Tuesday, February 28, 2017

February Highs and Lows 2017

Sorry for my absence. I've been spending a lot of my spare time keeping up on the news, and that's a tall order these days. I haven't decided if doing so falls under the topic of education or entertainment. Whenever possible I watch the raw footage of speeches - either Sean Spicer's press conferences or the Tweeter-in-Chief's fantastic rally speeches and addresses to groups gathered around his conference table such as this gem to kick off Black History Month. He gives the best speeches. Everybody says so.

I've mainly been teaching and lesson planning during January and February, so there hasn't been a lot to write about. Nevertheless, I'll scrape together a few highs as well as a low or two.


  • this SNL skit, which I will never get tired of watching. That's a terrible recording, but I can't find a good one anymore. I actually hadn't seen a real Sean Spicer press conference until after I had watched the SNL skit, but now I watch him when I can. Melissa McCarthy was brilliant in that skit, and I'm looking forward to more.

  • several riding lessons, though no longer on sassy Mallory because she's on sick leave with a gammy leg

  • Valentine's Day dinner at Straub's Krone (where else would we go?!)

  • teaching my students continues to be a high every single day. I wish I could post some of the photos I've taken of them, but I won't do that without their permission. My current group consists of 12 Syrians, one Russian-Canadian and two women (mother- and daughter-in-law) from Kasachstan. This course ends at the end of March.

  • my letter to the potus has become my second-most read post on this blog, never to be topped by this one about double beds in Germany. (Don't ask - I have no idea.)

  • these responses from the Polizei Mannheim replying to tweets about the driver who drove his car into a small crowd of people in Heidelberg on Feb. 25th. The tweeters assumed the driver had a "migration background" and wanted to know what the driver looked like. Some cried for booting more migrants out of the country!! (Because only migrants commit crimes, ya know?) One said a friend of his told him the driver was a so-called refugee!! The Mannheim police shot them all down, and even corrected one tweeter's punctuation. The driver is a German with no "migration background"!
    Kudos to the Polizei Mannheim!


  • the daily damage report upon waking up and checking the news from the homeland

  • hearing Trumplethinskin refer twice publicly to "what's happening in Germany!" His fear-mongering is one of the many, many ridiculous things about him. 

  • the death of my first celebrity crush - Richard Hatch from Battlestar Gallactica (1978). I softened the blow by ordering the DVD set of this one-season wonder, and I've been watching an episode every few days. M has watched some of it and asks questions like "Why does his fighter have a horizon gauge? There is no UP in space." But I can't help it - I still like the silly show!


  • I'll be leaving my current students in another capable teacher's hands for two weeks in March while I spend that time in Esslingen teaching this year's Sheboygan exchange students as much German as they can learn in that short time. We'll have class every morning, spending about half the time in a classroom and the rest in town learning and practicing German with hands-on activities such as shopping for picnic items and then having a picnic, buying train tickets and taking the train to a neighboring village, playing a scavenger hunt game where the students have to dash around town and ask locals where to find certain buildings pictured on the game pieces of Esslingen Memo, etc. I did this for the first time last year, and it worked out well.

  • During those two weeks in Esslingen I'll meet up with our former exchange student, my host mom, the middle school exchange participants and their families for a prep meeting, and several of my former students whom I've invited for an afternoon in Germany's most beautiful town! Of course I'll also be spending lots of time with my Schwiegermutter, as I'll be staying with her.

  • M and I just booked another few days at a wellness hotel in the Schwarzwald. He deserves some time off and some pampering, which we get plenty of at this lovely hotel.

  • Right after Easter my dad will arrive to spend several weeks participating in a German immersion class at the Hermann-Hesse-Kolleg in Horb. I'll be his homework tutor in the evenings!

  • The 50th anniversary of the Esslingen-Sheboygan exchange through People to People International will be held in May in Esslingen. My mom will be coming for this celebration along with a delegation from Sheboygan, and after a group trip to Salzburg and Vienna she and my dad will return here to spend an extra week with us.

  • The day after they leave, M and I fly to Edinburgh where we'll meet the kids and my son's girlfriend for our Scottish holiday. We'll spend a week on the beautiful Isle of Mull followed by three days in Edinburgh.

What were your recent highs and lows?

Do you have some exciting plans coming up?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Stop Spreading Fear

Dear Potus and Followers:

For the love of all that is holy, STOP saying "Look at what's happening in Germany/Europe [since they took in so many refugees]." Yes, we have crime here in Germany - because we have human beings here! Terrorism and violence are not new, as you should know.

Germany took in 1 million refugees in 2015. In 2016 the same amount of money was spent by Germany on refugees (housing, public assistance, integration - hiring teachers like me, for instance) as you want to spend on your bloody and xenophobic wall.

Every time I read "Just look at what's happening in Germany..." I want to scream, "WHAT?! What is happening over here?" I’m an American living in Germany, and I’m not seeing it. Please enlighten me. Please tell me why I should live in fear, as you want your people to do. Please tell me why a guy ramming a truck into a Christmas market and killing 12 innocent people in Berlin is worse than a guy shooting and killing 20 innocent 6- and 7-year-old children and 6 staff members in a grade school in Connecticut. (Don't misunderstand me - they're both unconscionable.)

In 2016 there were three major terrorist attacks in Europe: in Belgium (March), France (July), and Germany (December), resulting in 123 tragic deaths. As of July 2016 200 people had already died in mass shootings in the U.S. Mass shootings in the U.S. in January 2017 resulted in 32 deaths and 119 injuries, according to the Gun Violence Archive. No leaders of Europe are telling their citizens “Look what’s happening in the U.S.” as a way to terrify their citizens. If you think the situation is so dire in Europe, then stop flapping your jaw and flailing your thumbs and tell your state department (or Steve Bannon, whoever calls the shots these days) to issue a travel warning against coming to Europe so your terrified followers can cancel their trips and get their money back.

Until then stop using Germany and Europe to scare your people into hating those you so obviously fear. Germany took the humanitarian path and has reached out to help refugees fleeing from war, strife, and religious persecution. Offering a safe haven to refugees was not and is not a mistake. It is the right and humane thing to do.

Stop spreading fear. Stop making things sound worse than they are – in Europe as well as in the U.S. Do something to help the poor and underprivileged in your own country rather than trying to spread fear and hatred throughout the world. The world does not need you.

an Ami grateful to be living im Schwabenland rather than in your land

Related: The Truth I See