Friday, June 16, 2006

Drift Away

Bored at work on Friday afternoon and reading this blog? Check out the Jolli Lodge blog and let your worries drift away in the pictures of the Lake Michigan sunsets in Leland, MI!

My parents took me on vacation to Jolli Lodge when I was just 6 weeks old and I have vacationed there every summer since. (My summer in Ulm and now this year are the only exceptions.) It's hard to imagine this summer without such sunsets, but I am confident I will be back for year #28 next July.

Happy Friday!

here's another heavenly picture...we love going "up-north" to Jolli Lodge so much we even named our dog Leland! This is him sleeping in the front window with the pillows my mom fluffs for him in the morning. He likes the green shirt because it keeps him extra warm. He lives a very stressed life, as is clear to see.

The aftermath

We are less than a week into the World Cup, but I already have a question about the aftermath. What will Germans do with all the flags that have found their way onto balconies, cars, store fronts, and everywhere else imaginable, after the tournament finishes? Some flags still be in good shape and could be used for the next spontaneous display of German pride. But what about the ones that will have seen better days?

In the States, it is fairly common knowledge that a flag is never supposed to touch the ground, be left in the rain, only be out at night with a spotlight on it and should be burned when it no longer becomes useable. In the spirit of not freaking- out my German friends with American patriotism, I will say that Americans might know of these rules but we don't militantly follow them. But the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) groups do advertise that they will burn your used flags for you when they are no longer suitable to fly.

What got me thinking about this was a video I saw of a guy placing the German flag on the street and kissing it after Germany's victory over Poland on Wednesday. I didn't know what to consider first... that Americans don't put flags on the street or that such a display by a German would have be unimaginable just a few years ago.

I looked up the history of German flags, but do not see anything about flag etiquette. I suspect that the military does have rules on how to dispose of flags, but don't have any proof. Since I doubt there are VFW groups here, perhaps Germany needs a German spin on flag disposal: plastic flags probably have the "grünerpunkt" on them and could be recycled. It would be like the country giving back to the earth:-)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

They like me, they really like me

Since I am deep into the world of public opinion and public diplomacy this week, I thought I would share a few interesting facts from the Pew Research Center's latest public opinion poll that was released on Tuesday.

1. We (Americans) "really like" the Germans better than they "really like" themselves. Americans have a 66% favorability rating of Germany, with 20% having a "very favorable" opinion. Germans also generally like themselves (65%), but only 12% had a "very favorable" opinion. This probably has to do with general German feelings towards "a lot"/"to a great degree" of anything. The Germans who had a "somewhat" favorable image of Germany are probably the same ones I meet who tell me they speak a little English, when in fact they are compeletely fluent.

2. No big surprise here...we like ourselves! That said, we do like ourselves less than we did last year. Last year Americans had an 83% favorability rating of America. This year we only had a 77% favorability rating of the country.

3. When asked have you heard of abuses in American run prisons at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere, 98% of Germans said yes and 2% said no. This was not a surprise. What is a surprise is that 23% of Americans said no. How on earth can that be? I would like the post addresses of the rocks they are living under so I can send them a newspaper!
I told a German at lunch today that I was highly disturbed by this fact and she reminded me that a freakishly high number of Germans don't know about concentration camps. That's bad too. Germans have to deal with Germans, but I am still disturbed by the number of uninformed Americans.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Freakin' Out

Here is a completely random set of thoughts for the day. The first thought explains why I don’t have more to write about at the moment.

1.I am completely “freakin’ out” about the presentation I have to give on Monday. Today it was revealed to me this morning that someone from the foreign ministry is going to be invited! This is what I looked like by lunch today...

2.What on earth happened to team USA last night against the Czech Republic? I certainly hope we do better against Italy! As was discussed while watching yesterday's dismal performance, hopefully the Italian boys' floppy hair will get in the way and prevent them from seeing the ball.

3.Why do German children have square book bags? I walk past an elementary school on my way home each afternoon and am quite puzzled by this phenomenon. Maybe the better question is why do Americans have more organic-shaped bags? Books and folders are square/rectangular after all. Still, I can’t help but think that the little Germans are wearing rocket packs so they can blast off to the moon or home for the afternoon.