31 March 2006

Singing about the mess

Hats off to the Brits. Three of them anyway. In the past few days I've heard two super songs that criticize Bush, Blair and the mess we've made in Iraq.

"I'm with stupid" is from the Pet Shop Boys.

The Pet Shop Boys are to use their new album to attack the Government. Lead singer Neil Tennant regularly donated thousands of pounds to the Labour Party during its first term in office between 1997 and 2001 but he now votes Liberal Democrat.

Tennant and Chris Lowe, the other half of the synth-pop duo whose hits include It's A Sin and West End Girls, went to several party functions hosted by Tony Blair, including the notorious "Cool Britannia" celebration at Number 10 in July 1997.

Now, however, Tennant and Lowe vehemently oppose the Government's plan for ID cards and the "special relationship" between George Bush and Mr Blair.
More here.

A sampling of the spot on lyrics:
See you on the TV
Call you every day
Fly across the ocean
Just to let you get your way
No one understands me
Where I'm coming from
Why would I be with someone
who's obviously so dumb?

What on earth happened to Tony Blair? Did he sustain a head injury? A stroke?

And the lovely Billy Bragg (a national treasure according to The Times) is offering his "Bush War Blues" as a free download.

Sing it brothers!

Suitable accommodations

Today's quiz:

If, when looking for lodgings, you read "near American Legion" in the location description, should you stay there? Yes or no? Discuss. Show your work.

Bad news sandwich

A necessarily cryptic club sandwich poem for a very gray afternoon.

Sometimes when you think things cannot
Busier than they are today
Here are more things for you to do.
I feel like many doors are closed
Feeling my way down the dark hall
Is there a light ahead of me?
Is there evermore waiting?
Patience is already thinning


On Radio FFH there's often an ad for some sort of bike shop. The ad reader yells "Bikemarks," but every time I hear it, I hear "bitemarks."


A work colleague is trying to get more evaluations for a project. She decided to take a humorous tact for her departmental newsletter -- a la the signs you see along the highway entrance/exit ramps. I was happy to mess up my coiffure for such a noble cause.

You don't know everything

EclectChick sent this to me in an e-mail. I decided to post my answers here. I'm sure you're all dying to know more about me. Snort! If the spirit moves you, send me your list!

You don’t know everything about me, do you? For instance, did you know....

Four jobs I have had in my life:
1) Sole employee for hours on end at a DQ-knockoff that got very little business – during high school.
2) Not a job, per se, but a participant in craft fairs – I sold some of my painted items – in the ‘90s.
3) Minder of the underused children’s literature/AV materials desk at the SCSU library during college.
4) Media resources lackey during college. I worked summers for a school district checking in library materials for elementary schools with other sleepy university students on summer break.

Five movies I have watched over and over:
1) A Room with a View
2) Persuasion
3) Pride & Prejudice (Colin Firth edition)
4) This is Spinal Tap/Waiting for Guffman (tie)
5) Office Space

Four places I have lived...
1) Minneapolis, Minn. (birthplace)
2) Shoreview, Minn.
3) Alnwick, Northumberland, England
4) Ingolstadt, Germany (technically the miniscule village of Niederfeld)

Four TV shows on regular network I love to watch:
1) Simpsons
2) My Name is Earl
3) West Wing
4) Law & Order CI (Sunday edition – whatever that is called. It’s not Law & Order traffic court, that I know.)

Four places I have been on vacation:
1) Kandersteg and surrounding area – Bernese Oberland in Switzerland
2) Poros, Greece
3) Maui
4) Cape Town, South Africa

Four web sites I visit daily:
Usually in this order, too.
2) FFH – to listen to Web radio
4) BBC

Four of my favorite foods:
1) Combination plate, Jerusalem’s in Minneapolis
2) Red licorice
3) Strawberries
4) Scrambled eggs – when my brother JoJo makes themM

Four of my favorite drinks:
1) Woodpecker cider
2) Weizen-style beer
3) Diet Dr. Pepper caffeine free
4) Tea/coffee with enough milk to make it dark tan (tie)

Four places I would rather be right now:
1) North of England enjoying the blooming daffodils and lambs prancing.
2) Sleeping on a lounge chair on the beach in Poros.
3) On a boat on the Thunersee/Brienzersee in Switzerland.
4) Enjoying a cup of coffee and watching people somewhere in Germany.
And, because it’s a sleepy kind of day outside today
5) Reading on my couch, at home, with Sophie on my lap.

Happy Birthday Beverly Cleary!

Beverly Cleary's books were my absolute favorites when I was little. I read and re-read books about Ramona and her sister, and about Ralph, the mouse of The Mouse and the Motorcyle. Newsweek has a very nice article about Ms. Cleary which includes this very apt description of her work:

...Kids haven't really changed, and Cleary has a gently comic gift for getting inside their heads; she knows what gives them bubbles of happiness, as well as those universal feelings of injustice, shame or disappointment. Take Ramona Quimby, her most popular creation, who fights with her bossy big sister, Beezus (short for Beatrice), and tries to be grown up but can't help acting her age. "Cleary's books have lasted because she understands her audience," says Pat Pflieger, who teaches children's literature at West Chester University. "She knows they're sometimes confused or frightened by the world around them, and that they feel deeply about things that adults can dismiss."

30 March 2006

Ricky Gervais is brilliant

On the Ricky Gervais site you can see his promo spots from Live 8. He is channeling David Brent. There's something so fabulous about his enthusiastic cluelessness. The second video with John Cleese is also splendid. Classic sycophant.

Red hots in the restroom

The restroom closest to my office now has an automatic air freshener. While this is a welcome addition, it's a bit unnerving to hear it spritz while you're in there. What, exactly, is shooting out of that dispenser? Something noxious? That, and it smells like smashed up red hots. I wonder if the sale of Hot Tamales in the vending machine, right outside the restroom, has gone up?

29 March 2006

Hooray for Peter Gabriel!

Peter Gabriel is getting this year's Frankfurt Music prize. Yay! Info in English (it's a Google translation so take it for what it's worth) and German. He grapples with weird and big questions in his music. And he stands up for human rights. I love that.

About WITNESS, a group he helped found:

WITNESS uses the power of video to open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. By partnering with local organizations around the globe, WITNESS empowers human rights defenders to use video to shine a light on those most affected by human rights violations, and to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools of justice. Over the past decade, WITNESS has partnered with groups in more than 60 countries, bringing often unseen images, untold stories and seldom heard voices to the attention of key decision makers, the media, and the general public -- catalyzing grassroots activism, political engagement, and lasting change.

More ways to love words

The visual thesaurus is the most fabulous thing! It's just what it says -- a visual way to look at similar words and connections between words. I put in "harridan" and the diagram at left is what came back. If you're visual, or just like pictures, it's a huge help when you're looking for just the right word.

Verbal sandwich poetry

Man of La Mancha's new form of poetry -- the verbal sandwich -- is inspiring me this morning. That and the latest contestant in the "Is is SPAM?" game.

The Douglas fa-mi-ly write me
I do not not know these people
friends far away could be fun yes
comes while she is sick and dying
poor dear in the Ivory Coast
yes, here is my other e-mail
primary bank account number.

28 March 2006


This cake has been in this box since yesterday. The box is sitting in the hallway of my office building. Yesterday there was a half cake. Today, as you can see, there is a quarter cake, along with a rubber band. I wonder if people walk by and reach in the box and scoop up a handful of cake. Maybe we should set out some forks and plates.

Surfing for compliments

Some days you just need to be flattered. You need a good gush. If you don't feel like asking for compliments check out the Automatic Flatterer. How did they know all those fabulous things about me? [Blush]


Christopher regularly checks a site called Freecyle. It's a place where you can recycle things rather than throw them out. He passes along some of the weirdest for me to enjoy -- like the crate of assorted jello. Here's another.

Subject: [freecycleTC] Wanted: Unused cat litter
I am in a jamb until the 6th of next month..If you live near or around Merriam Park in Saint Paul and can spair some cat litter..please let me know

27 March 2006

Cabinets are driving me crazy

I hate my kitchen cabinets. They are dark and outdated. I thought I would paint. But wait, that's a ton of work and it sounds like a job I'd hate. Plus, the time! do I really want to spend the hours and hours that it will take? No.

So, I start looking into refacing since the cabinets are structurally fine. So far I've had bids for which my reaction ranged from "Are you drunk?" to "That's a bit of money but not completely unreasonable." I just want them done and looking nice and bright. And, I don't want to spend a ton of money or my own free time. Is that too much to ask? Sometimes homeownership is a drag.

For history buffs

This story from The Onion made me snort with laughter.

Franz Ferdinand Frontman Shot By Gavrilo Princip Bassist
March 17, 2006 | Issue 42 12
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND Lead singer and guitarist for pop band Franz Ferdinand, Alexander Kapranos, is in critical condition today after being shot by a man identified as the bassist for rock group Gavrilo Princip. "We ask fans to cooperate with Interpol to find the assailant, and call upon British Sea Power, Snow Patrol, and The Postal Service for help," drummer Paul Thompson told music magazine NME Monday.


These are just the cutest things! You can grow herbs out of these Egglings. I found them via Daily Candy, a fun trend site. Most of the time it features odd things you would never buy. But once in awhile they hit pay dirt. And I was just thinking that I want to grow basil this summer. Wouldn't a flock of basil eggs be sweet?

I love Mutts

Today's comic:

26 March 2006

Billy Bragg

The first I heard of Billy Bragg was "Between the Wars," on BBC1 in 1985. I hated it. It was so whiney and drove me crazy. Since then he's grown on me. Now I wish I had paid better attention when I saw him at Milton Keynes with U2 and R.E.M.

He was recently on Radio 360 in a great interview. He's such a super lefty. Totaling railing against war and uncontrolled capitalism. You hear "Like Soldiers Do" during the interview. He talks about how the music landscape has changed. As an example he mentioned that the leader of Britain's conservative party revealved in an interview that his favorite album was "The Queen is Dead" by the Smiths. I bet Morrissey had to be resuscitated after he heard that!

24 March 2006

Foreign film buffs!

I heard an ad for this film today: Das Leben der Anderen. (The life of the other.) It looks very suspenseful. I do hope it comes here. Here's my attempt at an explanation. Not so good at the translation thing.

It takes place in 1984, five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. It's a time when the merciless Stasi (East German secret police) controls life and surveils anyone they find remotely suspicious. It's dangerous for everyone -- anyone with anything to hide (or not), the people watching others and the people turning others in for real or perceived misdeeds.

Aaaaah, bubbles

While you can't roll over them with your office chair or wring them out like a towel, this online bubble-wrap-popping game is quite delightful. (The "addictive" version is the most fun.)

23 March 2006

Monkey mind

I spent most of today looking at and working with data in Microsoft Excel. By the end of the day I felt like I'd taken a sharp blow to the skull.

A couple of hours into the data whirl I remembered an interview with Steve Martin on "Fresh Air." In it he talks about the creative mind and the monkey mind. "The monkey mind is really consciousness. It should do the editing. It's the one that's not original, the one that's imitative... and that's just a term for doing the slave work of writing."

Good use of that camera phone

If you live near Lewisham that is.
Initiated in February 2005, Love Lewisham involves residents in keeping the southeast borough of London clean. After installing special software on their cameraphone, observant townspeople can snap a picture of 'offending graffiti' or overflowing litter bins, enter location details, and send it to the local council.
More info here on the Springwise site. Springwise spots new business trends around the world and reports on them. There's a blog as well as a weekly e-letter. Trendspotters rejoice!

22 March 2006

Words, beautiful words

Sometimes I think I should have been a linguist. Today I was listening to the German news and heard that ETA, the Basque separatist group, will declare a cease fire. (More on the story here.) The German word for cease fire is Waffenruhe. Waffen means weapons and Ruhe means quiet. OK, it means the virtually the same thing as cease fire but I find it so much more expressive.

20 March 2006

Cozy pup

Sophie usually likes to imitate the Princess and the Pea -- perching herself on top of all the pillows. Lately she's been enjoying making herself into a sandwich filling.

Is it SPAM?

I'd like to start a new game, "Is it SPAM?" I received this intriguing offer today. I'm pretty sure it's SPAM.
v> Hello friend !
You have just received a postcard from someone who cares about you!

This is a part of the message:
"Hy there! It has been a long time since I haven't heared about you!
I've just found out about this service from Claire, a friend of mine who also told me that..."
If you'd like to see the rest of the message click here to receive your animated postcard!

I disabled the "click here." The only Claire I know is six years old.

Small-town signage

My friend Sheri went to Sauk Centre, Minn., this weekend and captured this priceless signage line-up.

Wisdom from the Simpsons

On last night's Simpsons, the family went to the church fundraiser -- a carnival of sorts. Over the the entrance there was a big banner with the following:
Church fundraiser
This does not count as church

19 March 2006

Fooling self re: spring

There is a massive snow pile in my front yard. It's higher than a car and is sprinkled with dirt. March can be such an ugly time of year.

Here are a few spring/summer diversions from my trip to Switzerland last summer. I'm going to look at these rather than out the window. This spring I'm going to go flower mad around the house.

Blog happy dance

I was thrilled last week when I got my first blog comment in German. I get great comments from my friends but this was one by someone in another country, in another language! The person referred me to a goofy Dutch site that has a wide array of dog accessories -- clothes, beds, etc. I was so happy to see that this neurosis is a worldwide phenomenon.

I checked out the commenter's blog, and this post made me snort -- Rueckgeld of the Beast (change of the Beast). Check out the Rueckgeld (change) line on the receipt. Snort! The lines under the photo say:
Und die ersten Worte der Kundin hinter mir an der Kasse waren: "Einmal hier den Halloween-Kürbis, bitte!" *muhahahahahah*

I believe this says: And the first words of the customers behind me in line were, 'Once here Halloween pumpkin, please.' muhahahaha I'm not sure what the pumpkin statement means either.
It's now 5:30 p.m., Sunday. I have successfully blown off all of my responsibilities today. Woo hoo!

Mutts and Gustav Klimt

I love the Mutts comic. The main characters are a dog and a cat, Earl and Mooch. It's very cute and funny. Not Family Circus funny. It's actually clever. Mooch is obsessed with a little pink sock. He dances it around, sings to it, naps with it. (The cartoon at right is so Sophie. When we come inside I can barely get her leash off before she's up the stairs and into the sunbeam.)

In the book, Sunday Afternoons, there are several classic art pieces redone done Mutts style. I love their take on my favorite painting, Der Kuss, by Gustav Klimt. In it, Woofie, a golden-retriever-type dog is embracing Mooch the cat. Woofie is trying to hold Mooch tight and Mooch is trying to back away. I saw the real Der Kuss in Vienna at the Oesterreichische Galerie in Vienna. Unlike the picture in the link above, the actual painting is big, something like four or five square. The colors are vibrant and the gold in the picture is gold leaf. It practically shimmers. When I first saw it, it took my breath away.

17 March 2006

Some things are funnier on Fridays

FFH, a German radio station I listen to online, has a competition going with a hidden microphone (Das versteckte Mikrofon). If you figure out where it is you win a trip for two to see Robbie Williams in Paris. (I wonder if you can go to Paris and skip the concert?)

It's a hokey contest but this graphic on the home page makes me snort with laughter. Maybe it's Friday. Maybe I'm tired. Maybe I'm easily amused.

Job follies

I have a frenetic job. It's rather varied and I like that. Helps me from getting bored. And believe me, no one wants to see me bored. Crabby, crabby! Here's what I've done so far this morning:
  • Reviewed and edited a couple of news releases.
  • Chatted with a colleague about the process for setting up her program's Web site as well as a market survey to test the idea.
  • Reviewed a database we're using for a news release.
  • Created an event budget (pretty funny considering my math skills -- thank God for Excel and formulas).
  • Looked at the dog of the day. It's painful. Why do people dress up their pets?
  • And lastly, spilled soda on my desk. (On Fridays I start drinking early. A friend once told me that I'm the only person she knows who is addicted to Diet Dr. Pepper).

16 March 2006

Evangelicals, having fun at their expense

We all have fun with them. But how do you know if you're one of them? Take the "How evangelical are you," quiz. It's true snortage! (You think Wal-Mart is... The last time you were in a bar was...)

It's from a new book,
A Field Guide to Evangelicals, which I haven't seen. I really do want to see it, primarily to review the master list of who's going to hell. The book is published by LarkNews. It's like The Onion with all religious news, like "Creepy greeter remembers everything"
SPARTANBURG — When the Wilson family attended Meribel Christian Church for a second time, they expected to fly under the radar. But greeter Alice Meisner shocked them when she welcomed them all by name.

"She said, 'Hi Bruce, Amanda, Nick, Samantha, Ryan and baby Jeremy. How was your trip to Worlds of Fun last week?'" Bruce recalls. "We were stunned. It was like being stalked."
OK, one more. "Hoping to speed Second Coming, some Christians invest in 'anti-christ' companies."
MANCHESTER, Mass. — Laney Thompson believes the Rapture of the church is imminent, and she is so eager to get to her heavenly abode that last week she bought 215 shares of a bio-metrics company, Lazer-I.

"The company is pure evil," she says gleefully while perusing her online trading account. Lazer-I makes equipment which scans fingerprints and eyes, which vendors have begun using in place of credit cards.

Stupid criminals

From The Smoking Gun:

We're not sure what he planned to do with them, but an admitted smuggler recently led Secret Service agents to 250 counterfeit $1 billion notes that had been stained to make it appear they were issued in 1934. The phony bills were seized last week by federal investigators who learned of the bad paper from Tekle Zigetta, who pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal charge of failing to declare $37,000 in currency upon his return to Los Angeles in January from South Korea.

I would have liked to see the expression on the convenience-store clerk when Mr. Zigetta tried to use one of these to buy a soda and some snowballs.

15 March 2006

Need a diversion?

Check out this Web site for a very funny advertisement that stresses the importance of bilingualism (bilinguality?).

Americans tired of the country

I knew the spirit was bad, but according to The Onion, most Americans are beyond "sick and tired." See story here.

New Poll Finds 86 Percent Of Americans Don't Want To Have A Country Anymore

WASHINGTON, DC—A Gallup/Harris Interactive poll released Monday indicates that nearly nine out of 10 Americans are "tired of having a country."

...Of those who were against maintaining an American nation, 77 percent said they believe that having a country is "counter to the best interests of Americans." Twelve percent said "the time and effort citizens spend on the country could be better spent elsewhere," and 8 percent said they just didn't care.

I love tea, or smell and memory the next chapter

This morning I'm enjoying a lovely cup of tea, made just dark tan with a little cream. It has a lovely aroma that sends me back to the British Isles. I love that in the UK you can go to any grocery and buy the generic tea bags and they're delicious -- better than our fancy tea here. (Don't get me started on Lipton's tea. Uggh.)

A while back I was at a conference in Cape Town. At the breaks we had the most delicious tea with milk. It made the whole gathering area smell lovely. I just now sniffed my tea cup and went back to a particular break in a beautiful, modern foyer flooded with sunlight. I think I'll stay in this happy place all day.

14 March 2006

Oh Norm, don't go out on a limb

Norm Coleman really went out on a limb yesterday, calling for President Bush to replace his team. Coleman claims that the president doesn't listen to concerns. No way! From AP via the Pioneer Press:
"All of a sudden we're hearing the phrase 'tin ear,'" Coleman said in a telephone interview. "That's a phrase you shouldn't hear. The fact that you're hearing it says that the kind of political sensitivity, the ear-to-the-ground that you need in the White House, isn't there at the level that it needs to be."
All of a sudden? Since when is this Bush behavior new? It's got to be bad for Bush when his chief lapdog criticizes him.

Excuse me, what Jesus might you be speaking of?

Again I'm reminded that as a Christian, I'm lumped in with a lot of people who don't really demonstrate Christ's teachings (massive understatement). Here's a bumper sticker Christopher recently eyed: "Jesus Loves You. Allah Wants You Dead." Huh?

And from the vitriolic Pat Robertson, (via Yahoo):

NORFOLK, Va. - Television evangelist Pat Robertson said Monday on his live news-and-talk program "The 700 Club" that Islam is not a religion of peace, and that radical Muslims are "satanic."

Is he an Islamic scholar? Has he read the Koran? Why does anyone listen to this uninformed, malicious man?

Note to Mr. Robertson: Are you sure you want the Ten Commandments posted everywhere? The 9th one may prove problematic. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” (i.e. don’t lie).

09 March 2006

A meme about reading.

From this meme site: Booking Through Thursday

1. Do you finish every book you start, no matter how bad it gets?
No! I distinctly remember what caused me to cast aside my inner "must complete" demon. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. I didn't like, or find interesting, any of the characters. The story was depressing and there was no point. It wasn't as bad Madeline is Sleeping though. I wanted to run over that book with my car.

2. Do you ever sneak-read the ending before you finish the book?
Not usually, especially if it's a novel. I like to be surprised by the ending. It would be like knowing what my Christmas presents are.

Good luck hooligans

I love the word hooligan. I was listening to German radio this morning and they were talking about how they'’re getting ready for the World Cup this summer. Specifically, how the police, etc., are getting ready for the soccer hooligans that will be at the games. More on the story at the BBC.

When I was in England there was no end of trouble with soccer hooligans. The police even brought out a hoolie snoop van (I love saying that). It was basically a van/truck thing that would drive around the perimeter of the field and film the spectators. Oh, and there were people who got in trouble because of hoolie behavior and were banned from attending another soccer match. Ever!

Now I have an earworm -- The Smith's song, Sweet and Tender Hooligan.

Hunting for Jesus

I'm not usually at a loss for words. But I am right now. A co-worker just told me that there's a Christian deer hunters Web site. Really! Click here. I like the tagline at the top:  There will be hunters and hunted, winners and losers. Maybe they know a different Jesus. Like Jesus Nugent.

Schadenfreude is good

Sometimes it's fun to giggle at other's misfortunes (Schadenfreude). Especially when that person is Yanni. The latest Smoking Gun highlights his recent arrest on domestic battery charges. You can also see his mug shot and the incident report.

07 March 2006

Who's acting like a Nazi now?

A Colorado teacher was suspended for comparing Bush's state-of-the-union rhetoric to HItler's. Nice to know that students are turning in teachers. Hmm... does that sound Third Reich-ish? From MSNBC:
In Colorado, a high school student decided to teach his teacher a lesson by recording a controvesial portion of the geography teacher's lecture and playing it on a radio station. The teacher says the part of the lecture that gave the lesson context was not played. Still, that teacher has been suspended.
"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
"What good fortune for governments that the people do not think."
--Adolf Hitler

06 March 2006

An Onion a Day Keeps the Crabbies Away

Have the late-winter blahs? Co-workers driving you nuts? Just plain crabby? Check out the Onion's daily audio news clips here.
  • Venom from politicians could provide medical benefits (if the link at the top of the page doesn't work, check out the one farther down the page)
  • Hitman stumbles on a new way to kill
  • Street-smart teen dies in library

Ode to Sophie

Sophie on my lap
Who could be hap, happier
No one more than me

Curled up with a book
And the snoring Soph-i-la
Life is very good

Snaps to EclectChick, who's been inspiring me with her cool haiku and poems.


I'm eagerly awaiting the release of the movie Sophie Scholl here. Who is Sophie Scholl? From Wikipedia:

Sophia Magdalena Scholl (9 May 1921 – 22 February 1943) was a member of the White Rose resistance movement in Nazi Germany. She was convicted of treason and executed by guillotine. Her last words were: "Your heads will fall as well."

Sophie was arrested while distributing the White Rose leaflet at the University of Munich. Her brother was also arrested and executed.

I am so intrigued by Sophie and the White Rose. They were all so young and the Nazis were so strong. How did they have the courage to resist? At the time their actions and their deaths must have seemed to be without purpose -- a few more people executed by a fascist state. On this side of history, however, we still remember.

The movie site is very informative -- in addition to the usual (trailer, where to see it) there is also some great background information about the White Rose and Sophie Scholl. Click here to go to the site. Be sure to watch the intro. The first time I saw it the hair stood up on the back of my neck.

To see the actual White Rose leaflets, click here.

05 March 2006

Hooray for the sweet, smart movie

I watched the movie "Dear Frankie" twice last week. It's one of my new favorites.

The story is about a single Mom and her son. The son wants more contact with his absentee father so his Mom makes up a story that his Dad is a sailor on a boat called Accra. Frankie writes to his Dad and his Mom, unbeknownst to him, answers the letters. This goes along fine until an actual Accra is due to come into the port where they live. The Mom has either tell Frankie the truth or find someone to pose as his Dad for a day.

This is a Scottish movie so you're not in for the usual ride. There are many surprises along the way. It's sweet and funny and touching. You can watch a trailer here. It's out on DVD but don't read much about the movie before you watch it. It's so much better with the surprises.

03 March 2006

Early warning signs

I logged into my Yahoo e-mail this morning and found this ad. I snorted with laughter. I know it's an ad for a TV show but I chose to take it for a anti-psychotic pharmaceutical ad.

02 March 2006

I [heart symbol] cookbooks

I'm not sure where to start with this book. Jeannie, one of the classiest people you'd ever meet, gave it to me. First off, the book is just plain gorgeous. It's split into seasons and contains beautiful photographs as well as narratives on fruits and veg. You just want to sit down and, pardon the pun, devour the book.

There are recipes for things I would never think to make -- saute of white asparagus, morels and ramps over polenta. (What on earth is a ramp? Turns out it's a wild leek. Mmm...) But the recipes are easy to follow, and contain manageable numbers of ingredients. It's all so civilized. Some recipes are amazingly un-heart healthy, like the potato-bacon gratin. (Olive oil and cream in addition to the bacon. Not that it wouldn't be tasty!) But others are, including a beautiful yellow tomato gazpacho. There are also some just plain funny things like guinness ice cream and lima bean salad (yech). I feel experiments in the kitchen coming on.

So ashamed...

Just saw this on Reuters. For the love of Pete people! All you have to do is pay a little attention!

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Most Americans have an easier time naming members of the cartoon Simpson family than listing the five freedoms granted by the nation's founders, a survey by a museum released on Wednesday said.

Here's a hint: one of them is not the right to own and raise pets, an error committed by one in five respondents.

I'm no constitutional scholar but I do know that the constitution doesn't give you the right to have a driver's license or own pets. Sheesh! Here are the real rights granted by the first amendment to the constitution:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the press (See that Bush! That isn'’t in the constitution however.)
  • Right of peaceful assembly
  • Right of petition
  • Freedom of religion -- right to free exercise of religion and prohibition against establishing a state religion (Again, Mr. Bush, pay attention!)
For a refresher course, see Wikipedia.

Ash Wednesday

I was at church last night for Ash Wednesday (Ascher Mittwoch). As in years past, we got ashes on our foreheads. I've always heard this described as a death to self. I've never been into the 'Jesus suffered so I must too' way of thinking. (It's a bit like how some pushed seeing The Passion of the Christ. 'Why shouldn't you be able to sit through this horribly violent movie? Jesus died for you. It's the least you can do.' I don't get that.) But last night the 'death to self' finally started making sense.

My pastor, an awesome preacher, talked about the danger of Lent. It's a time of introspection but he warned against focusing only on ourselves. Rather, it's a time to reflect on what is at the center of our lives. If it is God, rather than our selves, it restores us to right relationships with ourselves and others. It sends us out to serve in the world God loves, not into our isolated Christian enclaves. This explanation of 'death to self'' makes sense to me. Death to self absorption and placing my self, my needs and my wants above others'.

This reminds reminds me of something from a world religions class. One of the tenets of Hinduism (I think, or Buddhism -- my apologies to Hindus and Buddhists if I get this wrong) is that the closer you get to the divine, the closer you get to other people. That is, the things that separate us from one another seem less important.

It's amazing what you can learn about your own faith by studying another. I know some people who are leery are about learning about other faiths -- as if other religions are spreadable diseases. Just because you don't all believe the same thing, doesn't mean that you can't work together to make the world a better place. For example, true Christianity and Islam are peaceful religions. Not like you'd know it these days. Fundamentalism is so often the loudest, as well as meanest, voice.

01 March 2006

A surprise from Saddam Hussein

After weeks of misbehavior in court, Saddam Hussein surprised everyone today by taking responsibility. From the BBC today:
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has told his trial in Baghdad that he alone should be made to answer for the actions of his regime.At the end of a second straight day of prosecution evidence, he said the court should not be trying anyone else - a reference to his seven co-defendants.

Earlier, he admitted razing the farms of those convicted of trying to kill him in the town of Dujail in 1982Â…

Having listened to the documents and testimonies - many of which implicated his fellow defendants in the killings of 148 Shia Muslims from Dujail - he told the court it should be trying him alone.

But he insisted that he had done nothing wrong, as those who were executed had been found guilty of trying to assassinate him.

He still doesn't fail to surprise. I wonder what brought about this turn of events? I was beginning to think that his trial would never finish up, what with all the grandstading. It's been interesting to watch. I feel for the judge. How do you keep control of the courtroom if the defendants don't acknowledge that you have any power of them?