Holy lack of posting, Batman!

Yeah, not so much motivation, lately...

Found this comic which embodies much of my mood over the last few weeks:

The whole "frugal living" thing is relatively new to me, but we're becoming progressively more savings-reusing-recycling-oriented over the last couple of years. Some of this is owing to environmental concerns, some to financial, particularly now that we're planning this huge move, where we need lots of money and not a lot of stuff...

This year, we made candles and cookies, and only bought a few secondhand books, and a couple of new things for our Anja, pretty much. I bought John some custom-made pajama pants (long enough, even!) and he bought me a pair of fingerless, fair-trade alpaca gloves :)

Somehow, I didn't feel very Christmassy this year. I'm hoping that it's not directly tied to not going out and spending money and buying for people, but am afraid that it just might be. I'm also feeling awfully cynical and mean about the amount of stuff that people give to each other (and I'll admit that part of it is jealousy.) But part of it is also, who needs so much stuff? What kid needs so many toys that they are overwhelmed opening them all, and don't have space to store them? What is WRONG with our society?! /sigh

Other than that, not much going on. Dealing with the usual winter depression/anxiety, trying to work on coping with that in non-pharma ways. Some days are better than others, for that.

Work is... meh. They're not sure they'll be able to make me a programming spot at the Munich office. If that's the case, they're likely to lose me out of programming entirely, because at this point, I think I'd rather do a job I'm 'eh' about (data mgmt) in Munich than a job I find more interesting here, but resenting it, because we're still here. Guess we'll see...


Anybody else hear the radio interview with Dahr Jamail today?

In case you don't know, Dahr Jamail is a non-embedded reporter, who's extensively covered Iraq for the past 4 years.

I can't remember the name of the show the interview was on today, sorry...

I'm so sick, so, so sick about what we are doing to the citizens of Iraq. That feeling started back in 2003, when I saw the photo of a soldier handing a headless child back to its father... that photo made me sob, almost made me vomit, and the feeling has not left. But listening to Dahr speak today, listening to just HOW bad it is and HOW MUCH is kept from us, twisted, how lied to our citizens are, how deluded about what we are doing there, I just feel so hopeless. Hopeless and cynical. I wonder how Dahr sleeps at night, having seen what he's seen.

1.1-1.2 MILLION dead Iraqi citizens. Many dead from gunfire shot into houses and cars, in return for IEDs, whose source is not found, and the soldiers lash out.... I cannot imagine, cannot begin to start to fathom, what it's like to live in Iraq right now. To watch your family, your children, parents, friends, killed and maimed, and FOR WHAT!?

End the occupation of Iraq. Bring the troops home. The Iraqis don't want us there, and I don't blame them.


Doing something a little crazy with our living room...

Ok, probably not that crazy, if you guys our penchant for the un-mainstream :lol

We need to take the big chair/ottoman out of the living room, to make space for the Christmas tree. Last year we put them in our bedroom, but this year, no room in there (since I now have a small desk where they went last year.) We've been reading some alternative housing stuff (Little House on a Small Planet - a great book!) and thinking about what we really want from our space. I realized that John and I very rarely use our living room space. We don't watch TV, rarely watch movies, often wind up sitting either in our kitchen or bedroom with guests, since the LR setup is not too conducive to hanging out and good conversation. I want the LR to be a space that is people-centered, and not TV-centered, since we don't use it that way!

So, we're going to get rid of the chair, ottoman, and couch. Keep the 4 cushions, and I'll re-cover them. We plan to bring over my dad's old footlocker (trunk) that has a flat top, to use as a coffee table, and just have a floor-sitting space. Ideally, I'd love nicer lounge cushions (or Japanese Zaisu chairs) and a Japanese-style table, but those aren't in the budget right now. Fabric to cover 4 cushions is, though :) I can *see* what I want to do with the space, here's hoping I can get to something close to it, on the cheap. We won't miss the couch and chair, I hope Anja won't (she climbs on them a lot).

These are the closest pics I can find to the "feel" I want...

Looking at those pics makes me think that maybe I need to start scoping Craig's list for an appropriate table...

Stuff goes out sometime this week... my friend Lauren and her husband have a Sawz-all and a truck, and can help us cut them up and cart them out (they came in through the bedroom window, no way I'm spending the effort to move everything and get them back OUT that way, lol)

I also want to take our super-tall IKEA bookcase and cut it in half, so that we have two short bookcases, which I *think* should make it feel cozier (not so towered-over). Not sure if I'm willing to tackle this on Wednesday/Thursday night, before our party on Saturday.

I guess the great thing about having free/cheap furniture is you can do crazy things...


Birthday Party-ness

Happy 5th to Anja!

Anja, her best friend Louise, and friend Chandre - this was a unicorn-pegasus party, hence the angle of the hats, lol

Dylan is a nut :)

Hangin' out and playing during the party, in Anja's room

It was a full house :) I think we ended up with 19 adults and 10 kids, wow! And man, is my hair short in the back, just got it cut a few hours before the party!

Anja's friend Anatole has the most striking eyes

Opening gifts - I think she's a little excited about Memory!

Playing with horses and unicorns, before they started playing dress-up:

A bunch of kiddos wound up hiding out in the laundry room, a good nook for a pile of kids, and banging on the washer with your feet sure sounds like a monster coming! LOL

Getting ready to light the candle... our friend Jason decorated the cake - thanks, dude!!

Ok, everybody get in line!!

This was after dress-up had gone on, Anja in her "princess dress" and Chandre in one of Anja's dresses. There was a point I was having to set the kitchen timer to keep track of who got how long with which dress, and with the princess hat!

All in all, it went really well! The cake all got eaten, there was almost no crying, kiddos were mostly reluctant to leave :) Dylan's parents got a tour of our basement, and I think every square inch of our house was, at some point, occupied. I feel like I missed a lot of good pics, didn't get behind my camera much. I handed it off to my dad, but I know he was taking his own pics, too, so maybe he has some shots of some of the fun that I missed...

Anja says she "Loved it and can we do it again tomorrow?" Bwahahahaha!


Best excuse for 'research':

Harvard Scientists Build a Device to Smoke Weed During Brain Scan
Since that project was completed, Lindsey has used the same equipment to study the neurological effects of tobacco. Last Friday, Scott Lukas, the ringmaster for these studies and director of the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory was informed that he and Frederick will receive a grant to conduct further studies with marijuana.

Take a look at the pic - John says "You know he totally modelled that off the one he has at home..." LMAO :)


Preach it, brother.

Credit to the amazing XKCD :)


I wish that crap that's bad for you didn't taste so good.

Like, for instance, Reese's Nutrageous bars:

Peanuts; Milk Chocolate (contains Sugar; Cocoa Butter; Milk; Chocolate; and Soya Lecithin, an emulsifier); Sugar; High Fructose Corn Syrup; Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (contains Cottonseed; Soybean; Palm Kernel; and Palm Oils); Sorbitol; Dextrose; Chocolate; Nonfat Milk; High Maltose Corn Syrup; Refined Palm Kernel Oil; Salt; Corn Syrup; Whey; Whey Protein Concentrate; Caseinate; Soya Lecinthin; Artificial Flavoring; Glycerine; Lactose; Mono- and Diglycerides; and TBHQ and Citric Acid

I mean, come on, I highlighted everything that's anywhere close to a food in its natural state. Ugh. This is not "food," this is chemically engineered crap that I'm sure is *not* good for my body.

Brown rice and tofu and veggies for dinner tomorrow, for sure. (Anja gets to pick tonight, since it's her birthday!)


MIT sees acceleration in US greenhouse emissions

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions could grow more quickly in the next 50 years than in the previous half-century, and technological change may cause increased emissions rather than control them, according to a new study by an MIT economist and his colleague. ...
Eckaus acknowledged it has become counter-intuitive to question technology's potential to solve the energy problem. But U.S. steelmaking illustrates how fossil fuel consumption can increase along with technological change: Steelmakers' furnaces are now electrical, reducing coal use at the plant. But coal generates some of the electricity that powers the factory furnace, resulting in more CO2 emissions.

"The net savings in this case comes from the use of scrap steel instead of iron ore, not from new furnace technology," Eckaus said.

"There is no 'a priori' reason to think technology has the potential for reducing energy use while meeting the tests of economics. It's politically unappetizing in the U.S., but in Europe, gas costs six dollars a gallon. Make energy more expensive: People will use less of it," Eckaus said.

Yep. There's a *reason* Europeans are generally more conservative with energy, prioritize using it efficiently in public systems, and recycle more. It costs them if they don't. Or at least, it costs the businesses, which means it costs the people.

Random Thoughts.

For the evening:

1.) I love that kitteh speak has become a language that you can speak. U cn send yr kitteh pics plz? :)

2.) I wonder how the movies you watch most while growing up shape your view on the world. Mine were Princess Bride and T2. Therefore, I need a funny, romantic pirate to rescue me in preparation for the computer takeover of the world and nuclear holocaust. Mmm, check. :D

3.) Bought Anja new boots today. Cross your fingers for all of us that these boots help with the sock/shoe sensory stuff that's going on right now. It's very frustrating for her, and for us. Next on the purchasing list, if this doesn't do it, is seamless socks...


Today's required reading list:

The End of America: Letter of Warning To A Young Patriot by Naomi Wolf. A great book about the American shift to fascism. Wolf points out the ways in which our current society parallels the move to fascism in numerous previous times this has happened across the world. Scary, and important.

Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn. This is a book with the potential to really make you re-think the way you interact with your kids (and other people's kids), in terms of moving away from control and toward cooperation. There is a lot of information in it, backed up by many studies across multiple socioeconomic backgrounds, countries, etc., to show that children do better the further away you get from any carrot-and/or-stick methods, and the more you allow them choice and autonomy, and the more you work *with* them instead of controlling them. While I already do a lot of the things he talks about, it helped to point out to me just how much *more* I could be doing these things, and how I can change my point of view. It also makes me much more motivated to keep Anja in Montessori schooling in the future.


Christmas Wish List!

Thorlo Hiking Socks, size 7-9, color unimportant.

Gift cards to Foodworks II in Old Saybrook, or Yankee Candle

Ghirardelli’s Double Chocolate Hot Chocolate or Starbucks’ Hot Chocolate or Mocha mix

New sneakers, since my current pair is about 7 years old

Anything from my Amazon wishlist (link added!)

Cash is gladly accepted in light of our upcoming move, and the fact that it is both useful and portable :)

The Big Thirst: The American Water Crisis

Boy, am I glad right now that I don't live in Atlanta... it's going to get awfully ugly down there, awfully soon. The Big Thirst: The American Water Crisis

Part of me feels like certain people there are getting what's coming to them, those who have recklessly and selfishly pushed for more pollution, more industry, less planning, less care about the environment. But a whole lot of more-or-less innocent people (or guilty only via their ignorance and inaction) are going to get caught up in this, too.


Great SFGate article

Outrage fatigue? Get over it

This is the part that I can really identify with, the frustration over the "har-har, thinking, har" mentality:

"Maybe, in other words, you can enjoy, as one blogger put it, a big dose of 'fatigue outrage,' the feeling of disgust you get when faced with all those people who think mental lethargy and laziness is, like, way funny, dude.

In other words, enough with the childish, frat-boy-grade complaints about media overload and too many rants and outrage fatigue. You have to earn that sort of thing. If you never give a crap about engaging the world, if you never want to think deeply about complex issues and care about ramifications and see what truly resonates with your own informed spirit and then stand up for what you believe, this pretty much eliminates your right to sneer at others who do."

This is the feeling I get sometimes when I try to talk to people about issues and the response I get is all "lighten up already." No, I will NOT lighten up, dammit!


Addicting AND good for the world

Play the Free Rice vocab game... every word you get right, 10 grains of rice are donated to feed hungry people. From the FAQ:

Who pays for the donated rice?
The rice is paid for by the advertisers whose names you see on the bottom of your vocabulary screen. This is regular advertising for these companies, but it is also something more. Through their advertising at FreeRice, these companies support both learning (free vocabulary for everyone) and reducing hunger (free rice for the hungry). We commend these companies for their participation at FreeRice.

If FreeRice has the rice to give, why not give it all away right now?
FreeRice is not sitting on a pile of rice―you are earning it 10 grains at a time. Here is how it works. When you play the game, advertisements appear on the bottom of your screen. The money generated by these advertisements is then used to buy the rice. So by playing, you generate the money that pays for the rice donated to hungry people.

Who distributes the donated rice?
The rice is distributed by the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The World Food Program is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good. Wherever possible, the World Food Program buys food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. We encourage you to visit the United Nations World Food Program to learn more about their successful approach to ending hunger.


Wanna know why more high school and college kids aren't politically active?

Because they get expelled for singing and protesting peacefully.

How's that for ridiculous? And the level of their punishment is dependent on their GPA. Score one for punitive fascist behaviour. Teachable civic moments, well, who'd want those....


Nicolaus is a damn smart kid.

As usual, Nicolaus of Electric Boogaloo fame has some damn brilliant insights to share, regardless of his age. Enjoy. :)


The Peak Oil crisis

I'm starting to see more "mainstream" news about the global oil supply and demand issues, for example, this article that just came out. With oil over $97/barrel at the beginning of winter, when prices are traditionally starting to come down, that doesn't bode well, nor does the dropping value of the dollar.

A very interesting and scary graph of world oil production:

It's a recent graph from the Energy Watch Group's Peak Oil report - it's the very best report on Peak Oil I've seen - thorough, intensely analytical and very, very honest. You can get the Executive Summary here and the full report here. Both are PDFs.

With so much of this stuff, it's hard to know how much is hype and fear-mongering stuff, but I think at this point it's not debatable that things are going to have to change in the next 20 years or so, and that conservation and reusable energy sources are going to have to come into play, and soon. Aside from that, oil runs not just our vehicles, but petroleum is the basis for so much of what we do - plastics.

Additionally, with the Euro now buying $1.47, it's going to be debatable about whether we can even save enough money to make this move happen. Pay for the move in $$ on credit cards and then pay it off once we're earning Euros? Is that cheating? Is it even realistic to think that could work? Oy.


Keith Olberman kicks fucking ass.

Damn. Watch the video. We need way more people like this in the media.

I think I found our funiture store...

All used furniture, all the time :) Wa-hoo, yay for spending less money and buying less newly-made stuff! Sah-weet! Bookmarked for next year...

Edited to add: bookmarking this page as well, because I want the big barrel chair in aubergine colored fake suede, if we have a suitable reading corner in our apartment. If I'm buying one piece of new furniture, I want it to be something I love. :)


Live like a cat day... and other random thoughts.

Man, I totally want a day like this..., hehe.

Today's thoughts on the move? I'm really looking forward to having less stuff, to finding and using pre-owned things that I really enjoy (furniture, mostly, I'm hoping, and decorations). I've seen some neat stuff on etsy made from recycled parts, and I'm loving that. Baked my first batch of chocolate chip cookies sold via etsy tonight, which is cool.

Oh, and definitely looking forward to good potato-leek soup :D

Some really beautiful images of this planet

StumbledUpon this page with some really amazing and beautiful images. Totally worth looking at the high-res on the Fjords and the Volcano :)

Edited to add more beautiful travel and architecture images... man, I can't wait to live in Europe again!

Neat geek travel toys

Lots of stuff here you don't need, until you read about it... Vagabondish post

Yeah, this is me, contributing to the blogosphere... /sigh


Cool inspiring story...

Here's an interesting story that exemplifies something I love about traveling - the people you meet, the stories you hear and the ways in which your own perspective is changed...


You big, fat pile of bacteria

Go ahead, roll in it. Revel in it. You're made of it. What, you prefer a meek, sterile world?

Maybe the fact that I'm not a great housekeeper is part of why Anja's so healthy, LOL.

No, but seriously. Interesting stuff, and I totally agree that so much of the western world is so much more comfortable in a super-sanitary, predictable environment. The MRSA thing is one example - MRSA is *everywhere*. Literally, it's on you right this very moment. And your immune system keeps you from getting sick. Sanitizing schools is silly, as soon as you let the kids back in, MRSA'll be all over the place again. Lots of people get MRSA and don't die from it. But OMGZ SOUND THE ALARMS because we live in such a culture of must-fear-everything, it's absurd. The night I saw the ad for the nighttime news about why we should fear escalators, I think that was the last and final straw for news-watching in our house.


Amazing German do-it-yourself...

I'm lmao at these nutty inventions... unfortunately they're not translated, but I think the pics mostly give the gist, though the German makes it funnier.

Funky German inventions

I'm lmao at these captions, which unfortunately, are not translated on the page... do-it-yourself

Tidyness and Stuff

I've been thinking tonight about how accustomed I've been, my entire life, to having too much stuff. Things I don't actively use, that I never take out and look at, or use again, that are cluttering up our living space. Clothes, books, mementos, things I "meant to" do something with and never did. Ugh. This move is really making me reflect on that as I contemplate what I care about bringing with us or putting into storage. And I see us teaching Anja the same thing... maybe this move can help us get out of the "stuff" rut... I don't know. A girl can hope, right?

Are there Germans who are packrats, who have this much disorganized stuff?? /sigh

Doing what Detroit says is impossible

DailyKos Commentary here, Original story here

"This is more than a mere American Chopper--style makeover. Goodwin's experiments point to a radically cleaner and cheaper future for the American car. The numbers are simple: With a $5,000 bolt-on kit he co-engineered--the poor man's version of a Goodwin conversion--he can immediately transform any diesel vehicle to burn 50% less fuel and produce 80% fewer emissions. On a full-size gas-guzzler, he figures the kit earns its money back in about a year--or, on a regular car, two--while hitting an emissions target from the outset that's more stringent than any regulation we're likely to see in our lifetime. "Johnathan's in a league of his own," says Martin Tobias, CEO of Imperium Renewables, the nation's largest producer of biodiesel. "Nobody out there is doing experiments like he is.""

Interesting read... ticks me off that a guy with an 8th-grade education can do this, and yet we can't get industry to buy into it??

If this doesn't make you go squeee!

Like an 11-year-old... well, then... Phooey on you!

Squeeee! Cuteness!


Sorry for the craptacular layout issues...

I'm doing "HTML by Guess and Check" method, and have just discovered that things I thought were frames are actually .gifs that I will have to make new ones of to change their widths. Urgh.

Pics, part 3 of 3...

So here's part 19-31 of a bajillion :) Some of these are getting closer to the kind of pics I want to be taking, but have yet to learn the proper mechanics of. One of these days I'll read the manual...

We went out to a live show at the local subversive coffee house... makes me think of the kind of thing that would have gone on in 20s Europe... Anja played with puppets...

Anja's shoes she chose for our walk there. I'm trying to walk more in prep for Germany, and because it's better for us, and the world.

Peek aboo, I see you!

For my friend Jess L. ... what I read while we waited for the music to start

Anja playing at playing chess. This is getting closer to the kinds of pics I want to be good at taking.


Playing with a little boy who was there...

One of the reasons I wanted a good camera. I still need a polarizing lens, though.

I love the color of some trees around here in the fall

Nights at our house... John explains something to me that he's reading online

Wish this'd come out better... Anja showing me how much she loves Faith, the cat, and how cute they are together

Last but not least... I see you in there...

Pics, part 2 of 3...

Part 10-18 of a bajillion :)

Our friend John B. got ahold of my camera...

Our friend Shanna (B.!) plays at being bridezilla before their wedding. Plays, because she was a total saint of a bride.

Me and Anja, all ready for the wedding. It was a perfectly beautiful, blue-skied, sunny day!

The meticulous flower girl, one petal at a time :)

Me and Anja during the wedding ceremony

Anja smelling her flowers. John caught this one - I love it.

I see you!

John took a gorgeous pic of the moon over the barns...

My little peasant girl... we spent a while talking to and about these cows...

Pics, part 1 of 3...

So, I got a camera for graduation. (Thanks, Dad!) This means that I'm taking lots more (albeit not-yet-fantastic) pictures, and getting closer to capturing what I see...

So here's part 1-9 of a bajillion :)

Making famous (ha!) cookies, which I'm now selling on etsy :)

Macro mode rocks - this is a party decoration hanging in our kitchen. Yes, still. :P

Driving around

John shows off his tattoo w/our friend Sue at a dinner party we went to in New York

John w/our friend Thom on the Staten Island ferry

The Statue of Liberty

Really beautiful flowers on Ellis Island

The intake room at Ellis Island, where immigrants used to all be processed

Anja curled up as a cat in our bed...