29 May 2006

Swelter, swelter

Third day in a row of temperatures in the 90s and humid. Good times, good times. Today I finally got a few flowers in on the front steps and deck. I'm hoping that the storm we're supposed to get tonight doesn't wreck them. They are at that shriveled-up infant stage. A little in shock. In a couple of days they'll look smashing.

I'm being more adventurous mixing plants this year. I adored all of the flower boxes and plantings in Switzerland last year. It might not be Switzerland here but I'm going to give it my best shot in the pot and box realms.

Last year, due to the Switzerland trip in mid June, I didn't put out any plants in May -- they'd die while I was away. By the time I returned just about everything at the greenhouse was looking really haggard and leggy. I'm going to make up for that lost year this summer.

Here's Sophie at the front door, listening to the thunder and waiting for me to come inside.

Take out your aggression here!

This is shameless advertising but it's fun! You can smash the ice wall or watch a guy run into it. Both are fun. Not sure how it sells Pepsi but I could watch that guy run into the ice wall over and over and over. Play the game here. (If you don't have high-speed Internet service this will be nothing but aggravation.)

24 May 2006

Dogs have it good in the UK

Saw this story in Reuters this morning. I can hear the comments now. The rants about the lousy state of food in the UK. (I heard a Brit comedian once refer to the "food sinkhole that is Britain.") Eel pie is disgusting, but consider some of the American midwestern delights: fish soaked in lye, blood sausage, jello, and those cauldrons of booya at local fire stations:
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is living up to its reputation as a nation of dog lovers with many owners feeding their four-legged friends healthier and tastier meals than they serve up for themselves, a survey published Wednesday said.

A study of 1,337 British dog owners found that 18 percent fed their pampered pet pooches a better diet than their own, giving them fresh dishes instead of tinned food.

Consequently 21 percent of dogs enjoyed cheese, 15 percent were given fish and 9 percent chomped on vegetables. More.

Sophzilla gets a very boring diet of potato/venison dog food with a little canned dog food mixed in as "gravy." I'm not swapping plates with her any time soon.

23 May 2006

What a lovely way to spend an evening

Last night some friends and I went to a benefit for Reuben Lindh Family Services. What a great evening! There were so many fun people there, I managed to leave the silent auction without having to sell my shoes and the concert was fabulous!

Reuben Lindh is a Minneapolis organization that helps families together, honors their cultural contexts and helps many developmentally delayed children using music therapy. Trip Shakespeare played "Toolmaster of Brainerd," which is such a funny, catchy tune (" He came to town on a charter bus; Too young and sweet to be hustling us; He played guitar like a natural disaster; Play on, Toolmaster of Brainerd).

The benefit CD, "Down By the Riverside," a fun and hip take on children's songs, has some of the artists who were on last night -- members of Semisonic, Mason Jennings, Dana Thompson, Dan Wilson. I bought it for a certain someone's birthday this summer. I'm very tempted to open it and listen before then. Check it out here.

22 May 2006

Joseph Goebbels on PBS

Tonight on PBS' American Experience its The Man Behind Hitler: Joseph Goebbels. Watch a video clip here.
American Experience presents The Man Behind Hitler, a portrait of Joseph Goebbels, delivered in words taken directly from the diaries he kept from 1924, when he joined the Nazi party, until his suicide in 1945, read by actor Kenneth Branagh. Featuring never-before-seen footage, this 90-minute documentary from filmmakers Lutz Hachmeister and Michael Kloft offers an insider's view of the rise of the Nazi party.
Late last year I read a quote from Peter Drucker. He said that to keep his mind growing he chooses a topic every three years and completely dives into it. I decided to do the same. I haven't yet decided, however, whether I'll switch to another topic after this year. I'll have to wait and see.

So, what's my topic this year? Nazis. I'm completely horrifyingly fascinated by their rise to and consolidation of power. Even though I will never understand their mindset, I keep asking the questions.

19 May 2006

Simple Minds (no, not the president)

I am an anglophile about most things, including music. I was in heaven in the 1980s. Some of those bands are, thankfully, still around -- which brings me to Simple Minds. I really liked their music when they hit the States and then totally was totally smitten after I saw them perform at the Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela concert on MTV (Mandela was still in prison at the time).

"Home" has that great Simple Minds sound. It's hypnotic and seems to move throughout your arms and legs. Oh, and Jim Kerr's great voice. I love how he feels the music as he sings. You can see the video, or just listen to the song here.

And the lyrics? Very good. I'm a sucker for well-written, meaningful lyrics -- not the "baby, baby, get in the car" kind. The beginning lyrics to Home:

God gave me travelling shoes,
God gave me the wanderer’s eye,
God gave me a few gold coins
to help me to the other side.
Looked around and said:
“be careful how the small things grow”.
God gave me travelling shoes
and I knew that it was time to go.

Sent in the ship at night
to take me to the hidden port.
Found me the key at last
to open up the prison doors.
Brought down the blackbird’s wings,
gifted me with beggar’s eyes.
Sent in the jackals
to tell me I should say bye, bye, bye.
I’m home, home, home, home, home.
And I’m home, home, home, home, home.
But I’m miles, miles, miles, miles and miles away.
Where can I hide?

18 May 2006

Not together

Words that do not go together:
  • tasty and brussels sprouts
  • enjoy and banjo
  • edifying and shopping mall
  • "smell this" and a good smell

15 May 2006

Gone but not forgotten

I've been out of the office for a couple of days. My very funny co-workers apparently do think of me when I'm out of the office -- that is, when there's something weird in the vending machine.

We've never had the baseballs. The only other snowball-variety item was the one package of Lucky Puffs last year around St. Patrick's Day. There's got to be a formula for how our vending guy stocks the machine. I will crack the code!

11 May 2006

Found grocery lists

This site it oddly fascinating: The Grocery List Collection. It is exactly what it says, a collection of found grocery lists. It's like a large sociological exhibit.

My grocery lists are usually an odd mixture of German and English in bad penmanship ("What is this about toes?"). As one, who shall remain nameless, told me long ago, "You write like a pig. Like a pig has a pen in its cloven hoof." That still makes me laugh out loud.

Finally, I can get a legal tattoo in Oklahoma

From Yahoo:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma became the last state to make tattoos legal when the governor signed legislation Wednesday to license and regulate tattoo artists and parlors.

The measure ends a ban on tattooing that had been in effect since 1963. The new law takes effect Nov. 1.
I'd hate to think what an unlicensed tattoo place would look like. Do they give you a month's worth of penicillin with every tattoo?

Bonehead of the Day Award

There is a certain sweet delight in laughing at the foibles of criminals and the incompetent. If you have this itch, the Bonehead of the Day Award will scratch it. The number of awards varies each day but the stories don't disappoint. For example:

He Told You So

A California man who was in violation of his parole was caught when several "alarmed" residents called in to report that a man wearing a windbreaker with big bright yellow letters reading "CDC prisoner" was standing around a street corner, according to police who say he was also charged with stealing the prison-issued windbreaker as well as unlawful possession of a can of mace.

"It sounds like he just started off all the way wrong," said San Bernardino parole Officer John Snedden. "Best you can do is just take him back and start him all over again."

Arizona Central 28-Apr-06

President's Plans Trashed By The White House

The secret White House staff schedule for President Bush's Florida trip on Tuesday was found in the trash by a sanitation worker.

"There on the floor next to a big trash truck was a thick sheaf of papers with nearly every detail of the President's voyage."

"I saw locations and names and places where the President was going to be. I knew it was important. And it shouldn't have been in a trash hole like this," Randy Hopkins, the sanitation worker, said.

WUSA (Washington, DC) 9-May-06

Spot on

Today's note from the universe is spot on. Hope it is for you, too.

Odd, isn't it, how folks will look back to great milestones in their life - to when they met someone, fortuitously changed careers, or were somehow found to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time - and consider such incidents turning points?

Because actually the real turning points in any life always occur well before such manifestations, in the moments when they finally began thinking, speaking and behaving like never before.

Hey, it works -

The Universe

Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!


Then, the inevitable serendipitous that will follow - chance encounters, thrilling work and breakfast in bed - are just a matter of us (in the unseen) rearranging the "furniture" of their lives, (Yeah, talk about the right place at the right time... More syrup?)

10 May 2006

Spycam, working again!

I had to unload and reload the software. Very clunky but now I can share photos like this one of my newly pedicured foot upon my desk. It really looks like I work for National Geographic, doesn't it. (I usually don't have my foot on my desk but since the spycam has no flash, I needed a light source.)

Finger sausage

I was eating dinner tonight and realized that the remaining bit of sausage looked a lot like a human finger, with fingernail. It made me laugh out loud. It wasn't a finger. I wouldn't have laughed at that. Rather, it was a quite tasty thing and I believe the nail-like part was either apple or gouda. It was, after all, a Sweet Apple Gouda sausage from Aldi. The same Aldi where I found the lovely Bavarian specialties on Sunday. The white sausage was so lovely. With a bit of spaetzle, pure lunch bliss.

Back to the finger. My finger. My bruise is still there and appears to be growing. It is now dark purple. I had a pedicure yesterday. I should have asked them to paint all the nails to match.

Bacon (Speck)

I while back I was at dinner and my date asked, "How do you feel about bacon?" I have honestly never been asked this question before. That question stayed in my mind longer than he did.

Maybe because of that sillily intriguing question I noticed a link to iheartbacon.blogspot.com. Who can read that there is an I Love Bacon site and not follow the link? On it the author outlines the bacon ranking system he/she developed. It includes: pork flavor, sugar, salt, smoke, fat and texture. I find this incredibly funny.

09 May 2006

How machiavellian are you?

How closely do you follow the ideas of the 16th century Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli? Take the Machiavelli Personality Test. "High Machs constitute a distinct type: charming, confident and glib,Jeeves and Wooster but also arrogant, calculating and cynical, prone to manipulate and exploit." Reminds me of the line from the Monty Python song, "Henry Kissinger."
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
You're the doctor of my dreams
With your crinkly hair and your glassy stare
And your machiavellian schemes
I know they say that you are very vain
And short and fat and pushy but at least you're not insane
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
And wishing you were here
It is one of my favorite songs from "Monty Python Sings." Highly singable. To hear a clip, click here and scroll down to the song. The whole ambience is very Jeeves and Wooster.


Poor Sophie. She just isn't enjoying the rainy weather. I love a nice, gentle thunder storm, especially in the evening. I love to listen to and smell the rain. Sophie does not. Right now she's sitting on my lap, panting and shaking. I keep thinking I'll have to put her little head in a bag so she doesn't hyperventilate. I don't think it would help to plug her ears. She starts to get nervous and fidgety even before it starts to thunder. Treats can't even distract her! My poor little barometer.

08 May 2006

A bad case of Schadenfreude

Oh, the poor beleagured president. He never catches a break. [Said with a really snarky tone of voice.] George W. Bush's approval rating has dropped to 31 percent according to a USA Today/Gallup poll.

I have a very serious case of Schadenfreude (malicious joy). It couldn't have happened to a more deserving person. (Norm Coleman is a close second.) More info at USA Today.

I'm hoping it will fall again after news of the latest Bush nominee sinks in. Bush nominated Air Force General Hayden as the new head of the CIA. I don't know that his choice is unconstitutional, but there is a reason to keep the military, police and spies separate. Unless, of course, you are General Pinochet.

05 May 2006

Stephen Colbert skewers the president

Stephen Colbert skewered George Bush, and many others, at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner. I bet Bush didn't get it.

The man is brilliant -- Colbert, not Bush (as if you had any doubt). Take a look on C-SPAN. I bet he doesn't get an invite next year.

  • "The greatest thing about this man is that he's steady. You know what he believes in. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he did Monday. No matter what happened on Tuesday. Events can change. This man's beliefs never will."
  • [His reaction to the press comparing White House staffing shake ups to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.] "This administration is not sinking, it is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."
  • "I believe that the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq."
  • [Colbert says he wishes he would have been considered for the press secretary job.] "I would have made a fabulous press secretary. I have nothing but contempt for these people."
  • "Jesse Jackson is here ... you can ask him anything but he's going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is."

Darwin award nominee

Another reason to stay away from the hard stuff.

Officials: Sumter man attempts to steal copper from electrical pole

(Sumter) April 25, 2006 - A Sumter man was found in critical condition after officials say he tried to steal something from an electrical pole.

Barely conscious and trapped between transformers is where Sumter police found Wayne Odom.

His stepfather says a bad crack habit led to the serious injury. Marshall Knotts says, "He would do anything he could do to get it. He was so strung out."

Sunday night police say Odom climbed an electrical pole and was shocked. What was he trying to get his hands on, they think, was copper…

Odom is in critical condition at the Augusta Burn Center.

Officials say the copper they think Odom was trying to steal is worth about $2 per pound.

Full story here.

Literary cliches

Wordswoman's blog is a great read. On the April 22 post she has a hilarious list of literary cliches -- e.g., "Character looking in mirror to describe self" -- as well as a few great character descriptions that don't fall into clicheland. Take a gander.

04 May 2006


Lately I've been aware of how many cliches I use, particularly sports cliches. It's rather horrifying. Have I always talked like this? I don't even like sports -- with the exception of hockey and soccer (go ahead and laugh, everyone does).

I found the Mystery Matador this morning while looking for something legitimately work related. This is so cool and, potentially, mean. Not that I'd actually do it. (Sometimes it's fun to just think about being mean.) I used to work at a consulting firm where the documents were full of things like "total quality," "best in class," and a lot of other blah blah phrases that I've miraculously expunged from my mind.

Feel like that document that surfaced in your inbox is taking a lot of time to say not much of anything? Get even. Send the writer an anonymous message from the Mystery Matador.

Copy and paste their letter or any other document text in the box below. Type their email address in the box to the right. Then click the 'Preview' button under the text box. Bullfighter will measure the jargon and verbosity.

Press 'Send' and that person will be sent an email with a link to their score. It's fast, free, simple, anonymous - and could spare the rest of us from receiving any of their awful prose.

You can also save others from your needless yammering by downloading the Bullfighter to your PC.
Bullfighter is the epoch-defining software that works with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to help you find and eliminate jargon in your documents. It may look like a little toolbar with three buttons, but it's actually much more. Bullfighter includes a jargon database and an exclusive Bull Composite Index calculator that will allow you to see -- in an actual window, on your PC display, live -- just how bad a document can be.
There are also films of idiocy in action! We all know this stupid, stupid man.

03 May 2006

Brawny Man

Brawny, the paper towel people, have a site devoted to little romantic videos about the Brawny Man called Innocent Escapes. They are some of the most unintentionally funny things I've ever seen. I'm talking snorting-and-pounding-your-hand-on-the-desk laughter. The guy who is playing the Brawny Man looks right into the camera as if you, at your PC, are the object of his affection and or desire. He utters lines like this: "Look at you. You're a gift to all of us." You can even make your own custom video which makes me think they are serious. Laugh 'til you cry, shudder due to overall creepiness, repeat.

I'm a blauthor?

One of the telltale signs to dictionary makers that a new word is becoming established is that compounds and derivatives are readily formed and used. That's most certainly true of "blog", the abbreviated form of "weblog" that has spawned terms like "warblog", "videoblog" and "litblog". "Blook" is the most recent form, a blend of "blog" and "book." A blook is a blog that has been turned into a book. The word has been in the news because of the inaugural award in the genre, sponsored by a self-publishing Web site named Lulu, which named it the Blooker Prize (one for m'learned friends, you may feel).
From World Wide Words. Many years ago my Mom told me that I would write a book some day. Maybe she meant to say blook.

Telemarketing calls at work

I am continually amazed at how rude people can be when they're trying to sell you something. I just got a call at work from someone who sells billboard advertising. I didn't want to be rude and say "not interested," like I do at home. So I said it doesn't fit our strategy. (Which it doesn't.) Our target audiences are quite narrow compared to the general population. To this, the jerk responded, "They drive, don't they?" At this point my nicey nice went out the window. I told him that we weren't interested.

This type of conversation has happened to me before. My high, happy voice on the phone must trigger the intimidation reflex. Do they honestly think that they'll get you to buy what they're selling if they belittle you?

The good earth

If you live near the Twin Cities there’s a great tree-hugging opportunity (as my goofball conservative brother would put it) this weekend. The Living Green Expo is Saturday and Sunday, May 6-7 at the Minnesota State Fair Groups.
The 2006 Living Green Expo features over 230 exhibitors showcasing all things green and good. Come and connect with others, find resources, and get in on the latest green technologies.
  • World renowned polar explorer Will Steger talks about global warming, 1 p.m. Saturday.
  • Hear Simple Living’s Wanda Urbanska, 1 p.m. Sunday.
  • Parking is free, secure bike storage is available, and the Expo is accessible by bus.
  • Visit www.livinggreen.org for more information on exhibitors, workshops and activities.

02 May 2006

Creature pouches

I found these on the Pixel Girl Shop site. I love their little monster faces and teeth. They're probably meant for kids but I wouldn't mind one.

Naughty dog

Designer dog burns down kitchen

A pet dog caused £30,000 of damage when it turned on its owner's cooker and burnt down the kitchen.

Skylar, a three-year-old 'goldendoodle', apparently started a kitchen fire when she tried to jump on the stove to get left-over pizza...

The designer pooch, a cross between a golden retreiver and a poodle, is believed to have switched on a nob which ignited the cardboard underneath the pizza.

Full story here.

01 May 2006

Nice day for a military parade

Today is May Day. Looking back I don't remember the drop and dash of May baskets. What I do remember is seeing the USSR's May Day -- or International Day of Solidarity of the Working People -- festivities on the evening news every year.

You'd see the big military parade in Moscow -- scads and scads of goose-stepping Red Army soldiers and missiles on the backs of trucks. And the shot of the reviewing stand with the leader and his inner circle.

Cheeky universe

Today's note from the universe:

You know how the wind, no matter how blustery, remains as silent as it is invisible, until it meets with leaves, and kites, and flags, and such? Well, it’s exactly the same with the manifesting forces that make dreams come true, until they meet with expectation. And right this second, they're whirling all around you, my little chiquita.

Happy Monday

The Universe

NEWS FLASH * WEATHER ADVISORY This week's forecast will be marked with buoyant optimism scattered throughout the land with intermittent bursts of hope, faith and euphoria that are expected to create numerous high pressure cells ideal for dreams coming true. So get on out there and soak up those manifesting rays; it's going to be gorgeous.