30 June 2006

A piglet for luck

This sweet little piglet, named Finale, is going to Berlin to bring luck to the German World Cup team. The full story is here.

I set the VCR for the Germany-Argentina game today. It's at 10 a.m. and I won't get home until about 4 p.m. I'm going to try to stay in an information-free zone so I don't find out who won before I watch the game. Unfortunately, it's not too hard to do here in St. Paul!

WM/World Cup mania

I just love these stories about World Cup madness gone over the edge:

Man pulls TV from house fire to watch soccer
BEIJING (Reuters) - A Beijing soccer fan refused to let the small matter of his house burning down disturb his enjoyment of Tuesday's World Cup match between France and Spain.

A fire broke out in a hutong in the center of the Chinese capital at 3am local time Wednesday -- kickoff time in Hanover -- and gutted the traditional courtyard dwelling, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported.

"When the neighbors shouted 'fire!', I took my little baby and ran out in my nightclothes," the man's wife told the paper.

"My husband paid no attention to the danger, just grabbed the television and put it under his arm.

"After getting out of the house, he then set about finding an electric socket to plug in and continue watching his game." (Rest of story.)

29 June 2006


Thanks to a tip from Julia, I'm now gleefully listening to a new-to-me German band, Kettcar. The singer has that slightly angsty tone. Now I have more songs to learn and sing in German. (Thank you Julia!) You can sample their music here (scroll to the bottom of the page for the videos).

The other day I heard the band Klee, also German on The Current. I really like their song Tausendfach. (Click here and then on one of the links under "'Das Video zu 'Tausendfach.'") The singer's voice is kind of ethereal, and the music has a good beat.

The rule of law, a good thing

Human rights wins out against the Bush administration!

Court declares Guantanamo tribunals illegal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a sharp rebuke of President George W. Bush's tactics in the war on terrorism, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down as illegal the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners.

By a 5-3 vote, the nation's highest court declared that the tribunals, which Bush created right after the September 11 attacks, violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. military rules.

More about the Geneva Conventions

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are part of international humanitarian law – a whole system of legal safeguards that cover the way wars may be fought and the protection of individuals.

Dry humor, thy name is Calvin Trillin

Calvin Trillin was in town a little while back. I'm not a big poetry fan but his poems, many of them snarky takes on the current administration, are very fun. Take a listen.

He is the deadline poet for The Nation. He makes fun of politicans and their foibles in a most clever way. For example, he called to Steve Forbes, when Forbes was running for president, as a dork robot. He also referred to Al Gore as a man-like object.

Here's one of his poems from a recent edition of The Nation.

Some Perspective
Calvin Trillin

We're making progress in Iraq. Bush sings, "Tra-la-la-la, we
Have killed Al Qaeda in Iraq's most vicious thug, Zarqawi."
Some skeptics, though, insist on giving this a different twist:
Before this war, Al Qaeda in Iraq did not exist.

Forget Julia Child...

Just in time for all those July 4 picnics! The cookbook includes Twinkie lasagne and Twinkie burrito recipes. You wouldn't have to worry that someone else would bring the same thing to the picnic!
"The book is a 75th anniversary event for Twinkies. Among other joys it guides sophisticated cooks to Twinkie Sushi, and comfort-food devotees to Pumpkin Twinkie Bread Pudding."
It's published by Ten Speed Press, just in case you're wondering.

26 June 2006

Ananova Quirkies

From Ananova Quirkies:
Baboons steal England flags

A safari park is warning visitors to remove England flags from their cars after a group of baboons began stealing them.

The animals have built up a huge collection of flags in the monkey enclosure at Knowsley safari park in Merseyside.

Keepers at the park say the 120-strong troop of baboons have been known to help themselves to windscreen wipers but have now turned their attentions to the World Cup flags.

23 June 2006

The Big Dipper

Last night it was very late and Sophie had to go outside. Then about five minutes later she had to go again. I was very disgusted, "Why didn't you finish the first time?"

As far back as I can remember I haven't been able to see the Big Dipper in the night sky. I remember my Dad trying to point it out to me. He'd point out several things in the sky, then, "Can you see it?" "Nope."

Last night on the second outing I was impatiently waiting for Sophie. In order to amuse myself while she took her sweet time, I looked up at the clear, night sky. There was the Big Dipper, as big as life. I couldn't believe it! I'd never been able to pick it out of the sky. I looked down, then up again. I could still spot it, in all its starry loveliness.

It smells different, now

Yesterday I ran out of my favorite perfume, Coco Mademoiselle. Unlike what I've worn in the past, it's slightly spicy and not at all sweet.

This morning I found a bottle of Estee Lauder Pleasures in my closet. I've loved this perfume for years. Thankfully I would not have to start my day sans smell! I sprayed it on and almost immediately got a headache. It smelled sweet and syrupy, like an adult version of Love's Baby Soft. It is supposed to be floral but is like the difference between the flavor of an actual peach and artificially flavored peach candy.

22 June 2006


A number of us in the office share a printer. Not a problem until you have to print out a CD label or something on photo paper. To avoid printing mishaps, many of my co-workers will yell "I'm printing on special paper" when using something other than standard printer paper.

Every time I hear "special paper" I yell, "You mean Ralph Wiggum paper." In an episode of the Simpsons, the football coach, Flanders, is assigning kids to teams. Ralph has no skill or focus so to spare his feelings, Flanders puts him on special teams. Ralphie then yells repeatedly, "I'm special!"

Some Ralphisms:
  • Eww, Daddy, this tastes like Gramma!
  • I found a moonrock in my nose!
  • Your toys are fun to touch. Mine are all sticky.
  • Principal Skinner, I got car sick in your office.
  • This snowflake tastes like fish sticks.
  • I glued my head to my shoulder, now i have two owies.
  • (To a wolf) Will you be my mommy? You smell like dead bunnies.
  • That's where I saw the Leprchaun. He tells me to burn things!

Strange and hilarious

Fresh Air is one of my favorite radio shows. Terry Gross, the host, is a fantastic interviewer. She could interview someone who works with worms and it would be interesting.

Last night one of her guests was Amy Sedaris. It was a great interview. Like her brother, writer David Sedaris* (Naked, Me Talk Pretty One Day), she is strange and hilarious. Her movie "Strangers with Candy," opens soon. Here are a few interesting bits from Amy Sedaris' interview on Fresh Air.
  • She gave the wardrobe person on "Strangers with Candy" a lot of latitude with her character's look. "For wardrobe I just told Vicky Farrell, who did the wardrobe, that I owned a snake. That's all I ever told her."
  • She loves disguises. "I get a wig every Christmas, still."
  • "I always sell stuff at my parties." When she has people over she sets up a kind of tag sale on a table in her apartment. She'll sell things like almost used-up lotion, sponges, books she's already read, etc. Everything is 25 cents and guests must pay with a quarter (not two dimes and a nickel, no change from a dollar).
*In the David Sedaris interview, the weirdest and funniest part is about half way through (approximately 11:30). He talks about his new fascination with spiders.

Wayne Gretsky in Hungary?

I saw this photo on the National Public Radio site this morning under the headline, "Bush Visits Hungary to Mark 1956 Uprising." My first thought was, "Wayne Gretsky isn't the president of Hungary!" I'm so bossy. Even when I'm confused.

Winzige Schildkroete or tiny tortoise

This is one of the most amazing, beautiful things I've seen in a long time. From Reuters:
A newborn Egyptian Tortoise sits on the finger of its keeper at Chester Zoo in north west England May 23, 2006. The zoo has hatched six of the Testudo Kleinmanni tortoises which are currently on the critically endangered list. REUTERS/Phil Noble

21 June 2006

Europe's warm welcome for Bush

President Bush is in Europe this week. Not surprisingly, he is facing many protesters and hecklers. I think it's very interesting that so many Europeans think America is more of a threat than al-Qaeda. I'm still stumped. Is he evil, stupid, insane, thinks the world begins and ends with his own skin? I hope the protesters in Europe are able to get closer to Bush than protesters are here!

The items at shown are some of the many fine anti-Bush products at Cafe Press. Northern Sun also has a very fine assortment!

Simple pleasures

Today I indulged in a simple pleasure. I bought office supplies. I just love pens, notebooks, planners, paper. I don't have to necessarily buy these things. I just love to look at and touch them. Last summer on vacation my friends thought it odd that I wanted to go into an office supply store in Switzerland. Did I need office supplies on vacation? No. But did I want to peruse the options? Yes!

The best office supply store I've been in was W.H. Smith in the UK. It was like a candy store. We don't have W.H. Smith here -- except for lame attempts at airports and hotels. Office Depot, you are no W.H. Smith. But you'll do, for now.

Finally, an explanation for U.S. policy

I knew there must be an answer for the often-nasty behavior of the U.S. The Onion to the rescue:
"In its adulthood, the U.S. displays all the classic tendencies of a nation that was repeatedly mistreated in its infancy—difficulty forming lasting foreign relationships, viewing everyone as a potential enemy, and employing a pattern of assault and intimidation to assert its power," said Dr. Howard Drexel, the report's lead author. "Because of trust issues stemming from the abuse, America has become withdrawn, has not made an ally in years, and often resents the few nations that are willing to lend support—most countries outgrow this kind of behavior after 230 years." More.

20 June 2006

Bloody man

This ad is quite scary if you don't know what it's for. It was launched today in the UK, the day of England's last game in round 1 of the World Cup -- vs. Sweden. It ended in a 2-2 tie and both teams go to the round of 16 (or in German, the achtelfinale). The man in the photo is Wayne Rooney of the English team.

Germany and Ecuador advanced to the achtenfinale earlier today. Go Germany!

Found this info on the Welcome to Optimism site. It's a great site if you're interested in advertising and marketing.

19 June 2006

Blueberry volcanoes to make at home

Dash requested that I post the blueberry muffin recipe. I must first acknowledge the source -- my dear friend Jude who, just like her lovely Mom, is an awesome baker and cook. It's amazing that her husband isn't as a big as a house!

Blueberry muffins -- makes about 8
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg
1/4 c. oil
1/2 c. milk
1 c. blueberries
Mix the dry ingredients. Mix the wet ingredients separately and then add to the dry. Fold in the blueberries. Put in muffin cups or greased muffin tins. Bake at 425F for about 20 minutes (check them after 18 minutes). Happy baking and eating!

18 June 2006

Baked goods

Tomorrow a new person is starting in my department. I thought it would be nice to bring in some baked goods for the occasion. Normally I wouldn't record this here but the muffins turned out so nice I had to share. These blueberry muffins rose so nicely and are so full of berries -- like little berry volcanoes.

Big storm, again

On Friday night we had another big storm. The second in a month! Thunder, rain and wind. We lost power but it came on a few hours later, thankfully. The rain was coming down almost sideways.

Sophie is horribly afraid of thunder so she was a bit of a wreck (see photo at right). I tried to capture the awesomeness of the rain but as it was raining so hard and the wind was blowing like crazy, I didn't venture outdoors. I took these photos from inside, through the window screen. (I think that's how the professionals do it.) The rain running off the roof was quite amazing. Luckily all my plants were out of the way. A couple of years ago I had some flowers under the roofline and an entire pot just washed away during a big storm.

16 June 2006


Today I took the day off. I have a lot of vacation and it's been crazy at work. The other day I called a co-worker the wrong name. Yesterday I overslept because I was having this really weird dream. I've been losing things lately, too. And I'm not someone who regularly loses or misplaces things. My co-workers make fun of my tidy work space!

So what I do on my day off? Spent 3 1/2 hours walking around Ikea getting really overstimulated. But it was fun! The photos are, left to right, Jude's meatball manager's special and my Asian salad with teriyaki green beans. Yum! I took a picture of our cart but it didn't turn out. The spycam isn't always so reliable. Too bad. It was really the most odd assortment of things. I said that it look a bit like someone had had some sort of mental incident and then went shopping. A couple of rugs, curtain and curtain rods, a dog bowl, a couple of small shelves, a strainer, sets of baskets, etc. I think it was the arrangement of said items that made it look particularly crazy.

Somewhat normal

I took the "are you normal" test -- very scientific -- and according to it I am 56 percent normal. I love these quizzes. Here's their very scientific description of my normalness:

Wonderful Eccentric
You've earned the title of wonderful eccentric, and while you're not a wild, gun slinging maverick, you certainly like to follow your own way. Of course, you probably don't think of yourself as eccentric. As Einstein might say, "It's all relative."

Are you normal? Find out at Chatterbean.

15 June 2006

Just what every dog needs

I looked at the Pampered Puppy site to see when Bring Your Dog to Work Day is (Friday, June 23). I was distracted by what I found -- a tutu! It made me laugh out loud.

14 June 2006

WM Baer (World Cup bear)

Here is my feeble attempt at World Cup fever, a la the theme in yesterday's post. You can see the Teddy Graham better inside (right) but soccer is meant to be played outside.

Pope news

Pope Makes First Papal Visit To Six Flags

EUREKA, MO—Pope Benedict XVI returned to Rome today following a historic, three-day trip to Six Flags St. Louis, the first official papal visit to a major American theme park since Pope Paul VI's Thanksgiving Mass at Wet 'n Wild in August 1966.
Read more at the Onion.

Flare trouble

This sounds like something that would happen in the U.S. not in Europe! No, you can't take your fingernail clippers on the plane but flares in a stadium? As many as you can carry!
Fan on field exposes flaws in security net
By JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer June 14, 2006 BERLIN (AP) -- World Cup organizers will upgrade security at Berlin's Olympic Stadium after fans set off flares and one man ran onto the field during Brazil's opening win over Croatia.

Security staff confiscated 823 flares from spectators before Tuesday night's match and stopped three fans trying to get onto the field. But it was the two flares and one man that slipped through the security net that attracted all the attention.

Acts of tenuous subversion week

Does the idea of tormenting co-workers cause you much joy? Do you love the "things you'd like to say at work" list (e.g., "I'll try being nicer if you try being smarter")? Then you will like the Acts of Tenuous Subversion Week. Take a gander! My Various Neuroses (Walking Down The Hall) is also quite good!

I found this phrase on a German site. It's so nasty. I love it! Betrachten sie mich nicht als ihren Chef, sondern als guten Freund, der immer recht hat. Don't think of me as your boss, but as a good friend who's always right.

13 June 2006

WM fever

World Cup fever! On the Bayern 3 Web site there are photos of all sorts of people/things showing their German colors -- beyond what you'd expect (multi-colored hair or faces). I don't think I'd drink that liquer mixture although it is very pretty.

More WM (World Cup) musings

In this month's National Geographic, essays about soccer around the world. Lovely, simply lovely! From the intro by Sean Wilsey:
There are many beautiful things about being an American fan of men's World Cup soccer—foremost among them is ignorance. The community in which you were raised did not gather around the television set every four years for a solid, breathless month. Your country has never won. You can pick whatever team you like best and root for it without shame or fear of reprisal... So with the World Cup taking place this month in Germany—and the World Cup is the only truly international sporting event on the planet (no, the Olympics, with their overwhelming clutter of boutique athletics, do not matter in the same way)—you can expect to spend the month in paradise.

12 June 2006

Did I just say that?

I'm the crazy auntie to three nieces and a nephew. They range in age from eight to three. I like to teach them silly things and sayings but I do lapse into parental mode now and again. It's the usual stuff -- get your finger out of your nose; don't eat with your face, use your silverware; don't touch the dog while you're eating; feet off the table, please -- that sort of thing. The best one lately was "Honey, don't lick the puppy." My adorable niece Kessa, almost 3, was licking Sophie on the back. Sophie licks her. Why not lick her back?

Today's simple pleasures

Today is a gorgeous day. It's 73F (23C). My simple pleasures this afternoon:
  • Holding a work meeting outside by a fountain.
  • Driving home with all the car windows open, singing all the way (Herbert Groenemeyer songs)
  • Making egg salad while dancing around the kitchen to the Chemical Brothers on the Current. (Sorry to say it's the first time I've heard them. I love the Middle Eastern interludes on "Galvanize"!)
  • Listening to Mary Lucia on the Current rant about buying bad produce. Something like "You get a cantaloupe that looks perfect; you get it home, cut into it and it's bad. I want to bring it back to the store and throw it through the window."
  • Taking Sophzilla for a lovely walk.
(One of Sophie's simple pleasures -- besides walks, chippies and her rubber chicken -- sitting on a lap. At right, she's on my Mom's lap.)

11 June 2006

I love ESPN2

I never thought I'd writing something positive about ESPN -- or anything about ESPN for that matter. But on Friday, they broadcast the first game of the World Cup -- Germany vs. Costa Rica. I took the day off to clean the carpet (wee! good times), so I got to enjoy the game.

The game, particularly the first half, was fabulous! I was on the edge of my seat. It was such fun to watch such great athletes play so skillfully (although what was with the gaping hole in the German defense?).

There were an estimated 1.5 billion people around the world tuned into the openiong game. Everyone in Costa Rica had the day off so they could watch. Miroslav Klose, Germany, scored two goals and it was also his birthday. It will be a brithday hard to top, I think.

There was a very cute Adidas commercial on several times during the game. In it two Italian boys are choosing up their dream soccer team for a game in a vacant lot. All the players were current, famous players. Then the littler boy said, "Beckenbauer." The older kid said the name and laughed like 'Who's that?' Then out trots a video image of Franz Beckenbauer from the '70s. It was very cute.

Mad about the World Cup

"Flowers compose the flags of the thirty-two teams participating in the soccer World Cup 2006, at a park in Buer, in the outskirts of Gelsenkirchen, Germany." (AP Photo/Murad Sezer)

Evil Tute (bag)

Today when I got home from the grocery store, Sophie grabbed one of the empty bags and proceeded to attack it.

08 June 2006

Nice message you're sending

On my drive to work today I was behind a mini van with an interesting assortment of bumper stickers:
  • A cartoon outline of a little boy peeing on the words "anti-hunters"
  • "I'll fight for freedom" (sticker was partially peeling off)
  • An advert for a local elementary school
That peeing kid is so disgusting and on a mini van! I find it interesting that he/she will fight for freedom but not, apparently, freedom of thought. The juxtaposition of those with the elementary school was too odd.

06 June 2006

An interesting morning

I found out how much I rely on electricity this morning when the power was still out at my house. (There was a thunderstorm last night.)
  • Sat on my bed by the window to put on make up.
  • Wet down the weird spikes in my hair and arranged as best as possible. (No electricity means no hair dryer and no curling iron).
  • Ate breakfast like a baby -- dry cereal out of a bowl. (Can't open the refrigerator/freezer so no access to milk, juice, toast, jam.)
  • Used flashlight to find clothes, shoes and jewelry in closet.
  • Used flashlight to find the garage door manual pull thingy.
  • Fed Sophie only her dry food (canned food in refrigerator) to which she, with body language, said, "I'll pass."
I was hoping that the power would be out at work, too. That way I'd have a good excuse to clean out some of my file drawers. No such luck. On the up side, that means the fans are working in our area that we, in summer, lovingly refer to as the swamp.