Wednesday: a day, well, spend

In any other city I wouldn’t hesitate to move about, but here in Warsaw I have old habits and they are difficult to break. My expensive Apple phone finally became useful with some creative use of offline maps and the GPS, and me and Tomasz managed to bus about with a minimum of confusion and lost time. Tomorrow we’re heading to a barn and then to a commentator for an interview; we’re actually watching the guy on TV right now, and I’m trying to come up with a lighting strategy. Somehow, it’s far simpler to tell other people how to take pictures than to improvise yourself, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

The Internets did lie to me as for the weather – I was told, in no uncertain terms, that there’d be 8 degrees and sunny today, but I really should have packed something besides my optimistic jacket. Also, I ought to be a better brother to my brother and get him a present, seeing as it’s his birthday today. (Which reminds me that I missed Matildas birthday three days ago. Oh well, I guess we’re even now)

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West coast to coast, GBG → SF

Mom brought me and Tomasz along with her and Jozef to San Francisco and then Hawaii, and I thought I’d sum up while I’m still here. I’m in full on vacation mode, and between driving around Oahu and laying on the beach, time sure flies. I haven’t been able to dive cause of a cold clogging up my head, but I did snorkel and see an underwater turtle. It was awesome. Other observations:

1) The IHOP doesn’t carry anything vegan except dry toast and lettuce. It might actually be for the better though, as I got to watch others pig out and didn’t hate myself afterwards.
2) Tofu is common, but even “very firm” varieties are watery. As I write this, it’s been frying for 30 minutes.
3) If you leave crisps out for an hour, the humidity will reconstitute them into potatoes, at least in Hawaii.
4) Saying “C’mon let’s go before we get sunburned” for an hour does not in fact stop you from getting burned.
5a) It takes three days before Speedo’s seem like dinner wear.
5b) Speedo’s, although tight fitting, do not stop sand from abrading your tender bits.
6) People really like to show of their military credentials. Like, really.
7) Waves are big as fuck in person. Thinking about dying is an interesting thing. Also, see “abrading” above.
8) People do the “hang loose” sing a lot, and they seem to be serious about it.
9) “Noisy” and “gargantuan” are selling points when buying cars.

We stopped by San Francisco on our way to Oahu and Petter met up with me and Tomasz for a days walking and sightseeing. Back when I went to New York I had the ambition to hang out in local bars and ordering coffee with the pronunciation I’ve heard from old Jewish ladies in sitcoms. In San Francisco I didn’t have any ambitions of my own, so was very happy to be guided around by Petter, who has gone completely native and is talking to everybody and everyone, embodying the concept of being friendly. It’s an astounding transformation, and one can only hope that he’ll bring some of that attitude back with him. In Gothenburg, he’ll be that really nice and talkative guy you will hear about. He’s still there for another week or so, looking smashing in his new hat and posting pictures here:

For some reason I’d gotten into my mind that I ought to buy a “proper kitchen knife” since that is something which adults seem to do a lot, and I bought a MAC from a nice lady in Chinatown, who threw in another knife and a backscratcher just cause I was nice. She asked me to pass on the word that they ship cheaply to Sweden, and that Kiwi knives are the new black and available, so stop by The Wok Shop if you’re looking for cutlery or such.

Of all the places one can be sick in, Hawaii isn’t the worst, and between getting a really uneven tan and driving around the island, I’m enjoying myself plenty and don’t really look forward to the cold back home, nor the awaiting jetlag which will kick my pasty ass.

On the street, in a car, I honk honk honk.

My mom has begged me to get a drivers license for years, trying all arguments. “You’ll get a better job” she’d say. “It’s a grown up thing to do” she’d say. “Think of all the bitches and respect your pimp ride would get!” she’d say.

Finally, with the assistance and company of my brother, I’ve found myself at a two weeks intensive driver ed in Eskiltuna, a small city south-west of Stockholm. We were driving from day one, jaded instructors at our side ready to push their own set of pedals should we lose control.

It’s not as scary as I imagined. Apart from not having a proper reason to get a drivers license, I’ve had this constant fear of killing someone – even if it wouldn’t have been my own fault. The thought has struck me that I should become a train driver – work in that field long enough and you’ll run over someone by no fault of your own – and I wouldn’t have to worry, having gotten it done. Not the self-affirming thinking I’ve heard so much about.

Me and my brother have had ten classes the past week, and on thursday I was out on the autobahn. I didn’t know you were allowed up there as a student. This is partly because I’ve been handed buckets of advise from people which have turned out to be guano inaccurate. Andy: it is perfectly legal to cross your hands when turning.

There’ve been two students sleeping at the place other than me and Tomasz. Both are ten years our juniors and see drivers license as something obvious. I guess they had mopeds at fifteen and a car is a natural progression?

My brother was told that the gear should be handled gently, “like a 30 kilo woman.” How do you answer such advice? “Oh, like stearing someones ejaculating cock away from your clothes, you mean?” Nobody wants to be the politically correct bore, so maybe being annoying in another direction would be good? Make people uncomfortable? I don’t know.

There’s a pretty river flowing through the city, and the old buildings are nice, but it’s a small place and it shows. Boring, but perfect for what we are there for. There are few distractions and little to do except study and drive around, and apart from watching the news in the evening we’re in bed early.

My instructor is patient and pedagogical. He’s been doing this since 1994 and has five whip-lash injuries to prove it. From time to time I hear his sardonical voice, with this weird local accent, “theeeeeere you missed an aJOIning streeeet.”

I’ve stalled more than a few times, and in a “learning by doing wrong” moment I had to wait for someone to show up behind me at a sensor-activated light; I had forgotten the clutch, and thereby missed the window of opportunity for passing the light. Since I wasn’t allowed to reverse on this road, I waited for five minutes before someone showed up behind and activated the green light again, and Pelle used the time to check for incoming messages about his wife pregnancy and was repeating “use the clutch, use the gas, we’re never getting out of here” over and over. It was fun.

Since neither me nor my brother have much previous experience of driving, we’ve taken an extended course and are going back come monday. Gonna do the skid-test on thursday, and see how many more hours the instructors think we need before we’d pass an official test.

Until then I’m in Stockholm, trying to get more well. I thought I had licked the cough, but it’s gotten worse and is now accompanied by two infected ear canals. Classy timing body, real classy. Went to the quack this afternoon and got some prescription antibiotics and cough-syrop. The syrop might have side-effects that will impair driving, so let’s just hope that I’ll be healthy and bloody good before I go back again.

Step by step, oh baby! (Fascism)

Excerpt from They thought they were free about the gradual changes in Germany that culminated in atrocities. Comparisons between anything current and 1930 Nazis falls under Godwin’s law, but it’s a shining example of what a slippery slope looks like.

Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it.

As with so many other articles I link to, this one showed up in a reference over at Metafilter.

Also, my brother and his woman visited Gothenburg this weekend.