Not once, in Dawn of the Dead, does he stop or freeze the frame while a zombie is gnawing on an arm and insert, “You know, the average American consumer…” But that’s practically what a Day Without a Mexican does. It’s so intent on arguing and injecting demographic facts it’s case that it becomes a boring movie that’s tiresome to sit through. That even kills all possibility of humor and satire. If one wants to make an overtly political, banner waving movie, at least take a page from Micheal Moore’s oeuvre and film a cinematic personal essay.

–Rich Ristow

America is not the only country that has had a military presence abroad. Take Bermuda, for example, the Canadian military used to have a post there:

Once an important site in the Atlantic HF/DF net. Under the operational control of CSE Ottawa and fully integrated in the UK/USA Sigint network. Major tasks included Russian and bloc shipping, general naval tasks, BULLSEYE automated DF system, Project Wideband to copy JUMBO (Soviet naval and sub burst traffic) and other spread spectrum methods. There was also a CDAA (Circularly Disposed Antenna Array) on the base.

Bermuda-online.org has a whole wealth of information on the base.

That warehouse job is just a memory, now. I’ve been laid off for weeks now, and I actively don’t expect to be called back to work. The beauty of that job, in it’s mindlessness, was listening to podcasts all day. Now, not in that environment, my consumption of podcasts has diminished greatly. On the upside, I interview at a university tomorrow, which is actually more in line with my employment history. I’m hoping for the best. At any rate, here are some of the podcasts I’ve thought about since getting laid off:

Pseudopod 013: Redmond’s Private Screening by Kevin J. Anderson

It should be noted that Kevin J. Anderson and Kevin Anderson are not the same people. I’m not saying that to be a dick, but to point out that They are two separate people. The initial J. makes a difference. I also say this because both writers have had stories produced and streamed by Pseudopod. One has written oodles of novels and the other has written primarily short stories. For the record, I’ve enjoyed the stories of both writers. “Redmond’s Private Screening” is an interesting ghost story, about Japanese immigrants, and ritual disembowelment. It’s also interesting in how it uses the early history of movie making. Recommended.

Pendant: Seminar Anthology

Audio drama broken up into an “anthology” set up where each episode is a college course on humanity. Interesting.