November 29, 2009

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year I would like the following:

1. Chocolate Santa
2. Chocolate croissant
3. Lollipop
4. Chocolate muffin
5. Chcolate streusel cake

PS This is my muffin note.

L (4 years old)

November 28, 2009

Physical habits

At the company I work for an email went around asking us not to work in Explorer because of some new security threat that Microsoft hasn't patched yet. So here I am checking out my peeps in Firefox, which opens a new tab every time I link from my blog list to a blog. Once I have read a post and left a comment, I close my browser. And each time I think, AAAARG , I was supposed supposed to just close the one tab. Then I have to reopen my blogger dashboard and start over.

I've been doing this all morning. Apparently I am incapable of learning a new physical habit. Fortunately the kids are at their grandparents this morning so I have all the time in the world to be inefficient.

On a side note, if you're feeling a bit unfit (fat) after Thanksgiving gluttony, or starting to think about Christmas presents, check out these shake weights.


November 27, 2009

November 25, 2009

On Cheating

Is anyone else out there a little behind hand on turkey day planning? We're having Thanksgiving at our house so Ralf's cooking the turkey and I'm making stuffing and our friends are bringing the rest but I still feel intimidated by un-put-away bags of groceries standing in my kitchen while I write this.

To be honest, I'm a little off my game since K started school. She leaves at 7:30 AM and L doesn't go to Kindergarten until 8:30, so we get up at 6:30 and it's almost 9AM before I can start my actual day. It takes its toll.

During this extra hour L is thrilled to have me all to herself and we read books, play games and sometimes fold laundry. Her favorite game is memory, which is probably because she wipes the floor with me. Seriously, I don't let her win, she totally kicks my butt, usually with a pair ratio of about 4:1, or make that 2:1 on rare occassions when I'm really on my game.

This morning I caught her turning over a third card when the second card was not the one she expected.

'Don't cheat, darling,' I said.

She stared at me with those ginormous blue eyes, confused.

I explained: 'You don't need to cheat to win this game, Schnuggie.'

Still confused.

I tried again: 'You should only cheat if you're losing.'

That cleared it up.


November 23, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

For the first time ever, I finished a book after book club. Usually if I don't finish before I don't bother. But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an exception, even though I already knew how it ended.

It's a smart book, well written with good dialog. The main character Mikael Blomkvist is plausible and likable. There's a gripping plot with a murder mystery and a twisted serial killer. There's a mysterious violent background. There are politics and high tech and big business.

All the elements, in short, of a best seller.

There is also an intriguing aura of 'foreigness' that permeates the book, possibly due to the large quantities of coffee, extramarital sex and fish sandwiches enjoyed by most of the characters. I'm not saying there aren't Americans that drink a lot of coffee or cheat on their spouses or even both - but fish sandwiches? I don't think so.

The book is the first of a trilogy. I just ordered the second book.

Sadly, the author is dead, after stating he knew exactly which literary elements to include in a best seller and then writing said best seller.

That seems wrong to me.

November 20, 2009

KILL BILL!!!!!!!!!

It's no big secret that I love John Stewart. BUT if I didn't ALREADY love him, he would have won my heart with his recent mockery of the Democratic process over the health care bill.

Two personal favorites:

1. Nov 9, when Republican Representative brings baby in to 'talk' about health care.

2. Nov 5, when political correspondent responds to the question, 'What are you hearing from the Republicans' on Capital Hill?'

John Stewart doesn't take sides. He doesn't just pick on the Republicans, who can't get their act together with any meaningful argumentation and resort to their usual emotional one-liners ('It weighs 40 pounds!') and random Holocaust pictures (Nazis = National Socialists = Socialist Medicine, get it?).

He also makes fun of the Democrats for being unable to pull together a smart, succinct piece of legislation that inspires confidence in their ability to govern. Which is so sad I don't even have the heart to make a cartoon about it.

I mean, I did try, but the Republicans are just... funnier.

Do you think my caveman looks too happy?

November 18, 2009

1 Party Pic

This is the only picture I have from the party last weekend. You know, the one with the air guitar and the flying glasses. Please notice that my glasses are still on my face.

Little do I know they soon won't be.

Ralf got a nice email from the blond guy who corrected me about the Sousaphone, saying that it was really nice talking to me.

This is why I love German men and probably would have married a German even if Ralf had been better at resisting my charms. I mean, can you imagine an American man writing an email to another American man saying how great it was to talk to his wife?

Nope, me neither.


By jove, I think I've got it!

Let's make Goldman Sachs pay for universal health care!!!

I can't believe how much I rule.

November 17, 2009

Climate Killer Obama

Der Spiegel, Germany's answer to Time Magazine without the obsession about making articles exactly the right length to visit the toilet, is not happy with President Obama.
On Nov 16 reporter Christian Schwaegerl wrote a scathing article about Obama's betrayal of Europe and the world. Most of you won't understand the article, it being in German, but here's the gist:

1. We expected George Bush to be too busy with his fake oil war to worry about the future of the American people that is jeopardized by dependence on oil. But we expected better from President Obama, who seemed smarter.

2. Success at the December Copenhagen summit depends on US leadership. Right or wrong that's just how it is and as the world's worst energy offender the US owes the world a better showing.

3. President Obama lied to Europe. He was all, 'Climate is totally important, bladee, blah, blah' and then ended up doing jack all. Apparently internal politics like health care reform are more interesting to him than the state of the world.

4. America loves to see itself as a world leader. But not when it comes to stuff that actually matters.

5. If the rest of the world follows the US lead when it comes to fossil fuel consumption, we're all gonna die. The oceans won't just warm up a bit, they'll fry.

6. If the summit fails, the President is to blame. He may not even have time to attend the summit, although Copenhagen wasn't too far for him to drop in to lobby to have the Olympic games in Chicago.

7. There's also some uncomplimentary stuff about Americans, with our fantasy ideals about living standards and enormous cars. Not to mention our complete lack of interest in the rest of the world, although we do enjoy those end-of-the-world movies. Obviously we think Hollywood invented the climate crisis for our entertainment.

8. It's ironic that President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize because the changing climate will probably result in a nice war or two.

Me: I don't see why the US should foot the bill for developing countries to get off oil (I'm so tired of developing countries and their whiny, 'Give me money or I'll be forced to develop nuclear weapons and chop down the rainforest,' attitudes) but I do believe the US needs to take a leadership position on climate legislation.
I'm also disappointed in President Obama's priorities. Of all the issues that need to be tackled 'Health Care for Everyone' is to my mind the least interesting, especially since the proposed legislation looks to be pretty rough for the economy. I'd be on board with, say, 'Health Care for Kids,' because I believe it takes a village, but saying that everyone has a right to health care sounds a bit like saying everyone has a right to a flat screen TV.
Given his amazing about face on the climate topic, I'm thinking the President sold out the climate to get his health care reform passed. Which, if true, pisses me off.
Thoughts? Comments?

November 15, 2009

Gettin' Jiggy with a Tuba

Winter is setting in and I am attempting to get in touch with my internal snow beast. Unfortunately, after a lifetime of globetrotting, including to colder destinations like Portland and Moscow, I have finally admitted to myself that I belong somewhere without winter.
Nonetheless, although German weather is completely stupid six months of the year, I love how the Germans get down to tuba music. Remember date night when we rocked out to La Brass Banda? That was total Tubapoluza.
Last night a friend of our celebrated his 40th birthday party with a popular local live band Die Drei von der Tankstelle. They're a 3 man band that plays 50s music and last night they also featured a tuba player, which is always a crowd pleaser.
They were pretty awesome and I was so pleased with my vodka inspired insights about Germans and tuba music that I shared them with several people, including the guy next to me, a tall chiseled blond who looked like he just graduated from Master Race school. He listened politely as I burbled all this lame stuff about tubas and Germans and then gravely corrected me:
'It's actually a sousaphone.'
So there you have it. The real title of this post is Gettin' Jiggy with a Sousaphone but I was afraid no one outside of Germany would know what the heck a sousaphone is.
Anyway, after the band finished their show we switched to DJ music and dancing until 4 in the morning. I myself performed an inspired air guitar routine to 'Are You Gonna Go My Way?' It was so unexpectedly hot that I got cheered and you have to remember that Germans only cheer when, like, Germany wins the World Cup or something.
So, never.
Unfortunately, I lost my hard-earned street cred moments later when our friend Oller attempted to dance with me. Now, I can shake my funky stuff reasonably well. I just don't play well with others on the dance floor. When someone attempts to lead me in any actual dance steps it's like that scene from Fantasia. You know the one:
Still, I was flying high from my air guitar triumph and gamely attempted to follow Oller's skilled lead. He did better than most because he actually can dance and for a few minutes what I lacked in skill was made up for by enthusiasm.
At least, until a surprise twirl made my glasses fly across the room.
Fortunately, by this time we were down to a hard-core group of old friends, none of whom were remotely surprised to see my glasses go flying off.
And this is why I never made it as a sex kitten. I can occassionally fool people for a few minutes but in the end I'm too prone to the rediculous.
The night ended perfectly with Doenners, which are lovely fatty meat sandwiches of Turkish origin.
And now for a few nice pictures I found when I Googled 'Die Drei von der Tankstelle':

November 12, 2009

Ziege Lady Strikes Again!

Today was a Stairmaster day. The gym had a bunch of new mags, which I greedily gathered up before heading over to the Stairmaster to read all about Angelina Jolie's dark secrets and Jennifer Anniston's unfortunate botox incident.

Scarred from my last encounter with Ziege Lady I let each magazine drop VERY carefully as I finished them and they landed in a neat little pile next to my Stairmaster.

Toward the end of my workout a pleasant looking woman came over and inquired politely if she could take one of my magazines.

'Sure, take 'em all,' I said. 'I'm done.'

She knelt down and. . . I guess the word is 'rifled'. . . through my neat stack of magazines, selecting several. When she was finished my nice pile looked like a cat had scrabbled in it trying to bury its poo. Without bothering to restack them, she headed for her own machine.

Two seconds later Ziege Lady walked by, eyed my explosion of magazines with disapproval, and CLICKED HER TONGUE at me.

She did not, however, call me Ziege.

I think she's starting to like me.

Women don't like Megan Fox

Breaking news from Jezebel: Women don't like Megan Fox.

I can't think why. She looks so nice.

November 11, 2009

Now I know I've arrived

The other day I asked some of you to go comment on my other blog, which gets between 20 and 60 lurker hits every post but not many comments to show for it. Different target audience.

None of you commented except my close personal friend Reforming Geek. Thanks, RG!
But that's OK because I have a new international bloggy bud who LOVES my other blog and of course writes an amazing and totally legitimate blog of his own where he unveils the secrets of generating wealth through blogging:
I have SO arrived!

November 10, 2009

My Dear Wattson

Remember the Wattson we bought last April to measure our energy consumption? It just paid for itself six times over.

Ralf was getting tense. He'd checked and double-checked every single appliance in our home and couldn't figure out why we were consuming about 30% more energy than we should have been, according to Wattson. Which adds up to about 600 euro a year.

But why? Was there a problem with the meter? Vanishingly unlikely and expensive to verify. Was it our expensive new heating system that has not been without difficulties? Everyone had assured us this was not possible.

Finally, Ralf took Wattson down to the fuse box in the basement and turned everything off, one by one, as the Wattson readings dropped modestly. The very last fuse was the magic fuse that explained the delta between what we should have been using and what we were actually using.

It was labeled: Dachrinnenheizung.

You will never believe what that is. It is an electric heater installed in the rain gutters on the roof to keep them from freezing. It's on all winter. It's like having a space heater on all the time.

We turned it off.

November 9, 2009

Why not ask a dead person?

Bloggie friends are different than real friends. For example, they actually remind you about their birthdays if they want you to remember them. Their advice tends to be more unbiased by their protective and/or competetive feelings towards you. And they don't typically babysit your children, although if someone comes up with a mommy blogging network with childcare, watch out!

But they are also like real friends in the way they are always ready with an encouraging word if you're sick and sometimes have useful advice or information, like when Patti posted the NSC code for Saybrook Sage or Kristina helped me create my own church sign proclaiming my righteousness or the Dental Maven offered free dental advice or Sara explained how to drain a pond.

Thanks, girlfriends.

And I hope I've been able to help all of you with my frequent reminders about how society's going to collapse when we run out of oil and I'm still not seeing any solar panels so why the h-e-double-hockysticks are we talking about health care?

But anyway, occassionally a blog post stops me cold with either a wish that I'd written it or its relevance to my own life. The first time this happened was Kristina's New Year's Resolution post.

That was a darn good post.

I've had quite a few 'Wow' moments since then but most recently the Ask a Dead Person series over at Jezebel has captured my attention. The idea is that you send in a question and dead people like Freud and Kafka weigh in with advice.

I LOVE that!

A recent post ponders how to keep one's bratty daughter from alienating one's rich boyfriend. Well, that's just spot on in it's relevance to my life. Or, it could be if I weren't married because I would naturally only date rich guys. I found Jack Kerouac's advice particularly helpful. This is blogging perfection and I'm kicking myself that I never thought of having dead people guest post on my blog.

Of course, to pull that off you have to, like, know stuff. About history. And people. And what dead people are likely to say.

Anyway, if you want to help me look good on my other blog, which is being considered for the next Carnival of HR, please click here and leave a comment or two.

Or, if you want to know how to explain to your friend that her poor mothering drove her daughter to suicide, click here.

I know. Life is about tough choices.

November 8, 2009


Click here and watch William Shatner read Levi's Tweets. Just do it.

November 6, 2009

Tirolean Weekend

Sud Tirol is the 'Germanic' part of Italy. I'm fuzzy on the details here but I gather it used to belong to Austria but was given to Italy after WWI. Mussolini moved in on it pretty oppressively, forbidding everyone to speak German, which is why quite a few people chose to emigrate to Germany during WWII in order to preserve their culture. Most of them ended up coming back and it took a long time to recover and forgive old feuds. There were also some terrorist activities against the Italians after WWII, which resulted in some nice tax breaks and other concessions.

Anyway, despite it's surprisingly not-so-distant bloody past, today Sud Tirol is beautiful, rural, prosperous and especially nice in the fall.
So rather than a big vacation write up I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. You get the idea.
Maybe just the odd comment.

Halloween was a simple affair.
We carved pumpkins, dressed up, and trick or treated
at exactly one door for one piece of candy.

This is a place we stopped for lunch in the mountains.

The Fall foliage was amazing. My pictures don't do it justice.

Nice place for a picnic, isn't it?

Mountains above Clausen.

November 5, 2009

I'd rather have MY teeth pulled

Poor Ralf, this isn't his week.
As you know, he had 4 wisdom teeth removed on Tuesday and also had to endure the brunt end of my wit, which is the price one pays for being married to me. Then again, if he wanted nurturing he could have married a nurse instead of a comedian. But you'll be happy to know I took very good care of him the rest of the day.
Yesterday (Wednesday) was another matter entirely because I was laid low by a nasty flu that didn't let me get out of bed. It was also L's birthday and we had plans to take her pony riding. Poor Ralf, who was supposed to stay off his feet and recover from fairly invasive dental surgery, had to take both girls out on the pony trail while I shivered and hallucinated in the car. Back at home everyone else had cake and presents while I shivered and hallucinated on the sofa, a sickly grey eminance.
Ralf wasn't doing much better but at least was able to sip some tea and gum a piece of cake.
Fortunately Ralf's parents were there and took over the festivities so the girls had a good time despite zombie parents.
Today I'm still not 100% but much better than yesterday. When I'm well again I think I owe Ralf a nice dinner.
And maybe some exotic dancing...

November 4, 2009

I'd rather have my teeth pulled

My Italy post will have to wait because Ralf hasn't downloaded the pictures yet.

If only I had my own dedicated creative services team.

But he has a good excuse - he had four wisdom teeth removed yesterday.

Our dentist is great at gory dental surgery but has a couple of odd scheduling quirks. For one thing, the person responsible for scheduling surgery is never there so calls back at totally inconvenient times when you don't have your calendar available to schedule you.

And they have this trick where they call you on some random day before your appointment to invite you to come in THAT DAY to take advantage of a cancellation.

This happened when Ralf and I were in California recently. His iPHone rang at 3AM and it was The Scheduler. She was so excited I could her her voice from under my pillow. 'I have excellent news. There's been a cancellation so if you like, you could have your wisdom teeth operated today!'

Isn't that awesome?? If we hadn't been in California we would have totally jumped at it.

Anyway, I drove him there yesterday morning at 9AM. The plan was that I would drink coffee and jot down some design notes in a cafe while he was under the knife, then pick him up at 10:30. However, perhaps as punishment for not flying back from California to extract the wisdom teeth earlier when that golden opportunity fell into our ungrateful laps, it turned out that we were an hour early.

Which meant I had the undivided attention of the guy who makes technical decisions at our company at a very timely moment. He usually fends off such attacks with a strategic mix of conference calls and children.

Me: Darling, as long as I've got you here. . . I have a prototype I'd like to show you. I was just working through my notes and we have a couple of UI requirements to make this work. We're meeting with the UI folks but you might as well be in the loop.

Ralf (groaning): On any other day, I'd say, 'I'd rather get my teeth pulled.' But that seems beside the point today.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is for THIS moment that I perfected the raised eyebrow.

Me: Well, that's funny, because on any other day I wouldn't be able to ask you if you'd prefer to discuss this before or after you get your teeth pulled?'

Mwa ha ha ha ha!

November 3, 2009

I've been gone but now I'm back

I was in Italy over Halloween and will write about it soon but first I want to catch up with you lot... ciao!
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