Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vote . . . rocked!

About a month I promised myself, I voted. [Damn you, procrastination.

I have done all I can do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rock the Vote

I got an unexpected email last week. I received a note from the American government asking for my vote. I was excited and nervous. I am not 100% sure whom I will vote for. Now that I have the ballot I must start researching.

Here, for your pleasure, is a peek at the New York state ballot for Brooklyn [to be official: Kings county] that I just downloaded.

I promise to fill this out within the next seven days and then mail it within the next seven days. [Devil, thy name is procrastination.]

For a bit, I was torn about voting. I was helping decide what person should take office in America. Because I live in Germany, my actions seemed a bit over reaching. After I got a kind tongue lashing from my friends in America and my German husband, I was back to energetically voting again.

Wish me luck.

Monday, September 24, 2012

How I spent my summer

My trip to Ghana, like my first trip to Paris, was the result of a television.

Like many Americans, I had created a nonviolent hatred of the French. They are just so arrogant and evil. On my list of cities to visit before to die, Paris was on it but not near the top. But then Paula Deen changed that. I always felt an affinity for Paula. A few years ago, she went to Paris and was so overwhelmed by what she saw, ate and experienced that she cried. OK, if this city had this affect on my hero, I I knew I had to go.

I had a similar experience with Anthony Bourdain. The sour chef goes all over the world and complains and bitches and moans his way through life. Many love his deft hand creating putdowns that immediate put a picture in your mind. However, I find that the most boring part. It is extremely easy for man to create negative quips. I was impressed with his intrepid adventures. He ate what people who lived in a locale ate; he drank what they drank; he took part in what they took part in. I, the lover of comfort, saw his immersion and was impressed. There are a few places where he seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. In 2007, Ghana was one of them. I kept that place in my back pocket until it fit my life. That time was this year.

Last fall Asmus and I decided to make our big trip to Ghana this year. We expected some major changes in 2012 and this trip was going to be the last adventure. I was so excited. My resolve to be positive almost died during preparation. I love my Black brothers and sisters but around the world, we all have problems with clear instructions. We were trying to figure out how to get a visa but the website didn't give clear directions and I couldn't get a person on the telephone. Plus, we had to get immunizations that stretched out over about five weeks. Then we had to figure out what to bring because we needed clothes to accommodate the high heat and humidity and then to protect against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Once all that was figured out, I relaxed. That occasion occurred about five days before we left.

The view of the town of Ho from our hotel. We were living at cloud level.

I was determined to enjoy Ghana for what it was and not what it wasn't. I brought wet wipes to deal with hole in the ground that served as toilets. I brought bottled water to drink and rinse my teeth with after brushing because people are supposed to avoid drinking it. I filled up my iPad with season 5 of Entourage to entertain myself at night. I was not staying at the Hotel Adlon or eating at Michelin-starred restaurants and that was cool.

What actually happened was that I was smacked in the face with poor people everywhere, bad roads or no roads, dilapidated homes, and other bad things. I was also surrounded by people working hard, villages using tourism to build a school, delicious local food, cool and economical [for a foreigner] fashion, and other great things. Those positives far outweighed the negatives.

Many people cannot gather the money to pay for their children to finish high school. Those that do have trouble finding jobs in a nation without a lot of industry. Instead of grumbling, they get to work. People are selling something wherever there is an empty space. It is impossible to find out where the official boundaries of Accra's Makola market are. Sellers even sell things on the street next to the sidewalk. There are people selling things right next to embassy gates, with the exception of the American embassy [everywhere around the earth, people harbor a strong hatred of America. To accommodate the latter, there are barriers around American diplomatic outposts]. Some artisans create and sell rattan furniture outside the Australian embassy. At night, prostitutes sell their wares on the grass outside the British embassy.

In ten days in Ghana, one person begged us for money. We were sitting at sidewalk table at a chop bar [a casual bar] in the small town of Ho.  A drunk man asked us for money. Before I could fully understand what was happening, someone from the restaurant fly out and pushed him into the street and out of sight. It was surreal.

I was so struck by how positive everyone is. Ghana has borders created by the British. Various peoples called this area home for centuries. Now they live peacefully within the nation. One taxi driver told me, "Whether you are Ashante, Ga or whatever, we are all one. We are Ghana."

Unlike America, where there is a sense of unfairness that often evolves into anger, which often creates theft, murder and vandalism, Ghana has little crime. People just make due. We gave a woman who had a baby strapped to her back a ride. Until she bumped into us, she was prepared to walk about three miles in the sun. People cannot find jobs and the government does not have enough money to support them or train them or spur job growth, so people just start selling something. It can be annoying and a bit sad but I am so impressed.

I am not proud because I am not Ghanaian. I am not African. While all the people we met treated my like a cousin, no one treated me like a sister. When I walked through Accra's chaotic Makola market, my dress, backpack and hair required calls of "America! America!" People I spoke to were happy to see me and told how they really wanted to visit America one day [and they didn't think they ever could. Ghanaians must have a lot of money in the bank before the American government will bless them with a visa to visit.]. However, I was not one of them. That's cool with me.

Everyone in Ghana was also nice to my white husband. We were prepared for them to yell out "Obruni!" [White person!] but no one did. Guidebooks noted this and our white tour guide at an Accra museum told us to be prepared. He was no big deal.

Even though I am not Ghanaian, it was nice to be one of crowd of brown faces. In Germany, I am one brown face in a crowd of white faces. Strangers remember me after I have walked by a place twice. It was relaxing not to stick out.

Meda ase, Ghana. [Thank you, Ghana.]

An advertisement for a breakfast drink.


I just came back from Ghana and here are a few shots.

Akwaaba [Welcome] to Ghana!

Fishing boats on the Atlantic, off the coast of the city of Elmina.

Wooded area where friendly monkeys live.
The village of Tafi Atome supports itself from tourists who pay to frolic with the simians.

A tourist like this.

An area of the Shai Hills Reserve.
Starting around the 1600s, the Se people lived in the hills, grasses and caves of this region.

Accra Beach, which sits in the center of the capital. The unattractive and cost-free beach attracts a lot of  Accra natives. The sandy land sits directly behind Independence Square (unofficially Black Star Square. The Ghanaian flag features a red horizontal stripe, a yellow horizontal stripe and a red horizontal stripe with a black star sitting in the middle of the yellow stripe. The Black Star is the "lodestar of African freedom."), the expansive parade grounds, where Ghanaians celebrate their independence each year and other important occasions in the nation's 55-year history.

This government building is covered with the traditional colors of mourning, red and black, in honor of the July 24 death of its president, John Evans Atta Mills.
The capital was draped in red and black and signs honoring him were installed throughout the city.

Ghana is a nation in contrasts. The number of educated and middle class is growing. The outskirts of each city is alive with new home construction. At the same time, poverty is everywhere. There are not enough jobs for everyone. Amazingly, there is little crime. Instead of taking from people who have, people make their own way. Everywhere you go. EVERYWHERE you go people are selling something. There seems to be a clearly-defined division of labor. The women elegantly balance foodstuffs on their heads -- water, fried plantains, milk drinks, meat pies, etc. In their arms, men carry everything else -- phone cards, flash lights, miniature flags, toilet paper, etc. I felt immense anxiety for these entrepreneurs who often hawked their wares in traffic. They calmly snaked around cars with their offerings. while I almost had a heart attack.

Sales on the sidewalk.

Here is an elaborate stand on the side of the road. Because the commerce at these stands and on the street, there are few brick-and-mortar stores in Ghana. This stand sells welcome mats, brooms, rakes, mops, backpacks, speakers, televisions, computers and other random objects.

Intellectual W.E.B. DuBois was invited to live in Ghana by Joseph Nkrumah, the first president Ghana. Tired of the struggle in the United States, DuBois moved in the former British officers house in Accra in 1961.
He was 93 years old.

The grave of W.E.B. DuBois. It is located at the W. E. B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan African Culture. His former home is the base of the center. His gazebo was turned into the mausoleum, which also hold the remains of his wife, Shirley.

The view of the Atlantic and dining tables for our hotel in Elmina.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My Country Tis of Thee

It is weird for an American to experience the Olympics outside America.

Americans have spirit. Oh yes, we do. Not many nations have so much and are so ready to display it. I don't quite understand the logic but Germans are not supposed to be so proud to be Germans. It has something to do with World War II. Lately, this demand has given way a bit. During the month-long European Cup, there were some cars driving around with little German flags hanging on them. Nowhere near as many Sixers flags hung off cars in 2000 when the team had a good shot at winning the NBA Finals with Allen Iverson but more than there were during the 2010 World Cup games.

I live in northern Germany. I get television programming for Germany and Denmark. That means that the stars of the games are Danish and German (and for some reason, Usain Bolt. Germans love Usain Bolt. I guess everybody loves the World's Fastest Man.). I have seen little about Ryan Lochte, Sonya Ross-Richards, Serena Williams and Gabby Douglas.

U.S. Womens gymnastics team flash their gold medal.

That also means that I see the games live. I can read the Internet without fear of hit spoilers. I know who has done something amazing as soon as it happens. I like the immediacy of the London Olympics.

This immediacy also means that I don't get the smooth packaging. Because their are events happening simultaneously, I am watching table tennis for 12 minutes, then swimming for eight, and then fencing for 10. It is very disconcerting.

But, it also means that I saw the opening ceremony as they were happening without the inane commentary and, more importantly, without commercial breaks. I read that Matt Lauer, Bob Costas and Meredith Vieira were not the most impartial hosts. I preferred to decide on my own that this opening ceremony was too British (I mean that the themes were not accessible for people who were not familiar with British culture. I understand the farm turning to smoke stacks but will someone sitting in the middle of nowhere in Angola or Uruguay. Will everyone in Detroit no what NHS stands for?) and not spectacular enough.

The hardest thing is discussing the Olympics when you are from a nation that, as of this upload, has more gold medals than the total medals of the nation you are in. Germany has earned few medals this Olympics and no one here is happy. I am psyched about America's high medal count. I was bursting out of my skin when Gabby Douglas won the all-around gymnastics gold. Ain't nobody here to share that with.

Despite these obstacles, I am still lovin' the Olympics. I'm OK loving alone.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Guns and Normalcy

A model of an AR-15 rifle, which was used to kill innocent moviegoers in Aurora, CO early July 20

A few days before the one-year anniversary of the attack in Norway, a crazed man opened fire on a movie theater in Colorado. Crazy.

It is insane that you cannot go to the movies without worrying about your life. It was also insane that teenagers could not go to Columbine high school without worrying about their lives in 1999. It was also insane that young adults could not go to Virginia Tech without worrying about their lives in 2007. It was also insane that a Congresswoman, a judge and several other people were shot at a supermarket in 2011.

Is this the new normal?

Of course, the reflexive reaction about these shootings is to put the focus on gun-control laws. In America, I lived in states with more restrictive gun laws than Colorado. I had no idea that you can walk into a store that sells fishing poles and buy automatic weapon and buy bullets over the Internet. Here in Germany, people are shocked by how easy it is for a normal person to get military-grade weapons, large magazines and stockpiles of ammunition.

I have had a few people tell me that they would love to visit the United States but they are afraid. They are afraid they are going to get shot because all Americans have guns. I try to assure them that the overwhelming majority of Americans have never seen a gun. The only people who walk around with guns are in a few places in the west and the south. My tourism push is a tough sell on a normal day but for a few weeks after these attacks, it is impossible.

I just hope that family and friends who see their friends and family members who are having a tough time will push them to get help. Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold and Jared Lee Loughner displayed obvious signs of distress before they committed mass murders.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good Times, Bad Times -- I've Seen Them All

It was the worst of times. It was the best of times.

By "times" I mean last Thursday. The undefeated German team played Italy in the semi-finals in the European Championships for soccer and lost. Men everywhere cried. At least, I think they did. I was dancing at a Madonna concert in Berlin. The best of times.

The remnants of the leis boasting the colors of the German flag. Forgotten and stepped on after the loss to Italy.
When I lived in New York, I could not get a ticket to anything. I was fighting with eight million people for the chance to enjoy some music. At the beginning, I fought and lost. After a few losses, I gave up. I even started going to concerts in my hometown of Philadelphia. The lowered odds worked in my favor. I hated that I hated to leave the region to see a band or singer that I liked, so I gave up.

When I learned that Madonna was going on tour, I was determined to get a ticket. Madonna is almost 54 years old. She takes her show on the road about every years. I really doubt that she will be dropping it like it's hot at 58, so I was resolute in my mission to see her while she was still lithe and flexible. I joined her fan club and woke up early. I got seats right above the stage in February and excitedly counted down the months to the MDNA tour pulled into Berlin.

The tickets were not cheap but they were not as expensive as you would think. I got my money's worth. Madonna may not be the world's best singer [I became a fan in the late 1990s. After the singing lessons and the adoption of dance beats and lyrics with a message.] but she is the best performer I have seen.

Madonna was my first stadium concert in Germany. I assumed that fans around the world are all the same. I was wrong. The audience booed Madonna. They didn't actually boo Madonna. They booed the lack of Madonna. The opening act was DJ Martin Solveig

Martin Solveig on the Ones and Twos.

After he played an hour of his hits and the chart toppers and remixes of other groups, about 45 minutes painfully expired. The fans decided they had enough. At first, they started clapping when a recorded ended and there was no sign of the headliner. Eventually, when filler music ended, a crescendo of boos started.

There are many stereotypes about Germans that have no relation to fact. Being terminally punctual is not one of them. Most of the O2 World arena was filled at 7:45 for an event whose tickets said started at 8. I had never been to the stadium, so I wanted to arrive at 7:30 and walk around. See the sights, look over the souvenirs, eat dinner, etc. I planned to take my seat when Martin played a hit that I liked. My German husband needed to be in our seats before the lights went out, so we sat through the opening act. It was pleasant. I liked the music but there was little legroom. We were in the first row of the second level. I was expecting boogie room. I was squeezed in but I was not dead.

Oddly, everyone, except for people surrounding the stage, was seated.

It is normal in Europe for people to stand in front of a stage. I have never been a fan of standing for three hours, so I bought a ticket with a seat. This is a shot of happier times.

When Martin raised his hands above his head and directed the crowd to clap, there was some motion by the crowd. Other than that, people watched the stage or the screen, as if it were the evening news.

Martin gets the crowd clapping.

I assumed this would change when Madonna finally took the stage. I was wrong. On my quadrant, one woman, three men and I were the only people on our feet during the entire concert. When the show started, I was on my feet alone. I waited a song to see if others would join me. When they didn't, I started crafting an argument for someone who asked me sit down.


"I'm sorry but no."

"I bought a ticket to a concert. It is normal to dance at a concert. I have the right to dance at a concert. Therefore, I will not sit down."

I really wasn't sure which way to go. Luckily, no one asked me to sit down.

When one of Madonna's sang one of her hits from the 80s and 90s, there were whistles and screams. The newer music was not as welcome. I loved it all.

Near the end of the well-choreographed and well-timed show, a few people left. When the show ended, there were no screams of Zugabe! [The German equivalent of Encore, which is the French equivalent of "again."] People just departed. After two minutes after Madonna's left the stage, the applause stopped and the stadium started clearing out. I am used to the post-show praise and worship session with my fellow concertgoers. I had to be satisfied to talk to my husband, who was also ready to jet. I was tired and needed a bit of sitting.

Fortunately, Madonna runs a tight ship. There were no encores to be had. MDNA consisted of video art, platforms that lowered and raised, holes in the floor that opened at precise times, slack lines, people hanging from trapezes, and instruments that appeared and disappeared at specific times. There was no room for spontaneity. The show started at 10:15 and ended at 11:45. In Madonna's defense, she gave 90 jam-packed minutes. There were skits, a "trip" to a club in South Africa, drum majors playing while hanging from the ceiling, stand-alone dance performances, and slack lining.

Here is a bad shot of Madonna doing a cheerleader remix of Open Your Heart. With the changing lights, it was hard to get good shots. I was more into watching to photographing. The blip in the middle of the front row is Madonna.

The drummers punctuate Open Your Heart from above.

I had felt a little bad keeping my German husband from watching die Deutsche Mannschaft play Italy in the European Championship but then they lost, so I felt better. Plus, he had a good time (He only recognized one song, a hymn-like Like a Prayer. How are we not divorced yet?).

Between Martin Solveig, I got a hot dog. The concessions workers were forlorn. The team was down 0 -2. I wanted to hug them. When there is nothing else to do, I will support the Team but I had to rest up before it was time to dance.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I can now die happy

I have eternity!

One of the best parts of Kiel Week is John's New York Burger Box. Last year, they were located at the top of my street. I passed them about 12 times a day and I fell in love. They got me. They understood my sense of humor and we moved together in harmony.

The weeks before Kiel Week, I became excited by the idea of seeing John, Sophie, Aaron and Luca again. I was shocked when an ice cream vendor opened up in John's place. I was angry. Where were my friends?

A co-worker reported John's location and I was happy and a bit sad. I assumed John and Co. were not coming this year, so I was happy they were back. I was a bit upset that the box was at the waterfront about a mile and a half away. I could not bump into them. I needed to have time and energy to see them. I found both last Tuesday. Well, worth the trip.

The box was bigger and the options increased. Unfortunately, the chicken wings that were on the menu were gone. In their place were bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches, daily burger specials, the renowned Czech beer, Budweiser [BOOD-wyzer], and bottles of Brooklyn Pale Ale and Brooklyn Lager. Yes, tastes of America in the middle of northern Germany.

I got cheers and screams, discounted burgers and free beers. I made the trek to John's New York Burger Box Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If it had been closer, I would have gone more often.

I don't know how it happens but people from America, Italy, England and Germany come together and work crazy hard without fighting and have a bold fun that infects reserved passersby. Maybe it's the loud rap and pop music or the beer. Whatever.

Luca, John [baseball cap peeks out], Sophie and Katelyn seconds after Sophie pumped up Fergie's London Bridge.
I went at the end of the last day, around 10 p.m. I was sorry I did that when I discovered an honor -- the Monica Burger. It was a bacon cheeseburger. The burger I created on Tuesday and pushed on the German guests behind me. I was so happy that I didn't get as upset as I normally would when all the women I worked with showed up together.

This is an actual quote from me.
Because of the Monica Burger, I have a legacy. My name will live on forever.

See ya next year, Kiel Week!

Another successful Kiel Week has just wrapped up.

A performer makes his wobbly way across a 100 foot slack line. People paid 1 euro to throw a water balloon at him. Until I realized he was only acting like he was in a precarious state, I was mad at the hurlers and very stressed.
For some reason, the Kiel Tourism board describes Kiel Week as one of the world's largest regattas. I don't know one person who travels to Kiel for the boats. Of course, I don't know anyone who sails but I know a lot of people who enjoy music, food, dance and theater from around the world and flock to Kiel each year at the end of June.

A performer on break from German slap dancing. I was told these calf warmers make a difference.

Over ten days, three million people flocked to the the city that normally holds 270,000. People outside and inside German come to celebrate Kiel Week. Everyone in town is in a great mood.

It is like Christmas to me. There is a mental countdown to the event, then excitement during its observance, and then a feeling of sadness when it ends and you think of the fun that just ended. I have not visited Oktoberfest. I was scared away from it by native Germans. It is a few weeks of drinking very over-priced beer in extremely-crowded conditions. I don't need to pay a lot of money and travel for hours to drink beer. Cologne's Carneval attracts thousands of Germans. I am not sure why it is cool but Oktoberfest. Perhaps it is the costumes and beer prices that do not rise. I went to Carneval once and I was not impressed. It was a lot of standing in a costume and drinking beer. But Kiel Week is more than beer drinking.

The insanity of Kiel Week was heightened by its coincidence with the European Championship for soccer. Asmus and I live in the center of town. When Germany beat Greece last Sunday, we hit the Alter Markt, a public square at the top of our street, and dancing the night away with DJ Gary and an overflow crowd. It was a sea of white shirts emblazoned with schwarz, rot und gold -- black, red and gold, the colors of the German flag.

All that partying happened, despite the constant rain. During the first Friday, I sat in the rain and sipped wine from vendors representing Argentina, Spain and France. Asmus stuck to beer from "Denmark," better known as Carlsberg beer, and Cubra libre from "Mexico". The rain and the drinks followed dinner from France. During cocktails, Bob Geldolf played his and the Boomtown Rats' hits on a stage a few hundred feet away.

It is weird not to constantly having something available to do. For ten days, Kiel is like New York. Now it is back to being a nice northern German town, where everything shuts down at 7 and nothing is open on Sunday.

The crowd on the last night of Kiel Week at the waterfront. Surprise, surprise, there are storm clouds. The rain stopped right before the closing night fireworks.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Flower Power

I lived in New York for eight years. Life was interesting but life was expensive. However, there were pockets of cheapness. I got my laundry washed, dried and folded for the same price as if I did it myself -- 50 cents a pound. Plus, I didn't have to sit in a dark, dank laundramat on a Saturday.

Of course, almost everything is cheaper in Germany. One of the best deals is flowers. You can get a bouquet of roses for 8 euros. The love of nature and the low prices of flowers have made florists as common as corner stores. Since moving here, I have fallen in love in peonies.  This year, I decided to maintain a constant presence of pfingtsten rosen. I can get a bunch for 5.90 and I am happy.

They are so beautiful.

Tap a keg for Jesus!

Summer is here. This diagnosis comes from a calendar, not the weather. It is cold. It hasn't gotten past 71 degrees in northern Germany and I couldn't be happier. There isn't much air conditioning here, so it is usually miserable here for about three weeks.

In America, we escape the heat by going to malls and movie theaters and partake in their free air conditioning. In northern Germany, a lot of movie theaters and malls have no air conditioning. When it gets hot, the big mall here in Kiel opens the windows on the ceiling two floors above the ground. Accomplishing nothing.

So it is cold now and I am happy.

We recently finished a bunch of religious-related holidays -- Ostern, Himmelfahrt and Pfingsten. Ostern is Easter. In honor of the holiest of Christian observances, there are two days without work. Himmelfahrt [Travel to the sky] marks the day that Jesus went to heaven after crucifixion. Pfingsten honors the day that the Holy Spirit came to Earth. These holidays are related to religion but no one does anything church-like. Most people take the opportunity to go out of town or barbecue. Himmelfahrt is the unofficial "Father's Day". On this day, men get together and get drunk. Some men, usually in small towns, outfit a wagon with a keg and a radio and walk around town annoying people and getting drunk.

"Father's Day" wagon and its supporters.
Father's Day landed on the first day of the Kiel Beer Festival. I don't think that was a coincidence.

Now there are no more days off from work until October 3, the observance of the reunification of East and West Germany. On that day, no one does anything civic.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Viva la France!

View of Paris from Sacre Coeur

I finally took some time off from my life. I headed to the French capital for a week of foreign food and fun April 16. I started the week with my husband and ended it with a close friend.

When I am in Germany, I sometimes feel suffocated by all the rules and regulations. You can't just throw away your garbage. I have a container for all the packaging on the things I own, paper, food and other biodegradable items, and garbage. If my neighbors don't get me, the government will. In Paris, I missed the order. People walk down the sidewalk in random herds. There are rarely any signs for anything or to anyplace. But all is forgiven when you look around at the art around you.

The architecture, the streetscapes, the museums, the fashion, the food, the music magnificently mix in Paris.

Platform of the Cluny-Sorbonne subway station.

Street near my hotel in the Butte-aux-Cailles neighborhood.

The careful preparation of a crepe with
ham and eggs at Bastille market.

Market day at Bastille.

In the late 1700s until the middle of the 1800s,
French authorities stowed the bones of
6 million people underground.
Skulls and leg bones are stacked artfully
in front of piles of the remaining bones.

Election Day

Yesterday, the people of my home state, Schleswig-Holstein, went to the polls. I am kind of sad because the political posters will disappear. There are no televised political ads here, just posters.

Posters for the conservative party, the CSU/CDU are hard to find. He strikes this Jesus-like pose with one cupped hand reaching out to you and one on the stomach area of his dark suit. Yawn.

The more liberal SPD candidate grins at you while modeling a nice Mr. Rogers cardigan.

The even more liberal Linke candidate is a beautiful headshot.

My favorites. The Pirate Party, as the name would imply, are irreverent politicians. They want more transparent government. They are supposed to be more liberal than others. However, the most conservative German has nothing on your household variety American conservative. Right now, the CSU is promoting the idea of giving 150 euros a month to parents who care for their children at home. The government gives money to parents to help pay for day care. The new proposal is supposed to help parents who watch over their own kids. This is not exactly the way of Cut Down Big Government conservatives in the U.S., so the difference between the Pirate Party and the CSU is not so great to me. However, to people here it is a canyon.

German elections, like elections in most of Europe, are for a party, not a person. There are relatively few posters. You really need one to represent one party. However, the Pirates have several wacky ones that have been tickling me for the last month. They will soon be gone.

Your future. My responsibility. Our Country.

For our favorite state.

Free Life - Vote Social.

Now with more substance.
Earlier, many accused the Pirates of being more flash
than substance. Apparently, they are not
just the the party of hipsters.

I want to live as I am. For Freedom and Self-Determination, Vote Pirate.

We are romantics. Gentle agriculture, instead of industrial mass production.

In spite of or because of these ads, the Pirates got a little more than 8 percent of the vote and thereby seats in the state legislature. With the votes still being counted, the SPD and the CSU are separated by 1 or 2 percentage points.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Rockin' the Vote

I feel guilt. I feel guilt so often that it shouldn't be called guilt. Maybe I should call it "normal."

I stopped voting about a year back. I just felt bad having a voice in how the United States is run when I am not affected by it. I have always been crazy about voting. Voting is power. For centuries, people in power tried to keep poor people, people without property, women, Black people, people who can't read, convicted felons and other groups from the ballot. There is a reason for that.

Because I am not a German citizen, I am not able to vote here, so I just gave up on the dream of practicing democracy.

This year, Newt Gingrich promoted the idea of colonizing the moon and Rick Santorum wanted to make everyone as conservative as him. That made me re-think my vote. I felt like I should do something to make sure those evildoers do not succeed. I think Mitt Romney is pretending to be conservative but I'm not 100% certain. The only way to be 100% certain that the country doesn't move to the dark ages is if I vote.

I dithered on this stance. I asked Americans living in Germany and Germans. Both groups instantly gave the same vociferous response: Vote, you idiot. Maybe I will move back the United States unexpectedly and so I will be directly impacted. My family and friends will be influenced by new policies and I should support them. And, most importantly, I am an American citizen, so I should just vote for goodness sakes.

I sent my application to continue to receive absentee ballots two days ago. In the fall, I will get an email ballot. Cool.