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This was our first weekend without a required wedding function (though there were one or two we probably should've attended) so we took the whole thing to ourselves and did next to nothing, thus the late report and lack of musical review. But don't fret! We got the pictures from Bubbapalooza 2002, as well as a few other events of late, uploaded on the web and despite the crappy prints Wolf Camera gave us, the pictures on the photo CD came out great so head over to the Ear Plugs gallery for some fun! We fixed the slide show so it works in IE now, but if you've seen it before you might want to use the Previous Slide button and go backwards. Sorry for the slow load time for those of you on dial-up!
If you'd rather not wait on the slide show to load up you can just
cruise the gallery:

Russia vs. Japan in the host's stadium, the Japanese so young and energetic it looks like they could play two games back to back, endurance to spare and a crowd that roars non-stop. Russia looks comparatively old and tired when a Japanese player, bleached blonde and a face that looks maybe 20 years old, steps up and puts one in. Russia comes back with nearly 20 shots on goal but not one in the net and it's Japan's first ever world cup victory, with 50,000 fans screaming.
The other host nation, South Korea, taking on the USA, in something of a grudge match due to the events of the winter Olympic speed skating (not something I knew about, but it was apparently all over the news.) 65,000 red shirts in the crowd, Koreans chanting so loud you'd think they were on the field itself. A small section of the stadium is reserved for a few US fans who get to see the US score first and look like they might take the game before Korea comes back and ties it, the scoring player doing a mock speed skate on the sideline to a crowd that is so united I can't believe they needed or allowed foreign aid in their war against the north.
(Why can't soccer replace war?)
But neither the US nor Korea has enough control to take the game and it ends tied (at the 38th parallel?)
Cameroon had complete control of almost the entire game against Germany, yet somehow never managed to put the ball in the net, despite the Cameroonian fans performing Santeria ceremonies in the stands with cane wands and gold cups in their bright yellow, green and red. African drums beating behind the German chants as Germany's blitzkrieg counter-attack scores. Cameroon frustrated, fouling every play until they're down a man, and down another goal and just can't recover.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia can't even score a goal in their three World Cup appearances and go home, falling to Ireland 3-0. Ireland advances to the next round while we wait for the last games of round 1 to see who else will be in the 16 teams of round 2.
Friday, June 14, the US plays Poland at 7:30 AM EST on ESPN and Univision. If the US beats Poland it gets us into the next round and rumor has it Poland is not strong, but then again Senegal has advanced to the next round and nobody had even heard of them! That's one of my favorite things about this game - it doesn't matter what your GNP is or how many bombs your country has or even if, like Argentina, your government is insolvent at the moment, if your team plays well your country gets as much respect as any super-power on the planet.

The most depressing place on earth that doesn't involve smoldering corpses or an environmental disaster must be the unemployment office. Aside from the depressing reason you have to be there in the first place, they intentionally make the process frustrating and painful in the hope that you won't keep coming back. So for those of us who actually WOULD rather be working, it's doubly depressing since the hours you waste there standing in line, only to be misdirected into the wrong queue with the wrong paperwork two days in a row, could be better spent looking for a job so you don't have to go back!
But instead I spent half an hour in line and nearly two hours in the waiting room so I can prove to someone I'd rather be making $1200 a week than the $283 unemployment issues. But at least the system is there and, thanks to the excuse of 9/11, congress and the prez were able to pass what would normally be viewed as a leftist/democratic measure and extend unemployment another 13 weeks.
I say "excuse" because the economy was headed south before 9/11, but the prez has been using it as the scapegoat and distraction for all sorts of economic crises, attempted coups of foreign democracies, and white (house) collar crimes.
I'm thinking about this while I sit because it's better than thinking about my situation. Everyone keeps saying the economy is on the upswing, all these baby boomers are due to retire any minute and we'll be in a labor shortage, keep your chin up, be patient, keep looking, try harder, blah blah blah, but as I look back over my job search to fill in the unemployment forms I'm stunned at how much looking I've done. Emails with my résumé attached fill my out box, yet in 8 months I've had THREE interviews.
At the unemployment office they have a motivational video looping infinitely in which the speaker says now is the time to follow my dreams, forget working for someone else and start my own business. But what if my dream is to work for someone else and let them hustle the work and find the business and invent the next widget and just tell me what to do so I can earn a paycheck since nobody will pay me to pursue my dreams of sitting around beaches getting laid, eating seafood and sipping drinks?
At least the kids in the corral in the corner get classic Disney and if there were room I'd squeeze in amongst them on their small plastic chairs. Then it's into the required financial seminar class where a guy from the bank tells us it's time to think about investing. Shit, if I had money would I be in the unemployment office? I'm actually envious of the guy next to me who's nodding off the entire time, at least catching up on his sleep. For the rest of the class it's a complete waste of time. But if I don't attend, don't fill out the paperwork, don't look like I'm looking then I don't get that $283. It's like a job, you gotta look busy.
And like a job, it's tiresome, frustrating, and doesn't pay well enough. Back to the waiting room, behind the front counter some of the state employees try to maintain a chipper, helpful demeanor but others are obviously NOT people-people, ignoring anything you say as they hide behind their computer monitors. But even the apathetic drones behind the counter are better than my fellow jobless masses, angry at their former employers, angry at the economy, angry at the system than brings them back to this temple of desperation where we beg forgiveness for our state of affairs. "Forgive me, clerk, for I have sinned. It has been one month since my last form DOL-852 (R-1/92)…" The tension in the room is so high and so constant it's a wonder someone doesn't snap and shoot the place up or drive their car through the plate glass entrance once a WEEK. But maybe that's why there's a cop on duty at all times behind the front desk.
My domestic partner, roommate and personal motivational speaker has been needling me to get a job, ANY job, as if the endless hours at the unemployment office and boredom at home aren't enough motivation, so if you've got a few extra dollars around and something that needs doing let me know!

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