Monday, February 27, 2006

This post is about some of the minor and annoying difficulties we deal with (face is a stupid way to say that, hell, I face the mirror every day, dealing with it is another matter!) living overseas under the kind protection of the DOD, the SOFA agreement, and the German government itself.

Granted, they pay for our housing and utilities while we are over here, and this is no small thing. We also get to live in one of the safest, cleanest and most hospitable of countries, Germany.

Except that over the weekend some piggy neighbor left a bag of trash in our bushes. That was kind of a freak incident, although Germans are getting progressively more careless. But that's another blog entry.

The impression over here is that Americans are a lot of slobbering Rush Limbaugh fans who actually BELIEVE that Dub was born in Texas and that he was actually elected by popular vote.

Europeans are surprised when I can actually mouth a few words of German (I can actually hold small conversations after 3.5 years here, though I never studied German, only Latin and some Spanish). I got a typical German backhanded compliment last weekend when one of my German colleagues said I spoke pretty good German, for an American.

People make assumptions, all over the world.
I'm here to bust 'em up. It's in my nature. I've been told I'm a rather offbeat Texan, but in my understanding of the truth of the culture, we're not cut out for the herd, rather the dry gullies and scrub, the wild places. The herd animals just get rounded up, branded, and end up as Tony Llama boots and dog food. No thanks.

I think Penn Jillette is the perfect antidote to Rush. He's bigger, louder, crazier, and for my money I think he's way sexier. My hubby has me hooked on Penn's radio show, which he downloads as a podcast.

AFN broadcasts Rush every night at 6 until 7, after which they segue to the infamous "Dr Laura" which we refer to as "the freak show". I can't even listen to Rush, the man is a pack of lies disguised as "infotainment". There should be some kind of disclaimer attached to the show, that objects in the broadcast may be much smaller than they appear. On Fridays we get "52%" a show about political women's issues. Thursday morning we get the Motley Fool, which is super for the young military audience just learning about money, and for aging Xers like me, wondering what retirement is going to look like (Social Security? nope, don't count on it, kiddies).
We get treated to two hours of the most excruciatingly boring sports talk show in the world with a guy who has a voice only an elephant seal could love, every day at 10 am. They do broadcast NPR's Talk of the Nation and Justice Talking, along with Car Talk on Wednesday and Sunday, followed on Sunday by Prairie Home Companion.
Most of the time we listen to Internet radio, my hometown radio station, or the NPR feed, or various podcasts.

When it gets unbearable and we aren't IV'd to our laptops, we listen to German or Czech radio, always kind of surreal. We never know what the Czechs are going to play, from folk songs to thrash metal.

We shop in German stores (I'll publish a price comparison between the commissary and local stores later) we see German doctors, we eat at German restaurants and enjoy German public trans (the Bahn is wonderfu! Amtrak could learn how to actually be useful, from them!), we try very hard to observe German traditions and social rules. We don't mow on Sunday or leave trash around (they do that for us, evidently).

The American side of our equation is actually a bit more limiting than the German one.

Did you know that an American servicewomen (in military service or a spouse of an American servicemember) cannot obtain an abortion at military medical clinics? Wow, if this isn't a separation of church and state problem, I just can't put my finger on one. Don't get me started on the chaplaincy..

Did you know that I, as a Texas resident living overseas, have to register to vote by mail EVERY SINGLE TIME I want to vote in any election?

Did you know that will not ship electronics or certain other items to an APO? They have been extremely unresponsive and stubborn about changing this. I will not be doing business with them until they figure this out. They in cahoots with AAFES, or what?

In other retail woes, order to replace my Ipod, I have had to deal with Apple in a very annoying triangle: Apple only ships by UPS, so the box to ship the Ipod goes to him, he ships it to me, I ship the sick Pod to Apple, and they ship it back to my dad, who has to ship it to me. Bleah! What is wrong with these people? Shipping to an APO is exactly the same as shipping things in country, it just has to make it to NY or CA and the Army takes it by freight from there. It doesn't cost an extra cent to anybody. My dad, who worked for the US post office for some 30 years, told me that UPS uses the US post for much of their business anyway. So much for privatization.

Link of the day: Texans for Public Justice

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