Stuff

Lots of poetry going on.  Good things.  A few anthologies coming out this year, plus there is a plan to release another book of my own stuff too.

Oh, and, a small thing, I’m about to become a US citizen (assuming I don’t flunk the Civics Test) 😉

But then, a week is a long time in poetry.

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Skype adds ads

So today Skype have announced that they will start putting adverts out to all customers, even those who pay.  I can see the point, after all it’s all about the money honey.  Isn’t it?

Wait – I have a *paid* account.  In fact – I pay quite  a lot for my Skype account.  Not just a few cents here or there – over a $100 a year plus extra if I call UK-based cell phones or ridiculous ‘easy-to-remember’ numbers for people like the bank or the tax office.

I pay.  I pay a lot.

I do like Skype – really, it’s an awesome service and without it I can pretty much say that it would have been difficult, if not impossible for my wife and I to have met and formed a decent relationship.  We used to use over 2500 minutes a month talking to each other on Skype.  Hours and hours talking to each other made it so we knew each other like we’d gone to school together – despite at that point never having met in person and a physical separation of two continents and 4000 miles.  Skype helped us fall in love.  Skype helped us stay together through tricky traumatic reams of government paperwork and visas.  It played a big part in the arrangements of our first nervous meetings.  It allowed us to cry together, laugh together and grow one year older together.  Skype was there, drenched in tears of happiness the day I called a sleepy future wife to tell her my interview at the US Embassy had gone well and we had the necessary permission for me to fly over permanently and for us to be allowed to marry.

That day was one of the most heart-burstingly happy moments I have ever had.  I know Lisa felt the same way.

Nowadays Skype helps me work.  In fact, without Skype my work would be a quiet message-filled experience snowed under a pile of time-shifted emails.   It means I can hear my mother’s voice, even though she has no computer and it plays a critical part in letting me wave at my sister, my nephew, my Dad and his future wife and pull silly faces at them in a range of strange hats.  Soon Skype might be there as I perform poetry to a foggy rain-damp UK audience whilst I stand, sun-brushed on the balcony of my apartment in the USA.

Skype…you are a good friend.  Please don’t become a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal who drops adverts in my lap and screams sound-bytes in my ears.  I *pay* for you to sit in the audience with me – if you invite along adverts who yell out at the wrong time and ruin the moment I’ll buy a new friend, one who values our friendship and the color of my money…

Calling Vonage and Google Voice – are you listening?

Veteran’s Day / Remembrance Day / Armistice Day

I learnt quite a while ago that the best way to start an argument is to talk about religion or politics. So this is about neither.

If you’ve read my poetry or books you’ll understand my views on war and peace. If you haven’t I suggest you read “Dawn” or “Where the children played“.

Over here, in the USA, Armistice Day was renamed to Veteran’s Day since it was felt that the day should remember all veterans of military service and not just one particular day in one particular war. It’s still held on the 11th day of the 11th month and a silence is observed at 11am.

In the UK people (mostly older folk) wear poppies and some, not all, offices even have a minute or two silence to remember the fallen. On the whole our soldiers are, to most non military Brits, an invisible clichéd rabble of hard drinkers or characters in a video game. Or the focus of a documentary; a shot-peppered young face attached to the stumps of legs. Our eyes well up as they hug their children. Then we go back to the daily grind.

British ex-soldiers do not discuss their service – not even on the 11th day. On Remembrance Sunday we see increasingly wrinkled old men wheeled up to place wreathes at the Cenotaph. The bands play, the bearskins bob as the Grenadiers stamp boots in unison and present arms.

British ex-soldiers wake up on the 11th day and go to work in factories and offices. Friends say the normal “hi”. They work, pack up, go home.

In the US ex-soldiers get free lunches on the 11th day. US ex-soldiers get asked to stand up at yesterday’s school concert and **everyone** gives them a standing ovation and the school head thanks them “for their service”….and means it. US ex-soldiers get people who do not know them walk up and shake them vigorously by the hand. Their warfare is not a dirty secret. They don’t need to have fewer limbs or eyes to be recognized.

So, today I would like to at least directly thank one ‘veteran’ for his service: Andrew O’Brien.

Thank you.

Piaf – lost genius

Tell me she was not a genius; the perfect poetry of Michel Emer’s lyrics and the profoundly artistic performance of Edith Piaf just brings tears to my eyes.

This version has English subtitles – the original French words are even more beautiful.