Old Braunfels…getting the band back together edition

  

In the coming months, I’ll be pimping this blog and sending my astounding levels of traffic toward a couple of the projects I’m working on these days.

Some of these projects are new, but most are the latest instalments of continuing collaborations. One of the nearest and dear to me is the one I’ve been working on pretty regularly with ol’ snaggletoothed Jarrod Shepherd.

It should be mentioned if you click on the SoundCloud graphic down below, you can hear a bunch of our repertoire. On some of the songs, you’ll also hear Javi ‘Hansfry’. He’s a Spanish Per Anhalter, which is the German word for hitchhiker.

Oh, and if you actually make it out one night to hear Old Braunfels, there’ll likely be some other musicians sitting in. We’ve been playing with a brand new guitarist this year, and there was even a percussionist sitting in on one of our shows in the waning days of summer.

We’ve got some shows in the coming months and even more in the New Year. Come out and hear some country-fried Americana. Tell ’em Bernie Sanders sent you – you might get a discount at the door.

professing myself a bad American…what a week

‘I’m mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take it anymore’


It started when Islamic terrorists were coming over the Texas border and training in camps to attack the locals. I saw the photos of black-clad baddies with questionable insignias on their outfits, and I knew what I was supposed to believe. This was what we’d been warned about, and here it was coming to pass. They were secretly invading the homeland, and those of us who couldn’t see it were sheeple, who didn’t have the courage to stand up to this aggression.
I seem to remember the rumors about these secret training camps were debunked, but I hadn’t been particularly worried to begin with. Why?

Well, because I’m a bad American. I truly am. 

In my attempt to be playful, which isn’t necessarily appreciated in these sensitive times, I asked if people were actually worried about such nonsense. I’d made it a habit of reading sources from all edges of the political spectrum, so it wasn’t as if this rhetoric was unknown to me. I’d lived through the 90s and the fear of those pesky ‘Black Helicopters’ and the looming ‘One World Order’ that they promised was coming. 

In response to my tongue in cheek humor, I got a full spectrum of responses all the way from ‘believe the threats are real’ to ‘this is utter nonsense’. I make a half-assed attempt at cultivating online friendships with people of various political stripes, so it didn’t particularly bother me. Well, most of it didn’t. 

The one that got in my proverbial craw, though? Might seem innocuous, yet it was anything but. The gist of this comment was: ‘You don’t live here anymore. Things have changed. You don’t understand.

Bad American. Remember?

Now, like I said – I try to read stuff from all sorts of sources. I understand the anti tyranny rhetoric, as well as the anti government thinking, and there’s so much of all of it I can and cannot get behind. 

However, there’s one sort of fundamental thing on which I’m unwavering. Your right to say it. I’m sure this person wasn’t saying I had no right to my opinion, but the implication was that my perspective was lessened because I’d abandoned ship. You’re not even here anymore, goes this logic, so why do you think your opinion even has any validity?

Something was weirdly altered for me that day, which sadly affected me and the way I’ve been interacting online ever since. We all get to decide how we interact with one another in cyberspace, as well as the face-to-face, and I slowly resolved to limit my true discussion to the latter. I’d never been particularly outspoken online about my strongest thoughts, and my course of action was to play my cards even closer to my vest. In retrospect, I’ve noticed that this wasn’t the best course of action. 

Not for a bad American, such as myself. 

I’ve often been grateful social media didn’t exist when I was younger. If there’d been a platform for me to share some of the inane nonsense that passed for my attempt at reasonable thought, I’d have made myself quite a target for scathing criticism. Instead, the best I got of that was from my dad when he tried valiantly not to laugh himself silly at my half-baked pronouncements. None of this is unique, to be clear. Folly of youth and all that, I suppose. 

Here’s the thing, though. Hopefully, I’ve matured and learned how to make a reasoned argument. Take conflicting information into account and make an informed decision. Weigh the value and reliability of sources and question my assumptions and biases. 

You can question my patriotism, and I’d probably agree with you. I’ve already called myself a bad American. You can’t get me with that one. 

Living so far from my countrymen has made me both more critical of what’s going on stateside, and weirdly more fierce about my right to say such things. By stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m well aware I’ll get a bit of heat. Maybe a lot, but I intend to take it in stride. 

No matter how much I’m laughing at some of the nonsense that passes for political chatter, I assure you I’m still laughing wholeheartedly at myself. As I scratch out this resolution to be more outspoken via social media, I can still hear my dad chuckling. ‘Don’t take yourself so damned seriously,’ he’d quip. Yes, sir. You got it. 

your politics don’t belong here 

Still life in a kitchen somewhere in Kansas

  • Driving to a pumpkin patch
  • Taking a dip in a corn bath, which I’ll describe in a sec
  • The butterfly house
  • Digging up sweet potatoes
  • Chatting with the Pendeltons (it’s their farm where the pumpkin patch is, so that’s what you do)
  • Seeing a Monarch butterfly in the wild after seeing a bunch of them back in the butterfly house
  • Shielding our eyes as a car drives by on a dirt road, so as not to get dust in your eyes

No-one’s talking about the maelstrom that’s going on in American domestic politics…as a matter of fact, I’m just assuming I’d get into a heated debate with any of the other people here at the pumpkin patch, yet maybe I shouldn’t be so sure. 

For one thing, I don’t typically discuss politics or religion online. However, maybe I’ll change my mind about that. Not sure yet. 

Just going to luxuriate in this massive tub of dry corn. As one is wont to do in the pumpkin patch somewhere in Kansas. 

wheels up…see you stateside

another wheel – the Riesenrad at the Oktoberfest

Off to the States for a wedding, as well as much needed time with family. There’s been so much I’ve wanted to blog about the last several weeks…I’m writing, but it’s just not making it here. 

The post Oktoberfest season is in full force back home in Munich. The best part of hiking season and people are trying to put out of their minds that the holidays are just round the corner. 

More than a few people have commented that this is an intriguing time to be stateside. Might make for some particularly engaging thoughts hereabouts. 

Stay tuned…

So, Which Is It?

So much of this I completely agree with.

Some of the rhetoric won’t translate well outside the confines of the continental US, but that wasn’t the intended audience.

We don’t get to decide racism doesn’t exist anymore. Fat chance. Take a deep breath. Ok, take another one.

Now, do something about this for a change.

It's Fine.

I’m scared to post this. I’m afraid of alienating people I love, people I interact with on a daily basis, people whose friendships I value. I wouldn’t say this if it hadn’t been weighing heavy, like a 50 pound weight on my tongue every time I open my mouth to say something and stop before it comes out because I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want anyone to be mad at me. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But I can’t, in good conscience, do that anymore.

I live with a certain degree of privilege. Monetary privilege? Not so much. But social privilege? Absolutely. I am part of a demographic that is perceived as the LEAST THREATENING to society. I’m a White Lady. Further, I’m a Southern White Lady. Still further, I’m a Heterosexual, Cis-Gender, Southern White Lady who Happens to be the Married Mother of Two…

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Not just for leaplings and not marrying five year olds revisited

  
Although it’s not a holiday, Leap Day is one of my favourite days of the year. Call it scarcity. Point your accusatory finger at me and remind me that it’s just another day of drudgery…nothing to get excited about.

Go ahead. You won’t temper my exuberance. It’s not that easy to do so anyway.

First let’s talk about why we even have Leap Day, and I’m going to let The Straight Dope do the honours when it comes to explaining this one in Why do we have leap years? The simplest explanation I can offer? A year isn’t actually 365 days, but roughly 365 1/4 days. If you didn’t add that day every four years, Christmas would inch earlier toward the solstice…in 200 or so years Yuletide would be in the middle of autumn, which come to think of it is when retail establishments already start celebrating it.

My friend Denise sent me a link about Leap Day traditions. Though I knew about the tradition of women asking men to marry them on this day, I didn’t know the history. And I quote:

‘According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Bridget struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every 4 years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how Leap Day balances the calendar.’

Doubt that one day’s going to balance anything much less traditional gender roles, but I suppose this isn’t hurting anyone. Well, except the poor schmucks who get cornered by their ladies. Here’s what I think about all of this (that is why you come here, after all):

If you really need to rely on such a convoluted tradition to get up the nerve to ask your man, you might be much more clueless than even you realised. Look, I know gender roles aren’t always easy to manoeuvre. And some women would never dream of asking a man out on a date – much less to ‘do me the honour’ and all that.

But if that’s your position, why does this one day every four years suspend the normal rules? That’s illogical.

Nevertheless, there is something alluring about one day somehow suspended outside of convention. And to go back to how I started all of this, maybe it’s the scarcity. The fact that this day only comes every four years. It does feel like something extraordinary. Even without the perfunctory marriage proposals.

What about people born on this day? What’s to be done with them? They have a name, you know? They’re called Leaplings. Nice, eh? Sounds so celebratory.

I knew a girl in school who was born on 29 February. We were all 20, while she was celebrating her fifth birthday. You’d think the jokes about liquoring up a minor would get old that night. You’d be absolutely right. The jokes were dreadful. But make them we did. Had she known about the tradition of proposing marriage on Leap Day, I’m sure she would’ve had her revenge then and there.

I know what I would’ve said.

‘I don’t care how well she holds her liquor, I’m not marrying a five-year old.’

Missives from this corner of Old Europe

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Light on the River Isar that runs through Munich

For quite some time, I’ve intended to change the tagline on this personal blog. I’m not certain how long it’s been, but it might’ve been from back when I started that if you clicked on my site, you’d see:

pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

It was an allusion to the Wizard of Oz, as well as a commentary on the way in which each of us creates our persona online. Essentially, I was saying: read my thoughts here, but please don’t expend any energy looking backstage.

I’ve chosen to live in a country that takes privacy very seriously. Because of Germany’s complicated history with the government surreptitiously observing its citizens, there is a genuine desire to ensure users ability to control how much of their private lives they display. It’s easy to be cynical about such a position, and my friends who work in cyber security would quickly insist that most of what we think of as online privacy is an illusion. However, I continue to respect the lengths to which they go to keep fighting the proverbial good fight. Europeans in general and Germans in particular are earnest about this. Quite commendable, if you were to ask me.

Yet the above tagline no longer works for me. It’s no longer the message I want to get across here. Not remotely. Instead, I’ve decided to take on an entirely new position. Frequently some event will happen hereabouts and I’ll receive queries along the lines of, ‘What in the world is going on over there?

My response is to write this blog as a meta answer to that exact question. The new tagline:

Missives from this corner of Old Europe

Implied in this is my eagerness to take on whatever questions you might have. If you read something here that you’d like to know more about, say something in the comments or drop me a line via email.

Hope you enjoy the new direction, and I’m already looking forward to some lively exchanges.