So as we are slowly building up our stockpile of things for baby D-USA I am also including some personal favorites. One of my favorite childrens books is The Very Hungry Caterpillar and we are planing on decorating the nursery in that theme. I also already ordered my copy of the book to read to the little one, and as a special treat I ordered it in the best version!
Which brings me to the subject of the languages that could be spoken at our house. I am considering trying the one-person/one-language thing and try to raise baby D-USA with the ability to speak both D and USA. The 'trick' would be for me to speak nothing but German with the youngen, no English at all and for Mrs. D-USA to speak nothing but English. Looking through the research that is out there it seems like this is one of the best options for raising a child with two languages, with the only drawback being that it seems like initial speech is a few months delayed. It also seems that kids sometimes combine the languages when they cannot think of a word in one language. Another downside seems that sometimes kids don't reinforce the language very much if there is not a lot of people speaking it. So I might have to ask all friends and family that can speak German to back me up on the "only speak German" bit when visiting.
Another helpful thing would be more German childrens books of course! When ordering this book I found out that Amazon.com charges way to much for German language books, but Amazon.de charges cheap prices and ships to the US cheap as well. But a huge request for Baby Shower/Birthdays/Christmas from me would be more German books and maybe even some DVDs of German childrens shows. Anything to help the cause of course!
We will see how long I will be able to stick to speaking German!
What better way to restart the blogging than something completely new to blog about! Despite having had the talk and knowing how these sort of things usually work we managed to initiate a giant data-transfer, combine databases, format the drive and install a new operating system. The D-USA's are having a baby.
After months of secrecy and crossing fingers that everything was going well, the news are now official. We had our 12 week visit on Monday and despite playing a game of hide-and-seek the little one was growing and had a good heartbeat. So for lack of a newer picture I have included a picture from our 8 week appointment. I was able to make out the tell-tale shape of giant head/tiny body on Monday.
So now the countdown begins and it will only be so long before I have a new partner for playing wargames with and somebody to do my yardwork.
Over the last week both major parties finalized their platforms and one big difference is God. The Democrats mention faith, but don't mention God. The Republicans mention God ten times. The result of that decision is that I was asked this question: How can a Christian Democrat support a party that doesn't mention God in it's platform? Since 2008 I have moved further towards a personal decision that politics and faith should not be mixed and that legislating religion has no Biblical foundation, but that question really made me attempt to put my feelings about religion and politics in writing.
For me it helps to think about what the central message of the Gospel really is. God creates man, man sins and becomes separated from God, God becomes man and pays our debt, man responds and accepts salvation. It was through His sacrifice that we are no longer separated from God, and without it we would not be able to have a relationship with Him.
It is the relationship we have with Him that is the most important fruit of salvation. Without salvation we could not know Him, and it is the relationship with Him that should drive our actions and it should serve as a model for our relationships with others. By extension I also believe that our actions are a result of that relationship and I don’t believe in salvation by works. Our primary responsibility as Christians to the rest of the world is to spread the Gospel with others and to use Jesus as our example of what it means to lead a God-centered life.
Which brings me to politics. I honestly feel that combining God and politics does nothing to fulfill our great commission. It does not bring people closer to Christ and it does not follow Biblical examples. I don’t have a problem at all with politicians sharing their faith and sharing what impact God made in their daily walk. Giving our testimony is an important part in sharing the Gospel. I do not agree with adding God into political platforms or using Him to justify political decisions or using Him as a basis for law. Some of the reasons for that are as follows:
Salvation is by faith, and our works are the fruit of that salvation. We do not obtain salvation by following “God’s Law”. One of the key lessons that we should take away from the Old Testament is that God gave Israel His Law, and even when God Himself told His people “don’t do that” they were unable to follow His command. From the first “don’t do that” given to Adam and Eve, mankind has been unable to follow His Law and has been a slave to sin. So one of the objections I have of legislating God’s laws is that it seems somewhat insulting to God that we think we could do better at making people follow His laws than he did. But I also believe that the central message of the Old Testament was not “just follow these Laws and go to Heaven”, but instead the message was that we could never follow the Law. In essence the book full of rules were God saying “You want to know what you would have to do for salvation? You would have to live a life without breaking a single one of these rules, but there are so many you would never be able to do it!” The message of the Old Testament was not “follow these rules”, it was “you could never follow these rules, but I will send somebody that can”. So passing laws and legislation based on these Biblical rules does nothing to accomplish our one and only goal, to spread the Gospel.
If we do legislate Biblical law and the teachings of Jesus, what have we really accomplished? Let me take gay marriage as an example. If we legislate a Biblical definition of marriage and only allow a man and a woman to get married, how does that share the Gospel? Do the husband or the bride now have a relationship with God because they have a traditional marriage? Do they have a Christ-centered marriage because we made sure that two men or two women could not get married? Did they receive Christ as their savior because a legislator with the word “God” in their platform passed a law that limited who could get married?
Does a Constitutional marriage amendment mean that people with have a relationship with God, or will it simply make them act godly without knowing God?
And that last question is really the core of why I do not want to mix politics with my faith. I fear that it makes us lazy and contempt, it allows us to take the easy way out. If we want to stop people from sinning, a task even God cannot accomplish, then we should go out there on a daily basis and interact with people to spread the Gospel and help create a nation where everybody has a relationship with God and chooses not to lead a sinful life. Or we could take the easy road that doesn’t involve confrontation and just outlaw sin which might result in people leading a life that is “godly”. But people would be leading a life that might follow the law, but without any relationship with God. So what good does it do if we pass legislation based on the Bible instead of sharing the Bible? What is the benefit of having a population that lives a godly life without ever knowing God only to die without ever hearing the Gospel because we are too busy passing laws instead of sharing Christ?
I also think that a lot of the talk out there amounts to “the nation is suffering because we are not passing Christian laws” or “if we elect Christians and pass Christian laws our nation will be blessed”. To me that just sounds like a nationalistic version of the prosperity gospel, and that is simply a gospel that I do not belief in. I also think that God would be able to tell the difference between a nation that is filled with people that have a relationship with Him, and a nation that is filled with people that follow His laws because they don’t want to go to prison.
In the end it comes down to this for me: I would rather live in a country where every sin is legal, a nation where we could live the most depraved live that we could possibly imagine without any legal consequence, and a country where people make the conscious decision to have a relationship with God and then live a Godly life that is a result of that relationship with Him. The other option would be to live in a country where sin is outlawed but people don’t have a relationship with God.
Does including God in a political platform do anything to spread the Gospel? Does including God in a political platform share His love for us? Do people suddenly have a relationship with God because we passed legislation that made a sin illegal?
A few months ago I decided to take a leap of faith and apply to exhibit at next years Momentum Oklahoma City, sponsored by the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition. Momentum is an exhibit that features artists 30 years old or younger. I was very happy to find out that I was one of three people chosen as spotlight artist for Momentum 2012, and I had my first meeting with OVAC, the curators, and my fellow artists today. I am very exited about the next 3 months, traveling through Oklahoma for my project, working with the curators, and being able to see the finished projects of my fellow spotlight artists.
Speaking of which, my fellow spotlight artists are Samantha Lamb and Margaret Kinkeade. Their projects sound very ambitious and should be very impressive when they are finished. Momentum OKC 2012 looks like it is shaping up to be a great exhibit and I am looking forward to having my first exhibition. Looks like I am in great company.
Well, not really surviving because it missed us after all, but is was a close call.
The day started when Mrs. D-USA kept on interrupting me with phone calls from work simply because "coworker X is married to meteorologist Y who said that we are supposed to have really bad storms today!" After refusing her offer of hanging out at the hospital where it would be very boring nice and safe, I decided to return to my trusty game of World of Warcraft. I did heed the warning of mysterious meteorologist Y and turn the TV on the local station to keep an eye on the weather.
Throughout the afternoon my loving wife kept on bothering me displaying great concerns about my well being, and made sure that I was watching the news. I kept on playing WoW while watching the news until the first Tornado touched down in Oklahoma near Hinton. I did attempt to save the lives of various strangers by proclaiming on WoW "Any folks from OK who are too busy playing instead of watching the news, there is a Tornado on the ground!" before turning off the game and focusing on the news. The initial tornado was still a good distance from our neck of the woods, but it was heading in our general direction. But it did look like it should stay clear of our area and miss us by a good stretch.
I spend the next hour picking on my brother who loves storms, but moved from storm rich Oklahoma back to storm poor Germany, on IRC while keeping the world up to date on Twitter and Facebook. Of course this tornado decided to pick up speed and strength, jump around a bit, until eventually all the news stations agreed that it is about 30 minutes away and heading straight towards my house...crap.
Meanwhile Mrs. D-USA is holed up in the basement of the hospital since she is in line of the same tornado as I am, and I decided that it is time to prepare the trusty standby of any Oklahoma tornado season: The BathtubShelter(TM)! You see, Oklahoma might be the capitol of severe weather, but that is no reason to bother building houses with basements! Of course for some dumb reason that I cannot think of, we also decided not to spend the few extra $$$ to install a shelter when we build this house. What is an extra thousand bucks when you can finance it into a 30 year mortgage? But now was not the time for regrets, now was the time for survival!
Minding my priorities, I made sure that the cats were safely secured in bathroom #1 with some food and water, a glowstick in case the power goes out, and a comfortable blanket. Although the cats did not seem to appreciate my concern and complained about being locked up the whole time we rode out the storm. They spend most thunderstorms under our bed, so being locked up did not seem like a good idea to them.
For myself, I covered the bathtub with a fine selection of couch cushions, because nothing protect from an F5 (according to the news) tornado like soft foam stuck inside some cloth. I made sure to grab some glow sticks because nobody likes to die in the dark and entered my pillow fort tornado shelter. But I am also a Pirate, so in addition to my shelter I made sure to grab my laptop, my cell phone, as well as my photo and video camera. If I shall die a horrible death, I will update everyone on Twitter and stream it for the world to see. My brother had a picture in his head, about me sitting in a bathtub, all the way sucked up into the tornado, twittering "sucks, bathroom integrity test failed!" In the end, this is how I faced my most certain doom:
While I was sitting in my death tub, I listened to the weather people talk about how the Rose Creek addition will be hit next. Rose Creek is 1 mile from my house, which means that the path of the tornado hit my neighborhood next. But in the last minute the storm turned north and missed my house by a hair. Disaster averted. The skies were blue, my house was standing, and the cats were still pissed when I let them out of the bathroom. Mrs. D-USA was stuck at work a little bit longer before they decided to let everybody leave, but she made it through the storms without any problems as well.
Now it is time for the Oklahoma State Fair, so we can look at tornado shelters!
After many nights standing in line at Wal-Mart and Target, wondering why only 5 out of 30 registers is open, I started to think about buying vegetables and fruits. In addition to only having a few registers staffed, I think another reason why the lines take so long is that each piece of fruit or vegetable has to be placed on the scale by the cashier, then they have to remember the actual code for the item, punch it in, wait for it to calculate, realize they don't know the code, spend 30 seconds looking through the flip chart to determine what kind of apple this is, and so on and so forth...
When shopping for groceries in Germany there are scales placed in the section for fruits and vegetables, and unlike the scales in the US you push a button when you weigh your veggies, print out a label, stick it on your baggie, and put it in your cart. When it comes to checking out the bar code on the label is scanned at the register just as fast as all your other items. No waiting on the scale to read, no looking up codes, no punching in the same number 3 times by the cashier.....just scan & put it in the bag.
I have yet to figure out why the Wal-Marts, Targets, and others in the USofA have not adopted the same system. The stores try to cut down on the number of cashiers, and try to have as many people as possibly go through all the lines quickly, so having customers weigh and label their own groceries seems like it would help them out. My guess would be that a main concern is that dishonest people would weigh & label 2 apples, then place 3 in the bag. Interestingly enough the American tradition of "free refills" has run into the same problem in Germany, with German companies worrying about 1 person buying a small drink, and then having 4 people share the cup and the unlimited refills that go along with it.
But maybe the mistrust is placed the other way, maybe Germans want to know exactly how much money that lemon is going to cost them. And we all know that unless you brush the dust of that melon the scale the cashier uses can't be trusted. Of course the shoppers in Germany are also used to bagging their own Groceries, so including an additional step of self service is not really that unusual.
About 6 years ago we purchased a used washer & dryer from a small business on Britton Road east of Broadway Extension. I don't know if the guy is still around, but if he is we would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a cheap used set of appliances. I think we spend about $200 on the duo, and for almost 5 and a half years they ran without any problems. But about 6 months ago the washer started to sound a little rougher than it used to. About 4 weeks ago we noticed that after washing a big load of laundry, the drum would still be half filled with water. Looks like we figured out what we will spend our tax money on this year. While I hate buying new appliances, I have to say that almost 6 years without incident for a cheap used washer/dryer pain was a pretty good run for our money. The dryer still works fine, but if you buy a new washer, you HAVE to buy a new dryer as well. So after spending way to much time looking at way to many washers & dryers we found our match.
Hello new friends!
The d-usa household has joined the rest of the world, and we are now proud owners of a front-load washer. And we once again have earned the favor of our dear mother earth by becoming more energy efficient. After replacing all the light bulbs with energy efficient halogens, installing a programmable thermostat, and pooping in low flush toilets; we now are using up to 75% less water to do our laundry! And that does not even include all the fancy electricity we save with this expensive purchase. Maybe the energy saved will offset my plans to purchase a gas-powered lawn mower, the old-school push mower has a hard time with my tall grass.....
I still remember one of my first great disappointments shortly after I arrived in this country. Here I was, a young 16 year old guy, on the other side of the globe, far far away from home. In wonderful Burns Flat, Oklahoma, right in the center of nowhere, surrounded by cows, pasture, fields, and nothing else. I barely spoke the language, and was just trying to make it through 6 weeks of freshman year at a new high school (where I barely spoke the language, did I mention that?) before summer break.
So while I was in the lunch line, thinking of home and wondering why I moved over here, I realize today's lunch is Goulash. One of my favorite meals from home, delicious Goulash. My young heart skipped a beat with joy and I was looking forward of having a taste of home to relieve my sorrows. But when I reach the lunch lady I realize that my joy was misplaced. What arrived on my plate was a weird macaroni/ground beef/tomato mixture. Something you might be able to call a version of spaghetti at its best, but certainly no goulash.
It appears that the majority of Americans have never had the pleasure of enjoying a proper Goulash. Instead of enjoying a delicious soup or stew, most people here make a version of Goulash in the form of casserole/macaroni dish. Over the years I have found one goulash mix at Target that makes an OK Goulash, and I have tried a few recipes that were not bad either. I could not find the one recipe that I really liked, so the other week I threw together some ingredients the best way that I could remember and it turned out pretty good. So today I decided to make this recipe again, and actually write down everything that I did to make sure that I could make it again in the future.
So if you are interested in making some delicious D-USA style Goulash, you can find the recipe here. Get to cooking and enjoy some real goulash.
Well boys & girls, turns out that part two of the Snowpocalypse didn't turn out to be a Snowmageddon after all. The snow was pretty late reaching us last night, and by the time we went to bed at 2300 nothing was happening in north OKC. In the morning we had a decent amount of snow on the ground, it was still snowing, and the wind was blowing pretty good although not nearly as bad as last week.
Driving to work was not that bad, there were some slick spots, but overall it was decent. Snow that has turned to slush was more of a problem than anything else. It's now 11, the snow is barely blowing anymore, and it looks like this snowstorm was a bust. Better luck next time mother nature.
We finally finished thawing out from the great Oklahoma Snowpocalypse today, and it looks like we are on track to get hit by another storm tomorrow night. We are about tired of being stuck inside the house, and after a few days of freedom, we might be stuck inside for a few days again. At least I was able to head out to the driving range today and hit some golf balls for a bit.
I'm not sure how much snow we are supposed to get this time around, the actual amount of snow was not that bad last time, only about 12 inches (or about 30 cm), but the problem last week was that the wind was blowing the fresh snow around and making big thrifts. So we would have areas where the street was clear, and 100 feet down the road we would have 3 feet of snow. It also took 3 days for the snow to start melting as well, so as long as it starts heating up after this next snowstorm it should not be so bad. I will try to remember to actually use my camera & video camera to show everyone what it is like.
Here are a few pictures of Snowpocalypse I, let's hope Snowpocalypse II turns out less severe.