Friday, February 27, 2009

How to Save the World

Maybe I am very stupid, but this desperate game governments all over the world are playing called "Rescue the Banks" seems to be designed to save the greedy idiots who got us into this in the first place. Tax revenues handed over in great dollops to financial institutions will certainly be used first to finance the life styles of bankers, and only if there is something left over, will be available for lending.

My solution is as simple as pie: if the bank is really broke, than it should declare bankruptcy. If the government deems it essential, it can take it over and start by firing all employees (thus voiding their bloated contracts) and hire back those who seem honest and competent, but this time at normal salary levels.

Meanwhile, if the government's aim really is to provide loans, why can't they do it directly (as they did for a long time, and successfully, with Fanny Mae), rather than continuing the proven corruption of the banking industry?

Or am I missing something vital here?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Even the policemen paint their cars and wear funny hats...

only the horses are allowed to keep their dignity
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These are some of the things you do at Carneval...

Get dressed up funny...

Funny as in ridiculous...

But some look lovely even as vampires!
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

It is that time of year again...

As every year, Karneval brings Cologne to a standstill (as I reported here and here... and last year I had special vistors from Carol's family).
Traditionally, Carneval starts on the Thursday before Mardi Gras, at precisely eleven minutes past eleven. This day is known as "Weiberfasnacht", and women do strange and inebriated things. (The normally staid and dignified wife of the American consul in Germany told me she is planning to get dressed up and join a bunch of ladies who are going to storm the Dusseldorf City Hall. )
I was in the local home repairs shop this morning shortly after 11, and the salesgirls were already dressed up and handing out free beers to anyone who looked vaguely over the age of 15. And partaking freely themselves, I might add.
The schoolkids are let out at noon on this day and begin wandering around with their friends, (picture above in front of my apartment), and by evening there is a thick carpet of empty bottles, like new-fallen snow, on the streets in town.
But the atmosphere is generally good-natured and there is surprisingly little trouble.
I am not complaining. We also get the next 4 days off.
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Monday, February 16, 2009

Realized with a jolt that all of the cleaning women I have employed here have had university degrees. (This could be extended to include my ex-wife, but we won't go into that)

They were also all foreign.

I try very hard not to wander around cyberspace reading new blogs, although the temptation is enormous. (For a start, the varieties of English that you find-- try reading teenager blogs from the Phillipines, for example). I stick to reading the ones I know, for the most part. Otherwise I would never get ANYTHING done.

People are always interesting. Some can express themselves better than others, OK. But I love following the days of people I have come to know through their posts. Some blogs, though, stop you in your tracks, with nearly every new post.

Take this blog, for example, written by a girl living, I guess, somewhere in Pennsylvania. Today's entry:


We were in a tiny blue tiled kitchen, we were like the last people left in the world. Thinking about how much fucking and childbirth was going to be required of me to repopulate the country, feeling tense over the fish scales and guts on the cutting board. I put olive oil in the pan. All we had besides the pan and the fish and olive oil was a bar of chocolate. My big toe had been stubbed three mornings in a row by the grade change onto the tile. I kept it lifted off the floor while cooking, and it was my private joke how beat-up and sad this purple toe looked.

When he came in I asked him to dump the fish guts outside. He didn't. Him. You. You know that I only keep up this stupid blog so that you can find me whenever you want. If you read it a month from now, ask yourself, what crazy generous act is going to bring me back?

Instead of trotting off with the fish, my loyal shaggy dog, you reached for the open bottle of olive oil and lifted it above my head. When the heavy stream hit my head, some neuron attempted to smack you with fishy hands but my brain shut itself off and I could only stand. The oil was warm. I closed by eyes, it fingered down. Then we were sliding all over, I bruised my elbows, we made a fucking mess. Your dick slipped in just fine, which was a great relief, because you never know, when you are stuck with the last man on earth, whether his piece will fit. When you turned away I circled the scar on your shoulder around and around with my index finger until the oil sank into it.

That night the little ants that lined up in the tile cracks made a move onto my thighs. I could feel their confusion on my hands as I swiped them away in sleep, but I didn't have the heart to wake up and get rid of them completely; they only wanted a bit of our juice to take back to their fat queen.

This woman doesn't allow comments on her blog, for which I am very grateful. She is a musician, I can feel her wavelength. But I am very glad I don't know her personally, somehow. Where does she find the courage to write these things?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Birthday Trip Slide Show


A very nice break from the routine in Cologne... I hadn't been skiing in some 12 years, so I was worried but aside from a few falls and crashes, I did OK for someone of my advanced age.
I did notice, though, that getting up after sitting down in the snow seemed to take longer than it did 12 years ago!

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