Friday, December 29, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The first pic is my husband's closet before. The dingy white walls and ceiling just weren't cute. The one closet rod you see in the picture is all there was to hang clothes so there was a lot of wasted space. The after pictures shows the closet with the wall painted. I mixed 2 quarts of sample paint that I got when I was trying to pick a color for the wainscot to get the color for the wall...Benjamin Moore's Scenic Desert and Subtle Ivory. My husband has yet to put up his new shelving but, I'll post some pics when he does that.
Here are some pictures of the sink cabinets. I eventually chose a Benjamin Moore color called Ladyfinger to paint the cabinets and the wainscot but depending on how the light hits it, I'm having a love/hate relationship with my color choice. I'll wait and see how it looks when the whole bathroom is done. The second picture shows the wainscot that we already applied around the toilet painted in the same Ladyfinger color. We wanted to continue the color all around the bathroom so we chose to paint the cabinets the same color. Somehow, the color looks different to me on the wainscot than on the cabinets. Perhaps because the cabinets were previously painted white and the wainscot was bare wood that was primed before the paint was applied. Maybe a couple more coats will cure that. We'll see. The last picture is a close up of the pulls I chose.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Nevertheless, the constant struggle between what I want to do and my overwhelming sense of obligation and commitment has made this decision difficult. I have already made a commitment with this company to be there on this day at a certain time and by golly, I will be there even though I know it is a complete waste of time. Mine and theirs. It seems like a no brainer when I really think about it but I know that if I cancel this interview, I will feel bad about not keeping my commitment and when I am having a really bad day at work, I will wonder what could have been if I had just gone on that interview.
The good news is that since I really don't want the job, I won't feel pressured to go in there and act like Ms. Perfect. It will be a lot easier to be myself. I'm not writing down questions to ask and I'm not memorizing the company's last annual statement.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
I finally stopped taking the pills in 2000. But did the weight come off? Noooo. Of course not. I won't even bother going through all of the things that I have tried over the years to lose weight. I finally found success in 2001 when I started Somersizing. Somersizing is basically a food combining diet that Suzanne Somers has turned into a money making business. The concept is certainly not new (most diet books aren't) but Suzanne writes the books as though she invented this way of eating. I checked out "Eat, Cheat, and Melt the Fat Away" from the library, read it, and copied the basics of the diet and some of the recipes that I liked. The diet worked like a dream. I lost 10 pounds the first month and steadily lost about 4 pounds a month after that until I reached 130 from a high of 169. My goal was 125 but my body decided it liked 130 and would not budge for about 3 months until I just gave up and decided to stop obsessing about those last 5 pounds.
Of course, I got a little lax. About a month after I hit 130, I went on vacation to my home so that my husband could see where I grew up. It was so wonderful being home again and of course I indulged in every dish the locals had to offer. I had not been back in almost 10 years and didn't realize how much I missed it. I'm getting misty just writing about it. I got back from vacation 6 pounds heavier. It was only a 5 day vacation so I gained a little over a pound a day. No cause for alarm. I could just get back on the wagon and lose those 6 pounds in no time. Hah! It was all down hill from there.
My vacation was in September so the holidays were around the corner. On top of that, In January 2003, we decided to move. Once everything was packed up, that was all the excuse I needed to eat everything I shouldn't. After all, my pots and pans were packed away and I couldn't cook. Successful Somersizing requires that you cook and plan your meals ahead of time. By the time December 2003 rolled around, I weighed 143. I decided then that I needed to seriously lose those 13 pounds and get back down to 130. I was also quite flabby from losing those 40 pounds so I decided to start exercising.
I have no idea why (actually, yes I do :-) I got the urge to start writing about my dieting saga but I will have to continue this another day. It's getting longer than I expected.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
TO PROTECT THE TRADITIONS OF FISHING AND HUNTING.
Senate Resolution No. 67
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to provide that the tradition of fishing and hunting and the taking of fish and wildlife be preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good?
Apparently, someone thinks that Southern traditions like hunting and fishing need Constitutional protection. This just shows that 99% of Georgia is nothing but a bunch of rednecks.
Monday, October 30, 2006
"It's my grandmother's fault...and my mother's too. When I was growing up, that was their justification for everything. You can't go out wearing that, you can't date that person, you can't not go to church, blah blah blah. Why? Always because of what people will think. Now my life is dominated by that thought. What will people think? As I've grown older, I realize that most people aren't thinking of me at all and this is really pressure that I am putting on myself and projecting onto others. Much the same way my mother and grandmother projected their self inflicted pressure onto us and others. Realizing what the problem is is the easy part. Undoing 33 years of conditioning is going to take some work."
Of course, my uncreative butt could not think of 43 things. So far I only have 7. Some of which are interrelated so it's still really one goal even though I've tried to stretch it into more. I am so lame.
Stop caring what other people think of me
write my autobiography
remodel/redecorate my house
landscape my yard
find a career I love
Become an Esthetician
Monday, October 16, 2006
"Your article is still flooding me with past anger I have toward corporate America's hiring practices. You touched on it lightly but that is the real reason these kids are not able to sufficiently pay back their loans. Although I did not rack up any college debt, I have been a victim of their hiring tactics and different discriminations. I would have also argued, this is the biggest reason education ought to be free. Like with health care, other countries seem to be able to offer these services to their citizens at no charge, with a cheaper overall tax system than our country has. This is because these semi-socialist countries are not subsidizing and policing the world and going to war over those subsidizations and generally sticking our red, white and blue collective nose where it does not belong. I would also like to discuss how skewed the unemployment rate is and if college is even worth going to, especially if you're majoring in business. -- Steve, Smyrna
This letter appeared in the 10/11/6 Edition of Creative Loafing. It's funny that Steve refers to his "past anger". It sounds like you're still pretty angry to me Steve. I will have to write about my frustation with having such a generic degree when I am not in such a melancholic mood.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Voting a privilege, not a right
On Friday, I read once again that U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy has ruled against Georgia's new law requiring a photo ID before voting ("Photo ID gets blocked a 3rd time", Metro, Sept. 15). Murphy states that the right to vote is "sacred" and shouldn't be "taken away lightly." The logic of his argument fails so miserably that I feel foolish for even having to point it out.
Voting is not a "right;" it is a privilege. Second, the privilege of voting is "sacred" not because of the act itself, but because it is the mechanism whereby our most fundamental right —- the right to further our will as eligible voters —- is guaranteed. Common sense, then, should tell you that this privilege can be "taken away" just as much through voter fraud as through the placement of arbitrary obstacles. The new Georgia law requiring a photo ID and, at the same time, mandating all eligible voters access to free ID cards serves to prevent both types of abuse.
Anyone who argues with this simple logic must surely have another agenda other than "protecting" Georgia voters. Another agenda? Please, say it isn't so!
DEBBIE WAGNER, Sandy Springs
My response was chosen for the 8/24/6 edition of the paper. This was my third or fourth draft. The first ones were way too angry. The caption is the editor's, not mine.
Don't be fooled; voting is a right
Making illogical arguments while attacking the perceived illogical arguments of others seems to be the norm these days ("Voting a privilege, not a right," Letters, Sept. 17). A recent letter writer did just that.
Anyone who believes that voting is not a right should read the 15th Amendment to the Constitution, Section 1: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
The question is not whether voting is a privilege or a right. That fact has been established. The question is how can the right to vote be denied under the guise of safeguarding the integrity of the voting system. Unfortunately, state governments have been finding creative ways to do just that since this amendment was passed in 1870.
I still get incensed when I read the original letter writer's opinion. Who among us dares to think that voting is not a right?!!! People who think this way are dangerous because some of these people are in charge!
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I was immediately struck by how wise these boys seemed for their ages, especially Richard. Maybe that comes from carrying the weight of poverty on your shoulders. In a lot of ways (with the exception of people in rural areas who do not have the same opportunities as those in urban areas), I believe that poverty is a result of choices and rarely because of circumstances beyond someone's control. I don't blame poor people for being poor. I blame them when they adopt a loser's mentality. Losing hope, not expecting great things of themselves regardless of the economic situation, resigning themselves to this life that they claim to despise, repeating the cycle with their own children, etc... Most of them have it backward. Remove yourself from the situation and then have children. Giving up is just never acceptable, no matter who you are.
Near the middle of the documentary while the boys were on summer vacation after the first year, the program ended because of the strife in Kenya and neighboring countries. They thought it would be a safety risk to bring the boys back. I understand this completely. But, I don't understand how they could not at least have attempted to have these boys finish their second year in another location. To bring such heartbreak and disappointment to 12 and 13 year olds was extremely disheartening to those boys and I also think it was irresponsible of the Baraka program. When you choose to become involved to that extent in children's lives, you are making a commitment to be there for them come hell or high water. And, they failed these childrem miserably.
It appears now that three of the four boys profiled are doing OK, but I cried when I read that Romesh, the youngest, was lost to street life. Yes, life is about choices but how do you get children of this age to understand that? They are children for Christ's sake. The bottom line is that parent's are not doing their jobs at home. Damn the schools, teachers, and whatever programs are out there to supposedly help troubled kids. Parents cannot abdicate their responsibility to anyone else as so many of them have done. There was a scene where Richard and Romesh (brothers) were fighting as siblings will do. Their mother comes in with the angriest response. She doesn't hit them but she has them cowering against the wall with her threatening postures and bad language. I grew up with an abusive family. I recognized this instantly because I had experienced it many times except, I would have likely gotten hit. I think the only thing that kept her from hitting them was the presence of the cameras.
I have three younger brothers. The youngest will be 18 at the end of this month. The oldest boy of the three started to act out when he was in the 3rd grade. I am 4 years older than him and to this day cannot understand why he has chosen this life for himself. I have asked him if anything happened that we don't know about. I have thought countless times that maybe my sister and I teased him one time too many. Its hard to understand and its hard to not blame yourself. For the longest time, he was the only boy and the youngest in a home with three women. The second boy was born when he was ten. My sister and I had a field day teasing him and playing tricks on him (which I know rationally is normal kid behavior...I just wonder sometimes) and then cooed over the last two boys and practically ignored him after that. He is sitting in jail right now and has been since 2003 when he was arrested for the umpteenth time. I still have no idea what he is in jail for because he refuses to take responsibility for what he has done. I ask a direct question and I get conspiracy theories. So and so did this and my lawyer did that. I know that true change can only come when you recognize what you are, accept responsibility for your actions, and make a conscious decision to change. You just have to want something better for yourself and be willing to take the actions necessary to get there. Even knowing that this is all up to him, I fear that this will be his life forever and that we will always have this burden of worry and fear of what will happen to him.
Even though I live thousands of miles away, I have devoted my time to making sure that the two youngest do not follow in his footsteps. Luckily, they have grown up in Alaska. Alaska has its own problems but I think it has helped my brothers stay out of trouble thus far. The ghettos in Alaska are tame compared to the ones in the most of the United States. I lecture them constantly about the importance of looking beyond the now and focusing on their future and what they want from life. I let them know that I am always here with support and advice. I ride them constantly about their grades and the importance of at least finishing high school. College is up to you but a high school diploma/GED is essential. The second boy dropped out when he was told that he would not he graduating as scheduled. He didn't want to be in school as a 20 year old. Thank God he has wised up and gotten himself back in school. I just won't rest until I know they are going to be OK. Lord knows how long that is going to be.
Of course, watching the documentary last night made me realize that stopping with my brothers is just not enough. We have a larger problem in this country. Generations of young people who can't see into the future and have no goals or aspirations. I have always looked at volunteerism with my usual skepticism. With the exception of Mother Teresa and perhaps, Ghandi, most people do it for selfish reasons. I want to feel better about myself, I want to make a difference, I want to help. I, I, I. Any potential benefit from the volunteering is simply a side effect. I struggle with whether any of this really makes a difference in the grand scheme of things. The typical argument of "If you only help one person...". I guess here, I am a victim of my idealism. Yes, I may be helping one or two persons but my mind will always be on the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, that won't or can't be helped. Helping one or two people will only bring me temporary satisfaction. Who decides who will get the help? Isn't everyone deserving of help? And, there's always the argument of people genuinely wanting to change their circumstance. No amount of effort on my part will make someone change when they are not ready to. Despite all this, I know that I need to do something. I am just not sure what.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
Of course, there are those that try to say if you change your perception then your reality changes. I can agree that perception is reality but I am not convinced that changing my perception changes my reality. If I have a beat up old junker of a car and decide one day to perceive it as a Mercedes, does it suddenly become a Mercedes? In my mind, maybe, but in reality, it is still a junker of a car. One person does not create reality. I think we all contribute to each other's reality. I am just too literal and logical to buy all this new age/spiritual/metaphysical crap. Think positive thoughts and good things will happen. Put out positive energy and the universe will return that same energy. Give me a break!
I did really try to get into it. I spent quite a bit of time reading books by Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and Carolyn Myss among others. There was some good solid advice in some of those books but for the most part, I was left with more questions than anything. One of my favorites was a story in Carolyn Myss' book "Sacred Contracts". Firstly, I think her claims that she can diagnose/heal people by reading their energy is a bunch of crock. But the part that really disgusted me was this story of a woman she knew who was sad that her kids would not speak to her because she left them when they were little. Ms. Myss' goes on to explain that the mother hopes that one day she can reconcile with her children and that the kids will understand that she had a calling to be elsewhere. I'm sorry but, this woman abandoned her children for whatever selfish reason she had. No amount of perceiving it differently will change that reality.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I get here on Tuesday morning, not as tired, but still a little grumpy. First the lawyer tells me ten minutes before the hearing that two of the cases are contested. Wow, it sure would have been nice to know before now so I could insert more questions into the script to build our case. I still have to copy and label all the exhibits for the hearings at 10. This of course takes forever and on top of that, I check my email and see that I was emailed another case at 4:50 p.m. on Monday! This really annoyed me. I hate last minute additions! So I spend about an hour waiting for the slow ass printer to print out the case file, writing the script, copying the exhibits, only for the idiot respondent to show up and sign a consent agreement. You could have done that long before now buddy and saved us all some time.
That's not even the worse part. My co worker who is supposed to be testifying that respondents were properly noticed is walking through the door to the hearing room. He turns around and sees me walking a few feet behind him. Stares at me for a few seconds, does not say hello or even nod his fricking head in acknowledgement, and then lets the door close! This is just beyond rude and inconsiderate. I think it is accepted courtesy nowadays to hold the door for people behind you! How does one not personalize something like this? I could see if it was a complete stranger. This is not the first time that he has acted like a total jerk though. So I have concluded that it is best for me to accept the fact that he is an arrogant, inconsiderate jerk. As much as I had hoped that I was wrong about him, he has just provided too much evidence to the contrary. Right after I made peace with that fact, he again proved my point. It turned out two of the other cases had been continued before the hearing date and he did not bother to let me know. Asshole!
Such has been my week so far at this place that I love to hate called work. I saw a flyer once that aptly describes how I feel in this place. "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you work with turkeys".
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Another observation...As a gardener, I notice the flowers and plants everywhere I go and I am having some serious dirt envy. While I must fight with and amend the Georgia clay soil if I want anything to grow, Michigan gardeners have wonderful soil that, from my cursory visual inspection, needs few, if any amendments.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Could it be...
...that most Southerners talk really slowly and I am just too impatient to wait for them to get it out?
...that the heat and humidity are absolutely unbearable?
...that I find some Southerners are much too simple for my tastes? (I have been told that my cooking eggs in butter instead of oil is "fancy").
...that the "good ol' boy" mentality is rife in the South and I just believe that people should be treated fairly, no matter what?
...that it is rare to find someone here in the South that does not have a cigarette attached to their lips and/or a nasty "spit cup" for their chewing tobacco?
...that I find that most Southerners make important decisions-- like who to vote for-- based on emotion and knee jerk reactions and not rational and logical thought?
...that I am a very private person and most Southerners share entirely too much of their private lives with relative strangers and expect you to reciprocate?
...that Southern legislators think introducing legislation mandating that restaurants in Georgia serve "sweet tea" is an important issue? (Genius, that is why they have sugar on the table. Sweeten your own damn tea.)
I certainly don't look down on Southerners. They are human beings just like I am and living in the South does have its up side (the mild winters and the relatively low cost of living). Its just that I would think after 13 years I would be more acclimated to the culture. Apparently, it is not going to happen. I feel uneasy and creepy because I am a fish out of water here. I have absolutely nothing in common with most of the people I meet. I grew up in the Caribbean in a totally different culture. I know its not the South, it's me. There are plenty of people here from the Caribbean and they like it just fine. I don't. I still wonder how my husband came to be a product of something I dislike so much. I married a Southerner before I knew what the South was.
Monday, July 31, 2006
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Next on the list-- Sand and paint those cabinets and install new hardware. Deadline: end of next week.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
OK, let me get out of pity mode and write about what I really came here for. I know that "reality" shows are about as real as Michael Jackson's nose but I still love them. My TV viewing consists of at least one "reality" show every week day. ANTM, The Apprentice, Project Runway, Bridezillas, So You Think You Can Dance, Last Comic Standing are among my favorites. If they're on TV, I'm watching. I have never been a fan of Kathy Griffin. She is loud and crude but I love her show, My Life on the D-List. The woman is actually funny and her parents crack me up. I've grown tired of American Idol and haven't watched it since Reuben won. I am convinced that vote is rigged and the fact that they allow people to vote more than once really skews the results in my opinion.
Even though A&E is supposed to be the channel for the cultured among us, they have recently gotten on the reality show band wagon. I only watch two of their reality shows though, The First 48 and Intervention. The First 48 is my favorite. I think there is an episode airing tonight. I even watch the reruns. My husband claims its no fun once you know whodunit, but the show intrigues me. I watch Intervention so that I can yell at the TV. Some of the people featured on that show are simply pathethic. I have never understood the allure of drugs and alcohol for some people and I have little sympathy for them. If anyone thinks that I don't understand what its like being a druggie, I have an uncle who has been a drug addict since I was a child. Perhaps that is where much of my disdain comes from. From thinking of all the things he did to endanger and humiliate us while he was high. I gave up on him long ago. My grandmother is still in denial. I just don't get it.
Heidi Klum looked so damn good last night on Project Runway. I don't know how some women do it. They pop a baby out and look like they were never pregnant. I know I won't be that lucky. I personally think the crazy designer with the stupid hat should have gotten the "Auf Wiedersehen" last night. I think they are just keeping him on the show for the theatrics and because he was once a succesful designer. Whatever the reason, I'll be tuning in next week.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Today is my birthday. Whoopee! I will try not to sound cynical and sarcastic but, since those are my natural tendencies I doubt I will be successful. It did not even occur to me when I opened my eyes this morning, after my alarm went off prematurely, that it was my birthday. A lady on my van pool reminded me. I barely got my butt in the seat before she said, "we have a birthday girl today" in that excited way that only people that don't really know you can muster. I hate people who are happy first thing in the morning and I especially hate people who expect you to be happy first thing in the morning. I was walking into work this morning carrying a box of Cheerios and I saw a co-worker, whom I really don't care for, coming from the opposite direction. You know what made me smile at 7:15 in the morning? The thought of beating him about the head with the box of Cheerios. I am still smiling as I write about it.
I guess I could use this entry to reflect on the last 33 years of my life instead of being sarcastic about how fake people can be but what would be the fun in that? Seriously, if I were to reflect on my life, it would probably be filled with the same cynicism and sarcasm with which I look at everything else. Oh, I've had a few bright spots...my husband being the brightest of them. He has the distinction of being the one thing in my life that makes me smile whenever I think of or see him. After 12 years of being together, it still surprises me that we are still so happy together. I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop, so this relationship constantly amazes me as that proverbial shoe has yet to even appear.
It also surprises me that we have lasted because we are two completely different people. He is effortlessly social and outgoing while I find dealing with people a chore akin to cleaning up elephant dung. He is supremely patient and I am supremely impatient. He quickly forgives and I will hold a grudge even after the object of my disdain is dead. I think our relationship works because we respect and trust each other. We have the same goals and work together to accomplish them. He is not perfect but neither am I.
I think I've reached an age where I want to stop fighting with myself. I have tried to be what other people want me to be and my personality has prevailed through all of my attempts to quell it so that people will like and approve of me. My husband is the one person in the world that allows me to be who I am. I don't feel any pressure from him to be more friendly or outgoing or forgiving. He will gladly go to a movie with me weeks after it has opened because he knows that the initial crowds will ruin the experience for me. He understands that for me, complaining is therapeutic and allows me to get my feelings off my chest. And he doesn't make the mistake that most people make by trying to cheer me up before I even say what I want to say. He knows that I will get over it eventually and he just listens and sometimes he will even join me in my bitching. He never lets me take myself, or anything else, too seriously and he is not afraid to tell me when he thinks I am full of crap. I love this man. He is the best present a girl could ask for.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
I don't like strongly brewed coffee. I was watching the Barefoot Contessa, whom I absolutely love, and she said that you need 1 tablespoon for every cup of coffee to brew the perfect pot of coffee. I adapted that to 1 teaspoon per cup and it is perfect for me. My mother-in-law is the opposite. There are many wives out there who resent it when their mother-in-laws take over their kitchen but, I love it. I view cooking as a necessary evil. I have to eat to live and if I only ate take out I would be as big as a house, so I must cook. My mother-in-law comes over several times a year and I look forward to sleeping in while she fixes breakfast and any other meal her heart desires. She is the opposite of me when it comes to coffee. She likes it black and the stronger the better. One day, I drank her coffee and it was so strong, it made my face tingle.
This was my experience in Germany. I had to have coffee every morning, more out of habit than anything else, and instead of my usual 3 or 4 mugs, I could only stomach one tea cup of coffee. Americans serve their coffee in mugs. Germans serve theirs in tea cups. One of our companions went to the McDonalds hoping to get a larger cup of coffee. The "Grande" size couldn't even pass for a small coffee in the US. It was the tiniest thing and the source of much ridicule. One tea cup was enough for me because the coffee is quite strong in Germany. I brought back a bag and still struggle to get the measurement right so that the coffee is weak enough for my taste.
I went to get a latte at a coffee shop down the street from the hotel and the size of that cup annoyed me. For Starbucks prices, I need a bbbbiiiigggg cup, people! And they served it with this annoying little, button sized "cookie". One "cookie"! What am I supposed to do with that? Of course the "latte" was quite strong and no amount of sweetener could kill the strong coffee taste. Thankfully, by the last few days of our stay, I had figured out that the "milchkaffee" was right up my alley. It's about 75% milk and 25% coffee and simply delicious!
I added another job to my list this past week: insurance claims adjuster. Their job is to deny you the coverage that you have diligently paid for. I pay my home insurance company almost $800 a year to cover my home in case something happens. Insurance companies sell piece of mind, don't they? Yet they write policies that has exclusions for just about every occurrence. Their objective is to have me pay them but they don't have to pay me when I need them too. And this is legal! My air conditioner went out so I called my insurance company since I don't have a few thousand laying around to replace it. I was told by the claims adjuster that they would only pay for the air conditioner if some "event" had occurred that caused it to malfunction. My air conditioner died of old age but, if a tree had fallen on it, or if my husband ran into it with the lawn mower, then it would be covered. But since it just stopped working, there is no coverage. Huh? Does that make any sense? The bottom line is that it is not working! Who cares how it got that way?
In the meantime, I have been sweltering in the 90+ degree weather. Thank God the unit in the basement still works.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Main Entry: welt·schmerz
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: German, from Welt world + Schmerz pain
1 : mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state
2 : a mood of sentimental sadness
I think depression is too strong a word. I am by no means depressed and this has been verified by a therapist. I guess I would call it profound disappointment with the world and people in general. Most people can get past their disappointment within seconds. I am married to one of those people. Most times, its a blessing that my husband is so resilient. Sometimes, it feels like a curse. I, however, hang on to disappointment for much longer than I should which has probably impacted my demeanor. I've never been a smiler and I've never been overly or overtly enthusiastic about many things. But, within the past few years it seems that there are fewer and fewer things to smile or become enthusiastic about. It seems as though, there are more things to become disappointed and jaded about.
Are these feelings rooted in idealism as the definition states? I don't know. I don't think it is idealistic to wish that people would be nice to each other. I don't think that it is idealistic to expect other human beings to be treated fairly and respectfully without having to give some of us "ethics training" like the military proposes to do with those soldiers in Iraq. Why should someone have to tell you not to kill innocent people???? Is this being idealistic? Expecting people to do the right thing and just use plain common sense?
This was the same argument that I was given when I engaged one of my legal professors in a discussion about the ills of the plea bargain system. I was told that it is just not realistic to expect that every case go to trial, the backlog would be astronomical. This is a fact that I can accept but cases are often plea bargained simply because the prosecution or the defense don't want to lose so let's sacrifice the alleged offender to save our own hide. A 12 year old boy was conned into a plea bargain because an adult got him to admit that if he were to be prosecuted it would likely result in his conviction. What? Isn't that for a jury to decide? Who can argue that that practice is wrong wrong wrong! Yes, plea bargains are a necessary evil but do it for the right reasons!. Yes, war is hell, but it is no excuse to kill innocent (relatively) people!
Monday, May 01, 2006
I was not very adventurous and did not try any of the German sausages on the menu since I did not know what was in them. I'm weird like that, I eat the sausages at home with no problem and I don't know what's in them either :-). My favorite is Carolina Pride sausage. The white German sausage (I think its made with veal) looked especially unappetizing. The list of restaurants that we ate at and our ratings with 5 being the best follows.
1. A La Turka on Maximilianstrasse 77- this is one of the many kebap places in Augsburg, Germany. In short, a kebap is a traditional Turkish sandwich. You can read more about kebaps on Wikipedia. This was the first place we ate when we arrived since it was one of the few places open in Augsburg on a Sunday. It was also the last place we ate the night before we left since we had a lot of packing to do and wanted a quick meal. We ate at one other kebap place while we were here because it was close to the hotel. A La Turka was by far the best of the two. The kebap was delicious and the service is very good and you get quite a lot of food for the money. However, I am by no means a kebap expert, so take this with a grain of salt. Rating: 4
2. Cafe Max- Also on Maximilianstrasse. We ate here on our second night and this was the one meal I did not enjoy. This is really a coffee house that is trying to be a restaurant. I got the turkey cutlets with a salad and I had never seen such small portions. I don't think my salad even contained a cup of lettuce. Their lattes were good and that's about the only good thing I have to say about Cafe Max. If you need to go to the bathroom, prepare yourself. It is in this dungeon-like cavernous stair well. Scary. Rating: 1
3. The Irish Post- This restaurant is across the street from the Hotel Ost Am Ko so it was quite convenient on many nights when it was too cold to go hunting for something to eat. The "Irish" Post serves a completely Mexican menu. Go figure. I always ordered the chicken wings since I know that not everyone can make good Mexican and I was quite leery of a "Mexican" (there's not one Mexican in the place) restaurant in Germany. Remember, I'm weird like that. My husband assured me that his burrito was good so I guess I can say the food here is decent, not great. The salads are a bit confusing since they seem to have thrown everything under the sun on it and beware of the house dressing. Not very good! We always asked for oil and vinegar instead. The service is good and they have great but strong (actually, I don't think I had weak coffee anywhere in Germany. One of my traveling companions described the coffee as "stout". I will have to write a separate entry about German coffee.) Overall, the Irish Post is a great place for drinking and camraderie. The food, I could take it or leave it. Rating: 3
4. China Restaurant- This is an authentic Chinese restaurant in Augsburg. The food was good but, I like Chinese food in the US better. I said the same thing when we went to Mexico. Honestly, the Mexican food in the US was much better than the food we ate at a restaurant in Mexico. But, I digress. They serve large portions so two people can eat off one entree. Of course, as is typical with Chinese food (likely because of all that starch), I was hungry again about 2 hours later. Rating: 3
5. Andescher- This is the one and only restaurant where I ordered the potato ball. I wanted to try it and I think I picked the wrong place to order it. Andescher is quite popular since it was packed in the middle of the week. I ordered the Roast Pork with a potato ball. The Germans love pork and they are quite good at preparing it. It was prevalent on just about every traditional German restaurant we went to and it was always delicious. The roast pork was great and I don't think I need to go on about the potato ball again. I ordered a dessert called Austrian Sweet Dumpling. It is a baked dumpling with a vanilla custard sauce and a plum filling. German's don't make their desserts very sweet so the dumpling and the custard was only slightly sweet. I enjoyed the dessert until I got to the plum filling. I still grimace when I think of it. Ugh! I would have given them a higher rating but the potato ball and the plum filling ruined this for me. Rating: 3
6. HofBrauhaus Munchen- We ate at the Hof Brauhaus on a weekend trip to Munich. Apparently, this place has some historical significance because the Nazi's had a meeting here at some time or another. The atmosphere is quite loud and festive. There was plenty of singing and dancing. My husband loved it because the beers are served in these huge 1 liter mugs. I am not a beer drinker so I ordered a diet soda and pork chops w/ fried potatoes (the Germans love their potatoes too). Soda in Europe is not quite as bubbly as the ones served in the US. I think they were almost flat in every restaurant we ate at. They also use a different kind of artificial sweetener so there is a different after taste. The meal was delicious but again, bad salad dressing on the salad. The Hofbrauhaus has a website if you would like to learn more. Rating: 4
7. Brauhaus Fussen- I am not really sure that that is the name of this restaurant but, it was the last thing I glimpsed as I was closing the door. This restaurant is tied with the Bauer Brauhaus as the best place we ate while in Germany. We ate dinner here on a weekend trip to Fussen. Fussen is a beautiful city that is a stone's throw from Austria. I don't know if I was hungry or what but the food at this place is awesome. I ordered Roast Pork with French fries. The gravy on the pork was indescribable. I thoroughly enjoyed soaking my french fries in that delicious gravy. I found myself wondering why we Americans even use ketchup. Gravy is so much better! And the Germans know how to make gravy. Every restaurant (except Cafe Max who didn't bother to put gravy on my turkey) had awesome gravy. I also had some dessert here. I can't remember what it (I think it was Berne Helene) was but it was delicious. Rating: 5
8. Bauerentanz Brauhaus- Delicious, delicious, delicious. We ate here two or three times while we were here and their potato balls look like they might actually have put some potato in it. I never ordered it though. Again, I ordered the Roast Pork with French fries and I had to stop myself from licking the plate. The second time, I ordered a sampler menu that included dessert. I can't remember what they call it but the cheese spaetzle was yummy! Great service, great atmoshphere. For dessert, you can't miss with the Apple Fritter with Walnut ice cream. It's hidden away in one of the alleys of Maximilianstrasse in Augsburg but it is certainly worth the hunt. Rating: 5
Friday, March 24, 2006
Well, I've been busy house hunting and we just made an offer on a second house and it is an 80 year old charmer. I am absolutely in love with it except for the badly sloping floors in the kitchen. But what can you expect from a house this old? It's got many of the original architectural details and a wonderful yard. This is the house my husband will stay in while he is at work during the week. He works two hours away and the cost of gas for a commute like that in a gas guzzler rivals the cost of a mortgage. Now, if only these things didn't come with a mortgage, aka another bill.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
"the man that knows something knows that he knows nothing at all"
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
1. Replace sink faucets
2. Demo the oil mildewy and smelly tiled shower stall.
3. Replace with new tile and shower pan.
4. Pull up the carpet (Yes, our entire bathroom has carpet).
5. Put down backer board and apply ceramic tile to floor.
6. Remove old tile from around tub.
7. Apply wainscot and chair molding around entire bathroom.
8. Paint wainscot and chair molding.
9. Sand and Paint sink cabinets.
10. Replace cabinet pulls
11. Replace light fixtures.
12. Paint closets (It looks like the closet walls just have primer on them and there are large nail holes that need patching)
13. Purchase and install closet organizers.
To put this in perspective, we are only on task #5. It's been over a year, this bathroom should be finished by now. Hence our decision that the bathroom will be our last do it yourself project. We will try to save some money by buying all the materials and doing the prep work, but the installation will be left to the ones who do it for a living. I'll be sure to update if we ever finish the floor.
I absolutely hate debt. Some people think its good but I detest it. I can honestly say that the only bill that I do not pay grudgingly is the mortgage. Every time I write a check for my student loans, I kick myself for not trying to get more grants while I was in school. I even hate paying my utility bills especially the unnecessary ones like cable, telephone, and internet. I have been vowing to improve my financial picture since we bought our first house. Anyone thinking about buying a house, be forewarned. You will be perpetually broke. The house is always going to need something. Our first house was brand new but, within the first month, we had sunk $1,000 on a new fridge and having an alarm system installed. It never ends.
I've heard people console themselves by saying that they are grateful that they have the money to pay their bills. Somehow, telling myself that does nothing to make me feel better. I call it trying to look on the bright side when there really is no bright side. It's like when people die and their family members and friends say stuff like "at least he died doing what he loved" or "at least he didn't suffer" HUH? I have told my husband not to worry. If he goes before I do, those hollow words of "consolation" will not escape my lips. And if anyone says that to me, they will be sorry they opened their mouths. Our society's obsession with putting a smiley face on everything is simply ridiculous. If someone has died, it is OK to be sad. If you don't have enough money, it is OK to be mad.
I have started to read a book called the "Energy of Money" by Maria Nemeth. She states that some of us get into a financial rut where we repeat the same behaviors over and over again with money. That statement struck a chord with me because for the last few years I have been trying to maintain a certain balance in one of my accounts. I have a bill paying account, a savings account, and a third account that I have been trying to turn into an emergency fund. Over the years, I have built a cushion (money that is in the account, but is not reflected in my transaction log) into this account of well over $1000. I allow myself to use this account for miscellaneous needs as long as the balance does not fall below the cushion amount. Needless to say, I have not been able to use this account without significantly dipping into the cushion for the last 5 years or so. It is one of the many banes of my existence. I don't open the statements when they come because I know how disappointed I will be that I have allowed myself to raid the account when I should not.
So, I have resolved this year to fix that. My plan for this year is to only use that account for gas, groceries, and emergencies. This account has pretty much been my whenever I feel like shopping account (which has been a lot lately). I certainly don't need many of the things that I buy. My hope is that by the end of the year, I will have enough money to buy help fund the house renovation or pay off the credit card (Thank goodness we only have one). I watch those home renovation shows (perhaps too much) and always wonder how those people got the money for all those expensive renovations.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Political debate no place for facts
Bob Kemper - Staff
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
Washington --- Frustrated that your neighbor refuses to see the fact that President Bush and the Republican Party have got it right? Aggravated that a co-worker won't respond to reason and acknowledge that Democrats are America's only hope?
Well, get used to it.
Neither you, your neighbor nor your co-worker thinks rationally when you debate and defend your political preferences, research by Emory University's Drew Westen shows.
"Whatever facts you present people don't make terribly much difference," Westen, a professor of psychology, said. "The more politically passionate they are, the less capable they are of learning anything from any new data that's presented to them."
And while many people have always assumed that people in the other party care nothing for the facts, Westen's research shows that both sides are equally guilty of ignoring facts that contradict their political choices. "Each party would like to believe that . . . they're the ones with the cognitive integrity, who look at things in a fair and balanced way and that it's the other side that's distorting," he said. "But actually we found just about [an] equality of distortion on both sides."
At the height of the 2004 presidential campaign, Westen took 30 highly partisan, right-handed men --- 15 Republicans and 15 Democrats --- and flashed positive and negative statements about their preferred candidate in front of them while observing their brain activity under a magnetic resonance imaging scanner.
When the men saw positive statements from or about their candidate --- President Bush for Republicans and Sen. John Kerry for Democrats --- the emotional parts of their brain lit up, Westen said. They were pleased. But when statements showing their candidates contradicting themselves were shown, the men became emotional.
The parts of their brains used to sort facts and make rational decisions --- which would have lit up if they were trying to sort out the contradiction intellectually --- showed no activity.
Instead, the men felt distressed or threatened. Their brain patterns showed they dealt with the conflict by rationalizing it away. And when they successfully dispatched the contradiction as meaningless, the part of their brain associated with rewards lit up, giving them "some kind of rush from it," Westen said.
"They are looking at their own candidate to explain away contradictions that they have no trouble seeing in the other candidate or in somebody who's neutral," he said.
Westen recently presented his findings at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Palm Springs, Calif.
Shawn Parry-Giles, director of the University of Maryland's center for political communication and civic leadership, who was not part of Westen's study, said all politicians have been appealing more to emotion than intellect since television became the nation's dominant source of news. Speeches are shorter, sound bites are the rule and the images can convey as much information or more than the politician's words, he said.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I have heard people say that European culture is similar to American culture. WRONG! Yes, there are some minor similarities. They have a lot of white people and so do we. I swear I saw about 5 black people while I was there. If the neo-nazis are worried about preserving the white race, they should take notes from Germany. They are doing a great job. Of course, it could just be that black people aren't generally inclined to live in Germany.
Stay tuned for more on my German adventure.