Wry Exchange

Boots, Beer, & Chocolate
03-31-08, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Culture, Exchange Students, Home | Tags: , ,

 Belgium is a small country famous for beer and chocolate.  Former exchange students turned Husband on to eating chocolate while drinking beer.  Don’t think Milky Way & Miller, think high-end dark chocolate with premium beer.

One of our former Belgians, Bella, returned for a visit in late Summer a few years ago.  She’s one of Husband’s all-time favorites.  She’s smart, funny, and beautiful, even with shorts and flipflops. She’s fluent in 5 languages, and will be a translator after her graduation.  We took her out for dinner.  For dessert, Bella wanted beer and a rich chocolate bombe.  She ordered Budweiser.  Husband and I thought ‘ewww’ but didn’t say anything.  She had only a few sips, and a few bites.  We asked her why she didn’t order a Belge beer, and she said she wanted to try an American beer, and that was the only one she recognized among the artisan beers.   FES’ may grow older, but never up.  They don’t ask for assistance.

After dinner, we went shoe shopping.  Bella wanted tall black boots.  She found several pairs to try.   She loved the sluttiest black boots with the highest heel in the store.  She loudly (and happily) exclaimed “I look like a whore!”  With her accent, it sounded like HOO-errr.  It was so cute.  However, this woman’s head popped around the corner to see what our girl looked like with short shorts and hooker boots.  She gave all three of us the ‘Death Look.’ We bought her the boots anyway.  Isn’t that what pimps and madams do?

Googling ‘Belgian beer chocolate tasting’ will turn up many pairings, especially with all the gourmet chocolate that’s easily available now.   
 *There are three general categories of beers to pair with assorted chocolates-dark, fruity/spicy, and malty.
Dark beers, such as porters and stouts, are made from caramelized barley and toasted malts offering really deep earthy tones. They’re a perfect pairing with any chocolate, especially a caramel truffle, chocolate turtle with caramel and nuts or caramel-infused dark milk chocolate bar.  These are Belgian-style ale beers that go great with nearly any chocolate because they are made from barley that is roasted until the nutty, cocoa chocolate tones start coming out.
The yeast the Belgiums use has a lot of underlying fruit tones, especially Trappist-style doubles, so you might pick up some chocolate, caramel, toast, dried fruit or clove spice.  For a double wow, combine any berry-flavored truffle or chocolate bar with dried berries and amber ale.
Pale malty beers, such as American wheat beers and white ales, tend to pair beautifully with malt-flavor truffles, gourmet malt balls and chocolate and nut combinations.  Be careful with pale ales produced in the Midwest because they are more hop-accentuated than others, the hops will add more citrus, bitter tones with some chocolates.
A word about black chocolate stouts — which are an excellent pairing with a chocolate dessert. Black chocolate stout is made with black chocolate and roasted malts (not chocolate candy), so it imparts powdered cocoa and creamy, dark, bittersweet chocolate flavors.
*From Mlive.com


Who Tries to Steal a Moai?
03-29-08, 12:31 am
Filed under: Culture, Home | Tags: ,

 Can you imagine damaging a world treasure?  I loved seeing Stonehenge, but I didn’t chip off a piece to take back home. What went through this idiot’s tiny mind?  “Wow.  Let’s see, I’ll impress my friends by taking a bit off a pyramid, the Colosseum, Taj Mahal, and one of China’s clay soldiers.   Future generations don’t matter, since I’ll be dead.  It’s all about meeeeeeeeeeeee.”
BBC Article-The authorities on Easter Island have detained a Finnish tourist on suspicion of trying to steal an earlobe of one of the world-famous moai stone statues.
Police on the Pacific island, which is an overseas territory of Chile, said a woman had seen him rip off the earlobe, which then fell and broke into pieces.
Marko Kulju could face seven years in prison and a fine if convicted under laws protecting national monuments.
The statues of Polynesian ancestors are believed to be up to 1,000 years old.
There are nearly 900 moai on Easter Island, in various stages of construction, some of them more than 10m (33ft) tall and weighing more than 80 tons.
The island’s Rapa Nui National Park, in which the moai are situated, became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1995. Mr Kulju was visiting Anakena beach on Sunday when he was allegedly seen using his hands to tear off the earlobe of a 4m (13ft) high moai, Easter Island Police Chief Cristian Gonzalez told the Associated Press.
The earlobe then fell to the ground and broke into 20-30cm pieces, at least one of which Mr Kulju allegedly attempted to steal, Mr Gonzalez added.
“Fortunately, this type of thing does not happen every day but it does happen and it is almost impossible to control because on Easter Island there are sites of great archaeological value everywhere and the park guards cannot prevent all such incidents,” government official Liliana Castro said.  Authorities on the island are inspecting the statue to see if it can be repaired.
From BBC

Depression and Loving Yourself
03-27-08, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Depression, Home | Tags: , ,

 “Why I Love Myself” is this week’s topic on the blog tour.  I’ve been obsessing and avoiding this post for several days.   I have Depression.  I don’t love myself.  I think I’m worthless, and wouldn’t mind dropping dead tomorrow. I can remember first wanting life to be over when I was in middle school.
 I also have Dissociative Disorder, which for me means I compartmentalize things.  The normal, rational part of my brain realizes I’m ridiculous.   I’ll be fine as long as the healthy part stays stronger than the sick side.  Regular readers know January was bad for me, hell, I even wrote a suicide note one night.   I got to my psychiatrist quickly, to change and up my happy pills.  

I’m married to the best man in the world, I have made a difference in hundreds of students’ lives over the years,  I love our exchange sons and they love me, I have understanding, wonderful friends, 2 great dogs, no major bills, and travel often.  I have it good.  I am appreciative.   And I hope next week’s blog tour assignment is all about pink fluffy bunnies and rainbows.

ETA: I’m not pathetic.  Depression is part of me, but I hope I’m not whiny about it.  I’m not miserable.  I laugh often, and enjoy making others laugh.  I don’t walk around with a black cloud over my head.

Other stops on the women writers blog tour include AllyKat’s Alcove, The Absent Minded Housewife, And then there were three, Chrisnada’s Journal, Fat Angie, Heartstart’s Journal,  Hijinks’s Shenanigans, Housewife 2000, How can I live life in the fast lane if all I’ve got is a bicycle?, la_eme, life in the land of maeve, Ramblings, Ramblings of a Grad Student, Seven angels, three kids, one family, Space Age Housewife, Such is Life, Tales of an Ordinary Life,  VeryContraryWhat’s my life? , and me- Wry Exchange.

FES Updates
03-26-08, 11:49 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, Inbounds Inbounds, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: , ,

 My program has about 40 students this year; half in the states, and half scattered across the world.  (We are a true exchange program.  FES goes out, FES comes in.)   The students have been in their new countries approximately seven months now.  Students choose when they want to return home.   Anytime from May 1st to 364 days from when they entered their host country. 

I want to give a general update without losing my anonymity so I won’t tell  you if the FES’s are inbound or outbound students.   The problems are typically the same all over the world.  They’re kids, and this is an incredibly difficult stressful year.

Two students quit because of homesickness.  One returned home early because of  family illness, and another because of family issues.   We have a few on probation because of alcohol or school problems.   Three of them had serious Visa issues.   Many had severe homesickness, it showed as depression and loneliness.  We have the annual psycho hostmoms and controlling hostdads.  We had a sexual harassment incident.   Some of the kids were asked to move out of their hostfamilies houses.   Some students have changed cities and schools.   Many have travelled far from their hostfamily’s home on vacation.  Students have won awards and been voted school royalty.  Several wisdom teeth have painfully erupted.   Of course, there aren’t any new tattoos or piercings.

I would say almost all of them are NOT experiencing the year as they imagined it.   We try to tell them, former students try to share, but nothing sinks in.  These kids are smart, they know everyfuckingthing.  It’s nice to see them changing, becoming humble, and open to new experiences. They are resilient and maturing.  At this point, many of them are starting to identify with their new countries, and would rather stay than return home.

No one has been arrested, maimed,  pregnant, or kicked out of a country.  Whoohoo!

Orgies in Santiago?
03-25-08, 7:56 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,
 First, a Newsweek article about orgies in Santiago.  Then read the opinion post from Chileno.   My opinion is these kids are probably from lower class families, and are rebelling.  I really have a difficult time believing the carabineros would permit orgies in city parks.
Rebels without Pause. Chile’s disaffected ‘Pokemones’ don’t care much about politics. They’re too busy having sex.
Ashley Steinberg
The teens call their public orgies ponceo. On a typical Friday afternoon in the Chilean capital of Santiago, hundreds gather in a leafy urban park for a few hours of sexual experimentation. Surrounded by passing strollers, they trade partners multiple times—mostly engaging in anonymous rounds of oral sex. When the party is over, no contact information is exchanged. Same-gender interactions are commonplace, as the lines between hetero- and homosexuality are blurred, partly by the alcohol and drugs consumed, but also by shifting social mores held by Chilean youth, in contrast to their conservative parents. “Ponceo is about having fun,” says Natalia Fernandez, a 15-year-old with pink hair and a pierced chin. “This time I had seven partners.”Fernandez, like many others in the park, is wearing an anime T-shirt. Drawing inspiration from Japanese anime culture, the teens refer to themselves as “Pokemones.” Their behavior, though, doesn’t quite resemble that of the cartoon characters that once obsessed young TV watchers around the world. “It’s shameless,” says Gina Mazzini Aliste, a middle-aged woman in the park that day. “They act like ponceo is a competitive sport.”Not surprisingly, the Pokemones have become the subject of a national debate in the media, as the conservative Catholic society grapples with this new affront to its traditional values. In a country where abortion is banned and divorce was legalized only a few years ago, and where the specter of Augusto Pinochet’s authoritarian regime still hovers over political discourse, the Pokemones are at once radical and inevitable. Radical because they are shocking Chilean society to its core. Inevitable because they are darlings of a booming neoliberal economy, which has provided them with all the material accoutrements necessary to be Pokemones. Yet along with sexual rebellion, these teens are also defined by their consumerism, a characteristic that neatly conforms to Chile’s free-market ideals. Continue reading

“Had Sex With My Exchange Student”
03-24-08, 7:45 pm
Filed under: Exchange Students, hosting | Tags: , ,

Dear Person or Persons who searched for links to “had sex with my exchange student” twice today,
  Why?  Why would you google that?  Are you looking for approval?  a support group? advice?  absolution?  ease your guilt?   No reason or excuse would ever be acceptable.
Please do something good and decent.  Let the student go.  Move FES out of your home immediately.   You know it was wrong, immoral, and illegal if the student is a minor.  

Chile, Bolivia, and Bond
03-23-08, 4:48 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: , ,

  Wow.  Like the Chileans and Bolivians don’t already loathe each other enough. 

The name’s Chile … but to 007 and his film crew it’s Bolivia
by Gerard Couzens
Sunday March 23 2008

It was possibly the most exciting thing ever to have happened in a desolate corner of northern Chile. Life in Antofagasta looked set to change forever when the producers of the James Bond films came to town, followed by 007 himself, Daniel Craig.
Mindful of Bond’s association with glamorous locations, Chilean officials welcomed the invading army and scented a once-in-a-lifetime chance to put the port on the tourism map.
So they were crestfallen to discover that producers of the forthcoming 007 blockbuster Quantum of Solace had a different vision. It involved recruiting extras and dressing them up – as Bolivians. Tourism officials and politicians now fear Antofagasta will lose its claim to fame and, worse still, be presented as belonging to poverty-stricken Bolivia, which for years has been Chile’s bitter rivals across the Andes.
Roddiam Aguirre, of Chilean tourist board Sernatur, said: ‘When we agreed to the film being shot in Chile, we did it because we thought it would bring us many benefits. We had hopes of showing the world our image through a production this size. If the film is going to take place in locations that simulate an Andean or fictitious country, we’re not going to benefit at all.’
The two South American nations, which have a history of bad blood, severed full diplomatic relations 30 years ago. Chile, an invaluable ally of Britain during the 1982 Falklands conflict, is one of the continent’s richest countries. Bolivia, which is still smarting over the loss of its Pacific coast to Chile after a five-year war nearly 125 years ago, is one of its poorest.
Marc Forster, director of Quantum of Solace, is thought to have picked Antofagasta and the nearby Atacama desert as locations after visiting the region two years ago. Craig flies in to start filming tomorrow.
Hundreds of locals auditioned as extras after producers offered the chance to take part in the film, which follows the worldwide success of Craig’s debut in Casino Royale
But the casting directors singled out dark-skinned individuals and seemingly dressed them to look like the indigenous people of Bolivia, who traditionally favour native languages over Spanish and helped to elect Evo Morales as the country’s first indigenous Indian president two years ago.
Maria Ayara Encina, whose two children, Solange and Elias, took part in the final casting session, said: ‘My little ones are dark-skinned and that’s why they got as far as they did. They dressed my daughter up in a long black skirt, white blouse and black shawl and put a hat on her before making her act out a scene as a Bolivian girl drawing water from a well.’
The move has been criticised by leading Chileans. Novelist Hernán Rivera Letelier, who grew up in Antofagasta and whose award-winning books are printed in several languages, told La Cuarta newspaper: ‘I don’t think it’s bad that they have come to make this film in Chile. But if they want to dress us up as Bolivians, they’re better off going to Bolivia itself. The locations they’ve chosen are beautiful, but all that’s lacking on the extras seems to be a feather and a loincloth.’
London-based Eon Productions is thought to be planning to film a plane crash in the Atacama desert as one of the action sequences in the movie, which is due to have its premiere in London in October.
There has already been trouble at the film’s previous location, Panama, where the set was affected by rioting construction workers after police shot dead a union leader.

From The Guardian