Category Archives: Society

But That Was Then, This Is Now: Part 4: The Racial Wealth Gap

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my now blog

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Facsism, where it resides under the title:

“The Racial Wealth Gap: Two Reports on Income and Asset Disparity”

But That Was Then, This Is Now : Part 3 A Little Property History

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

Slave-based Economy: Slavery Was the Source of White Real Estate and Power

But That Was Then, This Is Now : Part 2 Housing Inequality

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Segregation Policies, Redlining and the Present Racial Housing Disparity”

But That Was Then, This Is Now : Part 1 Introduction

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Racial disparity: Institutional Racism from Black Codes to the Present”

Covert Centralization?

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“ICE and the Justice Department: Covert Government Centralization?”

Finally Going to the Aldi!

20171216_224158The Aldi store has come to Austin, Texas! Or rather, to Pflugerville, but that’s close enough. When I read that it was coming I was thrilled, because on the Dutch International Cookbook/Kookboek Facebook page I regularly see posts by folks elsewhere in America and Canada showing photos of their Dutch and German finds in Aldis. Now it’s here, so today I decided to include a trip to Pflugerville in my list of errands. Continue reading

When I was a Kid : Showing my Age

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When I was a kid my mother was against school uniforms.

When I was a kid we emigrated to Australia in a BOAC plane that had to stop three times to refuel.

When I was a kid my parents rented a television for one night. They watched a movie that had something to do with a leaking submarine. Continue reading

The Thanksgiving Gremlins

Halloween wreathIn her book Daring Greatly, self-help guru Brené Brown talks about gremlins as being the voices in our heads that tell us we must do this, we must behave so, we should have done that, etc. The gremlins are the critics–our parents, society, or our own (unrealistic) expectations for ourselves. The idea is to identify those gremlins and then basically tell them to shut up. There’s a little more to it than that, but that’ll do for the purpose of this post. Continue reading

The Zwarte Piet Debacle From the Outside, Again

zwarte clownOkay, it’s the end of November and that means that Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is arriving in the Netherlands, with his helpers, who have traditionally been all called Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). The Zwarte Pieten are traditionally white people with blackface. People of color in the Netherlands have gradually become vocal about not liking that and the Dutch reaction is incredibly embarrassing to me. Continue reading

The November 4 Demonstration

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Talking Fascism With Militia and Homeless at Fake Anti-Trump Demonstration”

Fascism in America 2: Exceptionalism

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“American Exceptionalism Is a Dangerously Naive Form of Nationalism”

From Nationalism to Patriotism, Again

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Charlottesville: From Patriotism to Nationalism to Malignant Nationalism”

From Nationalism to Patriotism: A Girl Can Dream

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Recognizing Fascism: Introducing History Education in Post-Trump America”

 

Whenever You’re Ready

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“American Re-education: America After Trump”.

Collective Stockholm Syndrome: The Reason Facts Don’t Convince?

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It has emigrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No: An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Collective Stockholm Syndrome, Battered Wife Syndrome and Trump’s Base”

A Personal Request

Akke en FlorisThis article is written by my cousin. If you live in Holland or in Europe and you’re able to donate to keep the magazine Lotje&Co afloat, please do. Parents of special-needs children can feel so isolated and this magazine helps them with support and communication.

Followed By the Pound Key

water billSo I was brushing my teeth before leaving home to go work out. I had it all perfectly timed: I would get more than an hour and a half on the treadmill at the YMCA before having to pick up R nearby. I turned on the tap to rinse… no water. Continue reading

Get Real, America!

sean spicer

Image: cnn.com

This week White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer uttered what may be the most offensive garbage yet, claiming that Bashar al-Assad is worse than Hitler, because even Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons, at least not on his own people and not in their cities and villages. Continue reading

Belated Note to Self

img981_edited-2 (2)

(It’s April, so it’s National Poetry Writing Month. One prompt I saw this morning was to find a picture of your younger self and write a poem describing the mood and telling your younger self something about the future. I had just the thing already on my mind.) Continue reading

Famine, War and Love: a Novel

famine, war and love

Image: amazon.com

A reader of my blog recently published a novel and he has been kind enough to send me a signed copy!

The story makes the connection between the famines of Ireland in the nineteenth century, the Netherlands during the Hunger Winter of 1944-1945 under German occupation, and Ethiopia in the early 1980s,  thus bringing into view the universality of the effects of hunger, war and displacement. Continue reading

Breastfeeding My Babies

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Breakfast in Central Park, May 1998

Yesterday I was reading something that reminded me how much I loved breastfeeding. I’ve been meaning to write about it for years, and I keep forgetting. It’s one of the best things–if not the best thing–I’ve ever done. Talk about having a purpose! My very body was keeping this brand-new little human alive and thriving. Continue reading

A Visit to the Gandhi Bazar

janakisToday I rediscovered the Gandhi Bazar, an Indian grocery store I frequented ten years ago, when we lived in an appartment nearby. (For Austinites, it’s on the corner of Brodie and William Cannon, catty-corner to HEB.) I love going to Asian grocery stores–they smell wonderful and everything is strange, except for the occasional item we used to have in Australia, like the proper Ovaltine or rusk. Such is the Commonwealth. Continue reading

Wish

This week’s photo challenge is “Wish“. I took this picture on the Brooklyn Bridge in the summer of 2014.

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Dinner and books in an Austin Strip Mall

pamuk-xlarge

Image: telegraph.co.uk

R and I looked on Yelp for a place to eat in north Austin this evening, and we ended up in Troy, a Turkish/Mediterranean place in a little strip mall where we had been once before, a couple of years ago. Continue reading

How to Find a Balance

Image: amazon.com

Image: amazon.com

Sometimes I think that I should take a break from the news, just turn the car radio to music and not read my Flipboard or Facebook feed for a few days, because it gets too stressful. But right after that I think, what a luxury to be able to contemplate turning it all off for a while because it’s too hard to hear, too much to read about. Continue reading

I’m At a Loss For a Title Today

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Trump’s Muslim Ban and Hate Crimes Against Muslims by Trump Supporters”

Working on Wellness: Yoga Studio, Sworkit and Calm

034_edited-1Yesterday I discussed Habitica, an app that I find not just helpful, but fun to use as an incentive to improve my mental and physical health. Today I’ll discuss the other three, as promised. Continue reading

Working on Wellness: Habitica

Image: habitica.com

Image: habitica.com

Twenty-three years ago this month, I emigrated to the United Stated. Or so I thought at the time. I now know that emigration is a process that lasts the rest of one’s life. Maybe it’s easier for someone who emigrates from a developing country, for someone who always wanted to come to America. I never did. And when I came, I thought it was temporary. I now know it’s not. Continue reading

America, Your Democracy Just Got Fired

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“American Democracy Is Only As Strong As Its Separation of Powers”

Civil, Angry, Civilly Angry?

Image: snopes.com

Image: snopes.com

My friend and neighbor had a dilemma two days ago. He wanted to “like” my post to support my family going to the march, but he himself has started holding meetings in Austin to discuss how we can bring back the civil discourse, and my last post wasn’t that civil. Continue reading

Caught By Surprise

homeless, denny's, Once a week I have three hours to kill in East Austin. I kill them at Denny’s, because it’s close to where I need to pick up R when she’s done, and because they play 60s and 70s rock–my music. I usually take my laptop and sit at one of the two tables near an outlet, so I can write. Continue reading

Graceful I Am Not!

crocsToday’s writing prompt is Graceful.

Ha-ha-ha!

If there’s ever a word that describes what I am not most completely, it’s graceful. I’m the epitome of the proverbial bull in a china shop. More like a stumbling drunk bull in the British Museum’s Asia section. Watch out folks, here she comes. Hide your valuables! Continue reading

From Gaming Faux Pas to Immigration Insights

Image: innogames.com

Image: innogames.com

Sometimes I go over my blog, to see if there is at least some semblance of balance between positive and negative posts. I don’t want to always sound angry and whiny, especially in my posts that are more directly related to being an immigrant in this crazy country. That wouldn’t be an accurate reflection of my state of mind outside of this blog. Nevertheless, anger and resentment do seem to crop up on a regular basis. How is it that I am still able to keep that up after twenty-three years? Continue reading

Fun Facts About Facts, Truth, and Reality

Image: addictinginfo.org

Image: addictinginfo.org

Donald Trump is worried that the mediator in the first presidential debate on Monday will fact-check his statements. That right there should tell you everything you need to know about what he plans to say, but only if you still know what facts are. So let’s explore the language around the issue for a bit. Continue reading

My British Hiking Goal

A quick photo prompt post: This is an old slide, and not great quality, but pobody’s nerfect, am I right? I took this photo in the Lake District in England in 1989, and I believe H and I camped on that little flat spot by the tarn in between those two streams down below–which was already up there. As part of reclaiming my hiking identity, my quest is to get to this spot again some day and camp by that tarn.

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To Spork or Not to Spork: Hiking (Non)essentials

img837_edited-1Today’s prompt is conveniently Hike.

I’ve been on Pinterest a lot, lately, pinning stuff related to hiking, backpacking and lightweight camping, and Wow! There’s been some improvements these past twenty-five years! The best hack I’ve seen is using a walking stick as a tent pole. Especially since my tent has just one pole, this is perfect. Assuming you use walking sticks, of course.

There is also more stuff out there that looks cute, but that you probably don’t need. Continue reading

Land of the Free to Be Ignorant and Ridiculous

Image: talkingpointsmemo.com

Image: aslkingpointsmemo.com

In the spirit of refueling, I downloaded an app with Dutch news from different media. And right away an article in Elsevier caught my eye.

It’s about a Muslim school in the town of Zaandam, that sued four parents of former students for slander and libel. Continue reading

Boycott Those Damn Mexican Taco Trucks!

Image: azcentral.com

Image: azcentral.com

A Trump surrogate recently stated that, without stricter immigration policies, we’ll soon see a taco truck on every street corner. Now, I’m almost per definition against anything coming from the Trump camp. I’m liberal, anti-bigotry, anti-fascism and all that. However, I’m not that easily pigeon-holed. Because I have to say, I agree that having a taco truck on every street corner would be a terrible scenario on every level.

Here’s why. Continue reading

Refueling: Filling my Tank With Drukwerk and Stroops

immigration, homesickness, refuleing, stroopwafels, drukwerk, doe maar, andre hazes, dutch food, dutch pop musicWell, waddaya know? The daily writing prompt is “Recharge“, just as I was getting ready to write about refueling as an immigrant. Another term I learned recently, from Akhtar’s book Immigration and Identity.

What do you do to refuel (or recharge) as an immigrant–to get your home fix, as it were? Continue reading

Cairngorms, Here I come! : Mourning My Losses 5

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Image: H

It’s amazing what one successful hike and a pair of good hiking boots can do. On the road back to Texas, I found myself scanning the maps of Canada, looking for canoe trips T and I could take in the future. Maybe an easy, non-portage one to begin with, like a part of the Peace River… Suddenly everything seems possible again!

Continue reading

Plain of Six Glaciers: Mourning My Losses 4

20160811_162048In my previous post I described how I bought a new pair of proper hiking boots. (Don’t ask me how on earth I managed to lose my old pair; I have no idea.) So the next day T and I went on a hike rated “moderate”, and about 12 km round trip. I didn’t look at the survey map, because just looking at those made me feel blue, so T told me that it was two kilometers along Lake Louise, which should be pretty level, and then 4 km uphill to a tearoom near the Plain of Six Glaciers.  We had all day and if I didn’t feel up to walking to the tearoom by the time we got to the end of Lake Louise, I would turn back and T would go on alone. Continue reading

New Boots: Mourning My Losses 3

new bootsT wanted a fitness tracker for his birthday, so the kids and I went to REI. Back in the day I would have been in hiking heaven at REI; nowadays it’s depressing and I usually get what I need as quickly as possible and leave again. But I had the kids with me and though I knew I was asking for trouble, I felt I should look around with them and point out gear that resembles mine, and tell them how I used to do this and that, and hey look, that’s about the size my backpack was, etc, etc. Continue reading

My Hiking Identity: Mourning My Losses 2

img659So in yesterday’s post, I mentioned some of the ways in which immigration has changed and/or affected my identity. Continue reading

Immigration and Identity : Mourning My Losses 1

img593_edited-1I’ve started reading Immigration and Identity by Salman Akhtar. He speaks about the loss of identity and the mourning process involved for emigrants. I had never thought about it in those terms, but yes, when you emigrate, your identity changes to a degree, and yes, there is definitely mourning involved. Continue reading

The Stuff of Memories

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I just created a new page, titled Emigration / Immigration. It took a while, but after six years in I realized that that might be a good one to have. Continue reading

How Separate Are We, Really?

image: nairaland.com

image: nairaland.com

On July 14, a man ran his truck into crowds of people enjoying the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France, killing eighty-some and wounding so many others.

Bastille Day celebrates the birth of the French Republic, with its motto, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Fraternity means, among other things, communal support, friendship, brotherhood. Continue reading

Me, Forging Empires

forge of empiresA while ago I started playing Forge of Empires. It’s the first time I’ve ever gotten involved in any kind of digital game, at least not since getting addicted to Pong when I should have been studying, back in library school. Continue reading

Empty, Spent, Blank, While the Pundits Catch Up

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Trump is the Republican Candidate: It’s a Bit Late to Face American Fascism”

Democratic Socialism or Social Democracy?

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Bernie Sanders: Democratic Socialist or Social Democrat? Why It Matters”

Harmony

154This week’s photo challenge: Harmony.

Last summer we stayed a week in upstate New York with my wonderful brother and sister in law. They took us to visit their friends’ small farm. About thirty acres, if I remember correctly. A stream, a pond, wooded area, swamp, meadows. An open barn where the animals can come and go as they please. Continue reading

American Crossroads: Reagan, Trump and the Devil Down South

Image: ew.com

Image: ew.com

I posted this awesome article by Ben Fountain on the Resident Alien Facebook page, but that only has fifty readers. So here it is as well, my borrowed submission for yesterday’s writing prompt “Inevitable“. (And it’s never too late to like my page for more stuff that’s relevant to my blog posts.)

How the Republican party slowly but surely got Americans ripe for a …hm…man, person, specimen, angry goldfish like Trump. Also, I now know what “dog whistle politics” is.

Hot Messes

image: Guardian

image: theguardian.com

Like the Hot Mess Stephen Marche mentions below, this article feels like at least four separate articles all scrambled into one. But it’s worthwhile as an impression of America and its politics by a (Canadian) outsider.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jan/10/white-man-pathology-bernie-sanders-donald-trump?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+USA+-+Version+A&utm_term=148973&subid=14420186&CMP=ema_565a

 

 

Table Manners

image: pinterest.com

image: pinterest.com

How do you eat a salad? How do you cut your steak?

In Holland, I learned to eat with knife and fork, the European way. Holding your knife in your right hand, in a certain way, and your fork in your left hand, in a certain way. The cutting or folding of leaves happens just so and you keep your knife an fork in your hands the whole time you’re eating. Not just with salads, anything that isn’t finger food. Continue reading

Good Grief And Happy Holidays!

Source: Good Grief And Happy Holidays!

Great post about the War on Christmas by a blogger I follow.

I Finally Get It!

image: themoderntog.com

image: themoderntog.com

Why Trump is bat-shit crazy? Why people love him? No.

Pinterest! Continue reading

What Passes for History Here

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“What Passes for American History Education is Pathetic, and Now I Know Why”

This Crazy Rollercoaster

image: huffingtonpost.com

image: huffingtonpost.com

I mention in my yellow sticky post on the homepage that I often seem disgusted and elated in quick succession. Well, I wasn’t kidding. Continue reading

Hot, Cold, or Clueless?

image: youtube.com

image: youtube.com

Okay, the problem with starting a series of posts on one incident is that in the meantime other stuff happens. Though I was intent on not going along with the “news cycle,” I’m going to cut my posts on the Spring Valley High School SRO assault on a female student short. The two remaining posts, about American football coach idolization and the lack of mental health support in this country will have to wait until another time.

A few days ago I came across an article about the state of the Cold War in 1983. Continue reading

Ignorance in the Information Age

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“Lies, Disinformation and Conspiracy Theories in the Information Age”

Good and Evil

image from offclouds.com

image from offclouds.com

The writing prompt of the week asks what evil means to me.

Well, I don’t believe it’s a thing, something that exists on it’s own. As an atheist/humanist I obviously don’t believe that the devil makes people do things. That would be  very convenient, but no, people do bad things because we’re human. We are responsible for our own values and rules and behavior. Continue reading

And Now for Some Sweetness and Light

image from cadyluckleedy.com

image from cadyluckleedy.com

Well, I have been focused on the extremes of religion lately, so now it’s time for something more upbeat. (Even I can get sick of my negativity after a while.) Continue reading

Pope Francis Goes to Washington

image: popefrancisnyc.org

image: popefrancisnyc.org

So, the pope. CNN was wall-to-wall pope from the moment he set foot in Cuba to the moment he left America. It was hard not to get carried along in the enthusiasm oozing from the (Catholic) reporters. He was wonderful! Amazing! Best pope ever! Rock star Francis! It was like the Beatles were coming to town! Etc. Continue reading

The War on Freedom

I haven’t been blogging, for all sorts of reasons, but here’s a quick link to an article about Kim Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples in Kentucky that says exactly what I have been thinking of writing, only better.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-susan-russell/kim-davis-canary-in-the-c_b_8085124.html

 

My Ideology

Image: ato1952.com

Image: ato1952.com

I was recently accused of having a left-wing ideology by someone who commented on a post about the pledge of allegiance.

Merriam-Webster defines ideology as: Continue reading

If I Were Queen…

Image: usnews.nbc.com

Image: usnews.nbc.com

I regularly come across the writing prompt “If you were king…” I usually don’t know where to begin. Or I think of the painfully boring and restrictive life Queen Elizabeth of Britain leads, and then I lose my appetite for being queen. And in any case, America doesn’t have kings or queens.

But wait, America does have tsars! Continue reading

They’re All Druggies and Alcoholics

image: askusfortcollins.com

image: askusfortcollins.com

An argument you hear often for not helping the homeless is that if you give them money, they just spend it on drugs or alcohol.

First of all, there are plenty of people homeless who aren’t drug addicts or alcoholics. It’s often hard to tell the difference. Continue reading

Zwarte Piet and Ferguson

image: vrij-zinnig.nl

image: vrij-zinnig.nl

In a reply to a comment by Onno on one of my posts about Zwarte Piet, I mentioned that the Netherlands is still in the Stone Age when it comes to racial sensitivity. Onno responded by pointing to Ferguson. Continue reading

Please DO Feed the Homeless

image: sleuthjournal.com

image: sleuthjournal.com

It’s that time of year again: people donate to food banks that feed the hungry and to organizations that provide meals for the homeless. Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Let’s Put This into Perspective, Again

image: sint-nicolaas.nl

image: sint-nicolaas.nl

Okay, one more repost, because I’ve had so many hits on the last one. Clearly there’s an interest and the post below is one that gets skipped a lot, it seems.

After this I’m stopping with the Zwarte Piet issue, at least for this year. I think.

Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Breaking Down Some Arguments, Again

blog.seniorennet.beIts that time of year again in the Netherlands: Sinterklaas is coming. From what I gather over here in Texas, for now, the people who want to keep Zwarte Piet black have won.

There’s no point to me saying everything I already said at length last year, but for those of you who missed it then, here’s one of the posts I wrote about the issue below. Or, if you want, you can start at the beginning. And if you’re one of those who say I have no right to say anything because I’m an outsider, I have dedicated my last post in the series especially to you.

So here goes:

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Continue reading

Dictionary Schmictionary, or The Downside of Being Bilingual

image: licoricelemondrops.com

image: licoricelemondrops.com

Today’s writing prompt: Time to confess: tell us about a time when you used a word whose meaning you didn’t actually know (or were very wrong about, in retrospect).

Okay, this is embarrassing, but it definitely is the biggest boo-boo I’ve ever made in this regard. Continue reading

Coleslaw: Improved

coleslawLate 1960s Australia. My mother adds a recipe to her limited repertoire–she discovers coleslaw. Continue reading

From No Way to Okay to Every Day

cokesThis morning I read a BBC article about Coca Cola. This reminded me of conversations T and I had when we were living together in the Netherlands.

Being American, he drank Coke. Continue reading

Eponymous Me

image: Franz Kafka

image: Franz Kafka

Kafka, Marx, Orwell, Sade–no reason why I shouldn’t end up on that list. Here’s what I imagine my contribution to Webster’s to be: Continue reading

Gender and Grammar and Growth, Oh My!

image: exchange.smarttech.com

image: exchange.smarttech.com

My son B has been maturing by leaps and bounds the past couple of months. It’s like he’s having a massive mental growth spurt.

As a result, he is increasingly finding out what it means to be him, and learning how to be more assertive about the boundaries between himself and others. At the same time he’s also expanding his experience to include more and more of the world around him. All this seems to suddenly be happening at a faster pace than ever before. Continue reading

My Dutch-American Red Cabbage Stamppot

rode kool stampot 2We finally got our new stove after having done without for months. Long story, which I’m not going to bore you with. But now we have a stove and the weather is wonderfully wintry. So the first meals I made were stamppots. Continue reading

To Hell and Back: 24 Hours in Las Vegas

las vegas nightmareIn October I saw that there was going to be a New Media Expo (NMX) in the beginning of January and I decided to go. It was in Las Vegas. I hate superficiality, I hate the idea that bigger is always better, I hate unbridled greed and I hate sexual objectification of women.

What could possibly go wrong? Continue reading

Snow and Oliebollen

oliebollen_edited-1Happy New Year!

Well, here I am again, finally. Did you miss me?

Continue reading

Conversation over Breakfast

chicken fajitasI treated my homeless friend Steve to a meal of chicken fajitas at Magnolia Cafe the other day. Talking to him for a while is often overwhelming. So much information. So much of it shocking. Continue reading

A Little Reminder

image: abcnews.go.com

image: abcnews.go.com

Judging by the news coverage, you’d think that the biggest worries related to the freezing winds this Thanksgiving are the flight delays and the possible lack of giant balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Continue reading

Open Letter to Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo

art acevedoDear Police Chief Acevedo,

I’m an Austin resident. I drive my kids downtown to school every morning and back every afternoon. Since I’ve been driving the same route twice a day for five years, I’ve befriended some of the homeless who stand on corners I almost always stop at. These guys sleep mostly under bridges and overpasses. Continue reading

Whatever You Do, Don’t Read This!

samurai-sword-umbrella-2I discovered this blog, Conservative Newswire, only last week. I immediately became a follower, because I felt sorry for them. Such inexperienced boys, they were obviously never going to make it without the benefit of my help. Continue reading

It’s Getting Colder

image: austinchronicle.com

image: austinchronicle.com

It’s that time of year again here in Austin. More rain and cooler nights are wonderful unless you’re homeless. And further north winter is already in full swing.

Oh, and it’s Veterans’ Day. Many homeless are war veterans, guys who gave their souls for this country. They got chewed up in wars and were spit out by society and now they’re reduced to holding up cardboard signs at traffic lights. Continue reading

I Stand Corrected

image: comediva.com

image: comediva.com

I recently wrote a series of posts about Zwarte Piet (Black Peter), a character in the Dutch Saint Nicholas celebration. Black Peter is Sinterklaas’s helper; he’s a white person in blackface, with red lips, a black frizzy wig, dressed in an old-fashioned clown outfit. Continue reading

Employee of the Month

employee of the monthOkay, on day six I already had nothing to say, so forget NaBloPoMo. But of course now I have enough for the next couple of days. Isn’t that how it always goes? That’s why I never committed before. And I probably won’t next year. Continue reading

Sinterklaas: The Zwarte Piet Issue from the Outside

zwarte clownSeveral people have pointed out–in a somewhat accusatory tone–that I’m looking at the issue of Zwarte Piet being racist from the outside. To a large degree it’s true. But first let me point out to what degree it’s not. Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Zwarte Piet and a Horse Analogy — Yeah, I’m Really Doing That

Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Breaking Down Some Arguments

Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Let’s Put This into Perspective

image: sint-nicolaas.nl

image: sint-nicolaas.nl

Continue reading

Sinterklaas: Now I’m Getting to the Point

image: e-carnavalskleding.nl

image: e-carnavalskleding.nl

In yesterday’s post I described the way Sinterklaas is celebrated in the Netherlands. Except I left something out. It’s kind of a biggie.

Sinterklaas has helpers. Originally there was just one helper, but soon there were at least two of them, and when Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands or in a town, there are lots of them. They are called Zwarte Piet–Black Pete or Black Peter.

These Zwarte Pieten are white people with black  faces, bright red lips, afro wigs and big gold earrings, who wear Renaissance-style clown costumes.

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Sinterklaas: It Doesn’t Get any More Dutch than That

Read on!

Make Cold Symptoms The Least Of Your Problems! With Happitame!

I’m being lazy this week; can you tell? One of the effects of a shitty health care system in America is the amount of self-medication that goes on, and the number of commercials for medicines. These commercials are always good for a laugh and a spoof.

The Byronic Man

Happitame!  For temporary relief of minor symptoms associated with colds and fever.  No more sneezing; watery, itchy eyes; no more congestion, or runny nose.  Enjoy life again: with Happitame!

Your life will be like this picture!*  With Happitame!  (*assumes life was already like picture.  Not a guarantee)
Your life will be like this picture!* With Happitame! (*assumes life was already like picture. Not a guarantee)

Dosage:  Adults: Take 1 pill twice a day for relief from minor cold symptoms.  Do not exceed 2 pills in a single day.  Also, do not take fewer than 2 pills a day.  If you should be unable to take a second pill 12 hours after the first (exactly 12 hours), induce vomiting and consult a physician immediately, after which you should induce vomiting again.  Continue vomiting until no longer physically possible.

Warnings: Happitame should be kept out of reach of children, the elderly, and the insane.

Happitame should not be stored within 3 feet of fresh produce.

People of Greek…

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What Is the Reason for Your Visit? Well, Doctor, I Have a Bad Case of Forms

medical forms_edited-1The other day R needed some physiotherapy. We had had a long, hot day and a rushed drive in heavy traffic after school to make it on time for the appointment. When we got there, all flustered and five minutes late, I first had to do the paperwork before the therapist could see R, which made her even later. The lady at the window grumbled a bit because I hadn’t come fifteen minutes early to fill out the forms.

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Antoinette Tuff: Using Her Words

image from beforeitsnews.com

image from beforeitsnews.com

Wow, a few hundred kids and teachers weren’t shot by a guy with an AK47 yesterday. No doubt because another guy one-upped him with an even bigger gun, and shot him full of holes while hysterically screaming “Fuuuuuck you, cocksucker!” and then… What? What’s that? Those kids and teachers weren’t saved by a manly-man with a big gun and a bigger mouth? Oh. They were saved by an unarmed, level-headed woman? Who TALKED THE GUNMAN DOWN? Well shucks, imagine that!

The Real America or the Real Issues

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism,

where it resides under the title:

“Hey, Real Americans Out There In Real America, What About the Real Issues?”

Political Correctness or Social Evolution?

image from blogs.scientificamerican.com

image from blogs.scientificamerican.com

Daily Prompt: Is political correctness a useful concept, or does it stifle honest discussion?

Definition of politically correct:
1. Of, relating to, or supporting broad social, political, and educational change, especially to redress historical injustices in matters such as race, class, gender, and sexual orientation.
2. Being or perceived as being overly concerned with such change, often to the exclusion of other matters.
(http://www.thefreedictionary.com/political+correctness)
Where do I stand?

Gilberton, PA: Too Small to Succeed?

image from city-data.com

image from city-data.com

The smaller the town, the bigger the chance that your police “chief” and mayor are below par. A small town simply doesn’t have the tax base needed to attract qualified people and there are too few qualified people in the borough itself.

Gilberton ranks way below the Pennsylvania average in pretty much everything, like income, house values and education. It definitely has a very low tax base. And how big is the pool Gilberton has to fish in for its government employees?

Let’s have a closer look, shall we?

Nomadic Retirement: The American Way

image kenmore-wa.showmethead.com

image kenmore-wa.showmethead.com

(Response to Daily Prompt “There’s No Place Like Home”.)

America is full of nomads, aka retirees. They live in RVs, some moving around from one beautiful spot to another, others staying in one place.

What’s the attraction?

Bruised + Gekneusd = Gebreusd

img461_edited-1 Our last visit to the Netherlands was eleven years ago, when B was six and R almost three. That was also the last time I spoke Dutch for any length of time with other adults. Continue reading

Left Is Scary and Other Hilarious Moments

image from buzzfeed.com

image from buzzfeed.com

One of the things that remind me regularly that I’m still an alien here is what makes me laugh. Continue reading

The Long 1950’s … Behind the Iron Curtain

In light of the restrictive abortion law the Texas Republicans are going to get passed, and considering the reckless manner in which many conservatives throw around terms like “communist” and “socialist”, this post by someone from Russia is a must-read. The number of times she uses the word “stupid” n the first few paragraphs may be off-putting, but she gets it out of her system and gets going with the real meat!

This Ruthless World

Yuri Pimenov, "A Wedding on Tomorrow's Street" (1962)As someone who grew up in a totalitarian Communist state, nothing infuriates me more than the incessant conservative droning-on about progressives being “communist”, “socialist” and “Stalinist”. People who say these things use such words as mere slurs, not much different than calling someone an asswipe, and of course, they betray both a profound ignorance of history and a great deal of contempt for it. But more than that, they’ve got it completely backwards. Truth is, American conservatives have remarkably a lot in common with Russian communists: the same obsession with ideological purity, the same irrational intolerance towards loyal dissent, the same prioritizing of ideology over practicality, the same preparedness to sacrifice liberties, human dignity and lives for the sake of ideological totems, the same clash-of-civilizations thinking, the same pretensions at worldwide cultural and political hegemony. And of course, the modern American conservative and the Russian communist of the bygone era…

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Simmering Down Now

232_edited-1Yesterday I just accepted all comments without replying to each one. I was venting, not looking for a conversation with people who have never been emigrants themselves. I thought I’d leave that for after I’d calmed down a bit.

Well, I’m calm now.

Question

Like Old Faithful, I need to let off steam on a regular basis.

Like Old Faithful, I need to let off steam on a regular basis.

So, fellow immigrants from Western Europe, wherever you are, I have a question for you.

Most of us spend the majority of our time writing expatically correct—and in  my case Americally correct—posts, demonstrating how well we are adapting.

I’m no exception. With tongue in cheek, I can write a halfway funny piece about pretty much any random, absolutely unimportant quirky cultural difference. See  my The Gap post. Yeah, it’s not hard to make fun of American public toilets.

People love posts like this. Or posts in which we write about the personal growth we experience, thanks to being permanently outside our comfort zone, and how grateful we are for this growth. And we even manage to believe it. We are able to take a step back and look at our environment and ourselves in it from a distance and laugh. Or at least shrug our shoulders.

I do, anyway. Most of the time. Next time.

But…

The Invaders Are Here: Bon Appetit!

wild pigA blogging friend made me aware of this article in the New York Times about eating invasive species such as feral pigs. Feral pigs are a problem here in Texas and it makes perfect sense to eat them. They’re free-ranging, organic, with no added hormones or antibiotics. So eat them invaders, y’all!

Gruene Market Days

Yesterday T and I went to the Market Days in Gruene, south of Austin and pronounced as ‘Green”. The weather was mild and the market was colorful.

017_edited-1

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Five Things I Can’t Stand

ducks 1I’ve been feeling kind of truculent lately, so let’s see if a list of five things I can’t stand will get it out of my system.

Let me begin with drivers behind me–when I’m up front at a stoplight, waiting to turn left at an unprotected left turn–honking for me to go ahead and make the turn already. Continue reading

Brigham Young and Infamous Legacies in General

Brigham Young(image from biography.com)

Brigham Young
(image from biography.com)

Well, I’ll probably be banned from ever entering Utah for this, but here goes.

I just read The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. It tells the somewhat parallel stories of two nineteenth wives: Ann Eliza Webb, wife of Brigham Young, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints’  second leader in the 1870s, Continue reading

1978: A Rockin’ Year to be Seventeen

Evolution of X just had a post about her memories of 1978. She invited readers to do the same.

So, let’s see. Not in chronological order: Continue reading

Too Big to Break Up?

(Image from homedepot.com)

(Image from homedepot.com)

We have lived in our home for six years now, and I had decorated the entire house, except for the master bathroom.

Yes, in American houses, the parents’ bedroom is referred to as the master bedroom and the bathroom, which is usually accessed from within the master bedroom, is referred to as the master bathroom. Continue reading

My Favorite American Store

A week or so ago, one of my favorite bloggers posted about the clothes in her wardrobe. She has since taken the post down, so I can’t link to it. But it reminded me of one of my favorite things here in America.

About once year I need some serious clothes shopping. Usually because I have gotten even fatter have given myself a size promotion. Continue reading

The Grand American Canyon

(Image from sodahead.com)

(Image from sodahead.com)

It never ceases to amaze me how so many people in America can live in what has been called a “parallel universe”. A universe Fox News not only helps to create, but apparently believes in itself, as witnessed on election night, when its pundits were taken completely off guard by Obama’s victory.

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Innovative Roads in . . . the Netherlands

This is cool. And Dutch.

Point in Case

This post doesn’t live here anymore. It migrated to my other blog:

The Big No-No:  An Outsider on American Fascism, where it resides under the title:

“There Should Be Gun Restrictions For People With Mental Health Issues”.

Martin Chuzzlewit in the U-nited States

(Image: charlesdickenspage.com}

(Image: charlesdickenspage.com}

Since I’ve been blogging about Victor Hugo’s stories, let me jump over to England and Charles Dickens.

This winter break I had the bad luck to get the flu. For days I could barely get out of bed. But every cloud has a silver lining, and this cloud’s lining was that I got to read Martin Chuzzlewit in a few days. Continue reading

Load up, Boys, It’s the Asian Menace Again!

image from breitbart.com

image from breitbart.com

Okay, finally I’m getting around to the post about Red Dawn.I think it’s no coincidence that it was remade around this time. Continue reading