Karneval!!

The Karneval der Kulturen is ramping up in the city. 1.4 million people are expected to come out and enjoy one of the many festivities surrounding the event.

Check out a few pictures of my experience so far:







My much-loved Dresdner Brot.

That is Funky Chicken with an African drink, Dju Dju – Mango Beer.

Mimi (blue) found some friends while in my absence. Can’t take that girl anywhere, as soon as I turn my back she’s winkin’ and flirtin’ with the boys.
Just get out there and experience it for yourself!
Sunday is the parade, and as far as I’m concerned, the best part of the whole thing!

Post from Karneval der Kulturen 2008

May I say that working on Sweet No’s computer… um… not exactly easy or necessarily nice. The post looks like crap simply because I don’t have the right tools.

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Music Monday – Eurovision 2010 – Germany

Prepare for an “Ohrwurm“.
I’ve warned you.

We’ve been hearing a catchy little tune on the radio these past weeks. Driving with Sweet No yesterday this cute little ditty came on and suddenly it got cranked up a bit to better hearing level. No said that she liked the tune and wanted to hear the words. I told her it was about unconditional love, then the next phrase out of the singer’s mouth, “…I even painted my toenails for you…” Yup, unconditional love.

Today I heard it again on morning radio and decided to research it a bit. Turns out it is the German entry in the Eurovision Song Contest! LOVE IT!
Goofball… I think Germany has a winner here.

Cutesy and a mite bit goofy. The singer is Lena Meyer-Landrut, better known as just “Lena”. 19 years old and her singles are going platinum in Germany. Not bad.

The song is “Satellite” by Lena Meyer Landrut
See it bigger.
29 May, 2010 She’s a winner. OK OK, so maybe she doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell seeing as how she’s competing for Germany and we just don’t have the political backing to win. But it is fun to think about it!

Satellite by Lena
I went everywhere for you
I even did my hair for you
I bought new underwear, they’re blue
And I wore ‘em just the other day

Love, you know I’ll fight for you
I left on the porch light for you
Whether you are sweet or cruel
I’m gonna love you either way

Love, oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love
Like a satellite, I’m in an orbit all the way around you
And I would fall out into the night
Can’t go a minute without your love

Love, I got it bad for you
I saved the best I have for you
You sometimes make me sad and blue
Wouldn’t have it any other way

Love, my aim is straight and true
Cupid’s arrow is just for you
I even painted my toe nails for you
I did it just the other day

Love, oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love
Like a satellite I’m in an orbit all the way around you
And I would fall out into the night
Can’t go a minute without your love
Oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love

Where you go, I’ll follow
You set the pace, we’ll take it fast and slow
I’ll follow in your way,
You got me, you got me
A force more powerful than gravity
It’s physics, there’s no escape

Love, my aim is straight and true
Cupid’s arrow is just for you
I even painted my toe nails for you
I did it just the other day

Love, oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love
Like a satellite I’m in orbit all the way around you
And I would fall out into the night
Can’t go a minute without your
Love, oh, love, I gotta tell you how I feel about you
‘Cause I, oh, I can’t go a minute without your love
Love, love, love, love, love

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Random Tuesday – To Infinity and Beyond… and Back.

It’s another Random Tuesday, and it’s a good thing because my brain is waaaaay tooooo scattered for coherent thought right now.

If you are of a like mind, go check out Keely… she shows us how it’s done.

Let me just say that moving sucks and we aren’t even really starting yet. The floors have all been sanded down to the beautiful wood and now the staining begins. My gawd it seems to take forever for stuff to dry. One room’s walls have required three coats of white to cover up the brightest/ugliest/saddest green you have ever seen!

Tonight we get our new basement cleaned and set up for the big move. Hopefully we can get everything shifted over as well. Let’s just say that I’m increasingly surprised exactly how much SCUBA diving CRAP we have. But this cellar space is larger than the last one, so we’ll be able to spread out a bit and hopefully have more than an area 6 inches wide to park my bike.

We had a fantastic time in Munich for the Whiney Expat Bloggers Meetup 2009. A great group of friends in a beautiful, clean, if a bit stuffy city. Munich has many claims to fame of course, but the one I found the funniest was the “We built our opera house on the world’s first beer tax” to be a bit over the top. I had my first Maß which as far as I can tell is just a HUGE mug of watery beer. Give me a Guinness any day.

The more I travel, the more I realize that cool/sexy/poor Berlin was the right choice for me. But the people are great in Munich and I would go back for a visit any time.

As of this moment I haven’t had enough time to read the instruction manual for my new camera. Unfortunately I think that this will be required. I’ve started twice but the thing is almost incomprehensible. WHY can’t someone actually write a manual that is in simple language and actually gives the owner some value?

Today Mimi and I turned over 3,500 KM on her odometer. I’m really loving the sweet little scooter and will really not be happy on the day she needs to be put away for winter. 😦

I didn’t get the filing gene – no matter what, I always need to go back to find things and am continually surprised by where things end up. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, I pitty the person who has to find things in my work filing system. Let’s not even get into what the folder with my photos looks like.

Now that gray hair has finally started to make its appearance on my head I don’t seem to be too happy about it. In fact, I caught myself standing at the bathroom mirror this morning pulling individual hairs. Am I crazy trying to fight against something which is going to happen no matter what?

Been reading:
Priorities Are Clear as Mud in Germany – With elections coming up it is interesting to see what Merkel’s administration is up to… or not up to.

Deutsche Bahn to Cut 75% of Berlin Train Services – There must be some nasty politicking going on here. WTF? This is the second maintenance “emergency shutdownthis summer! Somebody should hang pay! Where is our Mayor? Partying in Fuerteventura?

Astronauts pack Buzz Lightyear for ride home – OK, so he didn’t quite make it to “Infinity and Beyond”… but he was on the SPACE STATION! He’s probably my favorite cartoon character of all and knowing that astronauts think he’s cool too is a like a rocket boost for me. 🙂

OK, I’ll leave you with the Mean Kitty Song!
Every time I pass a “Sparta Bank” this song starts playing in my head.

Why socialisim when it comes to healthcare isn’t such a dirty word

Living in Germany has given me a new-found perspective on the whole socialism angle. Like most Americans I was brought up to believe that it was evil and would lead to the downfall of any economy leaning on socialism’s tenuous tinderbox base. But a few years in a country which is not only living well under a modified form of socialism, but also thriving has opened my eyes.

Right now America is in the throes of trying to fix its fractured health care system. One thing for certain, no matter what is done, it is going to be painful for some. It is going to be painful for the taxpayers (at least at first). It is going to be painful for the elected officials who must decide what is right. And it is going to hurt doctors in the pocketbook. But trust me on this. It is NOT going to be painful for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies. No, they are now pumping so much lobbying money into our Congressmen’s pockets in order to maintain their own interests, that sincerely I doubt if anything changes at all unless it is advantageous for the insurance and pharma industries.

I would like to take just a moment to point out a blogger friend’s series on Universal Health care in Germany and the differences between here and America. I know that it will involve reading, but I suspect that it is information which every American should know while trying to make an informed decision.

Here is just an excerpt:

How do health statistics compare between Germany and the US?

Looking at the World Health Organization’s Core Health Indicators, Germany has better numbers than the US in most health care related statistics. Here are some highlights:

  • Life expectancy at birth, for both sexes combined, is 80 years in Germany and 78 in the US
  • Healthy life expectancy at birth, for both sexes combined, is 72 years in Germany, 69 years in the US
  • Infant mortality rate (per 1000 births) for Germany is 4.0, the US is 7.0
  • Hospital beds (per 10000 people) is 83 in Germany and 32 in the US
  • Physician density (per 10000 people) is 34 in Germany and 26 in the US
  • Total expenditure on health as percentage of GDP for Germany is 10.7%, the US is 15.2%
  • and Per capita expenditure on health is $3250 in Germany and $6350 in the US

Scary isn’t it?
Please take a moment and visit AmiExpat’s site for more information.

Think about this folks: America has the 37th worst quality of health care in the developed world. And the most costly. Costing over twice as much as every other county. Conservative estimates are that over 120,000 people die each year in America from treatable illness that people in other developed countries don’t die from. Rich, middle class, and poor alike. Insured and uninsured. Men, women, children, and babies. This is what being 37th in quality of health care means.

Personally I have two brothers who are as of right now uninsured. One is “underemployed” one is self-employed, and both are unwilling (read unable) to fork out the extra dough required for personal insurance. It scares me to think about it, but if something serious happened to either one of them, it could mean foreclosure on their houses. I myself rode the no-insurance wheel in America for a long time when I was either in between jobs or was only working part time.

What else should you do to make an informed decision before following the herd…? Read! Here is HR 3200, in its entirety.

I think I will write out my own experiences with German health care, but I’m afraid that will have to wait for a day or two. But if you didn’t visit the links above, please do reconsider.

FRIDAY BABY!

So let’s start with a little Foto Madness!
This shot was taken outside of a cute little store in Heidelberg. My GOSH they had some adorable, highly colored trinkets and playthings. But standing guard at the (closed, yes it was Sunday in Germany) door were these two delightful guys.

Funny Face CommodeNormally I would call this a Funny Foto Freitag, something I got from 50% of My DNA, but my friendly neighborhood science teacher is MIA. She’s disappeared folks! I’m sure she’s off having a great time (read, A LIFE) and will return soon. So I’ll play her little game without her for a while.

Sweet No and I spent last weekend in Heidelberg checking out the sights, marveling at the 800 year old castle, enjoying the charming old part of the city, and among others, met up with the sweet, charming Heidelbergerin and her tall (remember, I’m horribly short… lots of people are TALL) and funny Heidelberger-man.

When No and I were talking about a visit to Heidelberg she started joking and saying that now I would be a true American in Germany, because it seems that ALL Americans want to visit Heidelberg. She couldn’t explain the phenomena, just said that it is the common stereotype. Often when Germans are traveling they will run across an American who upon learning they are speaking with a German will be ask if the German is from Heidelberg or has been to the city. No matter the answer, the American usually goes off into a “my father was there in the Cold War, my brother visited in the 60’s, my Grandfather said it was the most beautiful city in Europe” kind of thing.

Why is this? I’m not really sure. Perhaps the relation is from the Cold War. My father WAS stationed NEAR Heidelberg (along with a good percentage of the U.S. Army in that time period – even Elvis was here) and brought back reels and reels of slides from the area. Every time we had visitors, my Dad would bring out the slides for a show. He had many pictures of Heidelberg and the surrounding area, but he had taken the opportunity to get around, so there were pictures from Belgium, France, many locations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and I believe at least a few from Italy.

But does this off-hand correlation with Heidelberg really justify that well over 50% of the tourists I saw (and heard) were American? I have no idea how this could work out. Maybe it is because Heidelberg is one of the few German cities which were spared the highly destructive carpet bombings meant to bring Germany to its knees and end WWII. Maybe it is the 800 year old ruin castle? Perhaps they come in droves to see Germany’s longest pedestrian shopping area? YES, a HUGE outdoor mall, complete with Starbucks and other strange choices to be seen in such an old environment. Now THAT sounds like something which would interest my countrymen!

I kid you not, every few steps while walking along the main thoroughfare I was assaulted by English. I say assaulted because after being surrounded by German (and at work French, Spanish and Italian) my ears act like a strange English antennae and almost jump up when my native tongue is within earshot. At the office I know that people are speaking to me when they begin speaking English thus when I hear English, I assume that the person is wanting to speak with me. I’ve talked about this weird phenomenon before in a long ago blog entry titled Sensory Overload which is exactly what it feels like to me.

How could I not listen to the couple sitting behind us at the restaurant as they discuss what they will do/see next? Is it really possible to blank out the noise of a passing pedestrian as he asks the woman beside him if she “would you qualify that as a manufacturing problem or a design problem”? In one word… No. It is impossible for me to tune them out. It is the same thing I deal with every time I visit America or any English-speaking country. It is HARD, so HARD to deal with the language all around me.

While walking among the white sport shoed folks (stereotypical American footwear makes them stand out every time) I took the time to eat some local fare. In this case it was Saumagen or “stomach of the female pig”. It turned out to be alright, tasting like most any of the sliced deli meats widely available in the US, just sliced more thickly and pan-fried. I tasted potatoes and celery in this interesting reminder that the Germans use EVERY part of the pig in cuisine. The Saumagen came with Sauerkraut and Kartoffelpüree (mashed potatoes) of course, both were also quite nice and rounded out the meal very nicely.

At the suggestion of the before-mentioned Heidelbergerin, we avoided Vetter’s restaurant food and went straight to the beer. It seemed like every third person was walking around with the easily-spotted brown bottle and enjoying it highly, so we decided it was the thing to do when in Heidelberg… OH MY… we were right! We walked in and asked for a dark beer and came out with a FANTASTIC dark, sweet, thick malt beer which went down smoothly as we sat on the riverbank opposite the old town and watched the sunset/moonrise.

A friend of mine told me that Heidelberg is very romantic, and now I believe him. It seemed that the best times we had were on the “other” side of the river, taking in the quiet beauty of the incredibly picturesque villiage of the old town. There were so many opportunities for simply enjoying each other’s company which in our hustle and bustle world just get left behind. We really enjoyed our time by the Neckar river, on both sides.

Been reading:

  • Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince – Now the dirty stuff is going to come out about Blackwater (now renamed Xe). I wonder why you would change the name of a successful company? Is it because the other one was kicked OUT of Iraq BY the Iraqis?
  • Churning Ocean Waters, One Jellyfish at a Time – This is a really wild theory, but I can see where it originates from and it makes sense in a way. The first thing I thought while reading this is that this is just another species that once extinct or severely reduced in number due to environmental stupidity on the part of humans that will have a HUGE and unforeseen impact on the Earth.
  • Russian Subs Seen Off U.S. East Coast – Looks like Mother Russia is getting more serious about throwing around some military might.
  • Don’t trust Obama on gay marriage – I believe the author has hit the issue on the head. Obama will sell out the gays and lesbians in a heartbeat if it is politically advantageous for him to do it. Clinton did it first of course, but he did it best… DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell hurt gays and lesbian rights in ways that we are just now fully realizing. Let’s hope that Obama doesn’t make another such “compromise” which undercuts the small gains the gay community has made.
I will leave you with a cute video which has become pretty viral.
THIS is the way to come down the aisle!

Funny Foto Freitag – BIG Edition

Big Ass Truck
OK, so you’re wondering WHAT is so funny about this…
You might have to click the picture to see it full-sized to get what made me giggle so much. Perhaps a bit of back story would help. In all of Germany I bet there are 300 such trucks on the road, thus it is strange to see them at all. Let alone a Dodge Truck, normally they are Nissan. Then compound that with flat black paint (no shiny stuff). Heck, I can’t even remember seeing flat black on ANY cars without counting 70’s American muscle cars.

But what is so cute about this HUGE truck (something we don’t see too much here in Germany) is the license plate. The “B” is seen on every car registered in Berlin, but the “IG” is just classic.

Oh, and the guy who slid out of this thing… he was all of about 5’2″(160 cm) tall, weighing 100 lbs (45 kg) and had a chip on his shoulder like he had something to prove.

(common sense says that if I have to explain the joke, it probably wasn’t funny anyway… but DAMMIT, I giggled for half an hour… maybe it was a location joke… you know… you had to BE there)

And just because it is SOOO KEWL: