Spring 2016

This is Robn’s post:

Five months since my last journal entry! They are getting further and further apart. I have been distracted by the political campaigns – Bernie Sanders is the first viable candidate in our voting lives that we could vote FOR instead of against. Plus the freshness of my new relationship with Dave has not worn off, so my journal has taken a back seat.

January 15th we pulled the mast once again in order to work on the mast step which the surveyor had said looked suspicious and investigation had verified. Too bad I hadn’t dealt with it when I had the mast down before for termite repairs. Ah, well. That’s life. Tearing into the cabin roof for core replacement requires DRY so we put a shrink wrap cover over the boat which sure makes life easier in many ways. No more worries about rain. We can leave a lot of stuff on deck and not have to worry about constantly finding a place to put it down below. Still put away stuff that’s too valuable to risk theft even though the risk is low but all the sandpaper and epoxy syringes and paper towels and trash bucket etc could be left out.

We were going to have the mast step replaced professionally but then decided to do it ourselves since that the word professionally sometimes didn’t really apply to the labor available here. Remember my single bi-ax layer of fiberglass on the anchor haws hole with only putty for the rest? Looked nice but no strength. We were afraid that we might be looking at the same thing here. We did not want to take the risk that the job would be mostly putty with a bit of glass and no thought about accommodating the rake of the mast and the bolt hole alignment. So we found other work for the contractors to do and tackled the mast step ourselves.

I’ll cover the details in a separate e-mail for anyone curious about that. That and various other projects kept us busy. I got my visa extended with no problem even though they again implied that I was out of line to even think of asking. Then a couple of weeks later it was Dave’s turn.

They gave him an appointment for two weeks later and when that day came we happened to have gotten a really early start on some epoxy work and forgot all about it. Until 3:30 PM that is. The appointments are always for 9:30 AM or there abouts. Oops! He rushed over and was told he would have to leave the country. Some phone calling around got the advice to go to immigration downtown and straighten it out there. So next day he went there, was directed to another address, went there, and was told, no, it has to be in Chaguaramas.

The yard’s owner said he would go with him to the office next week and straighten it out. But it didn’t work. This time the immigration officer stood his ground and said that Dave had to leave. He could turn around and come right back but he had to leave! Period. Supposedly because the airport official on his arrival had given him the ‘wrong’ visa which was not extendable. They had, however, indicated that there was no problem when he had originally gotten the appointment. And it was the same visa that I had gotten. Go figure.

So the next day he flew to Grenada on a round trip ticket with a two hour layover. Immigration in Grenada wanted to know the purpose of his visit. “Just passing through”. But you are going right back to Trinidad!” “That’s right – that’s what they told me to do because they made a mistake and gave me the wrong visa.” That stretched their credulity and they investigated a bit and said that they couldn’t give him a stamp on that basis. He said he didn’t care. More debating. His flight departure time was approaching and he was getting concerned. They finally stamped it after all and he made his flight back, and got the exact same visa yet again but with no problem despite the quick turnaround in Grenada.

He checked in with Chaguaramas Immigration even though he had the full 90 days this time due to the question about visa type but this time they said “no, you’re good”!

300 bucks to go to Grenada for what?!

Two months later I got an e-mail regarding a Democracy Spring gathering in Washington DC to advocate to:

PASS THE VOTING RIGHTS ADVANCEMENT ACT (H.R. 2867, S. 1659)A
PASS THE VOTER EMPOWERMENT ACT (H.R. 12) S
PASS THE DEMOCRACY FOR ALL AMENDMENT (H.J.RES. 22, S.J.RES. 5)
PASS THE GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE & FAIR ELECTIONS NOW ACTS (H.R. 20 AND S. 1538) and
CONFIRM A SUPREME COURT NOMINEE WHO WILL ENSURE POLITICAL EQUALITY BY VOTING TO PROTECT VOTING RIGHTS AND END THE CORRUPTION OF BIG MONEY IN POLITICS.

This caught my eye but was out of character. It was only a couple of weeks away and it seemed like it would just take too much planning to do it without more lead time. But Dave sounded interested as well so we investigated. My visa extension would be expiring shortly after Democracy Spring and would not be renewable, so I would need to fly somewhere anyway since Heidi was far far from being sailable.

A same day round trip to Grenada would probably not work in my case. Once you’ve been here for 6 months, they want you to be truly gone for a while before returning. And besides, a trip to Washington DC cost no more than one to Grenada! Long story short, we went. We marched, we visited some of our representatives – and were able to specifically draw attention to our concerns regarding the ISDS part of the TPP (and hence all of the TPP). We also got some boat parts and we went to the theater and saw "A Journey to the West – the Monkey King Tale", which didn’t appeal all that much but was well done. Then we saw "The Gospel According to Thomas Jefferson, Charles Dickens, and Count Leo Tolstoy: Discord". That was great. We really enjoyed it.

Back home a couple of weeks later. Still engrossed in the election coverage and and therefor neglecting all my friends. Sorry.

I think our election system is so outdated given the size of the country and the changes in communication, and education, and economic realities, that we should rethink the entire system and for that matter the constitution and start over. Can I dream? Yeah, I can dream, even though with no hope. Those currently in power benefit from, and like, the current system and would have endless resources to fight any changes.

It would be interesting, though, if the political science classes at the various universities had a competition to write a new constitution. The competition rules would probably need to include a maximum length (double the current, maybe?) to avoid an encyclopedic length. I have no clue how you would judge the results. Ideally I’d like to see the slate of results (somehow narrowed to a few better entries) put forward for the public to chose from through preferential voting to decide which to ratify. Including the current as one option.

Many are too poorly educated to evaluate such documents but I would expect that they would not be interested and would self abstain. It would be easy to claim the same is true of all non political scientists, but students themselves might be thinking too much from a government viewpoint rather than the viewpoint of the people. My own opinion (at least currently) is that the greater the number of interested judges, i.e. voters, the better.

Any thoughts? Ignore the ‘fact’ that it’s not going to happen. Who knows, maybe it will next century.

Cheers,
Robn & Dave

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