Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Voyage of the Bon-Bons

To the faithful that drop by, a short bid adieu. No postings for a couple of weeks, but I'll be duly recording/interpreting the exploits of the fam in the next few weeks, so raw material will be chewed and mulled over into works-in-process and by mid-August, a finished product (or two) will hopefully appear for your reading pleasure.
I'll be having some grapes peeled and some bon-bons carefully unwrapped and plopped into my mouth.
A Fair Warning is issued here.
Some tourists will be scared off the beaches of Croatia with my approach. The landed whale is off on vacation!

From Vitrolica's Webb, ,Here's the cure! I'd tried a similar tact with no success. My son couldn't discern the sarcasm from the emulation. What are they teaching kids in college these days. Obviously not the pleasures of subtlety. Or, perhaps, it wasn't the idea it was the idea "carrier". If his baka had dressed up this way, the point may have been taken.
He may have just thought she was cool.

(Psst! To guarantee a great time and minimize the questioning from relatives as to how did I let myself go (down the road of appearance ruin), I'm vacationing with body doubles. Any personal appearances will be made by one of the 2 folks pictured here. While they're out there amongst the critcal rabble being the presentable me, I'll be holed up in a taverna chomping on burek, Granicarka salami, lemoned fish, and bread. Yes, lots of thick crusted hot bread.)


Monday, July 18, 2005

Can't Say "NYET" to NYT
Lo and behold page 1 of Sunday's NYT greeted me yesterday morning. Hey, it's not me going on and on about this. It's a respected (as much as that is possible nowadays) newspaper. As is usual with most stories regarding the Croatian seaside, there are the usual story line suspects.
1) Wine.
2) Some native who reminds the writer of Zorba the Greek (no matter that Greece is two countries away). If not Zorba, then some other hairy bi-ped, like..what's that guy's name from Harry Potter? Hogarth? Hobart? Anyway, some guy sporting the latest tonsorial Unibrow.
3) Witty but depressing sayings.
4) Wine.
5) The paradox that the size of the national ego cannot be contained by the smallness of the country.
6) Did I forget to mention wine?

Although happy with the article, I'm hoping there's enough worry sprinkled within it to keep the tourists away. It's a man-eat-dog battle for those last remaining hotel rooms. Although a bottle of wine and a well-worn house stoop sounds fine to me right now.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Vision Problems

I look outside my office window and I see something like


I blink once. Twice. I see

and then

Next week's not coming fast enough.

Tuning In
As a hobby and a way to get out of the house, I, along with some 7 other equally-aged folks, do a radio show on WVUD, University of Delaware's Gateway to the World. The program, Morning After, runs from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. every Sunday (Eastern Std Time) Listening online is an option for the curious. During this summer a special kids' program runs from 8:30 to 9:30, so music of the "eclectic" (I used to love that word; it's now just verbal roadkill) kind will start @ 9:30. Each of us chooses our own music, so you're liable to hear classical, bluegrass, r & b, r & r, jazz, and (here's a word like "eclectic") "world" music. No pre-packaging. If you love/hate the mix, you have one actual person (not a committee) to praise/blame.

My own tastes run to jazz, blues, edgy folk, and the Latin-Cuban-African experience. Broad enough? Hopefully, it all intertwines and the music styles don't jump but pass into each other like so many rivers.
On tap this Sunday? Among others....
Frank & Joe Show
Esbjorn Svennson Trio
Bill Frisell
Thievery Corporation
Greg Brown
Sam Prekop
Jason Moran
Ry Cooder
Ned Sublette
Salsa Celtica

Tune in. I'll try not to disappoint you. The music list of songs played is usually posted here within a day or two in case you missed the announcements (which are minimal).

Iceland Stats

As part of the regularly unevenly timed duty of this blog, I bring you the Pictures of Iceland ranking.
#1 for the past few months (when not #2 behind the #2 for today) is this gorgeous shot from the talented Mr. Anders.

#2 for the past few months (when not #1 ahead of the #1 for today) is this waterfall shot from the lovely Aussie Ms. Camilla.

#3 is a map. Boring!

#4 and rising from #7 is this enticing invitation from the intriguing Layne Kennedy. The picture in this entry is another of Kennedy's shots available here. Take a trip over to the site. Some interesting portfolio work. The color contrasts and the starkness in some of the photos are stunning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Motorcycle Driven Verklempt

Departure date of our trip to the Land of Croats is fast approaching and last minute details and plans are being set. Realization of all sorts is also coming up. Memories of past trips there and elsewhere are bubbling up to the surface. This will be the first time that I'll actually be the driver rather than the driven. Well, at least in Europe.
Our family has gone on some long trips in the past. From Delaware to Wyoming and back in 10 days. To Lake of the Woods, Ontario in 2 weeks and back. Maximizing road time so as to maximize lazing around time. Car doors welded shut to minimize stoppages. Extra fuel tank on roof to keep the 24 hour drives in perpetual cruise control mode. Gallons of coffee and coffee nips to keep down the need for sleep. Ah, those were the days. Well, at least for me, they were.

Unbeknowest to me, the ever-loving wife was having other memories. Memories dating back to her childhood travels when the country was beset with
Wild Angels and Hell's Belles. Vicious two-wheeled messengers from the underworld who came up from the earth's fiery core through a bat-filled cave directly onto major interstate highways to prey on innocent cross-country families travelling in gasoline-short station wagons. She had gone to family drive-ins in summers long ago and took in these documentaries of motorcycle sadists. She knew what lurked behind each billboard or bush! It was the Werewolves on Wheels. Many a family trip she remembered riding shotgun while her dad drove the badlands of (insert any state here). Anxiety and fear combined with a 12 yr old imagination were her only companions. A rest stop, dark and secluded just off the edge of the interstate turned the trips into agony. What better place to be surrounded by the load roar of circling motorcycle as their riders spewed acid, venom, and phlegm on them? Certainly Death has not taken a holiday here? The load snoring of her family members offered no succor from their impending end.

I'd heard her rendition of these Hell-bound trips, believing that her laughing was an indication of having fully processed these memories from the horror category to the hilarity category. I missed that one completely. Seems that our own long trips simply brought up the horror aspect. While my mind's eye saw a long two lane highway winding to a vanishing point, the ever-loving wife saw Harleys with chain-mailed poor dental care torn leather jacketed Satans coming our way. She had kept this Cormanish vision to herself. I'd occassionally peeked at her on our long drives and concluded how peaceful she looked. Little did I know the fine line between peaceful and catatonic had been crossed.

So, when the ever-loving wife found out that the Trip to the Land of Croats was to involve driving, visions of Wild Angels on Croatian versions of Harleys came streaming forth. Now, not only would we be circled by a gang of high pitch sound mopeds threatening our lives, we would be accosted in a language she had no tentative grip of. Being verbally beaten down with words without vowels is an acoustically painful thing. The only saving grace is that the price of gas is so high there that the gangs push their bikes around the surrounded cars, motors off. Our chances of quick getaways are much higher. Besides, there don't seem to be any rest stops in Croatia, at least not ones empty of campers, truckdrivers, and asleep milicija.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

According to an article in today's NYT, old age is getting to sound better and cheaper than ever. Those albums I've got squirreled away in nooks and crannies in our house? Not needed! Thoughts on getting modern and upscaling to an iPod? Unnecessary! Intense "discussions" with the ever-loving wife as to my investments in my non-convertible (but highly playable) CD's? That's all in the past! I can sell off my stereo equipment and any other electronic playback items. As long as my head stays on my shoulders, I can carry my own music box wherever I go.

According to one Dr. Victor Aziz, a psychiatrist at St. Cadoc's Hospital in Wales, somes folks are victims of musical hallucinations.

"Dr. Aziz believes that people tend to hear songs they have heard repeatedly or that are emotionally significant to them. "There is meaning behind these things", he said".
He goes on by saying "(he) suspects that musical hallucinations will become more common in the future. People today are awash in music from radios, televisions, elevators, and supermarkets. It is possible that the pervasiveness of music may lead to more hallucinations. The types of hallucinations may also change as people experience different kinds of songs."

So, all this music-listening that I've been doing over the past 30-40 years has served to provide material for storage somewhere deep inside the gray matter. It's all sorted and waiting for the shuffle sequence to begin. And when it does, I'll be ready. I'll even buy some headphones to wear so that folks don't think I've gone completely 2 pills short of a prescription. Of course, if they bother to check to see where the headphones are plugged in, they may still start suspecting me of something.

A World of K.R.A.P.
Folks have asked me what the son has been up to, what with his final year as an undergraduate quickly approaching. I grin and simply say, "He's into some K.R.A.P.".
Well, I don't really say K (pause) R (pause) A (pause) P (pause). I say it using the traditional American pronunciation, so it comes out sounding like "crap". Knowing how proud I am of him, it's a bit disconcerting for any listener to hear that 3 years of college have landed him in merde.
What loving father would be boastful of their kin stuck in dreck?
"Is there some scatological tendencies in this family", they wonder.
The truth is he's in the Land of the Magyars, specifically the
Körös Regional Archaeological Project. Yes, these geologists/anthropologists do have a low sense of self, it seems. But, when you're digging through somone's centurires old detritus, you are possibly digging in some Körös Regional Archaeological Project.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Highly Intelligent
In preparing for a family trip to the Land of the Croats, I was drifitng around the net and found this. Now, every country is very proud of its geographical beauty and uniqueness. Intelligence is also highly prized and discussed, especially if your country is but a speck on the world's backside. How else do you explain the survival of a small country but for the wits of its inhabitants? Among the fabled geniuses of Croatia are Marco Polo (born on the island of Korcula), Nikola Tesla, and the guy who invented the tie (or kravat).

Now, it seems the native intelligence of the inhabitants is seeping down to other hairy mammals, specifically bears. Thanks to No Sheep for this story.
As Nevenka Loknar said in this story,
"The bear is so intelligent it's incredible." Well, maybe not incredible; we are talking about Croatia here, aren't we?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Been there, didn't do that

From the entries of Texas Trifles and Xenoverse, comes a good blog filler. For all thse folks that were chasing me, heres' a trail.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

Borrowing, but with credit,from FCB, a more global outlook on things:

bold the countries you've been to, underline the countries you've lived in and italicize the country you're in now...

Africa / Albania / Austria / Australasia / Bosnia-Hercegovina / Brazil / Canada / Central America / Croatia / Czech Republic / Dystopia / England / France / Germany(West) / Greece / Greek Islands / Ibiza / Iceland / Italy / Loch Ness / Luxembourg / Mexico / The Middle East / Montenegro / Morocco / Netherlands / Northwest Passage / Norway / Oceania / Portugal / Romania / Any of The Russias / San Marino / Serbia / Scotland / Slovenia (NO! Not Slovakia) / Spain / Southeast Asia / Switzerland / Turkey / U S of A / Wales / Virgin Islands

Biggest surprises?! How the hell have I not been in England, Scotland, & Ireland?

Friday, July 01, 2005


Been spending way too much time here. Specifically, this picture has been burning itself permanently on my screen. Reason? Before the collective curses and spells of my Croatian relatives combine into a horrific stew of troubles for yours truly, the family's finally getting a chnace to see the land where their paternal grandparents and this humble blogger were born.
Visiting a new country is always exciting.
Visiting a Slavic country is always full to the brim with experiences and sights that are versions of the old Catskill comedy joke:
Ira: How's the food?
Ada: Not too good.
Ira: Yeah and such small portions.

Visiting a Slavic country where you have lots of relatives guarantees you countless cheek pinchings, coulda-would-shoulda's, and hourly self-revaluations.

Not to worry! My vacation budget includes money set aside for the obligatory counselling sessions upon our return.

I am visioning:
1) Driving on the Magistrala.
2) Diving off the falls of the River Krke.
3) Burning to a crisp on the Dubrovnik walls.
4) Eating ice cream in Crikvenica.
5) Never sleeping.
6) Countless meals of cevapcici, salami, bread, tomato & pepper salad, & Plavac wine.
7) Laughing until I or the chair I'm sitting on collapse when my relatives start their unintended comedy routines.
8) Watching my family's eyes widen ever more as they see the circus that is Croatia.

Shoes (as an indicator of one's mindset)

I write off my weakness for shoes by blaming it on the genes. When my father slipped away, we were cleaning out some of his life’s accumulations and found shoes. Not some shoes, lots of shoes. Shoes still wrapped in tissue paper in boxes. Bottoms un-scuffed, just waiting to be worn on one of his neighborhood perambulations. I have a weaker strain of that mania while his grandson has the full blown version, to the point that he transports his shoes from home to college and back in their original boxes. I’ve seen that logistics thing before so I smile and shake my head.
For me, the simplification of morning rituals is not only comforting but necessary. I maximize pillow time, so going from fully relaxed and prone in bed to shaved, showered, caffeinated, and behind the wheel is a matter of 20 minutes, max. Anything that will decrease that 20 minutes thereby increasing the pillow time is a welcome addition to the morning ritual. Long ago, I figured out that work clothes should be painless and automatic. No need to fluff one’s peacock feathers in the office; chameleon dress was the most appropriate. To this end, only 2 colors of socks and 2 colors of shoes were necessary. Brown & Black. Only 2 styles of shoes were necessary (yes, I could have gone with 1, but that mania thing I mentioned…well, you do have to feed it, if only minimally). Putting on brown socks triggers putting on brown shoes. Dressing without Thinking. Perfect. Well, almost. If I could put on a khaki colored jumpsuit..? That would be perfect.

It’s been a week, it has. Last Thursday marked the beginning of the Summer College Tour. With the Youngest.
The Always-Amazing daughter.
The one who can major in anything she wants.
Succeed in any college she attended.
The one that my ever-loving wife says could learn from a stone.
Ever capable.
Ever sweet.
Ever un-sure.

We spent a 4 day weekend racking up 2,200 miles traversing the states of Pennsylvania and Ohio in search of the Perfect Fit. Student-led college tours in various colleges resulted in potential choices and general conclusions and specific inquires.
General Conclusions & Specific Inquiries
1) My ever-loving wife and I will be working until we stop to rest in our coffins to pay off college loans.
2) Why hadn’t we moved to Europe years ago to take advantage of free college education? If not Europe, Canada. The cold keeps the whiners out, the people are witty and self-deprecating, and the colleges are top-notch.
3) !!! Possible Racial Slur Alert !!! African-American students at every college we visited were the best-dressed students. No contest. I found myself averting my eyes each time a pasty Caucasian gave the tour. Didn’t want to look at their t-shirts hanging out under a wrinkly suspiciously colored shirt combined with shorts of undeterminable age and sandals/Birkys revealing un-manicured (and un-washed) toes. I apologize here; presentation is big for me. Ironing and washing are skills every high school kid, not to mention college kids, should have. That, and bow-hunting skills.
4) The best college is the college just visited.
5) There is no worst college, only a non-descript one.
6) Pittsburgh is an under-rated, interesting, and gorgeous city.
7) Every street, road, freeway, and alley is under construction or repair in Pennsylvania. Oh yeah, sidewalks too.
8) I am the subject of an Anthropology course conducted by my ever-loving wife and always-amazing daughter. Or is it a Biology course? I’ll find out which if they start dissecting me. They’ve noticed, among other quirks, that I start humming when signs warning of road construction loom up 5 miles before the worksites.
9) Carnegie-Mellon University LOVES concrete. Not just a little.
10) Did I mention Pittsburgh is a lovely place?

Upon our return, work happened the next day. Where I discovered that 2 day’s absence resulted in 5 days of additional work. I’m still working out the geometric progression on that one. But, it is Friday and a 3 day weekend of rest (NO DRIVING ANYWHERE!!) is welcome.
And needed. How do I know?
I’m looking at my feet. I have brown shoes on.
Two different brown shoes.
One has a buckle.
One does not.
I’m scooting them under the desk and pulling my pants down as low as they can go before I feel an urge to start rapping. Have to cover the shoes. I have to work on my Dressing without Thinking algorithm this weekend.

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