Bezirk [1] in Berlin© – 13:  September 2, 2011


Today we spent the day with the grandkids.  When we got to Steve’s flat, Noe and Milla ran out of their room, Noe wielding a sword and Milla a pink magic wand.  What more obvious symbols of the way each of them tries to control others – boys by brute force; girls by their magical charms.


 We took the kids to a kid’s museum today.  The theme was pirates (no doubt influenced by Jack Sparrow and his fellow travelers).  I’m still trying to wrap my head around something I saw there.  One area had drawings/names of a number of (presumably) imaginary pirates.  One pirate had the name ‘Ladybeard.’  And he had a beard.  And he was wearing a bra.  Yep!  Bet you had to read this more than once to make sure that you read it right.


 Really!  Some people desperately need for someone to grab them by the scruff of the neck and just slap them silly!  I was listening to NPR this morning and the topic was health care.  Won’t get into the whole deal, but a woman called in to complain that her insurer was pressuring her to buy her birth control pills 3 months at a time, which would save her 2% on her prescription.  This woman was whining that she had always bought them one month at a time (and isn’t “I’ve always done it this way” just about the lamest excuse on the planet?) and that she couldn’t afford to buy a 3-month supply.  And the folks on NPR responded as if this were a legitimate complaint!!  Umm, let me see.  She has to take birth control pills 12 months a year.  Let’s pretend that her co-pay is $20 a month.  So she has to pay $240 a year.  She can pay $60 every quarter or $20 every month.  Isn’t the total still $240, no matter how you slice it?  And she really only has to worry about a big hit the first time, because after paying $60 one month (when she’d already have to pay $20 anyway), she pays NOTHING for the next 2 months.  She could put that $40 away, add it to her normal $20/month, and 3 months later, buy a 3-month supply of pills, with no impact whatsoever—except, of course, that 2% savings.  [And maybe her total disdain for saving 2% is indicative of how she mismanages her money overall, which is why she seems to be totally incapable of paying for a 3-month supply of her meds.]  I don’t know who needs slapping worse – the woman who complained about this or the folks at NPR who treated it like a legitimate problem!!  I am somewhat comforted, however, that the woman is on birth control and isn’t breeding!!


 I need a little help understanding this quote from the Washington Post, in an article describing the economic situation in Europe, about which I have more than a casual interest (if, albeit, only a minimal understanding).

 The bailout/austerity package was a failure, leading to plummeting growth that actually worsened Greece’s financial situation.

 I admit that you can take everything I know about any economics (to include home economics), roll it up, and poke me in the eye with it and I won’t feel a thing.  Nonetheless, this phrasing seems just plain wrong.  Perhaps I don’t have an adequate understanding of one (or both) of these words.  But in my pea brain, I envision ‘plummeting’ as ‘going down’ and ‘growth’ as ‘going up’—am I wrong?[2]

 However, I can think of at least one case in which an oxymoron accurately describes something.  The best way to describe the general atmosphere at Lamar University back in the 60s (when I was there) is that the campus was a place where apathy was totally out of control.  Really.  And, true to form for Southeast Texas, that situation remains largely unchanged since the 60s.

 But plummeting growth?  Really?


 Have you ever bought corn on the cob?  Probably.  Have you ever bought canned corn?  Most likely.  But have you ever bought canned corn on the cob?  I doubt it.  I couldn’t even imagine such a thing existed so when I saw a can of corn (even though it clearly had a photograph of a corn cob on it), I just tossed it into my grocery card.  You can only begin to imagine the look on my face when I opened the corn and found two, piteously mediocre cobs of cooked corn surrounded by water.  Cooked corn cobs soaking in a can of water for God only knows how long—it’s every bit as nasty as you can imagine.  Fortunately, I was going to use it in cornbread, so I just cut the corn off the cob, thereby disguising what would otherwise have been entirely too horrid to put on someone’s plate.  Now, of course, I know to be more careful when buying canned corn.

 And you’ve certainly bought eggs in the store.  But (other than perhaps colored Easter eggs) have you ever bought boiled eggs in a carton of 6 (or any number, for that matter)?  Yep – did that, too.  I was mighty disappointed when I opened the first egg in anticipation of making scrambled eggs for breakfast and discovered that it was already cooked (well, sort of – the center of the yellow was a still a bit gummy).  There was no way on the planet I could salvage THAT shopping mistake.  And now I know to check to make sure I’m not buying partially cooked eggs.


 Ever have that experience of very deliberately walking into a room and then, once you get there, forgetting why you’re there?  This is something that particularly bedevils folks as they accumulate birthdays.  I’ve often considered this some cruel trick on the part of the Universe.  After all, as you age, every minute becomes an increasingly greater percentage of the time you have left on the planet, and you certainly don’t want to spend that time wandering aimlessly about your home (or office, or grocery store) while hoping that the thought that so abruptly exited your head will find its way back home.  Well, I finally figured out that it’s simply the Universe’s way of helping us get more exercise.  After all, every little bit counts!  You don’t have to put on your walking shoes and brave the elements; you don’t have to consciously commit a whole block of time to doing it; and, best of all, you don’t have to worry about getting lost!


 Whenever I try to buy fresh meat (other than sausages), I’m forced to choose from among cuts of meat that are totally unrecognizable to me.  Apparently, cows and pigs in Germany don’t have the same body parts as those in the US.  At least, this is what I gather from going to the butcher shop.  Or maybe they just cut them up differently (and, of course, insist upon giving them appellations in their own language).


 I am an extraordinarily messy eater.  Despite my most careful efforts, there is barely a meal after which at least a few food substances do not take up residence on some part of my clothing.  If I ate standing up, I could diminish the probability that some food finds its way onto my lap, but that doesn’t address the problem of spilling food on my shirt.  I’ve found a clever way to protect my clothes while eating at home – use an apron.  Even neat folks use an apron to cook, and I can conveniently forget to remove it when I sit down to eat.  Alas, this solution becomes problematic when I eat elsewhere – still trying to figure out a way to explain wearing an apron to a restaurant or to a friend’s home when we’ve been invited to dine there.  But, since many folks wandering about the streets of Kreuzberg look as if they chose their outfits much like youngsters playing ‘dress up’, it’s entirely possible that it could be perceived as just another quirky fashion statement.


 Most of us follow trite principles regarding floral arrangements.  For example, the vase is typically vertical; the water, where required, is wholly contained within the vase, as are the flowers.  William is not constrained by any of these guidelines.  In fact, he sometimes goes so far as to violate another principle regarding the vase – that it must remain intact.  But, of course, if you don’t have to worry about the water being wholly contained within the vase, the vase’s integrity has no importance.  Indeed, when he constructs an arrangement, sometimes the vase, flowers, and water are not even in the same room.  His creativity most definitely surpasses that of Christo, whose single ‘brilliant’ idea seems to have been simply draping huge objects, such as the Reichstag, in monochromatic plastic sheets.


 Remember back in Bezirk in Berlin – 09 when William lost one of his baby fangs?  Well, here’s my friend, Evie Fullingim, working her magic again.

NOTE:  To FULLY appreciate Evie’s wonderful cartoons, please enlarge your screen so you can see the extra little tidbits she’s added!


[1] ‘Bezirk’ is German for ‘neighborhood.’

[2] And here Microslop recommends saying ‘Is I wrong?”