Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Aack! Two posts in one day!!

Have to share something. I sent Ryan a funny article this morning ( and he emailed me this response:

"I see your article on the death of love and raise you an article on why you are not a christian. Have fun in hell!"

Please take a moment to share in this masterpiece. Done? Good. Such a high-quality work of theology deserves a thoughtful response. Here is my email to Mrs. (I can only assume she's married and doing her Christianly duty of popping out babies) Folger.

Dear Mrs. Folger,

Thank you for your recent article "You Cannot be a Christian and Vote Obama." It helped clear up a lot of confusion I was having about my life. See, for the past 20 or so years I thought I was a Christian. But, I mailed in my ballot for Obama last week, so clearly, I was wrong.

Its a real shame that when I attended a Methodist University they never told me that voting Democrat nullifies my salvation. Perhaps you should draw their attention to this! I was always taught to believe that there are valid differences in opinion when one reads the scripture and that we should be able to discuss these issues using both faith and reason.

Now that I have seen the errors of my ways, would you please send me your thoughts on the rest of the Bible? I wouldn't want to continue reading it incorrectly.

Thanks very much,

Katy Strange

If you likewise see an error in her logic, please feel free to email her at:

The Pasing Scene

We have been living in a small suburb on the outskirts of Munich for about 2 months now, and last weekend due to our lack of plans, we scoped out "downtown" Pasing.

Let me paint you a picture of this "downtown." At one end is the busy train station, and on the other a lovely park with woods and a river. In between are the usual stores and bakeries, and a central "Marienplatz" a tiny version of its Munich counterpart. Our "host mom" claims that the Pasinger Marienplatz predates the Muenchner's, although the Pasing version has only a tiny golden Mary on a column with a few busy streets.

Friday night we craved a drink at the local pub. After walking around and seeing most places closed at 8 pm, we stopped at local hot spot, Confetti. It was a trendy and smokey little place, playing British boy band concerts on big screens. People were drinking 9 euro cocktails instead of the usual beer. There were some young teens drinking beer, and I was surprised to find out that the legal drinking age is 16 for beer and 18 for liquor. Ryan stuck by his Hefeweisen and I had a large glass of wine (the German standard glass is .2 L while Brits give out tiny .125 glasses) We had a very nice time reflecting on our whirlwind year abroad.

Saturday was likewise lazy, and after helping with a bit of yard work, we walked down to Ryan's favorite bakery, Wimmer. It is right across from the train station, and afforded some great people-watching. The Christmas goodies are already out, large bags of cookies tied with red ribbons, huge wreaths of sweet bread...drool. Ryan and I had cafe and kuechen. Outside a teen boy was handing out leaflets-- religious ones? Shoppers and commuters bustled past, and the line at the butcher's waxed and waned.

But the oddest sight is a lady I've seen before in downtown. From the waist up she is a well-dressed, sophisticated, elderly lady. Saturday she wore a cashmere-looking sweater and beaded scarf. But below that she wore only nude-colored panties and boots. Her varicose-veined legs must've been cold, it was about 40 Fahrenheit. A few old biddies would stop and scold her, but this lady would just bark them away. She apparently enjoys a little street-corner exhibitionism, society be damned!

So that's our little corner of Munich. Quite cozy, really.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Culture Clash

If you asked a friend to describe me one of the traits would probably be something like ludicrous, goofy, bizarre, or silly. Silly is a word I often use when working with the children, because children are weird. But its not nice to call them that, it is ok to call them silly. Because everyone wants to be silly, right?

Wrong. I have recently learned that any translation of silly or goofy into German = Dummkopf (stupid head). So the kids don't liked to be called that. There is no positive word for doing something bizarre to be funny. One can call someone funny without too much fear of them taking offense, but its not so highly valued as in American culture.

F last week had a long talk with her mother and afterward asked me to stop calling her "verrueckt" (crazy) which Ryan and I had recently discovered and had been calling each other and everyone else. Apparently this is also an insult.

Germans really value dignity and intelligence, so I guess it shouldn't surprise me that children don't want to act silly or crazy, but I am disappointed. I suppose if I didn't do all the silly/stupid things that I do, I'd be more dignified... but at what cost? AT WHAT COST!!!??!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Are we there yet?

Ugh, I am sooo tired of the presidential race. We watched the 3rd (and luckily last) Presidential debate last night. Well I should say Ryan watched it and I covered my eyes. All the bickering makes me feel antsy. And John McCain's complete insensitivity to the division his campaign's rallies stir up makes me angry.

Luckily for America (and the rest of the world), its looking like Obama will win. But there are many people who are so irrationally fired up against him (usually convinced he's Muslim/terrorist/black supremacist/whatever) that its going to be a hard fight to bring people together after the election. We need to unify to tackle the most difficult problems America has faced in generations. We don't need hostilities and personal attacks. I once respected John McCain, before his Palin pick and his negative campaigning. I think he would've made a great president 8 years ago(better than Bush), but the current McCain is so focused on winning that he's completely sold out.

What we can hope for is that McCain will go back to being his old, Mavericky self. And I was encouraged to see a return to that at the Al Smith dinner:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Viral Video Update

Ok, so I don't normally do this, but two videos recently have shock-and-awed me. Please to enjoy:


Friday, October 10, 2008


Today I went to the Doctor's to get my birth control prescription renewed. This is the hassle about moving so often, you have to visit the Dr. and get a new prescription in each country. In Germany, as in the U.S., they charge for birth control. Most insurance companies in both countries do not cover it (although many cover Viagra). Personally I think this is crazy.

There are many problems with the National Health Service in the UK, but at least they've figured out contraception. There is a high rate of teen and unwanted pregnancies so they've made contraception FREE to all women. Isn't this a no-brainer?

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, (or like most people, somewhat confused and in the middle) I think we can all agree that there needs to be a reduction in abortions. The easiest way to do this is through contraception. Pregnancy and childbirth are expensive for insurance companies, hospitals, and ultimately the government. You'd think that we'd all have a vested interest in making sure that every woman who wants contraception has access to it.

And what's crazier, as you've probably seen, John McCain won't even discuss it! And just yesterday the Bush administration opted to cut off birth control help to women in Africa.

It is a serious problem when politicians turn a blind eye to the futures of young women. When the pill was made available 50 years ago, it freed women to pursue their goals and fight for equality. But these options are still being denied to many and that's something we should not stand for.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Oktoberfest, part 2

After our reluctant attendance at a Democrats Abroad meeting a few months ago, it became inevitable that Ryan and I would end up volunteering to "support Obama in Munich." Its in my nature to volunteer for things, while Ryan is violently opposed to "joining" things and is always worrying that I am turning him into a "joiner." But the call came and I responded, despite our fear that this Munich for Obama campaign was an exercise in futility.

It was freezing and rainy, but we kept to our commitment and headed out to sell Obama buttons at Goetheplatz yesterday; in an attempt to catch Oktoberfesters on their way in and out. And boy did we! The normally reserved Germans were as drunk as any Geordie yesterday afternoon, clinging to phone booths and friends to keep upright.

Drunk people are not best known for their reasoning skills, but they were enthusiastic. The whole day I felt like a beauty queen on a parade float, with people of all nationalities cheering "Obama!" When they saw my patriotic sandwich board. We sold a fair number of buttons as well.

Along with the cheers we did have some interesting conversations with old and young Germans about the state of global politics. And a racist British guy talked to me at length about our "Muslim problem." Probably best line of the day:
British guy "All Muslims care about is violence. What have the Muslims ever
me: "The number 0, also our numerical system, to name a few..."

There were a few "McCain" cheers as well, but no Bush supporters. Most of the McCain people were just drunk antagonists, I dare say. Some people asked us where the Republicans abroad were located, but there aren't any, not in Munich anyway.

We nearly froze our toes off, but I think even Ryan enjoyed our volunteer stint. We saw the wilder side of Oktoberfest without being vomited on, got to meet a lot of people, and did our good deed for the day. Who knows, maybe Ryan will have a change of heart about volunteering...well, probably not, but maybe it will be easier to drag him to the next one.

Oktoberfest, part 1

After much schedule-jangling, we made it to Oktoberfest last Wednesday night. Our friend, Johannes, advised us on how to beat the difficult reservation system. For those of you who are unfamiliar, most of the seats in the giant "tents" (which are actually huge barn-like buildings) are booked by tour groups and businesses. You can't make a reservation unless you have 8 or more people and there's a 30 Euro per person minimum for most places. BUT, you can look online at specific reservation times and hit the tents 15 minutes after the reservation and often snag an empty spots.

Because of his insatiable desire to eat all God's creatures, Ryan wanted to hit the Ochsenbraterai, a tent run by Spaten (one of the 6 official Munich beers, the only ones allowed at Oktoberfest) which roasts over 100 whole oxen each year. We had a more chill experience than most, seeing as we went as a couple and ate outside. I didn't dance on the table nor was I vomited on like many others; but we still had a nice time, some good oxen, and enjoyed joking with some German guys at our table.

A couple of liters later, I was a little starry-eyed. We took a walk around the grounds to look at the many rides and other tents. Ryan bought me a giant heart-shaped gingerbread cookie that are so famous in Munich, and it was tasty. The atmosphere at the Wiesn is pure fun and friendliness, and the beer sure helps. (Although one of our table-mates called Spaten "piss", Ryan has tried them all and can't tell the difference.) It was expensive (about 8 euros a liter), but a very fun night.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Last Saturday Ryan and I went to check out the last castle built by "mad" King Ludwig II. Ludwig was one of the last kings of Bavaria, who nearly bankrupted his country by building outlandish castles. He also died very mysteriously a day after being deposed. I found out he drowned in Lake Starnberg-- the very lake I spent all of August swimming in with the evil family.

When we mentioned our plans to our current family, they laughed. Then Ryan added that we were catching a 6am train to beat the crowds, and the response was "That's sooo American!"

And yes, not many Germans were there. Mostly American and Asian tourists. The kind who move to stand directly in front of you when you are reading a sign. Anyway, it was very beautiful, but the tour only lasts 30 minutes, at which point you are escorted out of the finished part of the castle (only 1/3 was completed before Ludwig's death.) The exterior was fabulous, and we did a great hike to the mountain top above the castle-- finally nice weather!

It was a nice day trip, but I wouldn't call it a "must-see" as many guidebooks seem to. Next time I think we'll opt for one of the completed castles, of which there are many in Bavaria.

Quotable Quotes

Well, we've been very busy lately. In the next couple days I hope to update on our trip to Neuschwanstein and Oktoberfest. But for now, here are some random quotes from the last few days:

F, German age 6, watching the presidential debate when John McCain said "We're a long way from safe.":
"But you don't have tigers in the USA? And you don't have lions... I think he is a liar."

A really drunk German on the S-Bahn after his friend tried to chat with me (rough translation):
"They don't understand you, they don't speak German, they are from (burp) Florida."

And finally, due to Oktoberfest, a million annoying tourists:
"I cannot believe they charged me for water. It comes from a faucet. I just want water from a faucet. This cost 2 Euros and it has bubbles and I'm not going to drink it!"
"...oooh now say 'Waterbottle.' (laughs) Now say 'aluminium.' Your accent is soooo funny!"

We'll be so glad when all the tourists go home. I've come to realize that Americans are really loud. Normally when I ride the S-Bahn their is a murmur, but with these tourists you can hear every bit of their conversations, and most of those conversations are stupid.