Friday, September 28, 2007

Klara and Edda Belly-Dancing Controversy

When I first read this I thought they might be over reacting but now that I've seen a copy of the photograph I have to say that I do think it's 'child porn'.

Now let me say that I am not a militant campaigner against pornography in general, nor do I feel that all child nudity is porn. I also am a supporter of gay rights - so I would be one of the last to want to nail Elton John. Besides if Elton is gay why would he be excited by photographs of nude...uh, girls?

I won't post any links to images of this photograph here because I do believe it's something that will excite paedophiles very much.

Basically what this reminds me of is something a Playboy magazine editor once said to me about female nudity in general. Yes, I used to do translation work for them and I didn't have any qualms about this. Well, anyway he said that males tend to react quite straight forward to photographs of a vagina or the part of the body where that is. So, if a woman was sitting on a chair with her knees up against her and the photograph was taken so that the part of her body where the vagina is was in view (and she was fully clothed) - this would provide many a male with the sexual stimulus they needed to 'jack off'.

The little girl in the controversial photograph is totally naked and in a position so that her vagina is right in your face. Though this may not make most people react (because we are not all excited by nude children), paedophiles who are excited by nudity of very young females would surely find it very stimulating.

I personally feel that this particular photograph is 'child porn' in this sense. What we have to be careful about is getting so zealous about things that taking photographs of naked little children doing anything becomes a crime.

In some cultures there's nothing wrong with little children running around naked and you'll see these photographs in family albums. God forbid that a day should come when parents are arrested for owning such photographs.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Appointment

So I headed out to that God forsaken office armed with a written explanation of how I had sent a fax in twice for an appointment and didn't get a reply and how my lawyer had called them and confirmed that I had an appointment.

The guard at the door let me in.

Then the next guard said I didn't have an appointment but let me in anyway and told me to sit down and wait.

I waited for an hour thinking he'd get back to me.

He didn't.

So I asked him if I needed a number.

Guard: What number? What are you here for?

Me: I need to renew my residency.

Guard: Here! Take this.

It seems he had forgotten all about me but he gave me a very nice number and I got to submit my application shortly as I was the next in line for that particular queue.

Then it got confusing.

Last time I did it - all I needed to do was submit:

1. Application form + 3 copies of it
2. 3 copies of my passport
3. 3 copies of my old residency card
4. 3 copies of bank statements
5. 4 copies of a statement saying I had a health insurance
6. 3 copies proving I owned property here

Well, this time - he only took the originals and 1 copy of each and said the photographs were for another office.


Then he gave me a stamped document that said he'd received my application today and then told me to go to a website:

I'm supposed to input my NIE, the date I submitted my application and my birthday.

I asked him for an explanation which I didn't understand at all and later on examined the paper more carefully on the train back home.

Well it seems that this website tells you whether your residency card is ready yet or not and it seems to say they will send you the results via ordinary mail - which isn't very promising since ordinary mail can be delayed for months or lost or sent back.

I guess I'll have to check in about 2 months and keep checking after that to see how things are going.

Typically this morning I got a request to submit a rough estimate for a big translation project and so I was going nuts trying to get this together. Then my English bank informed me that to cash in bonds I had to get all these documents together, one of which I looked for hours - and I asked the bank if they had it and they said no. Then it turns out the bank did have it!

Now I have to find out when the Spanish bank will ever be open again as the Torremolinos Feria has started. I apparently need to go to them and get a copy of my passport and utility bill certified.

I've never been good at multi-tasking so today has been a very stressful day.

I'm drinking keemun tea with some honey now and trying my best to relax.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Health Insurance Company

My new lawyer says he has called and confirmed that I have an appointment to submit my application forms for renewing my temporary residency permit - so I will be going there on Thursday at noon.

I checked my mailbox to see if the health insurance company had sent me the certificate saying that I had paid my dues - and yes, there was an envelope!

However when I opened it, I realized that not only had they sent me the wrong documents but my name was still spelled: Ayazo.

Now there is no way in hell the document will arrive at my doorstep before Thursday so I will have to ask my bank to provide a statement that I have been paying my bills to them!

Talk about enervating.

Off to the bank I go tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Blame Cannabis

I really don't think cannabis had anything to do with what he did. Cannabis does not make people engage in sick behavior like urinating on a dying person.

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Sometimes I wonder why anything works in this world at all in view of the glaring incompetencies that make life so annoying.

I have been trying to get my health insurance company to send me a certificate that I need to present when I renew my residency permit for the past few weeks and it has not arrived yet. After the first one failed to arrive I asked them to send another one and they started misspelling my name.

Ayako <----correct
Ayazo<----this is how they insist on spelling it

Anyhow, after I asked them to correct the spelling they sent me an email saying they'd already corrected it and when I opened the attachment it said: Ayazo.

The other issue is the appointment we have to make to submit our residency application renewal. They never replied to my fax request that I sent in July. Yesterday was supposed to be the appointment and nothing. I sent another one today for an appointment approximately 10 days from now. My friend's accountant suggests I just go there whether they reply or not and tell them I've asked for an appointment twice already with no reply so let me submit my application!

I can see how this can end up being a total waste of time since my Spanish isn't good enough for arguing loudly, but I'm going to try doing that anyway since there isn't much else I can do!

I guess I'll just plan on doing something else in Malaga that day.

Anyhow, I find all this enervating.

My head is spinning because my friend's accountant now also tells me there is no such thing as a permanent residency in Spain - that it was all a myth...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Alarm Clocks that Break in a Week...

I always took it for granted that cheap alarm clocks would last for 2 years or so, because that's the standard in Japan. When they started manufacturing things in China for cheaper the lifespan of electronics became shorter and well....they started breaking after a few years.

Recently I had to buy an alarm clock at Carrefour. The only one they had that wasn't digital was made by Lexibook a UK company. There wasn't any other choice so I purchased it but it felt wrong the minute I took it out of the plastic case. It felt too light for its size - like it were a toy and not a real alarm clock. It had this bright shiny golden sticker on it that said: Made in China.

It broke after 2 weeks.

Now, I've heard some Spanish people complaining about things made in China and the reality is that they don't pay much attention to quality there. This is why you need someone manning the quality control from your company to ensure that they do maintain certain standards.

I know a bit about this because I used to work in a business where we managed the quality control of cigarette premiums - which meant we managed production of lighters and other items which were made in China!

A lot of things are made in China today because of the cheap labor cost there, but depending on who's doing the quality control, the percentage of defective products that hit the shelves is significantly different.

Leximark clearly fails to do this and I couldn't even be bothered to return the defective product anymore because I suspect they'll just give me another one that will break again in 2 weeks.

My sister asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year and sadly I think I'm going to ask her to give me a few cheap Japanese alarm clocks, which are also made in China but with stricter quality control.

*I just checked and the package does say it has a warranty for 2 years.

What has happened to America?

Sometimes I just get depressed. Life gets to be too much. I can't deal with it anymore.

I take out medication prescribed to me from years back and take it and then I feel better after awhile...but the problems haven't really gone away so I'm not exactly feeling good either.

This time I think what drove me over the edge was watching Michael Moore's 'Sicko'.

I just had surgery recently and because surgery wasn't included in my health insurance I paid 1300 euros or so for it. It was a simple procedure to remove a fibroid growing on my cervix. After this, I had been contemplating upgrading my insurance to cover surgeries but had not got around to it yet.

So this issue of health insurance had been on my mind for over a month.

I think the worst revelation in Mr. Moore's documentary was the way health insurance companies have begun to operate as of late. They have become so profit oriented that they do their very best to bar a policy holder from getting the medicare they need.

Mr. Moore talks about the American government using scare tactics to keep its citizens in line, but I have to be frank. Mr. Moore's documentary scared me a lot more than Mr. Bush ever did with his talk of terrorism.

I personally have never run into trouble with my health insurance companies yet. For almost all of my childhood, my family was covered by an American health insurance company and whenever we have needed treatment, I believe we got the treatment we needed. Granted we lived in the Philippines mostly, but when we were in Davis, California my sister ended up in the hospital once because they thought she might have a brain tumor. It ended up being a pseudo-tumor but there were no problems as far as receiving treatment. She got the treatment she needed and got very good treatment in fact.

But this was back in 1979...

I had suspected all along that things may have changed a lot in America since then...and it was horrifying in a way to see this documentary which was suggestive of how far America had degenerated.

When I first heard about those mass power outages in places like New York, it was unbelievable because this was something that was supposed to happen in countries like the Philippines not in America. Power failure indeed is a part of life there and you just have to live with it and it's no big deal. But in America this wasn't supposed to happen.

Then there was hurricane Katrina. The levees broke and flooded the city. This again was something that you didn't expect in America. Things were supposed to work there. Not only did New Orleans get reduced to looking like some third world country with bad infrastructure, but I have read that the government did not do enough to reconstruct the city.

Clearly something was wrong.

Other telltale signs of things going awry were comments of MBA students.

I can still remember how callous and calculating they were to the point that they did not care that large numbers of people died because of decisions they made. Although one does not run businesses well by being sympathetic, I felt they had crossed the line where they had reached this pinnacle of selfish ruthlessness were they had no respect for other human beings.

Making money had become so important that indirectly murdering babies was nothing to them.

I think what I found most disturbing about Mr. Moore's documentary was that he confirmed my worst fears about what had happened to America.

While good American citizens who were trying to live normal lives died because their insurance companies were too profit focused and denied them treatment to medicare, less than 1% of the ruling class waged wars on foreign soil in an attempt to increase their wealth even more...getting more poor Americans killed there in the process.

I worked in film documentaries myself for some time so granted that Mr. Moore exaggerates certain elements in his film to press his point, it still saddens me that things have come to this.

I see more evidence to support what he claims than otherwise...and that is just depressing.

My thoughts go back to my childhood, when I lived in this perfect little community made by Ford and Rockefeller Foundation. The streets were so clean you could walk bare footed. The lawns were perfectly manicured. Every tile was in place. Any dust was always swept clean. We had our own water tower so that we could safely drink tap water. If a typhoon came and there was a power failure, we had generators that kicked in and gave us electricity. Everything worked.

This was during the years from 1965-1981.

I have never been back to that place since my father died of cancer, but a friend of mine did go back quite recently.

He told me that this perfect place of our childhood was not the same anymore. He found broken tiles that had not been replaced and there was mold growing in the tennis court. The whole compound had this tired worn look about it, and somehow this makes me think of what has happened to America itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is it the End of the Drought?

The sky is rumbling and I see flashes of lightning streak across the sky. There have been drops of rain but it hasn't really started raining yet. When it does however I think we can expect it to be torrential.

The last thing Ronny needs is to get wet commuting to his office and back with his sore throat, but we've had a prolonged drought here so we really need it to rain hard...over our reservoir.

I've heard some truely horrific tales of what happened the last time there was a seroius drought. An old Danish guy told me that they had trucks carrying water rations in the street and people had to go out with buckets to get their supply.

"I could taste salt in the coffee in some restaurants."

They were using salt water from the sea to make coffee.

"They talked about making a desalination plant then but you know it started raining and everyone forgot about it."

As usual.

Planning - just doesn't seem to be of any importance here in Costa del Sol.

So of course they haven't planned for when it rains a lot either so Ronny can expect to wade his way home through knee deep water should it really start raining hard.

He'll just have to soak in a hot tub and get dried quickly if that happens I guess - and we'll have to hope he doesn't get pneumonia!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Under the Weather

It rained yesterday evening which was very nice because it cleared some of the dust out of the air for awhile. We could hear thunder in the distance and see lightning bolts striking the horizon over the Mediterranean sea. We would have enjoyed this spectacle a bit more if we had not come down with sore throats once again.

Ronny had to stay home from work because his job is selling broadband over the phone - and not having your voice means you can't work.

I also postponed my visit to the lawyer. I'll need to do some food shopping today that's more cold friendly and I feel like there's something not quite right with my throat as well...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Immigration Lawyer

Well, I have made an appointment with an immigration lawyer in Fuengirola and will be paying him a visit tomorrow at 13:00. I am hoping it doesn't turn out to be another fruitless day of getting tired whilst making no progress...

The last time I had a meeting with a so-called immigration lawyer, he told me his fees would be 3000 euros and by the time he'd drafted the contract the fees had gone up to 4000 euros and he was asking me to pay for expenses on top of this.

When I told him I would not be using his services he and his colleague started to send me threatening emails telling me I'd get deported if I didn't use their services. This just convinced me that they were a bunch of dishonest swindlers and I stopped answering their email.

The hardest thing here is that one hardly ever gets straight answers to any questions.

All I need from an immigration lawyer frankly is:

1. Ensure I get the correct application form
2. Enusre I have ticked the right boxes in the application form
3. Ensure I don't apply for a 1 year permit when I in fact can apply for a 2 year permit
4. Ensure I'm taking all the right steps so that I can apply for a permanent residency after 5 consecutive years of temporary ones

This is what I asked the last lawyer too, but he didn't seem to be listening and started telling me some wild fairy tales about how one could get a permanent residency in 1 year if they set up a 'chamber of commerce' and a 'website promoting international business relations', etc. This guy didn't want to help me do the simple things I wanted to do but wanted to abuse a loop hole in the law to get the permanent residency permit faster. Well actually that's not what he wanted to do. He just needed to inflate the project so he could make me pay him 3000 euros.

He seemed to be very much in a hurry to make me pay my deposit without a contract. I refused to pay anything until a contract was in place of course, and while he was writing the contract he had another bright idea to milk even more money out of me. He insisted I needed to apply for a work permit separately from my permanent residency and that because of this he would discount one permit to 2000 euros but I'd have to pay him 4000 euros for two permits.

If this doesn't sound ridiculous to you...let me just say it sounded ridiculous to me.

I turned my back on him despite his threats and walked away, and I am convinced I made the right decision.

I hope tomorrow's trip isn't going to be a replay of this again. I did get this new lawyer's contact details through the American Club here so I'm hoping this guy will be a little more honest with me.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Punish the Women

Some prostitutes were beheaded in Pakistan. Typically the men who used their services went unpunished.

It's nothing surprisingly really, but it reminded me of this chilling book I read by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro called, 'A Mortal Glamour' a story about some nuns in some obscure convent who get punished in pretty extreme ways. I don't really want to talk about the book here because I don't want to spoil it for people who might want to read it. Let's just say it was one of the most chilling novels I have ever read in my adult life that was about the dark side of human nature!

When I first came to Europe I was rather shocked by the extent of male chauvenism here. Having heard all the propaganda in the Far East I think I really expected something else. I thought there would be far more equality between the genders in Europe than in Japan.

Because I come from a family were there was no gender discrimination, I've had trouble fitting into the world all my life. I think it's because my parents never tutored me on how to behave as a female to get my way in the world.

It took me years in my adult life before I learned to groom myself and dress up so at least I exuded femininity and I think I can say I made a pretty amazing cosmetic transformation, but the sad thing is I never learned to behave in the way we females are supposed to behave and this has caused a lot of problems in my life.

I've seen women of all nationalities do it. And it is really amazing how much they can dupe men into doing the most stupid things if you only played your cards right in this manipulating feminine way. But God it is hard to do and so humiliating and insulting to my intelligence I am a total loser at this game.

During my years at the advertising agency I did my best to act this out but even then I could only do it with men who were 20 years older than me and were graying. Somehow it was easier to believe I was pretty, young, clueless and sexy when the men looked old enough to be my father or grandfather.

I was too embarrassed to behave like this with younger men and I mean men under 45.

I guess that's why I in the end had a nervous breakdown and had to leave. But this is another story....

Spanish Bureaucracy

I'd like to say it's that time of the year again, but this only happens every two years because the system is so not working.

Anyway I went into Malaga today to make sure I had the correct form filled out for renewing my residency permit to live in this wonderful place called Costa del Sol. Until last year this procedure could be done in Torremolinos but they have changed the system to....make it better.

When I first arrived, all you had to do was pop into the police station in Torremolinos between 9am and 2 pm and pick up your form and then show up on another day with all the necessary papers. The process of renewing your residency permit was nice and simple.

Then they did this wonderful thing and decided that they would give every person who found a job in Spain a residency permit.

This was a disaster.

Long queues appeared outside the police station. Then they introduced the 'numbers'. You had to get a number or they wouldn't even talk to you. You had to be there at 9am, then 8am, then 7am in the morning to even get a number.

After you submitted all your papers you waited for over 12 months before they issued a go ahead. Then you had to wait another 3 months or so to get your 'residency card'.

This wasn't a bed of roses but at least you could pop by before 2pm to pick up the right form and they knew which one to give you! So the only hellish part was waking up before the sun rose and waiting outside in the open air outside the police station for 2 hours and then waiting some more inside before you got to submit your application form.

Then they changed the system this year. Not only do you have to go all the way to Malaga but you are supposed to send a fax and make an appointment!

The new place was at least a 30 minute walk from the train station. And no, I wasn't wearing high heels but my beat up Nike walking shoes. By God it was far.

Anyway when I got there I was left outside the barred gates of the police station and was told to get in this queue for asking questions. This lasted for about 30 minutes. There was dog poop on the ground right where the queue was and it was difficult not to step on it, not to mention the government cars that sometimes needed to get in through that same gate.

Then finally I was let inside and given a 'number'. The policeman manning the gate was telling people at the end of the queue there were only a limited number of 'numbers' for asking questions.

I was #2 in this queue so I soon got to see a man but he didn't really want to talk to me. I tried my best to speak Spanish and only said one english phrase: "I sent this." But that was enough to get the man all worked up and he started loudly telling me that I was not allowed to speak English and I doubt he heard anything else I ever said to him again despite the fact that it was all in Spanish. He just wanted to get rid of me so he gave me another 'number'.

I went to sit down and waited for 1.5 hours. There weren't many people in my queue but they seemed to take over 30 minutes to ask their questions.

30 minutes before closing time, the big lady boss stood up and demanded what questions I had to ask. She told me to go the same guy who had told me not to speak english and gave me my number. I told her that I all I wanted was to confirm that I had the right form for renewing my residency permit and to ask how the appointment worked. She seemed to be a bit annoyed with the first guy saying: She just wanted the correct application form. Why couldn't you just give it to her?

The guy indignantly told her I had had too many application forms even though I only showed him one.

Anyhow this all happened in Spanish so I could be wrong about what they were saying, but this is what it sounded like to me.

In the end she gave me an application form which looked wrong to me but I took it and left. They didn't even want to waste 5 minutes with me and I wondered why the guy before me got to sit down and discuss his problems for 30 minutes. Then she walked away really quickly and I literally had to chase her to her desk to ask about the appointment.

"I sent the fax in July and still don't have a response."

"You just have to wait some more."

My time was up. It was time to leave.

I have a headache from sun stroke and am tired and pissed off now and I probably don't even have the right application form.

I really don't mind waiting for the reply but I do have fears that they have lost my application form for the appointment, as they have done this to me before. The first time I made an application form for my residency permit, the good people at the Torremolinos police station managed to lose my entire file and I had to submit everything all over again...

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Wonderful Food Blogs on the Internet

Since I'm usually ranting about some issue in the world, today I've also decided to talk about something I do like.

The internet is full of wonderful food blogs and a lot of them have really lovely photographs.

Why haven't I made a food blog myself even though cooking is really one of my great lifetime hobbies?

It all comes down to laziness...

I can see that people have put a lot of time into their food blogs and I guess I'd rather browse them for ideas and cook my lovely dinner and eat it.

This said, I do experiment with recipes and new ingredients when I'm inspired, but I don't do it on a regular basis and I'm way too lazy to take photographs and write down the details of a recipe.

Let me post the links of two food blogs with really gorgeous photographs of food in case you're interested:

Human Rights Activists

One thing I really don't get about human rights activists is their adamant defense of murderers and their rather callous attitude toward the victims. I guess the focus is on those who are still living since the dead aren't going to rise from their graves, but I have trouble coming to terms with this kind of positive thinking.

Perhaps the intentions of these activists are good, but they are in a way encouraging people to commit crimes first then repent later.

Let's say someone kills your mother, father, sister, brother, friend or anyone you are close to. Is it really enough that the murderer typically 'repents' after the deed is done? I have doubts about some people feeling any genuine remorse for deeds they have done because people are different and some admit to enjoying murder. And if they do feel remorse, was it necessary to engage in such acts before deciding to change their ways?

There is an argument I often hear that punishing the criminals will not make your loved ones come back. This argument is something that I feel should only be used to help those who feel the loss of the victims cope with life and not to justify leniency on those who committed the crime.

It's important for those who were wronged to let go of past hurts so that they can enjoy life again (for their own sakes), but I think it's ridiculous to use this same argument to justify protecting a murderer who after all had no concern for a basic right that every human has according to these very same human rights activists: the right to life, liberty and security of person (Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights).