July 28, 2006

DER WALMART

We heard today on CNBC that Walmart is pulling out of Germany. Apparently it can't compete with Aldi on groceries and has lost about a billion dollars there. Yikes. There was no Walmart in our region of Germany, so I never went. Actually, we passed one once and were excited, but then we realized it was Sunday and thus it was closed. I should've taken a picture; have you ever seen a closed Walmart?

I also got a kick out of this description of why Walmart didn't work in Germany:

To American eyes, the new ethics manual is standard stuff. But when Wal-Mart Stores Inc. distributed the newly translated code to German employees a few weeks ago, it caused a furor. They read a caution against supervisor-employee relationships as a puritanical ban on interoffice romance, while a call to report improper behavior was taken as an invitation to rat on co-workers.
...
Rivals continue to chuckle about the customer reaction when, initially, Wal-Mart offered services such as grocery bagging. It turned out that Germans didn't want strangers handling their groceries. And when clerks followed orders to smile at shoppers, male customers took it as a come-on.

I still can't put Walmart and Germany in the same sentence without remembering that German haircutter who complained to my husband that she couldn't walk around in an American Walmart in just a bra. Hilarious. Some stuff just doesn't cross cultural lines; I guess Walmart and Germany simply weren't made to mix...

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July 09, 2006

CUP

We watched the World Cup game. France played better and deserved to win, but soccer is a game where nothing happens for 60 minutes and then a penalty kick means you're the best in the world, so whatever. But what on earth was Zidane thinking? What a bonehead...

Oh yeah, and I opened the "toys" box: it was scarves and hats and one lone coat hanger. Fun for the whole family!

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July 07, 2006

CRYPTIC

We've been having a blast trying to decipher the English on the outside of our boxes. I just found my cutting boards in a box marked "wooden plates," and last night we giggled to find that all our DVDs and CDs were marked "cassette taps"; we've decided that we're calling movies "taps" from now on. And I know I saw a box in our old house that was marked "toys," but I've yet to find it here in this house. I'm dying to know what we own that the Germans consider "toys"!

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April 11, 2006

TRAVEL PHOTOS

As we get ready to move back to the US, I have started thinking about our European experience. Lots of people who live here put up photos of the places they've traveled. I started thinking about our collection of travel photos. My husband and I don't travel much, and when we do, we're always alone. We've gotten pretty good at taking our own photo. In fact, when we were in Prague, someone offered to take our photo and we turned him down! We've got quite a running gag going of us in front of foreign stuff. And so I present to you our travel photos.

First of all, us in front of our house, right when we moved here

VILSECK.JPG

Then Salzburg

SALZBURG.JPG

Frankfurt

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Heidelberg

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Garmisch for R&R

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our cruise

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Mulhouse for the Tour de France

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and finally Prague

PRAGUE.JPG

I think it's hilarious that all of our photos end up looking about the same. I love that. I can't wait to add similar photos of us in front of places like Mt. Rushmore, the Redwood forest, and Busch Stadium.

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March 19, 2006

NICE

We went to Prague today.

praguephone.JPG

Golly, I just love Europe.

MORE TO GROK:

Pertinent link: 17% of Americans view the US negatively

Anyway, I was just being snarky with my photo. However, I will say that my husband and I are two of the stingiest people you'll ever meet, which is part of the reason we hardly ever travel. So it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when we spend money to go to another country and have to see crap like this. We also went to the Museum of Communism, and while we were happy to see them tell communism like it is, I was extremely disheartened to see that some of the stuff in the gift shop made fun of the US and George Bush. This just doesn't seem very appropriate to me, nor did the other poster that said something like "Remember when the US stood for freedom?" I don't see why that kind of "joke" has a place in the Museum of Communism.

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January 16, 2006

THE LAST HOPE

Cold Fury articulates something I've been thinking for a long time:

If the libs want government health care, gun control, and cradle-to-grave nanny-statism, there are plenty of places they can go to get it — and planes, trains, buses, and ships leaving every day. But this country is the only hope for those of us for whom liberty and respect for individual freedom and responsibility is paramount. It’s time we reminded them of that. We might not be quite on the right track just yet, but we’re definitely at the station and heading for the ticket window.

There's nowhere else in the world as far to the right as the United States. If you want to live in a world that's further to the left, move to Europe. But we Americans who want a world that's further to the right have nowhere else we could go. We just have to hope our country doesn't drift left.

MORE TO GROK:

I read the first few comments and realized that it just wasn't worth my time to clarify. This morning there are double the comments, and it seems some people out there did understand what I meant.

If I were somehow the exact same person that I am right now, but I got dropped off from a spaceship and was told to choose where I want to live, I could only choose the United States. It's the only country that comes close to representing my value system. (My husband smirked and said, "Well, there's Hong Kong and Singapore, but then again we might get put in jail for dropping a gum wrapper.") However, for people who are strongly in the left camp, if they got dropped off from the same spaceship, there are perhaps several countries they could choose to fit their values: Canada? Sweden?

I never said "love it or leave it". However, I certainly respect people who do this. My good friend from college sold every belonging she and her family had and moved to France. They knew certain aspects of getting settled might be rough, but they wanted to be in France. And I respect and admire their determination. I applaud them for having the gumption to pack up and move to somewhere that better fits their way of life. It wasn't easy for them to disrupt their life so, but they did it out of conviction. Sadly, the experiment didn't work: a year later neither of them had found a job and they moved back to the US. Interesting that her French-citizen husband got a job much more easily in the US.

I admire this couple for giving it a shot. They're like the reverse of immigrants who came to the US a century ago looking for a better life. If I thought that there were anywhere on earth that would suit my values better than the US, I would do everything I could to move there. Show me Galt's Gulch, and I'm there. But the US is the closest we've got. That's why we on the right really worry about it shifting closer and closer to countries that already exist. We've got nowhere else to go...

I never said lefties have to leave. But they've got the option to if they want.

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January 06, 2006

ALWAYS GREENER

The other day, a few friends told me that the grass is always greener. After having lived in France, Sweden, and now Germany, I've grown into a person who thinks the grass is always greener in the United States. I don't see myself coming back to Europe ever again, unless someday we have a child stationed here (God forbid we're still in Europe that far into the future.)

That said, I know there will be some things that I will miss from time to time. I'll miss spatzle from Herman's, garlic soup, and all the other uniform German menu items that drive me nuts now but will sound so yummy when I haven't had them in a while. I'll miss calling my mom for two cents a minute. I'll miss going into a public restroom and knowing that the stall door locks will never be broken. I'll miss magpies. And I'll miss eating my weight in warm sugary almonds every Christmas.

Most of all, I'll miss the military community we live in. There's something about plopping a few thousand Americans into Nowhere Germany that brings people together. We might never live on another post again, and I'll miss knowing that all my neighbors are going through the exact same experience as we are. It might be a long time before I can show up at another neighbor's house with knitting and Bud Light and stay until midnight. I'll miss bumping into friends at the commissary (except I can't wait to stop bumping into some of those jerk high schoolers!) I also love how there's only about two degrees of separation between people here, so you're always finding out that the Jennifer your friend works with is actually the Jennifer who's your neighbor, or the wonderful experience of teaching an adult at the university and then finding out you're teaching her son in seventh grade.

There will be things I'll miss: I can't even let myself think about leaving Erin and Kelly. But three years here is plenty, and I'm proud to admit I'm homelandsick.

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January 02, 2006

READ OF THE DAY

Mark Steyn: It’s the demography, stupid

Can a society become increasingly Islamic in its demographic character without becoming increasingly Islamic in its political character?

This ought to be the left’s issue. I’m a conservative—I’m not entirely on board with the Islamist program when it comes to beheading sodomites and so on, but I agree Britney Spears dresses like a slut: I’m with Mullah Omar on that one. Why then, if your big thing is feminism or abortion or gay marriage, are you so certain that the cult of tolerance will prevail once the biggest demographic in your society is cheerfully intolerant?

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December 27, 2005

TEST

They're making the driver's license test easier in USAREUR. I wonder if they'll still have the question on whether the car or the man with the donkey cart has the right-of-way...

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November 20, 2005

HEH

I laughed into my pancakes this morning when my husband told me Johnny Depp is disillusioned with France:

DEPP: 'I CAN'T STAY IN RIOT-RAVAGED FRANCE'

Hollywood star Johnny Depp is so shocked by the riots raging through France, he's considering abandoning his home in the country.

The FINDING NEVERLAND heart-throb moved to Europe when life in Los Angeles became too violent.

He has since divided time between the two continents - but he fears France will be scarred permanently by the current troubles.

He says, "It's insane, that setting cars on fire is the new strike.

"I went there (to France) to live because it seemed so simple.

"Now it's anything but. I don't know how they'll recover from this."

Hahahahahahaha. Newsflash: life isn't "simple" anywhere.

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September 23, 2005

DISGUSTING

I realized after reading The French Betrayal of America that the divide between the US and France is even worse than I had thought. And these commemorative stamps just sicken me.

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September 20, 2005

HOW COULD YOU?

I just think that this German political campaign is in very poor taste (via Oda Mae). I don't even know what else to say about it, other than to point out how inappropriate it is.

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August 29, 2005

VET WOES

We got a very good deal by buying our dog here in Germany: normally in the US a Tibetan runs around $1200. I don't know if we'll ever be able to afford one again! However, I really wish we were in the US for veterinary services. So far Charlie has been to the vet twice, at two different places, and he needs a third visit at a third doctor. Our on-post clinic is closed because the vets are deploying, so I have to find a German vet to get Charlie his last set of shots. I called some places today and had a hard time communicating. It's frustrating dealing with something very important and new to me -- caring for a living creature -- without having one consistent vet I feel comfortable turning to for advice and services.

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August 05, 2005

COOL

It's funny: it was easier for me to keep up with Red6 when he was Iraq than when he lives five miles away. Since he and my husband aren't in the same unit anymore, we don't see each other that often. We try to get him over to our house once a week for dinner, but he's a busy, busy man.

Anyway, I was excited to see this exchange he had with a French reader, which led me to a cool blog in French. Herve runs Le Monde a L'Envers, which more or less means "the world in reverse or upside-down or inside-out or something". It's always good to see we've got French support.

When I went to France a year ago, the main thing I wanted to do was return to St. Avold cemetery. We got there right at closing time, which didn't give me much time to linger, but I did go into the caretaker building. I wanted to sign the guest book, and what I found brought tears to my eyes. So many people from all over France had visited the cemetery and written encouraging comments. I found so many attaboys and gratefulness for my country. People said that the US was the best or that they stand by us. Often it was just a triumphant USA!! written on the side. I was so touched by that guest book, and I'll never forget the words I read that day from our individual allies.

Thanks for your blog, Herve.

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June 27, 2005

FORGOTTEN

My husband and I haven't made it to Berlin yet, but it looks like we might not get to see this Checkpoint Charlie memorial site. Apparently it's being bulldozed this 4th of July. I certainly don't understand why memorials to the Cold War are supposedly turning Berlin into "Disneyland". It's funny to me that it seems many Germans want to forget the past...while Americans are busy trying to build a why-they-hate-us at Ground Zero.

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April 13, 2005

SHOELACES

You know what I want more than anything in the world? Shoelaces.

I've had this pair of brown shoes for many, many years, and the laces finally wore out and broke. I checked all over post, and all I could find was black and white laces. I tried to hit some German stores, but I could never figure out where to get shoelaces. I gave up and sent the broken lace to my mother, hoping she could find something similar to what I need. And every day I open my closet, wishing I could wear that freaking pair of shoes.

I'd kill to go to Walmart right now.

So many friends and family have been emailing us, wondering when we're moving back. I guess since the husband is home from Iraq, they assume we'll be moving soon, but we still have over a year left at this duty station. What's even worse is that now that deployment is over and stop move will be lifted in about a month, all of our friends are getting orders to leave. Nearly everyone we are friends with will be leaving this year, and some are leaving as soon as May. One close friend was telling me about everything that will be near her new home at Fort Shelby, including two Walmarts and a big mall. I am getting so anxious to go home.

We leave for our vacation on 1 May, with a week in Florida and a week on a cruise. It will be the first time in the States for both of us since Christmas 2002, and we're both getting quite antsy. I'm just ready to go somewhere where we know what everything is. We know what food is at the restaurants, what stuff is in the stores, and how far it is to our next destination on the map.

And maybe I can get some freaking brown shoelaces.

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April 05, 2005

AMERICAN ENDINGS

I'm trying to get into the swing of things by reading blogs again. CaliValleygGirl has a funny tangential story about going to see Team America in Germany. Today is the DVD release date, and if they have it here, I'm buying it right after school.

I remember plenty of jokes about "American endings" when I lived in France. Europeans derisively called anything that worked out too perfectly an American ending, but we Americans like these stories. Our movies are modern day fairy tales where the good guys always win and the guy always gets the girl.

I'm also convinced that Flight 93 would've crashed into the White House or whatever its destination if the passengers on board hadn't been raised on good old fashioned Hollywood movies. If these men and women had never seen Passenger 57 or Air Force One, they might never have thought that they could've overpower the hijackers. One of the men on board even had a Superman tatoo; they were steeped in American culture and taught from day one that they can do anything they put their minds to. I honestly believe this is what brought Flight 93 down in a field instead of in D.C., and I'm ever grateful for the bravery those passengers showed.

But would they have had the guts to do it if they hadn't seen Wesley Snipes do it first?

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March 05, 2005

HEH

VDH is good this week:

Our cousins abroad cannot figure out why a crass nation of former European rejects, led by a cowboy from Texas, is wealthier, stronger, and more willing to sacrifice for principle than a more venerated, cultured, and aristocratic civilization.

Heh.

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March 03, 2005

UGH

Reason # I-lost-count why I hate our so-called allies.

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February 27, 2005

NEW EUROPE

A warm welcome for President Bush in Slovakia.

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