Thursday, December 20, 2007

i am up to my old tricks...

...of staying up till all hours of the night. Or the wee hours of the morn, if you will. Or even if you won't. Either way, I've gotta get out of this nightowl routine again, or I'm never gonna get adjusted over here.

Speaking of adjusting, here's a funny thing, if you think this kind of thing is funny: While we lived in Chemnitz, I spent September through May of every year feeling almost unbearably cold, especially where the temperature of my poor footsies was concerned. No matter how much I bundled up, I was usually cold. The acquisition of a hot water bottle a few years ago was a great help, but I had to keep it filled with almost boiling water at all times, otherwise it was useless. ("The boy's Eustace, m'lord!" "'Useless'? I dare say he is!") So most of the time, I simply bundled up and froze and made sure as many people as possible were aware of my utter misery. (Sorry, friends.)

Since we've been here in OKC, I haven't been cold. At least, not as bone-deep, ice cold as I usually am this time of year. This is partially due to the fact that the weather here is a bit warmer than in Chemnitz, and partially due to the central heating prevalent in this part of the country. In most places here, including in my own apartment, I have been warm to the point of feeling uncomfortable.

Until this morning.

Yesterday, when I started unpacking boxes, I got too warm. The sun was shining outside, so the apartment got pretty toasty as the day wore on. Finally, I just switched the heating system off, and it has been off ever since. Today, I even had the windows open, so as to create a through-train (draft). Yup. On purpose.

Okay, now here's the funny thing: This morning (or, rather, yesterday morning, since it is already the 20th), while sitting at breakfast, I got cold.

And I liked it.

Because it felt like home.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

hooked on blogics

Here we have it, folks. The official diagnosis:

85%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Yes, I am addicted.

And no, I don't want to quit. ;o)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

driving in my new apartment (or: books really swing my verge)

Today, Gentle Readers, I am executing three-point turns in my living room. Except that instead of driving a car, I am shoving bookshelves around, and instead of edging around parked cars, I am maneuvering around Leaning Towers of Boxes.


The movers brought everything yesterday, and now I sit in what seems, on the surface, to be utter chaos, but upon further inspection reveals itself instead to be utter chaos. ;o) This morning, I wanted to get a really good start at unpacking and finding places for things....but, to my dismay, I discovered that I hadn't a clue where to start. Ed was looking for something in particular last night, so I thought I'd apply myself to the task of uncovering the something's location...but the 'how' of this endeavor was a mystery and remains so even now.

Finally, I decided that I wasn't going to find anything specific (the rest of our towels and bedding would be nice) until I just started unpacking boxes at random. However, even starting at random proved to be a challenge. Ed came home briefly for lunch, and by then I was nearly in tears. He commiserated, but there wasn't a whole lot he could do at that point besides give me a hug and say that he wished he could stay. I wished that, too.

After he left, I was determined to keep the tears at bay, so I began delving into cardboard depths. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a plethora of books and a tiny reindeer!

Um...minus the reindeer.

But that, in brief, is The Story Of How I Conquered Today's Demons: As I've done so often in the past, I found my refuge in books. A total escape mechanism, but considering the circumstances, I'm okay with that right now. I have unpacked 13 boxes of books so far, and there are about 8 more to go. The rest of the afternoon should go fairly well.

What's comforting to me is that particular characteristic of books that has always comforted me: Books are entire worlds compacted neatly into something you can grasp, deal with, survey, and compartmentalize with ease. These convenient, well-organized universes are particularly appealing to me right now, since my own world is currently so disorganized, intangible, disoriented, and incomprehensible. If I can't quite get grip on my own universe right now, and least I can take these small, compact universes and put them in bookshelves, where I know they belong and will rest secure and unscattered. I look at them, tucked safely away on their shelves, and I feel much more at peace and relaxed than I did this morning. I have made sense of a tiny part of the chaos. Woman has triumphed! ;o)

Like I said, this is very much a psychological escape method (as well as a human construct), but I *know* that this is what it is, I recognize it for what it is, so I feel comfortable with allowing myself to indulge in this kind of retreat. I think that for now, it's what I need.

More later...since our apartment now has Internet access! Yay!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

religion is good for kids?!!

According to this article (at, religion is actually good for kids. Huh. What an enlightening fact. ;o) Here are a few article excerpts, with my comments:

Study: Religion is Good for Kids
By Melinda Wenner, Special to LiveScience
posted: 24 April 2007 09:39 am ET

'The kids whose parents regularly attended religious services—-especially when both parents did so frequently—-and talked with their kids about religion were rated by both parents and teachers as having better self-control, social skills and approaches to learning than kids with non-religious parents.'

There are those who support taking all religious influences out of the lives of all children. I wonder if secular, scientific studies such as this one have any bearing on the belief systems of these anti-religious individuals. They pay heed to other scientific studies--do they selectively edit which studies they will allow to form their worldview? Their faith? Because, like it or not, a refusal not to believe in a deity is as much a faith position as is the choice to believe in a deity.

'[John Bartkowski, a Mississippi State University sociologist] thinks religion can be good for kids for three reasons. First, religious networks provide social support to parents, he said, and this can improve their parenting skills.

'...Secondly, the types of values and norms that circulate in religious congregations tend to be self-sacrificing and pro-family, Bartkowski told LiveScience. These “could be very, very important in shaping how parents relate to their kids, and then how children develop in response,” he said.'

I'm glad that this researcher has come to this conclusion. I simply don't understand why it takes a scientific study before humans will recognize the things that quite a few religions have been teaching for millennia.

'Finally, religious organizations imbue parenting with sacred meaning and significance, he said.

'University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, who was not involved in the study, agrees.'

If all parents could come to see that their responsibility and right to parent comes from a higher source, what kind of dramatic and wonderful change might come over societies worldwide? Of course, I am speaking from a completely idealistic standpoint....but just imagine the amazing and beautiful changes that would occur! No more abuse, no more authoritarianism, no more lack of nurture, no more lack of discipline, no more lack of love...

'But as for why religious organizations might provide more of a boost to family life than secular organizations designed to do the same thing, that’s still somewhat of a mystery, said Annette Mahoney, a psychologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, also not involved in the research. Mahoney wondered: “Is there anything about religion and spirituality that sets it apart?”' (emphasis added)

Yes. Exactly.

'It’s also possible that the correlation between religion and child development is the other way around, [Bartkowski] said. In other words, instead of religion [sic] having a positive effect on youth, maybe the parents of only the best behaved children feel comfortable in a religious congregation.'

Umm....I don't think so. (Just speaking from personal observation!) ;o}

Food for thought, dear neighbors!

Monday, December 10, 2007

my secret recalcitrant side

I just read this phrase online somewhere, and I've decided that this is a good description of an aspect of my personality: a secret recalcitrant side. Of course, some might claim that it's not so secret; that they see this side of me quite frequently. And to those most learnéd souls, I must reply: You are absolutely right.

However, I also think that that to which you are referring is my occasionally self-revealing streak of obnoxious obstinacy.

My true, secret recalcitrant side? I don't think you've seen that yet. At least, most of you probably haven't.

There's really no other point to this post other than to say that I like that phrase and that I think it applies to me. I guess I could go into detail on just how my secret recalcitrant side manifests itself, but then it would no longer be secret, now would it? And then there really would be no point to this post.

mouth boogers!

Okay, so I Googled a problem I've been having off and on for years, and the best term I've found that others are using is "mouth boogers." Gross as that is, I'm just gonna call it that because it amuses me.

Over the years, I've noticed that if I use certain toothpastes at night, I wake up the next morning with goo in my mouth, as though the top layer of skin on the insides of my cheeks and lips had sloughed off. (Please note that "slough" is spelled "slough" and not "sluff." Thank you.) Anyway, I figured out from the get-go that it was related to toothpaste and that I wasn't diseased or anything like that.

So, my solution has always been to find a toothpaste that doesn't do this but also gets my teeth clean (not always an available combination), and then stick with it. The best one I'd found was Arm & Hammer Dental Care Baking Soda Toothpaste.

Unfortunately, a few years ago, Arm & Hammer jumped on the teeth-whitening bandwagon and started selling only peroxide-laden, teeth-whitening toothpastes. The good ol', simple, just-get-your-teeth-clean paste is no longer to be found. Bad news for me, because I've discovered that ***every single brand*** of whitening toothpaste causes sloughing on the inside of my mouth ( --> mouth boogers!). So ever since the plain Arm & Hammer disappeared from stores, I've been on the hunt for a toothpaste that works for me.

I mention peroxide as one source of the problem, but the sloughing happens even with toothpastes that don't contain peroxide, so I don't know what ingredient it is that causes it. But whatever the ingredient is, it seems I'm severely allergic to it.

I've tried off-brand, "natural" toothpastes, but although they are not given to causing mouth boogers, they are also not given to getting my teeth clean.

The problem is that sometimes, I'll buy a toothpaste and use it for a week before the sloughing starts again. I finally found a brand in Germany that I could use (the Elmex/Aronal combo), but since I ran out of my German stuff, I've been looking for something here that I can use. I've tried Ed's German Blendi, but that was a no-go. I've tried the plainest Colgate I could find, but that lasted only two days before the mouth boogers were back to party again.

What frustrates me is that nowadays, you can't find just plain, no-frills toothpaste anymore. Everything is "extra-whitening-action" this and "special-tartar-control" that. Any day, I'm expecting to find a toothpaste that will get up and dance a jig for you while you're brushing. I'm thinking of making my own baking soda / salt mixture and just using that for the rest of my life.

Last night, I tried Rembrandt's plain mint toothpaste, and so far so good. I'll keep you posted.

P.S. Right now I'm also trying Crest Whitening Strips, just for the fun of it, and I've discovered that I can only use them once a day instead of the recommended twice, because if I use them twice, my teeth hurt like someone's drilling holes. Can we say 'overly sensitive'?!?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

elvis is my friend

So, in Matt's livingroom is a life-size cardboard cut-out of Elvis. The King and I have spent a lot of time together lately, since Ed takes the car to work every day and there's no bus. I've asked him (Elvis, in this case, not Ed; although I occasionally ask Ed, too) to sing for me, but so far, he has not deigned to oblige.

Anyway, that's not why I'm writing this. I'm writing this to announce that, in case you haven't heard, Ed and I have an apartment! We got the keys on Thursday, and my parents helped us move in the few items of furniture we stored at my grandparents' six years ago. We're not actually living there yet, because we first had to get the electricity turned on, and then we went to Ed's family reunion over the weekend, so it hasn't been feasible to move over there yet.

Here's a funny thing, though, in case I haven't mentioned it yet (which I can't remember whether or not I did): Our new apartment is in the same apartment complex that we lived in before we moved to Chemnitz! And not only that, but the new apartment is right next door to the old one! It kinda weirded me out to walk into the new one: It's an exact mirror image of the old one. I'll have to be careful not to try going into the neighbor's apartment thinking it's mine. ;o)

Ed's family reunion on Saturday was lots of fun, if a mite overwhelming. There were 80 people there! In my family, it'd be unusual to have half that number. I'm culture-shocking anyway, but I really had to remind myself that being in a crowd wasn't a bad thing and that I didn't need to get upset about it. So I had a good time instead and was glad to be there. Ed's rough biker uncle dressed up as Santa and handed out candy canes to all the kids, and Ed sat on his lap, and much laughter ensued.

And once again, it was very nice to say bye to Ed's folks, to his sister and her kids, and to say 'see you soon' and have it be true. It won't be another two or three years before we see them again, and I am truly thankful for that.

I think we'll continue the moving-in process tomorrow evening, though I don't know yet when we'll move over for good and let Matt have his house back. ;o) It'll be before the end of the week, anyway.

In the meantime, I think I'll try to woo Elvis by buying him a nice string of beads.

P.S. The first time I heard U2's "Mysterious Ways," I was on a bus on a clas trip to Köln. I just thought I'd mention that.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

how to kill a chocolate bunny



But funny.

(Don't be fooled by my calm demeanor. I'm sitting in an empty house, totally cracking up.)

Find out how to kill a chocolate bunny.