27 February 2006

More than you want to know?

I was googling a restaurant I learned about from a colleague, El Meson. I hear their paella is yum. And who couldn't go for good paella? In addition to the info on Citysearch, I happened on this rating of the restaurants' bathrooms on Restroom Ratings.

Finally, Schnappi! (Endlich Schnappi!)

Finally, FFH played my favorite song from last year's Fasching -- Schnappi. It's the cutest thing in the world. You can see the video here. On the right side of the screen, you'll see two boxes. One has "Sehen" at the top. Click on the picture. The song is about a little crocodile, Schnappi. He's sweet and a bit cheeky. Schnappi is a play on the word schnappen which means to snap.

Here's how it starts. My translation isn't the best but you get the idea.
I am Schnappi, the little crocodile. I come from Egypt, that lies on the Nile. At first I was in an egg, then I snap, snap, snapped myself free.

Ich bin Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil. Komm aus Ägypten, das liegt direkt am Nil. Zuerst lag ich in einem Ei, dann schni-, schna-, schnappte ich mich frei.

Blood on the ice (Schuetze die Seehunde vor!)

Canada is about to begin the seal hunt season next month. How could you club this face? It's cruel and wrong. This isn't just my animal-loving heart being naive in light of overpopulation. That's not why there's a hunt. Read on.
Last year, The Humane Society of the United States documented the carnage firsthand and what they saw was shocking: Most of these baby seals were cut open while they were conscious and still struggling...

By the end of the hunt, it's predicted that more than 300,000 seals will be clubbed or shot to death by Canadian fishermen seeking to pick up a few extra dollars by selling their fur.
Last year, 98.5 of the seals killed were two months old or younger. Sign the petition against the seal hunt and contact the Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, here.

Schuetze die Seehunde vor!

Was ist passiert?

What's happening -- with my hair? I do sound like a EclectChick redux, but I digress. In the morning I fix my hair -- spikey but not too crazy. I don't want to look like someone who hits, or a just plain crazy person. I leave the house and it's fine. By mid morning all of my hair has flattened down except one rooster-like spot in the middle of the top of my skull. It looks like some sort of hair art.

24 February 2006

Was ist heute Abend auf der Fahrbahn?

There's a lot going on on the highway this evening. There are:
  • Steinwerfer auf einer Bruecke (people throwing stones off a bridge -- are there Americans in town?)
  • Personen zum Fuss (not just people, but people walking)
  • Eine grosse Plane (a large tarp)
I am sure that as Fasching heats up there will be more interesting things auf der Fahrbahn.

23 February 2006

Oh to be in Germany now that Fasching is here

Radio FFH has started the party music. Fasching is in full swing!

Oh to be in Germany for Fasching... I've only been once. I went as a Flapper and had a very cool black dress, sleeveless, with beads on it. The Fasching ball I was to was a big city costume party. Then there was the party to bury Fasching on Shrove Tuesday. As a rather studious, serious student it was quite a shock. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Torture's OK you say?

From the BBC today:

A Chinese man jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests has been released from jail but is severely mentally ill, his family has said.
Yu Dongyue was sentenced to 20 years in jail for throwing paint at a portrait of China's former leader Mao Zedong.

He was freed on Wednesday, after 17 years in prison, but family members said he did not recognise them and spoke unintelligibly.

Human rights groups have alleged Yu was tortured by guards in prison.

Do you think 17 years in a Chinese prison has anything to do with his mental illness? But wait, I'm sure it was in the interest of national security.

There is no excuse for destroying another human being. And that's what torture does. Back in the '80s I wrote letters to people like Augusto Pinochet, P.W. Botha and General Jaruzelski who, in the name of national security, imprisoned, tortured and killed their own citizens.
Full of righteous indignation that the U.S., whatever else we did, at least didn't torture. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would, 20 years later, need to write such letters to a U.S. president. It is utterly shameful.

See this week's New Yorker, "The Memo: How an internal effort to ban the abuse and torture of detainees was thwarted."

That's sure to work...

Oh South Dakota, what are you doing? South Dakota is on its way to banning abortion except to save the life of the mother. (Read here.)

Do I think abortion is a great idea? Generally, no. Do I think it should be illegal? Absolutely not. Will making abortion illegal solve the underlying problem -- unwanted pregnancies? No. But, it's so much easier to ban abortions than to address the underlying problem. And you can stand up and look all moral and mighty! And, the other way is so much work.

This is so typical for fundamentalists -- of any stripe. Fundamentalists operate from the position that they are always right. Period. If you don't believe the same things, we'll you're just wrong. Or evil. If that doesn't make your blood boil, how about the way they want to dominate women -- reproductively and otherwise? The far right. Our very own Taliban.

21 February 2006

Brain candy

I do not enjoy lying around with a cold. Staying awake for only a couple of hours at a time is highly annoying. One plus, however, to all that loafing is catching up with The New Yorker. Total brain candy! Here are some great reads from the last two editions:
  • Malcolm Gladwell's excellent story on profiling and why it's a problem. One of the examples he uses is Pitbulls -- who don't, in fact, make up most of the dog bite incidents in the U.S. Read it here.
  • A very spooky story about Bush's speechwriter, Michael Gerson. It's in the Feb. 13-20 edition; unfortunately not online. Contains info like this: "Gerson told me that Bush finds no policy prescriptions in Christianity, but he believes that God's desires helped to shape the ideas at the core of the second Inaugural." Huh? Definitely worth a trip to the library.
  • The hilarious "Very Bad People," a take on the Bush phone taping. Online, yay!
  • Malcolm Gladwell's excellent piece on solving tough homelessness cases, "Million-Dollar Murray."
  • A wonderful assortment of cartoons including one showing a church with a large sign outside that says, "God's wrath level" and a little placard below that that says, "high."

More Savannah

More of beautiful Savannah and Tybee Island.

20 February 2006

Home Sweet Home

I am at home and so is Sophie. Yay! I love to travel but coming home is quite nice. I'm glad to have a day to regroup since I now have a terrible cold. Sleep 10 hours, up for two... Thank you fellow passengers, full of disease.

When you schedule your next plane trip, avoid US Airways at all costs. Unless you are extremely short, enjoy kiddie-sized planes and like leaving and arriving late. There is no legroom -- and I'm short! Once my carry-on was under the seat in front of me, there was no way I could fish it out until we reached our destination. On Saturday afternoon we arrived in Charlotte, late, and there wasn't a ramp to go from the plane to the walkway so we had to wait while someone fetched one. On Saturday night, they put too much fuel in the plane so we had to wait while some was taken out. It took forever! I expected to see one guy, a little hose and a cup at the side of the plane. Really, it was like monkeys were running the show. But, with monkeys you'd at least have more fun watching the foibles.

More good stuff from Joel

A new post on the Rather Good Web site. To see the song and video, "My Cat's Got Knees," click here. That Joel, he's a nutter. I wish I lived in his neighborhood. The video takes a bit to load even on DSL but is well worth it. Worth it that is, if you delight in the silly and aren't completely joyless.

18 February 2006

Visual blog representation

Christopher sent this graphic to me. It's wordpicture representation about Sophzilla, I think. I really like it.

I'm sitting in Charlotte. There's a piano player in the main store/eating area of the airport. It's kind of nice. Covers up all the prattling. (Sometimes I'm so mean.) He's very, very good! It does sound like he has a metronome going but I'm pretty sure that it's just his foot tapping. He's playing a lot of gospel tunes but in a jazzier, hipper way than I ever heard in church. (Scandinavian Lutherans do tend to suck the life out of things.)

Along the corridor there are a bunch of rocking chairs. So far I haven't snagged an open one. What a lovely way to wait!

Back to the artic

I’m sitting in Savannah waiting for my flight. I’m so tired. I want to put my head down but I’m afraid I’d sleep through the flight announcements.

It’s been a fun few days. Thursday afternoon CloEve and I went to the beach and walked barefoot. The ocean water was really cold but not nearly as cold as the air temperature in Minnesota. Our Webzilla presentation went really well. Our boss was really pleased as were the attendees. It's pretty fun to be leading the Web pack in our little industry. It was also a relief to have that done.

Just had a bit of a panic. I couldn’t find my iPod. No big deal on the short flight to Charlotte but I’d likely lose my mind without it on the way to Minneapolis. I surprisingly remembered that I put it in my jacket pocket when I was getting off a plane a few days ago. Sing to me Eros and Herbert!

I’ve been really spacey since I arrived here. I’m usually so organized, know what happens when and where, etc. It was getting close to the line from the movie “Office Space” – I’m not lazy; I just don’t care. Then my watch battery died. I usually have good navigation as well. But something about all the squares in Savannah had me so confused. “Where are we?” “Which way is the hotel?” “I have no idea.” The trip out to Tybee Island was nuts. It took about 1.5 hours because we kept getting lost. It’s supposed to be a straight shot, about 15-20 minutes. Well, we kept getting dumped off the highway. “How did we get onto a city street again? We didn’t turn.”

Left -- My very pasty, unpedicured foot in new Birkenstocks on the beach.

Below --
A shell with a living thing inside.

Lighthouse on Tybee Island.

Beautiful Savannah

While it doesn't hurt that the temperature is over 30 degrees Fahrenheit, Savannah is truly lovely. I love the architecture, the trees and the spooky Spanish moss. I don't think I could stand the humid summers, nor could Sophzilla (that little, smashy nose does not a happy dog make in heat and humidity). It's a great walking city. And as much as they confused my internal compass, the squares are lovely places to walk through or to sit and ponder in.

These photos are in and around Forsyth Park. I love the grill work and growing things on the house at left. I love the house on the right, dormer windows, topiary by the front door. It looks so cozy. I think the guy in the fountain looks kind of bossy with his hand on his hip.

15 February 2006

In transit

I'm in Charlotte waiting for a really good page. I'm hoping that here, south of the Mason Dixon line, I will have the same luck as I did in Memphis where I heard these two pages:
  • Would the person who left the bucket of blueberries on the flight from Nashville please return to the airline counter and pick them up?
  • Would the person who left a frog hat at the United Airline ticket counter please come and pick it up.
I don't remember the exact details -- which airline, flight, etc., but I swear, I heard those pages.

This morning I saw a stuffed animal atop a bin of things to be scanned at security. It was so cute just laying there. At the gate I made faces at a toddler. He'd pop from behind his Mom's legs, smile and then hide again.

14 February 2006

What's in your luggage?

"(AP) Airport baggage screeners found a human head with teeth, hair and skin in the luggage of a woman who said she intended to ward off evil spirits with it, authorities said Friday.

Myrlene Severe, 30, a Haitian-born permanent U.S. resident, was charged Friday with smuggling a human head into the U.S. without proper documentation."

There is proper documentation for bringing a human head into the U.S.? Full story here.

A new blogger

My friend Sheri started a blog: http://mindfulexpress.blogspot.com/ She's a great writer! You'll enjoy her musings about this and that. The only drawback is that she doesn't have a beautiful mascot a la Sophzilla.

13 February 2006

My new favorite song

My new favorite song is Dove C'e Musica by Eros Ramazotti (from the album of the same name). I don’t know if it’s the beat, the string-like instruments in the background and or how seems to pour his heart into in the song. The beat does remind me of another favorite, Over My Shoulder by Mike & the Mechanics. I don’t know what he’s singing about. I know no Italian. I put the song title in a couple of free online translators and this is the best I got: Where There and Music. Helpful, no?

Funny. I loved this singer when I lived in Germany. Then I didn’t hear him again until I started listening to German radio on the Web about a year and a half ago. There he was again! I ordered up some CDs and have been re-hooked every since. (Life is so much easier in this Web era!) When I enjoyed his singing back in the ‘80s I had no idea how completely beautiful he is.

If you want to sample Dove C’e Musica, you can check it on Amazon. (Scroll down to the CD track listing.)

Shakespeare and Scrimshaw!

Two of my favorites -- the Scrimshaws and a Shakespeare comedy! The Twelfth Night is especially good. If you're in the Twin Cities on one of these dates, I think it would be worth the trip!
See Joshua Scrimshaw shtick it up as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in...
TWELFTH NIGHT by William Shakespeare, Directed by David Mann
1960's Cape Cod is the setting for this production of Shakespeare's dark, witty comedy of romantic confusion. The drunken Toby Belch torments Malvolio while cross-dressing Viola finds herself caught in a love triangle. Twelfth Night's tale of madness, love and mistaken identities makes for a charming evening, rich with Shakespeare's poetry and prose, and featuring some of his finest low comedy.
Weekends beginning Feb. 17 at the Theater in the Round - 245 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis. Info on dates, times and ticket prices here.

11 February 2006

Pledge week

Uggh. It's pledge week on my local public radio station. I usually tune out the yapping asking people to join. (I'm already a member.) Unfortunately, they have the most annoying person in the universe as one of the yappers today -- Valerie. Her voice is annoying, she ranges from moderately to extremely bossy, and she's loud. I've seen her on public TV pledge week as well. What is it with this person? Is she some kind of fundraising professional? Does it actually work to have her on the shows? Maybe I'm the only one who yells "AAAaaaaack! Valerie" and lunges toward the radio when she comes on.

08 February 2006

A fright & gratitude

Tonight I was coming home from work and about a block from my house there was a police car blocking the street. I asked, stupidly, if I could go through since I live down the street. He said no. He said there was a house fire on, and he named my street. My hand flew to my mouth and my heart stopped. Sophie! She's at home in the house! I asked which house and the house number wasn't mine. I was able to park my car there and walk the block or so to my house. I still didn't quite believe it wasn't my house until I was able to see it with my own eyes. The housefire, then out, was kiddie corner across the street. (I don't think anyone was at home.)

It's quite light and flashy in the nieghborhood tonight. There are three fire trucks, one ladder truck, several other fire vehicles and some police cars lining the street. Two fire department SUVs are in my driveway. Firefighters are up on the big ladder now with big lights inspecting the house. It loooks like they're taking measurements and pulling things off the house. I'm sure there are all sorts of things to do to a burn site to figure out what caused the fire, etc. The Red Cross people are out there too.

As I walked up to my house, past all of the fire trucks, I felt really proud. Both of my brothers are firefighters and EMTs. They do this kind of stuff all the time. I don't like to think about it. I refuse to watch any programs or movies that have any element of firefighting. I make myself forget about how scary and dangerous their jobs are. Thank God for them and the others like them.

06 February 2006

Bono rocks!

Read or listen to Bono's remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast last week:

USA Today


I like how he holds our feet to the fire. “If this is who you say you are…” He’s so not preachy and nasty religiousy! Shine a light and get your hands dirty, man!

05 February 2006

Spoke in the Wheel

The Bonhoeffer documentary is simply fabulous. Thought provoking, inspiring and heartbreaking. It's on tomorrow night on most PBS stations.

In Krista Tippett's interview with Martin Doblmeier, he does such a nice job of summing up a complex and accomplished person. The interview is fascinating, whether or not you know Bonhoeffer. To hear, click here.

I love how Bonhoeffer approaches Christianity. For him, Christianity is hollow unless it takes into consideration and fights for the oppressed. I've come to find his work even more compelling and provoking in this era when we're dominated by those obsessed with imposing their moral code on the world yet don't flinch when critical programs for the poor are slashed. This is complete cognitive dissonance, completely opposite to the biblical Christ which Bonhoeffer writes about so well.

If you watch the Bonhoeffer documentary, you will be unnerved by the similarities between how the Nazis use Christian rhetoric to justify their policies and how the current administration speaks of God, good and evil. It is simply chilling.

The film honors Bonhoeffer's witness but doesn't paint him as perfect. It also shows how his work continues to impact. For example, Bonhoeffer was a very important model for the churches in South Africa during apartheid.

"The church is the church only when it exists for others ... The church must share in the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men [sic] of every calling what it means to live in Christ, to exist for others." (Letters and Papers from Prison, italics are mine)

"I discovered later, and I'm still discovering right up to this moment, that it is only by living completely in this world that one learns to have faith ... living unreservedly in life's duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God..." (Letters and Papers from Prison)

"Peace is the great adventure. It has to be dared." (Bonhoeffer at Fano)

04 February 2006

Cheng Heng -- yum!

I tried a new-to-me place on Friday, Cheng Heng. It's a Cambodian restaurant on University Ave. in St. Paul (near the capitol). It's a family run place with friendly waitstaff and a great menu -- the descriptions are good and there are photographs. This is very helpful if, like me, Cambodian is a new food genre. The food is a bit like Thai. The place was bustling at lunch time. I look forward to returning!

03 February 2006

Bring your dog to work--yippee!

In a recent online survey, most people said they'd agree to work or or be paid less if they could bring their dog to work. When will this trend come to the Midwest? Please, oh please! Who wouldn't love this beautiful face in their place of work?

02 February 2006

Finland, Finland, Finland...

I'm really liking this band, The Rasmus. Particularly their single, "Sail Away." The song name may sound like a nasty flashback to Christopher Cross but I assure you it's not!

I like their use of what sounds like strings as well as the lead singer's, Lauri Ylonen's, passionate voice. To hear/see the video go here, then click on media at the top of the page, then video towards the bottom of the page. The singer's hair is something to see! They're Finnish but sing in English.

Dog watch

I found this watch in Switzerland. It has little dogs on it so of course I wanted it. It was on the children's rack. I asked the salesperson, in German, if she would open the case so I could try it. She looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "Fuer Sie?" "For you?" I stumbled a little and said that mmm... ya... for my niece. Once I tried it on I knew I would get it and keep it. Selfish? Guilty as charged. Besides, I can order her one online.

01 February 2006

Bonhoeffer on PBS -- standing up to evil

"A touching narrative on the nature of faith ... powerful and shocking." -- The New York Times

Bonhoeffer, a documentary by Martin Doblmeier will be on PBS on Feb. 6 at 9 p.m. (CST). If you are intrigued about how ordinary people stand up to evil powers, you will love this film. Whether or not your a Christian, you will be inspired by his witness and courage and mourn his short life.

On Feb. 4, have a big piece of German chocolate cake and toast Dietrich Bonhoeffer on his 100th birthday.

The filmmaker is also featured on Speaking of Faith on NPR.

To read more about Bonhoeffer, check out the Int'l Bonhoeffer Society's Web site.

What's in the Kuehlschrank (fridge)?

A work colleague told me about Virtual Anthropology, an interesting and fun site about trends. Now I can try to stay on top of what's going on in the world outside our cloister. (OK, it's not a cloister but it can be rather sheltered.)

Now on the front page -- what's in your fridge? I thought that was an interesting idea so here's my fridge. As you can see at right, I am the queen of condiments. Note, the Alpo in a can and Iams gravy squeezy jar are Sophzilla's. (When spell check spots Sophzilla, it suggests Sophocles.)

On another note, there is a Fahrradfahrer (bicyclist) on the Fahrbahn today.