Thursday, 22 May 2008

Q&A: The Parliament of Eastern Europe

Disclaimer: what follows is an actual transcript, edited only for spelling. You may wish to take notes, as there will be a test. Also, please don’t be offended if you’re from Eastern Europe.

My friend Meaghan needed to prepare for a conversation with a professorial type about all things Eastern European.

Well, I said, let me help:

Although it may seem that Eastern European countries are populated entirely of men, upon closer (very, very close) inspection, you may find that some of these large, hairy citizens are actually women, from a chromosomal perspective.

M: ...and this relates to corruption.....

I was getting to that!

Anyhoo, these people have a long and varied history of goat-raising and craftiness, as evidenced by their many brightly-embroidered outfits, creative dances, and, of course, plentiful goats.

M: ...and how parliamentarians can be engaged in the fight against corruption....and goat raising?

Right! Parliament!

The Eastern European parliamentary system is based on a long tradition of democracy and equality, in which every man and woman, no matter how poor, have the chance to stand up and be publicly flogged for their beliefs. Their goats, also, may be flogged, even if they can dance really well, which a surprising number of goats can.

Anyhoo, lots of these goats, even the fantastic dancers, have been corrupted by promises of fame and fortune.

M: You are a scary, scary woman. On that note...Tell me...what is the level of corruption these days and parliamentary motivation to become involved?

Well, for the goats, it's becoming quite a problem. For example, those with the best political connections (usually acquired through bribes) get the best dancing goat gigs. The politicians, who tend to not be goats for the most part, find that a dancing goat will enliven any political party, and even non-political (eg. bachelor/birthday) parties, too. Thus, the cycle of corruption continues. Many of the poor are aware of this, but find it impossible to change the way the country is run or even get invited to any of these parties.

Now, when it comes to the Eastern European yaks….

M: And how about women in parliament - is there gender representation?

Boy, is there!

M: Oh...not so creative....sigh.

Oddly enough, female Eastern European goats aren't renowned for the same level of dance ability as their male counterparts. It could be due to needing to take time off to bear little goatlets, or perhaps they feel more inhibited in mixed company. So, thus, the goats involved in parliament tend to be male.

However, as most Eastern Europeans can't tell their male and female humans apart (without dating for a few months), there does seem to be a fairly sizable representation of females in parliament. We think. However, this is quite probably not intentional, as by the time they invest in the months of rigorous training of a new MEEP (Member of Eastern European Parliament), finding out that the MEEP is, in fact, possibly a woman, although irritating to many of the definite men's sensibilities, doesn't tend to make them want to do it again with a new candidate, no matter how masculine they look at first glance.

M: I see how that could lead to conflict within the MEEP. Have there been any incidents of violence? Are the parties able to cooperate to pass legislation, undertake committee work etc?

One of the most interesting aspects of EEP is that the proceedings are carried out mostly with equanimity and beatitude. The only incidents of “violence” tend to be misunderstandings, such as when an over-enthusiastic goat accidentally steps on a MEEP’s foot or crotch. Certainly, in these cases (especially the latter), tempers tend to flare quickly, but usually a well-executed Dance of Goat Apology is enough to assuage the offended party’s ego.

Committee work is a well-accepted standard for decision-making and passing legislation. The hard-working MEEPs meet often and with great cheer (often bringing a goat or two along) to discuss the Eastern European citizens not as fortunate as they, the inequality, injustice, and the fate of those being flogged in the streets. These potentially serious and troubling exchanges, usually, dissolve into giggles, and committee members are quite frequently able to agree on an extra day of vacation or perhaps a raise in Parliamentary Wages for the MEEPs, within 20 minutes.

M: And what is the MEEP's position on the UNCAC? The ICC?

MEEP is pro-UNCAC, and is still debating the value of their involvement in ICC, and indeed, whatever the heck those things are.

M: Will they be providing assistance to Burma?

They feel very strong concern about the situation in Burma, and would very much like to help out by sending aid, supplies and some of their less-talented goats. However, they are also quite opposed to calling Burma Myanmar, since Burma is so much easier to spell, pronounce, and embroider (brightly) onto their rescue outfits.

M: And the earthquake in China?

The EEP's repeated position is that they had nothing to do with it, but are very glad that the pandas are ok, despite the fact that they often break into song at committee meetings, and the music is frequently "The Pandas Must Die!" by Corky and the Juice Pigs (well worth a listen

They are sending aid, and a few yaks, to help out.

M: (Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!) Will the EEP move towards a common financial market - like the EU?

The EEP already has a small yet thriving common financial market, but this fact is largely unknown, mostly because they haven't been able to come up with a catchy enough name for it. In the Common Financial Market Development Committee meetings, some wag inevitably calls out, "EEU", but is met with cries of derision and often good-natured noogie-ing, since obviously they want to have a name that is unique and powerful, otherwise they would just have started a Copycat Committee.

With all of this seeming confusion, however, their market (which specializes in goat tap shoes and yak-based produce) is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with on an international scale.

M: Fascinating insight. Does this mean the EEP considers the EE to be in competition with the EU?

Excellent question.

Their Head of Sport and Social Clothing, commonly regarded as the highest MEEP in the EEP (in fact, he has a brightly-embroidered hat that proclaims this), had this to say on the subject:

“Xqwwrzf! Rtgo EEP drl EU drlorzpy HA HA HA!”

Well said, my good man. Well said.

M: Did he address the doping issue? And will the EEP countries boycott this year’s Olympics...due to Human Rights abuses in China and ...uh....the lack of goats competing of course?

Were you even LISTENING to what he said????

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Long overdue post on vacation; Easter dinner still to come

With our dink-y, yuppie jet-set lifestyle, it's murder trying to find a minute to update this blog...or could it be that I'm just lazy and can't face the computer after a long day at work, and finally made a superhuman effort tonight...OR is it that the resident Guitar Hero just happens to be out tonight?

No comment.

San Francisco. Sonoma Valley. Napa Valley.

Three wonderful places to visit, and we made the most out of them in our 9-day First Anniversary Extravaganza! It started slowly, since I was recovering from a crippling bout with a sinus infection, a lung infection, and my personal favourite, pink eye (hot!), but I perked up fairly quickly once I had a sunbeam on my face and a glass of wine in my hand.

Note: due to the pink eye, I'm not wearing any makeup in these shots. You have been warned.

Above, this is me on our first day in San Fran. Notice the glowing whiteness of my upper chest. That soon turned an angry red, and peeled off a week later. Sure, it's no pink eye, but it's pretty attractive, nontheless. We bought sunscreen at the end of the day.

The hills there are CRAZY. Everything is on a steep angle, and the houses are packed so tightly together! I can't imagine what kind of settlers would have looked at this area and decided it would be a good place to build a home. Observation: San Franciscans have excellent calves. On the right is Lombard Street, which is serpentine -- it's too steep to drive straight down, and the sidewalk is a long flight of steps.

Aaah... this is what I remember from last year in Australia: gnarly dudes, the term used for mature grapevines. And another beautiful day.

This is Sonoma, a quaint, small town with amazing food (overall favourite meal was at the girl and the fig), beautiful picnic spots, and a fun farmers' market on Tuesday nights, where we mixed with the locals on the lawn of City Hall and partook of such gourmet delights as drinking a bottle of wine in plastic cups in public and eating corndogs.

Napa was gorgeous too, but much larger, harder to get around, and commercialized. Luckily, we had signed up for Platypus Tours (awesome FAQ, worth a read), and we were chauffered around with 4 other couples for two days. This is where it got slightly more silly than the corndog night. For your consideration:

Casa Nuestra, which was my favourite winery -- everything was delicious, the staff was amazing, the prices were reasonable, and best of all, there were pictures of Elvis on the walls -- was home to two goats (we bought a bottle of their Two Goats to drink with lunch...and on the coach...).

Now, after seeing the label on the bottle (let's
take a moment to look more closely, shall we?) I should have known better, but hey, this was the second winery, I wanted a picture with the goats, and...and one tried to eat my hair.

This was taken right after his first attempt. As you can see, neither of us is very impressed.

The next day ended with a tour of a winery in an amazing reproduction of a 13th- and 14th century Italian castle, Castella di Amorosa. Incredible architecture, beautiful designs, unbelievable view, just classic all around, and the perfect way to end the fourth day of wine tasting and touring. Really, it was stunning, and... hey Karen! Can you fit in that little hole?

To sum up: Awesome, fantastic, wonderful. Oh, and I'm continuing my aspirations as a tourism brochure photographer. Click on this baby. It's worth millions.

And, of course, the homecoming. Booooo!

Who knows where the next trip will take us? Perhaps the exotic, far reaches of Red Deer...