And so it begins. Not even two days into his reign and the dicks are out. Mine is bigger than yours, Fuck you NO Fuck You. It’s just so stupid. I read an article this morning about a lady getting thrown off a flight to Seattle last night because she was disgusted that the passenger sitting next to her was a Trump supporter. She went overboard, as only uneducated or radicalized people do, telling that man he should have known better and that his vote has caused the world to come to an abyss. What are these people on? Why do we need millions of protesters on the streets when nothing has actually happened. Yes, there have been insults, insinuations and a continuous desire to blame the opposition, whoever that opposition is, but come on people, NOTHING HAS HAPPENED! The sun still rises, we all still pay taxes, and eventually we are all going to die, so tell me that I am wrong and that something has actually changed? The thing is, I am ALWAYS right, and so far, for the last 48 hours, I still pay the same taxes, the sun is still rising and I know that one day I will face my demise. Give me a break and give yourself a break, stop this nonsense. If in a week, a month, a year or even a day, something happens and Trump does the unthinkable, then, and only then, grab your protest signs, your pink hats, your rainbow flags and get out there and let’s kick the man arse in hope he will see some common sense. Until then, give him and the people he’s chosen to lead us for the next 4 years, the chance to prove to us that they know what they are doing and that all the election rhetoric that has most of you up in arms, was just bluster. You don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months, and neither do I. If we did, we would be the first down to the bookmakers placing $100 on Trump pushing the button or building that wall or stopping abortion. The facts are we don’t know, although by the size of the protests, we all believe we do. It’s absurd to predict, it’s childish to be sore losers, and most of all, to compare what’s happening today to Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Well my jaw dropped when I read that one. The media in the USA, no matter how you feel about them personally, are bias beyond belief, both ways. There’s no doubt in my mind that fair and unbiased reporting does not exist here. Unfortunately, you as Americans, are one of the most gullible races on this planet and you are completely insulated by what’s going on around you in your own cities without looking further a field for a true perspective. I for one came from a country where news is for the most part uncensored and balanced, whereas in the USA, it’s quite the opposite, filled with scaremongering hype that’s designed to sell papers and advertising on TV. So go back to work, go play with your kids, go believe in what you want to believe in but for goodness sake, let’s all sit back, relax and hold our tongues until something actually happens, and if it doesn’t, well think of all the time and effort plus the aggravation that you will have saved yourselves.
Happy new year, but one question I have to keep asking myself is, what’s the matter with all of you? Why is everyone so angry? THE Donald is coming and Hillary is gone, although I read today she’s thinking seriously about campaigning for Mayor of NY! Wouldn’t it be better if she just went away quietly and enjoyed the rest of her days with her philandering husband? Maybe that’s the reason she wants to run? She doesn’t want to spend every day of the rest of her life with a man who cheated on her more than once and with whom she has nothing in common other than running a crooked foundation that seems to fund everything from their daughter’s wedding to their trips all over the planet begging for more contributions. No matter what, Hillary, I am pleased you lost, if only to rid this country of the cronyism that has dogged politics here for decades. And then there’s THE Donald, Mr. President Elect, to those who believe he actually won. Have you ever sat and listened to a more conceited, over reactive and supercilious bully in all your life? He’s done it better, harder, faster and with more money and great results than anyone else on earth, no matter what the subject, and Donald, would you mind holding your right hand down when you talk? It’s an embarrassment that anyone who behaves like he does can lead this country without the realization of how embarrassing he actually is. Can you imagine what the scene will be like inside the Kremlin when he meets Putin? I can, they will get along just fine and the scary part is, with THE Donald’s huge ego, you just know he’s going to do his damnedest to be the best President is the history of the USA. How can he, the most upfront bighead ever to take office outside of those tin pot regimes in Africa, even contemplate being anything else other than our best ever leader? He can’t and therefore I beg you ladies and gents, stay patient, keep the faith and before you go out and build your nuclear shelter and stock up with food for 25 years in case of a pending holocaust, give Trump a chance and then when he screws up, or not, as the case may be, then and only then, come back and criticize and complain. Don’t do it now, and certainly don’t blow a fuse because your side lost. Life is all about winning and losing and not about whining and moaning like spoilt children just because your favorite lost. Time will tell after January 20th and certainly not before, so join me and hold a hand in peace and with hope that we are all still around in 2020 to see that next President enter the White House knowing that the last kept us alive and made us prosper, and let’s just hope that in 2020 there’s not a Clinton or Bush to be seen and that Trump goes back to his tower satisfied that he did the best he could without sending us all to oblivion!
Last night, Max received his new sports wheelchair. He’s the 16th recipient of chairs donated by funds that were raised specifically to change the lives of disabled athletes and give them a new outlook and opportunity to participate in sports and other activities that an otherwise normal wheelchair wouldn’t allow. Max is a really special kid. I’ve known him for several years and have watched him grow up into a superb athlete and fierce competitor. Here’s a little about Max.
Max is a local 12-year-old who has been participating in Wheels on Fire for 4 years. Wheels on Fire is a sports program in San Jose CA for children and youth with physical disabilities that is held each Sunday afternoon from September through June. A recent day involved learning field events, including shot put, discus, and javelin.
Max’s favorite participation sport is power soccer. He is currently taking part in the power soccer skills development program and is a member of the San Jose Rockets. He hopes to become a member of the San Jose Steamrollers and be able to travel and compete in Nationals (the Rockets only compete locally). He also hopes that one day he can represent Team USA in the Paralympics for power soccer.
Max’s favorite spectator sport is basketball and his favorite team is the Warriors – #DUBNATION!
His favorite color is lime green
His favorite food is fried chicken with the bones so he can eat it with his hands
His least favorite foods are eggs and cheese
His favorite move is The Avengers (the first one)
His favorite subject in school is P.E. (naturally)
When he grows up Max wants to have some sort of career relating to sports. And with this wheelchair donation, Max is now firmly on his way to achieving his goal. His chair was donated by funds raised on behalf of my Great Nephew, Issac Maxwell Brodie, who died in February of this year, surviving only two short weeks after birth. Isaac had a rare and inoperable brain tumor that eventually shut off his ability to breath on his own. His legacy, set up by his parents Rachel and Steven Brodie, was to raise money to help others. With their blessing, some of the funds raised for this cause were donated to purchase a chair for Max, (coincidently name similarities are astounding), and so today Max is a new man courtesy of Issac Maxwell. Quite fitting!
You too can help disabled athletes by donating at FWWAA.org or by simply shopping at Smile.Amazon.com and nominating FWWAA as your charity of choice. A portion of anything you spend will go to a great cause. As I mentioned, this is my 16th chair donation in the last 7 years and there are now many young athletes out there who have a new perspective on life and a great ability to enhance the opportunities to partake in sports, something that seemed only a pipe dream for all of them not too long ago.
Max, enjoy your chair and keep your dreams alive, always! You’re a special person and your excitement and enthusiasm are incredibly infectious.
Andy, I’ve often doubted you son, but today you came through. Well done and congratulations! You made Scotland proud once again. You destroyed that Canadian and sent him packing. Let’s hope you give us even more to shout about in the coming years!
Here’s why neither THE Donald or Hillary is going to be the next US President, other than they fact they are both morons. And why you and I, the public, must stop them from ever taking office.
With only 16 weeks left until we all vote and with Hillary in deep shit because of all the lies she’s told, THE Donald, no closer to being Presidential than Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse, who on earth is going to take this country forward and in a direction that makes any sense? Not me, not you and hopefully not either of the aforementioned candidates. We are in real trouble here people and no one seems to care. Or perhaps they do and I just can’t locate them. For all you Liberals out there, we are totally fucked! All you want to do is give money away, give equality to those who do not deserve it and give freedom to some who take it completely for granted. To all you Conservatives out there, well you’re all so fucked up with your religious ‘ holier than though’ attitude that you’re all just disappearing up your own proverbial arseholes. There’s no compromise, no middle ground with any of you and certainly no common sense in any of your politics, no matter what color of blue or red you happen to be.
Fiscal responsibility alongside social acceptability, that’s what this country requires to get back on its feet. But does that combination exist? Did it EVER exist? No I don’t believe it did and I certainly don’t think it ever will unless we do the following.
Instead of going to mass rallies for either Hillary or THE Donald, all contrived BTW, and certainly all made for TV, why don’t you stop, have a think and wake up! Wake up to the facts. America is full of bullshitters. America is the most fake county on the planet. America has lost the plot and America has more idiots in government than any other country in the world. Take last week for example. What the fuck was Nancy Pelosi, a 74-year-old grandmother and a woman who’s had more Botox that last months Playboy Bunny, doing sitting on the floor of congress in her Zebra stripped cat suit, hoping to change a gun law that will do little to reduce the death toll of over 20,000 civilians (yes, Google it, that’s an accurate figure) in the United States each year. Come on Nancy, go home and attend to your grandchildren and leave politics to the young and not the old and decrepit.
And it’s not just Nancy that’s the issue, it the other side too, with their pot-bellied elderly statesmen, spreadeagled all over the news papers and TV, looking like muppets, looking stupid and ridiculous as they try to figure out how to speak and address our nation with forked tongues, whilst surrounded by those up and comers who want on camera to get their 15 minutes of fame. Nuts, all of them, and us too for watching!
Turn it all off, don’t vote, or if you do, vote independent. Do you want Hillary taking more money from you and giving it to those who you don’t know? Do you want to be under THE Donald’s control and sit home every night wondering when he’ll put the button to annihilate us all? Do you think that Hillary will make life any better for anyone other than herself? Do you believe that THE Donald can really build his wall? All of this and so much more will be in YOUR hand come November. Don’t let yourself down, don’t let the rest of us down. Go out and tell Hillary and THE Donald that they’re incredibly useless and tell them to get fucked. Give us someone who has some common sense, some sympathy for us, the people. Give us a normal person, not a politician or a TV personality. Give us hope!
I walked into a room, a very nice room, a room that was as large as my home in the UK, a room that was square, but one that seemed crooked, I walked in, I walked in slowly, and my heart just sank. This room, this extraordinary remnant of the bourgeoisie that used to be Mao. This little piece of decadence in the middle of what I could only describe as a ‘paddy field’, prepared, ready and waiting for my arrival and the arrival of this entourage who by no choice of mine, were my newest buddies on the planet. We’d only met 2 hours prior to our pending lunch time drama and we’d met under the most precious of circumstance. Me, young, full of energy, perhaps naive, determined to succeed. Them, toothless, smelling of stale cigarette smoke, dirty and certainly not odor free. A unique combination and certainly an eyesore in 1980’s Southern China, where white people, black people and anyone not Chinese, was looked upon as an alien, a martian, ET and perhaps a combination of all 3 wrapped up into one moving and quite amusing anomaly. Mud, red as the surface of that Martian planet they believed me to have descended from, made up the basis of a ‘so called’ road we’d just driven on for the past 45 minutes. Rule of law being, if you could pass, no matter what direction you were traveling, you passed and if you believed you were going to hit an on coming car or bike or van, you went for it, with the firm belief that they, the other driver, would crap out of a head on collision before you did. Well it wasn’t me who was driving, but local drivers, my drivers, were all graduates of the James Bond F1 motor school, where ‘cahones’ were a gifted extra at birth. No fear, no hesitation and never a dent to be seen anywhere on any of their vehicles.
In this room, this very nice room, lay a table, a very long table, adorned with the most exquisite of lace table cloths, the best silverware that China could manufacture and the prettiest plates I’d ever seen, outside of those the Queen would use in Buckingham palace. I was directed to a seat, a very large table topping seat, and that’s when the fun began. I call it fun, but it really wasn’t. It was Hell.
Boiled and now stone cold mushrooms, soggy peanuts, chopped up pork (also cold) and crackling, and 1000 year old eggs. This was the beginning and it would be three hours later before we reached the best part of that dreadful ‘feast’, a watermelon and apple desert. In between came shark fin soup, oysters that reeked of ammonia, stuffed crab and lobster, all alive when presented on their platter, all dead and consumed within 2 minutes of their demise, which played out live and in person right before our eyes. A blood bath then followed as a live 4 foot long snake was dragged into the room. Black, wet, and ready to die, the snake that is, and hoisted up into the air by a 4ft 11″ young lady, like a trophy would be hoisted had she won the cup, this poor snake was about to die. The knife came out, the conversation ceased and the barbarism began. Slit from top to bottom while still alive, blood drained into several shot glasses, and then, that final blow as the poor snake, obviously in pain, was relieved of his head. That very same head bounced twice on a tiled floor and ended up right in front of my right leather shoe. My face was white, or should I say whiter than it had been ten minutes earlier, my stomach wanted to heave and my mind was in complete turmoil. My hosts however began to blurt out meaningless phrases in Mandarin. It seemed to me like they were trying hard to outbid one another, and indeed that’s exactly what was happening. The snake blood, seen as an aphrodisiac, was being auctioned, and little did I know that they were doing all of this on my behalf. Once the bidding ended, I was handed a shot glass full of blood and invited to drink. I thought it was a joke and I immediately made light of their not so kind offer. The snake head was still firmly entrenched beneath my right show and here I was, with the poor buggers blood in my hands, looking right into his eye on the ground wanting to vomit and faint at the same time. They cajoled, they encouraged, they insisted and then eventually, as puke left my mouth and covered that exquisite table-cloth, they gave up and drank the blood themselves. Greedy bastards! After snake it was time for chicken, undercooked, perhaps boiled again and served hung drawn and quartered, though not headless. I now had the snake head at my right foot and the chicken head, eyeballs in tact, at the end of my left arm. Delightful!
Although memorable for all the wrong reasons and although my stomach remained empty for many days after this luncheon, the most incredible part of that day had yet to occur. You see while we’d been inside that restaurant, the heavens had opened and a deluge of rain had washed away any semblance of what was in those days, something you’d call a road. China was in the midst of building it’s freeway system, and investment that initially took all of 800 billion US dollars and 25 million workers. (Well it seemed like 25 million, it could have been less, or even more, the problem being that everywhere I travelled there were tens of thousands of the buggers laying road surface by hand. Yes, by hand. They were turning red clay into tarmac by hand, and it just made sense in my mind that do do this across such a vast country from scratch, an army of tens of millions of participants would be required.) Our journey back took 6 hours. Yes, 6 hours. A 45 minute jaunt without roads was turned into a 6 hour nightmare, with no where to stop, nowhere to pee, no place to pull over to get a drink and certainly no way to do anything other than sit and wait and wait and wait, until finally we would move three or four yards, then stop again. I was sitting in the back of a Mitsubishi Outlander with 5 smelly and half drunk Chinese men, all filled to brimming with snake blood. It wasn’t a party, it was a scene from a horror movie. I remember when we finally arrived back at the factory, I was so exhausted that it took me about an hour to empty my bladder and then 2 days to get over the shock of what had happened. After I left that factory to go back to the border, a journey that should have taken 30 minutes, but which in essence took another 2 hours, I was left to reflect on a day that might of been instead of a day that was. I was consumed by how brutal this culture were towards their ambition to join the 20th century. How non plus they were to eating anything that walked or flew and how indifferent they had been to my puking all over lunch, spending all day with them, buying nothing from them and eating nothing at all that they’d offered up. My conclusion was instantaneous. China is and always will be a shithole, life was cheap there and still is today. Although very friendly and hospitable as a race, they can stick their chickens and their snakes right back up the orifice that they eventually eject them from. Sadly even though the roads are now kind of ‘world class’, some 35 years later, the food is still crap and life is still pretty worthless. I don’t have to make these needless journey’s into the depths of the ‘jungle’ to eat things that should only be eaten by other animals and not by human beings, and I certainly don’t have to tolerate factories that are meaningless to my business development, but and it’s a huge but, when one experience vanishes, another appears, and that’s just what China remains. It’s an experience wrapped up inside a shitty memory with every step.
When I first went to China in 1979, Their New Year celebrations lasted all of 2 days. As time passed, into the 1980’s, that celebration was extended to 4 days, and in some places, should it fall over a weekend, 5 days at the most. This meant that as far as purchasing items for my clients was concerned, there really didn’t seem to be much of an interruption to normality over that period of time. In the late 80’s and then into the early 90;s however, when migration from the North of China to the South was at its peak and 150 million workers were trying hard to find employment in the South, New Year was extended to 10 days and then to 2 weeks, allowing travel time for the largest migration in human history to travel too and from their place of employment and back to the home they’d probably not seen for 11 long months.
And now we find ourselves in 2016. Chinese New Year is coming to an end this week and most of the factories I’ve been dealing with have been closed for the past two and a half weeks and some longer than that. It’s become standard practice to close the week before the Lunar New Year and re open 2 weeks after it’s over. Not only that, but some of the workers take another 2 to 3 weeks to return from their journeys north, ending up with over 6 weeks of vacations time. Mind blowing when you think about it, but if you are actually there to experience it, and I’ve had the pleasure a couple of times, you’d understand fully what it takes to shift that number of people vast distances over a short period of time. Just think about it. 150 million people, all with someplace to go and someplace that’s thousands of miles from where they’re based throughout the year. Train stations are full to bursting, airports are worse and there’s a complete industry based around the chaos that this event has now become.
Some years ago I had to be in Shanghai the week before New Year for a factory inspection. I don’t quite remember the items that were being manufactured, but I do recall it was some kind of medical device that had to arrive in the USA by March 1st, so shipping prior to CYN was imperative. I was based in Shanghai but the facility that I needed to get to was a 6 hour drive from the city itself, and that was 6 hours in the freezing cold and without the freeway system that exists today. Total chaos, are the only two words that could sum up that week. My hotel, the Crown Plaza, was a few blocks from the main railway station in Shanghai. A week before CYN, a full week, there was a line I estimated at 200,000 people, stretching more than 2 miles, waiting to get into that station for trains that weren’t going to leave for 4 to 5 days. Running up and down that line were wee boys and girls and grown men and women selling newspapers, candies, medicines, and a ‘scalping’ team selling tickets for earlier trains that cost 4 to 5 times face value. This sea of humanity was camped out in the cold, very few had protection from that cold and almost none of them had any place to go other than the spot in which they lay. It was ridiculous, yet it was amazingly peaceful, because each person lined up knew they were going home, not that day perhaps, but they knew they’d get there that week. Imagine that happening in Europe or in the USA? Then at the airport, similar scenes, obviously compounded by the absence of any security, (this was prior to 9/11), but chaotic with a sense of calm all the same. Some of those who waited for their flights were there more than 5 days, and some, the rich, walked right by those who were not too rich, waiving their tickets with a sense of purpose and with some shame as they juggled their bodies towards check in and then security, dodging that same elite group of entrepreneurial Chinamen, selling food, and newspapers and believe it or not, tickets for earlier flights!
And so, as my clients began calling me again this morning, all desperate to learn pricing, delivery status and sampling possibilities, I am reminded of those scenes all those years ago, and compelled to remind them that sometimes, vacation time is a time that cannot be calculated, especially when you have to share it with hundreds of millions of people. “Wait another couple of days” are the words of advice I pass on to those in need, “and then maybe, just maybe, my factory will come back to life, as it did last year and in the 35 years before that” Patience is a virtue, Chinese patience is beyond virtuous, it is principled and exemplary, well, most of the time!