28 December 2006

Ways to waste time

Not that I would want to waste time on Christmas vacation, but I found this list very fun. From PC World via "Future Tense" on MPR: The 15 Best Places to Waste Time on the Web.

#15 is What Would Tyler Durden Do?
"What Would Tyler Durden Do" is a blog focused on bringing you the latest gossip and news about rich and famous celebrities. And then making fun of them.

20 December 2006

I need a vacation

This fall has been nutty beyond belief, particularly at work. I sometimes feel like I've been on a merry-g0-round that has gone awry, going so fast you see only streaks of color rather than horses. It's been very interesting and often rewarding but my brain has left the building. Some examples:
  • My work on the computer is scary. I cannot spell, or type. I often put my fingers on the wrong keys and many times I forget to use whole words.
  • I forget what I'm doing many, many times a day.
  • I sometimes have to clarify things more than once because I forget the gist of a project or conversation. (For me this is highly unusual.)
  • I ask people to do things multiple times. I don't remember that I've already delegated the projects.
  • I forget what day it is.
  • I've forgotten my library account number. I've had it for almost six years and I've known it by heart for about as long.
So I'm writing things down more than ever, waiting for my blessed break which begins Friday.

19 December 2006


Sophie has an ulcer in her eye. It's healing up pretty well but in the mean time she gets much-loved ointment in her eye (three kinds!) three times a day.

When we were at the vet, the tech asked if we have an "Elizabethan collar" (at right). I said, "You mean the cone?" (below) Quite a misnomer. Sophie hates, hates, hates it.

15 December 2006

Ramen noodle recipes

On many product pages there are recipes to help you make more of the product, and hopefully buy more. The Top Ramen! site has the grossest combos I've found.
Try These Winning Tastes From Top Ramen! Each taste sensation is made with delicious, versatile Top Ramen instant ramen noodles. There's Top Ramen Olé, Top Ramen Pizza and Top Ramen Salad Royale, just to name a few of the terrific winning dishes. They're easy and convenient! Try them all to find your favorite!

14 December 2006

Wednesday Word (Lieblingswort zum Mittwoch)

I meant to do this yesterday so I'm using Wednesday (Mittwoch) even though it's Thursday (Donnerstag).
  • A favorite German word is "der Schluckauf*". It means hiccups. It really sounds like what it is.
  • A favorite English word is "lurch," as in "I hate to leave you in the lurch." The other day I was going to use "in the lurch" in an e-mail. It sounded weird so I looked up an alternative and found the definition, "in a vulnerable and unsupported position." I decided to stick with "lurch."
*Pronounced shlook (rhymes with look) owf (rhymes with the first half of "ow" as in the exclamation when you smack your shin into a coffee table.

11 December 2006

Rest in peace?

I'm having a hard time not celebrating the death of Augusto Pinochet. I wrote so many letters to him in the '80s and '90s (I'm in Amnesty International). Disappearances, murders, torture. He condoned and promoted it all.

I learned of his arrest, in London, in an elevator in Boston. I saw the cover of the New York Times lying on a luggage cart and nearly jumped for joy. Finally, justice would be served. But it wasn't. He was sick and frail but that's no excuse for not being punished for his evil deeds.

I believe that forgiveness is a good thing but he was responsible for thousands of confirmed deaths. After he overthrew Salvador Allende, the elected president, in a CIA-backed coup he began killing anyone who opposed him, or anyone he suspected of opposing him. I have a hard time not wishing that he burn for all eternity.

Description of the photo at right from the BBC:
A 1996 report blamed the regime for more than 3,000 confirmed deaths and disappearances, and later another report documented claims of torture by nearly 30,000 people. Mass graves continue to be found. Here, years later, a woman kisses the recently identified skull of her brother.

08 December 2006

Mess O'Potomac

Jon Stewart on the Iraq Study Group findings. Some highlights:
  • "I'm glad they got a study group together. But you know what? The test was three years ago."
  • "The report was delivered this morning to a visibly awake president."
  • Jon: "Bush showed that he had taken some of the report's lessons to heart." Bush: "The report brings some very interesting proposals."
    Jon: "You're not even trying anymore."
Go here and here.

Sometimes winter stinks

12 Days of Christmas

Another fun one from Rather Good. It's for Tommy's, the Baby Charity (UK): The Twelve Days of Christmas. My favorite day is one!

07 December 2006

Zip It

If only you could carry this around all day -- to use whenever and wherever the need arises.

Wristbands for everyone

If you're not chipper enough to wear a "Live Strong" wristband, or don't care to advertise for the eradication of a disease, there may still be a wristband for you. Courtesy of Archie McPhee.

06 December 2006

Simple and beautiful

I was looking for something else online and I found this picture. At the bottom it says, "Peace." I think it's just gorgeous.

04 December 2006

Ungratefulness personified

Nice thankfulness.
Fargo Hero Dog Up for Adoption

FARGO, N.D. — He's a hero, but now he needs a home.

A black lab named Hunter is credited with waking up a North Dakota family in time to get them out of their burning home early on the day after Thanksgiving.

But now Melisa Sherrard and her two sons are looking for someone to adopt Hunter. She says they can't keep him in the hotel where they'll be living for months until their home is repaired ... She tried keeping Hunter in the hotel for two days -- but says it just didn't work.

Christmas music

Over the weekend I loaded my Christmas CDs onto my iPod. (Weihnachtslieder in German. I love that word!) Once Dec. 1 hits I feel it's allowable. I have several CDs but one of my favorites is still a Christmas compilation I received from my friend Steph in 1999.

Some of my favorites this year: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve, The Secret of Christmas (has to be the Ella Fitzgerald version), Baby It's Cold Outside (I try to ignore the sometimes lecherous tone of the male voice), Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, In the Bleak Midwinter and Koppangen (in Swedish, which I don't understand but beautifully sung by Ann Sofie von Otter).

Thanks to Julia I have a new favorite -- Goetz Alsmann's version of Lasst uns froh und munter sein. He sings swingy Christmas songs. I've loved this song for years and now I can sing it all loungy as I go about the house.

02 December 2006

Dog accessories

In a recent post, I talked about pushing my mind in directions it normally wouldn't go. I was trying to do just that today reading an edition of Dog Fancy, a publication I normally mock.

Well, I do have a bit of crow to eat. There was a nice story about service dogs and an interesting one about the day in the life of a dog trainer. As a reward for this, I browsed through the ads in the back which are good for a laugh and few, "Oh man that's odd." or "That is so wrong."
  • A pet murphy bed, which would actually be very handy if you lived in a tiny Manhattan apartment.
  • A pet pouch, a la a baby snuggly. I was behind a person with one of these in the registration line at the Bark in the Park walk for the Humane Society. She gave me a look that said, "Yah, I'm a bit embarrassed to be wearing this."
  • Pearl necklaces or a $595 gold toggle necklace with heart charm.
  • Spendy but clever hide-a-crates.
  • Fun blue floral dog dress. Well, this would only be good if you could get a human matching dress. Shudder. This site, is the funniest/scariest (fuariest?). Categories under the clothing menu include: sportswear, casual dog clothes, jumpsuits and pants, lounge and swim, casual dog dresses and dog dresses (including the red floral picnic dog dress).
I have a love/hate with the dog clothes, especially. I think they're demeaning for dogs and twisted for their people. But, I love to look at them and laugh.

01 December 2006

Friday note from the Universe

Can you believe it's already December?
That it's Friday, again?

That as you read these very words, somewhere in the world there are waves crashing, eagles soaring, lilacs blooming, and friends laughing so hard tears are streaming down their faces?

That your life has been changing so swiftly?
That you're absolutely gorgeous, inside and out?
That you're new Health came so quickly?
That others who now want to More Health, emulate how you did it?
That peace, love, and happiness are flourishing around the world?

Yeah, I thought you would.

Winter weather forecast

On Sheriboo's blog today there is a rather interesting weather forecast. Worth a look!

2 for $3 burritos

I was in the gas station the other day and on the ATM there was a ad for 2 for $3 burritos. Do they come out of the little money slot?

Energy from dogs

Living in Berlin would be quite alright!

Berlin's Latest Scoop: Harnessing the Power of Dog Poop
Forget about Russian gas, German coal or controversial nuclear power plants. The energy source of the future is cheap and available everywhere on the streets of Berlin. You may have even had to scrape it off your shoes.

In Berlin, dog poop happens. Literally, all over the place. According to Berlin sanitary officials, 55 tons of doggie mess is generated on the streets of the city every day. And most of it is left unattended -- for other canines' sniffing pleasure, for children to play hopscotch around, or for senior citizens to hold their passionate diatribes against.

The German capital is an extremely dog-friendly city. Dogs attend gallery openings, jazz concerts, Sunday brunches and baby showers. But Berlin's dog owners are mostly of the let-somebody-else-scoop-the-poop persuasion. It's part of the laissez-faire attitude that Berliners are known for. One needs to have some sense of history. What's a little poo here or there in a city that had the iron curtain run through its very heart?

Yet anybody who ever walked down Wrangelstrasse in Berlin's multiethnic Kreuzberg district, or along Kastanienallee in the hipster paradise known as Prenzlauer Berg, is more likely to step into a pile of dog doo than run into somebody who would wish them a nice day.

30 November 2006

Happy Birthday Mark Twain

In school I wasn't a big Mark Twain fan. I didn't really identify with naughty adolescent boys, Tom and Huck. I've since I've changed my mind. I really think the intro for school kids should be something that grabs their attention -- his sharp wit! (Maybe there is sharp wit in the Tom and Huck stories but I didn't get it at the time. Neither did my classmates.)

In the great book Letters of the Century, there is a complaint letter from Twain to New York Western Union. He describes the telegraph service in York Harbor, Maine "the worst in the world except that Boston." He is referring to a telegram that he received too late to act:
The head corpse [throughout the letter referred to as h.c.] in the New York Harbor office sent me that telegram altho (1) he knew it would reach me too late to be of any value; (2) also, that he was going to send it to me by his boy; (3) that the boy would not take the trolley and come the 2 miles in 12 minutes, but would walk; (4) that he would be two hours and a quarter on the road; (5) and that he would collect 25 cents for transportation, for a telegram which the h.c. knew to be worthless before he started it.
And later,
The boy brought the telegram. It was bald-headed with age, but still legible.
I loved his book, A Tramp Abroad, about his travels in Germany and Switzerland in the late 1800s. It's an interesting travelogue and hilarious. It contains the famous The Awful German Language which is quite hilarious but kind of painful to read.

Here, in celebration of his 171st birthday, are a few more lovely quotes.
A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.

A person with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.

Man was made at the end of the week's work when God was tired.

There is no distinctly American criminal class - except Congress.

Return to your seat please

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese airline has calculated that it takes a liter of fuel to flush the toilet at 30,000 feet and is urging passengers to go to the bathroom before they board.

As Chinese airlines come under increasing pressure to cut fuel expenditures, China Southern's latest strategy is to encourage passengers "to spend their pennies before boarding the aircraft," Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

"The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10 kilometers," Captain Liu Zhiyuan, who flies regularly between Hangzhou and Beijing, was quoted as saying.

I guess my day isn't so bad

Feeling sorry for yourself? Had a bad day? At least an alligator didn't have you in its mouth.

MIAMI (Reuters) - Florida sheriff's deputies jumped into a dark lake and pulled a naked man from the jaws of an alligator early on Wednesday, authorities said…

Four deputies waded through waist-deep mud, wrestled the man free and pulled him about 40 yards (meters) back to shore to a waiting ambulance, Judd said.

"He was totally naked," Judd said of the victim, identified as 45-year-old Adrian Apgar.

"He admitted that he'd been smoking crack cocaine. But still, it's a human life," Judd said at a news conference. "Our deputies don't ask questions, they respond and they save people."

How does one get oneself, naked no less, into the mouth of an alligator? Neighbors heard him screaming about 4 a.m. (see complete story). Maybe the time explains it.

27 November 2006

Belated Thanksgiving message

From my coach's weekly e-mail (Judy Panek).
What an abundance of Abundance!

The delicious food, the warm traditions of Thanksgiving, the love of family and friends.

The comforts of a warm home, the safety and freedom of a great country - and peace.

Peace of heart, peace of place, peace of soul.

Let's give thanks.

For all we have, for all we experience, for all we dream about. For our visions - colorful and daring.

For all the challenges- let's be grateful.

For our Master teachers who won't let us off the hook!

For people who push our buttons which reminds us of our humanity and the road still needing to be travelled.

Let's give thanks - for the abundance of Abundance.

May you feel it, experience it, cherish it.

26 November 2006

City views from the turn of the last century

I learned of Geo.de on Julia's blog. It looks like such an interesting magazine. Much more fun to practice my language skills on than the news.

On the Geo site there's a great series of city views, like this one, from the turn of the last century. I just love the old postcard-like pictures. I wonder if my memories will soon look like these photos -- perfectly colored and ethereal.

22 November 2006

Church rant

I find a bad sermon on Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, or at a wedding or funeral, particularly egregious. There are all sorts of people at church at those times who wouldn't be there any other time. A lousy sermon will pretty much clinch it that they won't come back.

Today was such a day. The sermon at the church I was visiting was a fictional story about some of the Israelites after they left Egypt. Not as bad as the stories about the fictional teenager, Donald, that I've heard at this church. But it was rather incoherent and sophomoric. To top it off, the pastor admitted that he had preached this sermon six years before. Please. Don't tell people that you've put no work into it. About five minutes into the sermon I pulled out the hymnal and started reading some Psalms. Much more enlightening, and coherent, than the sermon.

19 November 2006

Pushing the mind

I read about a person who travels a lot who, in an effort to keep pushing his mind, picks up a magazine at the airport news agent before each flight. What makes this interesting, however, is that he picks up a magazine that he would never think of reading. We all gravitate to what we like and understand. And there are things that we have no interest in. His argument is that by reading things he'd never think of reading, he pushes his mind in new directions and often gets ideas that would have likely never surfaced.

I really like this idea. Yesterday at the library I picked up an assortment of such magazines. I couldn't yet get myself to pick up Road and Track or Motor Trend. My list:
  • Kiplinger's -- eyes glaze over. Involves math, shudder.
  • Backpacker -- about backpacking, hiking and camping. I hate camping.
  • Discover -- about science, technology and the future. I quickly glaze over and find so much of it uninteresting. I do find some easy-to-understand stuff interesting.
  • Scientific American -- see above.
  • Dog Fancy -- I love dogs but this magazine always struck me, due to the use of the word "fancy," as too foo-foo, too "let's put the dog in clothes!"
But first, I need to go through the pile of paper on my desk.

World design

World Design: The Best in Classic and Contemporary Furniture, Fashion, Graphics, and More is a taste treat for the eyes.

I was particularly taken by the chairs. Like Eero Aarnio's ball chair which looks so cozy but at over $1,000 I think I'll pass.

And there others that look incredibly uncomfortable like Mario Botta's Quarta and Stiletto's Consumer's Rest (aka shopping cart).

17 November 2006

How children learn

"Not every kid needs to go to college." Them's fightin' words! Earlier this work on Midday Mel Levine, a neuroscientist at the University of North Carolina and the author of All Kinds of Minds, said that and many other provocative things.

He believes we should celebrate all kinds of minds. Work on children's strengths, don't continually press them to excel in things they aren't inherently good at or have a passion for. He doesn't say that if you don't like math or you're not good at it you should skip it. But he believes our education system isn't well tailored to the way many kids' brains work. He also rails against memorizing route material.

It's a fascinating, thought-provoking and often funny speech. Makes me want to be a neuroscientist!

Listen to the speech here. Click on "listen to the call-in show, even though it's not a call-in. The speech starts about a minute into it but is supreme awesomeness. He starts out by talking about how most kids don't know what the words in the pledge of allegiance means.

Great tools available at All Kinds of Minds.

Pink Floyd

I've really been enjoying Pink Floyd lately. The music on many of the songs is incredibly beautiful. I'm particularly liking "High Hopes" (see video below).

I remember driving cross country with one of my brothers and my parents. He had "The Wall," on his Walkman. I was bored with my selection so I tried that. I only knew their song "Money" and I hated that. I was astounded by the musicality, the beautiful strings, etc. After listening to "Comfortably Numb" I turned to Steve and said, "This music is quite beautiful. I love the strings!" His look was priceless. I got the crickets.

12 November 2006

Paper, rock, scissors

Who knew? On Morning Edition last week Steve Inskeep talked to Jason Simmons, who will be competing at the Paper, Rock, Scissors championship. Funny interview.

World RPS Society, Serving the Needs of Decision Makers Since 1918.

Cats in sinks

One of the very cool women in my book club told me about this site after I told her how her cat had followed me into the bathroom. Apparently, the cat was waiting for me to turn on the water so she could play in it.

Just the other day someone told me that they have to leave the toilet seat down otherwise their cat gets into the toilet. I thought cats hated water.

Go to cats in sinks and click on "Show me another cat in a sink." You can also upload your own cat-in-sink photos.

10 November 2006

Beware the milky pirate

My friend Sandy told me about this weirdly funny video. It's unexplainable. You'll just have to take a look.

08 November 2006

Endlich! (Finally!)

Goodbye Donald Rumsfeld. Hooray! The Defense Secretary, one of the architects of the disaster in Iraq, resigned today. However, his replacement, Robert Gates, used to be the former head of the CIA. Great.

Democrats took control of the House and the Senate is about split between Democrats and Republicans. Maybe something can get done now. Some highs and lows from yesterday's voting:
  • High -- South Dakota struck down the ban on abortion.
  • Low -- Wisconsin approved a measure to amend the state Constitution to prohibit same-sex unions. Aren't constitutions designed to protect rights, not restrict them?
  • Low -- Minnesota is stuck with the passive aggressive Tim Pawlenty for another four years. He of "I don't raise taxes." However, your taxes go up because he cuts funding to cities to balance the budget. He didn't raise taxes but he did.
  • High -- Minnesota is finally sending its first woman to the U.S. Senate: Amy Klobuchar.
  • High -- Nancy Pelosi, a real fighter, will likely be the first woman leader of the House of Representatives.
  • High -- Minnesota is sending Keith Ellison, a big fighter for the poor, to Washington. He will be the first Muslim in Congress!

Sanders Says

Tim Sanders has a great post on the importance of down time. The voice of reason and successful business speaks. Being a workaholic isn't helpful! A preview (highlighting is mine):
Don't check your email this weekend

Unless you are on a project that REQUIRES your digital availability tomorrow or Sunday, blow off email.

It can wait until Monday.

Let the laptop sit in your briedcase, unopened.

If you fully commit your off time to being off, you'll find more energy on Monday -- and everybody will get more quality and quantity from you too.

Grand Poobah explained

I was jokingly referring to a colleague as Grand Poobah the other day and wondered, where did that come from?

Grand Poobah is a term that originates from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. In this operetta, the haughty character Pooh-Bah holds numerous exalted offices, including Lord Chief Justice, Master of the Buckhounds, Lord High Auditor, Groom of the Back Stairs, and Lord High Everything Else. The name has come to be used as a mocking title for someone self-important or high-ranking and who exhibits an inflated self-regard.

I used to work in a consulting firm. This word, in its mocking form, would fit many of the partners there. Some were a particularly weird combo -- inflated self-regard with an insatiable need for attention and acceptance. It could be tiring.

03 November 2006

Strauss on the brain

For some reason, unknown to my conscious mind, the song going through my head this morning is Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss. I haven't heard it in ages but it's there in all it's waltzy beauty, a beautifully accompanying my work.

02 November 2006


I'm not a big fan of poetry. It is often very inaccessible to me. But Billy Collins I like! Thanks to EclectChick for introducing me to this former poet laureate. His poem, "The Dead," is just wonderful. You can hear it read on EclectChick's blog entry for Oct. 31. "Another Reason Why I Don't Keep a Gun in the House" is also quite lovely and very funny.

01 November 2006


What a fun Halloween! I took two of my nieces trick-or-treating. It was horribly cold and windy but they didn't mind. They got a huge candy haul. When I was little you'd get one, maybe two, pieces at each house. Not so anymore. They would get wads of candy at each house.

My witch's hat wouldn't stay on because of the wind so I wore a stocking cap instead. I didn't look much like a witch then so I said I worked at the Starbucks in Uptown. You can only see one of the girls here. The other one is too easily identifiable in her princess costume (the Web sometimes attracts too many freaks for full identification of children).

Sophie had many little hands touching her and urging her to her tricks. And of course, there was Billy. It's like a World Wrestling Federation match when Billy and Sophie get together. It's all in fun but they can sound quite ferocious. It used to scare the kids but now they yell "dog fight!"

31 October 2006

Dumb criminals

From Reuters:

BERLIN (Reuters) - A careless burglar in Germany left behind a vital clue at a break-in when he sliced off the end of a finger and left it behind, police said on Monday.

"We usually find fingerprints at the crime scene, but it's not every day that thieves leave the original there too," said a spokesman for police in the central town of Hildesheim.

Police wasted no time in matching the piece of finger with existing prints they had from a 15-year-old of Iraqi origin.

The youth initially denied breaking and entering into an office to steal a computer but confessed when police produced the digital remnant, which had been severed on a broken window.

"I don't know if the fellow asked for it (the fingertip) back afterwards," the police spokesman said.

Halloween and pie

Tonight I get to take two of my nieces trick-or-treating. About a week ago the oldest, Tori, called me and asked me what my costume would be. She really wanted me to dress up so I asked her what I should be. After a moment's pause, she said "A witch!" She then went on to say that they had a witch's dress and hat in their toy box.

My brother, their Dad, really likes pecan pie. So I baked this last night. It's not as puffy as it was when it came out of the oven. But I love how the pecans line up and get shiny on the top.

30 October 2006

Lovely Lied (song)

This song is actually quite sad, but I really like it. The music is so crooner like. It's really romantic and swoony. It's called "Ich atme ein," which means I inhale, and is sung by Roger Cicero. I haven't watched the whole video, I just listen to the song. It's not on iTunes. Grumble, grumble. Bonus for German speakers or wanna-bes like me -- he enunciates very well.

Annoying Monday

This morning I really wanted coffee so I made some in my lovely presspot. The coffee at work tastes really bitter. You need about 1/2 milk to make it drinkable.

Traffic was horrid I wasn't paying to close attention to my coffee cup. It tipped over and spilled all over the passenger seat before I noticed. A nice coffee puddle. This was especially nice since I am carpooling today. Sally had to sit in the backseat. All the way to work the lovely coffee smell taunted me as it soaked into the seat.

29 October 2006

Cool quote

Today I heard that Red Auerbach died. He was the president of the Boston Celtics basketball team. Earlier he was the coach. Normally I wouldn't record that here. I'm not a basketball fan. However, one of the people interviewed about him noted this quote that Auerbach used in reference to coaching:
It's not what you say, it's what they hear.
I just love that. True on many levels.

Car washing

When Sophie and I were out on a walk today, I saw a man washing his car in his driveway. This is not that unusual. However, he was rinsing off the car using a garden watering can. It looked very funny and I'm sure it took a very long time to rinse the car.

German makeover

I thought this story about the German national soccer team was quite interesting. Even though the World Cup is over, the team is still making news. I'm going to begin lobbying Netflix as soon as the film comes out on DVD.

German Players Coached in Tactics for Formal Occasions

Clean-cut Germany coach Joachim Löw decided it's not enough for his players to look good when they're on the pitch and decided to turn the team into an orderly troupe of well-groomed personalities off the field as well.

Bastian Schweinsteiger looked the perfect gentleman as he stood in a smart suit and fashionable scarf next to Chancellor Angela Merkel on the film premiere's red carpet.

The young Bayern Munich midfielder, like his teammates in the German national team squad, is cutting sophisticated and stylish figures off the pitch these days.

What happens off the field was the subject of a much-hyped documentary "Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen" (Germany: A Summer's Tale). Released in early October, the documentary focuses on the players' personal lives by concentrating on scenes in the team's hotel and on the bus as well as their reaction to the massive enthusiasm that engulfed Germany during the World Cup.

27 October 2006

More deep frying. Yum!

I find this story fascinating and horrifying.

Because we don't already have enough fried foods...

NEW YORK, Oct 26 (Reuters Life!) - A new fast food is making its debut at U.S. fairs this fall -- fried Coke.

Abel Gonzales, 36, a computer analyst from Dallas, tried about 15 different varieties before coming up with his perfect recipe -- a batter mix made with Coca-Cola syrup, a drizzle of strawberry syrup, and some strawberries.

Balls of the batter are then deep-fried, ending up like ping-pong ball sized doughnuts which are then served in a cup, topped with Coca-Cola syrup, whipped cream, cinnamon sugar and a cherry on the top.

"It tastes great," said Sue Gooding, a spokeswoman for the State Fair of Texas where Gonzales' fried Coke made its debut this fall. "It was a huge success."

Gonzales ran two stands at the State Fair of Texas and sold up to 35,000 fried Cokes over 24 days for $4.50 each -- and won a prize for coming up with "most creative" new fair food.

26 October 2006

Kids and dogs

My cousin Joni sent me an e-mail about this offering at the Great River Library in St. Cloud.
Thursday, Oct. 26 , 6:30-8:00 pm
Desiree and Tiffany are certified Reading Education Assistance Dogs and love to sit and listen to books. Registration for 15 minute sessions begins October 18. Ages 5 and up.
That is the sweetest thing ever! Here's a bit more about the Reading Education Assistance Dogs.
The mission of the R.E.A.D. program is to improve the literacy skills of children through the assistance of registered Pet Partner® therapy teams as literacy mentors.

The Reading Education Assistance Dogs® (R.E.A.D.) program improves children’s reading and communication skills by employing a powerful method: reading to a dog. But not just any dog. R.E.A.D. dogs are registered therapy animals who volunteer with their owner/handlers as a team, going to schools, libraries and many other settings as reading companions for children.

And a short testimonial from the R.E.A.D. site:
Catherine and her Boston Terrier, Chato, who participate in the R.E.A.D.® program at the Midvale Boys' and Girls' Club, understand just how convinced most children are that the dogs they read to listen and absorb what they are hearing. One second grader informed them, "I really scared that big black dog the other day!" When asked how, he replied, "I read him a ghost story!"

25 October 2006

Halloween pup

This time of year there a million dogs-in-costumes photos floating around e-mail. This is my favorite.

23 October 2006

Germans making fun of Bush

This video is priceless. Thanks to Julia who posted on her blog! It's nice to get another country's take on this very scary, crazy man. Very clever!

Richard Dawkins, "The God Delusion"

There was an interview with Richard Dawkins tonight on The World. He's the author of The God Delusion. I was looking forward to listening to the interview since his views are so different than mine. Maybe I'd learn something from him.

I was quite disappointed. He was very testy and very disrespectuful of religion. Isn't it possible to show respect even if you don't agree? I think it is. It made me think of the book I'm listening to: The Likeabilty Factor by Tim Sanders. Part of his argument for likeability includes the fact that if people like you, they're more likely to believe you. So I found Dawkins interview particularly odd. Granted, a lot of people probably wouldn't listen to Dawkins because he's an atheist, but he certainly didn't do anyone any favors with his attitude. I was disappointed that by his crankiness he made it so easy for people to dismiss what he had to say.

I did agree, however, with this shot at Ann Coulter -- who is one of the nastiest writers on the market -- on Dawkins' site:
In her latest book Godless, Ann Coulter writes "I defy any of my coreligionists to tell me they do not laugh at the idea of Dawkins burning in hell." This section is dedicated to insanity such as this that finds its way to our inbox. When it goes beyond criticism and into Crazytown, we post it up here for all to see.
He was much more relaxed and convincing on The Colbert Report. It helps that Stephen Colbert is such a nut.

Wishing you an offensive Christmas

Twisted Sister recorded a Christmas album. Yes, you read that correctly. You can listen to the whole album, Twisted Christmas, on their site. There are all the old favorites, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Silver Bells," as well as "Heavy Metal Christmas." It's truly horrifying.

Via Pop Candy.

Sweet Mutts

22 October 2006

Some people deserve jail time

A Waukesha couple fought off a woman who entered their home in the middle of the night brandishing a metal pooper scooper and scissors, police Capt. Mike Babe said today.

The couple woke up about 4:40 a.m. Sunday when their small dog was barking in the kitchen. The female homeowner found the stranger in her kitchen, swinging the pooper scooper, threatening to kill them and kicking the dog, Babe said.

The female homeowner screamed and her husband then came into the kitchen.
The stranger struck the man in the head with the pooper scooper. He knocked it out of her hand and then noticed she had scissors.

The man struggled with the woman while his wife called police.

It took five police officers to subdue the 5-foot, 105-pound woman who was screaming threats that she was going to kill someone, Babe said.

Officers also repeatedly used a Taser on the woman, but it didn't stop her. Officers finally had to put their weight on the woman to take her into custody.

The couple said they did not know the Milwaukee woman, 47, who is expected to be charged in Waukesha County Circuit Court today, police said.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Reduce Idiocy.

20 October 2006

Beautiful nature

On the BBC site you can see the winners of the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. This photo won the top prize. It is a walrus eating clams on the sea floor. There were more than 18,000 entries from 55 countries in this year's competition.

18 October 2006


A couple of months back, the movie "Strangers with Candy" was released. One of the local stories about the movie was an interview with Amy Sedaris and included her recipe for vanilla cupcakes.

I tried these a few weeks ago. They are the best cupcakes ever. And I didn't even make the frosting. Sedaris also has a new book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. I'm sure that it is hilarious, yet oddly disturbing. Like most of her work.

Previous post
Interview on NPR

17 October 2006

Another look at the Middle East

Terry Gross, host of Fresh Air on NPR, is such a fabulous interviewer--particularly when she interviews authors. A recent guest was was Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer for The New Yorker. He has a new book that sounds fabulous: Prisoners: A Muslim & A Jew Across the Middle East Divide. Goldberg is an American who served in the Israeli Army and ended up as prison guard, guarding Palestinians. It traces his experiences from emigrating to Israel as a committed Zionist through his friendship with a Palestinian prisoner, Rafiq. A very good listen. Excerpt from chapter 1 here.


Look at the proud, middle-aged white guys surrounding the president. Such hypocrites. "Right to life" is just for pre-birth I guess. Once you're out of the womb, the government can do anything to you.

Bush signs law authorizing harsh interrogation

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush signed a law on Tuesday authorizing tough interrogation and prosecution of terrorism suspects and took an indirect, election-year swipe at Democrats who opposed the legislation.

Bush, trying to help Republicans maintain control of the U.S. Congress by emphasizing national security, called the Military Commissions Act of 2006 "one of the most important pieces of legislation in the war on terror."

Human rights groups charge that the measure would allow harsh techniques bordering on torture, such as sleep deprivation and induced hypothermia...

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage, calling the new law "one of the worst civil liberties measures ever enacted in American history."

"Nothing separates America more from our enemies than our commitment to fairness and the rule of law, but the bill signed today is an historic break because it turns Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. facilities into legal no-man's-lands," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero.

Cub cam

There are five lion cubs, about nine weeks old, at the Hamburg's Hagenbeck Zoo. See the video or their coming out last week at Reuters. It's the sweetest thing in the world.

Mom is Tembesi. The cubs are Tawanga und her brothers Nibalo, Naju, Nawiri und Nelson.

What should they name the puppy?

My brother Steve's family got a puppy the day before yesterday. So far she doesn't have a name. I suggested an older name like Ethel or Hilma but now that I see her, I think she needs a much sweeter name.

16 October 2006


This photo says a lot about how my brothers and I interact. It's from Easter. My Mom has this rabbit and she puts Easter sweets in it. As you can see, there is a hand on the rabbit, in a "this is mine" kind of way. The hand belongs to my brother, Mike. Whenever we are together, particularly when my other brother, Steve, is around, we regress to our 10- or 12-year old selves. There is quite a bit of jostling, pushing of buttons, and often a headlock inflicted upon me.

Halloween on wheels

My cousin Joni sent me these photos. Her husband Tom was in Wisconsin over the weekend and spotted this Halloween on wheels. I think the mannequin heads are an especially nice touch.

Blood box

Cool promo piece for Australian Red Cross. Certainly grabs your attention! Via Brand Flakes for Breakfast. They also have a Cross Dress for Red Cross Day on Nov. 3. I love that idea but I really, really don't want to see that at my workplace.

15 October 2006

Ted Turner at the Press Club

Ted Turner, founder of CNN, has an ego as big as the former Soviet Union. But I do love what he's been doing lately with regard to the United Nations and philanthropy. He's an extremely successful businessman who is pushing others to make the world a better place.

He gave a very interesting talk at the National Press Club which was on Word for Word. He does say "aah" a lot which gets a tad annoying, but it's a good listen. In talking about the Iraq war he says that it doesn't make any sense to bomb people who hate you. It just makes them madder. "We can see in Iraq and even before that Vietnam, that war just isn't the way you get things done any more."


Nothing makes me feel more grown up, for better or worse, than buying an appliance. This weekend I bought a small freezer. I plan to fill it up with chili and soup so that weeknight meal time is easier. Cooking for one, especially after work, is such a pain. I do love to cook but only when I have time. This afternoon I started with chili and African chicken peanut soup. Yum! the smell combo while I was cooking, however, was rather odd.

13 October 2006

A lovely song

I'm really liking this song by James Morrison, You Give Me Something. He looks much younger than his voice sounds! (The video is from a Dutch TV show.)

Annoying song (Lied)

I like to listen to German or British radio via the Web. Lately I've been listening to Bayern 3. The same station I listened to when I was in Ingolstadt. Anyhow, some of the music is so annoying. And not much of it in German, either*. (But at least I get a little news in German. Must search for another Web radio station.) A particularly stupid song includes these lyrics: "I wish I were a punk rocker, with flowers in my hair." Aaaargh! Punks didn't wear flowers in their hair!

Reminds me of being in the theater district of London with my parents and godparents. It was the '80s and there were punks a-plenty. It was dark when we left the theater and there were punks everywhere. I'd been living in England for awhile and was used to seeing them and knew that, by and large, they're nonviolent. My parents did not know this. My Mom really freaked (ausflippen in German -- isn't that a funny word!). In retrospect her fear is funny.

*Although they are now playing Xavier Naidoo's "Danke," a song about the German WM (world cup team).

Smell and memory -- ick

From the Independent-London

Scents of the Seventies return as shoppers splash out on nostaglia

First the music was rehabilitated, then the fashions and recently even the food.

Now 1970s perfumes and aftershaves are making a comeback, as a new generation discovers the somewhat questionable joys of Charlie, Brut and Old Spice.

Sales of so-called "heritage scents" are increasing, particularly among younger customers, according to market research by the high- street chain Superdrug.

Long-forgotten fragrances are being revived as teenagers embrace all things retro in an effort to smell like their parents did three decades ago.
This is quite frightening. If I smell Love’s Baby Soft I will have a nasty flashback. And Old Spice? I hope I don’t have a full stomach. Read the rest of the story.

Reminded me of this Bizarro cartoon.

12 October 2006

Writer's block

I’m co-writing a story for a newsletter and am having the worst time at it. When I know something I assume that others do too. Unless it’s something kind of esoteric, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s twin sister’s name (Sabine) or his birthday (Feb. 4). As I write I keep thinking, “Everyone knows this. I am the queen of the bleeding obvious.”

CloEve and I are writing a piece that comes out of our presentation in Savannah last February. It’s about how to design a user-friendly Web site that meets your organizational goals. It's due in a couple of days. The parts I'm writing seem like the writing equivalent of: ball, 73, red, Czechoslovakia. Not really hanging together yet. [screech of frustration]

No torture, no secret prisons!

I've been writing letters to dictators and despots for years asking them to stop torturing, stop hiding people in jails. I knew the U.S. was up to plenty of nasties. I never would have guessed this.

Go to Amnesty International's page and sign the petition! Send it to your friends! Bother your elected officials! And vote on Nov. 7!

While you're at AI's site, write a letter to the president of Indonesia. For peacefully raising a flag, Filep Karma and Yusak Pakage may spend the next decade or more in prison. Need some back up for your letter? Check out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, see 18-20 in particular. 30 Articles in the document and their all ours baby!

Der Spiegel

I usually don't do more than glance at Der Spiegel, the German news magazine. It's very tough reading for one of my skill level. (Horrifyingly, I find myself moving my lips when I read something difficult in German.) Here's the latest cover. The cover story is "Power and Lies: George W. Bush and the doomed war in Iraq."

I remember being England and Germany in the '80s. Looking back at the U.S. and thinking, "Wow, we're a bunch of bullies." It certainly turned my worldview upside down. I imagine that's even more so now.

Is it Spam?

I just received an invitation to join the "sexy babies waiting group" on MySpace. That's the funniest thing I've read all day.

Customer service rant

Goofy story from Inc. on the best and worst cities for customer service in the U.S. I wonder who wanted this information. Reminded me of recent bad and good experiences.

Warners' Stellian -- I'm looking for a small freezer. (der Tiefkuehlschrank in German, literally deep refrigerator.) I stopped at the appliance showroom on Snelling and Larpenteur after work. I wanted to get a freezer. I knew what I wanted, was pretty sure the price was good (and it was). The receptionist, who was on the phone, didn't look up when I walked in (or when I left, for that matter). I couldn't see any salespeople. I looked around and found the freezer area. Finally I snagged a salesperson and asked him a question about the freezer I was considering. He seemed very bothered by the question but answered me and began to walk away. When I asked him about delivery he told me, with disdain, the charge and then walked away. I walked out of the store. I was really tempted to tell the weasel off. "I have several older appliances which I will be replacing. It will not be with you."

Now Sports -- I stopped in after work. It's right next to the dry cleaner so it was a stop of convenience. I wanted to check on a stand that allows you to ride your outdoor bike inside (not around the house). The guy at the counter was on the phone and computer when I walked in. He did not acknowledge my presence. Neither did the two or three other employees. I found the stands but there wasn't any information tacked to them. No specs -- what size bike works, cost, etc. When the guy got off the phone I asked the price; the guy at the counter gave it to me and went back to what he was doing. Since there were no specs I didn't know quite how it would work. I got fed up and walked out.

Macy's -- I went to Macy's the other night after a facial. I was in yoga pants and a hooded sweatshirt (unlike the business dress I was in in the two examples above). I went to the Prescriptives counter to get some under-eye concealer. I wasn't sure on the tint so the salesperson tried them both on me. She didn't rush me, she told me about other specials and was nothing but nice and professional.

After I bought the concealer I went to the purse section. I looked around and finally decided on a happy-birthday-to-me purse. The salesperson was very cheery, talkative and shared a great purse find story.

I don't know how any of these people are compensated but it seems to me that good customer service pays off in the long run, whether you are commissioned or not.

11 October 2006


If it was Dec. 11 I'd say, "Oooh, pretty!" Today I do not. The photo was taken about 20 minutes ago and the snow is thankfully already gone.