Monthly Archives: October 2006

disaster, doom, destruction…

… we’re out of soy sauce.

Okay, just kidding. Well, we really are out of soy sauce, but it’s probably not such a huge problem, though the sweet&sour pork I made last night was not salty enough and I tried to fix it with teriyaki sauce. Learn from another’s experience and don’t do that, okay? It’s not good.

So the internet fairy takes tuesdays off from making my life hell. That is to say, DrBob teaches on tuesdays, and takes his computer with him, so I can set up my computer at his desk and steal the neighbor’s bandwidth for awhile (he said we could, don’t worry. We don’t have permission from his provider, but as they are the very Telekom that’s screwing up our service, I see a certain poetic justice here. After all, if they did their job and gave me the service I’m actually paying for, I wouldn’t have any reason to do this, would I?). So once a week I check up on y’all, and it doesn’t really leave me time to write here – well, sort of it does, but a week’s worth of events and impressions is too much, and it just forms this giant clot in the front of my brain and I can’t untangle it so I wind up with random crap about soy sauce.

And Halloween. Sigh. Back Home, I loved Halloween, the whole dressing-up and black and purple and parties and silliness was very fun, but I’m really not happy about it coming to Germany. Because it really does spring from an ancient Irish tradition that was brought over in the 19th century by great lolloping masses of Irish immigrants, so it has a valid precedent in the States. Here it’s just marketing, with no history or tradition behind it.

This does not keep my children from wanting to participate, however, and having to say no sucks. Especially since Ignatz’s friends are trick-or-treating, and I can’t really keep him from going with them, so I’m only saying no to the Sniglet. That’s really hard, because I recognize the unfairness of it, but I don’t want to take him (did I mention that there is no historical or traditional precedent for Halloween here? So some people are into it, but a lot of them, if you knock on their door and ask for candy, will be all WTF on you, and Ignatz can tolerate this, but I already get enough of it, thank you) and the Sniglet’s too young to go on his own.

Gah. Holidays, good. Holidays out of context, not so much.

Song du jour of the day: In These Shoes, by Kirsty MacColl. Which reminds me that I owe someone a thank-you…


Well, first they said we’d have internet access in mid-October. Now they say November 3rd. Probably. They’ll let me know if not, and I should please have a little patience.

This is requiring quite a bit more than a “little” patience.

Sorry I’m not around more, I’m still grabbing moments on DrBob’s computer when I can. Still reading y’all, though. Really really.

Song du jour of the day: Welcome Home Luc Robitaille, from my new Mando Diao CD. Which I am loving.

Hee heee

So y’all know that the Internet Fairy has cursed me lately and will require many propitiation rituals before she’ll let me have my own account back, right? And I’ve occasionally been borrowing DrBob’s internet, and at some point I signed him out of GoogleTalk, and signed me in, and now his computer thinks he’s me, and whenever we turn it on, I’m signed in and he’s signed out. Which is why Kel thought I was online, Friday. Which is why she blasted out a big ol’ Happy Birthday!, right in the middle of DrBob’s first lecture and Power Point extravaganza (DrBob is a zealous recent convert to the magic of Power Point) for his Intro to Romanic Literature course. I’m sure his 60 or so students were very amused. I’m amused. I think it’s hilarious.

I’m easily amused. It’s a great thing to be.

Song du jour of the day: <b>Coconut</b>, technically by Harry Nilsson, but I’m thinking of the version performed by the Muppets, in the episode with Kenny Rogers.

Flashing the Stash

SO much to catch up on, but first, to respond to a call from Elemmaciltur, because I said I would, and also because I need to figure out how to do pictures in this blog. So here’s my yarn-stash, with the qualifiers that I always seem to need to add, to wit:

Sorry about the plastic bags, I used to store my yarn in the basement and it needed protecting. This is actually about half of what I had then – in the move I threw away everything that smelled… you know, basementy. Yes, the bags did too work – I’d have had to throw it all away if they hadn’t. So this is all I have left, and in a hand-slapping penitent way, I am not allowing myself to buy any new yarn until I use some of this stuff up. Sort of. Only, I just did, for the Sniglet’s ferry boat sweater, oops. But aside from that, um… and any other new projects that wander into my head… okay okay okay, how’s this: no more buying yarn unless I have a specific project in mind for it.

Of course, we all know the rule: she (or he) who dies with the most yarn wins. In light of that, having to throw away the basementy stuff was a serious setback. Also, my LYS moved away, to a town I have no reason to go to, so I can’t just happen by and drift inside, and oops, sort of accidentally buy some yarn. Darn.

Anyhoo. Here it is:

Flash your Stash!

So howbout it, all you crafty people? Flash your stash and impress us all! And let me or Elemmaciltur know you did, so we can tell all our friends to go “Oooo! Aaah!”

I can’t believe I forgot the song du jour of the day on my birthday (it was Cracker’s Happy Birthday To Me), but here’s one for today: ooo, one of my favorites, even: Fall On Me, by R.E.M.

Hello world!

C’mon in, look around, make yourself at home and don’t spill anything on the couch, okay?

So this is my new blog! The blogroll is a work in progress, so if you’re not there and you think you should be, you’re probably right, and you can either wait for me to get around to adding you (which I will, eventually), or shoot me an email (denego. gmail. you know what to do) and I’ll do it right away. Actually, the whole blog is a work in progress; I see that I’ll have to figure out things like “categories” and “slugs” (ew, please let that not be what it sounds like). Anyway, I hope we like it here. Oh, and the name. Yeah, alala’s always already taken, drat it.

Also, today is my birthday, which is why it seemed like a good time to jump into the new blog. I’m 36, so according to Oscar Wilde it’s time to start lying about my age. I’m not really in a birthday mood today. I guess I’ve just been too busy to give it a lot of thought. So has DrBob, and he seems to feel a bit sheepish that the only present he got me was speakers that hook up to my computer, but since I’ve been wanting some for a couple years, it seems like a perfectly suitable gift to me. He didn’t have any input in the kids’ presents this year, so it’ll be interesting to see what they came up with on their own.


You guys! Are so cool, and there are new people in my comments (hi! welcome!) and comments I want to answer but I still don’t have my own internet, am still grabbing moments here and there with DrBob’s computer when he goes to the gym or the bathroom or something, and it’s just difficult in the time I have. I’m sorry about that. Also, has eaten my password, so I had to start a new blogroll, but I didn’t get around to digging around in my blogger template to put the new code in. The blogger template’s kind of a pain, actually. Which brings me to my point:

A Thing I didn’t tell you, but it was true neverthess, is that I’ve been considering leaving Blogger for awhile now. I’ve been sniffing around LiveJournal, WordPress and Typepad for awhile, and I decided that I like WordPress. The interface is spiffier, I like the templates better. Someday I’d like to download the WordPress software and move my blog to my own site. It’ll be awhile before I have time to do that, but I set up a free blog on their space, and today seems like a good day to start new there. For reasons that will be revealed when you click over (sorry for the sentence fragment, but the previous sentence was just getting too damn long).

So I hope you’ll follow me to my new digs, change your links and stuff like that. And bring some tequila. Here’s the address:

Song du jour of the day: Moving, by Kate Bush

I don’t always want the truth

Do you? Are you sure?

So I was having coffee yesterday with one of my new neighbors, Susanne, who is very nice (all my new neighbors seem to be quite cool – not sure how I got so lucky, but I’m glad), and I mentioned that one of the things I miss about the States is common courtesy from service people. Like “Can I help you?” or “Have a nice day.” Now I’ve heard that Germans think Americans are superficial, but this is the first time one’s actually said it to me: she said, “But it’s not really sincere, is it, it’s just superficial. They don’t really mean it.” (I’m translating and paraphrasing here.)

I’ve been thinking about that today. Americans who read this: when you say something polite to a stranger, are you being truly honest? Do you really want them to have a nice day?

Now here’s a better question: does it matter? Look at it from the other side: You walk into the post office, all you want is a stamp, what would you rather hear? “Can I help you,” from someone who may not really mean it, or “What the hell do you want,” from someone who really does mean it? Fake manners, or honest hostility?

I think I’d rather have the fake manners. I don’t really need random strangers going out of their way to make my day even more unpleasant than it already has to be. I mean, I value truth and all that, and from my best friend I’d rather have complete honesty. But from a cashier at some store? Not so much.

So this makes me wonder about Germans. Do they consider rudeness a virtue?

Hmmm… what do you think?

Song du jour of the day: Where is the Love? by the Black-Eyed Peas

They say…

… we’ll have our dsl connection “early next week.” They’ve said similar things, a lot, and been wrong every time so far. The ISP and Telekomm have to work together on this, and so far our ISP has been great, but Telekomm demonstrates exactly why monopolies are bad – they know you can’t go anywhere else, and they treat their customers like crap just because they can.

This is one of those differences that I think is interesting between the U.S. and Europe – a few Europeans have asked me why cel phone service was so patchy and took so long to get going in the States, and the answer is easy – because our regular phone service actually works. In Europe, demand for cel phones was huge from the start because people couldn’t WAIT to get away from Telekomm (here) and Telefónica (Spain). A lot of people dropped their land lines straight off and just relied on cel phones all the time – it was more expensive than regular phone service, but not by much (they still don’t itemize phone bills here, so they can charge whatever the hell they want and there’s no way you can appeal), and “service” is a laughable misnomer for the shameless incompetence that characterizes every Telekomm “worker” (another misnomer) we’ve ever had the misfortune to speak to. I’ve heard Telefónica is at least as bad.

Anyway. This is all just to say that I’m still grabbing moments here and there on DrBob’s computer, because I still have no regular internet access, so posts tend to be under-edited, overlong, and incoherent. I’m also having lots of cows about my schoolwork, which is being totally neglected and making me hugely nervous because I’ve always been a total Hermione and this quarter I am a Bad Student. Crises at work? Illness? Moving? Subsequent loss of internet access? No excuse. In 2000, I had a baby mid-semester and didn’t miss a single assignment. I don’t do this. My teacher is being really understanding, but I still feel like a worm.

All of this ranting is probably a way to avoid talking about our meeting with Ignatz’s therapist today. I guess, since some of you actually know who we are, and since my bloggerID is linked from DrBob’s class webpage (bad move, honey), I should not do the details, but it was, um, frustrating.

Song du jour of the day: Fortress Around Your Heart, by Sting

Yay, I lost again!

Only this time, losing was a lot harder. Yep, there’s a parent council at Ignatz’s school too, and remember me being one of seven candidates at the Sniglet’s school? Um. There were fewer, this time. That is to say, there were none. Less than none: not only no volunteers, but no one who was willing to be drafted. I even asked Ignatz, awhile back, if Mrs Lallet’s daughter signed up for French (I was pretty sure she would, and I was right), because I was wondering if we’d have to elect a new speaker this year.

Okay, quick background on German schools. Umm, one thing is that they provide basic religious instruction here (four separate classes: Catholicism, Lutheranism (remember, Europe doesn’t have a zillion little freaked-out variants of basic Protestantism – they sent all those weirdos to the Americas in the 18th century), Islam, and ethics), which I think is a good thing because they don’t tell the kids that they have to believe it all, but they do tell them the stories, which are a good thing to know so that when they read or hear about a pillar of salt or a widow’s mite, they know what that means. It’s the same reason I think English speakers should at least read Shakespeare, because half of what you read has some figure of speech or metaphor drawn from one of his plays, and you want to know what’s going on.

Anyway. What I DON’T like, and what would be soundly illegal in the U.S., is that they divide the kids into classes by religion. They do this because it makes scheduling classes easier, and I understand that, but of course in the States it’s been well-established that administrative convenience does not justify sex discrimination (Reed v. Reed, 1971), so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be an acceptable excuse for religious segregation either. Anyway. We’ve protested, but there’s nothing we can do on our own, so, you know, whatever.

So they keep those classes together until sixth grade. Halfway through fifth grade, each student chooses what second foreign language they’ll start next year (the first is English, started in third grade, and it’s compulsory) – our school offers Latin and French. Then in sixth grade, they’re divided up by language, again to make scheduling easier. So that’s why it mattered that Mrs Lallet’s kid took French, because she wouldn’t be in my son’s class anymore, and we didn’t have an automatic speaker. We had to elect one.

It’s very difficult not to make eye contact with 25 people all at once, even if you’re sitting all the way in the back of the classroom, as I was. Nobody wanted the job, and finally the teacher went around the room and made each of us say why we couldn’t do it – the person with the most pathetic excuse would then be dragooned into acting as the parent-teacher liaison. My excuse was twofold: I’m a foreigner and I only understand about half of what is said to me; and my husband works out of town so I’m not available in the evenings because I have to be home with the demon spawn. It worked, I don’t have to do it, but it was a harrowing evening. I think I may just volunteer next year, to save us all the trauma.

That is, if things have settled down. I’ve just moved house, and have to finish up my server-side technology course and look for a job. Once I get a job, I will be like a normal person, in that when people ask what I’ll be doing in six months, I’ll probably know. As it is, I might could squeeze in a few evening hours a week right now, probably, but I don’t know if that’ll still be true in two months, or four months, or six months, so I can’t commit to something that’ll last through next July.

Of course, if DrBob gets a job anywhere other than Munich, he’ll be out of town all semester, and I really won’t have any evenings free until the Sniglet’s old enough to be left home alone. Oook.

Song du jour of the day: Don’t Fear the Reaper.

Two people have now sent me this song, which is doubleplusgood, because I can throw away that ancient Blue Öyster Cult tape which I only kept because of that one song. Yes, a cassette tape, an ancient means of recording data – the damn thing’s older than Samirah, but not as old as Monty and me (yes, I know it should be Monty and I, but Monty and me is so nice and alliterative – besides, language rules are effectively shaped by common usage, and we may not want to accept the validity of this particular construction, but it will be legalized someday – maybe not in our lifetimes, but it won’t be much longer. I’ll betcha). And yes, I have loved the song since I was six, even though I will never again be able to hear it without saying to myself, “Needs more cowbell.”

Well that was interesting…

If, by “interesting,” you understand “a fucking nightmare from start to finish.” Umm, I don’t write a lot here about my relationship with my husband’s best friend, because it’s too complicated. He’s… well, my husband’s best friend, and my firstborn’s godfather, and both my kids really like him, but he and I don’t really get along, but I have to be nice to him, and sometimes he is nice too, and then I decide to forget about all the other stuff and that’s when he strikes. I can never decide whether he’s evil or just Really That Clueless.

He came to our house on Sunday. And he cleaned a lot (um, hello? MY house), and rearranged furniture and reorganized things that I now have to fix and restore and put back. He kept saying I could say no to his suggestions, but when I did, he ignored me and did them anyway. And I can’t trust him to be civil, so I have to be on guard all the time (on guard? what for? It’s not like I can retaliate in any way, since I have to be nice to him, see above) so I can’t relax when he’s in the house, which he was for TWO DAYS. And some of it was good, he found some special wood-polish and made the interior doors look not-so-crappy. And some of it was bad – some of the tools are on one shelf now, and others are on a different shelf, and then there’s one wrench – part of a set, mind you – that now lives in the kitchen? For some reason? And some is both good and bad – he trimmed the bushes in the back yard, thank you, and now there’s a big pile of branches and crap waiting for me to cart it away, thank you very much.

And he stayed overnight. In MY office. DrBob’s office has a sleepable furniture in it, but it’s the only room with internet, so it was logical for the Best Friend to stay in MY space, the only place I can be ALONE, instead. (Well, okay, I can hide in the laundry room. I did that a lot, actually.) But see how that worked? It was logical for him to sleep in my office, so I couldn’t object without seeming irrational. And the doors really did look crappy, and he really did make them better, but somehow that gave him the right to mess with everything, and he always made it sound so logical and anyway it was always just a suggestion and I could put it back if I wanted (tell that to the plants he cut up), and I could never object without sounding both ungrateful and unreasonable. So I just skulked around the house like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, and got increasingly pissed off.

When Ignatz got home from school yesterday, BF dragooned him into reorganizing his room, steamrollered over all his objections, kept him busy for two hours (making changes that we will now have to un-make). Ignatz had made plans with a friend, and he was now late, so he rushed through his homework and sprinted out the door. BF checked his homework, marked all the errors, and told me to make Ignatz re-do it. Which I couldn’t, because I was taking the Sniglet to his first soccer practice (awww…), but I talked to Ignatz later about it. We made a deal: he doesn’t rush through his homework, and I don’t let anyone drag him away from it, for any reason.

So now it’s over, he’s gone, but I’m still twitchy because he kept talking about “next time,” and I have to be ready whenever the question arises with a list of reasons why “next time” is not going to happen, and um, that’s bad. Because I hate, hate, hate conflict, and when I know it’s in my future I get very jittery. Also because every time I turn around I see something he changed that I now have to change back.


Song du jour of the day: Get Out of My House, by Kate Bush