Well, glad THAT’s over…
Posted by Euroranger on September 29, 2010
Just a quick post today. Yes, I know I’ve been gone for a time but hey, it’s hectic being me. Even nerds get busy at times. Anyway, a blog is like a chore sometimes. You log onto it, look at how many people have visited, delete all the penis pill spam comments (believe me…there are a LOT of people who are really concerned about your lack of an erection) and you silently berate yourself for not tending to it properly. I’m still sitting here wondering how I created a new source of self-imposed guilt as I write this. So, quick recap of what’s been going on recently:
- planted a garden for the summer
- promptly ignored garden
- garden died (if you don’t count all the grass and weeds…yeah, THEY did fine)
- bought an old Jeep from my folks (they bought a new one)
- drove it and really enjoyed it
- it died (well the starter died anyway)
- had a notion to lose some weight
- whilst trying to lose weight, I nearly died (actually just a gall stone…well, it seemed like dying at the time)
- as a result, the lose weight notion died
- wife’s uncle (who is my age) was diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma (for real)
This will be the serious portion of the blog for a moment. You know how you can have an irrational hate for inanimate things? You know, like if you go to toss something into the trash from across the room you will “miraculously” hit the rim of the trash can so that whatever it is bounces off the trash can, rolls across the floor and ends up under the direct center of the couch? Hitting the rim of the can? Yeah, if you meant to do that you couldn’t do it in a million years…but if you’re just trying to exert a little laziness by not getting up and walking over to the can you can bet your odds of making the shot go way down. They go down approximately 1003% more if the object you’re tossing out is nasty/sticky/smelly/likely to rot.
Anyway, in that same vein, I hate cancer. It’s an easy disease to hate because it doesn’t fight fair and it doesn’t pick on the people who court it every day. My little sister got cancer when she was just 10 years old way back when. No 10 year old has any of the habits that would increase one’s risk of contracting cancer…and yet she got it and it was awful. She beat it way back when but it came back later when she was in her early 20’s and this time it killed her. She was 25 years old, had just gotten married and wanted kids. Pretty damned unfair and it effected a permanent change in the way I view some things in life ever since. Now it comes to pass that my wife’s uncle has cancer in the worst way. You know what? He doesn’t smoke, work with chemicals or huff asbestos and only discovered it because his best friend died from massive liver failure (his friend DID have the bad habit of drinking anything and everything that contained alcohol however) which prompted him to go get a checkup. Docs come back and tell him he might want to have a seat because they have some serious matters to discuss. How fucking fair is that? Guy loses his best friend, decides to think of his family and make sure he’s good to go…only to find out that, once again, the universe can play some pretty goddamned awful practical jokes. You know what’s worse? He’s married (he’s actually a year younger than I am) and has 2 kids and his youngest, his son, just finished treatment for cancer HE had. So, in a nutshell, he lives with the nightmare of his child having cancer, manages to get through that only to have his best friend drink himself to death and then gets the delightful surprise that he’s got stage 4 cancer himself. Stage 4, for those that don’t know, basically means it’s incurable. It’s an eventual death sentence. I can’t imagine how his family feels: they just dodged a bullet with their boy only to discover that it hit dad.
Remember how I said this blog was kind of cathartic for me? Yeah, this is one of those times. My wife grew up with her uncle as though they were brother and sister. I know and can remember with pretty unwelcome clarity how badly this will end…and there’s really nothing I can do to prepare her, shield her or make it somehow less awful for her. Her uncle, incidentally, was pretty much the only normal “sibling” in my wife’s family when we first started dating (some of her 4 brothers and sisters have since wised up) and he was the only one I felt comfortable around or had anything in common with at first. So moral of the story: God apparently doesn’t hate just me…and his sense of humor really sucks.
However, enough about death and morbid things. Let me tell you about something interesting I ran across the other day. Once upon a time, way back in the mists of antiquity (when I was in school) I learned how to speak, read and write German (amongst a couple of other languages). You see, I was going to school in Canada and one of the high school graduation requirements was having X number of credits in a foreign language. That sounds silly to Americans but the idea there was to make sure the English speaking kids had an impetus to learn French (the country’s other official language) so that when they visited Quebec, they could get the full Quebecois effect by understanding all the obnoxious things the people there were saying behind their backs. Well, I was a misplaced redneck fresh from the hillbilly country of Greenbriar County, West Virginia…so there was no practical way, with my accent, that I could ever learn to speak French and not have it sound like I had suffered some French version of a debilitating brain injury. You may wonder then how it is that German was any better. Well, as I learned German and was introduced to German culture I made a remarkable discovery. Just like in the United States, in the southern part of Germany (Bavaria they call it) the people there don’t sound like the folks in the northern part of Germany. In fact, the difference in the way they speak is quite similar to the difference in the way rednecks and damnyankees speak. In addition to this, the southern Germans (just like rednecks here) have elevated the consumption of beer to a cultural touchstone. Well, I couldn’t think of a language and culture better suited to my existent circumstances (southern drawling accent and a plan to thoroughly acquaint myself with beer when I grew older)…that and the Germans kick ass whereas the French are fucking pansies. That part didn’t hurt either.
So, what does my speaking German have to do with my interesting discovery? I was examining an online German magazine, Der Bild Am Deutschland (The Window on Germany…hey, it makes sense to them), when I ran across the following story headline: “Nach 92 Jahren – Am Sonntag endet für Deutschland der 1. Weltkrieg” (After 92 Years – On Sunday the First World War ends for Germany). Now, being the astute student of history that I am, I was fairly certain that the First World War ended in 1919 with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In fact, that was only partially true. As it turns out, the story of how the treaty came to be, how it turned into a document that hung the fault for the entire war on Germany (even though it was Austria-Hungary and Serbia who started it) and how the French in particular wanted to cripple Germany so badly that their insistence on such a harsh peace is what eventually led to the Second World War is quite an interesting story unto itself. However, one of the details of the treaty (which Germany was forced to sign despite not having been defeated on the battlefield) was a demand for reparations (cash payments) to the victors. The initial amount of the reparations Germany (and only Germany) was forced to pay was 226 billion Reichsmarks. To give you some perspective, the German GDP in 1919 (when the treaty was signed) was just 156 billion Reichsmarks. The debt was later reduced to 132 billion Reichsmarks but by then inflation had crippled the German currency (such that by 1924, just five years later, it took 4.3 billion Reichsmarks to equal 1 US dollar). In other words, it was a bill Germany would never be able to pay…and by 1922 they started defaulting on their payments. The French, in response, occupied the Ruhr valley where most of Germany’s heavy industry lay which meant that Germany couldn’t earn the money to pay the Allies and the situation spiraled out of control from there. A series of German governments formed and fell, the socialists and communists moved into the void and Adolf Hitler and a nascent Nazi party made their first attempt to overthrow the government in late 1923. The rise of the Nazi party, the Holocaust, the Cold War…all traceable back to the crippling reparations payments the Germans were forced to make at mostly French insistence.
Anyway, what happens this Sunday you might ask? Well, as it turns out, Germany will make the last of those reparations payments for World War One. Didn’t know they were still doing that…what with all the World War 2 stuff and all? Yeah, me neither but they’re about to pay the equivalent of around $94 million to the private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding the last reparations bonds that were set up in 1919…and with that, the Germans’ obligations under the Treaty of Versailles will be fulfilled and the war will technically be, finally officially be, over. Imagine that: WW1, 1914-2010. 92 years indeed. It’s just one of those odd historical footnotes to events that nobody ever hears about and which 99.99% of the population will never even know. Except me…and now you.
So, even though no American news source picked up on that, this Sunday Germany will officially perform the last official act of WW1 and pay off the debt the French insisted upon that ended up paving the way for Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to get elected in Germany, rebuild their war machine, conquer all of Europe, murder 6 million Jews, cause the deaths of anywhere from 50 million to 70 million people worldwide, require the invention of the atomic bomb, lead the way to the formation of the U.N. which, in turn actually appointed someone this past week to be space ambassador for extraterrestrial contact affairs. I shit you not: the U.N. is about to appoint an “alien ambassador”.
Like I did back then and why it’s still patently obvious today, France and French things just need to be avoided at all costs.
My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.