Editorial Conundrum

More Power

I’m in a bit of an editorial quandary.  Last year I ran a pro-wind piece extolling the virtues of sustainable wind power.  I don’t claim any special expertise on the subject other than being surrounded by a sea of these devices here in the Umwelt-sensitive district of Munsterland.   That said, I am in extremely close proximity to these devices.  They’re everywhere.   My enthusiasm for the technology caught the attention of some anti-windfarm group because there’s been an attempt to inject some anti-wind propaganda into the comment thread on that piece.

I’ve never blocked or banned a comment on this blog that wasn’t outright spam.  I even let the haters and the trolls take their shots.  I am willing to risk the potential of PTSD because, as a Vietnam-era service member, I know that shell shock is a risk of battle.  It’s been that way for men as long as there have been men.  But I digress.  This is not about my particular sensitivity to criticism or inability to take as good an ad hominem homo-baiting as the best of the Tea Party ‘tards has to offer.  It’s about whether I give exposure to what I consider is a coordinated attempt at consumer misinformation and propaganda.

Part of me wants to expose the anti-wind shill/idiot(s) involved.  Another part of me is reluctant to give them any publicity at all.  It’s an editorial conundrum I’ve not encountered in the past.  I’ve reviewed the material and visited the websites of the links that were attempted to be placed in my comment section and find them to be total rubbish and some of the more transparent anti-wind FUD propaganda I’ve ever seen.

About the only crazy claim not being made by these lunatics is that the windmills are somehow dragging down the rotational speed of the the Earth.

Just to give you one example of something we’re all suppose to be deathly afraid of?  The possibility of an out-of-control fire in one of these generators!!  As if a relatively small fire once in a blue moon, on a tower a high up in the middle of a field somewhere is suppose to be more scary than global warming or nuclear accident?  Give me a break.  It’s insulting.

Even though it would be fun to deconstruct the rather transparent attempts at misdirecting the public discussion on renewable wind power generation, I am going to set it aside for now unless prodded to do otherwise by an overwhelming request from the masses.



Quick Trip to the Dump

HoneyDoMy honey do list for today included runs to the grocery store, the waste management (recycling) center, and the vacuuming of massive amounts of dog hair out of the Mercedes. It’s not that we let it collect for any long period of time, it’s just that we’re constantly taking Bandit and Lizzy with us everywhere we go.  They both shed fine, white hair faster than a platoon of boot camp barbers. It wafts off them like cumulus clouds, and as the rays of sunlight intersect with the aerosolized pet dander I imagine the car looks like a rolling snow globe populated with two spoiled dogs nuzzling up to the glass.  But I digress.

Three Bags of Garbage and some Glass Bottles

I had intended to take some pictures at the recycling center today just to document the degree of sorting and sophistication that is involved in going to “the dump” in Germany. I didn’t get any pics because some gruff looking foreigner walked up to me and started chatting away in German like I was one of the local boys.  He’s spewing German out like a well oiled German machine gun.  I’m busy comparing the words I’m hearing him say against the list of 53 German words I’ve familiarized myself with (in the several years I’ve been here).  I’m wondering  what the hell the guy is talking about while simultaneously nervous I might have inadvertently violated some arcane German trash sorting rule or possibly breeched some other local custom.

Sorting it Out

He didn’t look like he worked at the recycling center, but it’s not like they’d dress up for work so I couldn’t be sure. I had already paid my five euro drop off fee so I knew that covered.  Was my car parked at the wrong angle in the drop zone?  The last thing I wanted was an international incident.  I told the fellow, in my own perfect dialect of midwestern and Mississippi slanglished German, that I don’t know any German.  He keeps on talking. How stupid can he be?

My ability to read these types of situations and pick out the meaning of the conversation is approximately equal to that of Siri 1.0.  The first word I noticed was verkauf, which is to sell, but bauern was also in the mix and that means farmer.  I’m working my mind thru “selling” and “farmer’ as I stand at the back of the Mercedes digging through the trunk for errant refuse.  I try, again in vain, to verbally expound on my ignorance of German.

I’m sensitive to the fact that this guy probably doesn’t even understand that I don’t understand.  I am simultaneously amazed that he is totally unable to translate my facial expressions that are screaming out in international angst  “I haven’t a clue in creation what it is you’re slobbering on about!??!”.  I may have to go back and take remedial body language at the tantric center over in Holland.


As I stood there mulling over farmer and selling, I heard him ask “Benzine oder Diesel?”  Like any good Clue player can tell you, it takes a very small set of data points to conclude that it was Uncle Mustard with the lead pipe in the study. I was pretty good at Clue.

It finally hit me as I watched this guys eyes sparkle as he hungrily scouted my Mercedes that he was interested in buying it from me.  This guy thought I was an old farmer that might possibly want to sell him my immaculately cared for, but aging Mercedes Sedan D’Elegance.  I don’t hold it against the guy, because on any given day, what with my advanced aging and decrepitude, I probably look like I could keel over any minute. He must have felt like it might be his best/only chance of scoring such a cherry ride.  I gently rebuffed his confused offer and exited stage left.  Another potentially ugly international disaster averted.

The Rest of Saturday in Paradise

Horsing Around

Later today, I’ll be hanging at the international equestrian extravaganza going on down at the stables. It’s the bee’s knees, specially if the b’s you’re interested in are  Bier, Brot und Brötchen. I’d expect at least one Instagram picture of a German barmaid filling my glass will emanate from that meta data location in the immediate future.  FWIW, I’m traveling the rest of the day via Iron Donkey, my Tomos moped.


In No Rush to Pack


Hop, Skip and a Jump versus Science Reality:

The most distant space probe, Voyager 1, was about 17 light-hours away from the Earth as of December 2012. It will take about 17,500 years to reach one light-year (1.0 ×100 ly) at its current speed of about 17 km/s (38000 mph) relative to the Sun.

Do the math. 17,500 years to get ONE light year away from Earth means twelve times that many years to get to this suspected habitable zone.

Roughly a couple hundred thousand years in your spaceship to get there.

We are in the only habitable zone that humanity will likely ever know at this very moment. Perhaps we ought to take a minute and look around to see if we are doing everything we can think of to try and protect it? Makes more sense than dreaming of an irrational escape from the living hell we seem determined to inflict upon ourselves in one form or fashion, be it in the form of global warming or the more upbeat happiness of a warm gun.


In Germany…

In Germany…..

The local version of the German Sears catalogs (OTTO) is not paperback, but hard bound like a prized novel.  Walmart, America’s number one retailer, failed miserably here in Germany.

They have Cheetos here, but they are all PEANUT (Erdnusse) flavored!  I have yet to see  CHEESE FLAVORED PUFFS of any variety.  WTF?  Cartman weeps.  Don’t even get me started on potato chips.  You gotta search for a good “regular old” potato chip.  Eighty percent of potato chips here are red bell-pepper flavored (paprika in German).  Pretzels are popular and available.

Want some saltine crackers for your soup?   Not on your life my friend!  You can get Ritz and sesame flavored crackers, but pity the fool looking for plain old Nabisco saltines.  How is this even possible?  In a land of otherwise awesomely delicious soups, both Campbell’s and the saltine cracker are nowhere to be found.

Breakfast and dinner are pretty much the same thing over here. Only the lunch menu ever varies.  For all practical considerations you can think of breakfast and dinner as perpetual trips to Subway.  The “variety” comes from the different meats, breads and condiments you use to make either your breakfast or dinner sandwich.  Admittedly, there are a lot of permutations on sandwiches (which is a good thing), but can you imagine eating two meals a day at SUBWAY every day for the rest of your life?

Umwelt.  They got it in spades.  What the hell is umwelt?  From my on-the-scene analysis, it is a form of conservation that somebody like Teddy Roosevelt would have appreciated.  It is rare for me to walk in a place over here that hasn’t been continuously occupied in one form or another for five or more CENTURIES.  The US is only a couple centuries old and only the east coast has any claim to continuous urbanization for any coherent length of time.  The people here know that if they destroy their environment, there isn’t anywhere else to go.  Therefore, they tend to be [b]extremely[/b] sensitive to their environmental impact.  They actually care about the place their kids will grow up (crazy, I know).  I was at a zoo with a young couple and their four year old son.  The mother is a smoker.  We were sitting at a park bench in the concessions area of the zoo when the ashes from the end of her cigarette fell to the bricked patio floor.  Her four year old almost had a nervous breakdown witnessing this singular diabolical act of “pollution”.  It is quite illegal to even trim your hedges after very, very early in the spring or late in the fall, as this might disturb nesting birds.

Bacon.  There’s good news and there’s bad news.  The kind of Waffle House bacon that most of us grew up eating is available here, though you need a bit of savvy to find it.  Most stores will carry it as “breakfast bacon” or “American bacon”.  All the bacon I have purchased in Germany has been sliced thinner than Mitt Romney’s intellect, and there seems to be no option for apple smoked or maple flavored varieties.  You will most likely be buying it in 100 gram packages at about a euro per package.

Milk.  Most commonly packaged and purchased in one liter boxes (US quart) at about half a euro each.  Largest milk container I have seen is two liters, which is about half a gallon US.

Sugar.  One size fits all.  Sold in one kilogram packages only (at least at the retail level).  That is a bit over TWO POUNDS, which translates into those tiny little bags of sugar they sell at your local Kroger alongside the enormous stacks of five and ten pound bags most US customers routinely purchase.

Cereal.  Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies are identifiable and available.  Cereal aisle in German store a tenth that of the US though.  Weird that most FLAVORED cereals tend to include chocolate and not fruit as a sales hook.  They have a lot of “health” themed cereals that look like trail-mix, though I don’t remember seeing any Grape Nuts.

Healthy living.  Along with their focus on environmental Umwelt, the Germans  tend to take their health more seriously than Americans.  The tiny 1kg portions of sugar and 100g bacon packaging in the stores underlines this attitude.  Even rich people with Porshes ride their bikes back and forth (in the winter, in the snow) without so much as a second thought.  People older than your grandma are out riding all the time.  At the end of the day, German life expectancy is only a couple months, give or take, longer than the US.  Matter of fact, if you removed all the needless gun deaths from the equation, the US population lives longer than the average German.  I find it interesting that the focus on health in Germany doesn’t really translate into longevity.  That speaks volumes about any individual’s ability to manipulate his or her lifespan through exercise alone.  What I can say with certainty is that old people here ARE healthier and more active, even if they do eventually fall out at the same pace as their more portly and docile US counterparts.

Don’t ask for a Kleenex.  They have no clue what a Kleenex is.  Ask for a Tempo instead.

Turns out that all that Umwelt is expensive, so you are going to pay through the nose for bottle deposits as well as grocery bags at the store, not to mention gas for your car, which is somewhere around the equivalent of EIGHT BUCKS a GALLON USD.  Note the one liter bottle of Mobil One oil priced at 22 Euro to get an idea how bad things are on that end.  Expect your utility rates to triple from whatever you pay in the US, which WILL have you looking at the THIRTY OR MORE varieties of high efficiency LED LIGHTS already being sold in stores here.

Kitchens.  Kitchens are not considered “part” of a house or apartment here.  They generally move with the occupant.  Kitchen cabinet sizes are standardized, as is mounting hardware.  Since everything is brick here, solid mounting points for heavy cabinets are easy to find.  The local version of Home Depot sells entire kitchens, complete with all appliances, cabinets, counters and sinks, starting at around a thousand euro.  Kinda of an Ikea Kitchen in a box. Custom kitchen retailers abound.  A few thousand euro will get you a COMPLETE KICK ASS kitchen over here (where I paid about two thousand bucks just for a refrigerator back in the US!).  About the most you could spend on a kitchen is five thousand euro, and those kitchens have amenities like MOTORIZED HANDS FREE drawers!  You kinda push against them with your knee and voila they open.  Another press and zippity do dah, they close.  My favorite upscale kitchen appliance?  They sell a flush wall-mount built in latte-cappuccino maker for a little over a thousand euro.  I opted for a table top model at 350 euro.  A little piece of Starbucks right in my kitchen (dislosure: my machine is actually a DeLonghi model).

McDonalds.  This little slice of American heaven lacks the reliance on the red goo meat and bio engineered crap they serve in the US (outlawed here).  Metrics has killed the Quarter Pounder as well.  You can order beer at McDonald here (though I have yet to see anybody do it).  And for the life of me, I don’t remember the breakfast biscuit coming with sliced tomatoes and lettuce in the US.  An aside of an entirely different aberrancy is that KFC does not sell biscuits here, a crushing blow for certain members of my immediate family and something that is certain to have the corpse of the Colonel rolling over in his grave.