Bots

8 06 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

Screencaps of the seven most recent Twitter accounts that have followed me.  If you have an Alt-Right or -ish Twitter, the few of you remaining that do, I am guessing that you, too, have gained these kinds of followers in recent days. Their Twitter feeds are pretty much all the same.

I suspect Russian bots, or some such.

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Mexican Tariff Negotiations, Explained

8 06 2019

Washington, D.C.;  Mexico City

The White House wanted, and seems like it got, Mexico to be at least temporarily and vaguely a buffer state between the United States and Central-South America.

Appropriately, both going to Omaha Beach on Wednesday, and then coming back from Paris earlier today, (my thoughts on D-Day are coming early next week), I passed through a country that was manufactured out of essentially nothing, in order to serve as a Western European continental buffer state in the approximate century between Napoleon and World War I.  That being Belgium.





They’re As Clueless As Ever.

8 06 2019

Guest post by Puggg

For the last few days, this city and this area has been falling all over itself trying to figure out why all these cops are so right wing.

It’s just that none of them will come to the right answer, that the job made them that way.  They will probably dismiss them all and plug in new ones, who themselves will become just as right wing within a few years.





Why Society Considers Child Pornography To Be Very Wrong.

5 06 2019

Guest post by Puggg

It’s because people that make or watch it and the people that molest children often turn out to be the same people.

From Channel 4, about the break in the Angie Housman murder.

Sources tell News 4 the suspect is a 61-year-old white male who is in civilly confined in North Carolina.

The man was serving time on child pornography charges out of Colorado and was later criminally confined under the Adam Walsh Act – which allows authorities to keep a convict beyond their sentence, if a panel of experts deem the person is likely to re-offend.

A family member of the suspect tells News 4 she is horrified and disgusted. She hopes this serves as a reminder for parents to closely watch their children.

Before that 1990’s arrest in Colorado, the suspect was court-martialed from the Air Force in 1982 for molesting four girls.  He was stationed at Rhein-Main Air Base in Germany at the time.

News 4 will not identify the suspect until formal charges are filed, which is expected to come within the week.

Why wasn’t the Pentagon able to keep him chained up for the 1982 molestations long enough so that he wasn’t running around free to be able to molest and murder Angie Housman?  It’s probably because the criminal laws they had available to them at that time were weak.

 





Critical Week Ahead of a Critical Summer Ahead

3 06 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

One year ago today, my feet touched German and European soil for the first time.

As you all know, the occasion for that was supposed to be just a month and a half of vacationing and sightseeing and ancestry chasing.

Little did I know that, while in the process of doing that, I would accidentally and unwittingly talk myself into a job, which brought be back to this country a month and a half after the conclusion of said vacation.

As for the the other side of the past-present continuum, I pack tomorrow, travel Wednesday, for what I expect to be one of the heaviest days of my life on Thursday.  Light sightseeing in Paris on Friday, return here on Saturday, and I’ll spend the rest of that day and Sunday packing, to head upstream to Wiesbaden a week from today to start another German summer, and the most critical six months or so of my middle age.

Speaking of summer, while spring here in Cologne and The Region was hard to start, a taste of summer broke out yesterday, with a high of 90 degrees.  That was hotter than at any time and place that I experienced during the vacation last year, that being 84 degrees.  Of course, I came back here after Labor Day, and by then, summer broke, so nowhere near 84 degrees since then, until yesterday.

Note:  To my biggest fan, if you’re reading this, please e-mail me.  I’ve been dog whistling for you to do that for about a minute.





Life is a Copier Machine

1 06 2019

Virginia Beach, Virginia

If the doer turns out to be black, then I think he and the Cookie Monster of Kirkwood (February 7, 2008) will turn out to be very similar.  City government workplace shooting, disgruntled at the city for some reason, the doer was incessantly pandered to and groveled to for years only out of pathological altruism and fear of the evil R-word, and the first time he was emphatically told no, he snapped, and let loose of the hot lead.





Ten Toes Down

28 05 2019

Your Blogmeister’s German Desk

I can walk again.

***

BUT…

I hate big buts and I cannot lie.

You already know that I really started showing physical improvements in the first two months of this year, just about all of those corresponded with my long winter trip.

I really didn’t have any improvements in March.

But ever since the cherry blossom festival in Bonn last month, things really started to click into place. With each passing day, it seemed like, I could stand more and more, and needed to use the wheelchair less and less.

Eight days ago, Monday the 20th, was the last time I needed the wheelchair. Ever since that point, I’ve been upright and on two feet the whole time. Well, except for necessary sitting down and sleeping. And I have to take my wheelchair and my cane along with me everywhere I go, just in case I have another setback. I’m not quite out of the woods just yet, as you’re about to read.

Now, as one of my doctors told me this morning when I called to give them the good news, I can start in on physical therapy. We’re really gonna put me back together.

This is what I’ve been waiting for.

***

Just because I can walk again doesn’t mean I can really walk again. Meaning, because I have been at least partially wheelchair bound for so long, since early September 2017, (my physical problems actually didn’t start until more than a month into recovery, through August, I was as good as I was pre-accident, even if my brain was in a zombie state), and my recovery has been a matter of brain and nerve rewiring, that I have to learn to do just about everything with my legs all over again. Just as I had to re-learn how to think.

I have also picked up some weight, as a result of being both a tourist here since early June of last year and then living here starting in early September. Being in a wheelchair means not getting that much physical activity, and Germany is a synonym for beer. Put two and two together. Result: I weigh twenty pounds more than I did precisely one year ago. I wasn’t exactly what you would call svelte a year ago, but now I am in rather dangerous territory in terms of my weight, weight distribution and BMI. Just lay all my cards on the table: 5’11” 270. That much weight is not good for my knees, joints and feet, especially since now that I can truly stay upright full time. Rehab is also going to include shedding pounds…er, I’m in a metric culture now, so I have to say kilograms. Hopefully shedding kilograms, a lot of them.

All this is happening at a fortunate time, because now the MEP season is over, so I’ll have some slow time with regards to work for a while.  The only thing I have to do in the very near future is D-Day on June 6, and then light sightseeing in Paris the next day.  Only one day of sightseeing, because June 6 is a Thursday, the next day is a Friday, and I’m not sticking around for Saturday, because, as you might have heard, Saturday is not a good day of the week to be in Paris these days. After that’s all done, I’ll be headed upstream to live in Wiesbaden for the summer; That’s where I’ll be doing my rehab, because that’s where my English-speaking American doctors practice out of, and that’s where all my regular medical appointments have been and will continue to be. (Note to dummies: The Rhine flows from south to north, so you go south to go upstream and north to go downstream.)

As it has been the case with every major step in my recovery, both cognitively and physically, we start a six month stopwatch. I can’t truly consider any given element of improvement to be permanent until I’ve been able to hold it for six months without any regression. And now, the most critical six month period of my middle age has begun.

***

If it’s all successful, then there will be two major changes in my life:

(1) Driving, like I said. The doctors won’t be comfortable with me driving on my own until I’ve successfully run out the six month stopwatch of not needing the wheelchair. Remember, driving takes a certain measure of eye-hand-leg coordination, and my legs are where my final serious physical problem was and technically still is. The prospect of driving a car all by myself when my legs could give out from me at any time isn’t, well, it just isn’t. Like I said, eight days ago was when I last sat in the wheelchair, so that’s when the stopwatch starts. Meaning if I don’t have any regression of any kind, then November 20 is my other D-Day, D for driving.

In spite of Germany’s insistence on federalism in many sorts of public affairs, even more so than the United States, driver licensure in Germany is a Federal function, and done under significant EU-wide framework. Germany and the United States have a treaty about drivers’ license reciprocity, which gives the German Federal government agency responsible for issuing drivers’ licenses the ability to issue either full or partial or no reciprocity to each American state. In the case of Missouri, the German government has partial reciprocity, which means I will only have to take the written test, not the road test. In spite of not needing a formal road test, I will have to re-learn how to drive again during and as part of rehab, and someone on the medical team will be giving me road tests. And even though I figure on taking the written test and getting the German license in my hands before November 20, I wouldn’t drive on my own until that day, provided I have no setbacks.

Note: In contrast, getting your car’s license plates is bureaucratically a state function, but with significant Federal and EU guidance and regulation, and there is no state-to-state difference in the license plate appearance in any way — Same off-white color, same letter and number pressing typeface (font), the only way you can tell where the plate is from is to look at the first letter(s), and it/those are letter codes for a city or jurisdiction or special dispensation not linked to locality. For instance, K means Cologne (Köln), BN means Bonn, D means Düsseldorf, and so on. NRW is for North Rhine Westphalia official state vehicles, BD is German Federal government vehicles, AD is American military vehicles, X is NATO vehicles, Y is German military (Bundeswehr) vehicles, BP is the German Post Office, and so on.

Interesting news story from earlier this month: Someone registering their car some time last year got the plates VIE HH 1933. VIE is for Viersen, a middling sized city west of Düsseldorf and a northern neighbor of Mönchengladbach, close to the Dutch border. Well, HH 1933, you’ll never guess where this story is going. Someone snitched and bitched and cried uncle, and early this month, an administrative state court in the state capital of Düsseldorf ordered the car owner to give the plates back and to get new plates with new letters and numbers. That’s one way you can tell license plates are technically a state function, because a state court is the one that got involved. Note: The person didn’t ask for HH 1933 in terms of personalized plates, which are available in Germany, it was just your standard license plates in terms of you get what you get.

Also about two weeks ago, I saw here in Cologne a first-gen T-Bird go by, a pink hardtop. It had the opera window, meaning that it’s not a ’55, only the ’56 and ’57 MYs had that option from the first-gen. The license plate started with SU, meaning the owner lives in the district that surrounds Bonn but does not include Bonn. Since those kinds of cars take money, buying them, restoring them, maintaining them, as well as this one looked, it probably means the owner has money, which means my bet is that he lives in Bad Honnef, a very well to do spa town south of Bonn and right on the NRW-RPL state line. You’ll see American classic cars in Germany about as often as you’ll find teeth on hens, so I’ll probably not see one again as long as I live here.

Speaking of cars, since I’ll (probably) soon be able to drive one, I’ll also be buying one. Or, more accurately, another one; My 2015 Impala remains back in a certain garage in Monroe County, Illinois. One thing I already know is that Germans consider it bad form to haggle on price, like American buyers and dealers are pretty much expected to do. I think the difference is at least somewhat related to the fact that, historically, German ownership and labor classes have never really had any kind of long term standoffish posture toward each other. So what it means is that when it comes to sticker price, what I see is what I’m going to get. And what I’m going to get…well, I don’t have any solid idea yet. I’ve got awhile to do some shopping and comparisons. I also realize that I’m going to have to do some political strategizing in terms of my brand choice, considering what I’m doing here.

But what I do know for sure that I’m going to get is paying for these sky high German gas prices. Yay.

I also now know better than to try to use the Autobahns in populated areas in western Germany on a Saturday, because of the Turkish weddings resulting in loads and loads of Turks either jamming up the Autobahns for their bumper-to-bumper caravan traffic, or making them dangerous because they joyride, or drag race each other, suddenly do wheelies, shoot at each other, or something else stupid, out of their jubilance that two of their tribe just got hitched.

(2) Residence. My current residence is an apartment specifically designed for physically handicapped people, and, as you know, I share it with with another handicapped American expat. Since I’m not handicapped anymore, I can’t well live in handicapped housing. However, I’ll still be able to live there during my six month stopwatch, (except I’ll actually be in Wiesbaden this summer), because it is medically presumed that I could regress at any time while the watch is ticking, and not until any such six month period is successfully navigated will I be able to leave the wheelchair behind for good, in terms of day to day life, even though the doctors have already told me to keep possession of the wheelchair for yet another six months after that, just in case. However, when the first six months are over, I’ll officially no longer need gimp housing. Which means I’ll be apartment hunting for myself, and since I’ll be doing so upright and bipedal, that will open things up in terms of my options.

I have already been briefed on the rather bureaucratic and byzantine procedure for getting an regular-type apartment lease in this country, including a piece of paper I’ll be dealing with the Germans call Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung — Yes, that’s an actual word, for an actual real life thing — “Miet” = Rent, “Schulde” = Debt, “Frei” = Free, “Beschein” = Certificate. The rest being suffixes. It’s a piece of paper showing you don’t owe any back rent to previous landlords or property managers to prospective new ones.

I also know that, for the most part, regular German apartments do not come with appliances or fixtures — The only reason the one I’m in now does is because it’s for gimps. The exception is that the newest construction does include them, which means that as far as this goes, Germans are starting to adopt the American model. Since I doubt I’ll be living in Germany for the rest of my life, presuming I have a normal-type lifespan, I don’t want to hassle with buying my own appliances and fixtures, so I’m going to try to get an apartment in a new building.

***

Whether I will ever again have the physical finesse to do things like play golf, I’m not sure. As of this moment, the answer is no, and the odds are high that even after physical rehab, the answer will remain no. But if I can walk, climb steps, do light running, and drive, I don’t care about golf. Just as this whole saga has resulted in me suffering some measure of long term cognitive damage, in as much as that is not apparent to most of you in my peanut gallery, and in as much as it doesn’t mean I can’t do the job I’m doing, it will probably be the case that once rehab on my legs can do everything it can for me, I’ll still be less than what I was before July 19, 2017. The brain is not designed to take those kinds of blows to the head, and one is probably going to suffer some sort of damage if happens, no matter how you slice it.

The best part about all this is that this has happened before July 19, my two year bellwether. I already was told that what I am two years after the fact is almost 100% likely what I’ll be for the rest of my life, saving natural decline and degradation due to age. In a way, I’m saved by the bell.

As usual, I’ve been warned that these and my other improvements could turn around and go back in the wrong direction. As much as we know about our own anatomy and biology, we know the least about the very organ which allows us to know what we know.

At least one of you will read this and then e-mail me to ask about that other thing, and I’m just saying now that I have an answer that is not only good news, but very good news. That’s all I’ll say so publicly.

***

What this all means is that on my long road back to normalcy, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. This has been a long time coming.