A Modern Quilting Bee

The German Wikipedia is coming out on DVD in the near future, so it was time to get the thing polished up. A good DVD needs lots of indices, so it was decided that the 13 000+ personal entries in the Wikipedia needed entered into a category. What a job.

The publishing house that is printing the DVD, Digitalmedia, offered to host a tagging party. They would organize food, drink, and Internet connection, people could come by with laptops and tag together.

What a lot of fun! Sitting 3-4 at a table, using Apper's cool tagging tool, we were each busy with our own jobs, but were constantly talking. Talking about the strange people we encountered, about which names were last names, about intellectual property, about all sorts of stuff. We socialized, we enjoyed Club-Mate and Bionade and a whole crate of tangerines, and we knocked off tags by the dozen.

As in quilting bees of yore, all worked for the common good, chatting and eating together. It was nice to hear more about people one pretty much only knew from chats or briefly from the Stammtisch in Berlin. I hope we have a chance to repeat this, it was fun!


Stateless for real

The deed is done.

The US consulate played all sorts of cute games with me in the interim (see my blog entry "A Woman Without a Country"). Oh, you need this form. Didn't we send that to you? Call for an appointment. No, we can't talk to you on the phone without you sending in all the paperwork first. You are missing a paper. No appointments for the next 3 weeks.

But today was the day. The paperwork - an awesome pile of 20 documents (The informed consent page, the oath page, the renunciation of citizenship block of forms and the witness page, each with 5 copies) was prepared, typed and printed with today's date and each page embossed with a seal.

The vice consul read one to me, then he read one having me repeat it after him with my right hand raised (it was on a paper in front of me, I can *read*, you know). Having signed that one, I was officially stateless. I handed in my passport (which would have expired in March, I made good use of that!), the vice consul wished me luck in this new portion of my life (hey, I've lived here for 28 years!) and they got up to leave. I made a point of shaking hands all around a second time, remarking that I am a German now, I shake hands a lot.

It only took 15 minutes, and I was back at the gate collecting my 17 different electrical and battery-operated and deadly devices that I had to check with the guard. They didn't take my Swiss Army Office from me, a little pen knife with a USB stick in it, or my metal toothpick that I once had to forfeit on a flight. I am pretty sure the whole visitation stuff is a fake.

Back out in the cold and snow I asked myself: do you feel any different now? The answer is no. Just like having a birthday, it is something that just happens. You do not feel magically transformed. I have no desire to go out and buy a dirndl. I still don't like beer. I will not eat a Schweinshaxe. But wait, one little triumph: when Bush marches into Iran, it will no longer be in my name. And that is a relief.