31 January 2006

Goering revisited


I've been thinking that the current administration's tactics often remind me of the Nazis--in the way that they try to keep people scared and then take liberties with our liberties. Just found this. You can purchase your own here.

30 January 2006

Bob Geldof was right

Mondays seem to be the day when I come smack against reality at work -- chronically stretched too thin, exciting projects but scarce resources, keeping my head above water but just barely. That was today in spades. On one hand, there is no end to the exciting possibilities. On the other hand, you get sick of doing a half job on everything. Bob Geldof was right. I don't like Mondays either.

Onion radio news

Reading The Onion is funny. Hearing someone read it in a serious newsman voice is even sillier. You can listen to and download news bits on the Onion site. "Scientists Say Venom Taken From Politicians Could Provide Medical Benefits," is true snortage.

As I write this, Sophzilla is in her little dog bed, snoring away.

Hummus heaven

I'm a big fan of the hummus but this takes the cake. It is so incredibly delicious that you want to sit down with it and a spoon. There must be big vats of this in heaven.

28 January 2006

Smell and memory, pt. 2

It smells absolutely lovely outside this morning! Sophie and I were out for a walk and the whole time I kept sniffing. The air is crisp and clean and smells like spring. It reminded me of the Dayton's flower show -- dirt, coolish air and a little touch of something blooming or about to. It also reminded me of Switzerland. Even though we were there in summer, the air always smelled crisp and clean in Kandersteg. Crisp, like it had just come off the snow-capped mountains, which it probably had. And little like dirt and and blooming things. But mostly just crisp. The smell always made me think, 'This is going to be another great day.'

Smell and memory pt. 1, see 12 Jan. 06

Cool sites

MNSpeak and Gather are quite the cool sites. Very salon like. All sorts of info on there from people who apparently spend a lot of time online musing about things. (I should talk.) Anyway, they are fun to explore if you're into the world of ideas and opinions.

Office Space

If you liked the movie Office Space, you're sure to like this game. The movie is a classic. My favorite scene is when they take the fax machine out to the field and destroy it. Especially when they have to pull Michael Bolton away from beating on it. You can buy a special edition of the DVD complete with flair. Movie trivia here.

27 January 2006

My, what a lovely bruise you have!

Isn't this lovely? It's a bruise on my arm from where I smashed into the filing cabinet (after tripping over the space heater) on Monday. I'm just so graceful! I didn't notice it before but it kind of looks like South America.

Jesus' vocations



A friend at work has a Jesus action figure. She is bringing in and or designing various things for him to wear. We're all having quite a fun time enjoying his latest outfits. The latest are nurse and fireman. I like the idea of Jesus schlepping off to work like the rest of us.

I love Bono


I just love Bono. Great band but also a real Mensch, a great humanitarian. Trying to make the world a better place, but not naively. Smart and doing good. Great photos here. (Click on the little photo under the
photo of Bono/Chancellor Merkel -- coolest day of her life!) To right, the two coolest humanitarians -- Bono and Groenemeyer.

Today Bono won the German media prize for his humanitarian work. Yay!

26 January 2006

Don't ever wake him up

I can't express how much I dislike the song "When September Ends," by Green Day. (But I do like the title of the album, "American Idiot.") Hearing it makes my back tense up and grab for the mouse or dial. Is it Billie Joe's whiny voice? Is it the repetitiveness? I do not know.

Bunny suicides -- deliciously sick

I just learned about this. Ya, I've been under a rock I guess. They are hysterically funny and oh so sick. Check out the bunny suicides. I'd prefer cat suicides but I can't picture cats doing any of these things.

23 January 2006

Interesting way to start the day

I'm not sure why, but I enjoy chronicling my foibles. Here's how I started my Monday morning.
  • Burned my finger on a pan while making eggs for breakfast.
  • Arrived at work to find my area like a cooler. Kept parka on, turned on space heater and moved it closer to my desk.
  • Tripped over space heater and, in an effort to avoid smashing the plant, smacked into the filing cabinet.
Good thing I carpooled today.

22 January 2006

Would you trust this person?


Every time we have a family gig my camera is taken over by one or both of my brothers. During Christmas, everyone had a photo of a toilet on their camera. After Cale's party, I had a number of lovely "portraits" of both brothers.

Pudding


Here's the lovely pudding we enjoyed this past summer in Switzerland. I brought some home and now there's just one packet left. Aack!

It's instant! If you buy instant putting here it's horrid. It doesn't taste like chocolate and has a werid aftertaste. Not this stuff. The soup and spaghetti mix (powdered) we bought were similar. Great flavor. And here, I wouldn't buy the stuff. Ick and full of salt. Don't get me started on Fanta mango. Non-diet soda that doesn't taste like syrup. Sniff. When can I go back?

New light fixtures!



Look at my lovely new light fixtures! So much better than the previous, low-light, incredibly dated fixtures. My Dad installed both of them. When I bought them I bought the highest watt bulbs they would take. I was used to a dark kitchen and that wasn't going to happen again. After Dad put up the ceiling fixture he called me in to take a look. I turned on the switch and yelled, "Holy crap! It's like looking at an eclipse."

18 January 2006

The South will rise again

I'm reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. I'm going to Savannah, where the book is based, so I thought I'd finally read it. I'm enjoying the book. The characters are so interesting and odd. (Cool site about Savannah and the book here.)

My friend Jeannie worked in Virginia for awhile. She made the mistake of saying something about the civil war being over to an older southern gentleman. She got quite an earful about how the war isn't really over, northern atrocities, etc. It was over a hundred years ago. I don't get it.

In books, fiction and nonfiction, southerners are portrayed as so different, independent, devil-may-care (that, or hillbillies). Granted, not everyone knows a drag queen named Chablis. But there's this whole southern mystique/intrigue. I get to wondering whether the mystique it's mostly true, partly true or only based on a select few. It doesn't keep me up nights but I do wonder.

16 January 2006

Family fiesta

The kids were off school today so we converged on my parents' to make noise and celebrate Cale's birthday. Sophie and Bill were up to the old tricks, "dog fight!", and scaring the kids. They jockeyed for position under the kids' dining table.

JoJo dished out the birthday cake and due to the wailing and crying, gave everyone supplemental pieces of cake.









I usually run across weird signs on my trips to Alex. On this particular sign, I'd guess that they probably mean, "committed to our customers." However, given the open invitation to fill in the blank, I choose to think they've all been sent away to the psych ward.





Quite the invitation, this one.











This makes me cringe.


Stupid juice


I bought this juice the other day. I saw "less sugar" and thought, "well that's a good idea." As long as orange juice has pulp and isn't from concentrate I'm pretty happy. This stuff tasted a bit odd so I read the ingredients. There is sucralose (i.e., Splenda) in it. For the love of Pete! Why do you need artificial sugar in orange juice? And chemicals are always a nice way to start the day. OK, end of rant.

15 January 2006

Sorry about the comments

I was getting visually bored so I updated Sophzilla's background. Unfortunately, the update took some of the comments with it. So very sorry! Where do things go when they disappear on the Web?

Where's Not Martha?


I had a bit of a panic this evening. I couldn't find one of my favorite blogs, Not Martha. There are Google listings but I keep getting "site not found." Oh bother! I did find a Not Martha site on Flickr. I wonder if this usurped the past site? There are many photos of weird and wonderful things, including pasta that looks like communion wafers. I wonder if they stick to the roof of your mouth?

What a nice closet you have!


Look at this beau-ti-ful closet! I should have taken a before picture. It was nothing like this! For a long time my office closet had been a tidy area. Then something happened. I got busy and suddenly, I became a messy person. I needed a bit of help to get this spot back in order -- I couldn't find things and that normally doesn't happen to me. It is, for me, a very bad sign.

Jude to the rescue! She came over today and helped me organize the closet. She is ruthless about organization and purging. And she loves to do this type of thing, especially if you give her carte blanche. It's quite cathartic to throw, recycle and donate things that I no longer use. Look at it now! There are now two empty shelves! It's fun to just look at this tidy space.

Speaking of closets, when I was in Germany I took over Gudrun's room (my youngest homestay sister). She temporarily shared a room and a closet with Almut (my oldest homestay sister). I had a closet to myself and it was not very full, seeing as I had to schlep everything I wore across the Atlantic. One day I was talking to Almut and I meant to offer her space in my closet since it wasn't very full. The German word for closet is Schrank. But in stead of saying Schrank, for whatever reason, I said Kuehlschrank. Instead of saying, "you can use space in my closet," I said, "you can use space in my refrigerator." Ah, the unintentional joys of speaking a foreign language.

14 January 2006

Dogs in coats

Sophie and I had a lovely walk with Marjie and Hobbs this afternoon! Hobbs makes Sophie look so tiny. Sophie's been cooped up this winter and was all wiggy with all the new smells. Como Lake is such a nice walk. And since it was late afternoon, we didn't have to dodge too many strollers and small children.

As you can see, I don't quite have the hang of taking pictures with my little spycam yet. (Sorry about cutting off your head, Hobbs. And this is the best photo of the lot.)

It felt like winter again today. I needed a hat to keep my ears warm. (And Sophie needed her sweater.) I not a big fan of winter but the past weeks of warm weather were just not right. Kind of like this summer in Switzerland. If you're above the tree line, shouldn't you be a touch chilly in shorts and a t-shirt? Yet another reason to hug a tree, carpool, recycle and avoid excess packaging. I hope this summer isn't like last. My motto was, "If I wanted Tulsa weather, I would move there." As usual, no one listened to me.

Animal academy

Jan. 13 - A German "animal academy" has specialised in teaching cats and dogs how to play the piano and chickens how to perform on a xylophone. (Reuters)
Story and video here. They actually play nicer than my nieces and nephew, who incorporate more pounding and volume into their performances.

Also from Reuters, bun that looked like Mother Theresa was stolen from a bakery in Tennessee. Story and video here. God bless Reuters.

We're all just quelling with pride. There's a guy in Minnesota who wants to be governnor. And, he's a vampire -- Jonathan "the Impaler" Sharkey. Good luck with that.

Was ist heute auf der Fahrbahn? It’s been a slow month. Cars and vans mostly. No people or dogs lately.

12 January 2006

Self helpless

A lot of self help resources make me gag. I'm not completely stupid and don't require constant affirmations. But one I've found that Cheryl Richardson's books and site are quite good. Finding a good self help resource is a bit like finding a good aerobics instructor. You want perky and energetic but not too perky and energetic. Not unless anger happens to motivate you.

I discovered Richardson's book, Take Time for Your Life, late last year. I occasionally need a kick in the pants -- what's really important and what am I doing about it? You'd think I'd have that down by now. Considering the sales of her books, I apparently am not the only slow learner.

Smell and memory

This morning when I was getting ready I realized that I no longer smell my new perfume when I put it on, go in a closet, put on a jacket. I guess IĆ¢€™m used to it so my nose ignores it. (Coco by Chanel) Reminds me of other smells I like and that pull in memories. Whenever I smell Estee I think of my aunt Kay, whom I miss to this day. I love the smell of burning wood in a fireplace and burning leaves.

When I was studying in Germany a good friend wore Boss (I think that was what it was). During one of our breaks I went to Austria and soon learned that about every other Austrian man wore Boss. Every other person reminded me of someone else, who I happened to miss.

So that’s why your co-worker is so annoying

A recently published study by the University of Buffalo said that seven percent of people drink on the job. So maybe that’s why some people are suddenly insufferable or, on the other hand, the insufferable people freak you out with sudden chumminess. Note to boss – I am not one of the seven percent.

11 January 2006

Conspiracy

Tonight I watched a fascinating, horrifying film -- Conspiracy. It's the story of the Wannsee conference in 1942. At Wannsee a group of Nazis, in less than two hours, decided what to do with their "Jewish problem." It's a dramatic interpretation, but is based on the one remaining copy of the meeting transcript (found in 1947).

I can't find words to explain the cold efficiency with which they worked. Here are some scenes from the movie to illustrate:
  • Several times, the Jews were referred to as a 'storage problem.'
  • The morality was not questioned but there were fierce debates about applying the spirit of the Nuremberg laws.
  • Representatives from eastern Europe jockeyed for position to have their Jews 'cleared out' before any more were sent east.
  • One of the reasons why shooting was ruled out, and the gas chambers embraced, was because it was demoralizing for the soldiers to shoot women and children.
In the movie commentary, Kenneth Branagh said that the role of Reinhard Heydrik was the most disturbing role he's ever played. Heydrik later became infamous as the "butcher of Prague."

To add to the horror, you learn what happened to all of the Wannsee participants. Many were brought before the Nuremberg tribunal but received small sentences or were released because of lack of evidence.

Wikipedia has a good overview about the conference and participants. It also includes a link to the meeting transcript in English.

There is also a German film, Wannseekonferenz. (In German with English subtitles.) Both Wannseekonferenz and Conspiracy are available at many libraries.

A new twist on playing with food

The Gemueseorchester, Vienna, plays music solely on vegetable-based instruments. Really! Go to their site and you can listen to samples. You can also see their play dates. So far, only in Europe and China. Bonus! You get soup made of the vegetables at the end of the show. I find the music odd and rather annoying but at least they're original.

Thanks to Kim for the tip!

10 January 2006

Der Weg

Each of the past few days I've heard "Der Weg," Herbert Groenemeyer, on FFH (the German radio station I listen to on the Web). It's a gorgeous but sad song. It was new in 2002 and I haven't heard it for months on this station. All of a sudden it's there every day. (You can see the video/listen to the song here.) Something must be going on with the person who plans the play list at FFH.

Last spring I was taking my nieces to the flower show. As usual, we were listening to German music in the car. When this song came on Tori said it sounded like a sad song. I told her it was and explained the song in English. (It was written after Groenemeyer's wife died.) Many hours later Tori turned to me and said, in hear earnest, six-year-old, voice: "I know what would make that man happy again." I asked her what that might be. She said, matter-of-factly, "He should find a new wife." She'd obviously been thinking about this over the hours. She is one of the sweetest kids in the world! I'm blessed to be her aunt!

Nice sentiment for today

You might have received this in an e-mail. Maybe even more than once (if you're nice :). I received this from my cousin today. Maybe it's because I was supercrab yesterday, or maybe I'm feeling sentimental. In either case, I'd like to send it to the Sophzillasphere.

15 Things You Probably Never Knew or Thought About

  1. At least 5 people in this world love you so much they would die for you.
  2. At least 15 people in this world love you in some way.
  3. The only reason anyone would ever hate you is because they want to be just like you.
  4. A smile from you can bring happiness to anyone, even if they don't like you.
  5. Every night, someone thinks about you before they go to sleep.
  6. You mean the world to someone.
  7. If not for you, someone may not be living.
  8. You are special and unique.
  9. Someone that you don't even know exists loves you.
  10. When you make the biggest mistake ever, something good comes from it.
  11. When you think the world has turned its back on you, take a look: you most likely turned your back on the world.
  12. When you think you have no chance of getting what you want, you probably won't get it, but if you believe in yourself, probably, sooner or later, you will get it.
  13. Always remember the compliments you received. Forget about the rude remarks.
  14. Always tell someone how you feel about them; you will feel much better when they know.
  15. If you have a great friend, take the time to let them know that they are great.

Huh?

I was looking for info on the Web as I'm prone to do. Have a question? Check the Web or get a book. And I'm a junkie for anything time management-y. I stumbled across this link: "Personal transformation made easy." I guess there's no end to the lust for quick fixes.

08 January 2006

Idioms/Redewendungen

Last week in German class we worked on idioms (Redewendungen). There were only three of us: a guy from Hong Kong, the teacher (from Germany) and me. It was quite interesting. Our teacher knows some English idioms but not a ton, the other student knows Chinese idioms. I tried to help explain what some of them might be, in English, to the other student. It was quite funny. I'm sure I sounded like a hillbilly in my German. Reminds me of David Sedaris' line in Me Talk Pretty One Day. He's living in France and in his broken French asks the butcher, "Is thems the thoughts of cows?" But hey, at least I try!

Today Christopher, the Hs and I went to Moti Mahal for lunch. Mmmmm... chicken masala, nan. Quite lovely! It's on a funny little corner on Franklin Ave. in what was likely an Ember's at one point. I'd highly recommend it!

20+C+M+B+06

Friday was Heilige Drei Koenige, Epiphany. So at home and at work I broke out the chalk and wrote 20+C+M+B+06 over the door. (At work it had to be on the door since I couldn't reach that high.) I learned about this years ago from my German homestay family. It marks the year, as well as the first initials of the three kings who visited the baby Jesus. Also, CMB are the first letters of the phrase Christ bless this house (in latin, that is).

I got to serve communion in chapel on Friday. It was such a very cool experience. There were many people there that day that I know and care about. And over and over I got to say, "this is Christ's blood, shed for you." The time was so joyful and ethereal. It was incredibly powerful.

05 January 2006

Lazarus

Lazarus is going to bloom! This is Lazarus, the peace lily in my office. A co-worker found him not long ago, tipped over and mostly dead in a conference room. He brought the plant back to me since I have windows. Lazarus has done quite well and now is going to bloom! Good thing it hasn't been too cold this winter. I fondly refer to the space as the Meat Locker.

So much material, only a 1/2 hour show

Yet another reason to watch The Daily Show. Watch this clip of Jon Stewart on Bush's wire tapping.

"They were going to bring balloons!"

America by Jon Stewart and The Daily Show is hilarious. (But mysteriously, nothing about hobos). With chapter titles like "Congress: Quagmire of Freedom," and "The Rest of the World: International House of Horrors," how could you go wrong. The book has lots of graphics and cool stuff. When you listen to the audio CD you get to hear tone of voice and sound effects. Better off with both.

04 January 2006

But we say you're dead

If a bureaucrat thinks your dead, how do you prove that you're not? From Deutsche Welle:

Worried about what had happened to her pension checks, Martha Kruse called up her pension fund. She hadn't received any money in April and May and was starting to have difficulties paying her bills.

But the 82-year-old woman from a small town near Hanover in northern Germany wasn't prepared for the explanation she got.

"Don't get upset, but you died on Jan. 28," an employee at the Bundesknappschaft fund told her, adding that she should send back any checks she had received since then.

Full store here.

02 January 2006

So that's what's been missing in my life

I ran across this ad in my Yahoo account. "Put an end to thin lips. Enhances the volume and shine without the stinging..."

"Have you always wanted:
  • Lips that look and feel full, plump and moist?
  • Lips that hypnotize, mesmerize and make others hang on every word you say?
  • Lips as sensual and sexy as the supermodels and Hollywood starlets?"

Well, yes! That is exactly what has been missing in my life! I find this extremely funny to laugh at. But on the other hand, unless you've had some sort of serious lip injury, why, oh, why would you focus on this?

On the other hand, if you could actually hypnotize, it might come in handy.

01 January 2006

Is it Spam?

I received an e-mail from sender "Bible." Do you think it's SPAM?

FYI -- Sophzilla had a nice, quiet New Year's watching the director's cut of Napoleon Dynamite. Sweet!

What happens to recalled meat?

I found the coolest book at the library. The Explainers, by the writers at Slate, explains all sorts of things you never thought to ask. With regards to the bad meat, according to the book, it's sent back to the factory and then either chucked, burned or "set aside for rendering into nonhuman protein sources -- i.e. dog and livestock food." I feel so much better now. Other things the book explains:
  • What happens to confiscated nail clippers?
  • Is there really such a thing as a water landing?
  • How often do prisoners escape?
  • What if you skip the census?
Uggh, speaking of the census, I just received some forms the other day. It doesn't appear to have a due date but it does clearly state that if you ignore it, you'll end up in the pokey.

How late is it to send Christmas cards?

Again, behind with the Christmas cards. Is it too late now that the year has turned? Or, will people be gladdened by a little holiday cheer? The fun is over and you're looking down the tunnel of a long, dark winter and the next holiday is Jan. 16, if you're lucky.

The photo at left is a icicle on my neighbor's house. Does a homeowner's policy cover death/dismemberment by icicle? It's on the second story so it would get a bit of velocity going by the time it brains you.

St. Martin's Table

Christopher and I had a supremely lovely lunch at St. Martin's Table last week. I don't know that it's possible not to have a lovely lunch there. Everything is homemade and much of it is vegetarian. The bread, oh the bread!

After you eat your yummy soup and or spread on lovely bread, you can browse the great selection of books and art, much of it devoted to themes of spirituality, peace and justice. ("Heaven, I'm in heaven...") They were having a big sale on their icon prints so I bought the Jesus one below, along with one of Martin Luther King, Jr. I find many pictures of Jesus insipid and some are downright creepy. ("Wow, he's whiter than I am. Must have had to use powerful sunblock in the Middle Eastern sun.") I wish they would have had an icon of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He's another favorite. It's his 100th birthday is in February. Be sure to make a German chocolate cake!