Monday, January 02, 2017

Quick check-in

Had our first snowfall this morning, but not too much. Now I'm making chicken and dumplings and thinking about crashing in front of the tv.

Nee in Germany needs to pull herself together

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year

As is our New Year's tradition, we spent NYEve with friends, and in a newer tradition, we stayed overnight. That meant we could stay up drinking wine (John only) and singing karaoke (both of us) for as long as we wanted and not have to worry about being drunk or tired on the drive home.

We are still waiting for snow, but this was the view when we left their house this morning:


Then we came home and whipped up some Nutella brownies (only 3 ingredients!) to take next door, where we were invited for traditional Korean New Year's soup. Tasty!

Now I am going to lie in front of the tv with John and Hannah for a while.

Nee in Germany has been social to the max

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reading: Unmentionable

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners, by Therese Oneill, uses the same conceit as The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century, by Ian Mortimer: the author accompanies us back to a certain time period (here, the Victorian era) and explains how you would be expected to live in order to fit in. In the case of Unmentionable, the focus is on upper-to-middle class women and the expectations and prescriptions particular to them.

Info-wise, I found the book interesting, even though I was familiar with quite a bit of the general outlines. The explanation of how forceps (or the lack thereof) may have changed the course of British monarchy was fascinating, though. I also found the quotations well chosen and well "interpreted".

Style-wise, I generally enjoyed the tone, especially in the more straightforward explanations and in the ironic commentary, but sometimes the book veered too far into "humor blog" style for my taste, especially in places where I had difficulty parsing what was meant because of the fragments used, mostly in the first half of the book.

All in all, I found it a quick, enjoyable read for the holiday break,

Nee in Germany has a big To Be Read pile

Friday, December 30, 2016

Trying something new

"There's nothing new under the sun", as the saying goes, but I am going to try something new for me. I have avoided politics and social commentary here for the most part, except to occasionally snark on people, but I need a place to think about things, so to speak, so I will do some of that thinking here.

Today's article that resonated with me:
"The lesson of Trump and Brexit: a society too complex for its people risks everything", by John Harris in the Guardian

John Harris touches on some aspects of modern society that I have been noticing myself:
Complexity, after all, is a 21st-century leitmotif, captured in those news-channel screens on which scrolling tickers and stockmarket data combine to create the impression of a world so elaborate it is beyond anyone’s control.
I can't bear to watch American news channels anymore when we are in the States because of this. I find it overwhelming. It is almost impossible to focus on what is being said, and it feels like I am being flooded with information, yet most of that information is of no interest or use to me. I imagine that might be the case for lots of people.

Continuing:
For a lot of us, in fact, modernity is a mess: not just of multiple user accounts, passwords, contracts for smartphones and Wi-Fi, and the generalised insanity of consumerism, but working lives that now have to undergo endless peaks, troughs and reinventions.
I've been feeling conflicted about consumerism for a while now. On the one hand, I am very practical, so I am often loath to buy anything that is not useful; John is also aesthetically opposed to knick-knacks, for the most part, so our decorating style might be called 'spare'. On the other hand, I am not immune to the lure of fandom merchandise or craft supplies, so I have my share of those things, both things I have bought and things I have received. On the third hand, I realized this xmas that once I had bought the things I had earmarked throughout the year because I thought certain people would enjoy them, my enjoyment of xmas shopping went straight down the crapper, and it became a chore, just a way to funnel money into the maw of capitalism.

Moreover, I cringe every time I peel the plastic packaging off a gift (given or received) and look at the mounds of packing material required by modern modes of producing and selling goods.

But sitting down and trying to think my way out of these conundrums is difficult. If I lived closer to my loved ones, I could figure out a way to give more of myself, but I don't, so I feel kind of trapped in my current system. This contributes to a base level of anxiety that doesn't ever seem to completely go away, at least for me.

I found myself wanting to quote whole paragraphs from the rest of the article, it made so much sense to me, but instead I will summarize a few key points:

  • When there are no longer increasing returns from increasing complexity, people turn against it, hence the type of voting we saw this past year (Brexit, Trump), where people were essentially voting for simplification of complex systems.
  • There is historical evidence for increasing complexity playing a role in the collapse of civilizations. I'm adding the book cited, The Collapse of Complex Societies, by Joseph Tainter, to my to-read list.
I know people who are basically preppers, and I can see the attraction when you are afraid of (or excited about, in some cases) what will happen when the complex system around you collapses, but I try to remember that there are alternative solutions to howling barbarism and apocalyptic upheaval, such as technological advancement, but now I wonder if technological advancement might automatically bring increasing complexity with it, if only because it means more options to have to differentiate between and choose from.

Nee in Germany is getting her think on


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, y'all!

We're at the stage of xmas where we are watching the videos we gave each other, but since I am not that interested in John's favorite absurdist German comedian--Helge Schneider--I am up here trying to decide what to do with myself.

First things first:


Hannah got a set of luggage from us, and now it is upstairs in my office, offgassing, which makes hanging out not so fun. As a matter of fact, I'm getting a bit of a headache, so I think I will cut this short for now.

--Nee in Germany is breaking the tradition of the all-cookie holiday diet, and it sucks

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Break out the Bollinger, sweet chops

The semester is over! I have already finished my grading for 3 out of 5 classes, and I should be able to finish the other two this week. I feel like a kid on pixie sticks and Red Bull let loose in an arcade.

I'm starting to look a bit worse for wear. I had an allergy test on Wednesday--no allergies found, thank you very much--so arms were covered in red pricks for several days, then I managed to punch myself in the eye last night trying to pull up the covers with a hand that was asleep, and today I spent a good hour picking blackberries, so I'm scratched and poked just about everywhere.

But I feel good anyway.

And that is despite watching The Graduate last night. Somehow I've never seen it, and watching it pissed me off. Ok, there was some interesting stuff with the cinematography, but it was basically Exhibit A for a certain type of American male narcisissm. At one point, the cuckolded husband wanted to know what he had done to be so disrespected. Same thing for the whiny college grad. Not one word about the two women involved. And the college grad was a total creeper. Blergh. Everything but the soundtrack was gross, and even that threw me off because it was all Simon and Garfunkel, and now I can never listen to one of my favorite songs--April, Come She Will--the same way again. Damnit.

Nee in Germany is dipping her toes back in the water

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Loony alert

I had the weirdest experience today. I was putting together my shopping list and heard a slow, persistant knocking at the front door. I go down, and a very odd British woman was at the door, wanting the phone number for the man who renovated this house in the 80s. Nope. Then I was treated to the story of how she knew him, and by the way, wouldn't I like to invite her in for a cup of tea. Sorry, I'm on my way out the door, but why don't you have a seat here on the front stop with me for a minute. Then I got grilled on my religious leanings, and she told me all about how her ex-husband ripped her off to the tune of 100,000 euros and was a Nazi she was going to have drug before the tribunal in Nuremberg and shipped off to America to get executed in the electric chair. Oh, my!

I told John I should have had a spine and told her to get lost, but she was just odd enough that I was concerned she might turn on me. Anyhow, I finally got rid of her, but I felt I had to watch her all the way to the front gate in case she faceplanted on our weird steps. When I left the house about 10 minutes later to do my shopping, I thought, "Please don't be lurking at the bottom of the stairs..."

Nee in Germany seems to attract the loonies, without even leaving home