The Difference Between Snooker and Sweet No

Those who know Snooker and No personally would knowingly shake their heads in the affirmative with the thought of the two of us being compared to Ernie and Bert (or is it Bert and Ernie… now I’m confused… German Sesamstrasse says it one way, the Sesame Street of my youth says it the other). I’m short, rotund and prone to fits of giggles. Sweet No is tall and thin and while she has a rapier wit, it is usually so dry that most people don’t get it until the next day… after a shower.

The differences between us are far and wide. She’s a jogging freak, I’m a shade dog. I ride a scooter to work, she cruises along on pedal power riding her bike. She watches a maximum of 4 hours TV per week, while if given my druthers I would probably watch DVD’s until the machine gave out. She is 12 years younger than me and grew up in Germany, while I’m feeling my age after living the traditional American “bigger is better, including my ass” lifestyle.

She has a HUGE thing about gummies (I’m talking Haribo Gummi Bears and the entire family… to the tune of a package or so a day), while I would rather enjoy salty, greasy foods. I take pictures almost exclusively above water, she takes pictures almost exclusively underwater (except for the cat… most pics of Frank are actually hers). We have age differences, and cultural differences, music and dancing differences, humor and laughter differences, ideas on planning and follow through, ideas on friends and friend management… really the list goes on.

In my daily life I’ve become accustomed to most of these contrasts. When No comes up with a weekend schedule planned out to the minute and all I want to do is relax in some park, I don’t consider how unlike we are, I just try to work out a compromise for how we can both end up as happy as can be. I just don’t think about it any more.

But yesterday afternoon I was rooting around in our dry goods cabinet looking for something to eat and it struck me. There were two jars of Nutella sitting side by side. One was from a time when I went shopping and picked up a jar of “chocolaty taste with a hint of that roasted nut flavor that will delight your taste buds as you enjoy each delicious mouthful”. The other was newer and had obviously been purchased by No as a backup to an almost empty jar. She is the biggest user of the stuff, in fact she has “Nutella Bread” almost every morning. If it was getting low, she would usually be the one to notice it and work on a replacement.

What you see below are the two jars previously mentioned. On the right you find my 750 gram jar of chocolaty, velvety goodness, to the left is what looks to me to be a TEENSY 400 gram attempt at a jar of Nutella.

WHY would you buy such a small thing if it is going to be consumed in a reasonable amount of time and it has no chance of going bad? (about a month for that big one, I would say) To tell you the truth, I don’t really know myself. I’m just posing the question.

Oh, and another difference between us…
When she sees the Nutella jar is empty, she puts it beside the trash for later separation into the glass container. When I see an empty Nutella jar, it is simply a challenge. One to which I will grab a table knife and sit down in front of a blaring TV with full intentions of getting each and every bit of Nutella out of that jar and into my gullet. Yeah… that’s a HUGE difference… and quite possibly the reason for my wide ass.

What about you and your loved ones? Surely you have differences, even if the chasm isn’t as wide as the one between No and myself. What is it which you would do differently from the ones you surround yourself with?

Been reading:
Interesting documentary about why and how the Mormon “Church” nee – PAC has insinuated itself into the entire gay marriage debate. Wanna see.

South African doctor invents female condoms with ‘teeth’ to fight rape – About time. I would hesitate for this though. Think about it, when would you use it? Isn’t the bad part about rape that generally the victim doesn’t know that it is going to happen? Do you just wear this thing all the time? Either way, it is interesting to see something like this being invented.

Cool World Cup Calendar

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Rachel Maddow for President!

I’m lovin’ Maddow. In fact, after watching this video I’m feeling a little girl crush. The video below hits me right in the heart. I am just like Rachel, I would really like to see these things officially said.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Not upset enough yet?
Go see these photos.

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World Cup Fever

Well, I can finally admit it. I’m a changed person. The move to Germany has made me a “soccer” fan. Yes, Fußball has me. Friday night as the UK goalie scored a goal for the USA I giggled madly. Sunday night as the German National Team whooped ass on Australia (come on, would you expect any less?) I had a shit-eating grin on my face. Yes, I’m hooked.

The picture above was from a little gathering Sweet No and I had on the occasion of Germany’s first match game. Look closely at the colors of the food. Black Red Gold! The colors of the German flag. Yes we went crazy! Blue berries and Buletten (basically a meatball) were representing black (well, they really WEREN’T black… in fact, I got some comments that they were lovely), strawberries and bell peppers were red, and apricots, pineapple and more peppers represented the gold/yellow.

Not really pictured, we had Kostritzer schwarzbier in the line of drinks back there, then red Bionade and Gold Becks beer… how cute is that?

The sauces? Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce (actually purchased here) “kinda black”, ketchup “duh, red”, and a mix of curry sauce and Bautzner mustard, “yellow baby”.

Maybe a little bit overboard, but fun none the less.

Also fun was this morning’s breakfast. Yes, you’re seeing that right, the bread (in this case a bagel) has been scored in such a way before baking/cooking so as to pop up with what looks like a soccer ball. Add to that the German flag and hey, you have a gen-u-ine “Fanartikel“.

While I’m on the subject of the Cup, let me just say… ENOUGH WITH THE VUVUZELA’S!!! I get it, South Africa loves the horn, they use it for every game. Who knew that a silly plastic horn could be so distracting? Maybe because we didn’t think about THOUSANDS of them all playing together sounding like an angry bee swarm.

All I can say is that I’m INCREDIBLY happy that I’m not actually trying to see (and hear) the game from the stadium. Can you imagine paying a fortune to get to SA, mortgaging your house to buy tickets to watch it live, and then not being able to hear what the hell is going on? Let’s just hope the phenomenon doesn’t catch on in the rest of the world.

Oh yeah, before I forget, CSD (Christopher Street Day – Berlin’s Gay Pride Parade) will be this Saturday. Come out and celebrate!

Been reading:

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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.

The Fastest Man in the World – Like a Bolt of Lightning

You could have heard a pin drop in the Olympic Stadium here in Berlin last night. The 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics held Berlin in its grip. The contenders were all lined up, the race to define the World Champion in the 100 Meter Race. The winner would claim Gold in the event, and could possibly break a World Record and claim the coveted “Fastest Man in the World” title. As for the almost 75,000 witnesses at the edge of their seats, any people left talking were shushed immediately, adding to the tension.

Pop goes the gun and out of the gate a stream of green and yellow. Jamacian Usain Bolt never looked back. The rest of the pack tried to stay somewhere close, but Bolt broke out before the 1/3 mark and left them all in his dust to set a new World Record of 9.58, shaving off .11 from his last World Record set in Bejing.

What a triumph! (couldn’t find the video in English.. .but Italian, French and even Japanese. What’s the deal? American TV doesn’t care?)

We were fortunate to witness greatness that night. Not only Bolt, but Brit Jessica Ennis won the Women’s Heptathalon, and Kiwi Valerie Vili took the Women’s Shot Put with a fantastic 20.44 meter throw and the German crowd jumped to their feet and went crazy when Geri thrower Nadine Kleinert threw a fantastic 20.20 and took Silver.

Another triumph which gladdened my heart was in that same tense 100 Meter Race. American Tyson Gay came in second and broke an American World Record with his 9.71 performance, the third fastest time in history. All of this and he still ended up looking like he was jogging behind Bolt. Tyson has been complaining of groin issues and hasn’t been 100% for some time now. He put in a great race and has my admiration.

The two men will go on to compete in the 200 Meter Race on Tuesday and then again on Saturday for a Relay Race. All of which Bolt has previously struck gold and walked away with in Beijing.

One thing I did notice was that Bolt wasn’t as cocky in this race as he was in Bejing where he began celebrating his win before he even got to the finish line. No, there were no arms thrown up in victory before the finish, no this time his face didn’t relax until several meters past the line. Good for him. I bet he got a load of crap after that last bullshit performance. This picture is of course after the race itself. Bolt and his team mate (and 3rd place winner) Asafa Powell as they do their little celebration dance for the cameras.

It is so much harder for me to get behind such cockiness. Give me an athlete who is obviously trying his best, dealing with demons, working though diversity and I am with them 100%. Last night I was rooting for the ailing Tyson Gay and he did make a fantastic showing, giving the race lots of heart. Unfortunately while he is in his prime, this Bolt guy is also there, ready to take every award out from under Gay. It’s all about timing people.

Which brings us to another point. Can this be for real? Bolt is shattering, not just breaking, he is shattering records left and right. He shaved .11 seconds off of his last record which was fantastic in its own right. Is it for real, or is Bolt a product of modern chemistry? I have no doubt he has talent, but are his records going to stand the test of time?

Will we hear about a doping scandal with Bolt at the center? I hope not. I really, really hope not. I WANT to believe in this guy, but it just seems like magic. He is said to be a lazy athlete, not showing up for practice, starting training too late in the season, partying at inappropriate times, wrecking cars… how does all of this add up? I suppose that time will tell.

In my heart of hearts I hope that at the center of all these Jamaican records is a soulful and inspiring coach with the ability to see into the hearts of young athletes and know who should be pushed toward which discipline in the most efficient way. Let’s hope that there isn’t something more sinister going on here, no East German style doping program, designed to bring out the best in the runners, but with long-term side effects which will eventually detract from the accomplishments of the individuals. While I would really like to see Tyson Gay get his golds, I would rather it not be this way. Let’s just hope, and wait.

I got my first (and only) tears during a medal awarding ceremony for Men’s Shot Put. American Christian Cantwell had taken Gold with a world leading heave of 22.03 meters. As he stood up there on the pedestal I beamed with pride for my country to get their first medal. All was OK until we stood for the American National Anthem and the raising of the flag. I had tears in my eyes before “What so proudly we hailed”. No, I don’t think I will ever lose my heartfelt pride in my home country.

If you’re in Berlin, or if you are anywhere within decent range of the Hauptstadt, do come on down to watch and cheer during the 12th IAAF World Championships. Bolt and Gay will be racing again on Tuesday and Saturday, and of course there are LOTS of other contests to be decided in the next week.