tisdag, mars 25, 2008


Sunset outside my sister's house in Elk River, Minnesota

I was back in Swedish class this morning, happily so. Only two of us showed, unfortunately. It's the third tier of the beginning level course. Tier two was bruising for a few class members who seemed not to study save for class mornings. They were just frustrated, I guess, and didn't sign back up.

Otherwise, the timing was just poor. People are traveling for March or have schedule conflicts during our weekly Tuesday morning timeslot.

So we have officially 8 people in the class--I think--but it seems we'll only have 5 or 6 each session. Today we only had two. Alas, that's not so bad. I pick it up quick enough and never mind making an ass of myself by revealing how much I don't know. That's really the secret of studying a foreign language. Just accept you're going to look foolish and enjoy it.

It's a lot like living with someone.

(I'm the foolish one, in that scenario, dear Muse.)


* The Swedish word for married is gift, pronounced "yift."
* The Swedish word for poison is also gift.

Han är gift. So is he married? or poison? I suppose it depends on whether one asks him or his spouse.

An ornament Suzanne gave us after an
excellent Easter dinner at her place.


I'm getting an iPhone. I'm hoping dearly they ship it this week by Wednesday, as I'll be away next week. I don't know why I paid the extra $10 for 2 to 3-day delivery. I certainly would not have done so had I known they might not ship it for a full 10 days from the time of order. Why didn't they give some warning?

For all of Apple's vision and for all of their intuitive technologies that really help people along, the company fails to understand that most of us expect shipments for online orders to ship quickly. Like, 24 or 48 hours later.

That's really standard now. C'mon, Steve Jobs. At least tell us upfront the delay in shipment might be a week or two.


I know the casual office thing is big, and I really like that. But Mr. Jobs you really should wear a suit ONCE. The black turtleneck scene is starting to get very Sprockets. True, the thought of receiving my iPhone makes me happy as a little girl, but no sir I do not want to touch your monkey.

Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance!


One of my all-time favorite lyrics misunderstandings is for the song "Safety Dance." In it, Men Without Hats sing, "And I can act like an imbecile." But someone--I won't say who, E____--heard as "...act like I'm in Brazil."

Not only is that line funny, but as 1980s' songs go, it fits. Why not act like you're in Brazil? After all, I've never once given thought to how or why "Motorin'" becomes a fitting refrain piece for a song called "Sister Christian."

Undoubtedly someone has studied all this. It just seems that the pseudo-poetics of a mid-1980s' song's narrative made sense within its time, if only that it attempted to tell a story even if it didn't make a lick of sense. Whereas, the songs of the 1990s seemed oppressively self-aware and embarrassed about it all and used mishmashes and nonsequitters as a way to destroy meaning. For example, that whole "aqua seafoam shame" in Nirvana's "All Apologies." Or anything by Pavement.

The 1990s, I think, wanted to be meaningfully unmeaning. Whereas the 1980s were unmeaningfully meaningful.

I think I just made up words. So that must be what the oughts are about: absolute, unimpeded bullshit.

How else do we explain Gwen Stefani's lyrics? How else do we explain having such a crappy president?

tisdag, mars 18, 2008

Awe and Agony


JPMorgan has offered $236 million for Bear Stearns, a firm that a year ago traded for roughly $150/share. JP's offer was for $2/share. And it may be a good offer.

The Yankees paid $275 million for a 10-year contract with Alex Rodriguez.


I really need a more business-oriented phone. The cost is tough to swallow, but it's necessary and is a write-off next year.

But I can't decide whether to go with the Blackberry or the iPhone, the latter of which is not only cool outside of business but is adapting to become a more competitive phone to RIM's Blackberry.


torsdag, mars 13, 2008


Man is it nice out! Sunny, about 50 degrees. The sun coming through the window is almost intolerable, it feels so warm after winter.

Still, I can't help but post this frosty clip (as have so many other bloggers) in which Dick Cheney spells out in a 1994 interview all the reasons the first President Bush's Iraq War could NOT go into Baghdad. His exact words: "It's a quagmire." Everything he predicted would happen then happened with Bush II: the Revenge.

So if Dick is the most powerful vice president in history--and it really has seemed that way--what the hell has he actually been doing if not advising the president? Or did he just lose it over time the way chess masters and scientists and sports coaches are depicted doing in the movies during their twilight years?

And because one needs release, I pass along to you the Christopher Walken stare page that Johnny G. sent to me today.

By the way, that Walken page has sound to it: Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." I highly recommend opening two windows, starting the Walken page (for the sound) then clicking back to this window and playing the Cheney clip. "Moonlight Sonata" is a brilliant soundtrack to Cheney's words.

onsdag, mars 12, 2008

Spring Arrives in the North

The sudden arrival of both sunshine and even temperatures in the 40s lifts a great weight from us all up here in the North. Winter will eventually end. We now enter a tenuous window in which precipitation of various forms--for the temperature will fluctuate much--may color the sky a shade of wet newsprint, but it's no longer really winter. Not really.

In Halldor Laxness' sprawling masterpiece Independent People, he describes in the middle portion of the book the agony of the people living on the harsh terrain of Iceland's moors. They are waiting for winter to yield. They are losing hope.

Then, without warning, spring arrives and delivers that feeling they had all given up on. Spring is something, he writes, you never believe in until it is already upon you.

This morning I was reminded of all that not only by the weather we are having now, but by the following, glorious quote from Aldo Leopold's Sand County Almanac, "The Geese Return":
One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese, cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.

A cardinal, whistling spring to a thaw but later finding himself mistaken, can retrieve his error by resuming his winter silence. A chipmunk, emerging for a sunbath but finding a blizzard, has only to go back to bed. But a migrating goose, staking two hundred miles of black night on the chance of finding a hole in the lake, has no easy chance for retreat. His arrival carries the conviction of a prophet who has burned his bridges.
Credit to Mike for sending along those paragraphs. Thanks, friend.

tisdag, mars 11, 2008

The Gang's All Here

Over at the OMB Watch blog, where I'd gone to read a reaction to a Wall Street Journal article on potential late Bush administration plans to lessen regulations on animal waste lagoons--I'm not kidding; that's actually why I went there--I found the following quote:
"[P]eople acting in a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could even hope to bring about." - FDR
I need to look that quote up, if only to puzzle out the use of brackets on only the p of people. Is this to suggest that President Roosevelt uttered a different letter? Did he actually cry out "Feople"? Or did he stutter or something?


I understand the quote and I do appreciate it. I very much like FDR's speeches. But what perhaps amazes me about that quote is its neutrality in its decontextualized presentation.

Is this to be a hopeful statement? Are we to believe that in numbers we can accomplish great things?

If that's the case, Barack Obama's campaign is proof. People eating yogurt with the pink lids and mailing in the tops for securing charity donations is proof. Hell, even the way my family and relatives get together to clean up the common property and cabins each year is proof.

But there's also a rather grim side to that quote. Mob mentality has never, to my knowledge, been used as a hopeful thing. And, as such, the actions that the many can achieve over the individual can be pretty ugly.

* Lynchings
* The development of the nuclear bomb.
* The election of George W. Bush. TWICE.

Not long ago I reread Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle about the endlessly competing aspects of science and relgion--how they compete with one another and within themselves. Atomic energy is both awe-inspiring and horrific. Religion is both inspiring and unforgivably capricious.

More than 2000 years ago Socrates said he was smarter than everyone else because he at least knew that he knew nothing, whereas the rest of us fools went about believing we had at least real knowledge about something.

I don't think we've ever found a snappy comeback to that old dog's thought. No wonder we made him drink hemlock.

torsdag, mars 06, 2008

In Which I Crib Farah's Hair

I don't have any comments about Farah Fawcett then or now. But when abruptly it became clear that my hair had grown too long, and, more importantly, that I'd been wearing a knit cap too long--a serious hair problem in the northern Midwest--the Muse and I discovered my hair had flipped out.

By which I mean developed a Charlie's Angels-like flip. See Farah. See me.

Unlike my fellow (female) citizens, I do not need to use hair curler trickery to achieve this look. It is simply my natural hair. Despise it, laugh at it, envy it, friends. But I found this Yahoo! Answers exchange about achieving Farah's hair to be comical. I quote without permission:
We used to get that look by taking a curling iron to the front sides of the hair. You curl holding the iron vertical, and then curl away from the face instead of toward the face. Start practicing now, because this is a look that just doesn't happen on the very first try.
Sisters, some of us are just born with the gift.

So. I did get a haircut today. The benefits of going to the same joint for many years pays off! I called this morning and got an appointment with the salon owner. She cut her grocery shopping short to take care of my shaggy head. She's a peach, that Stephanie.

But before I chopped off what was rapidly transforming itself into "hockey hair," the Muse and I had a bit of hair fun:

And because the real star of the show is Charlie's Angels, I leave you with a filched photo: Bikinis, Jodhpurs, Tennis Getups (???) and Buddhist poses. Pop culture was, I have to say, so much cooler when it could be embraced without all the self-awareness of today.

tisdag, mars 04, 2008

Dominoes and Bosse's Bad Day

Last night I played my first hands of dominoes. I very much enjoyed it. And being that I have a terrible memory for how to play games--particularly cards--it was a welcomed scenario to find one need only match a domino to one end or the other of the numbers being played.

I had, as they say, beginner's luck. I won two of the three frames we played (each frame concluding when one player wins three hands) and overall 7 of the 15 hands.

Dominoes is now my game...until, that is, I forget how to play it; which should be somewhere around 8 pm tonight.


The Nya Mål textbook we use in my weekly Swedish class follows the lives of people living in the same building (Granvägan 4, Stockholm). We follow the Åberg family (Jonas, Ellen, Emil and Klara), Bosse Palmgren, Hassan and Linda, Lisa, etc.

Hassan and Linda are expecting a child but are not married, and increasingly Hassan is nervous and irritable. Jonas doesn't help enough around the house. Emil sleeps too much and is late for class. Ellen is stressed out. Lisa dreams of a real acting job; she's sick of commercials. And poor Bosse must work at night. He drives a taxi, is divorced, and lives in a small place that his three kids come to stay in every so many weekends.

Bosse wants a day job. He needs more money. He would love to be in a relationship again.

And this morning, I had Jonas run him over with a car.

We were practicing the use of the word som, which means which and who. We'd just read a conversation in which Jonas (a painter) meets up with some buddies, has a few beers, calls for a cab, and it turns out that Bosse is the driver. So they have a chat on the way home and get to know one another.

I try to turn this into my example sentence. And since I sit up next to the instructor, I'm the first to go most lessons. I lead the class into darkness:

Jonas åker sedan taxi, som kör på Bosse.

I intended that to mean, "Jonas goes by taxi, which is driven by Bosse." What it essentially means is "Jonas drives a taxi into Bosse." Poor bastard.

CORRECTED SENTENCE: Jonas åker i taxi som Bosse kör.

I wasn't too sharp today. Alas, we've a three-week break now around Easter and will resume March 25. I hope to locate my brain in the meantime.

Glad påsk!