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Fisticuffs at the top

Maybe it's the time of year. First the NBA falls into disrepute when a handful of players decide to take a mid-game�excursion into the stands�for a quick bout with some fans. Not wanting to feel left out, now it seems the President�decides he wants in on some action too, 'saving' on his Secret Service agents from a scuffle. All politics aside, I find the latter story rather amusing. The media is looking for a scandal here but this sounds like fair game to me. Memories of�the entertaining Prescott Punch in 2001 come to mind (as well as all of the infuriating follow-up) but I think this one will just fade away.

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Thought du jour

Borrowed from The Globe and Mail of Canada:

"We can never be quite sure whether we are competing for something that doesn't exist, or winning a competition in which no one else is competing"
--Adam Phillips
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More newspaper clippings

A little bit late, but from the front page of The Stranger, Nov 11:

Do not despair.
You don't have to leave.
You don't have to move to Canada.
You may feel out of place in the United States today.
You may feel like you're surrounded by fundamentalist-church-going, gun-hugging, gay-bashing, anti-choice Bush voters.
But you're not. George W. Bush only got 51% of the national vote.
And you don't really live out there somewhere in "the Nation," do you?
You live in the city.
A big city. And John Kerry got 61% of the urban vote.
The bigger the city, the higher Kerry's percentage.
John Kerry got 80% of the vote in Seattle.
Cities vote democratic. Cities are the economic engines that power this country.
Cities are diverse, dynamic, and progressive.
Don't think of youself as a citizen of the United States. You are a citizen of the urban archipelago.
The United Cities of America.
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Monday morning

It's a cold, cold morning in Seattle. Should be a quiet week though as so many people take the whole lot off for Thanksgiving. With luck, a chance to get some work done.

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The legal alien returns

The trip up to Vancouver went well enough. The Days Inn was a good choice - just a few blocks from the US Consulate and right downtown. As�I arrived there were police all over the place redirecting traffic. I decided to go for a walk and find things ahead of my appointment and crossed a street that had eight parked cars (center of the road), lights on, all with New York plates. That was odd. A couple of blocks further and there were crowds standing around (on sidewalks, in the street) so I wandered over to take a look. Before I figured out what was going on, a guy on megaphone squwaked 'you can vocalize on this one...ready?' and moments later people were running all over the place, evidently portraying panic; the end of the world was being rehearsed. I stuck around for another take and then decided to get some food. Apparently the film was the Fantastic Four, we'll have to see whether my acting talents meet the bar.

The appointment was a whole different story. I checked out at�6am and decided to get some coffee before my 9am appointment. Nearing the Consulate there was already a queue forming. A quick trip to Starbucks and I took up a spot in line and started the wait. The line moved�a little as the guards came out and explained 'no cell phones or electronics, it's in the letter' and 'you must have $100 in cash, it's in the letter' and a handful of other explicit rules that people had misunderstood. At nine, we had the privilege of handing over the $100 cover charge and the line moved inside to surrender passports. An elevator ride up to the 20th floor and more waiting. Another couple of hours spent watching folks being denied�visas�or being told to come back the following week to try again and there was a definite tension in the room.�My interview was fine - fingerprints,�a few quick questions - and I was given a receipt and asked to return at 3pm. Quick lunch at Steamworks where I'd dined with an old high school friend years before and a stroll around town. My suspicions about the 3pm time were well founded. I returned just after two to find a quick already a block long so quickly took up my spot. This process was much faster and I was on my way to the border by 5pm. A slight delay at Peace Arch to get a new departure record and I was back in Blaine, WA with an immense�feeling of relief.

So, $x000 employer sponsorship and lawyer fees, $100 hotel, $50 expenses, $50 gas, $15 passport photos, $100 appointment fee, $6 border crossing fee and the net: nothing changes. Except, of course,�that I can work in the US until 2007 and that's good.

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Making for the border

I'm headed off to Vancouver, BC tonight for an appointment at the US Consulate tomorrow morning for a visa stamp. If all goes according to plan I'll be back in town for lunch.�If not, well, we'll see..

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Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.

Time: The British experience occupying the country in the 1920s offers unhappy instruction. That expedition's commander thought he went as a liberator and arrived with scant ground troops. The local leaders the British picked to rule were weak and derided as puppets. Iraqis rebelled with attacks that stunned the occupiers in their ferocity. Ultimately, the occupiers had to use brute military power to crush the insurgency, hoping that stories of men, women and children being killed indiscriminately wouldn't cause the public back home to lose its nerve. Quelling the dissent proved deadly for 2,200 British troops and some 10,000 Iraqis, and the country never did settle down by the time the British left in the 1940s.

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Busy weekend

A great weekend that passed all too quickly. With the marathon now in the past, the opportunity to drink pleasant amounts of PBR was seized on Friday night and, combined with a little shuffleboard, made for a most entertaining evening. In a bar drinking beer with friends. Fun.

Katie and I went on an accidental trip on Saturday. What started off innocently enough as a trip to the market to get bread and cheese soon escalated to a drive to Mud Mountain Dam (out past Auburn and Kent), some logging-trail mountain ascent action and a sunset at Paradise on a cold Mt Rainier. A good day.

I did a little writing on Sunday and that was it.

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Three pounds of M&Ms

I'm not quite sure where the tradition started, but it's customary to fill a bowl with n pounds of M&Ms on ones nth anniversary in these parts. Anything keeps the hallways full of chocolate is just fine by me.

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Follow-up: Apologies Accepted

Apologies Accepted: We, wanderers of the world outside the US, have been touched by the initiative of, and the huge amount of photos they received. The initiators of this website would like to show back to the American people that they appreciated that message.

You have to love the Internet. Still, I'm rather glad all of the election craziness is in the past now.