Sunday, October 4, 2009

Six months back in the USA

Six months back in the USA after eight years abroad. How do I feel? Like a foreigner. A foreigner with an ever-shrinking bank account... I'm more homesick for Europe than Stefan.

Stefan has dubbed the large grocery store chain, Fred Meyer, as "Freddie Kruger." I prefer "Freddie Mercury."

It's official: I've read more than 400 books. I've probably read more than 500, but have forgotten at least 100 titles.

Stefan has been turned away, at least for now, from the Canby Fire Station as a volunteer firefighter, and I went from crying to angry in about five minutes. The station has a sign out front asking for volunteers -- but if you go inside and ask about it or fill out an application, you get all sorts of put offs: you can't go through the academy until June, and there's several people ahead of you already and you might not get to go because they may get chosen instead of you, and until then you can't do anything with the fire house at all because, you know, you might have the Swine Flu.

See, this is why I'm a volunteer management consultant -- there IS a need for my services...

We attended another gathering of the PDX Stammtisch, the gathering of Germans living in the greater Portland area (and the people who love them). Here's a photo. It was a lot of fun -- this is a very fun, down-to-Earth group.

Our things arrived at last a week ago today. We're convinced that the movers at Xpress Van Lines (based in Los Angeles -- BEWARE!) threw our things in and out of storage. All of our things were taken out of our container back in Louisville in June by customers, and put back, and though things looked disorganized, NOTHING was broken, and all our wrapping stayed on. But Xpress Van Lines played cornhole with our things. And to top it off, they tried to charge me $1200 for three weeks of storage (tacked on to the bill we had already agreed on -- ah, movers...). We're still arguing over that bill (which they've now reduced to $600, still way more than even the most expensive storage costs in LA -- yes, I checked).

But that said, it's been a huge relief to have our things. I'm now cleaning out a lot of things that were in storage in Austin for eight years. It's been a great walk down memory lane. Thanks everyone for the fantastic postcards you've sent me over the years. I'm so glad to have saved many of those! It's a wonderful thing to be reminded of such good friends.

Now that we have furniture, when are you coming to visit?

Albi's two videos on YouTube of her belly rub are raking up the viewers -- one of them has been viewed almost 60 times. She's famous! She has a good walk route here in our neighborhood, but she really needs a proper dog park visit. I'll try to make that happen this week.

I'm watching the debates about the USA military forces in Afghanistan with intense interest. I don't know an Afghan, personally, who wants the USA out -- as bad as things are, they are still better than under the Taliban, particularly for women. But that said, it is inexcusable that the USA doesn't do three things: (1) tell the Karzai government that if they don't boot the warlords out of the government and don't crack down on corruption, the money circumvents the government and goes to NGOs, and/or is cut back, (2) require its own military and all coalition forces to have strategies for involving Afghan women in ALL of its projects and planning, no exceptions, no excuses, and with penalties for failure to meet milestones regarding women's involvement that it sets for itself, and (3) take every opportunity to hire Afghans (they are desperate for employment; it's why some turn to the Taliban and others turn to poppies). If they don't do those three things, Afghan is doomed.

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