Monday, March 30, 2009

Update - Iran & Syria

The visas came through. Late, but not too late.

We leave tomorrow. Back on April 26.

I doubt I'll be adding to this blog while we're on our trip, but you never know.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Iran & Syria

I wrote in January that we were organizing a trip to Iran and Syria. We're down to the final part of the process - visas.

Syria isn't particularly difficult, unless your passport shows you've been to Israel, in which case it's VERY difficult. I have a relatively new passport. No Israeli stamps.

For Americans to visit Iran we must have a local Iranian tour operator put together the trip and apply for a Visa Authorization Number. We made the application in early January, and for more than two months there was no sign we'd be approved.

Then just the other day we were authorized. That meant we could now send our passports and applications to Washington, which we did FedEx overnight, and actually get the visas. The only problem is that time is short. Norouz, the Persian New Year, begins tomorrow, so the Iranians (who are located in the Pakistani Embassy) won't be working. Nor will they work Monday. Our departure date is a week from Tuesday, the 31st.

I'm told by TDS, a visa facilitating company we're using, that we have enough time. We'll see. I don't trust foreign bureaucrats to move quickly. Check that. I don't trust any bureaucrat, foreign or domestic, to move quickly.

In the meantime there is nothing to do but make our final preparations and wait for the process to unfold. TDS knows they have to expedite things. They sound like they know what they're doing. And like I say, we'll see.

Telling people about this latest jaunt of ours elicits two reactions. First, "What?" Followed by, "Why?" Let's just say we like to visit places that are off the beaten track. For Americans at least, Iran and Syria qualify.

To be continued . . .

Friday, March 13, 2009

To Twitter or Not to Twitter

I've been doing research on Twitter. I've learned what it is, how to use it and what it is used for. What I haven't done yet is go online and sign up - and become a potentially active Twitterer.

This whole "thing" about putting your life out for all to see and then updating it on a minute-by-minute basis seems ridiculous. Who cares? I know I'm dating myself. I know it's important for many people to be in touch with their classmates, their co-workers, their family, and every friend they've ever had. But again I say, who cares?

I'm not in school. I'm not in the workforce. I use email to communicate with people to whom I have something to say. I use this blog site to pass on thoughts that I think are worth passing on. And I have the habit of sitting down to write longer pieces when the spirit moves me.

There has got to be an age when instant everything is not important. Maybe it's when you retire. Maybe it's earlier. Or maybe I'm just an old fogey who refuses to get with the new program.

I'm toying with the idea of doing a Twitter experiment. What I would do is sign up and get started by asking people who are in my generation whether all this interests them. If I get no response I'll conclude I was right in the first place. We just don't care. If I get a response I'll at least learn what the allure is for other 70 somethings (or thereabouts) and then decide whether I want to join the stampede or not. I'm also thinking about doing this on Facebook.

I'll let you know if I pursue the experiment.

Monday, March 02, 2009


How come it's been raining for several weeks, we've recorded near normal rainfall here in San Francisco, but "they" say the reservoirs aren't getting any of the water?  Indeed, Schwartzie just declared a water crisis for the state.  Disconnect!

How come the Feds get to delay Bonds' trial indefinitely because the judge derailed their witch hunt by declaring key prosecution "evidence" inadmissable?  They've been at this for years. Why don't they go catch a terrorist or something?  Disconnect!

How come only the biggest corporate fools and scoundrels get my money to bail them out? Can't let 'em fail, "they" say.  The global financial system will come crashing down on our heads, "they" say.  It's the little or littler guys, most of whom are not even fools or scoundrels, who are allowed to fail.  Disconnect!

How come Milan is only offering the Galaxy $3-5 million for David Beckham when Jimmy Bullard (heard of him?) went from Fulham to Hull City for twice that much?  Disconnect!

How come even though I paid nearly $400 for a Kindle a few months ago Amazon has introduced the much-improved Kindle 2 but expects me to pay the a non-discounted full price of $359 to buy it?  Very short-sighted on their part.  Disconnect!

How come on HBO's "Big Love," even though there are three wives and a  polygamous family focused on having lots of kids, we can watch a full hour and not see any kids running around? Disconnect!

Finally, how come supposedly enlightened energy and climate policy czars find it OK for businesses to pollute the atmosphere if they can pay for the right to do it?  Disconnect!

Have a nice day.