Wry Exchange

New Dragon Eggs
12-26-08, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Home

Adopt one today! Adopt one today!    Adopt one today! I have new dragon eggs.  I have a Christmas egg, Winter egg, and  one I grabbed by accident.  Can you guess which is which?   Would you please click on at least one of them to help them hatch, and then grow?  

Yes, I realize I’m not so mature.   In other news, Husband’s AARP card arrived today.  Won’t he be thrilled?


Our Christmas
12-26-08, 2:16 am
Filed under: Home

 We put the  fun in Dysfunctional!

We gave our local exchange student a wine bag with 2 of the new artistic Mountain Dew bottles.  He loves Mountain Dew (like a good exchange student) and is saving the different bottles.   He thought that was his only gift, poor little guy.  He was very polite when he thanked us.   His hostbrother had to tell him to took in the bag again.   He found the Ipod Shuffle.   FES is from Chile and he gave us a lovely assortment of copper.  We love copper, and have a nice collection.

Husband had to work today, yesterday, tomorrow, on and up to 16 hours on New Year’s Eve.  He was slightly injured at work 2 days ago, but a coworker broke her ankle yesterday.  Someone else is already off on sickleave.  He’s so tired, he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going.  Santa wisely brought him a Garmin so the little voice will remind him where he’s headed.   He’s so tired and mentally exhausted he’s begged off attending two Christmas parties we never miss.

I’m house and puppy sitting Saturday.  A son of friends is getting married, and we’ll be hanging out with the baby fluffball.    It’s not a myth, someone broke into my Aunt’s home during my cousin’s reception, and cleaned them out.

I dropped a full Brita pitcher of water on the kitchen floor and BadLab.  So the hardwood got an impromptu scrub late at night.  

We couldn’t reach P, Sparky, or Chef by phone today, so we left notes and texts for them.   We miss them.  

Oh crap!  I just remembered we didn’t take our Christmas picture today.  Husband, dogs, and I always take a self portrait on Christmas.  Don’t suppose Husband would wake up if I put the dogs and me next to him and took a pic?

Cocktail Party Chatter
12-26-08, 1:49 am
Filed under: Home | Tags:

 It’s party time in America!   If you’re running out of dinner conversation, check out these websites.  In 15 minutes, you’ll be ready to discuss pop culture, current events, and new movies

   Today’s Papers from Slate.com   It’s the Cliffs Notes version of  The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and USA Today.   I have it sent to my inbox daily.  It’s a great way to keep on top of important stories.

The Movie Spoiler.com lets me know about current movies.  The last movie we saw in a theater was The Dark Knight.   I want to join in when people are discussing current films, so I read synopses online.    Gran Torino sounds better than I thought, and Seven Pounds is one I know I won’t ever watch.

Jezebelis for women.  It covers gossip, best of last night’s tv, fashion, feminist issues, premieres, photoshopping, politics, and a little of everything else.

What else I like about these sites is their stickiness.  Slate has so much going on,  I can spend time reading about wines, travel, technology, international news, blogs, poems, photography exhibits, and politics.    Jezebel posts all day long.  If I have time I’ll go back and read 3 or 4 pages.   The Movie Spoiler has a huge archive of movies to read through.

Recipe-Buffalo Chicken Dip
12-23-08, 2:01 am
Filed under: Home

 Buffalo Chicken Dip
 Neither Husband or I had ever heard of this recipe before this weekend, and it was served at 2 different parties.  We enjoyed it so much we purchased the ingredients to make it later this week ourselves.    The ingredients were 2 cans of white meat chicken, 2 bricks of cream cheese, almost 1 cup of  Tabasco sauce, and 1-2 cups of ranch dressing.   Shredded sharp cheese was sprinkled on top.   Stir, and heat in oven for 20 minutes.  I think we’ll modify it a bit with chopped celery.
I looked for a photo online to represent the dip, and found many recipes.  This is one from Frank’s RedHot
Servings: 3 1/2 cups dip | Prep Time: 5 min. | Cook Time: 20 min. |
8  oz. pkg.  cream cheese, softened
1/2  cup  blue cheese or ranch salad dressing
1/2  cup  any flavor FRANK’S® REDHOT® Sauce
1/2  cup  crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese
2  cans (9.75 oz. each)  SWANSON® White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1.HEAT oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep baking dish. Stir until smooth.
2.MIX in salad dressing, Frank’s RedHot Sauce and cheese. Stir in chicken.
3.BAKE 20 min. or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish as desired. Serve with crackers or vegetables.
1.Microwave Directions: Prepare as above. Place in microwave-safe dish. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 5 min. until hot, stirring halfway through cooking.
2.Tips: You may substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken.
3.Slow Cooker Method: Combine ingredients as directed above. Place mixture into small slow cooker. Cover pot. Heat on HIGH setting for 1 1/2 hours until hot and bubbly or on LOW setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Stir.
4.Tailgating Tip: Prepare dip ahead and place in heavy disposable foil pan. Place pan on grill and heat dip until hot and bubbly.

Pwnd, End of Story
12-22-08, 1:34 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags:

 Anca made it home safely after over 24 hours of travel.  Merry Christmas, kid!   Fearless Leader Flo got her way, and terminated the student.  No rule violation, just ‘a pain in the ass.’  Flo didn’t like the girl, and made it personal.   The second host family didn’t work out, and Anca had a few other homes lined up, including with the family of the student in her Fesland home.   Flo believes Anca is just a bad kid, and a new family won’t make a difference.  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Give the girl a chance.  Anca has changed a lot in the last 4 months. 

Flo didn’t talk to hardly anyone about her plan this time.   She flat out didn’t return calls or emails.   I got into a fight with her about it, she said she didn’t ‘appreciate my interference.’   Husband tried to talk sense into her, but she didn’t care.  In almost 20 years of exchange, I have NEVER seen an adult go after a child like that.  Flo acted as neighbor-didn’t believe the student at all, behaved as counselor, country specialist, and head of our program. 

Beside the injustice, we have two practical problems.
1-We have a student in Anca’s home.  If I was Anca’s parents, or the country specialist, the other student would be on a plane home immediately.   Retaliation isn’t right, and it’s not a situation we see often, but it’s not unheard of.  I warned our student to be a perfect exchange student.  It wouldn’t take much to cook up a flimsy excuse to terminate her.
2-We have two students who want to go to Anca’s country next year.  What do you think the chances are they’ll wish to continue exchanging with us?

Fearless leader Flo screwed Anca, the program, our credibility, and future students with this selfish stunt.  Hope she’s pleased with herself.   Judge, Jury, Executioner, Asshole.

“Country Specialist”
12-21-08, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Exchange Program | Tags: , ,

Comment from a reader:  I’m a bit curious about your program. Is the country specialist local or national? What qualifies the person to be a specialist to a particular country rather than exchange students in general?

Good question, and it deserves a complete response.  “Country Specialist” is a descriptive term I made up.  I think each program calls them something specific to the program.  I try to stay anonymous.  I’ll explain what ‘country specialist’ does and why.

A country specialist is the person who sets up the exchange with a particular country.    When we have a student who wants to go to Germany an exchange must be set up.  One person here contacts someone in Germany  and they agree to swap students.  The person here should talk to the student to see where in Germany the student should go, which may not be where the student wants.   (Most students know nothing about a country other than “it’s cool”, or “my friend liked it.”)  Most countries are divided into several areas.  When the exchange is set up, we hope that it will be an ongoing exchange, and our exchange partner will take great care of our student.  We also expect hope their student is trained and screened.

A country specialist has to be willing to devote extra time needed to care for their students in other countries.  Some volunteers prefer to deal with paperwork, activities, or meetings.   People specialize in countries for a variety of reasons.   John likes Italy because his wife is Italian.   Sara likes India because she was an exchange student there.  Kevin does Costa Rico because he loves the country and returns as often as possible.  Susan likes Austria because her daughters went to Austria on exchange.   Seth was ‘stuck’ with France because the French specialist resigned, and no one else speaks French or wants the responsibility.

I like South America.   I’ll happily spend hours working on exchanges with Spanish-speaking Americans.   It’s not a duty, it’s fun.  Husband and I plan to retire to South America.  I have no interest in some countries and cultures, and would resent the time spent.  For example, I’ve been to Germany several times, and it’s not for me.  To me, it seems like everything is black or white, and I see everything in shades of grey.    I’m not interested in learning German or travelling there every few years to keep up my contacts.  I believe I’m knowledgeable about South America, and can help the students. I think it takes a good three years as a general volunteer to learn the program before someone can take on more responsibility as a country specialist.

Pwnd 3
12-18-08, 12:45 am
Filed under: Exchange Program, Inbounds Inbounds | Tags: ,

 Recap:  Arrogant student Anca, poorly prepared first time host family, no counselor, no country specialist, and conflict with next door neighbor running our program.  

Problems started immediately.  There wasn’t anyone to mediate or advocate for Anca.  We stress to host parents to tell someone so we can help the family.  We want to prevent small issues from growing into large problems.  Very soon, Anca was labelled a problem student.   Our fearless leader, Flo, was much more concerned about the next door neighbors and her relationship with her.   The neighbors were ‘wonderful’ people, it must be the student’s fault.

Anca was always sweet and respectful to me.   I called her on rude behavior towards others a few times, and she stopped.  If that girl had stayed with me for a week, she would still be here.  No one told her what was appropriate behavior here in Appalachia.

Flo wanted to send Anca home.  She was planning on sending the girl home quietly without anyone else knowing until the girl was in the air.     Good thing Anca came with a wifi equipped laptop.   She sent out an SOS.   We called Flo asking what’s going on.  Was she pissed!  When a student is terminated, we have a group meeting to discuss the student.  The members are the President (Flo), VP (not notified), Inbound student coordinator (a minion), Outbound student coordinator(didn’t have one), the student’s local counselor (didn’t have one, just Flo), and the country specialist (didn’t have one, Flo handled that as well.)

Once we found out about the plot to terminate Anca, we started making phone calls.  Flo backed down, and found a second host family.  All during this time, Anca broke no rules, the worst anyone could say was ‘rude and disrespectful.’    Hell, we could ship them all home for being rude and disrespectful.

That mess was mid-October.  More tomorrow.