30 November 2008

The last day of NaBloPoMo.

I was wandering through my reader when I reached CairoTypeO's "End of NaBloPoMo's post" on Wandering the World.

I am also very grateful to reach the end of this time. Although I wound up posting 57 (will be 58) times, I had an easy subject. With the election at the beginning of the month and then the aftermath (and afterglow, etc), I found it easy to post things that I found of interest and wanted to share.
I do think that I learned more about the bloggers that I read through the daily requirement, and perhaps the folks who read me learned more about me through the pressure. Although I never ran out of things to say (there are still all those posts I owe myself- this blog is sort of an open diary for me), I must say that I have lost a desire to continue to push my typing skills (or lack thereof) on a daily basis and I am looking forward to a "What I haven't been blogging about" post or two.

My newest passion is a soup.

A tomato soup, to be exact. I was wandering through Foodgawker (my secret addiction is food porn) and I saw this soup at Lucullian Delights, a lovely ex-pat blog focused on Italian cooking. I have stopped by here before, but I just happened to have all the ingredients for this wonderful soup in my fridge, so I threw it together yesterday. Then, after finishing it off this evening, I made aother pot that is bubbling away on the stove ready for lunch tomorrow.

I have changed the soup a bit from her, I am sure more authentic: Minestra di Pomodori, Patate, Aglio e Timo.


A bunch of potatoes, peeled and sliced relatively thinly, cross wise if large.
500 g. tomato passierte
about two cups of water
lots of garlic cloves, diced
4-6 large tomatoes that actually smell like tomatoes, diced (I use a super dicer that makes it a joy)
a punnet of white mushrooms, sliced moderately thinly.
sea salt
black pepper
fresh thyme or dried thyme that is still strong (should smell strongly or discard and repurchase)
extra virgin olive oil


In a large low pot, place potatoes and garlic with olive oil to allow easy sauteeing without burning. Generously salt and pepper. Sautee until the garlic smells great and potatoes appear a bit cooked. Add mushrooms, toss until coted with olive oil (add more as needed), salt and pepper again. Cook until mushrooms appear a bit wilted.

Add passierte tomatoes (basically, boxed pureed tomatoes) and water, add 2T (or more to taste) of thyme, 1T oregano, some parsley. Simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Serve, salt and pepper as needed. Yum!

29 November 2008

What I've been reading in links recently.

An interview with Terry Pratchett

Senseless murders in Mumbai

And thank goodness that we actually got out of the house and went to see something. I'll write up our touristing tomorrow, after the serious shopping I hope to do with our rental: I don't often have the opportunity to load up on non-perishables and I can't wait (the rental is a mini-van, so we have lots of space)!

28 November 2008

Hatred in Action

I have had a couple of recent posts about racism and anti-semitism (and how easy it is to forget). The blowback has been that the disagreement some feel with Israel's policies doesn't indicate anti-semitism. I disagree in so many ways, because I have never seen a discussion of Israel's policies outside of the US (where people do disagree and yet manage not to be Jew haters while doing so) which did not have one side veer into vitriolic anti-semitism.

But this hideous murder of a young Rabbi and his wife, who have absolutely nothing to do with Israel's policies, who simply held a community center whose only purpose is openness and outreach, who worked for nothing but good within the Mumbai community!

The choice to take, violently, the Jewish Community Center of Mumbai and there to commit murder: what purpose did that serve except Jew hatred?

The same purpose served when my children's kindergarten here has swastikas painted on it, or rocks thrown though the window, or threats made agains it and the community center. This is not disagreement with  Israel's policies. This is an outspringing of the disease known as Jew hatred, taught in the madrassas as cartoon Jews murder bootlegged Mickey Mouses to help infants learn to hate Jews, and taught in Europe through comments, made openly at political dinners by French ambassadors, such as "Dirty little Jews- they are always starting wars" or cartoons such as these pieces of filth:--- Strange how Jews and Israelis have not issued fatwahs or murdered people over these, isn't it? And my heart goes out to the poor people, of all races and religions, who have been terrorized and murdered because of the horrible and disgusting practices of religious psychotics. May they one day come to realize that their own religion condemns them and their actions.

Al-Wifaq, February 6, 2006 (Iran)

Translation: The Jewish\Israeli devil is saying: "I don't admit the limits of freedom of speech except the Holocaust."

Web Site of the Arab European League (February 2, 2006)

Al-Watan, February 3, 2004 (Oman)
On left - Feast of the Immolation
On right - The Islamic World's Attitude?

Tishrin, Apirl 21, 2002 (Syria)
The book in the left hand of the Jewish stereotype is the Torah

26 November 2008

I'm jus too tired to blog tonight.

It's not that I have hit the wall in NaBloPoMo, it's that I am really tired. I still need to post about what happened at the restaurant on Friday, about the boorishness we faced at the Thanksgiving dinner and benefit concert on Saturday and Thing1's experience at her English test on Tuesday: all of these are going to await tomorrow (a non-holiday here in Germany, a favorite holiday in the US) and my being awake.

25 November 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie- Twofer Pie.

This week's Tuesday with Dorie was chosen by Vibi from La Casserole Caree. She has the recipe here. (I tried to use the Google translator, but it failed for me. I will try again, but she has very kindly run a translation for her Anglophone readers.)

For me, this was a very difficult recipe. To start with, Germany doesn't have canned pumpkin nor does it have what we in the US would consider "ordinary" pumpkin: sugar pumpkin. So I baked the above pumpkin to prepare the equivalent of a can of pumpkin puree (a can would be 15 oz, I wound up using the entire amount at 16 oz.)

Europe also does not have (either to my knowledge or to easy acquisition): corn syrup, brown sugar, pecans, shortening, vanilla extract, or pie pans.

Luckily, I brought the brown sugar, pie pans and vanilla extract with me (and will make the latter when I run out). So I made the pie crust with all butter (the recipe calls for a bit of shortening as well). I have always previously made my dough with Crisco and I now know that I don't like pie crust made with fat. I do now understand why I have always preferred my mother's pie crust to any that I have eaten out: there is a taste to a butter crust, and a texture, that I now recognize and I prefer Crisco to that.
On the other hand, considering that I used a pastry cutter (I don't have a food processor here), the actual dough preparation and roll ou went very well. Because butter here has such a high fat content that it remains soft even in the refrigerator, I froze a 250 g bar. I then weighed out 10 oz, cut it into a small dice, and cut the ingredients together. After looking at everyone else's comments, I decided not to pre-bake the shell (and I changed the temperature to 220C for 15 minutes with a foil cover, then 45 minutes at 185C).I had given up on the "pecan brittle"-style mixture that should be poured on top of the pumpkin pie mixture but in the spirit of the Twofer, I studded the top with walnuts. I also used some of the extra dough (and there was almost enough for a whole extra crust) to add some leaf cut-outs to the top.
Here is the pie cooked: it looked great and my daughter was mad to eat it. It baked up well, but I didn't love it: a mixture of not caring very much for the taste and texture of the crust and not loving the taste of this German pumpkin. I don't think I will make it again, although my husband will probably finish it off. I also think I need to run along to the KaDeWe and find me some Crisco. My daughter was sadly disappointed in the taste as well. I think she will be far more appreciative of the next TwD, the Linzer Sables.

(Edit: We liked this pie much more the day after, chilled in the refrigerator. Still couldn't pique Thing1's interest, but the Ger,an and I finished it over the next several days. So, all's well that ends well.)

24 November 2008

What I've been reading recently in links...

"Kosher" Anti-Semitism
"Anyone who tars Israel with the Nazi brush by drawing obscene analogies between Israeli policies on the West Bank and the Warsaw Ghetto is wandering into very questionable territory and is legitimately open to strong criticism," Rosenfeld told the Post.
His essay, "'Progressive' Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism," which has been translated into German, asserts that vicious anti-Israeli statements and books from a number of British and American Jews are contributing to modern anti-Semitism.

Further commenting on Hecht-Galinski, Rosenfeld cited
the US State Department report "Contemporary Global anti-Semitism," which defines "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" as anti-Semitic.

On this side of the Atlantic, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, formerly known as the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, issued a "working definition of Anti-Semitism" that defines "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" as a manifestation of anti-Semitism.

Citigroup Bailout

Once the nation’s largest and mightiest financial company, Citigroup lost half its value in the stock market last week as the bank confronted a crisis of confidence. Although Citigroup executives maintain the bank is sound, investors worry that its finances are deteriorating. Citigroup has suffered staggering losses for a year now, and few analysts think the pain is over. Many investors worry that it needs more capital.

With more than $2 trillion in assets and operations in more than 100 countries, Citigroup is so large and interconnected that its troubles could spill over into other institutions. Citigroup is widely viewed, both in Washington and on Wall Street, as too big to be allowed to fail.

Job Centers see crush of people in need...
...in the last three months, 36,000 people have come looking for jobs through the one-stop system, an increase of 60 percent over last year, while the number of jobs posted has declined by more than a third.

The number of families receiving public assistance has also jumped by 40 percent.

23 November 2008

Why do my power cables keep blowing?

Now, that's an interesting question. After the first two power cables fried, we put an expensive surge protector and made certain that the electronics were on that.

In addition, because we had had the weird power surge that was the reason for the 2nd power cable loss, we had an electrician out to look at the outlets that had the surge who said that there was no problem with the electricity at all. However, after that I noticed (was freaked out and angered by) that whenever the lights were turned on or off in the hallway, the outlets on the shared wall inside the living room would receive a power surge. This surge did not set off the surge protector at all, but I wonder if it contributed to the failure of this second MacBook charger cable? I do know that it must have contributed to the failure of our 4th power cord, the extremely expensive adapter charger that the Dell was running on. Man, this is just amazing, isn't it?

However, on Friday, after this happened, I threw the computer and the charger into my bag and when the babysitter arrived and the German and I left to meet friends in Prenzlauer Burg, we stopped at the Apple store on the way.

It was a typical German customer service experience. When we walked in, we took a number (electronically) , which is a far sight better than one can expect at T-Com. Then, when we were called the German explained what had happened to the clerk. The clerk misunderstood, thinking that he had purchased a new cable a few weeks ago while what had really happened was that they had given us one (warranty replacement) and it did not go through the Kasse. But the clerk sent the German to the Kasse to get paperwork (which was not there) and when he came back without any, it was not in Ordnung.

At that point, I started to become concerned because we were starting to get late for our meeting (we were still 30 minutes from the restaurant). So I asked what the problem was. When I explained the situation it became clear that the process the clerk had started was incorrect so he changed to looking at the bar code on the computer, determining that I was correct in believing that I still had 4 years left on my warranty, and then telling me that it would be 4-6 days until I would be able to get a new cord: Apple would want to look at the cable before issuing me a new one.

I looked at the clerk in disbelief. In measured tones I informed him that in this country and city where I do not speak the language, that my computer is my life line. I suggested that if they did not have a cord to give me (hard to believe, as they sold computers there!) that he loan me one. (We had already had the conversation where I indicated that I was unhappy with the failure of two cables and he had informed that that it was not his fault and that he worked for Gravis, not Apple.) He told me that the company only had four loaner computers and that they would almost certainly be all out.

I asked him to please check the status and I would wait to be angry until I found out if therewas a reason to be. Then I smiled at him.

When he came back, he gave me a new cord.

That was nice.

More tomorrow about what happened at the restaurant...

22 November 2008

The final frontier.

Now, maybe I am even geekier than Snooks, because I have known about this for some time. But trailer two is just way more exciting than trailer 1. Nimoy doing the voice over is just cool.

Clearly I am not as geeky as some (though I sometimes try;)), but this is a site for the interested.

I am looking forward to it, because I'm just not crotchety yet and I think it will be great, even if the characters motivations and back stories are changed.

21 November 2008

A quick note...

My second Mac power cable in the last- what, four weeks?- has blown. Won't be blogging until it's replaced. Either tonight after the German gets home or tomorrow morning (we are meeting friends for dinner in Prenzlauer Berg and I'm not certain we will have time after the babysitter arrives).

And the friends that were planning on joining us this weekend were ill and weren't able to join us in Berlin:( , leaving us with extra tickets to Tanksgiving tomorrow, and everyone else we know is either ill or out of town for the weeken. Sob.

I hope that dinner tonight makes up for it and I am glad another couple were able to join us as we would have stayed closer to home if it were just the two of us: we can really talk anywhere, it generally takes some other goal to make us go 45-60 minutes out of our neighborhood.

20 November 2008

When I wasn't looking, the last state was called.

Missouri went for McCain. That's not really a surprise. What is amazing is that it went 1,445,812 to 1,442,180. Wow. Down to 3,632 people.

Good for us and good for the people of Missouri, who fought their way until the end and nearly succeeded in overturning their slave holding history. After all, the state (and the ability to own slaves) was one of the proximate causes of the Civil War. So they have come a long way.

The final election results (I think):
67,066,915 Barack Obama (53%, 365 electoral votes) to
58,421,377 John McCain (46%, 173 electoral votes)

A great map to look at, with individual states' totals.

What type of Blog are you?

This site purports to discern what type of blogger you are from your blog. Check it out and tell me what you think- how accurate you feel it is.

ESTP - The Doers

The active and play-ful type. They are especially attuned to people and things around them and often full of energy, talking, joking and engaging in physical out-door activities.

The Doers are happiest with action-filled work which craves their full attention and focus. They might be very impulsive and more keen on starting something new than following it through. They might have a problem with sitting still or remaining inactive for any period of time.

I couldn't figure out how to copy the chart- anyone? It was interesting to see what areas of my brain it felt were active during blogging:)

19 November 2008

What I've been reading recently in links.

An interesting discussion of Libertarianism in science fiction currently.

The Pope speaks on the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht.(Die Welt.)

Racism in Europe (Washington Post).

Al-Qaeda is racist. Who would have thunk it?

Haider, uncritical admirer of Nazis, dies at 58.

Bruni glad to be French after Berluscon's racist remarks.

Klaus Emmerich, Austria's "Wolf Blitzer", goes off on racist rant.

Euro Zone announces recession.

An interesting review of Nemirovsky's life and Suite Francaise.

The boots I want (by the same company that makes the adorable haus shuhe for the girls).

The University as a home for racism: the last acceptable form.

Here is a good article on the open anti-Semitism that passes as debate in the US. The saddest part is reading the comments. Dare I hope that the majority of these commenters are not US citizens? Or are they part of the minority that voted for McCain not because they agreed with his views but because they agreed with Sarah Palin's?

It nauseates me when I hear someone call Israel's policies analogous to those of apartheid South Africa (because of the lack or any truth or meaning) but when they equate them with Hitler's, then I know that they would love to put me up against a wall and they are practicing the Great Lie concept.

18 November 2008

Why letting the domestic auto industry collapse is problematic.

"There is no denying that the risks of letting GM fail are high. Economists warn that if it fails GM is more likely to end up in Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation than a Chapter 11 restructuring. Given the current credit crunch the traditional bridge loans available to companies in Chapter 11 are all but impossible to obtain. And few consumers would be likely to buy a car — which depends on long-term warranties, service and parts — from a company in a bankruptcy reorganization. The Big Three and their affiliated suppliers account for 2% of the U.S. workforce, or more than 2.5 million U.S. jobs. GM alone employs over 100,000 workers, the same number of autoworkers that have been laid off so far this year. And that's not to mention the hit the federal government would take when GM dumps its pension, insured by the quasi-governmental agency, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.; with nearly a million participants, it is the largest private defined-benefit pension plan in the U.S. Some experts estimate that that hit alone could cost the taxpayers more than $100 billion, with another $100 billion in lost tax revenues and $10 billion in increased Medicaid expenditures annually."

Tuesdays with Dorie- Arborio Rice Pudding.

(Here shown with the plastic wrap to prevent skin formation- although I like skin and will leave it off next time.)

Well, whew. I got it made today and it is sitting in the refrigerator for the required 6 hours chill. I would like to thank Isa of Les Gourmandis d'Isa for choosing a non-threatening recipe for this week, and one for which I actually had all the ingredients sitting in my pantry.

I had hoped to have it up by noon New York time, but I went out and looked at the questions and answers after I put it in the refrigerator to cool (and next time I will look before I make it) only to discover that there was both a problem with the cooking time (needs to be doubled from that in the book) and the ratio of rice to milk (most agreed it should be increased).

So I pulled the two bowls out of the refrigerator, put them back into the saucepan, added a bit more rice and started to cook it again. Since there is a mult-hour cooling time for this, I don't expect I will have the picture up until later, but I will post this now and add them.

From the taste of the rice pudding (soup) I tried, it will be delicious, and if it is actually as simple as it seems (once the cooking time and rice amount hae been adjusted), then I expect I will start making it regularly.

---Here are the pictures- I added a bit of cinnamon and it made a positive difference. I like the pudding very much but I found it a bit more bland than the usual run and next time I make it (and I will) I will try adding raisins or another dried fruit and perhaps even a bit of salt for contrast (ever since I made the NYT Chocolate chip cookie mix, I am in love with salt in sweets).

60 Minutes with President-Elect Obama

Sometimes it's hard to keep up with what's happening at this remove. I was very glad to watch this when I could in my own time zone.

Whew. A breather.

The kids are both in kita for the first time in over a week, I am on my second cup of coffee, watching Boston Legal and cleaning during the commercials. What a relief.

17 November 2008

16 November 2008

A video from the President- elect

I have been recovering from the election and haven't been watching as much US news, but now I will remember to check change.gov

15 November 2008

Time for a bit of a rest and a Quantum of Solace review.

It's been a hectic sort of a week, as you know. The running around, the children out of school, the exhaustion. I have two book clubs next week and In the Country of Men made me sad, but A 1,000 Splendid Suns made me weep. I'm not certain if I will talk about them, but perhaps after the meetings.

In addition, we had the German's birthday and to celebrate we got a sitter and went to see Quantum of Solace. It was great but it was fast-paced and very violent. So violent that I remarked upon it and the German felt that it was too violent. I think it was appropriate for the material, but yes, it was extremely violent. (Roger Moore felt that too.) The German also had difficulty following the plot, (although I didn't) and he felt that there should have been more plot and less violence. I actually think that if you put Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace together as a single movie it might be easier for folks to follow.

Something I noticed was how absolutely fabulous Bond's suits were (and how well they fitted Daniel Craig) but I don't think the German will be getting one for his next birthday: perhaps if we win a lottery.

14 November 2008

Yes We Can (reprised) by Will.i.am

You know, whenever I get depressed or sad or stressed out, I watch this again and feel a catharsis and start feeling better about myself and the world.

It's a New Day


by will.i.am










Song Credits:
Produced by will.i.am
Written by: William Adams

Publisher: will.i.am music Inc admin. by Cherry River Music Inc. (BMI)

Drums: will.i.am
Rhodes, Piano: will.i.am
Keys: Lynette Williams
Guitar & Bass: Alain Whyte
Engineered by: will.i.am and Padriac Kerin
Mixed by: will.i.am
Recorded at Ethernet Studios, LA 2008

Video Credits:
Directed by Ben Mor
Editor: Chris Chynoweth
Assistant Editor: Matt Jameson

13 November 2008

My daughter is a German mother-tongue speaker

We are all a bit distressed. It's difficult to understand how she could go from monolingual English to failing her English mother-tongue exam while earning a high pass on the German mother-tongue exam all in 14 months.

We will obviously be examining all the options available (although not the 14,000+ Euro English schools- that would be way out of our reach). There are still the lotteries for the German side and the JFK school test is in April- if Thing1 doesn't get in by lottery we will go back to the US for a month before the test and she will go to kindergarten there. That would just be an expensive pain because we already have plans to be in the US for 4 weeks in May through June and now we would have to go, come back to Berlin, and then return to the US. We will do what's necessary, though. The other unfortunate part of her going in on the German side would be that she would learn English only aurally until 3rd grade, so if we go back as planned in 3 more years, she will be illiterate in English (although literate in German).

In answer to some of the comments: we speak English only in the house, we watch only English/American TV (mainly PBS and Disney), we watch only English language DVDs. It is very hard to overcome the time spent in kita. If I had known the way through this maze earlier, we would have put her in a private English kita. The German and I were just discussing how stressful life is here for people who are not "in the ordinary way". After this is all over, I think I will self publish a book aimed at Amercans moving to Germany, and especially Berlin. It is just amazing how one is constantly given incorrect or false information and how few people in the know actually are forthcoming. There's a lot of schadenfruede here, even amongs ex-pats.

Next week I will write up a nice long post on how this system actually works (here in Berlin, it differes elsewhere), with each school doing things slightly differently and with amts giving incorrect and incomplete information.

(And I may even mention the turd I saw in the little girl's room- I wondered if it were a commentary on the process from another shell-shocked family.)

12 November 2008

Visiting the Reichstag

Today we kept Thing1 out of Kita to spend the day speaking in English. Tomorrow is her English test and we are pretty certain that she is going to fail it.

This entire situation has been a bit of a cluster. When we came to Germany, we were greatly concerned that the girls' lack of German would cause them social problems (and loneliness). After much discussion and speaking to a pediatrician, we put them in a German Kita so that they could learn German and socialize (and so that I could take a German course as well). The German made a point of speaking only Deutsche to the children. When Thing1 had her 5 year check up in July, the pediatrician was concerned that she was still behind with her German and had problems with some vowels.

Now, in November (actually since August, when they spent a week with the grandparents) Thing1 preferentially speaks German and she has lost her "th". I have great difficulty getting her to speak any English (although she still understands everything) and Thing2 is mutter sprache Deutsche. This is a problem because my German is so limited.

It is also a problem because the bi-lingual schools here accept on the Engish and German mothertongue sides differently: there is no problem for English mothertongue speakers and a great oversubscription (and consequent lottery) on the German mothertongue side. If Thing1 fails the test, I am not certain that we can get her into a bilingual school and that would be a catastrophe. We do expect to return to the US and there are really no paths to German integration into the US school system. Since she will already be one year behind the US (children start later here), I can't imagine how damaged she will be if she loses more time to become English fluent when we go back. When I am not so tired, I will write up a long post on how this system works and how totally messed up foreigners are by it.

So we booked lunch at the Reichstag, following the recommendation that doing so would allow us to bypass the security line (which it did- we had no line at all at our separate entrance and the friendly security man allowed Thing1 to use the bathroom while we waited for the (extremely slow) elevator).
We ate at the Kaefer Berlin im Deutscher Bundestag, and as this article states, had a fabulous view. I found the food to be adequate and the German pointed out that we were the only diners not to order the veal Schnitzel. My beef rouladen with knoedel and rotkohl was decent, the German's Venison with noodles and "cranberries" was too salty (though he ate it) and so was Thing 1's Noodles with red sauce (on the side), which she did not eat. Hard to believe anything could be too salty for me, but I gave Thing1 some of my rouladen to eat instead. We had a nice pate of deer with salad as a starter and for dessert Thing1 had a Disney Eis (a Donald Duck mug filled with strawberry and vanilla ice cream, two waffle cookies, and two decorative streamers) which she loved. The German and I shared a creme brulee, served in a high cup and a little too sweet and a little too liquid, but arranged nicely on a plate with some streaks of passionfruit and mango puree.

Then we wandered through the dome. It's just gorgeous.

After letting Thing1 run about (it was more fun than the Habitrail Gem exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in New York) we had to run to get home before Thing2 got back from school. We grabbed the 100 to the Zoo and then a cab home and made it with 6 minutes to spare.

Then I ran off to go shopping (it's at least every other day here) and when I got back the German went to his scheduled haircut. When he got back, he grabbed the two computers with destroyed power cords (remember, we had 3 but the Mac was under warranty) and brought them to the corner computer shop, where he picked up an adaptable power cord (clearly, we expect this to happen again).

A bit of a struggle later, the girls in bed, we return to deal with open enrollment periods that don't allow access from German work computers: I don't know when we will ever be able to send the one from the US back!

Tomorrow, the test.

German Bundestag

11 November 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie-1st Post is a missed week and why.

For those stopping by for my Tuesday with Dorie post, my apologies. I'll be here next week and the week after, as per the rules.

It's been a bit of a difficult start for me, as my book arrived last Tuesday after my kids arrived home from school, then when my husband got home I had a musical to run to and then (since this is Germany) all the stores were closed and I had missed my opening.

I should have made the Kugelhopf on Wednesday, but I was exhausted after 42 hours up watching the election and taking care of the kids and crashed. Then we needed to leave town for a meeting the German had by Koeln (we stayed with friends not too far away) and spent the weekend with my in-laws (and visited the famous Kirmes in Soest- this was a far better year than last year- great weather and no Norovirus). Back on Sunday late and this week is my older daughter's English test (which we are so afraid she willl fail) and we need to register her at 5 separate schools before the open period ends, so once again I have been running around like a mouse in the open. I am spending my time trying to get her to actually speak English and we are taking all day tomorrow to try to remind her that it is her Mother Tongue.

So, please stop back next week to see my Arborio Rice Pudding- I will have it up on Tuesday if I have to send the whole family away on Saturday to allow me to get it done;).

On Veteran's Day and still, for Kristallnacht...

Kristallnacht: We Remember
David A. Harris
November 4, 2008

On November 9 and 10, we mark the seventieth anniversary of Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass.”

Rampaging mobs, spurred by the Nazi leadership, attacked Jewish targets throughout Germany and Austria .

The damage was immense. Hundreds of synagogues were burned to the ground. Thousands of Jewish-owned businesses were ransacked. Nearly 100 Jews were murdered in cold blood. And tens of thousands of Jews were arrested and deported to Buchenwald, Dachau , and other concentration camps.

Their crime? They were Jews. It was as simple as that. Observant or atheist, Zionist or anti-Zionist, bourgeois or socialist, they were all subject to the same fate.

The Second World War had not yet officially begun. That would start on September 1, 1939, not quite ten months after Kristallnacht. But the Nazi war against the Jews was already well under way.

The goal was to rid Germany , Austria , and, eventually, all of Nazi-occupied Europe of Jews.

The Nazis almost succeeded. By the war’s end in 1945, six million Jews, or two-thirds of European Jewry, had been annihilated. And ancient centers of Jewish civilization, from Vilna to Salonika, from Amsterdam to Prague , had been all but wiped out.

On this tragic anniversary, and every day, remembrance is essential.

We remember the Jews of Germany and Austria , who had contributed so greatly to what they believed to be their homelands, and who became the targets of a genocidal policy.

We remember the new alphabet of annihilation created by the Third Reich, which began with “A” for Auschwitz and ended with “Z” for Zyklon-B, the killing agent used in the gas chambers.

We remember the vibrant lives of Jewish communities across Europe that were extinguished in the flames of the Holocaust.

We remember the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the relentless Nazi pursuit of the so-called Final Solution.

We remember how many borders were so callously closed to Europe ’s Jews when there was still a chance to escape.

We remember that our own country, the United States , yielding to domestic isolationism and anti-Semitism, did far less than it could have to shelter Europe ’s Jews.

We remember a world without the one country, Israel , which could have provided a haven to all Jews seeking sanctuary.

We remember that earlier in 1938, prior to Kristallnacht, Nazi Germany had moved with impunity into the Sudetenland, then part of Czechoslovakia , and Austria , with barely a peep from the international community.

We remember that just weeks before Kristallnacht, the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, traveled to Germany for the third time in two weeks and returned to London to assure the British public that there would be “peace for our time.”

We remember the valiant forces of the Allied nations that ultimately destroyed the Nazi Reich and saved the world from Adolf Hitler’s boast of a thousand-year reign.

We remember the military cemeteries across Europe , and beyond, filled with the graves of young soldiers who fought with such courage and bravery to defeat Nazi Germany and its allies.

And we remember the examples of those few who, at such risk, sought to shield Jews from harm.

Kristallnacht reminds us of the lurking capacity for inhumanity that resides in the human spirit.

Kristallnacht reminds us of nations that prided themselves on advanced levels of civilization, yet had a capacity for barbarism that exploded in ways never before witnessed.

Kristallnacht reminds us of the dire consequences when a targeted people is utterly without recourse to any means of self-defense.

Kristallnacht reminds us of the fertile soil of anti-Semitism, cultivated for centuries by religious, racial, and political ideologies obsessed with murdering, exiling, converting, segregating, or scapegoating the Jews.

Kristallnacht reminds us that there is a slippery slope from the demonization of a people, to the dehumanization of a people, to the destruction of a people.

And Kristallnacht reminds us that, in the face of evil against fellow human beings, never can silence be an option, indifference a strategy, or “never again” a mere slogan.

The American Jewish Committee remembers today, as we remembered yesterday and as we shall remember tomorrow.


with thanks to a friend for the forward, and yes, sometimes it is hard to be in Germany.

10 November 2008

For the uneducated, who think our next President will raise taxes.

This is what happens when we actually have a Depression (and a war). Stop the infantile crying when expected to actually contribute to the welfare of our country.
I believe that the wealthy have a social responsibility. I believe that progressive taxation is morally correct. I am happy to have my taxes increase to ensure that all Americans have a roof over their head, food in their bellies, and access to healthcare. I include childcare to allow women to work, access to education, and care when elderly as basic human rights. I want to believe that we all feel this way.
Strangely enough, when I talk to even the most dedicated McCain voters (no one has ever told me that Palin was a positive factor, which indicates my pool of friends, family and acquaintances does not include any psychotic religious folk) they all agree with this basic premise. They fight about details and whether there may be abuses. Let's start with getting this in order before we quibble over how to enforce fairness.

photo credit Dorothea Lange 1938

Where was everyone yesterday?

I read over 200 blogs in my reader. Not a single one mentioned that yesterday was Kristallnacht. Wow.

09 November 2008

70 Years Later...

BERLIN (AP) — "We must not be silent" about condemning anti-Semitism, German chancellor Angela Merkel declared Sunday as Germany and Israel commemorated the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Nazi-incited riots against Jews.
With concerts, prayers and ceremonies, participants vowed to honor Kristallnacht victims with renewed vigilance. The riots are seen by many as the first step leading to the Nazis' systematic murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.

Germany's history, and Berlin's place in it, is something that I never forget. As I walk the pleasant streets I pass the silent markers showing where Jews once lived and were then taken to die, where we once owned property and it was taken from us, where we once worshipped and were buried, before our synagogues were destroyed and our graveyards desecrated.

As I listen to Germans talk about America's faults (and now of their happiness at our "great change" with the election of Senator Obama), I always remember that the country where we were once more assimilated than any country ever (other than modern day America) was Weimar Germany and that they went from being us, our friends, lovers, spouses and countrymen, to being our betrayers and murderers in only a few short years.

As I look at the Polizei guarding every Jewish space (in pairs) and the walls surrounding every kindergarten and official space: I don't forget. I will never forget. And what makes me most sad is that the walls and guards are needed.

Never Forget:
Yad Vashem
Europe Remembers Kristallnacht
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
The History Place 

header credit

65,393,358 Obama versus 57,393,728 McCain

Every vote makes me prouder that my fellow citizens have done their civic duty and exercised the franchise. GO USA.

08 November 2008

So much to do, so little time to blog...

I'm writing from the wilderness of NRW, not certain if I will have a chance to blog today, so just checking in to say: it's a great week and I'm still having fun.

07 November 2008

Please look to the right sidebar:

Where you will see a list of bloggers celebrating the Virtual Post-Election Bash through the kind offices of the divine Diane at Martinis for Two. Join us. (I will keep this on top today, so please look below for new posts.)

A quick election update- I am watching as the votes tally.

Every vote counted shows more of a landslide. (Missouri is still out, NC for Obama yesterday at 1 pm.)

364 electoral votes
162 electoral votes

05 November 2008

Wow, I wish I had posted this yesterday!

The Victory Speech

Watch CBS Videos Online

The text of President-elect Obama's Victory speech.

A last e-mail from our next President...

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


Thank you, fellow citizens.

Thank you for being Americans. And for proving to everyone, not least ourselves, that we are our beliefs.

Thank you, Senator McCain

Watch CBS Videos Online

For a decent campaign and a gracious and unifying concession speech.

Barack Obama elected President

Obama: Electoral: 324 Popular: 42,058,767 (51%) McCain: Electoral: 155 Popular: 39,488,764 (48%)

We the People...

I have a dream...

One man had a dream and that dream has been fulfilled.

04 November 2008

The Best of America

The worst of America

It's so silly, but it is so indicative of the type of division that makes me wait with bated breath for America to be reunited. This person is so un-American and she doesn't even recognize it.

It's time to turn the page...

Barack Obama Announces His Candidacy, February 10, 2007

It's up to you: Vote for Change

Will I need psychiatric help after this election or will my adrenal gland give out?

I'm not the only one who can't believe it yet.

Tikkon Olam

Jewish Americans for Obama :
Let's start repairing the world.

"It is time to come together and change this country..."

This really describes my condition: I finally understand the condition that Germans describe as "having stress". The inability to do any more than I have already done is forcing my body into a "fear or flight" over- adrenalined condition which is wreaking havoc on my equilibrium.

I sort of belief that it is possible that we will turn a new leaf and then I fear that by believing that I am setting myself up for a huge disappointment and it is driving me crazy.

Enough with American style impartiality: Vote for Obama.

Go. Vote now.

Sexism today

I recently had a (tiny) book club meeting at my apartment. We discussed The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, which I found wonderfully written, intricately detailed and which I keep loaning to people to read. The talk, however, quickly turned to the election and as usual, the Germans found it easy to state their unequivocal beliefs that there is only one candidate. While discussing the 4 candidates and the "road to the White House" I mentioned my anger at the misogyny and blatant sexism directed at Senator Clinton and a friend of mine, an American woman my age, said that she hadn't noticed it and asked for direct examples.

I was taken aback. It has been a while and although I was angry I never felt that my anger would allow me to be bought by my former party simply by their choosing a religious right-wing fanatic who has a uterus and a perky body (although men go for that, as seen in studies). I told her I would follow up and that evening I sent her this.

That discussion made me realize all over again how sensitive I am to racism and sexism and how angry I feel when told that I am "too sensitive" or a "politically correct American" and that "real people" don't feel that way. I have been so disappointed in America. It's not that America is not a wonderful country with many wonderful parts, as it were. It's that I expect so much from her. America should be "a shining City on a Hill", and not in a right wing religious way.

I think Obama is the step that we need to take now. I think we need to take back our belief in ourselves as Americans,  a people dedicated to freedom and with a real belief that we should help each other. Not the Americans who broke the capitalist system through the destruction of the ownership society by allowing the greed of the managers to become normative.

03 November 2008

02 November 2008

Election minus 2.

I know that nothing that I say or do at this point can make any difference, but I still feel the need to do something, so here, watch this and pass it on:

And now that it is November 2, let me tell you the truth: although I have been asking people to vote without regard to whom they were voting for, I really can't understand how any person could, in conscience, vote for McCain/Palin. Even if one could have voted for McCain, a person who loves our country should be unable to vote for a ticket including Palin. No one I have asked to explain their choice has been able to do so in any rational way. So if you vote the other way, please don't tell me.

01 November 2008

This describes my condition

It is sort of pitiful.

It is sad. But it is also frightening.

On religious intolerance and misogyny...

The candidates and some of their views:

As for Palin, watch the video of Kenyan pastor Thomas Muthee asking God to protect Palin "from every form of witchcraft." Muthee actually claims he saved a Kenyan village by chasing away a witch. As ridiculous as this video seems. persecution of women as being witches has been around for thousands of years, causing thousands of women to be excecuted, burned at the stake. Nothing could be more anti-woman, more bigoted or biased than to accuse a woman of having a compact with evil spirits. Why didn't Palin walk out on Muthee?
Why didn't she renounce David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, when he spoke earlier this year at Palin's Wasilla Bible Church and described terrorist attacks on Israelis as God's "judgment of unbelief" of Jews who haven't embraced Christianity.
Yes, religion matters in an election because belief matters. What does McCain really believe about "agents of intolerance" such as Robertson. Does Sarah Palin really believe -- as she seems to have said -- that God wants her to build an oil pipeline? Or that the Iraq war is a mission from God? She believes in Creationism and the End Times. These are not trivial matters. We are talking about religious beliefs that could have a huge impact on major domestic and foreign policy issues.