African Proverbs

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African Proverbs

“A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, he told her, to which she retorted that a proverb was the last refuge of the mentally destitute.” W. Somerset Maugham, The Painted Veil

Proverbs are an integral part of African culture. Passed on from generation to generation for centuries, they are still in wide use today. Proverbs are used to illustrate ideas, reinforce arguments and deliver messages of inspiration, consolation, celebration and advice. Here are some of my favorite African proverbs. There are many.

No matter how hot your anger is, it cannot cook yams.
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The rain does not fall on one roof.

If you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far walk together.

The best way to eat an elephant in your path, is to cut him up into little pieces.

The death of an elderly man is like a burning library.

Not everyone who chases the zebra caught it but he who caught it, chased it.

Never marry a woman who has bigger feet than you.

Ears that do not listen to advice, accompany the head when it is chopped off.

If you carry the egg basket, do not dance.

Only a fool tests the river with both feet.

Teeth do not see poverty. (smile)

Rain beats the leopard’s skin but does not wash out the spots.

Don’t set sail using someone else’s star.

The child of a rat is a rat.

There are no shortcuts to the top of the palm tree.

You must attend to your business with the vendor in the market, and not to the noise of the market.

A bridge is repaired only when someone falls into the water.

He that beats the drum for the mad man to dance is no better than the mad man himself.

Wherever a man goes to dwell, his character goes with him.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Picking The Right Country

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Picking The Right Country

“When you move from one country to another you have to accept that there are some things that are better and some things that are worse, and there is nothing you can do about it.”Bill Bryson

If you are planning to live abroad by choice and not by a job posting, it can be an overwhelming decision where to live. When I fall in love with a place, I often ask myself if I can live there.  A lot of times the answer is no. It’s beautiful but it gets cold in the winter and I am way too used to California weather. I love hot tropical climates – but would  I want that all the time? They are usually accompanied by rainy seasons.  Beautiful places can be too isolated, too crowded or too many  tourists in the summer. While it’s fun to use hand motions, in an emergency wouldn’t I want someone to speak English? I’m getting older so I do not want to be a day’s drive from the nearest hospital. Will not having a support system in place be too hard? 

We will definitely rent something big enough to have guests so our friends and family can come visit. Making friends in a new country without work or school will be hard.  Quarantine has prepared us for that. 

There are some places I can rule out right away. I’m allergic to smoke and pollution so Southeast Asia and China are out. 

I would definitely like to live somewhere where the cost of living is less, not more than Los Angeles. Most of the countries on that list have cold winters so they were already out. Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, France, Iceland and Japan were not a consideration. Unfortunately. Australia, New Zealand, Israel and the Bahamas are taken off here as well. 

I do need access to a city. One of the things quarantine has taught me is that I don’t have to be busy all the time. Living  in a beach town could work now. I can’t live my life without access to culture – museums, theatre, good restaurants but I don’t need so much of it now. 

It’s going to be hard to pick the right place. The “grass  is always greener” mentality plays in here. Running away from home rarely ends well so we have to research and try to make the right choice for us. Luckily, I have plenty of time now, to do this.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Street Art In The Time Of Corona

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Street Art In the Time Of Corona

“Art helps us identify with one another and expands our notion of we – from the local to the global.”Olafur Eliasson

Art is always important to bring people together during a time of crisis. By mocking political leaders, laughing at our faults, recognizing health care workers and reminding us that masks are important, Street Art offers a momentary respite from the constant news and psychological toll of the virus.

Kobra, Sao Paulo, Brazil

Teachr1, Los Angeles, USA

Lushux, Melbourne, Australia

TV boy, Barcelona, Spain

John D’Oh, Bristol, England

Nello Petrucci, Pompei, Italy

Ufa,Russia

FAKE, Amersterdam, Netherlands

Temat, Warsaw, Poland

Tyler Street Art, Mumbai, India

EME Freethinker, Berlin, Germany

Andreas Welin, Copenhagen. Denmark

 

Stay safe,

JAZ

 

Moving To Another Country

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Moving To Another Country

“There are some things in this world you rely on, like a sure bet. And when they let you down, shifting from where you’ve carefully placed them, it shakes your faith, right where you stand.” Sarah Dessen

The country I have lived in for my whole life has let me down. The United States I knew was a force for good. We were founded on religious freedom. We are a melting pot; we value pluralism, diversity, and equality; the American dream is real. These are our values; our ideals, but more importantly, our identity.

I did not believe that there were two Americas. I did not believe that Trump’s hateful rhetoric would get him the presidency. I consoled myself with the fact that we still had the courts, our right to protest and the system of “checks and balances” that we learned in elementary school.

I have watched the last four years in shock – whenever I think it can’t get worse, it does. I am lost in the never ending sewage that is Trump news. It has culminated in a global pandemic that an inept president could not get under control. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will die because of him and there will be economic disaster for people not rich enough to ride this out. I turn on Fox News to get the other side and all Trump is talking about is Confederate statues. We have to save ourselves in this pandemic.

 I have been home in quarantine for four months with no end in sight. Things are getting worse not better. Be smart  – stay home when you can, social distance, wear a mask and wash your hands. Listen to your scientists and health care professionals. They do this for a living.

There is something both horrible and wonderful about hard times. When you are trying to survive, to just make it through another day, anything that is not essential begins to fall away. And who you thought you were, your expectations of life, everything you knew, gets taken apart, piece by piece.

This idealized person I thought that I was supposed to be doesn’t exist at the moment. It turns out that life can be much simpler than I thought. 

We have made a decision, that if or when, we are allowed to leave the United States we will try living in another country for six months. We are hoping that we will be allowed to leave after the first of the year.  We made some inquiries into houses. No one has gotten back to us.  Is it because we are American?

The BF thinks we may not come back. But I am still hopeful that the story of America is to find a more perfect union and this too shall pass. I will keep you posted as we figure it out. What changes will  quarantine make for you?

Stay safe,

JAZ

 

Ten Hamilton Quotes

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Ten Hamilton Quotes

“ What (you might be asking) can a Broadway musical possibly add to the legacy of a Founding Father–a giant of our national life, a war hero, a scholar, a statesman? What’s one little play, or even one very big play, next to all that? 

But there is more than one way to change the world. To secure their freedom, the polyglot American colonists had to come together, and stick together, in the face of enormous adversity. To live in a new way, they first had to think and feel in a new way. It took guns and ships to win the American Revolution, but it also required pamphlets and speeches–and at least one play.” Jeremy McCarter, Hamilton -The Revolution

Watching Hamilton from my bedroom during a pandemic was very different than seeing it on Broadway.  Broadway will remain closed for the rest of the year. I can’t imagine what my mother who went to the theatre six nights a week after her kids grew up, would have done during this. She loved to be in the “room where it happened” and passed that love on to her family.  She certainly would have been enjoying all the “live theatre” on TV and would have loved this production.

 Hamilton was as innovative as it was traditional. It wasn’t a reinvention but a reminder of the character of the American people. It is a work that celebrates patriotism and diversity. Right now pride in America and optimism is at an all time low. When the world has turned upside down, you have to figure out what comes next. “Who will tell our story?”

Here are ten life quotes from Hamilton by Lin Manuel Miranda. 

“Talk less. Smile more.”

“I’m not throwing away my shot.”

“How on earth did you do that with the same 24 hours a day that everyone else gets?” 

“Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see” 

“I’ll make the world safe and sound for you. You will come of age with our young nation. We’ll bleed and fight for you, we’ll make it right for you. If we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you. We’ll give the world to you.” 

“We’re immigrants. We get the job done”

“Change requires hope.” 

“We push away what we can never understand. We push away the unimaginable.”

“I stop wasting time on tears. I live another fifty years. It’s not enough!”

“You have no control. Who lives, who dies, who tells your story.” 

Stay safe,

JAZ

No Travel For Americans

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No Travel For Americans

“I don’t believe there’s any problem in this country, no matter how tough it is, that Americans, when they roll up their sleeves, can’t completely ignore.”
George Carlin

If you are planning to travel to Europe this summer and you happen to be American, you might want to make other plans.  The European Union opened their borders on July first and America is not on the list of countries allowed to visit. The decision to exclude certain countries is based on the number of Covid 19 cases and how well their governments are doing to control the cases.  China, Vietnam, Uganda. Russia, Brazil and the U.S. are all being seen as unworthy of inclusion. Are these the “shithole countries” now?

We also cannot travel to Asia, the Middle East, Africa  and South America. There are some countries which have a two week quarantine before you can enter but that is as long as an average work vacation.

To rectify the situation, Trump has cut the funding for Covid 19 testing. According to him, if there are less tests than less people have it. It’s sort of like less pregnancy tests, less babies. The United States has the highest death toll in the world from coronavirus.The U.S. death toll is more than 132,000 and there have been more than 2.9 million cases.The U.S. accounts for more than a quarter of all deaths worldwide.

In March, Trump banned travel from Europe, the Uk and Ireland. Since then, Europe was able to flatten the curve and our numbers continue to soar. The countries that were able to control the virus had national policy – not  each state doing something different.

You can’t blame Europe. Why would they want a bunch of Americans infecting them now that they have the disease under control. You can blame Trump. If he had realized the seriousness of this early on, had a strict quarantine in all states like Italy did, and wore a mask, we would be back to summer vacation travel by now.

Stay home, stay safe, and please wear a mask when you go out,

JAZ

Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

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Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

“In my own lifetime, I want to see the fighting cease. In my own lifetime, I want to see my sons enjoy the fruits of peace. While I’m still here, I want to know beyond a doubt that no one can lock us in or lock us out. We have climbed higher. much higher than I thought we’d climb. It’s a long journey, and even though the end’s in sight, there’s not much time.  I want to know we haven’t built on sand, in my own lifetime “ Sheldon Harnick “The Rothschilds”

The Police  Force is considered to be the most corrupt of governmental  institutions world wide. Fundamental systemic changes, including anti-corruption reforms, are needed in countries all over the world to prevent police abuse.

George Floyd’s death is the latest in a long series of brutal encounters between the American police and the people they are supposed to serve.

We need to make meaningful changes to address police misconduct.  When something calls attention to their faults (like murder), they implement change for a while. As public attention shifts and politics moves on, the police reform efforts eventually stop. 

We need to get rid of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine that protects officers who violate someone’s constitutional rights from civil-rights lawsuits unless the officers’ actions were clearly established as unconstitutional at the time.  Just throw it out and make them as accountable for their behavior as the rest of us are.  They have clearly abused that privilege.

Police officers should keep better records of what they do and how they do it. Why were they in a high speed chase down the freeway? Who got injured along the way? etc. They looked like an invading army during the protests and many instances of unnecessary brutality and meanness were reported. Was any of that investigated? 

The most important thing to spend money on is better police training and screening. Train parking enforcement to deal with most traffic violations. Get rid of traffic cops.  If I get stopped outside of Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, police act very differently. I did not need four officers with guns surrounding my new car because it didn’t have a front license plate at the time that law changed.  When I yelled at them for doing that and scaring my daughter (and me), they took forty five minutes, to write up the ticket. (Yes, I know what white privilege is but once I am in a non white neighborhood, they think I am Hispanic or Muslim).  Screen for psychological disorders, racial and  gender prejudice, homophobia, bullying, depression or violent, angry personalities. Get rid of stop and frisk and racial profiling.

 Police see the worst of humanity, the most depraved, and they do so at risk to their own lives. I think they are so used to thinking everyone is a bad guy and might have a gun and kill them, that they lose their humanity.  They treat certain neighborhoods as war zones and seem to forget human beings live in them.

 Police are rewarded  for “collars” (arrests – yes I’m obsessed with watching Law and Order) and how many traffic tickets they give in a month. What if they got rewarded equally for people they helped and the kindnesses they did in a community? What if they got rewarded for the humane way they dealt with lawbreakers?  They seem to have a problem telling the difference between an African American man walking home from work or a student running  home from college and a criminal. So it is best if they find a better way of dealing with arrests. Make their pension not a guarantee but based on constant re – evaluation.   

This “Blue Wall Of Silence” has to stop. This is the informal rule among  police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes, including police brutality. It has to be part of a new kind of training.

 Somewhere during the quarantine of the corona virus and the protests against police brutality, an African American friend sent me a picture of her brand new grandson. We have to do better. We have to fix this and keep at it this time. No more slacking off when things quiet down. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Idioms Around The World

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Idioms Around The World

“When life gives you lemons, squeeze them in people’s eyes.” unknown

Idioms are sentences that sound ridiculous to everyone but the native speakers who use them. They are phrases that mean more than the sum of their words. Here are some of my favorites from different countries

Australia
“He’s got a kangaroo loose in the top paddock.”
He is a bit crazy.

Germany
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof. “I only understand the train station.”
I don’t know what he is talking about.

Cuba
Se formó tremendo arroz con mango! “This turned into a serious bowl of rice with mango.”
This is now a big deal.

Portugal

Quem não tem cão caça com gato. 
“He who doesn’t have a dog hunts with a cat.”
You do what you need to do, with the resources you have.

Italy
Ogni morte di papa.”Every death of a pope.”
Once in a blue moon.

France

Les carottes sont cuites “The carrots are cooked!”
The situation can’t be changed.

Norway
Å snakke rett fra leveren.“To speak directly from the liver.”
To tell it like it is.

Poland
Bułka z masłem.
 “It’s a roll with butter.”
It’s really easy.

Thailand
ชาติหน้าตอนบ่าย ๆ “One afternoon in your next reincarnation.”
It’s never gonna happen.

Russia
На воре и шапка горит.
 “The thief has a burning hat.”
He has an uneasy conscience that betrays itself.

Japan
花より団子 (hana yori dango). “Dumplings instead of flowers.”
Choose something useful over something pretty.

Sweden
Det är ingen ko på isen
.  “There’s no cow on the ice.”
There’s no need to worry.

Netherlands
Lets voor een appel en een ei kopen. 
“Buying something for an apple and an egg.”
You bought it very cheaply.

Indonesia
Kuman di seberang lautan tampak, gajah di pelupuk mata tak tampak.
“A germ across the sea can be seen, an elephant on the eyelid can not.”
You can see other people’s faults more clearly than you can see your own.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Returning To The Places You Love

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Returning To The Places You Love

“I believe that each person has a favorite place, a tree, a mountain, or a beach which they want to come back to, even if the return can only take place in the boundaries of their imagination.” Sana Szewczyk

I’m always afraid to return to places that I love. There’s a danger for me that comes with returning to these places. There’s always an underlying fear that on a second visit, it doesn’t feel the same; that either I’ve changed or it’s changed or maybe both.  There are so many places in the world to see, how could I justify a return visit?

 I have revisited countries but I focus on different cities and I just spend a short time in the cities that I have been to. I often find that second and third time visits are much more relaxed, spontaneous and enjoyable. Going back to a place lets you dig a bit deeper and uncover another layer of the place.

I’ve already done the famous sites and waited on the long queues. The nice thing about return visits is the I can concentrate on exploring the off the beaten track parts of a city. I don’t feel bad about spending an entire day shopping, eating and drinking since I did the museums and tourist thing on the last visit. 

If I visit during a different season, the city can have a whole different feeling. Many cities are transformed for special events like festivals or holidays at certain times of the year.. Bad weather, bad luck and bad choices can turn you against a destination that might deserve a second chance. 

I cancelled two trips over the last few months in quarantine. I don’t know when i will actually be able to travel again. Researching trips, which is something I do extensively when I am home, is not an option right now. When the world feels so uncertain, maybe it is just  easier to reminisce about the past than to plan something new. Istanbul, Venice, London,  Sydney, Tel Aviv  anywhere in South America, Portugal, Croatia and Japan look pretty great to me right now.

Stay Safe,
JAZ

Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

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Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

“Until you guys own your own souls, you don’t own mine. Until you guys can be trusted every time and always, in all times and conditions, to seek the truth out and find it and let the chips fall where they may—until that time comes, I have the right to listen to my conscience, and protect my client the best way I can.” Raymond Chandler, The High Window

In April 1775  Major John Pitcairn upon reaching Lexington and finding the colonials, in what he perceived to be an “unlawful armed assembly,” ordered the colonials assembled  to “Lay down your arms, you rebels, and disperse!” He was “reading them the riot act.”

In England before the American Revolution, almost all felonies were punishable by death. That is  no longer the case. Crimes such as theft, burglary and robbery no longer carry the death penalty, and are generally punished by imprisonment or by some form of probation. 

The death of George Floyd, a black man suspected of passing a suspicious $20 bill at a grocery store in Minneapolis by a police officer was inhumane and also illegal. It set off protests, looting and riots across the country. 

Experts say that looting is a side effect of the condition causing the protest. But this time in Los Angeles, it looked different. Splinter groups broke off from the peaceful protests and began rioting and looting.

There was a lot of twitter chatter about going to Beverly Hills to loot. The footage was disturbing, It looked like criminals with hammers and kids of all races who had been in the house too long and were laughing at the smashed  windows, taking photos and grabbing stuff. It was like a release valve had opened up. No police and no parents. “Where are the jewelry stores?” was heard throughout the video. 

I can’t speak for the whole country because this time I watched Los Angeles News. In the Fairfax Melrose area, certain stores were targeted and then it became a mob mentality, free for all of looting and fires.

The looting of Downtown, Santa Monica and Long Beach was even more disturbing. It went on for a long time and there was definitely the realization that no one was going to stop them. It was organized with cars circling the areas and people running in and out of the stores and cars. 

We received an email that a protest in Venice on a main shopping street was being organized by looters and the one on the beach was organized by protestors. 

Small businesses shouldn’t have to pay for the anger caused by the police. We all support the protest. The business owners quietly cleaned up the glass and opened their doors with sparse merchandise  to empty streets. Their businesses were already pummeled by the corona virus. We don’t know how many of them (us) will recover from all of this. Please support small businesses in your neighborhood. They need your help now.

It looked like the police did not want to put themselves in harm’s way or to hurt someone else over loss of property. The police backed off and let the looters have at it. After all, it was only someone else’s property or livelihood that was destroyed or stolen.

Stay safe,

JAZ