Monday, June 30, 2008

I triple dog dare them

An eight-year-old boy didn’t invite two of his classmates to his birthday party. It isn’t exactly an unusual thing, is it? I guess that is why the world is so curious about the fact that the boy’s school has complained to the Swedish Parliament that, by not inviting these classmates, he has somehow snarked their rights.

Honestly - Sweden? The perfect country? The country with a clean environment, safe roads, good pay, bonuses for every child born, and hardcore women’s rights? They are taking it upon themselves to legislate who gets invited to kid’s birthday parties? Sure, sure. The decision hasn’t been made yet. But just the fact that the school feels justified in making this claim – to the point of confiscating the poor kid’s invitations – is a bit, well, pathetic.

The birthday party invite is one of the few great sources of power in the kid world. Whole kid dynasties have risen and fallen based on the invite. The only greater power amongst children is the ability to skip to the triple dog dare with complete confidence. We all know that nobody respects or fears the kid whose parents make him invite the whole class, and why is that? Because if you invite everybody, no one really cares. If the mean kid gets invited to every party no matter what, then he stays mean. You can’t send a message if you invite everyone. You can’t enact revenge on your mortal kid enemy. I realize that not inviting everyone can hurt the kid that doesn’t really do anything but everyone picks on, but hey, politics is politics. People really underestimate how politically charged the life of kids can be.

If the Swedish Parliament decides that not inviting every kid in the class is a violation of kid rights, then the whole power structure of kid-dom will come crashing down. Who knows what will happen next – they might decide that skipping dares is a crime punishable by no television computer usage for a year. What will happen to the children then?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Setting priorities

You know, I'm really glad we have the technology in this world to develop shape shifting buildings like the one they are planning in Dubai, but if we are going spend a lot of time and money on this kind of crap, I'd much rather develop warp drive or teleportation technologies instead.

Honestly, I'm still waiting for the flying cars and Mars colonies I was promised when I was a little girl.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Laugh Maker

I was first introduced to the comedy of George Carlin at an early age – perhaps too early an age to be exposed to his brand of humor. It can all be blamed on my brothers who preceded me by several years and were privy to all the cool stuff you can share with a little sister. I suppose my education in linguistics from Mr. Carlin can be blamed for the fact that I was the most foul-mouthed ten-year-old girl of all time, but to my credit I only used such language when I was really mad – Incredible Hulk mad. To the horror of the parents and teachers of my elementary school I got that mad once during my early years, and let out a slew of obscenities with such fury that not even the threat of a world without puppies or chocolate could stop me.

I didn’t have the opportunity to see Carlin in concert until I was in my twenties, a more acceptable age. It was a time in my life when things were quite bad – I had just gotten out of the hospital after one of the worst lupus flare-ups I’d ever had, a flare-up I attributed to the massive grief I experienced after the sudden death of two friends nearly a year earlier. It had been a long time since I had anything to laugh about. My mother had come to Nashville to take care of me during my two-month recovery, and while I wasn’t quite up to going out that often, she did encourage me when I was excited to find that George Carlin would be performing at the Tennessee Performance Arts Center and agreed to take me.

One thing you have to know about my mother is that she is a woman of incredible grace and decorum who was forced into a life with two crude sons, an even cruder husband, and a daughter who learned more from the men in her life than from her sole female role model. My mother did everything she could to lady-fy me to no avail, but she gave it a good run. Obviously, she isn’t the type of person who would willingly go to a George Carlin performance, but she knew I needed it, and so we went. And I laughed. I laughed like I had never laughed before. I laughed so hard at some things it actually embarrassed my mother, although I did catch her laughing once or twice. It was exactly what I needed.

Thank you George. My memories of you will always keep me laughing, especially when times are rough.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Third world village

When we moved to the boonies I had a few expectations of what life would be like. I knew we would be limited to going to the grocery store once a week, with my husband able to stop on the way home for staples if necessary. I knew our gas consumption would be high, and that planning to go anywhere in the city would always take us at least a half hour (usually more) of travel time. I knew I would see more cows, goats, and sheep than people on a daily basis. I also figured we might lose electricity more often than in town, especially during storms or snowy weather. What I did not expect was not having running water on a daily basis.

Before we moved up here, we knew that during the summer the local water company (which seems like it is run by the municipality, it isn’t the same as what we had in the centre) cut off water a couple hours a day in an effort to preserve water. A couple of hours a day is something I was fully prepared to deal with – it isn’t that long really.

For the first few months of life here, nothing was abnormal with our water supply. We were blissfully unaware of what the future would have in store for us. Suddenly, in February, we lost water for almost a week (thankfully not continuously, we’d get it back overnight usually). This was, apparently, the beginning of the end.

We had a few weeks of normal running water after the February incident, but into March the outages started to be more frequent and more frustrating (usually involving one of us being halfway through a shower when the flow stopped). By the middle of May we were fed up, and my brother-in-law engaged our plumber to install a small reservoir and pump system in the three occupied houses of our compound. So now, whenever the water goes out (which can be 8am or noon or 7pm, one never knows one day to the next) we can descend into the basement to turn on the pump and have water from the reservoir. It doesn’t hold much, so if the water is off for two days straight we’re screwed, but as long as I don’t do any dishes or laundry (things that are oh so hard to avoid because they are just such fun chores) we can manage a couple of days of showers and flushes and hand washing if we need to. Unfortunately, it is two of our cats that suffer the most because they happen to like drinking from the faucet, which I won’t turn on for them when we are using the reservoir (and I shouldn’t turn on for them otherwise, but I’m a sucker for squeaks and enlarged kitty begging eyes).

As before, I keep thinking I shouldn’t be whining about this. I should be grateful we ever have running water and that we have a reservoir when it is off. There are so many problems in the world right now and I’m bitching about a lack of running water. On top of all that, I know we should be using less water anyway as the available potable water all over the world is decreasing. But dammit, I want my water. I just wish everyone could have the luxury of running water.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On randomness

Cheryl tagged me for this meme, I think I’ve done it before but I thought I’d see if I could come up with more random things about myself.

The rules-

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

My Six Random Things-

1. I’ve been thrown out of a Dunkin’ Donuts. I had two accomplices – we were trying to get balled up napkins into the wastebasket behind the counter. It was probably 4am, the place was empty, and the worker was in the back making the donuts. Needless to say, we missed most of the time, and when the dude came out from the back, he was furious. We didn’t realize quite the extent of our mess – what looked like thousands of balled up napkins all over the floor behind the counter.

2. I once mocked an FBI agent to his face. I was helping him make a photo array lineup at the time.

3. Basements scare me. Even light filled, finished basements like the one we have here. Ours is meant to be another floor, with two large rooms, both completely habitable, with plenty of windows. But when I go down there to turn our water pump (which is often, since they turn off the water here every damn day), I freak out, especially at night. I’m not exactly sure where my fear comes from, I’ve never had any bad experiences in basements (that I know of). I suppose it is the uncanny effect of empty rooms and unused spaces. What we aren’t familiar with is terrifying.

4. I was locked in a bathroom when I was five years old. I was with my best friend at the time (I really don’t know why we were in the bathroom together) and we were at her family’s house. All the adults were outside because we were having a barbecue. We didn’t know how to open the window so all we could so was scream and pound at the door until someone noticed we had been missing. We were in there for a good half hour, I think, because our parents didn’t care about us thought we were somewhere playing.

5. I can’t whistle. I’ve tried a jillion times, just can’t do it. It’s hard for some people.

6. Whenever I fly (which isn’t often), I count five minutes from take-off. This somehow makes me feel better, because once I heard that most accidents occur within the first five minutes of flight. Of course, now that I watch Air Crash Investigation with my husband all the time (which is really a bad idea for someone who doesn’t like to fly) I know that a plane can pretty much go down at any time. Still, I gotta count my five minutes.

I'm not good at tagging, so I will break the rules and not tag anyone. Which I suppose is another random thing about me - I'm a rule breaker!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Because if they say it on Fox News, it MUST be true!

Sometimes I'm ashamed to say I'm from Tennessee. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a lot I love about my home state and there are a lot of great people there. But when an official from the TN Democratic Party says publicly that he is afraid Barack Obama might have "associates" who have ties to terrorism because he heard it on Fox News, I have to wonder about my fellow statesmen.

I haven't really talked much about the presidential race because to be perfectly honest, either Democratic candidate is fine with me. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to choose I would have picked Clinton, because I think a Clinton-Obama ticket might have given the Democrats more chances to possibly get 16 years in the White House. But really, in the end I think they both have the same goals and the important thing - or what should be the important thing to Democrats - is getting a Democrat in the White House. Am I mortified at some of the blatant sexism that marked Hilary's run? Of course. But I'm not surprised either, and I'm sure as hell not going to get my panties in a wad about it. I'm certainly not mad enough to stay away from the polls or vote for the γέρος - I want the Democrats to win.

So for people from my home state's Democratic party to speculate publicly things about Obama that are sure to send some Tennessee Democrats running the other direction (and because they heard it on FOX NEWS), I have to wonder what the party is coming to. I guess now it is starting ti make sense that the party's symbol is an ass.

UPDATE: Hobbs apologized, stating "I should have taken some time to check the accuracy of what I saw on television before speaking publicly." Hmm, ya think?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pig in boots

I'm not sure what is more interesting about this story - the fact that a piglet has a mud phobia or the fact that she happily wears tiny little boots to combat her fear. Considering the pig was born into a sausage empire and isn't going to get slaughtered because of its cute little little psychosis, I'm wondering if this isn't just one smart piglet.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

I wouldn't dream of it

Here is a picture of the "do not disturb" sign from our hotel on Crete. As you can see, a spell checker was not used before they printed them. I meant to post this earlier, but can you believe I actually forgot about it until I was looking through our pictures again. Obviously, this was quite an inducer of merriment for me and my husband, since we are apparently six years old.


For those of you unfamiliar with crude elements of the English language, turd means poop.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Found money

One of the most common social activities for the thirtysomething professional here in Greece is to gather with a bunch of friends/colleagues at a taverna. I enjoy it because it is nice to put faces to the names of people my husband works with, and for the most part psychiatrists seem to be intelligent, interesting people so I don’t mind their company that much. Typically, a bunch of salads, side dishes, and meats (and let’s not forget the alcohol) are ordered and everyone shares – unlike such gatherings in the U.S. where everyone orders their own dish. It took me awhile to get used to the idea (and get used to non-relatives sticking their forks in the shared plates of food, although not everyone does that, thank god) but now I kinda like it, because it gives me a chance to try things I never would have tried on my own (who knew I loved fava beans?!).

The general agreement when it comes to paying for meals like this is to divide the total evenly amongst the number of people. It seems to work well, I’ve never heard a complaint, even if someone doesn’t drink or eat much, and since it is generally a group around the same professional level, money (or lack thereof) isn’t really an issue because most everyone makes about the same salary. The cost almost always comes to about fifteen euros a person, which is really a bargain considering the sheer amount of food and drink ordered and consumed.

I don’t know exactly how it happens, but every time we put all the money together (after a tense few seconds where everyone wonders if it will be enough) we end up with twenty euros (or more) too much. So every time, we all redo the math to make sure the per person amount is correct (it always is), question if someone didn’t get change if they had a bigger bill, etc., but we come up with nothing. So if someone did get shorted, they don’t speak up. Of course, since I first started noticing this phenomenon, I’ve watched the money collection process very closely – who pays the exact amount, that people get the change they deserve – and there are no errors. So it is perplexing where this extra money comes from, and what to do with it. Sure, we could leave it as a tip, except most tavernas have a 13% or so tip built into their prices, so the general rule there is to leave a couple of euros extra, certainly not twenty. Most attendees regard the extra money as if it is the plague and leave the table, but I assume someone eventually takes it. But where does it come from? Obviously, there is money just walking around all over Greece - probably sad, lonely money – that sees a pile of its own kind and decides to jump on. That is the only explanation. Until I come up with a better one, I will be closely monitoring the situation, because we all know money doesn’t fall from trees.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Happy landings are all alike

For all you airplane fans out there I present to you the money shot of airplane porn - the landing video. In other words, this is footage my aviator nut husband took of our landing in Thessaloniki on our way home from our trip to Crete. All in all, it looks pretty cool to see our fair city from the sky.

The shot is a little weird a bit into it because my husband, brilliant man that he is, decided to turn the camera around to take the video. Thankfully we were able to turn it around with software and it doesn't take too much from the total experience. It would have been better had we not been next to the wing, though.