rope. tree. fan. spear. snake. wall.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"Don't wipe your nose on the curtains."

Just another one of the many things I really never thought I'd hear myself say, before I had kids.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In which, once again, I attempt to psychoanalyze a cartoon

What is with my WeatherPixie? Maybe all that purple hair dye has killed too many brain cells? Is she a compulsive liar? Because she's at it again. T-shirt weather, my Aunt Fanny. It's too too yucky out - oop, there's the sun! Oh no, wait, now it's gone. Oh there it - no, it's gone again. So I'm blaming the weather for the Sniglet's cold, which is forcing us to postpone his surgery for a whole month. Apparently you cannot be anaesthetised with slime in your lungs, at least not for elective surgery, which this technically is, unless we wait for it to become an emergency, which no thank you. As you may remember if you were reading this blog when my mom was first diagnosed with lung cancer, incipient medical situations create a persistent "EEEEEeeeeeeeeee..." in my head, which I now get to hold onto for another month, yay.

I took a shortcut on the lesson plan for tomorrow night's ESL class, a hugely risky move considering that my last class bombed so badly. But the house is a mess, because I'd set aside Sunday for housework but instead I spent it alternately sleeping and bolting for the bathroom (me and my whims) (yes, I feel much better, thank you), I haven't even looked at my homework, DrBob needs me to proofread the introduction for his book, I have to start that chicken soup now-now, before the chicken turns green, and I'm feeling the teensiest bit overwhelmed.

So of course, I'm blogging. After all, why do today what you can postpone until it becomes a crisis?

Song du jour del día des tages: Santana's Black Magic Woman. Wishful thinking, much?

Monday, May 29, 2006


Ignatz's stomach bug decided to visit me. That was sunday.

Though not yet fully recovered, I dragged myself to Munich to make up the work day I missed last friday because Ignatz was sick. That was today.

So in case you were worried that all this Not Posting meant I was off somewhere fabulous having fun without you (like ~d and Kelly are)? Um, not so much.

Song du jour of the day: Süperstar by Sibel Tüzün. Yep, still on my Eurovision kick. It'll do until I can get some new music.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

more quizzage

from the Goober Queen
Your Quirk Factor: 72%

You're so quirky, it's hard for you to tell the difference between quirky and normal.
No doubt about it, there's little about you that's "normal" or "average."

We saw the second half of a soccer game in DrBob's hometown (about 15 minutes away from here) today. We only ever see the second half of games: we never feel like we can spare a whole 90 minutes plus halftime. It was pretty fun, our guys won 5:0, but neither of my sons were at all interested. I am baffled by this. I would be such a good sportsmom, and I have non-sporty kids. That is just so unfair.

Oh, and Ignatz is better. He was weak and tired all day friday but has now recovered fully and is visiting his grandparents.

Song (virus) du jour of the day: Chainsaw Buffet, by Lordi. Yes, I really did buy the CD.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Be careful what you wish for...

I suppose that complaining that I hadn't had enough time to get everything done might have been interpreted as a wish for more time - in any case, I seem to have gotten it, though not in a good way. Last night (or this morning) around 2 a.m., Ignatz hurtled into the bathroom and barfed in the sink. He threw up again at 3. And again at 6. By 7 we were both exhausted and underslept, so I staggered out of bed to get the Sniglet to kindergarten and then collapsed again. So, um, yay, I didn't have to go to work. Except now I have to go in on Monday. And I got exactly one thing crossed off my list.

All Ignatz did today was lie on the couch, but even so, it was an anxious day for me. He's never sick. Okay, slight exaggeration. How's this: this is the fourth time he's been sick in eight years. So I've never really gotten used to dealing with it. The Sniglet's a bit closer to normal, which was quite an adjustment for us in the first weeks after his birth. There were several phone calls to the hospital that went something like "He sneezed! Twice! Should we take him to the emergency room?"

Anyway. Let's see if I can get one more thing accomplished before my head falls off from yawning.

Song du jour of the day: Is Anybody There?, by John Hiatt. Apropos of nothing, just because I like it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Is it already Thursday night?

Gack! Where did this week go? My to-do list looks just like it did on Monday. There is one tiny victory to report: my house is marginally cleaner than it has been other weeks, but only marginally. There are still dust-bison in the corners, and nothing else got done. Wow, I didn't used to think housework was a full-time thing, but of course, all that means is that I've never done it full-time.

Was it Phyllis Diller? Erma Bombeck? Peg Bracken? Some really smart woman or other. Said: "Cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing." She was so right. Devoting your attention to housework is basically just a way to stay busy and have nothing to show for it.


Song du jour of the day: INXS, Devil Inside. Another one from my fabulous mixmania CD.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

crowded days

So yesterday we drove to the children's hospital in Landshut to schedule the Sniglet's hernia surgery and talk to the surgeon and the anaesthesiologist. Then we took him to McDonald's because he'd been so patient (he ordered a salad instead of fries with his Happy Meal - alien child), which left us with half an hour to shop for pants for him. I hate shopping so much that I just blitz it once per year per son - dash into the store, grab everything I can find in his size, make him try it all on, whip out the credit card and zoom out the door. Yes, I did get it done in half an hour. Even DrBob was impressed.

And today I spent the whole morning at the Sniglet's kindergarten, observing, and then met with his teacher and his ergotherapist. After that he had a playdate, and I stayed for the whole thing since he was cranky, while DrBob met with four of Ignatz's teachers for progress reports. Then I had ten minutes to decompress before I had to dash up to Ignatz's school (with the Sniglet in tow) to talk to a fifth teacher, because DrBob had to leave for Munich.

Oh. That must be why I'm so tired. I'd been wondering

In other news, I got my Mixmania CD today! Yay! I haven't had time to listen to the whole thing yet (see above), but so far I'm happy. There are a few things I don't know yet, but the things I do know? Total memory lane cruise. Very fun.

So the Evil Song du Jour of the Day is: Witchy Woman, by the Eagles. Hoo hoo!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Didn't we talk about this?

We DO communicate! Really! We talk about Family Stuff over dinner, we consult whenever one of the kids has a problem, we go see Ignatz's therapist together, ferpetesake! How did we both feel the same about the Sniglet's kindergarten situation and not realize it? The conversation was very brief and full of things like, "I've always gotten a bad vibe from Mrs, but I thought YOU liked her", and "didn't you notice that this whole problem started when he joined that class?" "Well sure, but I didn't think you'd agree..." and "I never thought a fourth year of kindergarten was a good idea, but I thought you..." etc.

So that was quite easily resolved, and he'll go to transitional first grade this September. I feel so relieved! I was conscientiously adjusting to the prospect of yet another year of this kindergarten, busily convincing myself that it was The Best Thing, Really, and now that that weight has been lifted I feel so much better! Whew! Yay! Happy dance!

Song du jour of the day: Hurra!, by die Ärzte, a German punk band with a juvenile sense of humor. Ignatz loves them.

now what do we do?

Augh. Yes, just like Charlie Brown used to say. You might remember a post about the Sniglet awhile back, wherein I described his travails in kindergarten - basically, that he's being a putz. Right, well, um. In addition to judo, his teacher and I discussed a few other options, viz, what to do with him next year.

First grade is right out - his birthday is past the cut-off date and his behavior seems to indicate that he is not ready.

The kindergarten has an "integration" group, which has an extra teacher and tries to mainstream kids with mild social or learning problems. Mrs said that moving him now would probably make things worse. It might have been a good idea to put him there in the first place, at the beginning of the year, she said, but of course you have to tell the kindergarten in January where you want your child to be next September, and he didn't have these problems then. In fact, they showed up when he joined this new group, at the beginning of his third year of kindergarten (arresting thought - maybe the Sniglet is not the problem here...).

Option 3 is called "School kindergarten", and is much like the Transitional First Grade ~d mentioned in the comments a few weeks ago, "basically 1st grade, but with more coloring". This was our favorite option, but it's essentially redshirting - for kids who are the right age for first grade but not socially ready yet - which meant he didn't strictly qualify. We applied anyway, but after my last meeting with Mrs, we decided the change might be bad for him, and it was probably just as well that he probably wouldn't get in.

So the last choice, and probably the most likely, would be that he would spend another year in this same group, same teachers, same room, most of the same kids. Because he's familiar with the protocol there, and part of a community, and yadda yadda. Which would be good if continuity is what he needs, but bad if something in this constellation is causing his behavior problems. A tricky dilemma, made just a little easier by the fact that this was probably the only option open to us.

Until today. Mrs told me that the school-kindergarten told her they probably had a place for Gus. Whoosh. I told her I would discuss it with DrBob, talk to her tomorrow (which is my day to visit the kindergarten), consult with his ergotherapist, and make a decision in a few days. About a half an hour later, the school-kindergarten called me, and they want a decision NOW. And DrBob is not awake. And when he gets up he'll need ten minutes to brush his teeth, and then he'll want coffee and then he'll have to check the basketball scores, and I neeeeeed to discuss this with someone but I can't yet. So I'll just have to sit here and twitch for like half an hour.

That's okay. I can twitch. Actually, I'm getting pretty good at it.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Eurovision final, finally

Sorry for the lack of Eurovision commentary on the Big Night. I spent all of yesterday trying to figure out a knotty PHP problem, and I was brain-dead by the time the Contest rolled around. Struck snarkless. Anyway, yes, they won, and a lot of people are ticked off, and calling them Orcs or Klingons, as if that were a bad thing. And calling for the return of jury-voting - apparently there is such a thing as too much democracy. Also, haters? Such a thing as too much spare time. Go do something useful.

For me, the bottom line is that Finland has been coming to the ESC for 44 years, and um, have tended not to do very, er, well. A lot of other countries flounced out, with less provocation, but Finland stuck it out, and I'm really glad they finally won. Also pleased that the sillyfun entries like Lithuania and Finland got so many votes, because maybe people are figuring out that you can love something and still laugh about it.

So here's the final ranking, with links to the performances, where the folks at YouTube were able to oblige. Well, that was the original plan, but I got bored after awhile. So here are the ones I thought you should see for one reason or another, and that I could find on YouTube. The ones in boldface qualified for the contest next year; the others will have to compete for the ten open places.

1. Finland (w00t!)
2. Russia (ew)
3. Bosnia & Herzegovina
4. Romania
5. Sweden
6. Lithuania
7. Ukraine
8. Armenia
9. Greece
10. Ireland

11. Turkey
12. FYR Macedonia
13. Croatia
14. Norway
15. Germany
16. Latvia
17. Switzerland
18. Denmark
19. United Kingdom
20. Moldova
21. Spain
22. France
23. Israel
24. Malta

And here's the freaky Polish thing with the epaulets.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Health and nutrition experts say that women with PMS should stay away from caffeine, alcohol, sodium, refined sugar and flour, red meat and dairy. And chocolate.

But they only say it from a safe distance.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Eurovision semifever

Since it's Friday, and I have to go slave over a hot database for eight hours and then teach a private English lesson with my confidence shattered after Wednesday's disastrous class and THEN take the train home because DrBob needs to stay in the city for a Saturday workshop on sodomy (I devoutly hope it will be all theory and no practice), I probably won't blog today. Oop, except I already have. Whoa.

So a couple items for filler: um, here's one...

What Is Your Battle Cry?

Sprinting out of the candy store, brandishing a jeweled meat hammer, cometh Alala! And she gives a low roar:

"You in some shit now, muhfuh! I shall fill the world with the stench of death!"

Find out!
Enter username:
Are you a girl, or a guy ?

created by beatings : powered by monkeys

It's a cute battle cry, but the two sentences are in completely different um, well, ways of speaking. I mean, I am fairly flexible, linguistically, but I don't usually switch codes mid-battle. I'm just sayin'.

Also, KimberlyDi said therapy's Not That Bad. Are you kidding? I get to talk about myself for a whole hour and the therapist HAS to listen. It's fantastic! In fact, most of my adult life has been a delicate negotiation: trying to act weird enough to convince people I need therapy, but not weird enough to have my kids taken away from me. This time I even managed to get a professional therapist to suggest it, and she thinks it was HER idea! Score! alala 1, therapist 0.

In other news, the Eurovision Semifinal was last night, and I wrote while I watched it, because sitting still is not, um, not one of my stronger skills. Judging from the paucity of comments on my previous Eurovision posts, I think I can safely say that no one besides me is interested in this. Hey, I understand. I'm used to it. Anyway, what follows is all Eurovision snark, so feel free to skip to the end if you're so inclined. Hah, like you even need my permission.

So the whole thing is hosted by Greece, since they won last year, and for the opening act, they have a medley of bad covers of previous winners, lip-synched by people dressed as various Greek gods. You have never seen anything so twee in your life, it totally looks like Amateur Drag Night in a very small town. Aaaand here come the, um contestants. The thing that always amazes me is that most of these people canNOT sing, and no one ever seems to notice.

Armenia. Unibrow Lenny Kravitz clone, and the sound is wretched. It's not just that he's a bad singer, though of course that is part of it. Creepy-weird bondage thing, his backup dancers tie him up and then turn into puppets.

Bulgaria. Oh look, she brought a portly Albino drag queen to yodel for her.

Slovenia. Obv inspired by George Michael. Meh. Boring.

Andorra. oh look, the backup dancers forgot to put their dresses on. Ooops, how embarrassing. The Romanian singer did that a few years ago. She got a lot of points from Spain, as I recall.

Belarus, right. Whoa. Looks like the 80s are coming back, but again with the forgetting to wear pants. I think last year's winner forgot her trousies too, as did um, what, the 2003 winner? The Ukrainian. People may have decided that's the key to victory.

Albania. Cool, kilts and bagpipes. Oh, righteous. Dude in the pom-pom socks is a-rockin'. The singer totally has that boy-heartthrob emoting-with-the-eyebrows vibe. Whatever, this is the least sucky so far, but hey, the night is young yet.

Ooo, Belgium. Oh right, Kate Ryan, big star here in Europe. I think she's boring as hell, but what do I know? Russia sent Tatu a few years ago, and they sucked swamp water, but they still came in second. Wow, that orange dress really makes her tan look fake.

Ireland. Apparently this guy is a big deal in Ireland, has played with Van Morrison and Ray Charles. Song's a sapfest, but okay. Also, I'm going to mug one of the backup singers and steal her dress.

Okay, Cyprus. Hmm, apparently worked as a backup singer for Britney Spears. Oh, no. Oh, no. Very unfortunate dress choice. Boobs are our friends, they don't deserve to have that done to them. Also? The song is horrid, horrid, horrid. Why Do the Angels Cry? I bet they'll stop if you quit singing.

Monaco - um, coco-dance. Or go-go dance? Whatever. Wholly unremarkable.

Macedonia. Oh dear. Are those...cutoffs? They really highlight her very um, sturdy legs. Such a pretty young woman, that's not the feature I'd have chosen to emphasize.

Poland. Sweet blithering Jesus, you have not seen epaulets like this on anything smaller than an elephant. Seriously. Giant epaulets. With tassels. They look like furniture.

Russia. Oh. Kay. Dude has a vibrato you could drive a truck through - holy fuck what the - ew! The pasty-white upper-half of a human just rose out of the piano! She's just sticking out, waving her arms around. That is so gross!

Turkey. Song called Superstar. Wow, that's some dandy tattoos, and I can't imagine the amount of bleach required to get her hair that color. Dressed like a trapeze artist, built like a biker chick, I think I'm in love. Oh yeah. Song is not great, but I don't care.

Ukraine. A student, um, aeronautics, I think the German announcer-guy said. Okay, cute and all, but what the hell is with the jump rope?

Oh, wow. Finland. The Monster Metal band. "They look extremely unappetizing," says the announcer, and suggests that small children should be sent out of the room. Awww, now that's cute. They do look like their usual charming selves, with the claws and leather and decaying flesh and all, but the singer's wearing a cute little Finnish-flag top hat. Right, I'd already decided to vote for these guys, because I'm hoping they'll get to the final and eat the German group.

Holland. Three shouting blondes with big bongos. No, really, they're sitting on drums, and whacking away while they shout. Um. How, uh, how very novel. DrBob says this seems much longer than the other songs. He's right.

Lithuania. Oh right, the super group. Lithuania gathered its 6 most popular singers and boodged them into a super group. The song appears to be titled "We Are the Winners of Eurovision," and is being sung to the tune of that old playground favorite, "Neener neener neeeener". One of the singers looks like an ex-boyfriend of mine (Hi Brice!). Another looks like Viggo Mortensen. Hmm. Oddly, I like these guys more than DrBob and Ignatz do.

Portugal had a televised Big Brother type elimination show thing to choose their entry. They can't sing, can't dance, and are horrid. DrBob likes the one with the foofy feathered back-half-of-a-skirt, that's alarming.

Sweden. Oh gee, another Abba ripoff, they don't do that, oh, every year.

Estonia. Nice, uh, superhero outfit.

Bosnia and Herzegovina. At it again with the soulful traditional thing. I actually usually like these, but I think I'm the only one. Seriously.

Iceland. The Cyndi Lauper knockoff. Well no, that's not fair to Cyndi Lauper, who can sing quite well. But here's an imitator of her Girls-Just-Wanna-Have-Fun persona. Quite dreadful, up until the two guys in fringed pajamas ripped off their trous to reveal silver-sequinned boxies. Hee. Didn't make up for the bad singing, though.

Okay so find all the phones in the house and vote on each one, even DrBob's, I'll just place a vote for him heh heh; weird performance-art time-killer thing to watch while they count the votes; mucho stalling from sorority-girl presenter who needs to be slapped; and here are the ten qualifiers, in no particular order so as not to geek the final vote on Saturday...

- Russia. With the zombie piano chick. Major ooky.
- Macedonia. Um, which was that? Oh right, with the cutoffs.
- BosHerz! Oh good, I wanted them to do well.
- Lithuania. The football song, the announcer says. Heee, that's funny, it does sound like something they'll be shouting in stadiums for the next ten years.
- HAGH! Finland! Wooot!
- Ukraine
- Ireland
- Sweden
- Turkey! Oh good, now DrBob can see who he voted for.
- Armenia. Armenia? WTF?

So there you have it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A Wednesday

English class tonight, and I tanked. Apparently one does not automatically get better with practice. I shall have to figure out how the better-getting process works, preferably before next week. Actually, before Friday, which is my lesson with Mr.Z

Bleah. Setback. Demoralizing. Depressing. Oh, speaking of depressing, I met with Ignatz's therapist today. She suggested that I might benefit from therapy myself. Heh.

Song du jour of the day = Code Monkey, by Jonathan Coulton. Because there aren't any songs about geeky ESL teachers.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Socks Always Fit

Did you see that movie, um, In Her Shoes, I think it was? About two sisters, played by Toni Colette and Cameron Diaz (I am such a sucker, ever since Muriel's Wedding I will see anything with Toni Colette in it. I saw a horror movie - I hate horror movies - because she was in it) anyway. Where was I? Oh, she has this little speech about how she buys shoes when she's depressed(*) because clothes never look right, food just maker her fatter, and "shoes always fit."

Anyway. I wandered into the Outlet store here in OurTown, and found: Levis. For €20. On the size 36 rack, which is my size. 501s, wooo! Usually run €80-120 here, even more in the city, so you can imagine my little happy-dance. I also found the sheer embroidered tunic of my dreams. They're all over the place right now, but there was always one wrong thing about all the others. Not this time, though. This was the perfect shirt.

Well. Trying on the jeans made me realize just how blobulous I've become since I quit the gym. And the shirt was at an outlet store because it has two rips in the back. There was another one, with a slight stain where the buttons rusted and the rust got on the shirt, but if I wore it, it would just look like I'd spilled coffee down my front - an entirely plausible scenario.

But I did buy three pairs of cotton argyle socks.

(* Not that I'm depressed. Well, I wasn't until I walked into a store containing cheap Levis and the perfect shirt, and walked out with argyle socks.)

Totally off-topic: this is just fascinating, although I may be the only one in the room who thinks so. It's an article about the process of designing a database for the Old English Newsletter bibliography, written by a non-techie who had to learn it... well, pretty much the way I did.

Song du jour of the day: Every Song is a Cry for Love, by Brian Kennedy. Ireland's contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest (this WEEK! Hooo-rah!). Watch the video. See him hug his guitar. Think "Duuuude" in a Jon Stewart voice.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Two Things

Musicwise, I sent off my Mixmania CD today. I am now paralyzed with self-doubt. It's not really evil enough, it's boring, it's stupid, it's horrible. The process was plagued with such technical troubles that 1) DrBob had to burn the CD for me, and 2) He's seriously talking about buying a new computer for me, a year and a month before I'm due (every 3 years = tax deductible). Wow. Anyway, I got it done, and sent it off. I hope the person who gets it doesn't despise me completely. Or if she does, I hope at least that she doesn't say so on her blog.

And bookwise, I may have found something. I wrote awhile ago about the difficulty of finding really good books to keep Ignatz engaged in reading. He has a phenomenal talent with language, I've never seen anything like it, but this talent has to be fed with cracking stories by brilliant people who love language. This is difficult, there are a lot of really great premises out there, brought to near-life by mediocre wordsmiths like Mary Pope Osborne and Holly Black and even Lemony Snicket. There are also a lot of brilliant wordsmiths who write books that are just too creepy for an eleven-year-old. Barbara Hambly is one. I've never been a big Stephen King fan, but he may be one as well. So anyway, I buy a lot of kids' books, trying to find the Right Stuff, the perfect combination of style and substance. Eoin Colfer and Philip Pullman are almost, but only Almost. (DrBob asks: are there any kids' books that aren't fantasy? alala replies: hellifiknow, it's all I read from age ten until... um, college, I think.)

So here's a good one: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie. Yeah, him. Which creates one foreseeable problem, as this is Rushdie's only children's book, as far as I know. And Ignatz is really not ready for the Satanic Verses. Hm. I wonder if Umberto Eco wrote anything for kids.

And the song du jour of the day. Bound in a Nutshell, by the Lightning Seeds.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Network Neutrality

Ummm, yeah. I generally try not to tell people what to do or think (and it's even harder than you imagine, because I'm really bossy) but um, I'm about to. Because if you use the internet, and you want to decide which sites you visit, instead of letting AT&T or Verizon decide for you? You probably want to give your senators and representatives a call or an email or something. Mine don't seem to be supporting it, and I'll be writing to ask them why tomorrow. There's also a petition you can sign over here. If my explanation wasn't comprehensive enough, and you need more of a reason than Because I Said So, there's a Network Neutrality primer here, though that's a bit wordy. You might prefer to Ask a Ninja! He breaks it down fairly well.

But seriously, folks. If you're American, and you're here reading this, then this issue probably affects you, and there's a lot of money on the other side of it, so your voice counts.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Fridays you get nothin', usually, because I have to get up early and go work in the city and don't usually get back till late. But here are my (very cool!) interview questions from ~d and their answers.

1. Which character do you most identify with in the movie The Princess Bride and why?
Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. I just love that he planned that speech for twenty years and then when he finally got his chance to say it, he said it like fifty times. That was so cool. I use it in place of "Hello World" in scripts. I love how down-to-earth he is: "There's not a lot of money in revenge." And even though I never got around to learning how to wave a sword around, I still want to, and he's why. Such a gentleman. Such grace. Such style. I wonder if I could get an outfit like that...

2. Where did you first hear Tom Waits and what memories are connected with that time of your life?
I was dating a real asshole, named Keith. Kelly probably remembers him. It was toward the end of our relationship when I wandered over to his house for some reason and Please Call Me, Baby was playing in another room. I didn't ask at the time, but I searched high and low for the song thereafter, and couldn't find it. This was before the internet, if you can believe it, around 1990. I finally swallowed my irritated pride and called Keith (from the phone hanging outside of Kelly's dorm, that you were only supposed to use to call a resident to get them to come down and let you in, but I used it for pretty much all my telephoning needs) to find out who and what that music was, and as soon as he told me I hung up on him. I think that was the last time I ever called him, actually.

3. You like R.E.M. Do you like Natalie Merchant? Were she and Michael Stipe ever involved? Name two R.E.M. songs that come to mind.
a. yes I do, she has a lovely voice.
b. St. Google says they were.
c. Fall On Me is my favorite. What's the Frequency, Kenneth is my second favorite. At the moment.

4. Have you seen the movie Pecker? Do you know what Full of Grace means? If no, then what was the first 'rated R' movie you remember seeing?
Nope, never saw it, sorry. Full of Grace makes me think of the Sarah MacLachlan song. First R-rated, was Gremlins R-rated?

5. There was a saying "your mama wears combat boots" How would this apply to you, your life both past and present?
I'm that mama. I've lightened up considerably and my latest pair of Doc Martens is red, but I've been a Sensible (meaning, "I can kick your ass in these") Shoes kinda gal all my life. Cowboy rain-boots notwithstanding.


And a follow-up on the Sniglet spitting blood after I brushed his teeth: yeah, it looked pretty horrible, but it turns out (following one panicked call to the dentist) that his six-year molars are coming in, that's all. A freakish event for me, because Ignatz got his with zero fanfare. At some point he mentioned that he already had them, and that was the first I knew of it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

that's what I get for volunteering

This meme is from Kelly over at I Hate Cows. Post a comment, and I’ll give you a letter. You then write 10 things starting with that letter, explaining why. I signed up, and she gave me the letter Z, can you believe that? Are there even ten words that begin with Z? They have to be English words, right?
  1. Zounds! I used to like archaic, um, exclamations like this. Also Ye Gods and Gadzooks. I used them in high school, which might have contributed somewhat to my reputation as a pretentious bitch.
  2. Zoos. Make me sad. But I love to see the animals, so I go anyway. Even though the zoo people do their best (with, ahem, sadly limited funds) to make the environment as comfortable as possible for them, it's a wretched existence. I also know that even though they are unhappy, this is their best chance for survival, because their normal habitats are shrinking every day to feed human greed. This makes me even sadder.
  3. Zero. What a brilliant concept. Apparently the Indians had it first, but the Arabs brought it to Europe in the 11th century. Yet another priceless contribution from Arab culture. Bet they wish they could take it back and make us all do math with Xs and Ls again, after all the Clash of Civilizations bullshit of the last few years.
  4. Zodiac. Skeptical, me, but it's so handy for basic programming exercises. Somewhere out there in the internets I have a script that'll tell you how many of you it takes to change a light bulb, based on your sign.
  5. Zipper. Was invented by a Swede. Occasionally I try to use this as evidence that we (Swedes) are smarter than DrBob and his Germans, but it doesn't usually fly. I'm not really all that Swedish anyway, it's just a bigger percentage than any of my other components.
  6. Zonker. Totally my hero, and definitely the Doonesbury character I identify with the most.
  7. Zaragoza. A city in Spain. I've never been there, but I guess I have to go, now that I've gone and put it on my list.
  8. Zoot suit. Still waiting for these to come back into style, as I think they are teh sexy.
  9. Umm, Zebras. Are they white with black stripes, or black with white stripes? Oh hell, who cares?
  10. Zazzafooky. Check her out. She thought she was turning 35 too, and was just as wrong as you were! Hah, that's whatcha get for giving me such a difficult letter! Nyaah, nyaah.

just in case...

Maybe I should clarify something, after a brief but huffy discussion with DrBob: if he thought I was saying that all women have to be mothers, some of you all might have heard it that way too. But no, that's not what I meant.

I didn't mean to imply that all women want to or should have kids, not at all. Of course there are women, in Germany as well as everywhere else, who simply don't want to be moms, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it's nowhere near 30%. I'm arguing for the women who do want to have kids, but are not given the option, for whatever reason, and then get called lazy for it.

That's all.

yet another "authority" says German women are too selfish to procreate

Oooo-kay. Social Science is essentially the branch of the sciences that studies human behavior, individually and in groups. Because humans are such a diverse and unpredictable bunch, Social Science isn't as ... well, it's not quite as science-y as the hard sciences like chemistry and physics - you can't isolate humans the way you can isolate protons for study. You can't isolate facts about humans either.

But they sure do try, don't they? It's one of my pet peeves about economists, for instance, that they study human behavior without ever actually considering the properties of humans. So they make pronouncements on how 'workers' or 'markets' should behave, without regard to the fact that workers and consumers are also uh, dang, what's that word? Oh right - people. For instance, that it's often necessary for a business to fire workers, or freeze their wages, to remain competitive, and the workers should accept that, and be flexible. The fact that workers need to eat (for which they need money) is simply not a factor in their theories. But it is an inflexible property of humans, and so the theories are bunk.

So here's a psychologist for you, a professor at the University of Washington, expounding on German women without regard to what factors are influencing their decisions. He has an article in the L.A. Times that is subtitled: "Why are 30% of German women choosing to go childless? Free will, baby."

Wow. The term "free will" really trivializes the sacrifices you have to make in order to have children here. As I mentioned before, having children means choosing "housewife" as your career. In a country where taxes are high, and prices are high, raising a family on one income is becoming more and more difficult, since businesses need to stay competitive. Housewives here are battling for respect from both men and feminists, just as they are in the U.S. It is not a glamorous career choice. It's not a financially sound one, either. I'm trying to enter the workforce at 35, and I already know that even if I get a job this fall, I will never be able to retire. I started too late to save enough.

Of course we who have children know that they are totally worth it, and we'd do it again in a heartbeat, but you don't know that until you have kids, do you? So you can't really expect women to take that into account when they're trying to reach a decision.

He also mentions that "child-wariness...rises from 30% to more than 40% among German women who are college graduates" without noting that in Germany, a "college graduate" has a Master's degree at minimum - University here is more or less equivalent to grad school in the States. That is a critical distinction, because it changes the meaning of the sentence considerably. You don't get a Master's degree so you can spend the rest of your life scrubbing toilets.

Moreover, why is it always about the women? I realize that my immediate acquaintance does not represent a valid statistical sample, and I have no scientific data to back this up, but among the people I know, it's invariably the women who agitate to have a(nother) baby, and the men who say "not yet" and "we can't afford it" and "wait till I've advanced to the next step in my career."

So I'm frustrated. Because this guy is a psychologist, and therefore an "authority", and he's being irresponsible and people will read that and believe him. Argh.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

more about the Sniglet

HUGE DRAMA-QUEEN SIGH okay. I guess some clarification on the kindergarten thing would be advisable here.

A first thing you should know is that "kindergarten" in German is actually daycare, more or less. (It's far more structured than American daycare of course - after all, we're talking about something run by Germans.) So if I say he has to go for another year, it's not because he flunked, it's because his late-October birthday makes him too young to start first grade this year.

A second thing is this: when Ignatz was being all ADD, and we were having to talk to his teachers all the time, other people were all "oh pishtosh, all kids forget things and act out occasionally." Here's the thing about that. When a teacher has 17 boys in her class and she tells you yours is being a problem, you can be fairly sure that his behavior is not just normal boy-behavior. That's the assumption we're making with the Sniglet: his teacher sees kids that age all day every day. If she says there's a problem, there's a problem. Actually, that's the assumption I'm making. DrBob is um...resisting.

So the problem. We know he's moody as hell. Lately he's apparently being aggressive, like wrestly- and hitting-aggressive, and not in a friendly way. She asked me for this conference because the rest of the class is turning against him, and she's running out of ideas. She suggested judo, as a way to work off some of the aggression. So did the ergotherapist he sees at kindergarten on Wednesdays.

The ergotherapist suggested that um, six months ago, and we haven't done anything about it. In general, things that involve calling Germans on the phone are DrBob's department, but apparently things that involve the children are suddenly exclusively my department, so even though he said he'd call the Judo people after Christmas in the Spring tomorrow, it emerged today that all this time he's been expecting me to call them. And that epiphany led to the suspicion (if by suspicion you understand "certain knowledge based on actual historical precedent") that I'll be the one to go gear-shopping and attend all the practices and matches and everything, and: Judo is wrestling. I hate wrestling. I hate everything about it. Icko.

So I'm thinking about sticking him in karate. Ignatz too, because he has to pick another sport now that he's given up on hockey, and it'd make my life easier to take two kids to one practice per week. I mentioned karate over dinner, and DrBob, who, let us remember, will not be contributing any time or effort whatsoever to this endeavor - not even to make one phone call - feels that judo would be the better choice. He gets to make the decisions, and then I have to do all the work? Um, yeah, I'm gonna have to go with "I don't fucking think so" for 500, Alex.

SIGH. And little Mr Negative got all grouchy and said he didn't want to do karate OR judo and he would hate me forever, even though he doesn't really know what they are. So then, to clarify, I made him stand up, and I punched him in the chest and said "karate's like that", and then I wrestled him to the floor and said "and judo's like this.* So which do you want to do?" And he jumped up with a big grin and said "BOTH!"

*Gimme a break, you have to explain things in simple terms to a five-year-old.

And before you even start, because I know some of you want to: this is a small town. No kung fu, no tae kwon do, no aikido, no tai chi, not even tae bo. I'm sure you know of something much better, but we don't have that. Just karate and judo.

SO I'm going to make that stupid phone call tomorrow, and start both my kids in karate next week, and we'll move the Sniglet to judo after awhile if it seems like a good idea. And if I can get someone else to take him to practice.

Oh yay, one more thing to have to remember every week.

Song du jour of the day is Rock the Casbah, by the Clash.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Hate Everything.

Bleah. Conference with kindergarten teacher. Bleah. Apparently the Sniglet is not just annoying, he is catastrophically so, and in need of intervention. Am I in the mood for this? No I am not. We just got our Ignatz repaired and now the auxiliary unit's on the fritz.

Oh well, I guess it just goes to show you, it's always something.

Song du jour of the day: Watch Your Step, by Elvis Costello.

Monday, May 08, 2006


DrBob is home again (home again), and my brief experiment in Making It On My Own has ended. In his absence, I managed to leave the stove on under the coffeepot (we have one of those stovetop espresso thingies) while I left the house. I was stupid about the car. The Sniglet's kindergarten teacher wants a conference because he's been acting like a turkey. He needs to go to the dentist because after I brushed his teeth he spat blood. I put orange juice in my coffee. I geeked out on my homework and did twice as much as necessary. (No, since you're wondering, I did not have any friends in high school, and thank you for bringing up such a painful subject. ) I put the kids' play-tent outside and then had to run and rescue it before it blew into the street (high winds lately). I spent almost the whole drive to the airport today stuck behind slow, gigantic trucks, right up until the point when I got lost.

So. I think I did pretty well! But I'm still glad he's home.

Song du jour of the day: The Lucky One. Mary Lou Lord.

For James

The Germans have an inhuman way of cutting up their verbs. Now a verb has a hard time enough of it in this world when it's all together. It's downright inhuman to split it up. But that's just what those Germans do. They take part of a verb and put it down here, like a stake, and they take the other part of it and put it away over yonder like another stake, and between these two limits they just shovel in German.
-- Mark Twain

Sunday, May 07, 2006

just this

Nothing to report except for a day of perfect weather, so here's a filler-anecdote.

Disclaimer: I do not laugh at people who make mistakes in a foreign language. Living in another language is really hard, and anyone brave enough to try it gets an A for effort. But languages are tricksy, mistakes will get made, and while I don't laugh at the people who make them, the mistakes themselves are occasionally entertaining.

So the main train station in Munich has a Burger King. Since it's in a travel hub, it gets a lot of foreign customers. Once when I was there with Ignatz, I heard a young American guy order a Whopper "mit zunehmen". Yeah, prepositions are a bitch. What he wanted was "zum mitnehmen" - to take with. What he said he wanted was a Whopper with weight gain. Haw.

Song du jour of the day: the Pogues' Bottle of Smoke. The song that taught my four-year-old to say "Twenty-fucking-five to one, me gambling days are done..."

Saturday, May 06, 2006

the Descent

So once upon a time I was telling Mrs Next Door about what I hoped to achieve with my Database Administration course, and I wrapped it up by saying "...and it'll probably make me even more conversationally awkward than I already am!" and she said "That's kind of what I was thinking." Well, lo and behold, we were right.

I've spent the last six hours or so on this:
1. Write one query that uses a function from each of the following functional types:
     1. String functions
     2. Mathematical functions
     3. Date functions
     4. Grouping functions (aggregate functions)

2. Write two SQL statements that use joins, either INNER or OUTER joins as you choose. Include a description of what each SQL statement is doing, and what the results of each SQL statement should be.
I did about twice as much work as the assignment called for because it was Just! So! FUN! Every time a query worked I got to do a little happy dance, and the hours just flew by! I was so mad when my computer ran out of battery juice and shut down while I was in the middle of a query and I lost some of my work. But then I was happy because it meant I got to do it again!

I definitely need to think about getting some kind of therapy.

The song du jour of the day, therefore, is the Jesus and Mary Chain's Halfway to Crazy, even though I think I passed the halfway mark some time ago.

Speaking of fixing cars...

Aw, jeez. The oil light in the car was on. So I pulled the lever that popped the hood, and I opened it and propped it up with that little stick-thing - see, I'm not totally helpless. But that's about as far as I got. Ignatz had to find the dip stick for me. Then there was no mark showing how much oil should be in there, though there was a notch to show how low is too low. The oil mark was right at the notch. That will be important later.

I found the oil in the garage, too! I'm so good! Um. Gee, there's a lot of tanky-looking ... things where you might put motor oil. I do know that putting the oil in the wrong hole would be bad. So I tiptoed over to Mrs Next Door, who was in her back yard with a lot of big, manly men (okay, two big manly men, Mr Next Door and another guy) and asked her if she happened to know where to put the oil, and she said "I know for MY car..." Which, let me hasten to mention, I knew too, for our last car. AND the one before that. But this one ... well, I haven't gotten around to learning that. (In two years.) So before I could stop her she scampered over to the manly-man who was not her husband, who oh joy happens to be a mechanic - exactly the sort you want to flaunt your incompetence at - and asked him to help me.

Worst of all. After he'd shown me which cap to unscrew, he checked the dip stick and said "you don't need oil. See that notch there? That shows how much oil there should be, and you're fine."

So. I went all helpless and girly and ruffled and pink FOR NOTHING!

Bad feminist! Bad! No chocolate!

edit: Avatar changed to reflect my new status as Girly-Belle McFluffie.

Friday, May 05, 2006

MEME-ries, like the corners of my house...

Okay, but after this I really am going to do my homework. Really.

I am the luckiest person ever, anywhere.
I want eveyone to be happy.
I wish I could fix cars.
I hate self-righteousness.
I fear that I may be self-righteous.
I hear the Jesus and Mary Chain, at the moment.
I wonder about everything.
I am not sure about this meme.
I dance in the kitchen. All the time.
I cry when the hormones hit, even if there is nothing to cry about. Yay for PMS!
I am not always complaining, it just seems like it.
I make with my hands sweaters and hats.
I write too fast, sloppily.
I confuse people with my sense of humor.
I need reminding.
I start waaaaay more things than I finish
I finish ...uh, let me get back to you on that...
I tag you, Lurky McLurken! That's whatcha get for reading my blog and not commenting, hah!

Song du Jour of the Day is Aretha Franklin: Are You Sure?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

speaking of duh...

I went to put more milk in my coffee just now, but the fake-orange-juice carton looks so similar to the milk carton that I... yes. I did. I put orange-juice-drink in my coffee. Not even real orange juice, which would be equally gross but somehow... healthier... when I poured it down the drain... um. Okay, not sure where I was going with that.

On one hand, I probably shouldn't be drinking coffee at 10 pm anyway? On the other hand, I think this incident clearly shows that I need it.

Song du jour of the day is from They Might Be Giants: Dinner Bell.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

see? I read my comments!

Hm, ~d wants to know why we live here. Hm. In concrete terms it would be because when DrBob finished his Ph.D and we had a new baby and he really, really needed a job, he found it here. His family is also here, and we wanted the kids to know their grandparents and extended family and to have a concept of 'family' that's bigger than just the people in one household.

In more general terms, though, I like it here because it's kind of ... more even. Nobody gets to be Paris Hilton here, but nobody gets to be that homeless veteran who panhandles in the subway station either. Some people have more money than others, but the difference that makes is in your comfort level, not your survival. When you're poor here, it means you don't get to go on vacations or drive a nice car. Poor in America means trying to treat your son's broken arm yourself because you don't have health insurance and can't afford the emergency room fees. Not only do I not want to be in that situation, I don't have a lot of respect for a culture that thinks it's okay for other people to be there. There are some really great things about the U.S., things I miss a whole lot, but um, that is not one of them.

So what this even-ness means for women in the workplace is that we are all in more or less the same boat, and when a solution is found, we will all be able to make use of it - not just the rich and privileged women. There are a lot more options for childcare in the States right now, but the good ones are only for people who can afford them, and I don't think that's fair. And I don't like injustice, even when I benefit from it, which is most of the time.

Did you see Landismom's comment on the 20-hour work week? Man, that is the best idea I've heard in a long time.

Also, I survived another ESL class tonight. I might actually learn not to dread them so, if I can get some lesson-planning fu.

Song du jour of the day? Apropos of nothing, I've just been listening to it recently, The Neville Brothers: A Change is Gonna Come.

more about it

That was actually just a snapshot, because I didn't want to go on and on and on, but the list of laws, traditions, and attitudes that keep women "in their place" here is very, very long.

Questions from cmhl:
what is the rationale behind having the kids get out of school at different times? it seems that that would be a logistical nightmare for the parents!

It is. It's not just different times at different ages, either. In first grade, Ignatz got out at 11:15 except on Fridays, when he got out at 12:15. In second grade, he had two long days and three short. They work up to the 1:00 gradually, and actually, for the first half of this year, he had to go back to school on Mondays from 2:30-4. For art class. The rationale is that Mama's home anyway, all the time, so why would it matter when the kids get home?

do they have after-school care, if there IS a working mother?
There's something called Hort that one single mom I know used in Munich. I think you have to pay for it, though, and as far as I know, it's not available in my town. The other single mom I know simply didn't work until she found another husband. Uh. Actually, "simply" is not the word I want there.

Not everyone is stuck. There are those one or two exceptions that make people say "See? It's not impossible." It's like the Condoleezza Rice thing, oo, look how well Republicans treat Black women! Um, no, just that one.

I do know a mom who works as a translator - from home. And I work. Sort of. I teach one English class a week, that nets me €20 if everybody shows up. I used to be a webmaster, and I did that from home. DrBob hustled that job for me, there's no way they would have hired me if he hadn't nagged them for a year. I work one day a week in Munich, but I only got the job because a friend of DrBob's needed something very specific, and he knew I was qualified because he's known me for ten years. Even so, I couldn't do it without the free unlimited babysitting from the World's Greatest Mother-in-Law. So yeah, some women find ways around the restrictions, but only if we're massively lucky, which I am. And the work I do has earned me pin-money, and kept me with one foot in the labor market (just try finding a job with a 12-year hole in your resumé), but it doesn't add up to a job-job.

I'm looking for a job-job, but those are mostly in Munich. If we move to Munich, we're too far from the mother-in-law, so I could only work part-time. If I only work part-time, we can't afford to live in Munich.

On the other hand. No, not the other hand where it's okay to treat women so shabbily, there's never any excuse for that. I mean the hand that considers the kids. I went to American schools, 8am to 3pm, and I remember hour after hour of pointless busy-work, soul-crushing boredom, social Darwinism on the playground... I'm not sure if all-day school is good for kids. However, not even a part-time job will accommodate a 3-hour school day. Some kind of attempt to find a middle ground would be so nice.

As I understand it, based on a women's studies course I took for my Social Science degree, and reading the occasional newspaper article, the Swedish social model assumes that women want to work just like men, and makes that possible by providing lots and lots of daycare, so you never even have to see your kids awake, if you don't want to. The French model, on the other hand, seems to assume that women want to stay home with their kids, so they basically pay them to do that. The German model appears to make a similar assumption, but addresses it by paying a working man enough to support a housewife and a few kids, which of course falls apart as soon as you put a deadbeat dad in the equation. It's also falling apart on a national scale now, as companies battle for the right to freeze wages, fire workers at will, move operations to more "business-friendly" countries, cut job benefits and refuse to hire people with families.

And the German government is trying like hell to become more business-friendly, while whining about why aren't people having kids and how can we get them to have more kids while taking away their job security and health insurance and blah de blah. Like I said in the last post: DUH!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Mommy Wars in Germany

So yeah, the thing I've been saying I would write about. An annoying, yet unavoidable and ubiquitous problem. Especially because everyone's all wringing their hands about Germany's falling fertility rates. Well, duh. But then there was an article in Time (the European version), and then Landismom mentioned it, and thus I was reminded of the irksome thing I'd been taking for granted.

The Situation With Women is just part of the daily reality around here, and we all accept it because we have no choice: we have kids, therefore we don't have jobs, aside from selling Avon or Tupperware or something, and this is true throughout Germany. It's not just the second-shift situation that so many American women face, where they have to work so much harder than men. There is so much prejudice here that we don't even have the opportunity to work harder. Employers aren't willing to work around mothers' schedules, which are impossible anyway. Aside from the vast number of arbitrary holidays, kids get out of school at 11 in first grade, at 1 in fifth grade, and they can't legally be home alone until they're 12. That's right. You have a kid, you are basically banned from working for twelve. Years.

Companies have to provide maternity benefits for female employees. They don't have to hire women, though, and many choose not to for just that reason. This is legal here. Many aren't even willing to hire childless women because who knows? She might get pregnant.

And this is what really bugs me, and what isn't being said aloud. Women in Germany, much more than in the States, have to choose between motherhood and a career, yes. But very often that choice is not even in our hands. To choose motherhood, you have to find a man who is willing to support you and some kids. To choose a career, you have to find someone (usually a man) who is willing to hire you. There are fewer and fewer of both kinds of men around, so even women who want to play that game are caught in a double-bind.

So now a government study (referenced here) has come out that says German women are lazy. Apparently we spend less time doing housework than any other women in Europe. Oh cool, that's just what we needed, a rousing game of blame-the-victim.

Yeah, we don't do a lot of housework. We spend a lot of time on leisure activities because we're just killing time. We could be working at job-jobs, you know, outside the house. We're just waiting for someone to give us a chance.

... crickets chirping ...



...I have been writing actually. Technically. I've just been writing stuff like this:
SELECT filename, date FROM Photo WHERE photogID=4 ORDER BY date;
SELECT filename FROM Photo WHERE camID=5;
SELECT filename FROM Photo WHERE kb < 600 AND date > '2004-01-01';
UPDATE Photo SET camID=7 WHERE photogID=3;
DELETE FROM Photo WHERE filename LIKE 'Sundo%';
INSERT INTO PhoComapny (phoCoName, address, city, st, zip) VALUES ('Lightwise','360-5th St','Weed','CA','96094');

Homework. Due Sunday, turned in today. Yeah, you wish you could be as cool as me. Pfff, NOT.

I just found this, and it made me laugh.

So now I need to get tomorrow's lesson planned, and DrBob wants to beat rush hour, and I need him to print out my lesson stuff at the office, so I have maybe four hours to get that done. Last lesson took me, oh, maybe 12 hours to plan, altogether. Best get cracking then, eh?

Did I mention DrBob is leaving for Kalamazoo tomorrow?

Song du jour of the day: The Pixies, Where is my Mind?