Saturday, July 30, 2016

Unconventional 2016

I watched a tiny patch of the Republican convention and even less of the Democratic convention. I don't see why these conventions have to spread out over a few days. They used to pick their candidates at the convention, but now we all know who it's going to be long before anyone breaks out the balloons and straw hats. Today's conventions are little more than pep rallies to stroke egos. This may be an unusual election, but I care about it less than usual.

Republicans will say I should care because if Clinton is elected, the country will fall apart, the terrorists will take over and the ground will open up and swallow the United States in a biblical rage.

Democrats will say I should care because if Trump is elected, he'll declare himself dictator, outlaw every religion and race and turn the country into a police state.

I doubt either will happen. Clinton would most likely be a standard Democratic president. The economy will improve slightly while Republicans fight her every step of the way, calling her the worst president in the history of the world. In the end, she won't be the best or the worst. Unless some extraordinary event challenges her and she either rises or falls. Lincoln wouldn't be considered great without the Civil War, just as Hoover wouldn't be a failure without the Great Depression. Neither president caused those events, but how they reacted determined how history remembers them.

I don't know what kind of president Trump would be, but that's only because he's not really a Republican and the only time he tells us what he would do, it's something unconstitutional or well beyond the president's authority. The Great Wall of Mexico and deporting Muslims isn't going to happen. I think he will most likely surround himself with the most famous people who want to work with him and be more of a hands off president. He'll give a lot of colorful speeches and post on Twitter, but most policy will be determined by small groups of corporate executives.

This two-year election will be over in a few months and CNN can get back to endless stories about Syria. One of the greatest things about living outside of the United States is that I don't have to see any campaign commercials, but CNN has been reporting every single thing that comes out of Trump's mouth for the last year and a half. No matter what happens on election night, at least that will stop.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Woolly Mountain Pass

I went on another date last weekend. I wasn't about to give up after the last one. That one was so bad that I was determined to go out with a strange man and not have it end in complete failure.

I met Harry through a mutual friend of a friend. That's not his real name, but I'm calling him that for obvious reasons. He's a German who works for some kind of financial company.

When we first talked on the phone, I liked how nervous he was. He wasn't babbling idiot nervous, but just nervous enough to show that he wasn't an arrogant narcissist. Most men want to sound confident, and I understand that completely, but when they overcompensate, they come across as pompous. Harry seemed humble, which is pretty rare in the Twitter Age, and a little shy.

He suggested we go for a morning run, which surprised me. Everyone wants to look their best on a first date, and no one looks their best while running in the oppressive July humidity of Hong Kong. But when he mentioned Bowen Road, I knew that he knew what he was talking about.

Bowen Road is one of the most popular places for joggers and walkers in Hong Kong. It's tucked away in the mountains, so no one accidentally stumbles onto it. You have to know where it is to get there. It's also a great place to run or walk since it's away from Hong Kong traffic and shaded by mountain trees. Cars are completely blocked from a long stretch of 3 or 4 different paths. There are plenty of dogs off their leashes, but they're pets rather than strays, and even stray dogs are safer than Hong Kong drivers.

When Harry and I first saw each other, we were in our running clothes, which is a lot different from seeing someone for the first time in their Sunday best. Running clothes are more realistic. Except for Harry's. When he took off his jacket and sweatpants, he was wearing a tank top and 1970s style gym shorts. I never know what's fashionable at any given time, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't.

What surprised me more than what he was wearing was what he was packing under those clothes. The tank top did nothing to stop all that hair poking out from his chest, shoulders and back. When he took off the sweatpants, I thought he was wearing fur leggings.

After a brief conversation about nothing in particular, we set off down the path. I was tempted to really run and see if he could keep up, but I know how competitive some men can be. If I ran faster, he'd get upset and pout. If he ran faster, he'd become unbearable. It was also the middle of July. We stuck with light jogging and some walking. He drank a lot of water, but it was hard to tell if he was struggling to keep up or simply hydrating. While running in Hong Kong, you should always drink more water than you want.

Bowen Road has a few spots where decent views of the city peek out between the trees. We stopped a few times and talked about this and that. It was nothing magical, but we didn't annoy each other either.

I don't know if there will be a second date. I like to think I'm not a superficial person, but he was really hairy. It bothered me more than it should. I can't tell him to wax since I wouldn't let a man tell me what hair should stay and what should go.

Other than his fur coat, everything seemed ok. We didn't really get to know each other very well, but it was only one date. If there's another, maybe we'll talk more. We definitely can't go swimming. He'd clog the drains.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tel Aviv Audition part 2

I went to Tel Aviv for an audition last week. It went very well. Afterward, I had one of the best interviews of my life. We all got along like old friends. We all wanted the same thing, so it was like having a quick visit before everyone had to go somewhere else. I'm now a visiting performer at the Suzanne Dellal Center. That appeals to me for a variety of reasons.

Suzanne Dellal is the leading non-ballet dance institution in Israel. They have not only the premier venue in the country, but also most of the leading dance companies and what's probably the best academy. They're also Mikhail Baryshnikov's favorite dance center in Israel. That's nothing to sneeze at. He knows a thing or two about dance.

The bad news is that I will not be performing in anything right away. Everything is fully booked. But I will not have to wait until next season since this is a full year operation rather than one of those seasonal centers. When you join a ballet company, you have to get in at the right time since they don't perform year round.

The good news is that I will not be performing in anything right away. I have a day job. Getting a few days off is one thing, but taking a month off right after I took a month off is pushing it. It's also summer. Tel Aviv is only going to get hotter before it cools off. I'd like to see the different seasons, but I don't mind if I can avoid August.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Another Day, Another Shooting

Police officers shot a black man in Baton Rouge who might have been threatening someone. Then police shot a black man in St. Paul who had a broken tail light. What's unbelievable to me isn't that they shot a black man. That seems to be alarmingly common. What I can't believe was that it happened in Minnesota. That's something that happens in the south, California and Wisconsin. If it can happen in Minnesota, it can happen anywhere. Maybe not in Vermont. If you're one of the five black men there, you probably already know how to avoid the police.

Now people are shooting the police in Dallas. I'm not on Facebook, so I don't have all the answers to society's problems, but I doubt making the police more paranoid is going to help anybody.

Whenever I go to Israel, people always warn me that it's dangerous, even though it's not. No one has ever told me to be careful when going to the United States.