Belated thanks to readers part one
Searching for an archived column last week, I turned up a number of them with a comment attached. Most were friendly and/or informative, a few were negative, still fewer puzzled me – I couldn’t tell whether they were for or “agin.”
To all of you who have responded to the column, for or “agin,” thank you so much. Here are some of the comments I’ve received, edited for space, and I’m not using names.
I was griping that we could not reach the nearest motel, at the intersection of Crosstown Rd. and S.74, by golf cart. Someone responded that he/she had been at the Wendy’s there, and so have we. But not to the motel on the north side of the intersection, another replied.
The original writer says, “We can run on city streets here now! Just cross over like a bat out of Hades!”
“You’d better have jet assist on that buggy,” was the reply, “because I’m pretty sure Crosstown is still illegal.”
In response to a rant I made about the toxic materials that invade homes via electronic pathways, I got “I’m with you, Sallie,” and this: A parent writes that her kids cry for the restoration of cable every day, “but I won’t budge. It’s gone from our house.
“We’ve put parental blocks on the computer, trying to keep the porn sites from popping up. And the CSI shows complete with rotting corpses, decapitations, dismemberments, all on prime time TV? Sick.
“It is difficult raising kids these days but we all do the best we can do as parents and eradicating the negative stimuli from our homes is one of the best things we can do.
“Thanks for your article, Sallie. There are many people who feel the same way you do...liberals and conservatives alike.”
A friend gave me this little puzzle:
Add together the last two digits of your birth year and the age you will be on your birthday this year. Ponder a little and squint your eyes, then pronounce: 111.
Pose the same question to your neighbor and you get 111. So will your mother-in-law and your supervisor and your dog-sitter: All 111.
A mathematician-reader explains: That’s because this year is 2011. Next year 112 will be the mystery answer.
That certainly clears that up.
I was pleased to get a page of questions about our daughter Mary’s new “hometown,” Düsseldorf, Germany. This made me wonder if a social studies student thought he’d ace a post-Cold War history exam by asking me questions.
Just remember, I am no expert on Düsseldorf, but by observation and talking with Mary and Rainer I’ve learned a lot and hope I can pass it on.
“Why do all of the Düssels live in apartments?” All don’t. I think about 60 percent live in apartments or townhouses. Property is very dear in this crowded country, and a single-family house with a pretty yard and driveway is not the best use of space. Many Germans support the maintenance of parks, some lavish and historic, plus public use of plazas and waterways. They lease tiny plots of land in places like the rights-of-way for railroads and major highways, and plant productive gardens on government property.
As a matter of fact, Mary is in the process right now of buying her first home, a second-floor apartment closer to the opera house and train station. She has paid someone else for living space for 27 years and is now a homeowner.
She and Rainer have lived apart for several years now as she follows her career from city to city – Stuttgart, Hagen, Cologne, Dortmund, Mannheim, Düsseldorf, and Gelsenkirchen (where they rent a large apartment). Depending, of course, on their schedules, they try to get together two or three days a week, usually by train.
“They don’t own a home or car but like opera?” They love opera and earn a modest but adequate salary for their talent. Yes, opera is like anything else, from groceries to gasoline, more expensive than here.
And yes, tax money supports the arts in most European countries. Germans are willing to pay for what is important to them. Choose what you’d rather have your taxes buy: Music or guns? Safe infrastructure or demolition?
“Why don’t Germans like elevators and air conditioning?” Who said they don’t? The reconstruction after WWII was massive, rushed, and costly, and it may be that building codes didn’t apply, or were “overlooked.” And Europe is a good bit further north than North America, and air conditioning is not cost effective. Most office buildings and department stores do have it now.
“Is there an upper class in Germany?” Germans don’t seem to me to foster any kind of a caste system, although they are quite ready to make fun of another German’s accent, north or south.
The rich may lord it over their neighbors – that’s almost universal – but they believe in fairness and strict adherence to the law, and they are good friends of the United States. I would trust a German personally and on a national level.
“Do many Germans work in their ‘NASA’?” I don’t know how many; in fact, until just now, I didn’t know that Germany had any kind of space program. In fact, they have, and we’re in close collaboration with them on German rocketry.
As for the reunification of Germany: That was an unbelievable expense for a country to assume, and I’m so glad it has gone so well. There have been some scary moments, but by and large, the job is getting done.
This has been fun. I think I’ll do some more for next week’s column.