Friday, September 25, 2009

Jayne the Girl Scout

Meet the new Internal Communications Coordinator of Girl Scouts of the USA service unit 12 in Oregon - moi!

I know, I know -- why is Jayne, who doesn't even really like kids, volunteering for the Girl Scouts? Two reasons: first, because of Girl Scout day camp in the summers of 1975 and 1976 back in Kentucky (not sure if it was in Henderson County or not). LOVED those experiences: learning to cook outdoors, hiking, singing, even learning to build a latrine. LOVED it. Brownies was fun, but my Girl Scout troops weren't that great -- I'll never forget showing up to the Halloween party and every single girl came dressed as a princess, except for one girl. Me. I came dressed as an Indian scout, complete with Coon-skin cap and a painted face. But summer day camp -- it was all that.

Secondly, I love what Girl Scouts of the USA has become since I was a member 4 million years ago. The badges are so exciting and worthwhile now. All of the programs really push girls to push themselves, to learn, to explore, and to think about the choices they make or will make. And, unlike the Boy Scouts of America, you don't have to believe in God nor be heterosexual to participate! It just seems like a really good match for my strong beliefs about the power of girls.

So, my role with the Girl Scouts will be to help the adults who are helping girls. First, that will be helping members with their fledgling YahooGroup, which they don't understand how to use, as well as how to use GoogleDocs, which the GS state HQ uses regularly and wants all service units to use. Eventually, I'd also like to help with any camp-related events they have, as my time allows (and given my current lack of job prospects...). And I'd really like to help a girl go for her Gold Award.

And before you ask, no, our stuff STILL has not arrived. We're hoping tomorrow (Saturday). I feel like we're house-squatting.

Albi got sick and puked several times all over the house today. I think it's in honor of Buster, who did the same within 48 hours of our moving into our Sinzig flat back in 2004. I've uploaded a video of her getting a belly rub. Actually, a second video as well.

Louise from England plans to be here in Feburary, and Anne of the Frisco hopes to be here for Thanksgiving or Christmas. When will YOU be visiting Haus Dietz und Cravens?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ooom Pah Pah

Tomorrow is the birthday of H.G. Wells, who had a HUGE influence on my life, so much so that I named my first car after him.

Oktoberfest in Germany is... well, it's mostly for tourists, and neither of us like Oktoberfest music (besides, the real party in Germany, IMO, is Carnival, the celebrations all along the Rhein leading up to Lent). So neither Stefan or I ever went to Oktoberfest in Munich. But we're both homesick for Germany now, and the PDX Stammstisch group said that Oktoberfest in Mt. Angel, Oregon was well worth a visit. So, we went! Two days, in fact! Here are our Oktoberfest photos. It's MASSIVE. And a lot of fun. Very good food! We met a German lady on the shuttle who has lived in Portland since the 60s, an American/German couple (he's from Northern Germany), and, ofcourse, the Director of the Festival itself, who is not from Germany, but his German is EXCELLENT (see the photos for more info).

The best part for me was that, among the many thousands of people at Oktoberfest, I looked over just after we arrived and there was my dear friend Jerry Curry looking at me and grinning. Jerry and I haven't seen each other in 10 years, and we hadn't had a day to meet up since we arrived in Oregon. He hung out with us for a few hours, and it was The Awesome. Funniest moment of the evening: he went to a booth and asked for coffee, and the guy didn't hear him correctly, and asked, "Do you want that on a stick or a bun?" Jerry responded, "Well, I've never seen coffee on a stick, but I'd like to!" That was our line all evening -- do you want that on a stick or a bun?

Here's a cool note: while I hadn't seen Jerry in 10 years, I did have an extended IM conversation with him from Cairo, Egypt, while I was letting Stefan to sleep after a nasty bought with Ramse's Revenge. Ah, the Intertubes...

Supposedly, our things arrive Thursday. They would have maybe gotten here earlier, but I had to get very angry about a MASSIVE storage bill the movers tried to slap on at the last minute, so I refused to pay the balance until that was resolved. Are movers of the Devil? Are they all evil incarnate? Why do they ALL pull this kind of stuff?! Anyway, I'm really looking forward to not sleeping in the floor.

So far, the only person who's not only said she's coming to visit, but given us a general date, is Louise, from England, who is threatening to visit in February. Others? We'll have beds by the time of your visit, I promise.

Albi is fine. She thinks we're camping again. House camping.

Job news: none. zilch. ouch. Send karma.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Here we are in Canby

Or as Stefan likes to say, "It Can Be."

I have some photos up here to show our transition into Oregon, including our move today into the house. Not many, and they are fun, I promise.

All in all, this has been a rough transition, beginning right after we "landed" in the Portland area after our wonderful cross-country trip. I've felt as foreign here as Stefan does, and I'm second-guessing all my decisions, something I really am loathe to do. I need cheering up. Come visit?

Our goals now are to get our things here from the movers (we're in an intense argument -- they've jacked up the price, b@stards), find jobs and find our "groove." Stefan's much farther along at finding his groove than me: he went to another gathering for adventure motorcycle riders (that means people who travel by their motorcycles, don't ride Harleys, and usually adhere to ATGATT (yes, we are a pro-helmet household). This was in Washington state. I'm thrilled that he's getting to do these rallies -- we both were so worried there wouldn't be these kind of riders here in the USA. There aren't nearly as many as Europe, but there's a small-and-growing community. The other day, he was on the side of the road, having a smoke, and a car that had just passed did the screech stop, backed up, and the guy rolled down the window and said, "Is that a Honda Africa Twin?!?" He's very happy to be in an area of the USA at last where his motorcycle is recognized.

I stayed behind, as I was on deadline for TWO consulting jobs (I go for almost a year with none, and then get two, both due tomorrow. WTF?!?). Stefan left for the Washington gathering at noon, and should have arrived before 3 in the afternoon, but by 8 p.m., I still hadn't gotten a text from him confirming his arrival. Not wanting to panic, I joined the online forum with members who organized this rally and posted to the group, asking anyone there to please tell Stefan to text me. He did, indeed, get the message and, since he had no cell phone connection, called me on a friend's phone. He got a lot of ribbing from everyone that evening ("Stefan?! Call your wife!!").

I also stayed behind because, as you know if you read the last entry, Miss Albi went into heat THREE MONTHS EARLY. It was a very abbreviated cycle, but annoying nonetheless. She quite loses her mind in the process, abbreviated or not, so it was best for me to stay with her. She's laying here right now near me, in a rather deep sleep. I hope she realizes soon that she won't be moving again, inshallah, for a long long time.

Just heard that Patrick Swayze died. I hated ALL OF HIS MOVIES. I mean, I HATED THEM. I could not contain myself from mocking "Ghost" nor "Dirty Dancing" when I saw them. The stupidity was beyond my toleration. That said, I thought Patrick Swayze, as a person, was the most charming interview ever and I never turned one off if it came on. I also thought his stint hosting "Saturday Night Live" is one of the top 10 best shows they ever did, no kidding.

By contrast, Kanye West is a poop head.

If you haven't gotten my new phone numbers, then email me and I'll pass those along.

It's after 9, and while I would love to lay down and deprogram after this long day, I've got paperwork to do...


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Found a home!

We've been accepted as the new renters of a one-level, 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with double garage in Canby, Oregon! There's also a fenced back yard (big by some standards, small by my standards). We've been living out of suitcases since April, so we're itching to get moved in. Unfortunately, that won't happen until Sept. 12, at the earliest (it may be a few days later). And who knows when our things will arrive from storage in Los Angeles. I'll send the address as soon as we've signed paperwork and all that (I'm suddenly superstitious these days and don't want to jinx it).

Yes, it was listed on Craigslist, but we found it instead on the Canby newspapers online classifieds, which turned out to be WAY more reliable than Craigslist (no scams!).

We will be ready for overnight visitors for sure by mid-October (maybe earlier). So consider yourself invited! Email me with your proposed dates whenever you have them.

Inshallah, it's our last rental home, and our next house is one we own.

Stefan is on a German online social networking site and found a group of Germans living in the Portland area that have their own stammtisch (an informal social group that meets regularly in a bar, usually weekly). It's called PDX Stammtisch. We met them last night at the Racoon Lodge in Beaverton and had a WONDERFUL time. The last four photos here are from the stammtisch. We will definitely make this a regular gathering. It's fascinating to hear the German perspective on living in the USA.

We also finally got together with a couple that live near Eugene, that Stefan met years ago in Greece while on a motorcycle trip. Eric and Gail are living our dream: they are retired and living on a large estate in the mountains outside of Eugene, on land that was once a plant nursery. The road that leads to their land is a National Forest road, they have a huge house, a three-car garage, access to the middle fork of the Williamette River, and woods all around, with plenty of room for motorcycle friends or RV friends to camp on their land. They have a motorcycle in Europe and another in South America, and they take regular trips on both. Heaven...

Albi has gone into heat almost three months early. I know she's had a great time camping and being around us all the time, but she's also stressed at moving so much and not having a regular routine. She needs a regular place to live as much as we do.

The other day, Stefan and I were sitting outside of a grocery store with Albi, adjusting our bags so we could carry them home (we like to walk rather than drive), and a woman gave us two dollars "to buy something for our dog." I guess we look like homeless people!

Stefan signed up to take a class in a 3-D CAD program, and the class turned out to be two blocks away! He did really well in the class, and diligently practiced with the software every night and over the weekend-break in the class.

I recently did a small consulting gig for an organization I used to volunteer with back in Austin, and I was reminded of this video of their first event where I was a volunteer trainer. I'm in it for 10 seconds, at about 19 seconds into the video. Sweet memories.

The Discovery channel and the Travel channel are EVIL. Hypnotic... entrancing... can't look away...

We rented Valkerie, which didn't at all suck, as I feared it would. Stefan says Tom Cruise speaks German with a French accent. I had no idea how far that coup in Germany went, and neither did Stefan. A lot of the movie is historically accurate, according to research I did afterwards. I highly recommend it if you are a history nut. We also rented Wall-E, and I LOVED LOVED LOVED it. It got to me hugely. Great film!

Send me lots of job karma, so I can get this 20-day consulting gig in Nigeria that a former co-worker asked me to apply for. Send both of us all the job karma you can, actually -- that's the final piece of the moving-back-to-the-USA-puzzle (other than finding affordable health care insurance).

And speaking of health care insurance, I'll end with this from here:
It's a pity we can't just seriously divide the country in two. On one side, all you people who don't want "socialism" can go and live without Medicare, municpal sewer systems, roads that are maintained by government funds, running water, fire departments, police departments, national/state/city parks, public libraries, and other such disgusting features of life under brownshirt Obamcare socialism. The rest of us commies will hunker down together in our socialist nightmare and finally craft a universal health care system to go along with the rest of evil socialist empire.