Saturday, December 29, 2007

Farewell, pretty Fiona...

It's incomprehensible, but Barb's beautiful dog Fiona is gone. I put all the photos I could find of her here as a sort of memorial. If I find more, I'll add them.

It doesn't compute, somehow, that she isn't still with us, that she really was hit by a car the day after Christmas. I can think it and understand it, but then I still expect her to come padding happily in from the living room when I'm sitting in Barb's kitchen.

She was only around for seven or eight weeks, but I had truly gotten to know and love her.

Damn. It's just not right.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

"There is a duck stuck inside your front bumper..."

Friend and coworker Mike Burger had a hilarious run-in with a duck and the above duck-related note some time ago, and I urged him to submit it to Found Magazine. I just knew they'd use it, too. It was too good not to.

They finally posted it this weekend -- as a Pick of the Week!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Satan Claus

Clint's birthday party was as memorable as ever, and the cast-iron wood-burning stove on the deck was once again the hub of activity, presided over by the obstreperous Satan Claus.

The snow storm didn't slow things down for a minute.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Car ride with Fiona

There is very little in this world Fiona loves more than a car ride. Keep your walks and your leashes and your treats, says she. It's all overshadowed by the glory that is the car in motion.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An important message for Tex

Tex turns 50 today!

Here we go (deep breath):

"Idag er det Tex' fødselsdag, hurra hurra hurra! Han sikkert sig en gave får som han har ønsket sig i år og dejlig chokolade med kage til! Hurra! Hurra! Hurraaaaaaa!!"See, you thought you could get away from the Danish birthday song. But no! And certainly not on a big banner birthday like this!

Hope it's terrific! Eat some cake! Heck, eat whatever you want!!


Happy birthday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reunion with Brian!

I've been meaning to post these photos for a couple of weeks, since the memorable evening we were happily reunited with Brian after many a year. The pictures are blurry: my camera does better with low-light than with flash, and Ashley's is pleasant but dim! In any case, we celebrated Brian's fortieth in style, and we're all staying in touch from now on. Hurray!

(Not sure why I'm including the one at the store. But there you go. The old gang - at the store!)

A mini-jaunt to Chicago

So I did indeed accompany Barb on a quick work-related stop to Chicago. Well, she was there for work. I was there for the fun of it.

With only one evening and one morning to spend in the city, we hit just a couple of hotspots. First, the famous Lou Malnati's, recommended by Aaron, a place where the atmosphere was local and neighborhoody and the pizza was deeeeeep dish!

The next morning, after her appointment, with two hours to kill while some paperwork was being completed, we wandered over to the obvious destination: the art museum. Nothing like hanging out with the likes of Van Gogh and Seurat for a couple of hours.

Just before heading back to collect the car for the long drive home, we had some traditional Russian grub for lunch within the cozy enclave of Russian Tea Time, recommended by Ryan. Blinchiki, pelmeni, and Baltika. All delectable.

Whoo-hoo! Chicago! Never disappoints. Even on a mini-jaunt.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Impulse road trip!

When a friend has to make a work-related stopover trip to Chicago, what kind of friend would I be to let her make the trip alone?

So I'm hopping along for the ride.

Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, here I come!


Monday, December 3, 2007

You know it's a good book when you read it in one day

Yesterday I started Amanda Eyre Ward's Sleep Toward Heaven. And finished it.

It's hardly a cheery read. It's about three people: 1) a recent widow, 2) the murderer who shot the widow's husband and who is now on Death Row in a women's prison, and 3) the prison doctor who is treating the murderer's advanced AIDS symptoms.

Sounds completely and utterly miserable, doesn't it? Yes, it was.

So then why was I chuckling so frequently?

How does Ward do that? She does the same thing in her novel How to Be Lost, injecting wry humor into the most abject of human circumstances. Suddenly someone in profound pain sees humor in the world and you see it, too. It doesn't change anything: believe me, there's no dramatic redemption through laughter or anything like that. But you find yourself giggling because sometimes being a human being is so downright bizarre. I guess that's the closest I can come to explaining it.

Time to check out her most recent one from the library: Forgive Me. More tragedy, more rage, more inexplicable snorts of amusement. I can't wait.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An amusing excerpt from my mother's e-mail

"On the way home we stopped at an Italian specialty shop, where Dad bought some hideously stinky cheese which he unaccountably likes. It's now in a zip-lock plastic bag, in an effort to keep it from smelling up the place. That must be a leftover from his student days in Italy."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Welcome, Freecyclers!

If you're here to see the lamp I posted on Freecycle, here it is:

It's not going to win any beauty contests, but it works, and it provides quite a pleasant, soft light. I've had it for years and my mother had it before me. It's just that I have too many old lamps right now... and something's gotta give!

Friday, November 23, 2007

What I did for Tringo

I play an addictive little game called Tringo, one of the few actually interesting things I discovered during my short foray into Second Life last year. Recently, the only site that offers the game suddenly requires you to create a silly little avatar if you want to play it.

I put it off for a few weeks, but I just missed playing the game too much. So I went ahead and created my "Meez" this evening, as you see to the right there: it's another virtual me, like the one from Second Life back in the day.

The only difference is that this one doesn't look remotely like me... but now that I've gone to the bother of building her, I might as well let her hang out on my blog for a while.

Besides, there was a Thanksgiving hat I could stick on her head, so that seemed kind of cute.

Now... back to playing Tringo!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I love a parade

Y' know what? I love the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade.

I love watching it every year on TV, in my PJs, while Scott brings me coffee refills.

I love the old-fashioned computer graphics, and I hope they never change them.

I love the fact that the floats and balloons embody such entities as Mother Goose, penguins, bookworms, and smiley stars instead of glitzy Disney characters.

I love giggling whenever Carmen Harlan urges rapturously, "Let's take a listen!" and the marching band immediately finishes its song and starts marching silently in place.

I love seeing Woodward Avenue awash in color and laughter.

I love the fact that Santa entreated the children of Detroit to stay positive during this troubled time for the city "because your parents need your help right now."

It's hokey, I guess. I know it's hokey! But I love it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Test your vocabulary...

... and feed your fellow man while you're at it!

Thanks, Penny... you're right, it is addictive. "Just ten more grains while I'm on a roll..."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"Balt! ... Balthazar!"

Today I was reminded of a cartoon I loved as a child.

The one or two people who actually read this blog will be rubbing their eyes and saying, "What? A cartoon she loved? But she hates cartoons!"

Very true. But this one was different.

This was a Yugoslavian cartoon series from the late 60s and early 70s called "Professor Balthazar," about a little old inventor who goes around having adventures. Every so often, he would save the day by inventing a fantastical machine.

I've learned that they're digitally restoring it, too, and putting it on DVD. Whoo hoo!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Anagram mania

Through the use of this site, I have found what is now my favorite anagram for my name:

Allusive maven

And here's another really fun one:

Evil naval muse

But I also found an unfortunate one:

Male univalves

As well as a very unfortunate one:

Seminal vulvae

There were a slew of others, of course. "Alien valve sum" sounds like a pretty cool album title. "Vale mauls Vine" sounds like a sports headline. "Mauve LaSnivel" can be the name I use for posting anonymous complaints online. "Suave villa men" sounds like guys you might meet on vacation in Italy. And "vain slave mule" sounds downright kinky.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Changes now!

Hey, look! The little fish I work for has been devoured by a big fish!

It's a big fish that offers great benefits, though, and it seems pretty excited about us. Besides, change is good.

Swim on!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Quillory remembered

I was looking through my pictures folder and found a screen shot from last winter, when I briefly explored the virtual online universe called Second Life.

I tried to get my avatar, Quillory, to look kinda like me. And I dressed her like me, too - or least tried to get the free clothes you can download from the virtual thrift stores to look kinda like my clothes. (I couldn't customize the jeans not to expose her abdomen, but hey, that's what you get when you shop in virtual thrift stores...)

The reason she's wearing a hat and scarf here is that she was hanging out near Times Square right after they lit the huge Christmas tree there, and they were handing out free winter wear.

Those were the halcyon days of fresh discovery. Alas, it didn't take long before I got bored just watching Quillory wandering about randomly in the streets and fields of Second Life, no matter how realistic they were... and canceled my account.

Still, I'm glad I had the presence of mind to save a picture of Quillory before her virtual demise.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's applesauce season!

The day I came back from Denmark, feeling melancholy, as always, Scott took me to the Plymouth Orchard cider mill. We got apple butter, cider, and a bag of apples. I would have been even more in the mood if it hadn't been almost 80 degrees and if people hadn't been wearing T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. But things have gotten chillier since then, so I'm happy.

Anyway, here's what we did with the apples, and I recommend that you try it, since it makes the best applesauce on this earth. Just dump the following into a slow cooker, in this order--

10 apples, peeled, wedged
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 can ginger ale

--and then turn it on 'low' for six hours. After it's cooled a bit, mash it up a little bit with a potato masher and refrigerate.

Ooooooh, boy. Not too sweet. Not too tart. Not too cinnamony. Just perfect.

The perfect taste of fall.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Halløj from København!

Well, I don't have to worry about my mother's computer any more... I have my own! My extraordinarily generous dad presented my sister and me with new laptops as early Christmas presents. Unbelievable - and fabulous! I'm sitting in my room (yes, the room that was once the "my room" of my teens) rattling out an e-mail on my new HP laptop. Outta control. Thanks, Dad!!

Haven't been doing a single touristy thing... it feels so normal and natural to be back, hopping buses and trains to get wherever I need to go, shopping, peoplewatching, stopping for a coffee or a pint, moving on. This is the life. Hurray for vacations at home.

Have been twice to Halloween Tivoli and will be going again, too. I think the Tivoli Gardens must be the best place on earth. Scatter my ashes there someday, would you, someone? There, it's in writing. Consider that my last will and testament.

Worn out from shopping and trying to keep up with my insanely energetic mother, so it's time for a brief nap before dinner. Ahhh, I'm living the life of Riley. Or I guess the life of Østergård or something.

Oh - and I saw the "new" James Bond movie last night, finally. All I can say is, Daniel Craig is one hideous man. Are people seeing something I'm not? Is he attractive to some people? He looks vaguely ape-like to me. My mother agrees.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Kulturnatten 2007

Settling into life in Copenhagen, snugly installed in my old room at my parents' apartment.

This evening was Kulturnat (Culture Night), where you run around and check out all kinds of events all over town, rather like a huge version of the Ypsilanti New Year's Jubilee! Thousands of people out on the town... musical groups everywhere... special art and sound installations... torch-lit tours of graveyards... etc., etc. My mother and I saw a group of ruddy-faced, bearded old guys singing shanties! You couldn't help but beam, watching these happy old fellows roaring away.

Saw a couple of "regular" choruses as well, one of which sang a couple of Poulenc's weird little choral pieces based on surrealistic French poems. That was a true treat. And at one point, a chorus surprised its director by singing her the Danish birthday song, which I tend to torture my colleagues with at work... only tonight I learned that there are in fact three verses. Leave it to a chorus to do it right!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Experiment at the laundromat

Last night, I went to the laundromat. I was only one of two people there, other than the attendant, and the other person was reading a textbook, although I can't imagine how he could hear himself think. This is because the television was screamingly loud, worse than I have ever heard it, and tuned tyrannically to a marathon of The Family Guy.

Now, I don't like cartoons. But there are some cartoons I outright hate. Those are the ones that pelt you with incessant sarcasm in unbearable little screeching voices. Add an unspeakably loud volume and you have a nervous breakdown waiting to happen.

I suppose my experiment was somewhat passive aggressive. I could have demanded that the attendant turn it down, and I was actually going to, at first, especially after the only other customer left. But then I realized he was folding a huge order of uniform shirts and watching the television himself, hooting and guffawing every so often, and I thought, how can he stand it that loud? Can't he tell how insanely loud it is? What about when the commercials come in? They're almost worse! ARE YOU PAYING TOO MUCH FOR CAR INSURANCE? DEPRESSION HURTS! NOW AT DENNY'S!

I started going outside and watching my dryers from outside the window. I would go in, occasionally holding my ears (just to see if something that blatant might carry my message more clearly), quickly shoving more quarters in, and hurrying back outside. The whole place was vibrating with shrieky cartoon voices. The attendant glanced outside at me every so often, but otherwise paid no attention.

The experiment was over: the guy simply didn't notice or care.

When Scott came to collect me, he said, "Wow! The TV's really blasting in here!" and the attendant said, "Oh! Did you want me to turn it down?"


Scott saw this as an indication that he was a nice fellow who would have turned it down for me if I had only asked, and maybe that's true. Certainly, with my experiment completed, I will do that from now on.

I was just curious, that's all.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

There he swelled and there he died...

My favorite version of the weird English ballad where some poor sod has been poisoned... sometimes by a girlfriend, sometimes by a stepmother... sometimes by having been fed fish and sometimes spotted eels. The creepiest part is the dog swelling up and dying, which doesn't bode well for poor Lord Randall, who is already crying for his mother to make up his bed.

Lord Randall

"Where have ye been all the day, my own dear darling boy?
Where have ye been all the day, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"I have been to my stepmother. Mummy, make my bed, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"What did she give you for your supper, my own dear darling boy?
What did she give you for your supper, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"I got fish and I got broth. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"Where did she get the fish that she give you, my own dear darling boy?
Where did she get the fish that she give you, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"Hedges sought and ditches caught. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"What did you do with your fishbones, my own dear darling boy?
What did you do with your fishbones, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"I gave them to my greyhound. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"Tell me, what did your greyhound do, my own dear darling boy?
Tell me, what did your greyhound do, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"There he swelled and there he died. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"I fear that she's done you deadly wrong, my own dear darling boy!
I fear that she's done you deadly wrong, my own dear comfort and joy."
"She took me in, but she did me slay. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"What will you leave to your mother, my own dear darling boy?
What will you leave to your mother, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"I'll leave you my house and land. Oh, make my bed, Mummy, do.
Make my bed, Mummy, do."

"What will you leave your stepmother, my own dear darling boy?
What will you leave your stepmother, my own dear comfort and joy?"
"Bind her with rope and there let her hang, with the halter that hangs on the tree,
For the poisoning of me."

Thursday, October 4, 2007

The Kiddie Korner

I used to love the Corner Brewery in Ypsi.

I was all about a new place where you can drink micro-brewed pints, where there's plenty of room, an enjoyable "beer hall" ambience, and a refreshingly low smoke factor, even outside in the beer garden.

Unfortunately, it's become a day-care center.

Sitting outside in the beer garden has become a children-watching activity. You can try to ignore them, but they're likely to run by with glasses of water and splash it on each other (and you) as they squeal at each other. This seems to be a favorite activity there. Sometimes they throw dirt instead, just to vary things up. Some nice daddy is forever rolling around on the grass with shrieking children giggling on top of him. And let's not forget the babies and toddlers. They're everywhere. More than once, I have given up an attempt to visit the bathroom because there's a passel of tiny, screaming girls playing in there.

Do I sound like a child-hater? I do, don't I? But I'm not. I'm a lazy parent hater.

Because where are the parents? Most of the time they're either working the tribe of Korner Kids into a frenzy or they're completely ignoring them.

And here's what happens when you sit around enjoying your nice pint with your friends and ignoring your kids:

You are, in effect, delegating babysitting duties to other patrons, who are also trying to sit around enjoying their nice pints with their friends.

Only now they're stuck with your kid. Your bored kid. Your tired, bored kid.

And it isn't the kid's fault. The kids are probably perfectly delightful. I like kids. It's just that there seems to be an awful lot of parents bringing their kids to this groovy bar and letting them go nuts. Hey! Free supervised day care, and you can drink beer! What a great place! Let's tell our other friends with small children!

Alas, poor Corner. I knew you well.

Well, I won't give up on the Corner yet. I'll just stop coming by after work. Instead, I'll start visiting later in the evening. I see they've got signs up now, politely requesting that people take their children home before nine. The tired little boy who took over the corner where we were sitting last night was prattling away at us till almost 9:30, when his parents finally and reluctantly decided to leave. And this was a school night, mind you! Still, I'm sure if I come by after nine, I'll have a pretty good chance of missing the daily kiddie party.

It's too bad: I used to love popping by there after work for a delectable post-work pint - and I'll miss those happy-hour prices, too. I probably won't go as often if I can only go after nine. But still, I'll go. I'll miss it otherwise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I'm going to fail high school!

Here's what I would like to know. When do I stop having the dream where I'm in high school, I forget about the final biology exam, I walk in late to take the test, and I realize I have no idea what to write and I'm going to fail high school because of it?

And when do I stop waking up from these dreams frantically trying to think of ways to take the exam late or turn some extra assignment in so that I can actually manage to pass?

Because that's the part that amazes me: that it still takes me a full half-minute of awake time to realize that I did, in fact, pass high school. As a matter of fact, it was twenty years ago!

I don't really mind the waking part, actually: the relief is still such a pure rush when the realization kicks in! It's quite a pleasant way to start the day. Wheeeee! I am a proud high-school graduate! Let the day begin!

Still, I have to wonder when my poor subconscious can stop carrying around that biology exam from 1987.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A visit to the dentist

I had a dentist appointment today, and I was expecting the worst. For one thing, it's been a year since I last went. Secondly, the last time I was there, I had to schedule a crown: an appointment I later cancelled. Finally, I was advised that I really needed to floss because my gums were looking a bit dodgy. (Confession: I never floss.)

Today I went in, obviously full of trepidation... and was told:

1. that I had obviously been brushing efficiently because there was no indication of gum disease,

2. that I had no cavities, and

3. the tooth that had needed the crown is now downgraded to "let's just keep an eye on it" status.

I think it's all about the SoniCare toothbrush. I really do. That thing is magical.

But I do hereby vow to floss from this day forward unto eternity. Just in case my luck doesn't hold.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunsets and chili

Well, that was a good weekend.

Yesterday was Christine's housewarming shindig at her gorgeous new pad, so I got to hang out on her deck during the sunset and chat with some fun people.

And today was the Great Lakes Regional Chili Cookoff in Plymouth, where friends Mike and Chris offered up their "Red Carpet chili" among dozens of other chili contestants. They were going for the popular-vote prize, and I hope they made it!

Tonight we watched some silly stuff I got from Netflix on a whim: a "Lost in Space" episode I remember from when I was about nine and decided I had to see again (it was surprisingly good!), and a couple of "Happy Days" episodes, because it's been years since I've seen one.

Now it's time for "David and Lisa" on TCM, which is pretty gut-wrenching, so it'll offset all that TV fluff! Then it's time to climb into bed with a book for a while. I'm glad I don't have a big stack of papers to grade. Poor Scott.

So -- a good weekend. And I even managed to do a giant laundromat run, too.

Very pleasing.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nick Lowe!

Well, he was amazing: just Nick and an acoustic guitar, creating a perfect web of perfect pop and leading us all blindly and happily into it. The amazing thing about his songs is that they could have been written in any decade, from the Fifties to today: they seem unattached to any time or style or place. They just - float!

I loved the fact that he said, at the Ark: "This is the folk section of the concert, where I tell heartwarming stories about, oh, I don't know, my grandfather's hat."

I loved the fact that he played "Cruel to Be Kind" with gentlemanly enthusiasm, giving a deep bow at the end of the song, as though to say, yep, there it is: my hit.

And I loved his new songs. I'm definitely buying the new album.

A memorable Tuesday if ever there was one.

Here's the funny part.

When I was a freshman in college in 1988, I remember meeting "old" Ann Arborites who would wax nostalgic about concerts they'd seen: "Dude, I saw so-and-so twenty years ago." That would mean 1968, fer Chrissakes, and I would gaze back at them with wide-eyed freshman respect for their admirable ancientness. The point is, I saw Nick Lowe that year, and sailed back to the dorm on a cloud afterwards. And I was telling a coworker about that concert today, in 2007.

And I saw that look on his face. Unmistakable.

Come to Great-Aunt Maeve, little children, that she may reminisce about concerts from olden times!

Never mind. I've seen the Basher twice, in my teens and in my thirties, and all I can say is that his music ages like a fine vintage. Cheers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Switchboard Susan, won't you give me a line?"

Sometimes the Fates smile bountifully upon me. I can't believe my luck.

At the very last second, a coworker who had tickets to tonight's sold-out Nick Lowe show at the Ark couldn't go.

Guess who's going!

Me! Me!

Scary article from Conde Nast Traveler...

Creepy enough to blog.

Information deemed ‘suspicious’ can be catalogued, stored up to 15 years

By Stephan Wilkinson
Updated: 1:35 p.m. ET Sept. 24, 2007

I have a simple black T-shirt bearing the legend, in red, white and blue, "01.20.09 BUSH'S LAST DAY."

Note to self: Don't ever pack it on an airline or cruise trip, or on a drive through any border crossing where the Fedskis are liable to inspect my bags.

The Washington Post has just reported that the Department of Homeland Security is collecting information on travelers carrying anything, accent on anything, that might be deemed suspicious, to a far greater degree than was previously thought. This information will be stored for up to 15 years (which should be long enough to get the camps up and running) in order to identify the malcontents, terrorists, wrong-thinkers and various security threats among us.

Apparently there's something called the Automated Targeting System , which digests terabytes of data to pinpoint risky travelers trying to enter the country. Now when they swipe your passport through the reader, they're not just looking for your rap sheet but for evidence of ... well, who knows? San Francisco civil liberties activist John Gilmore recently discovered that the government was storing for a decade and a half the information that he once carried aboard a flight — a book titled “Drugs and Rights” and small flashlights bearing a stylized marijuana-leaf symbol.

What not to carry, ever: a biography of Lenin. The Quran. That copy of Juggs that you picked up at the airport newsstand. A Rasta hat. Anything that says Cuba. A Graydon Carter editorial. Your entire collection of Barbra Streisand photos. A Pete Seeger CD. The Whole Earth Catalog. Your favorite Che T-shirt.

Why do I think it's gonna get worse before it gets better?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Let the work week begin!

The tiny DJ in my Shuffle accompanied my walk from the bus stop to my workplace with the following eclectic collection of tunes:

Henry Purcell (The Purcell Quartet) -- Fantasia upon a ground, for 3 violins & continuo
Dolly Parton and Tommy James -- Crimson and Clover
Pete Townshend -- Let My Love Open the Door
Philip Glass (Uakti) -- Paru River
Kristy MacColl -- A New England

Once again, coming up the hill behind work to the jangly shimmer of Kristy MacColl! I feel ready for the work week.

(Thank God none of the very few people who read this blog are likely to excommunicate me for having a Philip Glass piece on my iPod. Shhhh... the purists among my classical colleagues need never know...!)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A poem from District Court Judge Dr. Seuss

A judge in New Hampshire recently received a hard-boiled egg in a manila file from an angry prison inmate, as part of a lawsuit filed by the inmate protesting his prison-fare diet. The judge responded as follows:

"I do not like eggs in the file.
I do not like them any style.
I will not take them fried or boiled.
I will not take them poached or broiled.
I will not take them soft or scrambled
Despite an argument well-rambled.
No fan I am
Of the egg at hand.
Destroy that egg! Today! Today!
Today, I say! Without delay!"



I was amused.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Never mind the ice cream, it's all about the chocolate

My mother knows how to make the best of a situation. That second-to-last sentence makes me prouder than ever to be her daughter! :-)

From today's e-mail message:

I don't think I have told you about the ice cream truck, have I? We are both intrigued by it because the ice cream wagon seems like something out of long-ago days. I'm still surprised that it works here, where one can find a 711 within a few blocks of anywhere and nip in for an ice cream at any hour of the day or night. But our ice cream wagon is active; it drives along our street toward the harbor clanging its bell, then turns and drives back, clanging its bell. It then parks just on the other side of the school, (which is practically next door to us) and waits for customers to show up. I had gone to it once, out of curiosity, even bought some ice cream. A few days ago, we received an ad saying that the ice cream wagon would have a new product, the Swiss luxury ice cream Mövenpick, and they had a caramel flavor. Dad likes caramel ice cream, and it's not easy to find, so last night when I heard the bell clanging, I rushed out. Because my dumb house slippers fall off at the slightest provocation, I took them off in order to negotiate the stairs faster, then ran in my stocking feet along the wet sidewalk to the ice cream wagon. There I bought the caramel ice cream for Dad and vanilla with dark chocolate bits for me. Today I tried my luxury Swiss ice cream. What a disappointment! The ice cream itself had an almost sour taste. In the end, I dumped the whole thing out in a sieve, ran water over it to melt the ice cream, and ate the dark chocolate bits. How's that for pragmatism?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Weekend getaway

Well, it was a hyggelig weekend, as they say in Denmark. I'm glad we did it. It was nice and chilly out, too, which made for a bracing boat ride and a pleasant stomp around the lake.

The funny thing about going somewhere for a day is that it feels as though I've actually "been on vacation," even though it was really just part of a weekend. There were some pretty views to be seen on the ride there and back, too. Although we were mostly just obsessed with the five million channels on Christine's XM radio on the way back...!

Anyway. Here's to weekend getaways.

Couple of photos:


Preparing the taco bar

Something is on fire!

Kitchen chat

Contrasts in hair color on the deck

Parting shot

Fun times!

In other news, I solved the Case of the Black Rectangle this morning. I had the 'Caption' setting on 'Text1,' whatever that is, when I thought I had turned it to 'Off.' So there you go. End of mystery!

I start the week refreshed by having been up north and with my television viewing unobscured by black rectangles.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Off I go...

Heading off early tomorrow morning for book-club getaway weekend in Evart. Should be good and cold up there, too - I bet I'll be able to see my breath in the morning.

We always each bring something to eat for book club, and this time I'm bringing Mexican black bean salsa salad, for which I spent almost two hours cutting up vegetables this evening. I am v-e-r-y s-l-o-w at cutting up vegetables, especially if the recipe says "diced," which always makes me think, "Hmm, maybe I'd better see if I can get these tiny bits even tinier..."

I've never made anything like this before, mixing up the "vinaigrette" and everything. We'll see how it goes. I'm not even sure I'd know if it was any good. I haven't eaten much in the way of black bean salsa salads. But the book we read was set in Arizona, and we're doing a taco bar, so I thought I'd try it.

In other news, I found a way to dampen down the din of the two blaring televisions at the laundromat this evening. Simply load Beethoven's seventh symphony to your iPod and blast it at top volume into your ears while your clothes are doing their thing. This glorious plan even blocked out the sitcom laugh tracks... that's the noise that usually sets my teeth on edge when I do laundry. Just try not to conduct during the exciting parts! You'll look like an idiot.

Actually, the wildly creative French DJ group Birdy Nam Nam has excellent TV noise-blocking properties, too. I tried them last week at the laundromat and they passed with flying colors.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Rectangles and slippers

The mystery thickens around the case of the black rectangle. Scott noticed that it comes up more frequently when there's a scrolling text banner at the bottom of the screen of the channel you're watching, so we think it means the TV thinks it's being communicated to. Basically, the black rectangle is its way of saying, "V-ger requires the information!"

However, things are further complicated by the fact that it came up while we were watching a DVD with the subtitles on: suddenly, there was the rectangle, and the subtitles were appearing inside it!

I did find something online suggesting that we accidentally punched the right buttons on the remote for the TV to go into programming mode, and the way around that is to unplug it for four hours to let it reset.

We'll try that.

Now let me exult about the weather for a moment. I woke up cold! Not just chilly! It feels like late October. I may have to extract the goosedown dyne from the back of the closet. Visions of jack-o'-lanterns dance in my head. I find myself dreaming of hearty CrockPot roasts and bowls of chunky stew. I dug out my toasty slippers when I got up and popped my icy feet happily into them. The cat was peeping pathetically in a very particular "Hey, it's cold!" kind of way when I got downstairs, too. Fall! Glorious fall.

Bring it on, I say.

May summer and its sweaty misery die an early death this year.

Update: I am updating this post several months later because I'm seeing several people hitting my blog via a Google search for what to do about the black rectangle on their TV screens. Answer: Your caption setting is on Text1 or Text2! Grab your remote, hit Menu, deselect the Text1 or Text2 caption setting, and you'll be rectangle-free. At least I was. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Curse of the Black Rectangle

My beautiful and beloved flat-screen TV doesn't love me any more. Not always, anyway.

Last night was fine. Watched three solid hours of 9/11 programming without a hitch - I got sucked in when I saw all that familiar footage, marveling that those events actually happened and changed the world the way they did.

But this morning, forget about waking up with coffee and morning television! (All for the best, really, but that's not the point.)

So what's happening? Well, recently, a huge black rectangle will sometimes appear across the entire lower part of the screen, essentially making the channel impossible to watch. Changing the channel helps, but eventually it appears there, too (sometimes). Changing volume continuously up and down works, but it's exhausting on the ol' thumb!

What is it? Why is it there? What does it want?

Must scour Google today to see what I can find out.

Update: I am updating this post several months later because I'm seeing several people hitting my blog via a Google search for what to do about the black rectangle on their TV screens. Answer: Your caption setting is on Text1 or Text2! Grab your remote, hit Menu, deselect the Text1 or Text2 caption setting, and you'll be rectangle-free. At least I was. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I have a new mouse!

A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing increased pain in my right index finger. It hurt to bend it, and there seemed to be actual swelling at the lower finger joint. I was really worried, but luckily the worst of the pain was on a Friday and the swelling and pain had dissipated by Monday.

But the pain's creeping back now, and I find that I'm substituting my left index finger for tasks like pushing down on a hairspray bottle, where I need a certain amount of force. This is not good. Worse, I find that at the end of a day of very focused work at my mouse and computer, the finger stiffens up again.

I asked my dad about it. His e-mailed advice: It's no big deal - it's called "click-happy finger" from punching keyboards and clicking on the mouse for about a million times a day (no kidding!). Go to your doctor and all he has to do is make a little incision on a tendon, and you'll be O.K. again.

Ack! No incisions, please!!

I asked my mother-in-law. Her advice: "It's arthritis. Take Advil."

Ack! Arthritis?! Surely not! And why would it only be on the one finger?

But now, I believe my troubles are at an end.


Because I have requested and received a VerticalMouse at work!

It took me less than five minutes to get used to using it. It's so comfortable to use. My hand is in its usual mousing position, just sideways, in a sort of handshake position. The fingers barely move, and my arm (not my wrist!) does all the work.

I'm loving it.

We'll see how the finger situation goes.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not a bad walk after all

Well, this morning I got off at the new bus stop at Ellsworth and State and walked to work from there. Yeah, I arrived all sweaty, but the walk itself really wasn't bad, especially with my iPod Shuffle to keep me company. Here's what it picked for me:

Fiamma Fumana - Balla!
Sleeper - Statuesque
The Cottars - Pat Works on the Railway
Janelle Monae - Lettin' Go

I applaud the infinitessimally tiny DJ inside my Shuffle. Plus it was just starting in on Kristy MacColl's On the Beach when I came up the hill behind work, and to my astonishment I almost wished I had a little longer to go.

Of course, let's see what I say when my nose gets frostbite on that walk in a couple of months.

But by then, of course, I'll be driving a car.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hey! A blog makeover!

Well, looky that - I picked out a new template and added a couple of things.

I find Twitter amazingly silly, but I am absentminded and I thought it might be a good reminder system... so ignore any messages like "Remember cat food" or something that may appear under Twitter Updates! We'll see how it goes. Maybe it won't work. Or maybe I'll really just start reporting on the minutiae of my life. "Eating a bowl of cereal." "Those Geico commercials are a hoot." "Where's the cat?" "Oh, no! Out of toilet paper!"

Plus I like having links to my beloved Pandora stations and my new Funtrivia game in one convenient spot.

And who knows, maybe I'll blog more often after all this fancy renovation. :-)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Mmmm! Delectable!

Last night, I made the easiest, most delicious thing in the CrockPot.

Just get out there and invest in some Emeril's Chicken Rub (it's got basil, oregano, paprika, crushed red pepper, and a few other spices).

Buy three or four pounds of chicken parts with bone and skin still on. Wash and dry it all. Coat it with the chicken rub. Roll up two or largish three balls of aluminum foil and stick 'em in the bottom of the CrockPot. Put the chicken parts on top of 'em. Leave it on "Low" for eight hours.

The chicken basically just sits on the aluminum foil balls and roasts all day.

I am telling you, it comes all all moist and flavorful and fabulous beyond measure. All the fat collects around the aluminum foil balls and all the good stuff stays put.

We had rice and steamed vegetables with it and I felt as though I was living the life of Riley.

Plus it makes for an amazing chicken sandwich the next day. I just had one for lunch. :-)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A book review from my mother

My mother is unimpressed:

I have started the book by the Danish author living in Dublin, called The Exception. I'm sorry to say that so far I am not the least bit interested. I haven't read enough to connect to characters or plot, and I'm being held back by the exceedingly dull writing style. It's that Danish simplicity-and-realism stuff. Here's a sentence from page 8: "Iben and Malene hang up their coats in the narrow passage of Sophie's flat. The air is heavy with the smell of fried food, wine, and people." From page 70 (which I haven't reached yet): "Anne-Lise sits down. Iben looks in her address book and realises that she has the wrong number for Anne-Lise." Page 371: "Malene looks around the room. The remains of her supper are on the coffee table." See what I mean? I doubt that I'll finish this book. In fact, I may not go any farther at all. It's just tedious.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Thank you, AATA!

Dear Ann Arbor Transit Authority,

Thanks for eliminating the Airport Blvd. bus stops on Route 6 in Ann Arbor. Since my closest stop will now be 20 minutes or so away from my work, on foot, and since that really isn't feasible as a long-term arrangement for getting to work, I am going to drive to work like all red-blooded Americans.

This is actually a good thing. The bus system was always so convenient for me that I never really bothered to learn to drive since arriving here in 1988. Removing my public-transportation options almost 20 years later has actually forced my hand. Now I have to learn to drive!

So - thanks! Just think: I probably would have kept right on putting money every day into your buses' fare boxes if you hadn't left all of us in the industrial complex around Airport Blvd. stranded. Sure, some of those sad sacks will be forced to grit their teeth from the corner of Ellsworth and State to their workplaces, arriving with sweat pouring down their faces in the summer or their noses frostbitten in winter. But not me! I bet I'll love driving! I bet I'll wonder why I wasted all that time on buses!

Pfft. Buses are for wimpy Europeans, not free-wheelin' spirits like me. Thanks for making me realize that.

This is going to be awesome!

Gratefully yours,

Red-Blooded American Me

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Song Song

Wow, I haven't posted since May! Not much of a blogger, am I? Oh, well.
I recently remembered the following folk-song parody by the McCalmans and was so pleased to have done so that I've decided to post the amusing lyrics.


The Song Song --The McCalmans

Now the song’s beginning. Here’s the second line.
The first verse is almost finished: Aren’t we doing fine?

And here comes the chorus! Won’t you sing along?
Join us in the chorus - the chorus of this song.
Ooooooooh! Ooooooooh!

Second verse already. Isn’t singing fun?
We could sing this verse all night, but - whoops! The verse is done.

And here comes the chorus! Won’t you sing along?
Join us in the chorus - the chorus of this song.
Ooooooooh! Ooooooooh!

Here’s the middle eight in the middle.
Eight bars long. This is the sixth one.

…This is the six-bar instrumental!...

The third verse is the sad verse. It’s like leaving an old friend.
We’ve got to say goodbye now, Because we’ve reached the end. Yes, it’s the end.



the chorus! Won’t you sing along?
Join us in the chorus - the chorus of this song. Ooooooooh! Ooooooooh!

Here’s a problem: how to end it?
Sing the last line! Once more with feeling:

The chorus… of… this… song!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stump the Bookseller!

I am so thrilled to have discovered this site that I must share it forthwith. There are many books from my childhood of voracious reading that I wish I could remember titles and authors for, but all I remember are vague details about the storylines and characters. Turns out I’m not alone… there’s a whole site, connected to a little independent bookstore in Cleveland, where people submit what they can remember about various children's books, and other people try to determine a title and author for what’s been described.

Isn’t that great? As I prowled the site, I have already found all kinds of books I once treasured. Now I have a list next time I go to the library!

There’s one, though, that I have always wanted to find, and not even this place seemed to have a reference to it. So I impulsively spent the two dollars to submit the following question, which they will post within the next couple of days:

I remember a book where a girl went reluctantly on holiday to the beach. She was hopping along the boards of the pier, and she hopped a certain pattern: forward one, back two, forward three, or something like that. Suddenly she could see a boy who hadn't been there before, who was dressed oddly. He was from another time, and she had travelled back to it. She had to get back to her own time by reversing the hopping pattern (which she almost forgot how to do, causing a certain amount of panic), and afterwards she kept coming back to help the boy and his father with... something... which eventually changes the future, I think. I was fascinated by the hopping-pattern thing, and tried it on several piers. ;-)

I can’t wait to see if anyone remembers it! I loved that book desperately, and it made for a wealth of adventures imagined on the pier in East Tawas.

Update: Mystery solved! It was called Up the Pier by Helen Cresswell. And apparently, alas, it's impossible to find any more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Introducing the HankTube!

Now you, too, can own a HankTube!

Elegantly handmade on a Knifty Knitter (yes, it's meant be a little raggedy and uneven), this unique item will keep your cat toasty... if a little irritable.

I haven't figured out how to close it up at the top, so your HankTube will eventually unravel... but this just means it serves the additional purpose of reminding you of the fleeting nature of all things.

A tube for your cat... and deep, philosophical contemplation for you. You'll wonder how either of you ever managed before the HankTube!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Birth Mom Day!

I celebrated Mother's Day and my own upcoming birthday yesterday with my in-laws.

My mother-in-law had a cake to cover both occasions, and we had a champagne toast for "Birth Mom Day"!

Here's to Miss P.!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Eurovision fever 2007

Well, the Eurovision Song Contest is over. I had Internet connectivity problems during almost the entire voting process, which had me screaming at an uncaring God for half an hour, but I was eventually allowed back online just in time to watch Serbia win. At least I got to watch all the songs being performed, which is the main thing.

It's funny: I originally found "Molitva" rather boring, but it grew on me sometime between Thursday's semifinal and tonight. It's a pretty good straight-up ballad, and I can't deny that Marija Serifovic has a hell of a voice. Besides, Serbia has a lot of bad vuggum to live down, and winning the Eurovision Song Contest with an emotional song about acceptance and love is a way to help do that. I'm okay with it. Even though I only gave their song an 8.

My own top 5 were the Ukraine, whose song almost gave me a heart attack because I was whirling around the room dancing to it, Slovenia, which was represented by the capacious voice of operatic soprano Alenka Gotar, and Georgia, with its Cossack sword dancers and gutsy vocalist. I had to love Germany, too, for pretending so successfully that it's the suave Fifties, back when the song "Volare" made its debut in the Eurovision Song Contest. A-OK, Daddy-o. I was quite fond of the odd little song from France, too. Also -- okay, I guess it's my top 6 -- I really enjoyed Bulgaria's high-energy percussion extravaganza. Lots of honestly good songs this time. A good Eurovision harvest!

I was sorry to see Ireland's sweet little traditional ditty come in last. I liked it a lot. And I suspect the U.K. will make a fuss about coming in second-to-last, too: theirs was a cute novelty number, let's face it. Both Germany and France were way at the bottom of the tabulated votes, too: out of 24 countries, they came in 19th and 22nd, respectively. I'm sure there'll be many a disgruntled conspiratorialist viewpoint tomorrow's Western European media.

Nevertheless, I think the fact that there was such an Eastern tilt to the Contest this year has a very simple reason: They had really good songs.

Friday, April 27, 2007

It all counts!

We started our walking program at work today, and I somehow skimmed right past the part on the e-mail where it said there'd be a lecture. I wouldn't have gone if I'd read it.

For people like me, people who are significantly overweight and who have had unhealthy habits for years, it's really not all that helpful to tell us to exercise an hour every day, avoid all bad things on this earth, and eat bucketloads of dark, leafy greens. We know that healthy, slender people do that, and bully for them. We don't. We need to start slow, we need to start small, and we need to feel okay about that.

I've been thinking about this for a while, actually. I saw Dr. Nancy Snyderman on "Good Morning America" recently, whose advice always irritates me: if I lived the way she recommends I live, I'd spend every living moment buying, preparing, and eating healthful vegetables, and every other living moment exercising. In any case, she was saying that she went for a heart test recently and it wasn't perfect, "most likely due to those cheeseburgers I ate as a teen," she said, with perfect seriousness. I mean...! Here's this spectacularly healthy woman who's made a career of eating dark, leafy greens, for decades, and she thinks choices she made as a teen might have damaged her health?! What does that say to people like me? I'll tell you what it says: Don't bother. It's too late. The changes would have to be drastic, and even then, at this point you've probably done too much damage already. How demoralizing! Makes me want to order pizza. Large.

I'll participate in the walking program, because I believe that any change is good change. 15 minutes walking during the work day is 15 minutes not spent sitting. It all counts.

But I think I may need to develop my own program, and hey, maybe I'll call it "It All Counts." Something actually encouraging.

Maybe I'll end up on GMA talking with Dr. Snyderman about it.

That could get ugly!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

A movie review from my mother

My mother is not impressed:

Today, Dad and I saw a film called "Sunshine." It's science fiction: the sun is dying, so the earth is doomed, therefore a mission, Icarus 2, is sent to save the sun. There had been an Icarus 1 earlier, but it disappeared without a trace. Well, this movie has impressive photography and lots of overpowering pictures of space and the vehicle itself, but other than that it just doesn't work. Those shots of the vehicle and space are repetitive and eventually boring.The story line is practically non-existent. Just to show you what I mean: I didn't care one whit about what might happen to the human beings on the vehicle, now that's bad, isn't it? And I didn't care whether the mission succeeded, either. I just wanted the whole thing to be finished.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Read and release!

Every spring, I rediscover BookCrossing, only because it once again becomes fun to run about outside, leaving books hither and yon with notes urging people to take them home.

The only thing is, the books disappear all right, but people rarely journal them, and that can be unsatisfying... even though I tell myself that for all I know they're being thoroughly enjoyed. After all, last year I left a copy of Ken Mikolowski's poetry collection Big Enigmas at the now-closed Oslo sushi bar and club in Detroit. I actually watched a group of people discover it, gather around it, and even read aloud from it (Ken's poems are good for that!), and later I saw it in someone's pocket. They never journalled it on, but so what? I know it was enjoyed!

Still, when people do journal a book I've released into the wild, it makes my day. In the heady warmth of yesterday's early spring evening, I dropped off four novels around Depot Town, expecting the usual zero response rate, but feeling good about it anyway. This morning, I discovered the following journal entry for one of them:

I have not read it yet, but am planning on reading it. I saw you drop the book as I was eating at Aubrees. It caught my attention and I told my friend who I was eating with that I read on PostSecret last week about how you leave books for others to read. I was like I wonder if they are doing the same thing. The book as still there when we went out. I was like, "oh my gosh it is." This is too weird. I only read about this on Saturday, and I found a book. I am planning on reading it this weekend when I go home (which is in another state). If I finish, I will leave it somewhere there. It looks really good, I am so excited to read it.

Wheee! Someone who knew about BookCrossing already and was genuinely excited to "catch" a book that had been released into the wild!

Oh, hurrah. It's every BookCrosser's dream.

Now I want to release dozens of them!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Photo test!

Okay, I left my other blog site because I couldn't figure out how to upload a picture!

So here's one: a long-ago winter afternoon on one of the lakes in Copenhagen, skating with me mum and sis. A good picture and a happy day! Seems like a good first photo to go with.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Dumped in from my last blog

Well, I found it complicated to navigate around my other blog site, so I am abandoning it and setting up my new home here. I had only had a blog there for a few weeks anyway, so no loss. Here's what I had written so far.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Anniversaries and a fresh start

I've been a non-smoker for four months today.


All praise to the quit drug I took ( and the online quit community I joined ( And to myself, too: I'm the one who chooses daily not to smoke!

Today is also the one-year anniversary of Big Orange's death. Big Orange was a beautiful old thing, and he died at the age of 22. Video here:

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Fun with Lala

I’ve been an obsessive trader on since I learned about it a month or so ago, basically switching out all my old, underplayed CDs with ones I’ve always wanted, or ones I lent out and never got back: "Sgt. Pepper," for example – a happy reunion!

I had heard Kate Rusby on a station I created that keyed off Eliza Carthy, so I put her album “Sleepless” on my Lala trading list and got it. I found it not to be entirely my thing, basically not as traditional as I expected it to be… it wasn’t bad or anything, she’s obviously a very talented songwriter and whatnot, it’s just that I’m in a rather “trad” phase right now.

In any case, I sent it off to someone else on Lala who wanted it. On the envelope I wrote: “A little too Allison Krauss-y for my liking, but it was fine – hope you enjoy.”

I got a message back from the trader who got it, as follows:

This just arrived. Thanks for the notes on the envelope! I'm not familiar with Eliza Carthy - will have to check her out. It's so funny that you wrote that Kate is sometimes too Allison Krauss-y for you, since it was a member of Allison's band who recommended Kate to me! Guess that's not a problem for him!


I got a kick out of that.

Sunday, 28 January 2007

Ice sculptures

Scott and I went to Plymouth today to see the ice sculptures:

A frozen but festive afternoon!

Friday, 26 January 2007

Stamps for supper

There's a new Chinese postage stamp coming out in honor of the Year of the Pig:

But the best part of it is... it's sweet-and-sour pork flavored.


Thursday, 25 January 2007

Correspondence with a cat-hater

My dad hates cats. He considers them filthy creatures that serve no purpose except to cause sneezing.

He and my mother are going to be visiting in a couple of months, and they ordered a certain soap that they like to be delivered to my place for them to collect when they arrive. My dad's instructions were:

They should arrive in a couple of days, and we would like to ask you to simply put them aside away from the cat and we'll bring them home in March.

Today's correspondence made me chuckle:

Dad: Any scent of those soaps yet?

Me: Yep, they arrived yesterday. We took them out and rubbed them on the cat. I hope that’s okay.

Dad: Oh. I forgot to mention that I ordered them specially for me. They contain a certain anti cat chemical similar to rat poison, except that it only works on cats. Well, you'll have a clean flat soon.

Me: And I forgot to mention that the vet told us that Hank has a special anti-poison enzyme in his system, very rare, that has the strange side effect of dissolving any cat poisons that come into contact with him. So Hank is fine, but your soaps have all dissolved. Sorry – hope they weren’t too expensive.

Dad: Ah, but. These are special soaps that have just been put into the market, about which your small-town vet would never even hear. The soap dissolves, but reshapes again like in Terminator 2, and attacks the cat from inside. Ol' Hank would simply explode. Yuck, I'd hate to clear up the mess.

Me: Oh, dear. Hmmm. Guess I won’t have a clean apartment after all, then...

It'll probably keep going. But you get the general idea.

Monday, 22 January 2007

Something fun

Here's a fun toy.

Write up some lyrics (or just some nonsense) and have the great pop stars of the world sing them for you.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

"Jesus Camp"

Just watched the film "Jesus Camp," a documentary about the rapidly growing Evangelical movement and particularly the children growing up in it.

Really well done: maybe not particularly objective, but I would imagine it's hard to be! I came away very aware of how genuine, caring, innocent, and righteous the Evangelicals truly believe themselves to be. Some people will see this and say, "Praise God! Isn't it wonderful?" and others will be - well - terrified.

Friday, 19 January 2007

Eureka Dejavu

Eureka Dejavu is a character in Second Life. In real life she's a journalist. While I have long since lost interest in wandering aimlessly around Second Life myself, I still visit her blog:

She seems to be really studying the sociological phenomenon of having a virtual life. Innerestin' stuff. Funny, too.

Thursday, 18 January 2007

Sun and ice

A handful of pictures from the recent ice-storm phenomenon here in southeastern Michigan:

But, really, it was impossible to capture. It simply looked like a fantasy world out there, as though some glass artist had painstakingly created a movie set that looked much like our regular one except that every single thing was encased in ice.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Sometimes I love the French

Protest can't stop march of time
he Scotsman, January 2, 2007

HUNDREDS of French demonstrators saw in the New Year - by holding a protest against it. People carrying banners reading "No to 2007" and "Now is better" marched through the streets of Nantes. They called on the United Nations to stop the "mad race" of time and declare the indefinite suspension of the future. The protest was an attempt to make fun of French people's apparent fondness of saying no to any kind of change and as a different way to "celebrate" New Year. When their demonstration failed and the bells sounded the start of 2007, they quickly moved on to the next stage of they campaign - chanting "No to 2008".

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Pray on, fellas...

Sarah has alerted me to the availability of this delightful item: a canvas painting of George W. deep in prayer with his Presidential colleagues Lincoln and Washington. (I love the fact that the each of the deceased gentlemen has respectfully removed his highly representative headgear.) Yours framed for only $175.

As my sister would say, "Oo-er! That's full on!"

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Headline headache

An e-mail from Patsy:

When even The Times writes headlines such as 'The Slowdown in the Housing Market is Gaining Speed,' surely it is the end of the world.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007


An e-mail from my mother in Copenhagen:

"Thursday night I went to the dress rehearsal of "Lohengrin." This is the unconventional production that comes from Germany, the one in which most of the action takes place in a classroom. Only the very last scene is not in the classroom. The chorus members are all dressed as pupils, the boys in shorts and knee socks, the girls in short uniform-type dresses. The king wears green shorts and shirt and a papier-mache crown of yellow. Etc. There's a lot of clowning around among the kids throughout the whole thing. I have to admit that it was entertaining, never a dull moment! I think what happened is that I became schizophrenic: I enjoyed the comedy stuff on one level and the serious, magnificent music accompanying a story about holiness on a different level. But I definitely do not believe that the two parts were ever joined as a whole. The chorus was excellent and so was the orchestra. A couple of the soloists were fine, too, but the rest of them are just not of that standard. Kasper uses almost all Danish singers, not like Elaine Padmore who made this house much more international and high quality. But in spite of all that, it was a pleasurable experience, even just being in that impressive lobby area during the intervals. Oh, I almost forgot: M. told me about the stage director's words to the chorus about the production. One thing that struck me had to do with the fact that I felt several times during the production that the "mob," that is the noblemen, were very easily swayed. First they believed Lohengrin, then they believed Friederich, back and forth, easily led. The director said that the fellow who had originally conceived this production was thinking of "The Lord of the Flies" when he emphasized that point. Just as in that book, children can be easily led, easily swayed. A neat insight, don't you think?"

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

A letter from 1930

After my grandparents had died and we were sorting through their house, I found the following letter, addressed to my grandfather, written in faded pencil on a yellowed, lined piece of paper, and apparently shoved randomly into a blank notebook. My mother doesn't know who Agnes Josee is, and now I guess we'll never know!

May 25 / 30

Dear Clifford.

If you and Roy wants to come in to Muskegon I guess Etta will be going in Saturday night because she wants to be in there for Sunday to start to work. So if yous want to go why yous can take her in and she’ll show you where we live. I heard yous were over to the dance Saturday. My grandmother told me what you said about me but I don’t beleave a thing what you say or anybody else. I might be over to the dance Friday night if I stay out with Etta. I was over to the dam today watching the men work. I heard you was tight Saturday night. Say you know Saturday night when I was over to the dance and came home my mother says where was you I told her and she just laughed she said she thought that we ran into a ditch or got in a reck other wise you got me home early enough. My grandmother knock at the window. Just to see what yous would do. She laughed till she couldn’t move the way you jumped up off that seat. You tell Roy he better watch out. My mother thinks yous boys are nice. Yous can come in any Saturday and stay till Sunday or come in Sunday for all day. Write and tell me if yous can come Saturday night so we’ll have the house fixed up. Let Etta know if yous are comeing because if yous are I guess she’ll be going in to work. Well I guess I have ran out of gas.

From your loving friend

Agnes S. Josee
Miss Agnes Josee
R. R. 7 Jackson Ave.