Monday, October 27, 2008

Ex-Pat Bloggers and the Election.

Christina is going to be interviewed about the election by a Connecticut NPR station. These are some of the questions she is going to be asked, and I thought I would answer them also--

As an “expat blogger” what do you blog about when it comes to the election?

I have  been pretty apolitical all my life... feel that individuals who have the urge to become politicians need to be regarded with deep deep suspicion. But the Bush Administration has so thoroughly succeeded in making life for me and my children much more dangerous in so many ways, that for the first time I have been moved to write about my concerns. I have expressed my sense that Obama has  judgement and ideals that I would like to see at least expressed in the self-serving seething morass that is Washington. Likewise, I have written of my unease at the prospect of Sarah Palin's fingers anywhere near the nuclear buttons.

What are people saying about American politics in Germany where you live?

Germans-- at least the overwhelming majority of those I know-- are appalled at the turn American politics has taken in the last 8 years, and yearn for a return to what they see as American ideals.

What is the general sense of how Americans are perceived?

Americans here are not discriminated against; but most Germans resent what they interpret as arrogance on the part of the Bush government in dealing with other countries, and feel that there is an almost willful ignorance of foreign cultures and beliefs.

Do you wish you were in the US during this election season?

I have to answer NO to this... I am glad to be able to vote from a safe distance, I want to make up my own mind on the issues and not have to listen to advertising from either party.

I am So Fed Up with Windows!

Microsoft-- despite my best efforts-- is not trying hard enough. I have a machine with all the newest updates, and every update makes the laptop slower.
Their last Service Pack rendered my computer useless for weeks, and the "help" they gave me ranged from laughable to downright wrong.
I have Windows XP, and a change to Vista at this point doesn't leave me with a good feeling, particularly because half of my software and hardware won't work with it (why they can't use backward compatability, I don't know) and I resent having to buy several thousand Euros worth of stuff just to replace my setup.

Not to mention that I have a birthday coming up and I really like the look of the new MacBook Pro...

Any opinions out there?

Friday, October 24, 2008

More on the Campaign

This is really funny.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Taking advantage of a free afternoon and glorious autumn weather, we walk around the Heider Bergsee. She is one of the those people who knows all the mushrooms by their first names, and will collect them and put them onto the menu at the slightest provocation.
These, she informs me, are NOT edible (as opposed to these, which we devoured); but I take their picture anyhow.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

How my Daughter Saves my Ass

Yesterday John and CC and I flew back to Minneapolis from my sister's house in Seattle.
It was hard to leave Seattle-- the sun had come out and the lawns were gleaming.
Got to the airport 2 hours early (I hate panicking in the airport) but found that the flight was going to be delayed by an hour. What to do? We had already gone through the security scans (belt off, laptop out, remove shoes, show liquids... who could have imagined this a few years ago??), rode the cute little train on the loop to the gate-- the amount of entertainment at the gate was very limited for an energetic 10-year-old girl.
She pleads with me to go back to the main gate areas to look for a present for her sister in Germany.
So we left the luggage with John at the gate and got back on the little train and up one flight of stairs to the main terminal gates. I ordered a quick coffee, and then looked around, and said, "You know, I think we are on the Wrong Side of the Security Gates."
So we started walking back out the way we came, and were immediately surrounded by a bunch of Big Security Guards. I expleained that we had just come out 2 minutes earlier and were trying to get back to our gate.
"You will have to go through Security again."
Oh Drat! I exclaimed, and so we trudged down the long corridor to the security belts. Fortuntely, I thought, we didn't have all the luggage to put through the scanner.
"Where are your boarding passes?" they asked. "At the gate with my son," I explained.
"You will have to have new passes issued by the airline."
So (slightly nervous now) we headed back to the ticket office... the woman takes pity on us and gives us new boarding passes... I think we now have the worst behind us but I hadn't reckoned with the slow stupidity of the security supervisor.
"Where is your passport?"
"Like I keep saying, about a hundred yards from here with my son at the flight gate"
He didn't want to accept my German public library card as proof of ID.
"I will have to call in on this," he said, and VERY SLOWLY called some bombproof bunker far underground in Virginia.
It turns out that the US Government has no records for me (mostly because I have lived abroad for over 30 years, probably). I do not exist.
I plead with him. "Can you come with us to the gate, my documents are all there? Please? Or page my son in the terminal?"
"No, we have started this identity check now and we have to carry it through. You don't have any ID".
"Can't my daughter go through and have John bring the passports back?"
He thinks for a LONG time (the clock is ticking, and the plane is due to board in 15 miutes).
"Do you think she can manage on her own?" He looks at her, she is 10 and speaks very little English.
"Sure!" I say, but I am not sure at all. This involves getting through the luggage check, finding the little train and getting off at the right stop, even though the labeling is only in English and japanese.
"Sure!" she pipes up, although she is not sure either.
And off she trots, braving the security gates all by herself, disappearing into the bowels of the airport. The Stupid Security Supe says to me, "Stand just there where I can see you!"
The plane is scheduled to take off at 4:25; it is now 3:40. Can they make it?
And I wait, and wait, and WAIT. It is 4:15 before John and CC appear, racing down the hall, loaded with all the luggage. John is cursing (he has exams he cannot miss the next morning-- missing this plane would spell disaster for him) and we sweat through the sec checks for what seems the 100th time this morning, race to the little train, run up 50 stairs with heavy bags (lucky I have training in stairclimbing from my apartment in cologne), get to the gate just as the last passengers are going through.
"We have made it!" I triumph, but too soon, because my boarding pass now has a red mark on it: because of the identity check, I have to be pulled out for an Extra Special Security Check, which involves escorting me and my luggage and CC down to the Interrogation Dungeon and no fewer than 5 husky "experts" give me the most thorough examination I have ever had.
NOT fun, and CC keeps asking me if the plane is going to leave without us.
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The Trip So Far

Monday, October 06, 2008

On Mount Rainier

I came all the way to Seattle to do some hiking here, it was lovely but mushy.

Friday, October 03, 2008

The Debate

Watched the debate from the safety of my brother's lovely home in Minneapolis.
To fortify ourselves, we went to the Walgreens a block away to get some munchies.
Ahead of us in the checkout line was Garrison Kiellor.
I had had low expectations for Sarah Palin, but she did do better than I thought she would. She was cool and collected and didn't stumble, showed she has a lovely voice and poise.
Governor Palin did roughly what I had anticipated: had fluent and pat answers to the questions she was prepared for, and simply refused to respond to the ones for which she didn't have a prepared text block. You never got the feeling that she listened to a question and thought about an answer.
But more than that, she worried me on a number of counts:
She said at least 7 times that she was "working for American energy self-suffciency" --and was obviously talking about expanding oil production in Alaska--and repeatedly claimed to be an expert on energy. But she neglected to face up to the point that America has 3% of the world's oil reserves and yet accounts for over 20% of world consumption.
She holds fast to the notion that the Afghanistan war is somehow going to be "won" with a "surge", which shows me how ignorant she is of the history and current situation of that country (one only needs to read the sorry story of the long Russian occupation to get a sense of the real story).
Her multiple accusations about tax-raising by the Democratic ticket was not balanced by some explanation as to how she and McCaine would finance their lingering wars and economic bailout.

I would also like to mention that her inappropriate smiles and the odd flirty winks contributed to my unease about her ability to seriouly and independantly grapple with the complex issues that would face her as Vice-President or (God Forbid!) President.

But you know what made me scream at the TV most? Her gratuitious and repeated mispronounciation of "nuclear". (she says "nukyuler") This coming from someone who feels that energy policy is her strongest suit.

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