September 29, 2009
September 28, 2009
I asked Ralf yesterday how he votes, since I can't vote here. 'Are we fascists?' I asked hopefully, trying to sound informed about modern German politics. 'Green party,' was his response.
I've lived in Russia and I've seen first hand how much Communism sucks so I'm all for the free market. However, I also stayed awake long enough in economics class to learn about the Tragedy of the Commons, which states that unless restrained, multiple individuals acting rationally in their own self-interest will ultimately destroy a shared limited resource even when it is clear that it is not in anyone's long term interest for this to happen. Not might, will.
Anyway, although the CDU currently enjoys a political majority, the FDP scored an unprecedented number of votes in yesterday's national election, leading me to wonder why people always expect the same thinking that got them into trouble in the first place to get them out of it again.
Ironic: This may sound nitpicky but that song 'Isn't It Ironic' by Alanis Morrisette bugs me, not just due to its highly irriating melody but because in a long litany of things that are supposed to be ironic few of them actually are. I mean, rain on your wedding day is not ironic. Neither is an airplane crash with a passenger who fears flying. Anyway. The other day my yoga instructor Carolyn read a nice passage out loud about the enormous amount of energy women put into their appearance and how if they would channel that same energy to some higher purpose it would be enough to change the world. Incidentally, Carolyn is very attractive and looks amazing in white spandex. Now, THAT'S ironic!
Impossible: Several months back I bought a blender and two weeks ago it went up in flames while I was pureeing organic strawberries. I no longer had the receipt so I told Ralf he would have to return the blender because I knew he would succeed where I would fail. During the course of trying to return a blender to a German store with no receipt the word 'impossible' was uttered at least a dozen times by various store employees. Ralf patiently worked his way up the management chain and informed the store manager that having an easy return policy is the lifeblood of commerce. 'This is why people buy lots of shit they don't need in the US,' he explained. 'Because they know they can take it back, no questions asked. And the stores know that when they do, they'll buy more shit they don't need. Now, give me back my money for this piece of shit fire hazard you sold my wife!'
Finally after about 40 minutes of this the manager told him in a hushed voice that if he wanted his money back he would have to sign a legally binding testimony that he had bought the blender at Marktkauf. The manager seemed to think Ralf would chicken out and head for the hills once he heard this news. Instead Ralf laughed and said, 'Bring it.'
Yes, my modern day he man did get our money back.
September 26, 2009
September 25, 2009
What I didn't realize when I called my Senators is that Senator Murkowski's first name is Lisa. For some reason this really bothered me. I figured anyone who wants to weaken the EPA must be an overweight white Republican male from Arkansas who plays golf with former GM executives.
Sorry, Arkansas, I know you produced some of the most liberal thinkers of our time but I seem to be prejudiced as well as chauvinist. It's just that it's been years (decades, even) since geography class and when I try to think of a Southern state I always come with Arkansas.
Senator Murkowski actually is from Arkansas. And Republican. Presumably white, weight unknown. But definitely female unless she's a transvestite or something. Probably not, though, since she's a Republican in public office.
I'm not proud of my chauvinistic assumptions. Well, OK, I sometimes am. But I realize that women are as unlikely to recognize the environmental challenges we face as men.
Intellectually, that is. In my gut I expect women to know better. And it's not because I think women are better or smarter, but because women are the gatherers, the nurturers, the more future-minded. We worry about what kind of world our children will inherit and we guard their well-being more jealously than our own. Of course men do this too but it's different.
Remember that episode of the Brady Bunch where they go camping and the boys don't catch any fish but it's OK because the girls brought a picnic? That's what I'm talking about. The boys intended to catch dinner so they didn't bother with a back up plan. The girls knew better.
BTW, speaking of Republican men, who DID shoot JR??
September 24, 2009
It should only be full of one rock, a rock I took away from the wonderful boarding school I grew up at. Before they built a bunch of hideous mansion homes on it, generations of students lived there, went to class, rode horses and enjoyed other juvenile pursuits.
It was like Hogwarts with rodeo instead of magic.
I sometimes hold this rock in my hands when I feel doubt. You see, this rock is a physical connection to an earlier time when I had absolute confidence in myself and the world around me.
Today I'm not exactly a self-doubting shrinking violet but when I need a burst of confidence I hold my rock and imagine the warm Phoenix sun beating down on my face and the comfortable shape of Camelback Mountain.
But alas, when I cleaned out my purse yesterday I discovered not one rock but three, a bunch of hazelnuts and one fairly lame twig. And now I don't know which rock is my rock. I assume my kids snuck them in, because I'm definitely not the sort of person to go around putting rocks in my purse.
Well, OK, yes I am, but just the one.
I guess I'll be lugging around three rocks for the rest of my life.
September 23, 2009
Actually, no one has technically asked me this. But there are pictures below so stay with me.
Yesterday the Environmental Defense Fund asked me to call my Senators to protest the Murkowski amendments to the Clean Air Act being debated.
I called - and I hope you will, too - but that's not what this post is about.
Basically the amendment wants to let oil companies off the hook. There's a video you can watch here to learn more. The girl in the video kind of looks like Sarah Michelle Geller.
But anyway. There's a lot of media hype out there and it gets confusing so let's make it real simple:
Laura's Easy Two-Step Program to Navigating the Environmental Debate:
First of all, ask yourself: WHICH IS MORE LIKELY?
Option 1: Our planet is endowed with finite resources that are being used up as the population steadily increases. We are completely dependent on cheap energy. Increasingly scarce energy sources like oil can not remain cheap. Solar and wind power, if we invest in them now, will never dry up and we don't have to buy them from people who hate our guts. Building up renewable energy sources will also provide a new source of economic growth. If we miss this narrow window of opportunity to be collectively smarter than a slobber worm we're totally screwed.
Option 2: Exxon and other corporate executives want only what's best for you and don't need a bunch of pesky legislation to do the right thing. Seven billion people can use whatever they want, whenever they want, and it will have zero impact on our planet or our environment because God decides everything. Planetary resources that we use up are replaced by magical elves while we sleep. Environmentalism is somehow linked to abortions and same sex marriage.
So... I'm kind of leaning toward Option 1.
However, that still leaves the problem of how the heck to vote when things that sound great are secretly bad.
Let's face it, legislation is way too tricky to figure out on your own. Unless you're Lawyer Mom.
So, the second step is to ask yourself: WHO DO YOU TRUST?
I mean, more?
Oh, and if you too would like to call your Senators and chat with a staffer who sounds about 17, click here to look up the numbers.
September 22, 2009
September 20, 2009
September 18, 2009
I also wrote a little poem on my other blog if you enjoy poetry: http://ls-workgirl.blogspot.com/
September 17, 2009
Nothing gets by me. Not forever, anyway. A year, max.
Just call me Sneakypiehorse.
Oh, and NIKOL, I borrowed your crochet cheeseburger dress for my new profile picture. I had to because it's so me.
September 15, 2009
Bright lad. You can't go too wrong as long as you keep your pants on.
September 12, 2009
September 10, 2009
September 8, 2009
September 7, 2009
K starts school next week and had her 6th birthday party yesterday so last Thursday we stopped by the school supplies store to buy notebooks, pens, glue, construction paper and other useful stuff.
The stern German shopkeeper ringing up the family in front of us handed the little girl a large box with ABC printed on it and explained that it was full of free supplies for kids starting school. The girl tripped merrily out of the store with her free box of stuff while K tracked her egress with narrowed eyes.
Then she fixed those same eyes on me expectantly and I understood that she also wanted a box of free stuff.
Come to mention it, so did I. I mean, free stuff. So while the German shopkeeper was ringing us up, with nary a word about free stuff, I informed her that K is also starting school.
'The box is only for kids who buy their school supplies here,' she informed me gruffly.
I guess my paltry stash didn't make the cut. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
I tried again: 'Her father brought her last week and bought a whole bunch of stuff for school and he did not come home with a box of free stuff.'
She shrugged and handed me my change.
I shook my head sadly at K and we turned to go. She's very supportive in moments like these. She doesn't have a very high opinion of my success rate in confrontations with German shopkeepers but I do get credit for trying.
With an apparent change of heart, the shopkeeper ran into the back room and emerged holding a red shoulder bag with something in it. She presented it to K, who methodically sized it up and shook her head. 'No, thanks.'
I winced and smiled a weak apology. Next week's topic will be, 'Pretending you like something.'
Looking somewhat strained and clearly regretting her spontaneous half generosity, the shopkeeper said, 'Well, then, your sister can have it.'
She looked around for L and stiffened.
Then I looked around for L and stiffened.
L had apparently decided she spends too much time clothed from the waist down and had pulled down her pants and underwear.
'L, pull up your pants!' I whispered.
Delighted, she turned around and mooned us with some impressive wiggling action. Then she stood up and came forward to collect her free bag, pants dragging around her ankles and swishing loudly as she shuffled across the carpet.
Somehow all of this happened in slow motion.
Oh, and in any other country there would have been some friendly chuckles about this. Not so in Germany.
'Thank you,' I muttered, yanking up L's pants and pretty much running out of the store.
K, happily, kept her pants on.
And now, if any of you are part-time working moms like me, this post may interest you: http://ls-workgirl.blogspot.com/
September 4, 2009
Back in the 50s they had this cool concept of three colors on a plate. The idea was that you get more balanced nutrition by eating a variety of colored foods and a palette of colors looks more appetizing on the plate. Of course, the 50's housewives tended to serve a lot of meat and potatoes but the third color rule at least forced them to serve some spinach or steamed carrots to go with.
Food went all to hell in the 60's when presumably stoned housewives started serving revolting creations like chipped beef lime jello casserole but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, if you're trying to eat less meat and get pack in more vitamins why not try this quick, tasty meal?
Red: Fresh, firm, ripe tomatoes tossed with garlic croutons, oil, balsamic vinegar, basil and a bit of salt.
Green: Fry up a tiny bit of bacon for flavor, then add organic chard or kale until it wilts. Salt to taste. Looks beautiful on the plate next to the red tomato salad.
White: Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts.