Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What gives with Europe?

Read this article fast--the New York Times makes you pay after about a week: No Laughs, No Thrills, and Villains All Too Real.

I maintain that Europe is still feeling the effects of WWI. That's probably hard for us to comprehend because the Americans had it so easy in the war (they didn't call our troops "doughboys" for nothing). But WWI decimated Europe, and you'll have trouble convincing me the war wasn't completely responsible for existentialism. But you're probably scratching your head because the article I gave you to read is about the Holocaust. Europe is still smarting from WWI, but it's still in major denial over the Holocaust.

In my school years I was pummeled with the phrase, "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it." I might say, "Those who remember history are likely to get some bad ideas from it." (I'm sure Hitler said, "Boy, Germany sure learned its lesson in the Great War! Let's not try anything like that again!" For more on that, read this.) All that said, the official approach in Europe seems to be to forget it. We don't shy away from teaching about the Holocaust here in the US, which is why the outrage at Sarkozy's proposal to teach 5th graders about the French children who died seems so outrageous to us. But the natural follow-up question to that is ... when did you first learn about the Japanese internment camps that locked up every person of Japanese descent on the west coast?

I've been to Germany. I've seen Nuremburg. If you've ever seen Triumph des Willens, I stood in that same place. I remember being told that if we "heiled" the swastika we'd be arrested. I saw where the trials against the Nazis were held. I've been to Dachau. I saw roses placed in the incinerators where bodies were burned. I saw the shower room that would have been a gas chamber if it had ever been used, and if I lose all my German I'll never forget what Brausebad means. I saw the monument that says Nie Wieder (never again). I saw all this as an impressionable teenager, and now as an adult I can hear from interviews with Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks that he never learned about World War II in school. The irony isn't lost on me. Und es tuet mir Leid.

Which is why I'm passing along that article--because Germans talking openly about the Holocaust is a big deal. Well, because any European country doing more than just acknowledging its existence is a big deal. Across the Atlantic, I'm heartened that most of us at least know about the Japanese interment camps and that we don't really think of that as a proud moment in our history. It's too bad that it takes this long, but such is the way of the national conscience. I still think that studying history doesn't necessarily prevent us from repeating anything (except maybe fighting a war in trenches--that went real well). But maybe these German kids will finally help Germany come to peace with its past.

Heavy-handed blog today. Sorry ... but not really.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

For your amusement

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I always thought Hallmarks of Felinity was funny, but now that I'm accustomed to Lemmy I realize how much of it is Siamese-specific. Make sure and read #185. It resulted in so much uproarious laughter here that we saved it to the computer and still call that look "Godzilla eyes."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oof.

I'll give everyone one more day to figure out what 14! 1, 2, 7, 14 means. Where are the math people when I need them?

I've added a new label: Homestudy/Dossier. I thought of the past stage as the pre-adoption/application stage, so homestudy/dossier stage is how I'm thinking of this one even though we're not quite there yet. This is the stage where we're in the greatest control. And the nice thing is that the homestudy, as terrifying as it sounds, is actually not that bad. If you can get past the application stage, you're probably fine unless you live in a cess pool. People who live in lean-tos in the midst of Caddo Lake tend not to be approved. Not that Caddo Lake is a cess pool ... just a swamp. And a lean-to isn't much of a domicile. Boy, I'm off track.

The other thing you don't want to do in your homestudy is to "pass the white-glove test." It's tempting to make the house spotless for this occasion, but social workers tend not to like that. A high standard of neatness for the childless couple can result in a high level of insanity once children enter the mix and lay waste to all the beauty. They like something between cess pool and a page out of a Pottery Barn catalog--they like the place to look "lived in." Children tend to settle better into houses where they can make a mess without causing Mommy to have a panic attack.

Both of us have upped out housekeeping skills of late, and the house is all the better for it. My cleaning schedule was created with the help of the greatest book ever written and for two reasons: I don't get enough exercise (and if you don't think vacuuming is exercise, you clearly have a maid), and the possibility of one or both having allergies. I'm trying to get used to keeping the house in better shape. But I don't plan to do anything out of the ordinary for the homestudy.

Now we get to why the post is called "Oof." I've begun gardening. The last occupant of this house clearly wasn't big on gardening--there's bermuda grass everywhere; the soil is lousy; I had close contact with an ant bed (resulting in having to de-pants in the yard to avoid further nibbles); and I'll have snails, slugs, and grubs to contend with. Remember King Snail? I found 3 more under a rock. So now I'm at Gardener's Supply's website finding stuff to kill four kinds of garden pests. Combine that with being sore from hacking into the ground with a hoe and itchy from an ant attack and you'll understand my plight.

The yard is the only thing I'm desperate to fix up before the homestudy. I don't care if it looks like a war zone (especially Flanders Field ... anybody laughing?), I just don't want it overrun with bermuda grass. I really want it to be overrun with yucca of all sorts and knee-deep in mulch, but I still have to hack through that stuff before I can plant anything. And now I really want yucca fries. Maybe it's time for a snack.

Gotta go, gentle readers--I have some diatomaceous earth to order.