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Sunday, December 25, 2011


A Fistfull of Euros

As usual following a visit from El Gordo, a great many people are very happy, some completely out of their minds with overwhelming joy. Throughout the broadcast when the numbers were being called, the station received tweets from all around the world. The Far East, the South Pacific, Australia, South America, all across Europe, America and Canada, and all points in between. Hopes were high that El Gordo would save the day.

Here in Spain, if you were out of work you found a little money to participate in the lottery in the hope that your number would drag you up out of your misery. So many people who did win tell the same story of being at the end of their tether, and now they had a fistfull of euros, but were not able to believe it.

For me, the best story that I heard was that of an immigrant lady from Africa. A few days before El Gordo she and her family had been evicted from their modest apartment and were living at the backend of the hallway with instructions to be out of the building the day after Christmas day. She bought a décimo for El Gordo, the number came up, and now she has enough money to buy the building.

She was asked whether she intended to do that and to move back in. Her reply was no, that she hoped she would never have to ever again live in such a dump. Her husband and children were at that moment in an hotel, and her furniture had been taken away to be burnt. Wonderful!

My numbers didn't win anything significant and while I am somewhat disappointed I can wait until another day. When we hear how so many people who did win have received such magnificent help, we can only feel happy for them.

I hope your Christmas was really good for you and your family, and that 2012 will be kind to you all.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

In Spain, when you are wished a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year you might just get the means by which to make that concrete.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

El Gordo is here Again

The Great One Cometh!

If you live in Spain, you may look forward to celebrating Christmas or Hanakuh, but not as much as the coming of December 22nd, the day when the El Gordo lottery is called. If the Spanish never got anything else right, they certainly have this absolutely spot on. As lotteries go, for good reason El Gordo, The Fat One, is the biggest lottery in the world, paying out more than two and a half billion euros. The interesting thing is that it is based on the premise that nobody needs to win the jackpot for their own exclusive use. To suddenly win 200 million euros is to make terrible problems for a person who was near broke before.

The way the system works is that any one person can only buy a ten percent value of a prize. So, this year the first prize is four million euros. A ten percent share would return four hundred thousand euros. However, there is virtually no limit to the number of such chances that you can buy. If you want to buy ten tickets and the number wins, you will win ten times four hundred thousand amounting to four million euros, and so will anybody else who did the same thing. It is a little complicated to understand but El Gordo will positively impact upon the lives of so many people here in Spain, and throughout the world that it is not possible to calculate.

I would agree that this is a Socialist idea, but what a beauty. It is one in which approximately 99% of Spanish inhabitants believe in, and a whole lot of people from around the world. Let's hope for good luck for all who hold an El Gordo ticket, especially to myself and my syndicate. We hold 721 tickets. That's right, 721 ten percent shares. It's a big syndicate, but that would be a big cash prize.

You might get to know if we win. If I don't say anything it might be because we didn't win, or we did win and in that case discretion might be the better part of valor.

Happy Holiday to each and everyone, and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Excitement of Herman Cain

Herman Cain - Eternal Optimist

The hopeful candidate for the presidency of The United States, Herman Cain, has put his campaign on suspension. He has not cancelled it, he has placed it on suspension. Until when? we might ask. Probably until after the November elections in 2012. That would be a very good idea.

In America, before anybody takes the decision to enter into public life they had better examine their own life's history and take a very long look at all their skeletons. They should know by now that the rabid American press will find these things and they will get a full airing before the American public. The American press are very good at mercilessly tearing a person apart like so many pitbulls out of their minds. Even where you don't have anything salacious, they will invent things, or blow small things way out of proportion.

I'm not saying that this is necessarily wrong for them to expose past mistakes or outright criminal or morally wrong actions, because the leadership of a country should have clean hands. I'm simply saying that anyone intending to run for public office should disqualify themselves and save everyone else the bother if they have such embarrassing secrets.

Clearly, Herman Cain had some skeletons in his closet, and he should never have popped his head above the parapet. His fall has been an awful embarrassment, especially, I assume to black Americans. I think that his supporters had hoped to put one black man up against another, but Herman Cain is no Barack Obama, and that's for certain.

However, American politics has taken another major move forward and that is noteworthy. It was not such a long time ago when if you were black and you wanted to become a member of The Republican Party, you might have been asked to re-think your position. Now, not only is it O.K. to belong to the party, a black man is/was chairman and Herman Cain managed to be taken so seriously that he moved up to become the front runner, even if only for a short time.

That is how party politics should work. A person has the right to support any party he/she chooses, without respect to color or creed or religion. Personally, I hate the party political system, but that's something for another time. For now I have to say that I'm glad that Herman is out of the race, and I wouldn't be too distressed for President Obama to serve one term either. I am pleased with his performance so far. He undertook an impossible task and he has managed to keep the country afloat, but America is headed into very rough waters indeed and I don't want people conveniently blaming such tough times on The Black Guy.

Just as the Communist experiment has failed, so too is the Capitalist experiment in its death throes. That is not anyone's fault. It is especially not Barack Obama's fault, but if he get stuck holding the bucket he will be blamed and black forward motion will be seriously affected into the foreseeable future.

In so far as Herman Cain is concerned, the deepest cut of all must surely have been Ginger White. When your secret lover feels she should emerge into the sunshine of day and tell all your bizness, that must surely hurt. Badly!

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Love You

That Love Thing

It has taken me 72 years to figure this out, so if young guys don't know better, who can blame them.

When a woman tell us that she love us, we believe her. Especially if she shares her sweetness with us, and perhaps throws in a meal or two. No problema! However, when a man tells a woman he loves her that apparently sets off a whole chain reaction of doubt and suspicion within her mind and her heart.

"He is only saying that because he wants something from me." That may be the thought that goes through her head, and of course she's right. We always want that something from her, but as part of a whole love package. In a world where women will sell a man anything he wants, any way he wants it, any time he wants it without hassle, why do men still cling to a woman who can make most of his wakening hours a misery? It's because she can wrap her arms around him, give him a little sweetness, together with genuine warmth and love, things that no hooker can offer, and these things we long for and need even more so than food and water.

Women are so paranoid when it comes to men that when we try to convince them that we really do love them they go seeking proof, on a daily basis. Some of the tests that they put us through are bizarre, to say the least. I don't think a woman sits down and draws up a master plan that says if you pas a certain number of tests, then you probably do love them, but nonetheless, that is how it turns out.

So, young guys, the worst thing you can do for yourself is actually tell the woman you love that you are in love with her.Perhaps you should only go as far as admitting that you really do like her. She will still put you through the tests, but at least it won't be because of something you said.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Orange Picking Season

Don't these lemons look just like oranges. I have no pictures of oranges.

I do love this time of year in Valencia, especially as we live within a forest of orange trees. We have had a period of rain that has brought the orange trees into full bloom, and the whole countryside looks just delicious. I'm sure you have heard of Valencian oranges, everyone on the planet has, and they have also heard about our competitor, Seville oranges.

First we are enchanted by orange blossom time in March/April when the smell is the best perfume there is, and that is followed by a whole lot of work on the part of the farmers for several months. The farmers really don't mind if you pick one or two while out walking, but if you go with shopping bags then they can rely on an ancient law that will suport them should they decide to shoot you. When taking into account the painstaking work to bring their orchards to market, I wouldn't blame them.

Anyway, I went orange picking today to assist the owners. It is hard work, made the more difficult by the fact that I had injured my shoulder on Friday. However, it is wonderful to be surrounded by all these gold coloured, well, orange coloured things that are there for the taking. Even our own trees are loaded this year. Last year was a bad year for a harvest, but this year could not be more perfect. Unfortunately, for the farmers that translates into lower prices at market because everybody has such a bumper crop.

I hope I don't see a repeat of the year when farmers brought their truck fulls of oranges back from the market and dumped them in the fields and sprayed them with poison because prices offered were so low.

When I came to Spain in 1999 I mentioned to my friends, the orange tree owners, without knowing that they had fields, that I was looking forward to trying my hand at picking. So, they took me to their fields with what appeared to be about five thousand trees, and said, "so, pick!"

My custom had always been to eat one orange a week, but here, during the season, dessert is always fruit, including mandarins, and every other type of this fruit. We stuff ourselves to the point that no-one should be vitamin C deficient.

This may not be the official definition of Heaven, but it is very close to the ideal thing.

See you out in the orange fields!

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichae

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Fly!

Nature's First and most efficient Drone

It happens every time I sit down to write up a blog. The Fly appears first in a pass over head; then it buzzes around my head, followed by a touch down on my bald spot. Then it goes into its "really piss him off" mode by landing on my hands, my ears, and anything else to get my attention.

I have tried opening the window in the hope that it will just leave. That results in more flies coming in. No, it is not the same fly every time. I don't have a friendly fly as I did have a friendly Bee. I know this for a fact because before I can concentrate and begin to write I have to kill the fly(s).

You may be like me in that we wonder what other use are flies except to aggravate humans. They are such pests and are the most invasive of all of Nature's creepy crawlies. They land on your food, in your drink, and when they are thirsty they will go for the moisture in your eyes and your mouth. I was going to mention those pictures from Africa and the children, but enough said.

Mother Nature is not really inclined to place on Earth species that have only nuisance value. Everything has its place and its purpose. The fly is the one who starts the clean up once anything living drops dead. The fly will land on the dead creature and plant the eggs from which come the maggots that set the decomposition process in motion. So, what the fly is doing when it touches living matter is testing to determine if we are dead or alive. If we swat at it, you would think that would be evidence of proof of life, but no, they have to test and test and test again. I wonder whether flies are like scientists?

Those flies that bug me and keep me from my blogs all have the same final last word. The word is: "Oh shit!"

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I'm Back!

We need these to navigate our life

Last week I signed on to write my blog, but I was met with a notice that advised me that my blogs had been eliminated. If there were eyes on the other side of my screen they may have had a conversation that went something like this: "It's been a half hour. Is he still staring at our notice."

When something like this happens the mind finds it impossible to take it in. This can't be happening is all that goes through your mind. I surely haven't lost years of blogs in one flash. Evidently my blogs were not eliminated, but simply blocked. The only suggestion I have is that of technology working against itself. Fortunately, my friends at GoogleTeam got it sorted very quickly, and I heaved a great sigh of relief.

Modern technology is both wonderful and hell at the same time. It is wonderful because of all the amazing things that we can do, but it is hellish because we become dependent. When I was working there would be times when the office computer system would crash, and that left 160 people wandering around asking, "Now what?"

It's no good saying find something else to do, because we have all forgotten what that something else is, and everything that we need to do is on the computer. Recently the Blackberry system went down, and users around the world were left in stunned shock, walking around with their Blackberries in hand, but quite speechless. There was even one man who admitted that he got lost on the way to work because he could not rely on the GPS in his phone. I can only hope that he works in a different location every day.

At the age of 72, I have lived through the inception of the computer. It was even suggested to me that I buy as many shares of IBM when the company was in its infancy. I didn't do that, but that's another story. Now, I own a simple mobile phone that has about 90% more capability than I am aware of, but we are into the age of Steve Jobs iPhone, iPad, Smart phones everywhere. This generation of technology was recently described very enthusiasticlly to me, and it seemed to me that the man was speaking in double Dutch. I got tired of just saying Wow!

So, I have my blog site back and I am very grateful for that. Life goes on around me but I can be myself in my own quiet corner. There is just one thing that really disturbs me, and it is this: For us elderly people it is expected that one of the first things to go is our memories. However, with users ID and passwords to remember and protect we are not being allowed to grow old gracefully. I don't dare let my guard down, and so I don't.

Ain't it wonderful!

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cataract Surgery

Removing Cataracts without Pain

We live in a world of rising expectations because of technology advances in the operating theatre. The world has come a long way from the days when whisky served as anaesthesia and your friends, if that was what they were, held you down. I have just had surgery for cataracts that is so routine it's hardly worth mentioning. However, that is not to say that extremely refined skills are not involved, because they are.

Cataract surgery involves the removal of the lens that you were born with, and the replacement by a plastic or silicone one. Information concerning such surgeries are available on the internet, including taped narratives of the operation in action.

I had mine performed at the Hospital Casa de Salud in Valencia, which has a fine reputation for all mod cons when it comes to equipment. My procedure went without a hitch, and now I am recuperating, sitting here at my computer wearing Ray Charles-like sunglasses because I am light sensitive at the moment.

It is a very good thing when all aspects of the operation goes well, especially since I will have to return to have the same thing done for my right eye at some time in the future. It is a really amazing thing when we consider that they do the following to your eye without the patient suffering any pain whatsoever:

Your eye is anaesthetized by drops, then a drape is placed over your face with an opening through which the surgeon will work on the applicable eye. By having the drape I was not able to see any movement from my other eye, which helped my anxiety.

They then broke up my existing lens using sound waves and then removed it through a small cut that had been made. It was interesting in that I could see it go, and from that eye I could still see light and very cloudy movement. A surprising amount of liquid is doused in my eye during the surgery, but I suppose that since I am able to open my eyes under water that is not so unusual.

There was only one time that I felt some pressure. I suppose that was when they were inserting the new lens in place. I have to admit that I was far more stressed than I thought I would be. Mainly this was because I knew that I had to remain absolutely still. My head was not restrained in straps, so it was all up to me. I thought I might feel an unexpected prick that would make me shake my head, and that kept me on edge.

Before long the surgeon said, "That's it!" My relief was wonderful. In total I was in the operating room for about 20 minutes, much of that time was spent in pre-op and post-op. The procedure went quickly, so quick I thought it only took about 5 to seven minutes, but it probably was a bit longer.

I went into hospital without the slightest worry about what was to come. I went alone, leaving my wife to remain at her work. I actually took the Metro to the hospital and checked myself in. Everyone I dealt with was superbly professional, yet warm and friendly. Valencia, in general is a wonderful place for health treatment where some of the most advanced procedures have been carried out.

If you are scheduled to have this surgery it is probably a good idea to read about it beforehand. Just Google Cataract surgery. That should give you confidence. The only thing I advise is that you take a pair of sunglasses with you because after the process is over and you are released from hospital you will find the glare from light to be difficult to handle for a little while without your sunglasses.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, October 22, 2011

African Women, European Women

African Women, Western Women

As I was relaxing on the beach in Valencia, all around me there were topless women, and that got me to thinking about the village of Gouria, located high in the mountains of The Extreme North of Cameroon, West Africa. Myself, together with six other volunteers adopted this village in 1999, and we are lending support and guidance to bring the citizens of this remote area into the 21st century. I should add that this is at the request of the people themselves.

When we first encountered the village life progressed largely as it did at least one thousand years ago, with the exception that the motorbike had become a form of transport that was owned and used by some of the young men of the village. There was also a dirt road that carried trucks and a few cars past the village, and as a result some visitors from far off places came into contact with the people.

Their life style was very simple, and was ordered by the break of day and the setting of the sun. The daily routine was unrelenting, in that there was always the search for wood and water, and herding of the cows and goats, and working in the fields to grow crops. Most of this work was done by the women and children as the men concerned themselves in meetings to discuss the present and future of the area.

The village had many customs and traditions that have existed since time immemorial, many of which our little solidarity group still don't understand. As a people, our tribal group are known as The Kapisiki, and are as pure an ethnic specimen as can be found. Their culture is somewhat complex for the foreigner to understand, but it has worked for them. We do not agree with everything that we have learnt, but we first and foremost respect what they have.

We entered the picture at their invitation because they were concerned that their boys were not being educated, and the request was made of us to help. We, of course had to insist that if they wanted our help they would have to agree to educate both boys and girls. They were simple people but they were not stupid. I want to focus on the attitude of the women, and to a certain extent, the men.

We have all seen those National Geographic films depicting Africans in their native dress. The women of our village dressed in like manner in that they covered up their lower body but went about bare chested, the same as the men. The men likewise covered their torsos, but they did not seem to notice the female's exposed breasts.

Over the years we have brought education to the children, and their parents of Gouria. We have also introduced certain other social benefits, including providing the children with shoes. The change of attitude was electric upon putting on shoes for the first time. We were astonished to observe how the children held themselves erect, and their sense of pride was palpable.

As the children progressed in their education , and as they carried themselves with more pride and respect, so too did the mothers start to wrap their upper halfs in cloth. Our teachers are native locals, who are helped by the occasional visitor from abroad, but it was not a part of our philosphy to have women cover their breasts. There are Christian churches in the area who might have had something to do with the change, but the end result is that most of our women are now covered up.

Switch now to Europe, where for many years European women have reserved to themselves the right to sun themselves on the beach topless. The beach, and on the water are the only places where this is done in public, but there are also nudist beaches to worship the sun completely naked. The European attitude to full frontal nudity has always been healthy as we are all constructed in the same manner, so it's no big surprise to anyone. However, it's curious that in Africa where women have always been completely un-selfconcious, that practice there is going in one direction while in Europe and The United States the trend is in the opposite direction.

For the record, I note that exposed women's breasts in public are not sexy. The woman who wears a fashionable bra is sexy, until she takes it off. Sexy is in the imagination, or in my bedroom. I, together with my companion, once wandereed into a nudist hotel late at night in France because we were desperate for a bed for the night. Breakfast was taken while nude, which excited us, but our fellow diners were not impressed with us sexually, but they sure were impressed how smooth our skin was. (They were all senior citizens.)

A while ago there was a boatlod of Africans who had been at sea for far too long. They were in dire straits with some of those on board who had died. The boat drifted ashore on a nudist's beach, and I hate to seem to be making light of such a serious situation, but surely for the survivors encountering a whole beach full of naked white people must have been quite a shock for them

What is your tribe, and take me to your leader!

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The Beloved Austin Mini

I noticed something quite interesting about the size of vehicles that we drive or ride. Try to follow me in this thesis:

Drivers of large trucks, buses, JCBs, Mega earth moving equipment, etc all have something in common, in that they are generally very careful while in motion. They have to be due to the sheer size of the equipment under their control. There is no room for mistakes, but mistakes do happen and when they do the results are jaw dropping.

If the driver of an artuculated truck with eighteen wheels turns a corner just a little too fast, over goes the truck with the potential for killing others on the road, and spilling the cargo. If the driver of a bus with a full load does something silly he risks killing his entire cargo of passengers. Large earth moving vehicles operate on terain that is not firm to begin with, so it is in their own personal interest to be very, very careful.

However, truck drivers learnt a valuable lesson from a calamity that occurred because of the habit of driving in convoy, nose-to-tail. When the lead vehicle got into trouble that trouble resulted in closing the A7 for many hours, such was the mess. The message is clear: Keep your distance!

Moving now to the Medium size vehicle, the family saloon, here is where we find, on a numerical basis the class of vehicle that produces the most road fatalities. This is because of the variety of drivers behind the wheel and the potential to do some stupid things. However, within this group there are some exceptions when it comes to the cause of accidents. I don't think that I have ever heard of the driver of a Rolls Royce being the cause of an accident, period! Volvos, Mercedes, Range Rovers, Jaguars, and a few other car brands are conspicious by their absence in being the cause of accidents.

However, there is a class of vehicle that is very suspect for its potential to be involved in the cause of car crashes because they almost beg to be driven too fast. At the top of my list is the beloved Austin Mini. The sensation to me of driving a Mini is that of driving a Go-Cart. It is so small and compact, and so quick that it takes a very responsible person to go lightly on the gas pedal. This car, and the group of Seat cars and others of a similar size are classed in the Small size. They all are a big tease to their drivers and unfortunately not all drivers are sufficiently mature enough to handle the provocation. There is one insurance company that will offer cover only if you are 50 years or older.

Motorcycles are a special study unto themselv,es. It is no wonder that medical staffs call them donor cycles. Something to keep in mind when strapping on a helmet. If you are going to ride a motorcycle, at least wear a reflective vest so that you can be seen to be safe.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Bed, My Real Estate!

My Space!

There are many things that we, as people all over the world have in common, but perhaps the most significant of all is our beds. The way I see it, "My bed is my Real Estate and my castle." In our case our bed is 150 centimetres wide and 190 centimetres long. Therefore, my bit is 75 centimetres by 95.

I am fortunate in that I get to share my bit of real estate with my wife.

From the moment we are born we are placed in a bed, but we are just passing through at the time. When we get home we are placed in our very own bed, which some people call a crib. Even if we are born of poor parents and they place us in a drawer of the bureau, it's still our very own space. We spend most of our days in that place so it is the most important place in the world to us.

If we are lucky, as we grow we get our own theme style bed. As teenagers the very lucky get not only their own bed, but they get their own room, which they promptly proceed to maintain in the most messy state possible. You can compare what you have with others, but the real choice situation is to have your own room. That is like having your own home.

The curious thing is that many times it is the privileged person who has everything who is in fact unhappy. That may be a good opportunity for that person to help someone less fortunate. I can guarantee them that they will obtain a measure of happiness unlike any other from doing so.

Sailors often have to time-share their bunks. I suppose you get used to it, but there is nothing like going to bed and knowing that no one else has used my space.

When we have been off travelling and sleeping in many strange beds, the experience accentuates the feeling of coming home all the more so. We all say that there is no place like home, and that combines many aspects, not the least of which is that first night's sleep back in your bed, in your very own piece of real estate.

Pity the homeless person who sleeps rough on a park bench or covered over in cardboard. If that is where he normally sleeps, I'll bet it's as sweet as my own bed.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Interview

A question of credibility?

On the 18th September, 2011, DSK gave an interview to French television regarding his New York troubles, in which he described having sex with Nafissatou Diallo as having been a moral fault on his part. He maintains that it was consenual, without any force whatsoever, or payment.

She, on the other hand alleges that she entered the room to clean it, and found him coming out of the bath. She says he briskly approached her, closed the door and grabbed her breasts and her crotch, causing soreness, then dragged her to her knees whereupon he stuck his dick in her mouth and ejaculated, leaving her to run from the room.

Who do you believe? Which version is more credible?

It has been written that the Late Rev. Martin Luther King loved to play with the ladies.

It has been written that the Late President John F. Kennedy absolutely had to have sex every day, and took steps to make that happen.

Famously, former President Bill Clinton seemed to think that as President of The U.S. he must have been entitled to use a bright eyed intern as he saw fit.

Male rock stars, movie actors, and sports legends are famous for their womanizing.

What do all these men have in common? These are men of wealth, fame and power, which is a very heady cocktail. It is some form of human nature that if you have all of these things you tend to get carried away with your own sense of importance. At the very least you seem to feel that your reward should be to have any woman, and as many as you want, but you would have to be very responsible indeed to push back against such an impulse.

When the man thinks "I am who I am little girl, and you have no right to resist me" then things have gotten way out of hand. Such a man should be locked away from decent society as he is a danger.

Guys, this is a very serious character fault on our part, and is something that we have to robustly work to correct. It is a false friend that leads to all manner of problems for those too weak to control themselves. If we think we have a right to access any woman we fancy, then sorry guys, life just doesn't work like that. Not in the civilized society in which we live.

The era of The Cave Man ended eons ago.

We owe women a much better form of behaviour.

Copyright (c) 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 18, 2011

An Actuarial Death Notice

An Actuarial Death Notice
Life should be lived to the fullest!

Every new-born baby is given an Actuarial Probability of Death which depends, among many other things, on where the baby was born and the access she/he will have to health care throughout life.

I was born in Bermuda in 1939, and my Actuarial Maximum Life Expectancy was given as 47 years. When we think about it, this is a hell of a thing, although I concede that it is absolutely necessary for such a study from many angles. But still, this is not some soothsayer or some person reading tea leaves, but rather some pretty serious folks issued this somewhat dire statement.

How accurate are they in their predictions? Far too many of my contemporaries died before the age of 50, including my first wife who died at age 42. What cannot be foretold is who among us will buck the trend and go on to live very long lives indeed. For those of us who do so, it perhaps may be because we took really good care of ourselves, but also it will be the luck of the draw to have avoided sudden and violent death.

I came upon this information when I was about eight or nine. One of the kids overheard their parents talking and he thought it a good idea to spread the word. I took it very personal and tailored my life to fit the prediction, especially as I came to realise that it was serious.

Provided we don’t know when we are likely to die, we are free to live each day as it comes. But I had my 47th birthday as a date that loomed very large the closer I came to it. As I saw friends dying my own mortality began to overwhelm me. I felt a need to do everything I needed to get done, in a hurry. I entered school when I was four years and eleven months, as I was born in October. So, I questioned whether I should stay in school as I was required to do until I was sixteen, or should I do as many of my friends did and get a job when I turned ten years and eleven months.

I decided to remain in school until I was sixteen, the legal leaving age, but then I had to get a job, get married, start a family all at once if I wanted to ever meet any of my grandchildren. The clock ticked on relentlessly. I was keenly aware that I could not waste any time by spending it in jail, so I was careful to keep myself out of trouble.

As it turned out, my wife did get to meet one of our three grandchildren, so all that concern was not for nothing.

I don’t recall being constantly occupied by a sense of urgency. I met the woman who would become my wife and I truly adored her, but it is true that we did not waste any time. We produced two of the loveliest daughters we could have asked for, but at the time that we married something else had begun to take place as a quiet form of revolution in the community, and that flew in the face of the predictions for a short life.

People began to send their children overseas for further education. Early marriage years were sacrificed for career learning, as though those people were going to live forever. These were the years following the end of the Second World War. Bermuda was experiencing a rising level of expectation and it was felt that a more substantial educational base was needed to cope. Both the government and private companies started to mention the “P” word. There seemed to be some sort of an epiphany sweeping the country in that we all felt that we could very possibly live longer than age 47, to the extent that we would need proper pension planning.

People continued to die off at fairly young ages but more and more were living well beyond age 50. The new exit age was about 60, so I reset my 47 to 60, then to 70, and now there have been such advancements in care, and I am no longer living in my former environment, but am now in the heartland of amazing medical knowledge and capability that there is a real likelihood that I will live to celebrate my 100th birthday. Our son could possibly choose whether he wants to live to be 130.

There are now more people aged 65 and over than there are children aged under 5 years. By 1960 men were expected to only have one year in retirement, but in 2011 that has risen to more than twelve years.(I have been retired for twelve years.) The actuarial prediction of Maximum Life expectancy for a male child born in Bermuda today is to age 77.49, and females to age 84. That ranks Bermuda number 30 on the table below.

How quickly and completely things change. What will the future bring? What do the Actuarial fortune-tellers have to say now in 2011?

The country of Tokelau, at number 228, is last with an age of minus 9. Tokelau is 10 square kilometres of islands that are New Zealand territory, with a declining population of about 1400 people. (Hence, presumably the minus rating.) However, in reality they have a life expectancy of 69 years.
Nigeria is today where Bermuda was when I was born with an age of 46.76. That places Nigeria at number 225
The United States, at number 46 has an age of 75.92.
The U.K. comes in at number 26 with an age of 77.95.
Spain, where I live now is number 22 with an age of 78.16
Number one is Monaco with an age of 85.77. (It seems Monaco wins the gamble.)
These are ages for males, but women live longer.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Even in Death

Even in Death life can be funny.

Something recently happened that made me remember the following story, and on thinking about it I have decided that I should commit it to written form.

Many years ago a certain elderly gentleman died in my native country. He was a well known womaniser. He was about seventy years old at the time of his death, but he stood tall and elegant. I attended his viewing and it was immediately obvious that there were far more women there than men. As my buddy and I approached the coffin there were two mature women in front of us. They paused at the coffin and immediately became a little emotional.

The woman next to me said, “ He looks good!” I thought, “good, but he’s dead!” Then she started speaking directly to him and this is exactly what she said: “Oh! X., you wonderful, sexy man. I loved you with all my heart. You gave me such good times and such pleasure. You’re a rascal but a beautiful man. Oh! That wonderful tongue of yours, you made me climax so many times in one night that I was dizzy. I miss you my darling and I miss that great …..”

Her friend noticed that I was standing there with my mouth hanging wide open so she disturbed her friend, just when things were getting interesting, saying come along dear.

This guy was not my friend because he was my senior, but his two sons were friends of mine, and they followed in his footsteps. I simply worshipped him for his lifestyle. The last time I saw him alive he walked into a high-class restaurant with three beautiful young women on each arm. That was a sight that stopped every diner with fork in mid air. All this happened about 20 years ago, and the fact that I remember it so clearly is testament to the fact that as strange as it may seem, the incorrigible playboy does command the respect of the community, as well as envy of the men.

We speak of such players as though they are bad persons but women seem to be only to willing to see what all the fuss is about for themselves, and men admire the lifestyle of such bad boys.

As for the great thing she was speaking of when she was interrrupted, I'm not sure of what she was speaking, but I did know him to have a great sense of humour. Could that have been it?
Life is funny! Death is probably even more so.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Quiet Revolution

The Quiet Revolution - Major change is in the Air.

There is a revolution that is under way, and it is happening under the radar. Seemingly, it is obvious to everyone, while at the same time to no one. It is a change in the way that the world does its business that is no less important than a sea change, yet no-one is talking about it. What is it? It is the attitude that young people have towards marriage and/or the size of their families.
Simply put, young men are passing the age 40 mark without having been married even once, and young women in their thirties seem to be quite content with their single status. As always, celebrities have led the way in this change. They have realised that marriage is mostly incompatible with their careers. The process was: fall in love with another star, get married, have children, get divorced, live separately with the children spending time at one parents and then the other.

They simply decided to cut out the middle part and live separately, have their children and their careers and housekeepers. Now, ordinary people are following that same path, as much a part of the economic crisis as pure choice.

In my thinking the contrast is with my days as a young person. Having been born in Bermuda in 1939, the actuarial tables declared that my maximum life expectancy would be to age 47. Given that short span I had to finish my primary education, and at age 11 I had to decide whether I would get a job, as many of my class mates did, or stay in school until age 16 doing secondary education.

Those four or five years might have made all the difference as to whether you would get to meet any of your grandchildren. The legal age of consent was 16, so you had to wait until the girl was that age before you could make her pregnant, but once she attained that magic age it was full speed ahead. I got married at age 17.

Many people had large families, and they hoped for as many boys as possible. The reason for that was so they could take care of you in your old age.

What old age?

You expected to die before your 47th birthday. The way the prediction turned out for far too many of my contemporaries was all too accurate. My wife died at the tender age of 42, having only known one of the three of our grandchildren.

Here in Spain, and in Bermuda, and apparently in many other countries around the world young people are giving marriage and a family a pass. At first we saw women putting off childbearing till the last year possible, in favour of growing a career. Now the careers have gone along with the jobs and people are simply not getting married because they cannot afford to do so.

If you are a person who is trapped in a nightmare marriage you will not agree with me, but the fact is that the framework of marriage is both good and necessary. It provides the couple, whether heterosexual or same sex, with a plan for life that incorporates stability. A single person does not have that same stability and the probability of straying into dangerous waters is ever present.

Of course, when things go wrong in a marriage they can go very, very wrong indeed!

Finally, here in Catholic Spain, families are satisfying themselves with the modern family size of 2.2 children, so it is clear that the faithful are practising something more than the rhythm method of birth control.

The stage is set for a very peculiar future where there will be a large segment of the population that will live beyond 100 years, and a shrinking population of locally grown young people. Obviously the country will have to import a growing labour force over the coming forty years and that will give the populations of poorer nations a chance at a more normal livelihood.

So, all change to remain the same? Stay tuned!

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Diana , Queen of Hearts Forever!

A Time of Rememberance!

The marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton earlier this year was for many people another opportunity to cherish the memory of his mother, Lady Di. on August 31, 2011 in the commemoration of the 14th anniversary of her premature death. That event unleashed such a torrent of speculation of every description that it stands out as a unique happening in the annals of history.

I hereby commemorate the anniversary with my own look at history, filling in the gaps with my own respectful guesswork.

I believe that Diana’s life was sculpted for her to become what she was, wife to a prince, and mother to a future king or queen. I think, that as a young girl she might have had an idealistic and romantic view of that role, and it would not have been out of place for her to have seen herself as a person deserving of prestige and respect for her opinion.

Certainly the beginning was letter perfect, but when she found to her horror that her role as wife to a royal was in fact a job, as baby maker, and that her opinion was not sought or particularly appreciated, she must have been very hurt indeed. When she later discovered that there were three people in her marriage she must have become a woman scorned; and as the well-known adage goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.!”

Her idealistic image of life as an important member of The Royal Family presumably soured, while she found herself surrounded by grey minders in their grey suits, telling her how to behave in her gilded cage.

Diana pushed back by having a man to call upon her in the middle of the night. After all, her husband was not there. That must surely have set The Palace all a twitter, but at least he was a WASP, the same as Diana.

She will have done that presumably because she was lonely, as well as a way of getting her own back, but it didn’t make much of a public stir. She allegedly then decidedly focused on an Indian doctor, who in his wisdom reportedly told her to piss off as she was too high a maintenance and too much trouble; and that leads us to Dodi Fayed, a Muslim.

If, as a scorned woman, she wanted to get under the skin of her former husband and his family, she could not have chosen a more effective way to achieve that result. Firstly, Dodi’s father was in tense relations with the Palace over his efforts to become a British citizen, and secondly the family are mega-rich. So she could be maintained in the comforts to which she had become accustomed.

However, looking back with 20-20 vision it can be seen that it was an impossible situation, one that was completely untenable. Diana, mistress of the hunt, was the most hunted woman ever by photographers, to the extent that she could never leave the protection of her four walls without people with cameras recording her every move. It is impossible to live like that for anybody. I saw a news clip of Diana who was chased by photographers, who ran her down and trapped her against a wall where she remained frozen in the lights like a fox or rabbit. I was outraged and the thought crossed my mind at that time that those bastards would not be happy until they caused her death.

I believe that the Fayed family never realised what they had in Diana until it was too late. Had she married Dodi, a link would have been established between The Church of England and Islam, one that would have become perhaps more troublesome when William succeeds to the throne. Was that acceptable, either to Islam or Anglican England? There arose many assassination theories, and I can see where the sense of conspiracy would have gained ground, although I don’t agree with any of them.

Here was the most sought after woman in the world by photographers, in the act of doing something that was immensely controversial, that made her all the more newsworthy. The need to protect her security had increased by a quantum leap, but no-one seemed to have realised that.

I believe that all that happened was that a simple, and completely avoidable car crash, brought on by a certifiably drunk driver, speeding and being chased by a pack of wolves, ended the life and future of one of the most beautiful women in the world. I also believe that her security should have consisted of a small platoon of agents, and her movements carefully worked out in advance because she required protection not only from photographers, but also from criminal minds.

At least when she was the good wife of Prince Charles she had the full protection of Scotland Yard, and provided that she followed protocol she would likely still be alive today. A person doesn’t have to be a staunch monarchist to feel the loss of Diana, or to even feel her outrage at finding herself in such a situation that she was faced with. You only have to see life from the viewpoint of a naive young woman who only wanted to be loved, and to give love.

Diana Spencer, in spite of her elevated status, was as solid a human being as you could find anywhere, because she really did care for the poor, the oppressed, suffering children, people struggling with AIDS, and from the dread of landmines. She deserved a longer life, and a happier life. Perhaps she might have found those things had she married Joe, the plumber. She certainly had my respect and admiration, but now she is dead, Long Live Lady Diana, the people’s Princess, and Queen of Hearts, Forever.

William has the chance to treat Kate in the manner his mother would have liked to have been treated.

I hope he will, and I wish them well!!!

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A 20 Piano Concert

Lang Lang-Coming!

A 20 Piano Concert - A 200 per cent experience

Clemente Pianos of Spain celebrated their 20th Anniversary on the evening of July the 2nd by giving a concert using twenty pianos. The last time we saw such a performance was during an event in Hollywood that used nineteen pianos to present The Hungarian Rhapsody, many years ago.

Clemente Pianos presented their concert at the Palau de la Musica in Valencia, in collaboration with the music academy, Musikeon, who provided 35 of their students, and ex-students, some of whom had to travel to Spain from all around the world.

To describe the event as being superb, and outstanding is to tragically use understatements. There were some aspects that were trying on one’s patience, such as the fact that the concert started at 7:30 pm, but we only got to hear the first note of music at 8:05, due to so much lead-in discussion. Considering that the standing-room only audience were so thrilled by the concept, and very anxious to hear the music, we were very impatient. As the radio dj¡s are fond of saying, “More music, less talk” was what we wanted.

The programme consisted of three pieces: First, there was “In C,” by Terry Riley, that really disappointed me, because it did nothing to bring out the power of the pianos, and just seemed to ramble along without any direction whatsoever. As a work it also left me completely cold, and I thought, it made a very poor choice as the first work to be performed. However, as the program progressed I came to the conclusion that they were just toying with us.

The second work was by Ludwig Van Beethoven, called Wellington’s Siege (1813). The announcer described this work as one that is so seldom heard that it is as though the music world wished that he had never written it. However, in my own opinion this is a wonderful piece that describes the war between Napolean and England, in which pieces that are very familiar describes the momentum as the battle progresses. In case you are wondering, England won.

The third piece was specifically written for the twenty pianos on hand by one of the alumni who was there to take the lead. It was a curious piece that was written about the life of an insect that is born to procreate once, and then it dies. It worked exceptionally well between the entire twenty pianos. The piece was called “Efimeras,” by David Ortolá.

There followed several minutes of applause, during which a number of people left. Then came the (programmed) encore, Ravel’s “Bolero.” For me, and apparently most of the audience, it was the best piece of the evening, and was what we came for, all twenty pianos playing in harmony with all thirty-five pianists at the keyboards. Even as I write this I have goose bumps.

As I stated at the beginning, this was in celebration of the 20th anniversary of a company’s business. The fact that the company went to such extraordinary lengths and expense to stage such an event that will stand out in the annals of show business is wonderful. The fact that it was also a concert given to the public completely without charge; that’s right, absolutely gratis, was a fabulous gift to the people of Valencia.

Thank you Clemente Pianos, and thank you Musikeon.

Coming to Palua de la Musica, Valencia, April 19th, 2012: Lang Lang! In my eyes he is simply the most fabulous pianist in the world. I can’t wait!

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Pain of Sexual Harassment

The Pain of Sexual Harassment in the modern Office

I have just read a book by Michael Crichton called “Disclosure” which was released in 1994, and I saw the movie of the same name that was made in 1995, starring Michael Douglas and Demi Moore. The theme is one that deals with a boss who used power to demand sexual favours from the employee. What made this such a staggering hit at the time was that the boss was a woman. In America, at that time, people were in denial that a woman could actually enjoy sex , and to the extent that she would demand it.

This is 2011, and as we now know, women enjoy sex as much as men and they do not regard themselves as simple sex objects for men’s pleasure. It has to be good for them too. Well, Good!

What exactly is sexual harassment?

Harassment is any practise that is known to deliberately generate annoyance in a person. If the harassment is of a sexual nature, either in spoken form, or especially in the form of touching and demanding or pleading, then it becomes an act that is possibly criminal.

The person who considers that they are being harassed has to let the other person know that their actions are unwelcome, and they have to demand that the action cease.

Who can be guilty of harassment?

Fundamentally, anyone can create such a nuisance of themselves in this regard, including persons of equal footing who have frequent contact. However, when one person has power over another and they use that power to demand sexual services it becomes very serious indeed. In fact, that is not so much an act of sex as it is of power.

There was a time when men ruled the world and they did exactly as they pleased. It was commonplace for bosses to have sexual affairs with their secretaries. Now it emerges that perhaps most of those relations were not mutually consenting, but in fact were coerced by the boss. The girls kept mum and simply went along to hold on to their jobs. Now, women have moved on up and many have revenge in mind. Perhaps they themselves have got to their present position by playing the game and they see that it is time to get their own back.

Just as in the bad old days not much was heard about the practise, and I believe that these days men who are used by their female bosses to give service are even more tight lipped. To begin with they have a career with pussy and a paycheck. On the face of things this would not seem like something to complain about, especially if promotions come along with performance. However, as always the devil is in the detail

Imagine yourself as only one of the bosses’ favourites, and you are not able to make any kind of private life for yourself, such as with wife and family. When the boss calls you have to be available and ready to perform, even if the boss is as ugly as sin, and stinks. Of course, other employees will talk and you will be the butt of jokes. You have to be prepared to work in an environment that is poisoned with the scandal of you being the boss’s toyboy. This seems like a situation in which your job would eventually become untenable.

As some wise person said a very long time ago, that if a man marries a woman for her wealth, for every penny he takes off her, he will pay ten times as much in one way or the other. Is that true of a woman who marries a rich man?

Sexual harassment is not a nice thing, and it has never, ever been so. My conscience is clear in that I have never been such a nuisance to any woman. Although I have been an administrator I never inflicted such discomfort upon a woman. At the time that the film (Disclosure) was released it brought the subject out into the open and changed behaviours throughout society. In that regard it was one of the most important films of our times. I supervised a couple of women and I found myself very self-conscious of my behaviour.

Throughout our office the jokes and banter stopped, as we eyed one another suspiciously. All it would take is an accusation of sexual harassment and a man’s career would be ruined. It was an awful time, although I believe that now things have moved back toward the centre, but it is the women who have led the way. However, it is very much an environment in which the lowest common denominator rules. If one women objects, all must play by her rules.

The workplace is where people go because they have to be there. It should not be like prison camp, nor should anyone have to suffer indignities.

Let common sense and decency rule!

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Why is this Cat Laughing?

Who said cats don't have a sense of humour?

In many ways a cat is the ideal low-maintenance pet. This cat in our picture evidently has a great sense of humour when it sees something funny. Its owner has been told that he has to give pills to its mother. It is so amused because it has been watching the show. Here’s how to give a pill to a cat:

Pick up the cat and gently cradle it in your arms as you would a baby.
Position your right forefinger and thumb on either side of the cat’s mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding the pill in the other hand. As the cat opens its mouth insert the pill. Allow the cat to close its mouth and swallow. Simple!
Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm and repeat process.
Retrieve cat from bedroom and throw away soggy pill.
Take new pill, cradle cat in left arm and firmly hold rear paws in right hand. Get someone else to help. Force open jaws and push pill to back of mouth with forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of ten.
Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from wardrobe. Employ additional manpower. Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between your knees, holding both front and rear paws. Ignore low growls from cat and have helpers vigoursly get the damn pill down the friggin cat’s throat.
Apply iodine to scratches to your balls and retrieve cat from curtain rail.
Put pill in one end of a drinking straw, force mouth open of cat and blow hard on the straw. Check label on pillbox to make sure that pills are not harmful to humans, and have a beer to remove awful taste of pill. Apply band aids to spouses’ arms and remove bloodstains from carpet with cold soapy water.
Find cat and remove from neighbour’s shed. Get another pill, and another beer. Place cat’s head between door and doorjamb. Gently close door leaving cat’s head exposed. Open cat’s mouth with a dessertspoon and flick pill into cat’s mouth with an elastic band.
Get screwdriver from garage and put door back on its hinges. Drink beer and open bottle of scotch. Drink heartily. Apply cold compress to cheek and check date of last tetanus shot. Have another beer, throw away tee-shirt and get another from bedroom.
Call fire department to retrieve the damned cat from the electrical pole from across the street. Apologize to neighbour who crashed into hedge while avoiding the cat. Take the very last pill from packet.
Use your heavy-duty pruning gloves for roses and tape the bloody cat to the leg of the dining room table. Take a piece of cooked steak and shove that in mouth of cat with pill alongside it. Be quite rough about it. Pour two pints of water down throat of cat. Have wife take you to the Emergency Department and drink remainder of scotch on the way there. Sit quietly while doctors suture gashes to your fingers and arms. Stop on the way home to order new dining room table.
Have SPCA come to take away goddamned mutant cat.

In the event the vet says that failure to give cat pills will result in cat’s death, consult the very popular book, “How to arrange for a cat funeral.”

And that is why the above cat is having such a good laugh.
How to give your dog a pill: Wrap it in any kind of meat handy and flip it in the air. Case Closed!

Many thanks to whomever put this together for the internet.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bonny, Warm, Scotland!

Bonny, Warm, Scotland!

Scotland: A Super Civil Society

My wife and I have just done something that on the face of things was not very rational: we left the warmth of Spain to travel to the very last point of the Scottish mainland, John O’Groats, which was very chilly, wet and miserable. There was a method to our madness, and the plane going over was carrying Scots returning from Benidorm, and the
plane that brought us back to Spain was filled with more Scots going to Benidorm.

We travelled to the town of Helmsdale on the East coast of Scotland to visit our son who works there at a hotel. Without that motivation we would not have ever found ourselves at the end of the mainland and we might never have had such a wonderful adventure. Scotland is a very special treat on the eyes, and as proof of that is the sheer number of native Scots people who tour around the Highlands in their motor homes.

Our journey took us from Edinburgh to Tomintoul, that is in the heart of the Cairngorms in the vicinity of Inverness; then on to that town itself. A trip to Loch Ness was in order, although I’m not sure why. There is no Loch Ness monster, and there never has been, although by now they could have built one to make scheduled appearances. Then on to spend the night in a town called Beauly that reminds me of certain Southern towns in America that are home to citizens of a Red Neck persuasion. The landlord of our Bed and Breakfast could not have been more pleasant and hospitable.

The next day we arrived at our destination, The Bridge Hotel in Helmsdale. Our son had only commenced his employment there the week before we arrived. The town is a very small fishing village, and the pace of life is slow. Our son will have to be creative in filling his spare time, but the people with whom he is working are a good group, and the hotel is wonderful.

Although it was getting towards the end of the day we all drove up to John O’ Groats, called the most Northerly point of the mainland. As mentioned it presented unpleasant weather conditions, and I could only wonder what life must be like for the residents of the Shetland and Orkney islands further North in the cold North Sea.

Our trip back down to Edinburgh was via the West Coast. In my opinion this is the best face of Scotland, presenting scenes of such incredible beauty that the mind needs time to fully take it all in. We needed to have stopped and had a picnic while saturating our senses. Even seen from a picture would not be sufficient to adequately tell the tale. There are unlimited lakes and rivers and mountains and valleys and forests and picture-postcard harbours and castles that you might get the impression that this is a grand park created for the tourists by the Scottish tourist Board.

The principal reason why the beauty of it all is so significant is that it is just how Mother Nature made it. If you turn your head away from the road that you are on you will see a kaleidoscope of terrain never ever touched by man. That is pretty special!

In recommending her homeland, a Scottish friend of ours promised that we would find Scots people more friendly than most. When we returned from our holiday I asked her if she meant that we would find some people friendly, or that we would find absolutely everyone, without exception so disposed? It was our experience that we did not find even one person having a bad hair day. How can this be?
I cannot leave this subject without a comment on the weather in Scotland in the Summer. The day we arrived there were thunderous rain showers that caused severe flooding. Throughout our sojourn we had high, freezing winds, dark clouds, the afore-mentioned rain, periods of bright sunshine and sometimes we had all those things in one day. You can only do this type of journey in the Summer. During the Winter snow would make it impossible. Lots of remote villages have snow gates that when closed, effectively shut all residents within the village. I imagine that to be caught on the road in certain areas when a blizzard starts would probably mean certain death.

Last thought: On our journey we came across a place called Nigg, in the county of Aberdeen. As best I can tell, a person would be called a Nigg; or multiple persons are Niggs. To be even more politically correct, they are all simply Aberdonions. (Just a bit of useless information.)

This journey was one of the things on my “Bucket” list that I am now able to cross off, and I am very glad that we had such a sensational experience. I would definitely pay a return visit to Bonny, Warm Scotland.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What does it profit a man?

What does it profit a man?
Money, money, money!

The complete question is: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he loses his soul?” I also add, “and if he loses his life.”

I watched a documentary recently about the career of a woman from Colombia named Griselda who ran a drug empire under the name of “The GodMother.” Her former lover and henchman told the story. It was a fascinating account of real life on the streets, and the action that takes place behind the scenes. The main problem is that such a lifestyle is infecting just about every corner of the world.

Allegedly, she ran her empire with brutal violence, supposedly being responsible for numerous murders and terrible injuries.

The possibly attractive part of the story is the quantity of money that changes hands and the lifestyle that that buys a person. The cash is usually held outside banks, sometimes filling a whole room in large bundles. Sellers of drugs on the street have been known to realise sales of $10,000 per day. Men dress themselves in gold chains and dazzling rings and surround themselves with equally dazzling women. All that makes slogging away at a day job with a salary seem like an uphill battle for seemingly silly men.

The reality is that life expectancy is very short indeed in the world of drug dealing. One member of the group might enter into such dealing that could lead to his entire family being killed should he fail.

Tales of torture are hard to bear as “the bizness” seems to bring out the very worst of behaviour. In my own country, which is world known as a paradise, our local lads are involved in an ongoing war to kill one another until the last man who survives will inherit the right to carry on “the bizness.” Even then, he will be challenged by the young wanna-be’s who will want his head.

Normally, when considering working for some company we take into account things like salary and benefits, but if our potential employer suggested that our term of employment with him might be very short because we most probably will be killed, and even tortured before that, we would walk away from the “opportunity”, but in these times of economic crisis people are standing in line to take the place of the previous person who has left his employment, because he’s dead.

Unfortunately, these soldiers are mostly young men who seem to be willing to just taste the good life; to live well, live hard, and die young. So, what is the point? There is no point. If there were some sense in it we would all be doing it. It is all simply madness. These young guys who say they are prepared to die horrible and painful deaths must have some misgivings when the time comes. Being this type of soldier is nothing like defending your country. In that, there is honour, but in pushing drugs there can be no honour at all.

However, let us be clear about this, the source of the problem is the drug user. The drug seller is simply a businessman bringing the product to the market. However, when things go wrong they go very wrong indeed.

This is a business you would be well advised to stay well away from for you gain nothing in the end. You also hurt far too many people to have any claim to dignity.

In Mexico, the present death toll from gang wars is over 40,000 people. Let me spell that out: that’s forty-thousand people. That makes the point most succinctly, I think.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Hotel Maid’s Nightmare

A Hotel Maid’s Nightmare - They work too hard to suffer such stress!

Following on from the previous story about a hotel maid’s trouble, I relate here how easy it is for a maid to find herself facing a serious and overwhelming situation.

I was the night manager at the time when a wealthy, high society New York couple checked into the hotel. They spent their first night without incident, but at dinner time the next day they stormed into my office yelling at the top of their voices: “We’ve been robbed!” They went on at great length about the disappearance of a Cartier diamond necklace worth $30,000.

The hotel was accused of not having safes in the rooms. The fact was that valuables, such as this "missing" piece was clearly supposed to be recorded and placed in the hotel’s principal safe. “Your maid has stolen my necklace. Call the police!” I called the general manager who hot-footed it to the hotel, and we called the maid and the police. The maid was a long-term employee, and thankfully a professional who had heard it all before.

This situation took up all our time that night, and in the morning the hotel received a call from a local law firm to advise that they were being retained to represent a big deal New York law firm who were the rich couple’s lawyers. They insisted that the police should charge our maid with theft because the rich and powerful couple were insisting on it. “That woman should be in jail!” That was how they put it. Also, they wanted the lawyers to promptly start a civil lawsuit against the hotel.

The next thing we heard was a call from the Minister of Tourism himself. What are you people doing down there at your hotel? People were sent out from his office to visit with the couple, and everyone was duly concerned. Then the local bloody newspaper got hold of the story, and in short order the New York talk shows ran with the story, with interviews by telephone with the distraught couple. “Bloody bunch of thieves on this island” said the woman. “We’re coming home tomorrow, and good riddance to this island!”

On the fifth day, the local lawyer asked for an urgent meeting with The Minister of Tourism, The Chief of Police, the hotel chambermaid and her lawyer; with the lawyer for the hotel and management, and with media representatives. He said, more or less the following: The couple had returned to their home in New York, and while putting away her other jewellery in their safe she found her “missing” Cartier diamond necklace sitting where she had left it. The lawyer was being instructed to offer to all concerned the profound apologies of the complainants, and in particular their heartfelt concern for the stress they must have caused the maid.

They promised that they would take immediate action to recant to the media, both on island and in New York their previous story, and they suggested that the maid must receive immediate compensation from them. They said that the local law firm was empowered to enter into negotiations to reach a legal settlement with her attorneys.

Within a short period of time that smiling hotel maid retired, having received a confidential, and apparently substantial apology. We had had complaints before about missing things from rooms, and all had been resolved because the items had been found. We even suggested to this lady that perhaps she had not actually brought the item with her in the first place, but that was met with outrage. What impressed me most about this case was that the couple had reversed themselves so publicly. The embarrassment for them must have been tremendous, but they were a very special couple who were highly principled. They were wrong and faced the situation straight on, regardless of the consequences Good on them! To the best of my knowledge, they were not sued by anybody for slander.

In the hotel business “the guest” could be anybody. The next person to check in could be your best, or your worst advertisement.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

The Dominique Strauss-Kahn case.

I hope he is guilty because he has already paid the penalty!

In case you are the only person on the planet who doesn’t know, Mr. Strauss-Kahn is the former head of the International Monetary Fund, (IMF) who now faces charges of sexual assault on a maid from the Sofitel hotel, in New York. He was arrested, handcuffed, charged, and he did the “Perp Walk” in front of the cameras for all to see. He has since resigned his position as head of the IMF, and he may have relinquished his political future as well, that included the possibility of becoming the president of France.

In the minds of many people he was convicted, and all that was to come was the sentence. But wait, now it emerges that his accuser has a serious case of credibility. She lied to the Grand Jury, has allegedly filed tax returns with serious errors, as well as having possible other serious credibility flaws. So serious is this development that Mr. Strauss-Kahn has been released from his bail detention. I suspect that the case against him may have to dropped, but his life is in tatters and his reputation is ruined.

What happened to cause this disaster? We would all certainly like to know the answer to that question. Whatever it was appears to have begun by the maid entering his room. If you have travelled at all and have stayed in hotel rooms, you may have experienced that knock on the door and before you can say: “Do Not Enter!” the maid is in the room. They have seen people undressed, doing all manner of exciting sexual things to one another, and all manner of other things that would make a maid’s diary a best seller.

What, and who is a Hotel Maid:

Ideally, the maid should be invisible. When you arrive she has already prepared your room. She may roll down the bed cover at night and leave you a little chocolate on your pillow. You usually leave a card on the door telling her do not disturb, so there is really no reason for the guest to know who is the maid for his room.

I am a person who has worked in many hotels over a period of more than 25 years, so I have a fairly good idea of what maids do, and don’t do. All maids are drawn from modest backgrounds and are usually interested in making as much money as they can, but I have never known a maid to steal from a guest’s room, or to do sexual favours.

When the maid is in the room the door must be propped open and no other person may enter while she is cleaning except her supervisor. Maids are intensely protective of the guest’s property because if it goes missing the blame automatically falls on her. I have an interesting story to tell about a maid who found herself in very serious trouble, but it requires a column all its own, that will follow this column.

Sometimes, young male travellers will brag about having had sex with the waitress, or the entertainer, or some stranger who was a one-night stand, but I have never heard anyone ever brag about how they did the maid, at least not while they were in the hotel. Like I said, maids are invisible, which is one reason why they can be so aggressive when barging into your room. It’s kind of a statement that says: Do not ignore me!

Something apparently happened in Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s room between himself and the maid. He strongly denies having assaulted or raped the woman. The problem is that if you are a rich and powerful man you probably have made enemies along the way, or if someone wants what you have you are an easy target, simply because you are a man.

As professional men we can cultivate a hard shell and we can be tough as nails in the boardroom, but we have a soft under belly. That is where our small head is, and the way to that is through a beautiful woman, or handsome man, if that is how you swing. So while you are enjoying screwing that person, you may be, in fact screwing yourself.

Hope it was good for you!

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Own Private Airforce

The Greatest Flying Show on Earth

As I have already reported, my Swallows have returned, they have put four eggs in their house that I sublet to them, and the eggs have hatched and the family has grown.

I spend hours just laying back on the terrace and studying the birds in action. We tend to take birds for granted, that is if you live in the country. It’s not enough for us to live in this orange-tree forest, but we are entertained by our own airforce. The more I watch the more I realise that there is method at work. Firstly, this year our own family have a lot more friends who stay with them. Every night they sleep above the window arches, and at first light they wake up the morning with very animated chit chat and songs.

Their typical sentence runs “twitter….twitter…..twitter..soooo loooong” repeated many times over. It is such happy chatter, then they fly off to capture dinner on the wing. During the incubation period one of the parents were always with the nest, then the chicks were born and that started an intense period of feeding.

Finally came the day when the chicks took their first flight. Blanca, our cat was on standby just waiting for the chicks to make a mistake. However, the wonderful thing to see was the support they got from a whole host of visitors. There was so much activity and encouragement as one by one each of the chicks took to the air and made flying look so easy. It was definitely fiesta day at my house.

I am also very impressed by one other thing that cannot be a coincidence. When the weather is not good to hang our clothes on the line we use the lines under the terrace. I have been fearful that the birds will soil the clothing, but it hasn’t happened yet. Given the number of birds flying around and landing where they can, high enough not to get caught by Blanca, their cleanliness is amazing.

I have two neighbours who keep birds in captivity. What a shame, because my own airforce fly high, wide and deep, and when they want to they come back.

Nature is grand, and when we take the time to observe it closely it is truly a wonderful world.

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Oldest Profession?

The Oldest Profession?

Do you hate your job?

When we think of the oldest profession in the world we normally direct our thoughts to prostitution, however, before that there must surely have come a profession that dealt with our more urgent fundamental needs of food, water, and lodging. However, we are talking about men’s needs, so that might not necessarily be so.

We could say with reasonable certainty that prostitution, in one form or another is universal.

v Greece, in the 6th Century, State-funded brothels were established.
v Spain, in AD590, the Visigoth King banned prostitution.
v England, under rule of King Henry II, in 1161 regulated prostitution.
v Italy, in 1358 embraced prostitution declaring that the profession was indispensable to the world.
v Italy, 1586, Pope Sixtus V declared that all prostitutes be put to death.
v France, 1802, abolished it laws that banned prostitution.
v Japan, in 1932 forced women into sexual service in so-called “comfort stations.” Women are still trying to receive compensation, or at least an apology.
v India, 1956 banns sex trafficking, but tolerates red light districts.
v The United States, 1971 in the State of Nevada licensed its first brothel.
v Spain, 1995, decriminalized prostitution per se, but imposed rules on the practise. Today, 39% of all males in Spain freely admit to using the services of a hooker.
v Sweden 1999 made it legal to sell sex, but illegal to buy sex.
v Holland, in the year 2000 legalized and regulated prostitution. Sex workers are unionised and pay taxes, and the industry is respected and controlled. There is active police vigilance against trafficking, and control by gangs and pimps. In Amsterdam, the famous practise of women who wait do so behind windows, and not on the street, giving an element of dignity. In 1989 13.5% of men in Holland admitted they sought service from the country’s 30,000 prostitutes, compared to 39% of men in Spain who have approximately 300,000 prostitutes to choose from.

Recently I found myself driving along a darkened street near one of the industrial estates around Valencia. There were so many girls lining the street revealing practical everything they had that I have re-named the street “Vagina Avenue.”

However, in The Netherlands they go one better than that. There is a brothel at Amsterdam airport, which gives new meaning to the phrase “having a layover.”

Copyright © 2011 Eugene Carmichael