duh, Serious Shit

A dead squirrel


Occasionally I’m reminded of it in subtle ways.

On the rare day when I drive my daughter to daycare, it’s a minute long ride. We go there. I drop her off. Collect my kiss. It’s done.

When we bike, we feel the wind and see the sun rearing up over the houses. I shout at her to push me up the hill. We coast down the other side and I drag my hand out signaling a left turn. I drop her off. Collect my kiss. It’s done.

But if we walk – if we walk – we pick some flowers for mom, we look at a bird, we shout at the bus. We contemplate a dead squirrel in the road. We feel the air. We take off our jackets.  We take everything in.

Here is an illustration of what I’m talking about: Continue reading


Dinosaur, my Mantra

“Does a dinosaur stomp her feet on the floor and shout I want to hear one book more?”¹

Singing a song. Reading a book. Over and over and over. So much so that in unexpected moments the words form involuntarily on my lips at work, on my bike, while cutting onions. Each night we find meaning teased out in repetition completely unrelated to actual words.

“You sit on my cold feet and I’ll sit on your cold feet and you sit on my cold feet and I’ll sit on your cold feet.”

For two years and three months. And it continues. Another night, the rocking chair creaks, the bodies relax. We sit together in praise of the consistent, the repetitive, the good.

“Do not think about tomorrow. Let tomorrow come and go. Tonight you’ve got a nice warm boxcar, safe from all this wind and snow.”³

Each night we look at the same books.

Each night we sing the same songs.

Mostly we stick to the agenda with the occasional gentle deviation.

But everything is changing always. Every second there is more of her building bones, teeth, hair, skin, guts and stuff. Each and every cell needs to hear these stories, listen to these songs, learn to rock.

These tiny mantras and all of these things are necessary; for in a state of constant change, we need anchors and guideposts to carry us. Each cell added to the pile needs to be brought into line so every fiber of her being will know how a dinosaur says good night.

“Nein, das ist auch nicht meine Mami.”*

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Partial Bullshit, Uncategorized

Hello, I have a Cold: A Guide to Remedies


I got this gif from here. A listing of things Vaporub can do. 

For three weeks I was a coughing wreck. It would come on strong in the evening as I snuggled down to sleep. The cold, lung-rattling coughs, throwing my head back to lengthen, straighten my throat so that any untoward visitors could writhe out so they could be disposed of.

And yet this monster hung on, wedged in my sinuses wreaking havoc. As is custom, I played the game of ‘Ought I visit the doctor?’

Of course, this is the United States where healthcare is costly and you do everything possible to avoid missing work or ponying up that $30 co-pay on top of the hundreds you already pay per month for service from a company that will ultimately pick and choose what they deign to cover.

And ultimately, it was a cold.

A virus. So I just had to wait it out as they say. Drink plenty of fluids. Get some rest. But I knew there was a secret some where. Everyone has an idea and everyone has an opinion. And you just get to the point – I reached it at 10 days – when you are willing to try any suggestion.

Please find herewith a chronicle of the remedies in various categories I tried and their efficacy or lack thereof based on a scale of ‘Just for Shits & Giggles’ to ‘Meh’ to ‘Sorta’.


  • Fire Cider: This is what the fancy granola kids down at the co-op are doing these days. Horseradish, garlic, onion, ginger, and chiles all dolled up in apple cider vinegar. Here’s the recipe I’m trying.
    • Rating: Sortathis was a good kind of folksy that also got points for harnessing my obsession with Mr. Can Do No Wrong ‘Apple Cider Vinegar’. I don’t know if it did much for my cold. But I now have more hair on my chest, so that’s great.
  • Vicks® VapoRub on the feet + heavy socks: Every single time I have a cold and every single time I talk to Mom, we go over this one again. Before bed slather on a decent amount of Vicks® VapoRub or equivalent on the bottom of your feet. Put on heavy socks. Go to bed.
    • Rating: Just for Shits & Giggles, I’ll keep trying it because Mom says so, but I normally wake up with a cough and sticky, jelly socks.
  • Grandma’s hot toddy recipe – Directly before bed, take an 8 oz tumbler and fill it halfway with whiskey (not the good stuff), add 3 TB sugar, lemon juice and then fill it the rest of the way with hot water. Slam it in one fell swoop. Jump into bed with three extra blankets on top. Sleep.
    • Rating: Meh/Sorta, this one kind of does the trick b/c you’re wasted. But somehow it didn’t actually stop my cough, so I was hacking and wasted. Plus, I woke up at 2am and already had a hangover, so I had to drink a pile of water and take an aspirin. Then I had to get up and use the toilet. So with slight modifications, this one might work.


  • Oil of Oregano: Colds are generally a bonding activity. We all have them, we all have tricks. Janice from Vermont said I should do this one. It took me a while to find. I tried it. Wafts of Italy drifted up from deep inside all day. But with more minor colds it was somewhat effective, I think. With my current cold it did nothing.
    • Rating: Just for Shits & Giggles/Sorta
  • Olive Leaf: See wafts of Italy above.
    • Rating: Just for Shits & Giggles
  • Fenugreek/Thyme: See wafts of Italy above. But Thyme tea is actually pretty effective for chest issues.
    • Rating: Sorta
  • Yin Chao: A Chinese herbal mix that’s supposed to do something. If you let the pills linger in your mouth with water, it’s kind of sugary, which is cool.
    • Rating: Meh


  • Mucinex: Besides a horrible name – though appropriate – this is largely an excuse to ingest a bunch of stuff with difficult to pronounce names that couldn’t do shit against this cold.
    • Rating: Just for Shits and GigglesI have yet to have Mucinex have any effect on anything I have ever had. If there is any effect, it’s mostly that weird druggy, unnatural dried out thing where you kind of feel worse because it does one thing good, but is that feeling any better than being sick? I’m not sure.
  • Sudafed: – On Day 9, my friend Theo shared his sworn-by remedy and slipped me a 500mg tablet of Sudafed while at work. Just take it and keep taking it to dry things out while giving your body a chance to do it’s recovery thing.
    • Rating: SortaTheo’s right. It did take away some of the sinus pressure and reduced the volume of snot coming out. But I also had that feeling that there was some dried up diseasy stuff in my sinuses that was just rattling around and being gross instead of going away.
  • NyQuil: The old standby has nothing on this cold. I just ended up with a dry draft house up in sinus town, a hoarse cough and no sleep.
    • Rating: MehI remember about how cool NyQuil was when I was younger. But at this point, I’d take the hot toddy instead and skip all of the druggy crap here.
  • Anti-Freaking-Biotics (Augmentin): After nearly three weeks with a cough, a tired wife and a sleepy child, I finally went to the doctor. While everything sounded normal, my sinuses seemed weezy and infection-y so he prescribed this stuff.
    • RatingSortait’s tough to tell if the stupid cold was just finally running its course or if this knocked it out. I’m prone to think the former, but don’t want to underestimate the latter. Either way, boosting my yogurt intake for the time being.

So that’s about all I got through. I’m getting tired of this post. What do you get up to when you get a stubborn cold that just won’t quit?


hell, Pure Bullshit

Fair Trade for Whom?

It started creeping up a few months ago. In some context in the political arena, it was mentioned, “We need fair trade, not free trade!”

And I appreciated that. I got excited. I mean, I work for Fairtrade America. This is the kind of stuff that could drive interest through the roof.

Boy howdy, I thought, well here we go. Someone really gets it. Someone who understands that many of our current problems result from exploitation of those less fortunate. The fact that costs on store shelves hardly ever consider externalities – the true costs. The horrible way power is consolidated in trade houses and risk is heaped on farmers, the ones with the most to lose. Someone who realizes that bigger isn’t always better.

Then I realized who said it.

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beefjerky, Germany, Light Crap

A Difference of Taste

I still like to write people letters occasionally. And generally, if you receive a letter from me, it will include a clipping from a magazine or the weekly grocery store circular. When I lived in Germany, my favorite clippings were in the weekly Angebote at Rewe or Edeka. Most of the stuff was standard and of little interest, but the pictures of meat were exactly that: meat in the raw.

Big slabs of Kalbsbraten bleeding Schweinenackenbraten, pasty Hähnchenbrustfilets, or flaccid Puteschnitzel. They had it all – and all was presented rather matter of fact. Sure, there’d be the occasional decoration propped nearby, like the slices of pepper next to that floppy chicken breast below, but most of it was blissfully unadorned.


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Serious Shit

Where I’m at now…

I always thought it was an exaggeration – the way people talked about the way your life changes when you have a child. One second, you’re fine; next second, an emotional mess.

I remember the first time it happened while on parental leave. In that first month, everyone is tired, but the kid sleeps so much that you actually find yourself with a decent amount of free time – provided you occasionally get bored of staring at your child while they sleep.

I took those spare moments to pull up classic films I’d never seen – among them ‘Paris, Texas’ from Wim Wenders. I won’t bore you with a synopsis, but at one point a long-absent father tries to meet his estranged son after school.

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Light Crap

Like Chips Passing in the Night


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.