Apr 242012
Ancient-looking wood beams, happy cows,
kids getting swarmed and gnawed on by calves…
This is definitely a German farm!

Yep!  Hard to believe, but we have been here a whole year… Or maybe it is hard to believe we have only been here a year!  I am honestly not sure which.  We arrived in Germany on DD’s birthday, April 23rd, 2011.  Well, DD, DS and I did.  David had been here several weeks already at that point. I have recently discussed our observations, so I won’t dwell on that right now.  Though, I will say that there is something truly gratifying about living the adventure and rising to the challenge!  Yeah, my German still sucks and my French isn’t all that much better.  But, every day I learn *something* that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else in the world.  And, each day we (must!) use our brains, our creativity, and sometimes just our gumption to get through situations that we couldn’t even envision only a year and a half ago.  So, I am still richly appreciative of the opportunities that we have here! 

Now, on to the present.  This week was actually a pretty full one.  And, thankfully after last week, pretty good!

The Farm Fieldtrip
DS’s school class took a field trip to a local farm.  It was a walking trip- uphill all the way.  So, DD was quite proud to show off his Cub Scout skill of walking-stick manufacture.  He made sticks for himself and his best school friend and showed the rest of his class how to make their own.

Now, I must admit, from what I can tell German teachers are both smart and practical.  About 1/2 up, they stopped in an open field for a “rest”.  This consisted of letting the kids loose to work off energy and engage in a hearty game of tag!

DS took a photo of all the backpacks on a bench as the played.

When they approached the farm, this is what they found.  Like most things in our area, the place was a hearty healthy mix of Old and New.  You can see this new structure being built to augment the rather ancient looking one next to it.

DS tells me there are two geese here, but they lined up just right for
the picture that you can’t really tell.  And, yes, my Southern California
Friends and Family- most of Germany is this green.

After their arrival, the kids were brought into a large room where they were introduced to the farm animals.  There were 5 cats and a farm collie, that made DS homesick.  But, the rest of the creatures were larger and, well, more farmy.  Lots of cows, of course- it is a dairy farm- but also horses and mules and rabbits.  I am not sure if the geese are wild or residents, as well.

Unlike similar trips we have taken in the states, the kids were free to mingle with the animals and interact.  This was mostly wonderful!  Everyone loved petting the young calves (one had been born the night before!) and letting them gnaw/suck on their hands.  DS reports something interesting about calf tongues.  The front is very soft and smooth, but in back, they are rough and almost bristly.  Adult cow tongues are apparently all bristly.  He put forth the idea that as infants they are on a diet of milk, so it is most important for them to not injure their mother’s teats.  While when they get older, the rougher surface helps them digest the roughage that makes up a cow’s main diet.  It sounds like a great hypothesis to me, but I told him we should do a bit of research to see what we could learn.

This calf was 1 day old, but DS was both letting it suck on his hand
and trying to take the photo, so, er… a little off center!
One of the machines they use to process the milk.

The one drawback to letting the kids romp, of course, is that there is more risk of an occasional problem.  Since Germans value self-sufficiency and don’t tend to be so lawsuit-happy as folks in the states, though, German kids tend to get lots of opportunities to stretch themselves- and sometimes opportunities to get hurt.  For instance, the farm dog bit one of the children on the trip!  The adults took care of her and tried to figure out what had happened.  But, as she wasn’t badly hurt and the dog is not typically vicious, it was not treated as any huge deal. 

The kids were also allowed to take a short ride on a tall horse.  Mind you, nothing in the paperwork that came home mentioned anything about horseback riding.  Nor did we have to sign any paperwork releasing liability or anything.  They just said “hey kids, here is a horse, want a ride?  DS says this particular horse had a very uneven gait, but all the kids had fun. Then they had another play session, ate some yogurt made from the milk at the farm, packed up and went home.  All in all it really sounded a lot more like the homeschooling field trips we had been on than the ones I had supervised for public school classes.  And, of course, DS learned a ton!

Dead Fire
The one rotten thing that happened this week: when walking out to my car, I discovered that my new Kindle Fire and the cobblestone driveway should not mix.  DOH!

Biskuit und Wiener
Remember how last week I said I was too shy to take a photo of the biskuit in the supermarket?  Well, a couple days later I got brave.  I would have left it at that, except I made an amusing discovery.  They are not all biskuit!  These are all called “boden” or “bottoms”.  But there are two main varieties.  We have the biskuit bottoms, and we have the Wiener bottoms!  In this case, from what I can tell “Wiener” means “from Vienna”, so it is Viennese pastry.  But, still rather fun from an American point of view :-)

Happy Birthday DD!
Spring is also Birthday Season for the kids.  DD turned 15 on Monday.  She was pleased with her geeky gifts of a DSI that can both play US and German games, one such game, and a motion plus controller from her brother to let her play Zelda on the Wii.  As is our tradition, the Birthday celebrant gets to pick the menu for the day.  So, we had a trip to a German Bakery for brunch, a trip to a different German bakery for lunch (to get her favorite sandwich) and meatloaf, bread and apples for dinner.  I couldn’t resist getting at least a little creative, though, and formed the loaf into a 15!

Happy Birthday!


One of the many unexpected hazards in Germany is the possibility that you will purchase something that you THINK is one thing, only to discover that your German wasn’t quite good enough to realize that it was, in fact, something else…. Case in point, DD’s candles.

Now, first, I should mention DD did not like the idea of candles on her lemon poppyseed cake.  So, her brother gallantly offered to have them on his instead.  And he offered to blow them out, too (after she made her wish).  Only…..


Look at all that smoke!

That is right, David had accidentally bought “Magic Sparklers”!  Actually, this photo set is a little staged because I caught the mistake in time.  Otherwise, when the candles started to spark, poor DH might have had a panicked heart attack!  As it was, he wanted to use tongs to rescue them from the cake 😉  I just grabbed them and dunked them in a little pyrex cup of water.  Voila!

Other good things this week:  Rain! DD got a very good report card from Hogwarts. I got a very nice unsolicited recommendation from one of my editors.  One of the book series I worked on is up for another award.  And one of the favorite series I have worked on this year is getting close to going to press and I can’t wait to be able to share it with people!

Next week: DS’s 12th birthday and Spargelzeit! 

Apr 182012
granatsplitter- granade splinter


So, we were back at our favorite bakery today and I made a point of finding out what that weird chocolate covered biskuit thing was from last week’s post.  Turns out it is called a “granatsplitter”.  So, I looked that up on the web and discovered several sites with recipes and pictures- including a wikipedia page in German.  Next step: Google Translate.  Now, Google Translate is a wonderful tool and we really would be lost without it.  But, perhaps this translation will show just the sort of limitations it has:

When shrapnel is defined as a sweet pastry , traditionally made ​​in the pie – and jelly-roll manufacturing is occurring sections produced. These residues are, depending on the recipe with butter, cream , cocoa and rum and mixed to a crumbly pastry – or waffle floor about 10 inches high and then layered with chocolate covered or in liquid chocolate dipped.
Production is due to the filling of a Granatsplitters thus vary greatly, but these changes are desirable and make the particular nature of this pastry. Since the residues required for the production but only in traditional confectionery companies incurred, there are also recipes for shrapnel that do not require these residues and with extra baked biscuits, nuts, etc. . substitute
In Berlin, also called the shrapnel Hackstock Scratch, in the East he was known as Punch mountain. Due to the semantics of the word war in the 1950s was considered a renaming of the pastry in “bear bunch”, but rejected.

Ok….Um, well!  That explains that!  So, yes, “granatsplitter” does translate to “grenade splinter” or “shrapnel”.  This sort of makes sense given the fact it is made from bits of another pastry, called ‘biskuit’ (see below).  But, yowza! There are probably some good jokes to be made regarding “shrapnel” and the fractured nature of that translation, but for now I will leave those to your own making.

     und waffeln

German Supermarkets resemble US markets in many ways.  But, almost every one has a row that would seem mildly foreign to Americans.  Not really completely foreign.  But just… well, different.  It is the “waffle und biskuit” row.

In this row are piles of shelf-stable toaster waffles.  Not frozen in any way.  Just arranged in bags out on the shelves.  We eat them near daily, and I can say that they never seem to get stale- nor do they ever mold!  Nearby, arranged in hanging containers on pegs are the “biskuits”.  There are probably a dozen different kinds of them in any market.  But, they all look almost identical- except for the few offerings that are chocolate.  Otherwise, each one is a large golden disk- perhaps 20 cm across.  All I can figure is that Germans must eat a LOT of these because every store carries so many of them.  They look just like a sponge cake that you might find out near strawberries in the states.  Indeed, “biskuit” translates to “sponge (cake)”.  But, upon opening the package, you will discover a subtle difference.  The are *hard*- stiff and light like a balsa-wood board!  They might remind you of a very large lady finger… if that very large lady had fingers shaped like a cake!

I always feel self-conscious taking photos in the shops,
so just imagine about 1 dozen displays of these
all hung in rows on the supermarket aisle.

Light as a feather, stiff as a board

But, it *looks* like normal cake, yes?

They are meant to be piled high with berries or other fillings and I can only assume that the dry base must be expected to absorb tasty liquids from time to time…. I think I am definitely going to need to experiment with them some.  I served this one with sweetened berries and the family seemed largely to approve.  Perhaps I will break up the leftovers and make shrapnel!

Minor frustrations in the big scheme of things….

Ok, I will admit it.  This week has sort of sucked for me.  Not because of any hugely major issue.  And, indeed, the biggest issue (David’s job) seems, tentatively- and with great knocking of huge wood for the future- to be taking a turn for the more secure.  More on that as info becomes official.

But, we did have several minor setbacks and the result is that my frustration stores need a good clearing out. Or perhaps a good airing out in the form of a blog posting!

Biggest hit: We found out this week that DS did not get in on this round of applications to Hogwarts.  There is a small chance he will be admitted in the next round in June.  But, this is a very small chance.  The likelihood is that he will need to continue schooling in Durmstrang while DD schools at Hogwarts.  Frankly, he is not thriving right now and it worries me.  The change in schools might have offered opportunities to adjust things that need adjusting.  Plus, the added daily stress of trying to juggle their two school schedules and the amount of driving it entails is a huge strain on the entire family.  On the other hand, I am not sure that Hogwarts would have been a perfect fit for him.  He would have had to learn French along with the German- though that would be offset by some classes taught in English.  And, given that they were full-up in his grade last year, we had no real reason to expect things would be different now. Still, I find myself disproportionately disappointed by this turn of events.

In the continued trudge department: No sooner had the family almost kicked the shackles of the flu, a full month after it started- but this week DH suddenly came down with a very snotty head cold.  Ick.  And, poor DH!  He even came home from work sick one day- something I have only known him to do perhaps 4-5 times ever.  This meant that not only did we have more plague and pestilence in the house, but more of the driving duties fell on me.  Not usually a big deal, but I am struggling to catch up with my work from that long string of illnesses.  So, when yesterday’s schedule looked like this:

6-8:30 Get kids ready for school and serve as school bus.
8:30-9:30 eat breakfast and answer email
9:30-10 Drive David to work
10-11 Shower and clean bathroom
11-12:15 Work!
12:15-1:30 pick up David from work and inefficiently get lunch
1:30-2 Work!
2-2:45 Pick up DS
2:45-3:15 Work!
3:15-5:30 Pick up DD and go food shopping
5:30-6 Work!
6-7:15 Make and Eat Dinner
7:15-8 Work!
8-9 try-but-fail to work as DH talks on skype and get kids to bed
9+ Realize that my brain has left the building and collapse.

… my frustration level increased more than it ought.  That, by the way, was about 180 minutes of driving, or a full 3 hours spread throughout the day. Which, it turns out, is just slightly less than the 3 hours and 15 minutes of my actual paid career style work I managed to get done.  If you take into account that I lost a minimum of 10 minutes trying to get back into the right mindset each time I restarted, I actually only got a little under 2.5 hours of actual paid career style work done that day.  And yet, by 9 PM I somehow felt like I had been working all. day. long… Funny about that.  Blarg.

Also speaking of work, I found out this week that I misinterpreted one of the parameters on my current  project and need to repeat a bunch of what I already had done.  This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it is always a drag.  It is embarrassing, frustrating, and inconveniences my editors (not that they are ever anything but completely sweet about it!!)  I will work hard and do as fabulous a job as I can to make up for it, but I do not like making mistakes and I don’t like repeating work. Plus, this time I really liked what I had done, so yet another “Whine!!!” 

I will fully grant that these are mostly inconsequential, minor, first-world sorts of pampered whines.  But, this particular week, they are frustrating to me nonetheless.  Of course, these are all piled on top of the normal day to day frustrations we all encounter- traffic issues (that lady who rolled backward at me, the man who gesticulated angrily at me when the lady on the other side of me nearly drove me into his lane),  sick friends and relatives that I want to help and can’t, tiredness, cranky children, zits, bad hair days, and the looming project of Taxes!!! (we get a 2 month extension for living abroad, but I tried to take a first pass and got literally nowhere… to say our situation is complex this year is an extreme understatement).

Did I mention that the weather has also been cruddy?  Grey and overcast and drizzly during the day and COLD- like frosty cold- overnight.  I think a little more sunshine would definitely lift my mood.  So, come on Spring Warmth! You gave us a glimpse a couple weeks ago… where have you disappeared to?

Purge Purge Purge…. So, ok, enough of that.  Yeesh.  Living in gorgeous green Germany, opportunities all over the place, friends coming in another couple months, good work to do, enough food on the table, and a warm, lovely apartment to eat it in!  Time to reset the brain and get back into the adventure of it all.

Coming up: DS goes on a field trip to a local farm.  DD participates in a French Flash Mob.  Stephanie Gets her Attitude in Gear.  David Gets Well!  Knock wood!

Apr 142012
Almost a year here- The view of Bühl in spring

Slice of life 1 Driving through France this week on my way to pick up DD from school.  There is one place where they are doing a lot of roadwork and the traffic always stalls there.  This particular day, I drive up to the congestion and stop at one of several lights along the strip.  I notice that two of the cars in the next lane are fairly far apart, and two gentlemen are out of their vehicles.  My first thought is that they have had a fender bender.  But, if so, there is no damage- and the cars are at least a car length away from each other.  Hmm.  Then I look more closely at the men.  There is something odd about their attitudes.  Chests out.  Faces puffy and sour.  They keep making these little darty movements at one another.
The first gentleman is a full head taller and probably 15 years older than the other one.  He is stocky, Germanic and has a girth equal to the tire on an SUV.  He looks pissed.  The other guy is also thick bodied, but he is darker and less round. He is certainly giving his tough face to his opponent, but he also has a twinkle to his eye and a barely suppressed air of  “I can’t believe how ridiculous this is” going. As I watch, I feel my jaw dropping lower and lower at the spectacle.  They never come to blows, but all the preliminaries are there.  I have never seen men in the states do anything quite so hesitant.  They look like birds, charging up, then backing away to re-evaluate.  Several times they look like they are about to chest bump.  Then they march back toward their cars.  Then someone says something.  The other huffs. Repeat. At one point the older gentleman spits on the ground.  It looks like he is throwing a gauntlet!  As the light gets ready to change, both men prowl back to their vehicles.
The first gentleman’s passenger is a woman sitting essentially right next to me in the traffic. As her husband gets back in the car (throwing the bird as he does), she turns to me.  And, I swear, she does the best eye-roll I have ever seen and then gives the universal puffed-cheek speedboat raspberry of exasperation as the cars drive off.  As they pull ahead in the next lane I notice that the display of male aggression continues with unnecessary VROOMing, and abrupt lane changes into the nearly-stopped traffic ahead.  Just another day driving in France.

Slice of Life Two- DS and I were going out to the car in the parking lot here at the apartment so we could pick up DD from Hogwarts.  The driveway around the building is only large enough for one vehicle, so it is not uncommon to have to wait while the mail carriers or other delivery people make a quick stop.  But, this time I notice that a black Mercedes is idling in our way.  The driver’s door is open, but no one is inside.  I figure the occupant must be dropping something at one of the businesses and hope that he returns promptly so that we are not late.  As we continue walking down toward the car, I see a distinguished gentleman in a nice dark suit.  His back is to me, but as we approach it is clear enough what he is doing- peeing off the edge of the parking lot into the field!  I wish I could say public urination was uncommon, but it isn’t at all.  Germans- especially German men- will stop at any convenient place along the road and wizz away.  During warm weather I see it several times a week as we drive about.  And David reports that the “rest stops” at the side of the road maintain an ammonia stink, even after a series of rain storms.  Whatever the case, this was the first time I had encountered someone using essentially our front yard for such activity! The gentleman in question never glanced our way, but went on with his business…. slowly.  I am going to guess prostate issues.  Or perhaps our unexpected arrival threw off his concentration.  Luckily, even a long pee doesn’t take that long, and soon enough he dashed back to his car and drove off, leaving the lane clear for us to get on our way. 

Slice of life 3- At a local bakery, David is in line and notes a man ahead of him ordering loudly in English!  “I want one of those and one of those!”  He has no British accent.  David strikes up a conversation and, sure enough- he is an American.  He is here visiting his Swiss son, who, incidentally is mortified that Dad insists on speaking English in Germany!  Amusingly, he seems to have encountered the only attendant at that particular bakery who speaks English and takes his order without problems.  Last week at the same bakery David had the opportunity to help a non-German-speaking co-worker who got cornered by unexpected German questions. 

Birds on the Rhein

Flowers near the bridge


Easter Offerings- Different than in the US. 
If you want gummies and rum balls, the Germans have you covered.
Jelly beans are findable.  Plain chocolate eggs are tough.
Robin’s Eggs and marshmallow animals (PEEP) are nil.
At least they aren’t delivered by a bell, like in France!
We call this Murder Row. 
It is where the crows nest.

Went for a drive on Easter- this little guy came out and nibbled on
the grass as we went by.  Nice!

What better to do in the Spring Sunshine!!
(I like the bubble monocle in this pic)

We have seen these at the bakery since we arrived, but I finally got curious
enough to ask what it was…. The bakery lady carefully explained that it
had “Biskwit” and cream inside… hmmm Ok….. Worth investigating
Looks terrible, but it is actually pretty pleasant- sort of like a
mixed-up cupcake.  The inside has a mixture of cake crumbs (biscuit)
and sweetened chocolate whipped cream all piled up on a
shortbread cookie/cracker thing and then dipped in

Only the French Germans would think of this-
It is a bretzel-croissant.  Bretzel on the outside….
Croissant inside!  Amazing!
Really, though, I have no idea how you would make one.
You boil bretzels to get that outer quality- if you boiled
a croissant, the butter would melt and you would have a mess!
Trouble with the sugar bunny- napkin stuck to his ears…
Now they are… fuzzy!

 There was a fair in town for the German school holidays- DD was not interested, but DS had been looking longingly at it all week.  So, David finally took pity and dragged him over to Kehl to have some Father/Son play time….

OMG- So glad I didn’t go on that!!!
DS says it started really slow and he thought he would have far too long
to stare at their bizarre decor of robots and unclad females, but once
the ride got going, it proved not to be an issue!

Achtung!! Yes, they really say that!

Yeah, not sorry I missed that one, either…
The only ride with a German Name- Katz Und Maus
DS says it was pretty tame.
Both the Paris Family Men went on the Ferris wheel.  I actually think
this one looked fun.  Though, I can never look at one these days
without thinking of the Chicago World Fair and poor Mr. Ferris dying of
typhoid, broke and alone.  Hmm… Too, morose?
That is a nice view!
Kehl, from the wheel

The Wheel from The Wheel

The Fair from The Wheel

Apr 052012
Now is the time in Germany when we graze our Sheep

Longtime readers may recall that early in the schoolyear DH and I attended a parent’s meeting at Hogwarts.  During the course of the meeting, it was brought up that the current 3rd years (DD’s class) were the only class unable to go on a fieldtrip last year.  So, the administration wanted to know if parents would be interested in their offspring attending a ski trip in Spring.  We thought this was a wonderful idea and wholeheartedly conveyed our approval.  But, when the time came for sign-ups, DD let us know that she had ideas of her own.  The trip, she thought, sounded terrible!  The idea of sleeping away for a week in unfamiliar surroundings without a safe place to escape the social pressures and drama of her fellow teens did not appeal to her at all.  Plus, she noted, she doesn’t know how to ski!  We revisited the issue several times- and some of her teachers made the attempt, as well.  But, DD stood firm.  This was not the trip for her!

It turns out that DD was not the only student to eschew the trip for one reason or another.  5 kids from her class stayed back.  The administration arranged for them to attend classes with the students one year older- sort of a preview of next year.  3 of the students chose simply not to show up that week.  But, DD and one other bright classmate had a great time showing off their mad Math and Science skillz with the upper-graders.  DD discovered that Physics is a blast and that Economics (called Economie en francais) was fascinating enough that she didn’t mind that it was taught in French.  Her Math teacher noted that she was more than able to hold her own among the best students of the upper grade.  DD glowed the whole week through.

Monday, the students from the trip returned to school.  Or rather, most of them did.  It seems they had had an eventful week.  From what we can tell, about 60 or so kids went on the trip.  While they were there, there were 10 trips to the hospital!  DD said walking around campus Monday was like a scene from a medical comedy.  There were crutches, casts, stitches- and, a disturbing array of people with bites all up and down their bodies!  There was quite a lot of speculation about what had bitten them- bed bugs?  Fleas?  Something else?  But, even one of the teachers had been seriously attacked.  The worst bitten did not return to school that day.  The teacher was told she would not be able to come back to work until she had been checked at the hospital.  Today, we got the following letter from the school administrator:

Several pupils and teachers who went on the skiing trip show signs of skin trouble. Please check your child carefully and consult your doctor if you see any similar signs.  One of the first cases was diagnosed at the hospital today (dermatology department) as flea bites.

Please keep us informed if your child shows any related symptoms.
Best regards,
Denis Bittmann
Directeur de Hogwarts
I have always found Mr. Bittmann to be congenial and professional, but I must admit, given the content of this letter, his name is a wee bit ironic!  Whatever the case, DD has reiterated her contentment with her decision to stay back.  And honestly now, who could argue?

Other News

This will be one of those Quicky Update blogs because, honestly, No News is largely No News.

DH and I are much better, but still finishing off recovering from the dregs of The Flu.  DD recovered more quickly- BUT, now she seems to be fighting a new head cold.  I wonder if the skiers did have the last laugh bringing home Swiss Germs for her to encounter.  Or perhaps these are just ‘4th Year’ germs with a delayed reaction.

DS is home for Spring Break.  I am busy trying to get up to full speed on my work and other projects.  The new car is wonderful.

DH’s work is busy trying to find a way through their monetary woes.  Please keep good thoughts!  Right now things look promising, but, still insecure.  We have lived through enough of these not to panic, but not to count any chickens, either.  Basically, we are laying contingencies and waiting to see where it all falls out.  Stay Tuned.

Spring has definitely Sprung around here.  Though, that includes some Thunder Showers.  Yesterday as DS and I ran out to the car, the sky opened up and we got drenched faster than I think we ever have in our lives!  I was soaked right through my rain jacket in just the 30 yards or so we had to run to get to the car.  Then, an hour later, it was dry.  An hour after that, it was pouring again.  Repeat.  A tiny little rainbow showed itself on our way home- first of the season.  I was driving, so the camera was not easily used, but I will try to get a picture of the next one.

With DS home to help, I have been trying to get a little freshening done around the apartment.  We have been cleaning, finishing up projects, and, yes, buying some silly little Supermarket Flowers to brighten the place up.  I like my narcissus :-)

Meanwhile, in town they have been doing essentially the same thing.  The day after the Equinox, these flowers appeared all over town.  Sadly, by today about 1/3 of them are already browning!  I think they may not have gotten enough rain early on, so they dried out quicker than expected.  Seems like a huge lot of work to go through planting them all for only a week’s worth of color!

The hill by our apartment- maybe the wood things are to protect the flowers?

EVERY intersection in the city looks like this.

Lizards are very happy to have some warmth to frolic in.

One day suddenly 1/2 the farmers in town were tilling their fields. 
I guess it was Tilling Day.  This is the field outside our apartment.
I am looking forward to seeing the corn grow again!

Amusing addendum to the Marlboro Maybe ads that we have been following.  The last few seemed to be telling some sort of story.  In my last blog I showed the man hopping the fence.  The next ad showed this:

Is he the Maybe or the Not Maybe?

We were rather curious to see what was coming next.  But, one of their competitors seems to have scored a coup!  Instead of the Maybe ad we expected this week- there was an ad for L&M cigarettes in its place.  Whoops!  Maybe Maybe didn’t fly after all!  I know that there was a *lot* of hostility toward the campaign among the ex-pats who posted to the ex-pat blogs.  I wonder how it was received among the German population.  I saw one self-proclaimed ad professional claim it was the best campaign he had ever seen, but Maybe he was wrong?  Whatever the case, I can’t imagine these ads influencing me to take up cigarette smoking- or change my brand.  But, they were relatively entertaining in a What The Heck Are They Doing!? sort of way…

Hopefully we will have more fun stuff to report next week!  Tschuss!