Light Crap

Like Chips Passing in the Night

mug-beer-potato-chips-bottle-65477367

Yes, this image is copyrighted. But it depicts the problem at hand.

“Have a happy fourth of July,” the checkout lady said as I packed up my chips and beers and other fixings for the fourth.

But I just wonder how that could happen the way things are.

I was going to write a clever blog about one of the key differences between life in the US and Germany. But I’ll just get straight to the point and then to bed.

In Germany most bottled beers come in half liters.
Which is good.
Most chips and pretzels come in small bags.
Which is not good.

In the US, most bottled beers come in tiny bottles.
Which is not good.
Most chips and pretzels come in bags you could use to suffocate an elephant seal.
Which is good.

I just thought that this was interesting.

 

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duh, Germany, petpeeve

My Four Most Productive Months

Callous

About halfway through the summer of 2015 I discovered it – a large, scaly callous. And once discovered, I was bewildered. How do you even achieve a callous on your ankle bone? It wasn’t until two weeks later that I realized what had happened.

I woke up with our baby one morning and we began our normal routine – the same routine we’d had for the past few months. We sat cross-legged on the rug and played before I did my morning exercises. As I went to rise, I leaned in and felt my ankle scrape the rug.

At the time I was coming to the end of three months of paid parental leave. Being your typical desk jockey, I wasn’t accustomed to this much sandal-wearing, floor-sitting or child-lifting, and all of the cross-legged sitting had taken its toll on the old ankle bone.

In total I had taken four months of paid (60% or so) leave. My wife had taken 10 months. This is parental leave in Germany. Fourteen paid months in total between us. Along with state mandated protection for the mother’s job (or an equivalent post) for up to two more years of leave unpaid. Not to mention the special eight weeks of ‘Mutterschutz’ for the mother before and after birth.

I’ve had a lot of trouble writing this post in a constructive way.

Continue reading

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cockfights, Serious Shit

Dear Jerk,

Image ganked from this blog, which is actually a really nice post.

Image banked from this blog, which is actually a really nice post.

You probably saw me stammer through my phone number as I talked with the clerk at the T-Mobile counter. I was wearing a pair of jeans with an untucked button-up shirt. My wife had a maroon skirt and a simple top and our baby was wearing a blue striped zip-up and smiling her face off.

You, I remember it clearly, you had on a pair of black cargo pants and a white t-shirt, which you had tucked in. It strained to contain your tummy. Your hair was swept back, a month or two past the due date for a trim.

You stood at the counter talking politely, but firmly with the staff. At your hip a holstered pistol.

And I did it, I foisted a stereotype upon you.

Continue reading

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Holy crap

Be Here Now

vintage-bell-telephone-naked-baby-ad5Since the spaceship landed, parenthood has rendered me little more than a twitching fatherly fiber. I currently have 10 drafts – one for each month since our time traveler joined us – just a few words when my mind has a chance to clear before something new knocks my head off.

And then it’s all out of date.

In becoming a father, I was certain that I would churn out chronicles of experience as steady as a stream of conscious. Hilarious observations, delightful learnings, dangerous debacles, and a fountain of love.

But up until now I’ve uttered nary a peep.

Every single day there are roughly 353,000 children born. Parenthood is as common as you can get, it’s as natural as going to the bathroom in the morning after that first cup of coffee.  Continue reading

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Uncategorized

Follow the Signs: Things I like in Germany

IMG_4518

Remember when you were a kid and you could cut through the neighbor’s yard on the way home from school? Is cutting through the neighbor’s yard even a thing anymore? Do kids still walk?

Well, that’s beside the point. The point here is that if you happen to find yourself in Germany and you see this sign, don’t be concerned. This is not a place to abscond away with small children. No, this sign indicates a city sanctioned backyard shortcut. Most times they’re shorter than walking the sidewalk; sometimes they aren’t.

But I have never regretted taking one.

They’re often out of the way, you’ll never find a car on one, you can see what’s coming up in the garden and steal some blackberries. Plus the air is generally clearer. And as a marginally nosy neighbor, I have discovered that these paths are the perfect opportunity to stick your nose in other people’s business legally.

All hail the blue circle sign with the woman and the kid.

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Serious Shit

GMOs, BGH and Reasonable Objections

bullshit

See this image here? This is what bothers me about the whole  GMO debate. A libelous statement presented as truth labeled as ‘Opinion’.

There are sneaky things going on. A PR masterpiece of epic proportions is underway to sway public opinion by any means necessary.

There was the Vandana Shiva hit piece in the New Yorker last winter, then the Smithsonian talking about GMO-hating hipsters, followed by some crazy article in National Geographic comparing anti-GMO folks to anti-vaccine folks. Slate recently piled on with a person spouting off research purporting that GMOs are safe and healthy.

In this massive PR push, the hacks are relying on a time-tested, mother approved format to divide and conquer, obscure and refute, and force through an agenda.

I don’t oppose GMOs on health claims. Or because I hate science. I oppose them on grounds of sovereignty and choice. It’s the continuing capital creep that has driven people out of work for generations and consolidated more and more power in the hands of few.

But back to the whole PR thing – and this is what interests me while watching this whole debate. Back when Monsanto introduced BGH/rBST, they touted it as a safe alternative for farmers to effortlessly produce more milk from the same cows. An FDA – stacked with folks who worked at some of these companies – approved it for use. Studies paid for and bought by the company put out similar ‘BGH is safe’ mantras, but ultimately consumer choice won out.

At that time, the price of milk was already low, but the same arguments emerged then as we see now: ‘We have to trust science! We have a world that’s growing to 9 billion! There’s only one way to feed them all! Get more from less!’ And small farmers, like my Dad were told that ‘the only way to survive was to get bigger and produce more. Your margins are too high!’

But it was never truly conclusive that it didn’t harm human health or the health of the animals (or maybe it was according to this 2009 FDA Review, except read the intro and the fact that long-term studies were never conducted, whoops!).

Monsanto fought tooth and nail against any regulation. Their PR machine attempted to eliminate any efforts on labeling.  But slowly they lost the battle. Milk started showing up on shelves labeled BGH/rBST free. It was a value add, but as the effects proved evident, it became obvious, consumers weren’t buying it. Monsanto tried to rebrand. After a while they sold it and now you’d have to search to find milk without a BGH/BST-free label.

Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure.

Now we’re at the same debate whether the consumer is truly right or not. Can we trust the consumer to make wise choices?

I’d hope that GMOs would get a fair shake in the media and in the public and be judged based on the science, but there is just too much monkey business – on both sides. Anti-GMO folks are using scare-monger tactics and presenting shaky evidence. Pro-GMO folks are bulldozing and buying out any and all critics, working every media angle to force people to accept their products, whether they want to or not.

This is really not about health. The key is the ability of people to choose. The independence of farmers to not have their fields invaded. The choices people want to make.

But I fear the PR teams behind the pro-GMO are have learned their lesson from BGH and we’re in trouble.

What do you think, folks?

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Light Crap

Maybe it all stays the same

There was a woman in my old neighborhood. And you know how people start to look like their pets?

Actually, scratch that. There were a whole bunch of people in my old neighborhood.

And it’s cliché, but it’s true.

You bike to work every day for like four years. And it’s just a 10 minute bike ride, but everyone has a routine. They walk the dog every morning and stop at the bakery for a croissant. They get on their bike after a night at the bar and wobbly ride home. They have their living room on the street side and you can look in on their daily life as you bike past. They stand at the bus stop with their kids and wave as you go by.

In fact, you join them, become part of the local fauna – the creepy guy on the trashy bike with the big yellow saddle bags who’s always staring at everyone.

And it’s all like Sesame Street in your mind and it never changes.

When I got here I wanted to make up stories about all of these people I saw. And then I wanted to go and introduce myself to each one and find out the real deal and then write about that.

I never did that.

But there’s one person I still think about. The little old lady with the brittle dog on plinky glass legs.

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