29 July 2006

Speaking of hobbies...

Check out this pattern at Knitty. You could make this wig hat in multiple colors to coincide with any outfit. Then you'd be ready for any kind of bad hair day.

Weird hobbies

I was listening to Weekend America today. They feature news items but also things you won't hear about anywhere else. Today there was a very odd, to me, hobby: collecting and transforming Barbie dolls.

The guy featured in the story, Jim Faraone, wasn’t as weird as you’d think. His source of income is making over and selling dolls. He’s written books about it and teaches classes on it. The story was very interesting as well as, seeing as I’m not into dolls, quite freaky. I have to hand it to him though. He’s quite talented. How he has the patience to work on such tiny items of haute couture is beyond me. Take a look or listen to the amusing story.

28 July 2006

Speak English, please

I was in a meeting with co-workers the other day. One of the people in the meeting kept using phrases like this: the metanarrative of the dialectic. I am not kidding.

I really like this group. I love working with them. But I was very tempted to use Whoopi Goldberg's line from the movie Jumping Jack Flash. She's trying to find a figure out the key to a mystery. She thinks the key may be in the lyrics to the Rolling Stones' song, "Jumping Jack Flash." She's sitting on the floor next to a speaker listening over and over to the lyrics, trying to understand Mick Jagger. At one point she bangs her hand on the floor and yells, "Speak English, Mick!"


I picked up The New Book of Lists: The Original Compendium of Curious Information at the library today. It's perfectfully scannable.
  • 11 Mammoth Cheeses
    • #1: 28.5-ton cheddar -- 6 feet high, 32 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, made in Canada (#1-7 are cheddar cheeses)
    • #8: 1,200-pound cheshire -- made in Massachusetts and shipped to Washington, D.C. by sled, boat and wagon to honor Thomas Jefferson's triumph over the Federalists.
  • 4 Places with More Pigs than Humans
    • #1: Denmark (13.2M pigs, 5.4M humans)
  • 12 of the Oddest Items Found at London Transport's Lost Property Office
    • Two human skulls in a bag
    • Dead bats in a container
    • Lawn mower
    • Box of false eyeballs
  • 8 Unlikely How-to Books
    • How to Be Happy Though Married -- published in 1895. A book by the same title is on Amazon and is authored by Tim LeHaye, author of those silly Left Behind books.
    • How to Become a Schizophrenic
    • How to Start Your Own Country -- published in the 1980s and still available on Amazon.
  • 7 Bizarre Sports Events
    • Rock, paper, scissors
    • Law mower racing
  • 22 Things That Fell from the Sky
    • Hay -- "A great cloud of hay drifted over the town of Devizes in England at tea time on July 3, 1977. As soon as the cloud reached the center of town, it all fell to earth in handful-sized lumps."
    • 3,902-pound stone -- Fell in 1976 near Kirin, China.
    • Meat -- "Famous Kentucky meat shower" happened in 1876. "The local explanation was that a flock of buzzards had disgorged as a group while flying overhead."
    • White fibrous blobs -- "Blobs of white material up to 20 feet in length descended over the San Francisco Bay area in California... Migrating spiders were blamed, although no spiders were recovered." Whaaat?
  • Mark Twain's List of 27 People and Things to Be Rescued from a Boardinghouse Fire
    • #1: Fiancees
    • #2: Persons toward whom the rescuer feels a tender sentiment but has not declared himself
    • #27: Mothers-in-law

Smells and words

I was at a meeting today in a church. A Lutheran church. The restroom smelled the same as every Lutheran restroom I've been in. Kind of like cleaning supplies but with something else. Not stinky. Kind of institutional and particular to churches. Is there a church restroom brand of cleaning products? Do different denominations have variations on a similar smell?

Linguistic fun -- Riechen is the German verb for smell. It's pronounced reek-en and reek in English means stink. And reek, in German, is stinken.

27 July 2006

Brain snack

Mental Floss' trivia page is a infogeek's dream. For example:

Vocabulary words -- " garrulous (adj.) , given to constant chatter; talkative"
Questions -- "You’ve seen it in the movies, but can your car really blow up on impact?"

The blog is also full of info that you didn't know you didn't know.

Wallpaper (Tapete)

Interesting timing. Just last week the last of the wallpaper in my house went bye bye. Today I read about The Collection in Springwise. The Collection is a company that does really arty wallpaper and home design items. I love the big spoon on the back of the door but at 159 Euros, I think I'll pass! They also do trompe l'oeil, which I am completely smitten with. I've taken a couple of stabs at it but haven't ventured into big wall murals, yet.

26 July 2006

Germany vs. Greece

I miss the World Cup (WM) games. Four more years seems like such a long, long time. In the interim, here is a recap of the Germany vs. Greece, refereed by Confucius. Monty Python is brilliant!

Haiku activism

In the latest e-letter from the Better World Club, readers are encouraged to tell Congress what they think of tax breaks for Exxon/Mobil and drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. A sample haiku from the e-letter:
driving with doo-doo
fossilized dinosaur poo
when will it run out?

Andrew Shannon
Bronx, NY
You have to be a member of BWC for them to send your haiku. If you're not, find e-mails to contact the man: U.S. senators, U.S. representatives.

25 July 2006

Happy poster project

This is so silly. I just love it. The Happy Poster Project.
OBJECTIVE: Undetermined.

METHOD: Download your favourite poster(s) from the selection below. Print/photocopy as many copies as you think you'll need. Put one up at work or home. Then walk down your local High/Main St asking shop owners and managers if you can put a happy poster in their window.

You'll feel a bit silly at first; that's to be expected.

24 July 2006

Who needs a chump slap?

I love this cover of The Independent. Well, I don't love it. It's heartbreaking. But I hope it drives home the point of how out of step the U.S. is. Really, are we trying to promote the immolation of the Middle East?

Laughing at Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart's new site for kids is a bomb. I refer to the store as the Devil's Little Sweatshop. I'm dancing with glee at their misfortune.
From Advertising Age:
Wal-Mart's New Online Children's 'Hub' a Real Bomb
A Poorly Executed Project With Writing That Makes Us Cringe

...If you happen to be an incredibly macho and worldly 51-year-old man, try putting yourself into the head of the many demographic target cohorts to which we, strictly speaking, do not belong. Not only are we not in the bull's-eye -- 18 to 34 years-old -- we're also not a skateboarder/gamer, a soccer mom or, to the best of our knowledge, Japanese...

Is there anything more excruciating than some lametard adult copywriter trying to speak to teenagers in their own language? To see this stuff is to cringe...

In fact, it's totally not well-executed. It's the most not-well-executed ever. The site -- schoolyourway.walmart.com -- is called The Hub. It's a hybrid of an ordinary webpage and a social-networking engine ... a la MySpace.com...

Full story

Monday greetings from the Universe

A lovely note from the Universe this morning (except for that 'dude' part).

Thinking that the past or present somehow forecasts the future, neglects the otherwise obvious facts that one of the greatest certainties of all time and space is that things always get better. That no matter how challenging any given set-back is, eventually it will make possible the attainment of even greater heights than were previously imaginable. And that you knew exactly what you were doing when you once said, "Time and space? I'm totally there, dude..."

You always were hip...

The Universe

And wise

23 July 2006

Sound and memory

I was in Lowe's (a big DIY store) the other day and was transported back my vacation in Switzerland last summer. Before announcements in the store, there is a little bing, bing sound. It's a gentle noise, similar to a couple of notes on a xylophone. It's the same sound that you hear in a Swiss train station just before an oncoming train announcement. Now if I could find a place where I could hear the tinkling of cow and sheep bells on a nearby hill.

Bonehead of the Day

The Bonehead of the Day Award e-mails piled up the last few weeks before vacation. Thankfully, the stupid stories are just as funny on time as they are a few weeks later.
It was probably a bad idea to repeatedly make harassing phone calls, complete with "yelling and screaming," to the ex-boyfriend from a pay phone located in the Cambridge, MA Police Department lobby, especially when already under a restraining order to leave him alone.
Somerville Journal (Massachusetts) 6-Jul-06
And, as stupid frosting, there is this story from WPVI in Philadelphia:

A woman spotted leaving a K-mart last week with a bag of goods she allegedly didn't pay for ran off, with three K-mart employees in pursuit. The woman, we're told, jumped a guardrail and darted into some woods where she got stuck in a swamp.

22 July 2006

You're no Superman

Some Signs You're Not Superman (from BBspot where the complete list may be found)

  • Your X-Ray vision only enables you to see through glass.
  • You look pretty dorky in a cape.
  • The armor piercing bullets rip through your flesh like a hot knife through butter.
  • The only way you got the pickle jar open was by smashing it with a hammer.

Car Talk funnies

I was listening to Car Talk today and heard a rather funny list (about Car Talk here).

Normally the "you might be [fill in the blank] if" lists aren't very clever (e.g., you might be from Minnesota if...). But this one made me laugh out loud. Maybe it was because the car guys were giggling and guffawing through the whole thing. The list was "you might be white trash (armer Weisser) if your friend's last words were." Some highlights (full list):
  • I wonder where the mother bear is?
  • Watch this
  • That's odd
  • Nice doggie
  • What does this button do?

17 July 2006

Vacation, sweet vacation

On Saturday I went to my niece's birthday party wearing two different shoes. I didn't get dressed in the dark and I didn't rush getting out the door. It took me about three hours to notice this. Both shoes were Birkenstock sandals but they were two different colors and two different styles. I think it was another sign that I really do need this week of vacation.

Today's note from the universe

You see, latent within any clearly imagined dream lies the innate potential to literally craft the entire sequence of events necessary to make it manifest. And if you move with that dream, demonstrating both faith and belief, making yourself available to "accidents and coincidences," not insisting on the hows and rolling with what may come, the sequence is permitted to play itself out. Yet because you can only perceive this sequence with the physical senses through a linear time line, it will likely seem that much of your journey doesn't make sense, is unpredictable, or may even appear off-course.

About as clear as mud, huh? Well, it's Monday for me too, you know.


The Universe

Any how, if your journey at the moment isn't making much sense, seems unpredictable, or even appears to be off-course, let's just say that in the bleachers, right now in the unseen, your name is being sung in a deafening chorus with each syllable being punctuated by primal drum beats, while cheerleaders are cheering, fans are hysterical, and happy-tears are flowing. Un-gawa.

16 July 2006

Welcome to Hades

I hate this summer. Well, not everything about it. Really, just the weather.

It's now almost 10:30 p.m. and it is 86F (30C). With the humidity it feels like 99F (37C). Uggh! Yesterday it was 100. It's been like this, again, for a few days. It's supposed to be in the 90s until Thursday. It might be 89 that day. I'll need to wear a coat.

I promise not to complain about winter no matter how cold it gets this year. With the mess escalating in the Middle East, it's hard not to go all apocalyptic.

Leave the babies alone!

This baby conveys what people all over the world think of George W. Bush.

Cake for good

Bakers in Rust, Germany have made the world's largest Black Forest cake. It weights three tons. The picture at right is of a normal-sized version -- feeds about 14. The cake in Rust feeds about 16,000.

Proceeds from selling the cake will go to children who need heart operations. I would love to see that cake, and the mixer and other kitchen implements they used to make it. You could probably use an airplane propeller to frost it.

12 July 2006

Larvae and flowers

There's nothing like photos of larvae to make you itch all over. I took these while on a bug hunt with my niece and nephew. The ants and egs are kind of interesting to look at -- in a repelling sort of way.

Here are a couple of flower shots from my Mom's garden to balance the visual stimulae.
She has a lot of lily-type flowers. I just love them. So majestic. I don't know what the little purple flowers are called but I think they look like little shoes.

Tchuess Klinsi!

Juergen Klinsman quit as coach of the German national team. He's going back to California to be with his family. What a disappointment! (Story here.)

I was so impressed with him throughout the WM. Especially after the horribly disappointing loss to Italy in the semifinals. Players were sitting with their heads down. He walked around the field patting them on the back and comforting them.

The Fan Fest in Berlin, after Germany's third place victory, looked like a great event! The players all wore t-shirts (see left) that said Thanks Germany. (Cool photos here.) It certainly seems like the World Cup had an extraordinarily positive effect on the country!

11 July 2006

Sophie Ueberhund (super dog)!

Today is a big day! It's my niece Tori's eighth birthday. And seven years ago today Sophie came to live with me. She is such a funny, sweet dog! She makes me laugh every day. Here she is with her new toy, her blauer Stern (blue star). Happy, happy day Sophie!

Happy, happy, joy, joy

I received a new CD in the post today. Hooray! Spruenge by Herbert Groenemeyer. It's not a new release -- 1989! In some ways the '80s were a great music decade (if you ignore the hairdos). There's a very fun song on the CD called Kinder an die Macht (Power to the Children -- I think). Here are some of the lyrics:

Die Armeen aus Gummibaerchen
Die Panzer aus Marzipan
Kriege werden augegessen
Einfacher Plan
Kindlich genial...

Gebt den Kindern das Kommando
Sie berechnen nicht was sie tun
Die Welt gehoert in Kinderhaenden

Armies of gummi bears
Tanks out of marzipan
Wars would be eaten
Simple plan
Childishly resourceful…

Give children the command
They don’t calculate what they do
The world belongs in the hands of children

I'm not providing any more lyrics here because my translation skills are very poor!

Beware of bears

I love these ads from a Norwegian candy company. The tagline is "sweet outside, nuts inside." To see two other ads, click here.

07 July 2006

Donuts you don't eat

I haven't decided if these fabric donuts at Sewdorky are cute and funny or just stupid. I didn't really understand what you would do with these. Unlike sushi pillows, for example, they're not big enough to provide pillow-like assistance. I do prefer sprinkles in the edible and inedible versions.

05 July 2006

Bugs, bugs, bugs

Except for Germany losing in the semifinals, I had a lovely weekend in Alexandria.

When I saw my youngest niece Kessa (she's going to be three) she yelled, "We have matching bracelets!" Well, they are both made out of beads.

After our family's July 4 picnic, Cale, Kessa and I went looking for bugs, etc. under rocks in my Mom's gardens. Bugs give me the shivers but it was fun watching them search. Cale (who is 6) wanted photos of everything we found and made me promise that I would send them to him. I have some really disgusting photos of ants and larvae. I won't post them here but I'm sure Cale will love them!

Stink, stank, stunk

The Germany-Italy game was another nail biter. The Italians won, unfortunately. Oh the disappointment! I so wanted to see Germany in the final. I've already to committed to hosting a World Cup Final party next Sunday. Now I have keine Lust dafuer (I don't feel like it). Well, it will be a good game and by Sunday I'll be out of my funk.

On one hand I would like to see the Italians go down. On the other, they are a very good team and maybe I'd like to see them stomp on Portugual, the team that knocked England out. I'm going to try to make dishes that correspond with the countries. For that matter I hope that France wins today. I don't know any Portuguese dishes. I'd have to make a trip to the library or do some online research. Oh, how I was looking forward to cooking German food on Sunday. I feel bad for the German team. To get this far is such an accomplishment!

01 July 2006

Deutschland schreitet fort! (Germany advances!)

Yesterday's Germany-Argentina game was a real nail biter! Very physical. Lots of yellow cards. I woke up a sleeping Sophzilla several times with my yelling, especially during the penalty kick showdown at the end. She'd wake up and walk over and look at me to see if something was wrong. Jens Lehmann, Germany's goalie, rocked! And poor Michael Ballack had to keep playing, though injured, since Germany had used up its subs. I got to see the anthem part of the game yesterday. I love how the players walked out holding hands with little kids. It was so sweet! What lucky kids!

I can't imagine how fun it would be to be in Germany right now! The frolicking! Julia has photos and commentary on her blog. It's now down to just four teams -- Germany, Italy, Portugal and France. Oh, the tension!

Today I went to Brit's in Minneapolis with Heidi and her sister Lisa. We watched a tense game between England and Portugal up on Brit's roof. We sat on the edge of the lawn bowling yard in the sun. It was hot and lovely. That crazy Wayne Rooney got himself kicked out of the game for stepping on another player. It came down to a penalty kick showdown and England lost. Rats!

Germany plays Italy on Tuesday, July 4. My family always has a picnic at my godparents' house on the 4th of July. I will need to hide away at 2 p.m. in order to watch the game. I look forward to this time with my family but serious times call for serious measures. I hope that Marcelo Balboa (ESPN) won't be doing commentary on Tuesday. He's loud, annoying and the king of the obvious. For example, during overtime: "No one wants to make a mistake right now." Another ESPN sports guy referred to the Ukrainians as the Ukraines. Where do they get these people?

A different kind of World Cup

A Ph.D. student in Finland started his own version of the World Cup on his blog: the World Cup for Modern Systematic Theologians. In the latest match, J├╝rgen Moltmann was victorious over Joseph Ratzinger.


On a completely unrelated note, Scott Simon had a fabulous soul singer on Weekend Edition today -- Irma Thomas. Take a listen to the interview and songs. The phenomenal "Shelter in the Rain" is about 30 seconds into the interview.


The Mutts are just so sweet! This could be Sophzilla.