Archive for the 'Die Deutsche Leben' Category

May 08 2016

Musical interludes

Spring finally came to the icebox that has been southern Germany for the past 5 months. To add insult to injury with that development, both the S.O. and I have had to work a lot these last couple of weeks for different reasons. SO when Saturday rolled around we took the opportunity to out and do something different.

For the uninitiated, springtime is Spargel season in Germany. Spargel is the German work for Asparagus. We went to a farmers market type place that specializes in preparing all different types of dishes that feature asparagus. One would think that a side dish would have only so many uses, but that person would be wrong. They had lots of variations available. Being the purist I am, I went for the vegetarian route:


The Hollandaise sauce was very well prepared and the Asparagus was good. A tasty but healthy treat.

In addition, we took advantage of the beautiful weather to go hiking today. The wondrous thing about where we are living is that are village is literally surrounded by a Baden Wurttemburg state park. That has lots and lots of hiking and biking trails. 


And finally, I splurged on a whole bunch of new music for my I-pod for the journey to work and to listen to while I gamely make the attempt to convince myself that I can still run 5km. I don't do well in the winter on the exercise front and it shows in my waistline. The S.O. never misses an opportunity to point it out and she is right. ( Of course if could be due to over-indulgence in beer, but come on now!)

Did I say new music? None of it was new, in terms of the year(s) the songs were first produced. Actually I guess you can refer to it as classical or golden oldies now given that the album Aqualung is 45 years old this year. 45?!?! Say it ain't so Joe? That means I went to my first ever Jethro Tull concert 43 years ago . ( True, no matter how hard I try to deny it).

I got new remasters of Passion Play by Jethro Tull, Passion Play -the Château d'Hérouville extended performance. This a remastered work that takes the cuts from the original 1973 Passion Play album. The story behind this is a bit interesting. The band wanted to do a second extended song album after the success of Thick as A Brick the previous year. There was a problem in the studio in which they’d begun recording the album – the Château d'Hérouville near Paris,  which led the band to give up the ghost and shift locations, setting aside the hour or so of music they’d recorded and start anew elsewhere. And thus the original Passion Play album was born.  There was still a body of work from the Chateau though, and so in 2014 an extended play album was released includes the original album and the Château d'Hérouville sessions, both mixed to 5.1 surround sound and with new stereo mixes. I like it.

I also got : Journey to the Center of the Earth by Rick Wakeman and a remastered copy of Stand Up, one of Jethro Tull's early albums. Listening to it is a journey back in time for me, just the right amount of 1960's rage and smoky bar off the wall songs. Good rock and roll from a better time, that I missed most of because I was still very young and more concerned about Saturday morning cartoons than English rock and roll. By 1971 though,  that had changed and I was hooked on Jethro Tull. I still am.

The album that got me started? Aqualung.

Today's generation of millennials can't really appreciate a band like Tull and that's sad, because I think, musically, they are much better than a lot of the pop hits of today. Sorry Katy Perry and Beyonce-but that is just the way it is. 

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Mar 07 2016

The Alps are always beautiful!

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

Was out of pocket this weekend on a skiing trip. The town of Garmish Partenkirchen is always beautiful with its mountain backdrop of the Austrian Alps. This was a fun trip although it seems my skiing skills have atrophied a great deal. This could be due to the mountain being really difficult ( my preferred explanation) or my increased fear of the consequences of falling. ( Probably closer to the truth).

The weekend could have been a disaster however, but fortunately that was avoided. I'll explain:  to get up to the top areas you have to ski from the blue trail (European beginning level / more like US intermediate ) to the lift via either a black Diamond run ( European expert / American suicidal ) or an intermediate run that is really steep at the bottom. I was really scared on the second run over there and the S.O. fell and kept sliding down the mountain like the Wide World Of Sports ski jumper. Fortunately for us both, the only thing injured was pride and we kept on. 

P.S. I still hate snow boarders.

Pix: 12472528_10208349618008315_2522510850355615529_n 12799095_10153984114063624_586446085605836484_n 12799263_10208349618168319_1442691902466239599_n 12801315_10208362112880679_972506752958365103_n 12801369_10208362112680674_3007020913924811539_n 12801616_10153984117223624_156060211372550301_n 12804619_10153984113988624_5124942031166350409_n

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Mar 10 2015

Another orbit around the sun.

Today is my birthday which in the grand scheme of things is not really important-and tomorrow is the 4TH anniversary of the Tohoku Tsunami which is. If had not given up booze for lent ( and believe me I think its a big mistake tonight)-I would probably be drunk off my ass tonight and not typing this post.

So lucky you, I am sober. sad

Its 2015-the year Back to the Future promised us a lot of things. And we do have a lot of the technology toys that were promised, although I am still waiting for  my hoverboard and flying car. Not to mention the demise of all lawyers.

But given the way the future of the world, and in particular the US is heading, we might need those lawyers after all. For certainly 2015 has not turned out the way I thought it would be in 1979. I mean, besides the fact that I am not rich and successful with a svelte young blond by my side-the overall direction of the land of my birth is backwards not forwards. And that troubles me a lot more than you know.

I feel cheated in so many ways. So many things were supposed to be true this years that are not simply in the cards. The world was supposed to be a more peaceful place. Technology was supposed to have improved the lot of all the worlds populations such that disease, hunger, pollution, and poverty were supposed to be a distant, albeit unpleasant memory.

And we won't even get into the fact that the age of "free love", e.g, lots of sex with lots of partners got a real cramp placed on it in the 80's. WTF is up with that? Certainly its not been for lack of trying on our part as a species-after all monogamy sucks.

And what can one say about the United States? Nothing good I am afraid. The direction of the country's politics is definitely regressive, not progressive. President Obama did himself proud when he eloquently pointed out that it does not have to be that way, and that the cruel vision for the country held forth by the tea sniffers is not in keeping with real patriotism at all. It is what teabaggers will never understand:

What greater expression of faith in the American experiment than this, what greater form of patriotism is there than the belief that America is not yet finished, that we are strong enough to be self-critical, that each successive generation can look upon our imperfections and decide that it is in our power to remake this nation to more closely align with our highest ideals?"

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit. That’s why someone like John Lewis at the ripe age of 25 could lead a mighty march.

More on that tomorrow. It was a wonderful speech-but then he had to return to Washington and govern the country with a legislature filled with morons. Suffice it to say, I am not optimistic about the direction of the country. I am deeply concerned what will happen in the back half of this decade, especially when some asshole like Scott Walker gets elected. 

Like everyone on their birthday-especially when in their late 50's I have paused to reflect on the fact that the more of the journey has been completed than is left to run. That's indeed a scary thought. I also, once again, marvel at the changes that have occurred in me and my viewpoints of both my former profession and the world.

For example, I continue to marvel at how completely I have been able to slam the door on my former career as a Naval Officer. While I am grateful for the gifts it gave me, I have no longing desire to go back to it. Especially in the "no fun of any kind" Navy that exists now. I was even able to pick up the latest Navy Times , where the MCPON says chiefs iniations are not "tradition" and not completely lose it. ( Even though the statements by the MCPON are complete and utter bullshit). I find myself speculating on the alternate paths I might have taken-especially as I hear so many people on the radio who left college and do not even , ever, consider the service. At the time I was 20, the idea of not going into the Navy was non-existent to me. But who knows what adventures the alternate path might have led to?

Or not. Either way, I don't find myself missing the wearing of the uniform one bit. That door is closed and will remain so.

There are other things I think about too. I think a lot about injustice these days, and the unfairness of the economic system. I am asking myself what can I do about it? And not liking the answer of, "not very much", at all. I have become a voracious consumer of economic news of late and I find what companies are doing these days quite disturbing. Disposable workers were not what 2015 was supposed to be about either. That they exist,  well that happens. That so many people blithely defend the practice-that is what is truly troublesome.

And it brings me back to the question of my closed door former life. What was it all for? Certainly not to defend this sick and twisted view of life, society, and humanity. If it was-well than may God forgive me for devoting such effort to the profession.

And that brings me back to the idea of what will it take in the future to correct that?

More to follow on that later this week. Have a good day.


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Feb 21 2015

The Green Life

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

The S.O. works for a German company. She in the last year was moved up to a position where she works enough hours to have to pay German taxes-and receive German benefits, particularly German health insurance. For me it is yet more proof that the nay-sayers in the US are truly selfish and uncaring. Her health card works well, her co-pays are low, and contrary to what my idiot countrymen say back home, its not socialized medicine. Her health insurance is with  a private company-and she pays her share of the premiums. I'll come to my arguments on health care in a different post, but I find it interesting how misunderstood Europe is by Americans.

Consider this flawed line written in a very flawed publication on line, The Daily Beast, trying to not so subtly smear Germany yet again.

Europe’s much ballyhooed attempt to go “green”has raised energy costs throughout the continent. Ultimately, the effects of high energy prices tend to fall on the middle and working classes, as well as on manufacturing industries, which are are now scouring the world, including the southern United States, for lower cost alternatives.


 Interesting, if not more than a little overwrought. While it is true that fuel prices over here are higher than in the United States, its also to be expected in a country that is an almost 100% importer of oil. But it is wrong to assert that by wanting to protect the environment and recycle, that it has made it impossible to do business over here. The facts do not bear that fact out.  We should turn that statement around a bit to what it really says, namely that companies should free to behave as irresponsibly as they want, and they are finding a home among the selfishly deranged people in the South who vote equally deranged idiots like Rick Perry. For all his crowing about the Texas miracle, the Texas economy has a very dark side.  Furthermore, it's not quite as bad here in Germany as people portray it to be. For one thing the country has decent train service.

For another, it has a recycling program that works-and that is my point in writing this post today. Due to her job, the S.O. has to work at least one weekend a month. And on those days, my designated job is to take the recycling to the "Gomi" place as she calls it. ( Gomi is the Japanese word for garbage). In German the place is called Wertstoffhof. Every city has one. Its a place to go to put your plastic, cans, bottles that don't have deposits associated with them (known as a Pfand in German). On any given Saturday the place is a busy place. It has containers for all sorts of things: paper, cans, plastic, cartons, bottles, batteries, tires, even old furniture. And people are always bringing stuff to drop off.

Now at first glance one might think, why can't they just pick up at home like they do in Japan or the US? And the answer is that they do-but its more expensive. Every pick up of every thing in Germany from your home costs you money. Bringing it to the Wertstoffhof saves you money. In so doing the Germans have incentivized the right type of environmental behavior. And besides-it usually takes less than 5 minutes for me to get everything dropped off. 

It is something of a ritual now, and I don't really resent it.

Because it is the right thing to do-and America could learn something from those silly Europeans.

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Dec 31 2014

Sayonara 2014

And don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

As years go,  2014 was not really a good one for me. I won't be sorry to see it go. It started living under the burden of a poorly thought out merger at work, engineered by a psychopath- who, regrettably will probably try to resurrect the same stupid idea later on in 2015. It also started with a New Years trip to Lisbon that saw me get sick as a dog-not exactly what I had in mind when I checked into the Palace Hotel in Estoril. It was kind of a harbinger of things to come, now that I can look at it in hindsight.

Fortunately for me, in May, the horrible merger was undone when the powers that be finally recognized what a hideous thing they had done. However, enough damage had been done that it cast a pall over the rest of the year and made work, well not miserable, but not fun either.

On the personal front too it was a lousy year. I basically had to come to grips with the fact that my dream of getting back to Japan to live and work will never come to pass. And that's a painful thing to have to accept. I was able to spend 10 days in Tokyo in September, but all that really did was remind me how much I really miss living in Asia. But economic realities are realities and at my age finding a job over there that will support the level of income I need to maintain….just …..isn't ….going to happen. frown

Then again, I tell myself things could be worse, a lot worse. I am healthy, more or less, and I am not enduring the mind numbing, soul crushing existence of living in a suburb of an American city. And I got to travel enough this past year to cement my Platinum status and have me zero in on the million mile threshold this year. God willing I will get to travel as much as I did last year, this year.

The SO is, well she is the SO. She hasn't yet grasped that she needs to provide things I need and she has yet to realize she is not going to be able to change me, no matter how hard she tries. But she is working and making money now and she still keeps a clean house. So there is that. For a guy like me who needs physical passion and lots of sex in his life, however, that's not quite doing it. So that is yet more thing I have to come to grips with.

But as I said, things could be worse and for that I will remain always thankful. I can pay my bills and credit cards still enable most of the things I want, so I prefer then, to end the year on an optimistic note.

Here is to hoping the New Year is a better year. For all of us.

Happy New Year.



Let's see if we can cheer this little expat up, shall we?

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Dec 14 2014

Christmas Market

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

It's been two weeks since I have been back-and I have been busy. Spent the first week of this month in Colorado Springs on yet a another working trip that will not be adequately rewarded.  Its like a stuck record-the morons just don't get it.

And this week-well the less said about it the better.

But we did get to go and visit the Stuttgart Christmas market which happens to be ranked as one of the best in Germany. ( I'm not so sure-but it is big).

So here are pictures for your viewing pleasure" (click to see properly)


Stuttgart's claim to fame is that it has large decorations on top of each booth:


And few others:


The City Hall at night:


Walking down the rows and rows of booths:


And some close up shots of the decorations:





Anybody need a hat?



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Oct 05 2014

Pumpkin Fest

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

In Ludwigsburg, they are running a Pumpkin Fest. In German the word for Pumpkin is Kurbis(with an umlaut). It's held in the garden of the palace in Ludwigsburg. Probably most amazing-besides the Pumpkin Wine, Soup, and Pasta-and beer-is the Pumpkin Figures.

See for your self:


And Elvis, had to stop by:



And when you have to go-you have to go:


The Earl of Locksley dropped by:


And lets play dinosaurs!


And the bees were out:



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Sep 22 2013


In English, election time-which was the headline of a special edition of Das Bild newspaper yesterday -which was delivered free to our house.

All indicators show that Merkel is on cruise control to a third term as the Kanzlerin ( Chancellor). However because one of her coalition partners lost badly-the Free Democrats, she will have to probably find a new partner-most likely the SPD. And you can bet they are going to want something for the deal.

Yesterday the S.O. and I went to the flea market in downtown Stuttgart. There were some rallies going on on Konigstrasse-and also the posters were all out in force.


The poster says, "Go vote! On 22 September 2013".  It is from the SPD.

There were a few other posters out yesterday- I really found this one interesting:


It is from the Alternative Party ( a small left party). The poster says : "Courage for [telling]truth. The Greeks are suffering. The Germans are paying. The banks are cashing in."

And of course our old friends the Pirate Party are still out in force:


.This one says: " The great coalition of the survellance" "Mass surveillenace must be stopped. Safety laws must be checked."

It is a jab about cooperation with the NSA. By the way-if you look closely the camera is wearing a green Angela Merkel dress-with Angela Merkel pearls. Not so subtle imagery that she is quite on board with this program.

It will be interesting to see how quickly the posters come down tomorrow.

On a positive note-the circus came to town-to the next village over. The connection to the election? Probably none-but it has to be good for at least a couple of irony points.


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Sep 02 2013


Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

A couple of weeks back the S.O. and I drove to the Black Forest and vistied Germany's highest waterfall in Triberg. Its a beautiful-if somewhat too touristy place.


There are a variety of hiking trails that take you up the side of the falls-short and long. Problem is, on a sunny day, lots of people are walking on them.:



Once you get to the top of the trail its a nice view back into town:



Coming back into the town there are some nice things to see as well:


And the town has some good places to eat. But it was still too touristy for my taste:


But worth the visit.


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Aug 22 2013

And the election kicks into full swing.

Published by under Die Deutsche Leben

I am seeing more and more posters on the roads these days-from more than just the usual suspects:

Of course our friends, the Pirate Party are still out in force:


It translates to: "Imagine you were asked. For more participation and particulars of the citizens in political decisions"

And the SPD-in trouble in the polls- are out there also:


" For an old age without poverty".

And let's not forget the Greens:

It says, " What the farmer does not know, I am not eating. And you?" They have lots of these "Und Du" ads.

Like this:

"Guilt is always the others"-a slam on Merkel.

And finally Die Linke-the left:

"Enough babble! 10 euro minimum wage now!"

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