30 November 2005

Finally, a flak vest for Sophzilla!

Sophie stays out of most dangerous areas but it's better to be safe than sorry. A German firm is now making bullet-proof vests for dogs. On the down side, they're about 6.5 pounds (i.e. a little over one-quarter of Sophie's weight). She'd be dragging down the street but she'd be safe from snipers.

Cereal after a White House staffer

For the past few years I haven't been much of a cereal eater. Last week I bought cereal for my parents who were visiting. They are creatures of habit and cereal is their a.m. habit. Now I'm hooked.

I bought the copycat Cheerios by Malt-O-Meal. They're called Scooters. I refer to them as Lewis Libbys. I got one of those looks from my parents when I made the breakfast offer: "Who wants Lewis Libbys?"

Oooh, the snack treats

From this week's Onion. I couldn't resist copying the photo here. See the full story here.

What a toad

California congressman Randy Cunningham has pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion -- $2.5 million in bribes from, shocker!, defense contractors.

He was in tears while announcing his resignation, saying that he had lost the trust of his friends and family. My question: Were you asleep when you took the first bribe? Did you start with one commode, and like a bag of M&Ms, one thing led to another and you've bought out half the antique store? (See the list of the glorious prizes he bought with the $2.5M.)

I might feel a bit sorry for him if he had, for example, used the money to pay off a loanshark or buy a kidney for a relative. But as my Mom would say, "He's a real toad."

29 November 2005

Kids can be twisted

This story ranks up there with my friend Kathy's, "Honey, we don't do that with cheese."

My friend Christopher was recently at a friend's house. The friend has a six-year-old son. Here is the exchange between son and Mom.

"Mom, my finger smells." "Well don't smell it then." "I can't stop."

Was is heute auf der Fahrbahn? (What is on the highway today?) Ein Hund, beide Richtungen. (A dog, in both directions. Perhaps the dog was running back and forth between lanes?)

More evidence of geekiness

I am obsessed with office supplies, particularly with pens (latest: fountain) and planners. I'm organized and plan my time pretty well. Yet, I'm always on the hunt for more information, a different form, another tip.

I was looking for some info online and ran across the Busy Woman's Planner. This is not for me. I was particularly turned off by the font and color on the pages. Do women really demand italics and gentle colors? Am I just a jerk? Nah, I just prefer my Franklin Planner with the New Yorker cartoons. Although, I'm eyeing up the Time Design system. I could get my calendar and forms in German. Ooo la la (as my sister-in-law likes to say)!

4 miles in 30 minutes!

The first workplace snow/ice of the season. How lovely. It looks like a winter wonderland when you're inside and don't have to go anywhere. If you do, you may suffer from bouts of weather-related boredom and or rage.

Which begs the question, Why do we live here? I'm not sure why my great grandparents happened on Minnesota. They got half way across and thought, "Good enough. I'm tired. Let's stop here."? There aren't any fjords and there aren't even many hills, much less mountains. I like the story about my great grandfather (I think it was) who left Norway to avoid conscription in the army. Rock on, brother!

Fargo. Now that I don't get. I talked to JoJo yesterday and he said they first got ice, then snow and then wind! My poor sister-in-law was out on patrol, too. I hope she just hunkered down in a donut shop all day. This morning I heard that the state patrol would be reopening I-94 between Fergus Falls and Fargo. Good grief!

In some cities people come up to your car and clean the windscreen and then ask for money. If there were cocoa/coffee people delivering hot drinks to your car window this morning, they would have made a killing. It's safe! The cars are going so slow. They're often stopped altogether. Which made it possible for me to originally write this entry, by hand, on the drive to work this morning.

Oooh, just got yelled at by a co-worker for playing a Bing Crosby Christmas CD!

28 November 2005

I laugh through my tears at your misbehavior

Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) was talking about Terrell Owens, the Philadelphia Eagles player who was suspended for the rest of the season. Stewart asks (I paraphrase here): when was the last time you could go to work, curse at your boss, say he's not doing a good job, punch out another employee and then say 'I think I'll play tonight.'

Sometimes justice does prevail

It's nice to see that sometimes scoundrels are exposed. From Deutsche Welle:
Pet Parrot Exposes Husband's Philandering
Frank Ficker of Freiburg must have thought he had it all: successful wife, nice home, and a mistress on the side. But the family parrot, a pro at imitating Frank, blew the lid on his cheating ways.

"Hugo always liked to mimic Frank and he could do his voice perfectly," said Petra... But one day Petra heard the bird repeating something she'd never hard before. "I heard him doing Frank's voice, but saying 'Uta, Uta,'" she said. Since Petra didn't know an Uta, nor had she ever heard Frank mention her, her suspicions were raised. A search around the house turned up two plane tickets to Paris, one for Frank, another for Uta, who was, evidently, the other woman... "I kicked him straight out," she said. "It's just me and my parrot now." Divorce proceedings are pending.

26 November 2005

Christmas tree, sold as is

Put up Christmas decorations today. The house looks so cozy now. Sophie especially likes the tree. She likes to chew on her toys under the tree and on the tree skirt.

The snow and decorations look so lovely this time of year. And, the sun finally returned. I was about to put away the sharp objects.

Thanksgiving was lovely. Very different than previous years but so nice in its own way. We went to Jax Cafe and had a lovely dinner. No leftovers but on the flips side no fuss, no muss.

21 November 2005

Where oh where is the enemies list?

A couple of weeks ago Bill O'Reilly promised to post his list of enemies on his Web site. Where is it? Aaargh! You can't just offer that up and then not provide it. I can't stand the suspense. If you, too, are waiting impatiently, check out Nixon's enemies list while you wait.

While you're on Bill's site check out his Christmas Store (something for everyone on your list!) and his reading list.

For a very good laugh, check out O'Reilly's interview on The Daily Show. Jon Stewart asks why Bill is still so mad at France. "If this were the Peanuts series, France is Marcy."

Speaking of Christmas shopping, make sure this on your list for all the little ones in your life. The Playmobil Security Check Point.

The beautiful city

I am a city person. They can be so beautiful, especially at night. Here are some photos of Chicago from the weekend before last. The moon was incredibly lovely on one particular evening.

19 November 2005

Sabado gigante!

Had a brilliant time with Lorelee running around Chicago last weekend. It was one big shop, eat 'n chat. Saw Pride & Prejudice -- the new one. It's fabulous! Pure swoonage. The actors are different than my preferred version (A&E, 6 hours) but were good. I will see it again and again.

Crate and Barrel is the mother ship. So many housewares! So many gadgets you didn't know you needed. Condiment spoons, soy sauce dishes, cherry pitters.

If I ever go to death row, I will request Ann Sather's cinnamon rolls.

18 November 2005

Make it plain!

Here's a statement on today's scandalous passage of the House Budget Reconciliation Bill. Italics and bold are mine.

"Woe to you legislators of infamous laws....."

Washington, D.C. ------(Friday, November 18, 2005) Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners and Convener of Call to Renewal, made the following statement today on the narrow passage of the House Budget Reconciliation Bill.

"The prophet Isaiah said: "Woe to you legislators of infamous laws ... who refuse justice to the unfortunate, who cheat the poor among my people of their rights, who make widows their prey and rob the orphan." Today, I repeat those words. When our legislators put ideology over principle, it is time to sound the trumpets of justice and tell the truth.

It is a moral disgrace to take food from the mouths of hungry children to increase the luxuries of those feasting at a table overflowing with plenty. This is not what America is about, not what the season of Thanksgiving is about, not what loving our neighbor is about, and not what family values are about. There is no moral path our legislators can take to defend a reckless, mean-spirited budget reconciliation bill that diminishes our compassion, as Jesus said, "for the least of these." It is morally unconscionable to hide behind arguments for fiscal responsibility and government efficiency. It is dishonest to stake proud claims to deficit reduction when tax cuts for the wealthy that increase the deficit are the next order of business. It is one more example of an absence of morality in our current political leadership.

Budgets are moral documents that reflect what we care about. Budget and tax bills that increase the deficit put our children's futures in jeopardy - and they hurt the vulnerable right now. The choice to cut supports that help people make it day to day in order to pay for tax cuts for those with plenty goes against everything our religious and moral principles teach us. It says that leaders don't care about people in need. It is a blatant reversal of biblical values - and symbolizes the death of compassionate conservatism.

The faith community is outraged and is drawing a line in the sand against immoral national priorities. It is time to draw that line more forcefully and more visibly.

I applaud those House members who have stood up for better budget priorities and fought hard all year to keep issues of basic fairness at the forefront of this debate. And I thank those on both sides of the aisle who stood up and did the right thing in voting against this bill, despite pressure from the House leadership. These strong voices provide some hope for getting beyond an ideology that disregards the role of government for the common good.

Are you happy, enough?

The story below strikes me as incredibly funny and also sad. Reminds me of a very annoying consultant that I used to work with. When he wasn't busy, which was often, he'd go on a share-my-superness-with-others tour of the office. If he saw you with a normal expression, or God forbid, a frown, he'd say "SMILE!" in a really upbeat and annoying way. Now I'm a happy person. I wanted to say, "I was smiling, on the inside, until you came along." This guy could turn any story to himself. Complaining about your ninth-month-in-pregnancy backache? Well, he sprained his ankle last week running.

When our new boss arrived we started calling him the puppy because of the way he almost danced around the new big cheese. He was so eager to please. "Can I tell you about my great, money-making client and how much they love me?, my athletic training regimen..." It was best if you stayed clear after lunch or any time you had a fully tummy.

From Deutsche Welle:

Some say Germany is a nation of complainers. One company in Leipzig got tired of all the bellyaching and instituted a "no grumbling" policy. Experts say a little less whining could be good for the country.

There are days when Franka Michalski simply wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. It could be she tossed and turned all night, or it might be raining cats and dogs outside. But when she goes to her job as a customer support technician at the IT firm Nutzwerk, she better put on a happy face, or at least keep her dark thoughts to herself. At her job, moaning and groaning can put you in the unemployment line.

The contract she signed when she took the job stipulates that griping on the job is strictly verboten.

Full story here.

17 November 2005

Hooray for Iceland, Sweden & Spain!

Nordic states probe 'CIA flights'
Iceland and Sweden are investigating allegations that planes flown by the CIA used their airports during secret transfers of terror suspects.

The Icelandic government says it has asked the US for an explanation and is still awaiting a satisfactory answer.

On Thursday, the Swedish government began an investigation to establish whether CIA prisoner flights had used Swedish airports.

Spain is investigating similar claims about secret flights from Majorca...

The CIA's controversial "extraordinary rendition" programme involves removing suspects without court approval to third party countries for interrogation.

The US state department has refused to comment on specific allegations, or to confirm or deny claims the CIA has set up secret prisons across the globe for the interrogation of "war on terror" prisoners.

Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2005/11/18 11:22:37 GMT
I hope people in other countries are burning up the e-mail and postal mail to Bush and his cronies. I don't get it. Do they think these people are expendable -- you can torture someone if they're evil. (Um, is there a lab test that reveals this?) I have so much trouble with this adminstration that trumpets Christian values yet instigates and allows this. If that's how Christians behave, why would someone want to be one? The God I believe in, to channel Bono, doesn't believe in torture, man!

Check out Senator John McCain's story in Newsweek: Torture's Terrible Toll.
Abusive interrogation tactics produce bad intel, and undermine the values we hold dear. Why we must, as a nation, do better.The case against torture by John McCain.
Make your voice heard! Ask Dennis Hastert, Who Would Jesus Torture?

One-stop Christmas shopping

Perfect for anyone on your list.

Sweetness and stupidity

Kyra, a seven-week-old lioness, gets a kiss from Norman, a white-tailed deer, at the Hollywild Animal Park in Inman, South Carolina.

And now for something stupid. Would you need to be told that you should throw out glowing meat?

Glowing' meat alarms Aussies
16/11/2005 10:46 - (SA)

Sydney - An Australian food agency sought on Wednesday to quell fears about glow-in-the-dark meats after a man called a Sydney radio station alarmed about his luminous pork chops.

The New South Wales state Food Authority said the phenomenon was caused by a harmless light-emitting bacteria, pseudomonas fluorescens, that is naturally present in most meats and fish.

"While most of us would understandably be shocked to see our food glowing, it is important to remember that the micro-organism responsible for the glow is not known to cause food poisoning," said the authority's director general, George Davey...

While the bacteria is harmless to humans, it spreads quickly on meat that is starting to spoil, said the food agency, which recommends throwing glowing meats in the trash.

Full story here.

14 November 2005

Evidence of nerdiness

I take copious notes. Pretty much always. Why?
  • It helps me to listen better
  • I can read them and learn from them later!
  • Helps me not to get bored or fall asleep
  • I'm a knowledge geek -- "I must learn and remember all!"

Ever since I returned from Switzerland -- in July! -- if I crave anything, I crave chinese food. (And no, I'm not pregnant.) So, I've been getting a lot of fortunes lately. If I like them, I keep them. Here are two recent favorites.

  • You have a reputation for being straightforward and honest.
  • Your love life will be happy and fulfilling.

13 November 2005

Who's a chump?

That would be me. On Saturday, I took a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. I've flown gobs of times. I looked at my ticket. A14. Schlepped it down to the gate. It was really like the Siberia gate. When I arrived, nothing was there. It looked like what I think the Fargo airport might look like. I had misread the ticket. A14 was my seat. My gate was on the D concourse. Yes, I embrace my chumpness.

When I arrived at the gate the flight was boarding. A woman behind me was in the midst of a family crisis via telephone. Apparently, someone was really mad because Grandma came over to their new house but didn't go upstairs. "She's 87; she doesn't go upstairs anywhere!"

Thank you, thank you, I didn't sit next to a talker. The person behind me, however, did not have an unexpressed or inspired thought the entire flight. The man beside her had a blank/exasperated expression, "kill me now." When the plane touched down, with a huge thud and shake, she insightfully replied, "No one's sleeping now." As we drove up to the gate, she interestingly said, "I wonder how much those guys [the ground crew] make?"

11 November 2005

Happy Armistice Day!

Today in history -- the armistice, 1918. There's a race on to capture the stories of surviving World War I vets. There are just 10 left! I wish I would have asked my Grandpa more about WWI. But, as I was nine when he died, it isn't too surprising that I failed to do so. He was on a submarine. Couldn't do that. Claustrophia. Aack! I'm reading Europe's Last Summer: Who Started the Great War in 1914? I've said it before here but it's a fascinating read as is Keegan's The First World War. Plenty of blame to go around.

Do you travel? Do you use the bathroom? You can research bathrooms or add your own comments at The Bathroom Diaries -- "rates 8000+ public bathrooms in more than 100 countries." I wonder if you can download to your Palm?

Another reason to love Billy Bragg. (But I still don't like his "Between the Wars.") I wish I would have realized how incredibly cool he his (such a good lefty) when I saw him at Milton Keynes in 1985.
A mother fighting breast cancer is this week knocking at the door of the pop chart's top 10. Her surprise hit has been made possible by the personal support of the veteran musical maverick, Billy Bragg. From the BBC.
Would you buy Napoleon's tooth? Someone did, for $19,000. Sounds like the man didn't floss -- "By the time of his death, he was a physical wreck and his gums were soft and bled easily and his teeth were loose." Shiver. Thank you, thank you to my existential dentist! (My teeth are all firmly in place but I do occasionally have that teeth-falling-out dream.)

Was ist heute auf der Fahrbahn? (What's on the highway today?) Ein Brett. (A board.) Yesterday there was a Falschfahrer (someone driving the wrong way).

Not-so-nice co-worker

These have gone round and round e-mail. I picked out my favorites. (I keep the list in my Palm for handy reference.)

Things you'd love to say at work
  • I can see your point, but I still think you're full of crap.
  • I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
  • I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.
  • Ahhh... I see the screw-up fairy has visited us again...
  • Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.
  • Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.
  • What am I? Flypaper for freaks!
  • Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
  • Errors have been made. Others will be blamed.
  • Whatever kind of look you were going for, you missed.
  • Oh I get it... like humor... but different.

10 November 2005

All about me

Five things I want to do before I die.
  • Travel to Turkey
  • Travel to the Middle East
  • Take my nieces and nephew on a big trip
  • Speak near-fluent German
  • Live in another country for awhile
Five things I can do
  • Play piano
  • Paint
  • Laugh a lot (often including snortage)
  • Speak German -- poorly but I digress
  • Plan
Five things I cannot do
  • Snap the fingers on my left hand
  • Most math in my head
  • Whistle
  • Enjoy football
  • Reach the high cupboards without a stool
Five things that would attract me to a potential mate
  • Sense of humor
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Confidence
  • Kindness
  • Open-minded spirituality
Five things I say most often
  • Lovely!
  • Super!
  • Oh, for the love of Pete!
  • Rats! (When something goes wrong.)
  • Blah, blah, blah Ginger (usually used to make fun of myself when I've been talking too much)
Five celebrity crushes
  • Colin Firth
  • Jeremy Northam
  • Ciaran Hinds (Watch "Persuasion" and you'll see what I mean.)
  • Herbert Groenemeyer (Listen to "Land Unter," "Marie" and "Der Weg." If you don't develop a crush you must have a heart of stone.)
  • Scott Simon (intellect, humor and public radio)
Five things/people that make me laugh
  • Sophzilla
  • My nieces and nephew
  • David Sedaris
  • Monty Python
  • The Simpsons
I stole this idea from Dash. Thanks Miss Dash!

07 November 2005

Weird pet people

A friend's husband works with someone who makes Halloween costumes each year for her cat. On Halloween his co-worker brings the cat in, in its costume. She takes it very seriously. This is extremely funny yet also disturbing.

I heard about DogCatRadio on a German radio station. (Sometimes I'm so proud to live here.) The station plays music that appeals to pets (how do they know?). I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt. I listened to four songs. Ish all around. "Send Me an Angel" by the Scorpions followed by "Love Will Keep Us Together" by some chick (no Captain or Tenille), "Celebration," and some song by Rod Stewart. I'll give you whatever you want. Just turn it off.

I'd love to hear the annoying music guy's take on this. He always has such a clever way of bashing things. (You can hear his annoying Halloween music picks, including a goose version of "Honky Tonk Woman," and the stunning, "I'm Gonna Vomit on You" on NPR.

Here's an excerpt from a story on the station:
What's the frequency, Fido? Net station caters to pets
By Dinitia Smith
New York Times News Service
Published November 2, 2005

"Remember, be kind to your mailman," said Jane Harris, a disc jockey. Then she softened her voice until it was a little insinuating: "He only wants to deliver the mail."

It is a message that many of her listeners need to hear. Harris is a DJ on DogCatRadio.com, a new Internet radio station for pets. Now dogs, cats, hamsters and parrots can keep the anxiety, the loneliness, the restlessness at bay while their owners are out. It is radio just for them, live 17 hours a day, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Central time, and podcast for the rest of the 24 hours.

Those who listen to DogCatRadio will find that there is generally an animal motif to the playlist, like "Hound Dog" ...

And Dionne Warwick is also popular, especially her soothing song "That's What Friends Are For."
Ratcheting it up on the disturbing scale is the "Dogs in the Hood" Christmas CD you can buy on the site. I listened to a sample of "Sleigh Ride" -- a cheesy version of the song interspersed with occasional barks and meows. The "Hot, hot, hot" song is disgusting. What is it doing on a holiday CD?


The Web is full of silly quizzes but who doesn't like to take them? Take the Harry Potter character quiz (suprisingly interesting), find out what kind of animal personality you have. World Book has a bunch of fun quizzes -- womens' suffrage, the civil rights movement, leaders in the Cold War. Woo hoo! Go ahead. Waste a little time.

I'm Albus Dumbledore on the Harry Potter quiz (INFJ -- didn't realize the quiz was based on the Myers Briggs until I finished it; I'm always INFJ!)


Disclaimer: I've never gone dumpster diving and I don't yell at people as they walk by.

01 November 2005

No tricks, just treats

I'm reading an excellent book, Europe's Last Summer, by Fromkin. It's about what led up to the beginning of World War 1. It's fascinating. In it the author references The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendahl. It was like being reminded of a sweet treat from way back.

I first ran across The Charterhouse of Parma in high school. It was a "Great Performances" mini series. I was completely transported. I didn't bother asking any of my friends at school if they, too, were delighting in the series. Just like I never came in on a Monday and asked, "Did you see 'Masterpiece Theater' last night?" I'm a nerd from way back. Only when I reached college did I find fellow nerds. People who look at the library as one big candy store.

Candy reminds me of Halloween. Look at these cute monsters I ran into yesterday.
And they made out with quite the stash.