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Date: 26 Nov 2010 00:13:00
Title: Thanksgiving Day

Thursday night

Today was Thanksgiving Day in the USA. I've asked a few people what it's all about and it's a bit like a Harvest Festival to celebrate the first successful season of planting and harvest by the Pilgrim Fathers up at Plymouth, helped by their Native American friends. Why they celebrate it so late is anyone's guess. It seems everyone goes back to see their family, eats too much turkey and then watches football for the rest of the day. A bit like Christmas but without the presents. It's been very quiet at the marina today, though, so it seems that virtually everyone stays at home. Tomorrow is called "Black Friday", supposedly because everyone goes shopping and the shops go back into the black.

We took the opportunity of not having any contractors turning up at 8am to have a lovely lie in. After that, I spent a while preparing for our trip to Washington DC tomorrow. I've been reading about all the things to see there and also about how the US government works. It's a funny old system of "checks and balances" with a Congress which represents the people and a Senate which represents the individual States but is voted for by the people. The President is then elected separately again and he then appoints the judges in the Supreme Court but only when the existing ones die off. It seems you have to a millionaire to be in the Senate, very wealthy to be in Congress and either ridiculously wealthy or very popular with wealthy people to become President.

With all the separate systems, it's very hard for any one element of government to get absolute power but, it seems, equally hard to get anything done. It's an easy system to criticise but this is the most powerful Nation on Earth so they must be doing something right. It seems the American people have a healthy scepticism about the whole thing and only about 40 percent of them can be bothered to vote.

After the Revolution, they decided to set up a new Federal seat of government as none of the existing cities would allow any of the others to get the top spot. The southern states insisted on the new Capital being in their area in return for accepting their share of the Revolutionary War debts. Maryland and Virginia each gave up a bit of their land to create a new District of Columbia which isn't a State and is run more like a colony. At the time, it was mostly swamp and it was years before the new Capital was built. Washington himself never saw it. DC doesn't have representation in either the Congress or Senate and only occasionally has its own Mayor. The rest of the time, it's run directly by Congress and it was only recently that the population were even allowed to vote in Presidential elections. The fact that most of them are Black can't be coincidence. Some of them have bumper stickers saying "No taxation without Representation", the old excuse for the Revolutionary War.

After a few decades, Virginia decided that it didn't like having given away its territory to the new Federal Capital, along with the good honest slave-owners (like Robert E Lee) who lived there and they took it back so that Arlington, which should be in DC, is now back in Virginia where it started out. Anyway, it all sounds fascinating so we can't wait to explore it.

After lunch of poached eggs and wilted spinach on toast (created by chef Andrea and a much better alternative to turkey), I got on with some jobs on Saxon Blue while Andrea retired to the toilet block to do some work on her film. I did a bit of cabinetmaking so that the sofa cushions can be removed easily to access the storage area beneath and then fitted some chandlery that I'd got at West Marine the other day. It all worked a treat and I even finished up by polishing the saloon table and then reading a book about Caribbean weather. Very satisfying.

We've just finshed dinner now - Chick Pea curry on baked spuds - and Andrea is threatening to subject me to another French film with subtitles. Actually, we watched The Gleaners by Agnes Vader last night and it was very enjoyable although I struggled to read all the subtitles and still watch what was going on. There was a French guy on it who was philosophising about human greed and stupidity while wearing wellington boots - which were symbolic, of course. Thing is, I'm sure he was wearing them on the wrong feet. Perhaps that was symbolic, too.

Harvey

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