Wednesday, December 31, 2008

101 things to do in 1001 days

The Internet takes me to strange and inspiring places.

I had just started sending New Year's greetings to some of my expat blog contacts, and I only got to the third one on La France Profonde's sidebar: Megan of An American in Provence. I was intrigued by a passage she had in her sidebar:

"101 things in 1001 days project begun July 4th, 2008 time left until April 1st, 2011 : 821 days 4 hours and 57 minutes left"

She had no link, but geek and ye shall find: a quick Google search brought me to Day Zero - The home of the 101 things to do in 1001 days project.

As a lover of lists and goals, I might just take the plunge on this one. And also, unlike New Year's resolutions, it won't have to be done by tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings 6

Click here to play with this week's Unconscious Mutterings.
  1. Destined : to fail

  2. FAIL : too weird

  3. Camping : campground

  4. Only you : can make my life complete

  5. Incessant : mutterings

  6. Tomorrow : is another day

  7. Impressive : resumé

  8. Riches : wealth

  9. Dislike : hate

  10. Speaker : phone
Looking over these mutterings, it's interesting for me to see how the English (as a second language) teacher in me comes out. On 8 and 9, I just spit out synonyms, much as I do in class.

Number 3 was not so much a synonym, but a recurrent correction: the French word for campground is le camping, so students often, and rather logically, think that that must be the English word. So I'm often correcting that error. I can hear myself:

No, in English we go camping (to go camping gets written on the board) but the place we go to is called a campground (go to a campground flies up on the board as I speak...)


Sunday, December 28, 2008

From business school to batik


One of the miracles of the Internet is being able to keep up with all of those people I surely would have lost touch with in the pre-digital days.

As someone who loves life stories -- or life's stories -- I was tickled that electronic communication brought me back in touch with Julie, one of my former business school students, and also one of my daughters' past babysitters.

I always thought Julie's personality might take her down a different life path from the typical business route, and I was right: she is now living in Senegal and recently married batik clothing designer Omer Silé Dao Diatta. She is helping out with his business and also occasionally modeling his creations, as you can see above!

Check out Omer's website and his beautiful work here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Unconscious (Christmas) Mutterings


I decided to do this week's Unconscious Mutterings with a Christmas spirit in mind. I don't know if that's true to the idea of the activity, but it sounded like a fun thing to write.

  1. Carpet : No Christmas ideas

  2. Bottoms : Up

  3. Music : Jingle Bells

  4. Nails : Nine Inch

  5. Watch it! : Haven't we done this one before?

  6. Your life : Varied

  7. Candies : Candy Canes

  8. Chafing : Dish, I think my mom has one

  9. Svelte : A brand

  10. Ding : Dong, Christmas bells
Well, I didn't manage to keep the Christmas theme for all of the words, but a few worked out rather nicely!

Happy Holidays!

PS: Dear Santa, For Christmas I would like somebody to read and comment on my previous post. I guess it didn't get picked up by Google alerts because if it had, I'm sure some Kinks fans would have chimed in.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Rekonnekting with the Kinks 1: Arthur Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire


As I mentioned in a previous post, I have made up my mind to gradually purchase all or most of the Kinks' CDs in order to rediskover my favorite group.

If they're my favorite group, how, you might ask, did I end up living without them for practically two decades?


Let's just say practical considerations (Do you remember the young and innocent pre-Amazon days?) and life got in the way.


But I'm not one to sit by the fire in my Shangri-la. I can now one-click my way over to the UK and order as many Kinks CDs as I want; I got my first shipment a few weeks back.


I'm determined to take my time and savor every moment of this unstructured rediskovery.

The first album I have listened to repeatedly has been
Arthur Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire. I ended up with the Castle edition, which has all sorts of extra tracks, but I'm not going to deal with those.

And I'm not going to attempt a full review, which would be great if I did this for a living, or if this were my only blog, or if anyone other than fans who get Kinks Google alerts were going to read this post...

Instead, I thought I'd have my fun categorizing the songs according to my reactions to them after a nearly twenty-year hiatus, with comments on some of the songs.

MASTERPIECES:

Victoria: Between the unexpected lyrics and the infectious melody, this is not just a Kinks masterpiece; it's a rock masterpiece.

Shangri-la: This song will certainly move way up in my Kinks' Top Ten list when this whole re-listening project is over. When Ray Davies sings "But he's too scared to complain, 'cos he's conditioned that way," my heart just breaks.

OTHER GREAT TUNES:

Yes Sir, No Sir

Australia: This song is more intriguing to me since I saw Come Dancing, which picks up on the same theme.

Arthur

FUN SONGS:

Drivin': Along with Victoria, this is the song that my 17-year-old daughter likes the most on the album.

She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina: For the title if for nothing else.

SONGS I QUITE LIKE BUT MAYBE YOU HAVE TO BE A KINKS FAN TO AGREE:

Brainwashed

Young and Innocent Days: I always visualize this song; I think it certainly would have worked better in the original Arthur "televised rock opera" concept than it does on the album.

SONGS THAT DON'T QUITE DO IT FOR ME:

Some Mother's Son: I know a lot of fans love this song. To me, it starts out well but doesn't hold its promises, and veers dangerously towards the maudlin.

Nothing to Say
: I could say the same thing.

A FORGETTABLE SONG:

Mr. Churchill Says: The category is to be taken in the first degree; I had totally forgotten this song, and may well do so again.

One final comment: Arthur Or... is without a doubt my favorite Kinks' album title.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings 5



  1. Travel :: Uncountable

  2. Expensive :: Stuff

  3. Backspace :: Typing foxes

  4. Traffic noise :: Beep

  5. Now see here :: Missy

  6. Vegetables :: Vegetarian

  7. Chat :: Cat

  8. Your calling :: Teaching

  9. Weekly :: Reader

  10. Oh! :: MG

Inspired by Unconscious Mutterings. Photo credit here.



Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kinks Wordle

(Click on photo to enlarge)

In the category of "fun things to do on the Internet," I have just discovered Wordle -- thanks to big blogging buddy spacedlaw. It's an application that turns a bunch of text into an image, featuring the most frequent words.

This is my first attempt. I'm sure one can be much more poetic and artistic, but I liked the image I got out of the content of all of my blogposts about the Kinks and Ray Davies.

Wordle seems to have a rather stringent copyright rule going which I don't quite understand, but I think it means I need to link to my actual onsite version.

Since I'm going on and on about Kinkdom, I'll mention that I enjoyed reading a fresh and well-written blog post review of Ray's December 12th concert at the Hammerstein ballroom in New York. The writer had never seen the Kinks or Ray in concert, and he managed to catch the spirit of what Ray brings to audiences as well as any of us oldies.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Kinks Koncerts


I'm just passing this along. I saw this tour (or a similar version of it) in July in Seattle and it was fantastic:

"Ray Davies has 4 shows remaining on his current tour and there are still tickets available for each of the performances. By all accounts this has been an excellent tour.

The following 4 dates remain:

10 Dec, 2008: Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, Rhode Island.
11 Dec, 2008: Higher Ground, Burlington, VT.
12 Dec, 2008: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York, New York.
13 Dec, 2008: Paramount Theatre, Asbury Park, New Jersey.

You can find ticket info at Dave Emlen's Kinks site:

http://kinks.it.rit.edu/tourdates.php

If you can make it to one of the shows, please try and do so. Also let your friends know that there are still tickets available. A Ray Davies concert is a not to be missed experience. If you don't buy tickets online, call ahead to confirm seats."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings 4


Here we go again: Unconscious Mutterings 306:

  1. Love affair :: with life

  2. Bubble :: gum double

  3. Pimple :: Clearasil

  4. Knocks :: Hard

  5. Persistent :: Pain

  6. Infected :: Wound

  7. Yay! :: Good class

  8. Repaint :: a house

  9. Daily :: Post

  10. Quickly! :: Finish

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Rekonnekting with the Kinks


Last summer, my sister bought tickets for the two of us to go see Ray Davies in concert in Seattle.

Little did she know what this outing would bring about: the return of my obsession with Ray Davies and the Kinks -- a passion that has rather sadly been on standby while I have pursued being a mom, holding down a career, and basically living a grown-up's life.

It's not that music has been absent over the past years: we have plenty of CDs, and I have listened to a lot of my favorite musicians since I've lived in France. I've also gotten more into jazz, standards and French popular music.

And of course, I do own a nearly komplete kollection of the Kinks' albums: all on vinyl, sitting forlornly in my parents' basement.

Perhaps as part of my post-Obama euphoria (I'm part of Barack's generation, so I feel young again!) I have decided it is time to get the Kinks back into my listening habits. So I recently Amazon one-clicked my first Kinks CD order:

Something Else by the Kinks

Arthur or the decline and fall of the British empire

Lola vs. Powerman and the Money-go-round

Workingman's Café (a Ray Davies solo album)

And be warned -- I plan to bore you with the details of my rediskovery.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings 3

OK, I think I'm going to get addicted to this. Here are my responses to Unconscious Mutterings 305:

  1. Sleepy :: Time Herbal Tea

  2. Thanksgiving ::Thoughts

  3. Fifteen :: Again

  4. Authority :: Whatever

  5. Bangs :: Cut

  6. Curled :: Hair

  7. Young man :: Oh, don't get me started, I wonder if one of my blogging friends is going to read this. He'll know what I'm talking about.

  8. Surprised :: Often

  9. Mistake :: Error

  10. Handle it :: Don't get mad, get glad.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving

(Lovely, free image courtesy of mahalo.com)

I'm not one for touchy-feely posts, but the fact that my youngest daughter is celebrating Thanksgiving in the USA with my family this year makes me want to at least give the holiday a nod.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?

1. My darling, fun, loving, and fun-loving daughters. Don't be afraid of the teenage years!

2. My bright, generous and dynamic husband. There's never a dull moment.

3. My great family in the USA: my parents, one grandmother (yes!), my sister and her family, all of whom have been willing to take my daughter in for the whole year. I miss them and love them...which leads to:

4. Summers -- which I spend in the USA.

5. My life-long best friend whom I met well over thirty years ago. My move to France hasn't changed a thing about our relationship.

6. Having a job I love every single day. (Okay, almost every single day.)

7. The Internet. Seriously! It helps me keep in touch with the people above, old friends, and also make new ones through my blogging activities.

8. Music. Especially the Kinks, REM and Bob Dylan.

9. Obama's victory. Yes, we did.

10. Being in good health. Four years ago at this time, I was in the hospital for a rather long stay. I do blame it all on Bush's 2004 victory, because I fell ill the very day of his re-election. But that's all over now.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Popularity brings Europeana site down

When I read about the new Europeana site, I just couldn't wait to click by.

Culture! Europe! A lot of cool French stuff! A huge digital library!

It sounded like just the sort of site I had been waiting for:

"
Europeana combines the digital resources of museums and libraries, and the information provided includes paintings, maps, videos and newspapers," reports Stephen Castle in the November 19th New York Times. "Material is free of copyright so it can be downloaded for blogs, research or schoolwork by anyone with an Internet connection."

How great does that sound?

So great that the site has been receiving 10 million hits per hour, leaving it inoperational as I write:

"We launched the Europeana.eu site on 20 November and huge use - 10 million hits an hour - meant it crashed. We are doing our best to reopen Europeana.eu in a more robust version."

I can't wait!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings 2

OK, this is addictive. I think I'll do it every week. Here is Unconscious Mutterings 304:

  1. Spit it out :: the gum, you'll look like the American that you are.

  2. Shadow :: Land

  3. Database :: Access

  4. Expression :: This

  5. Boss :: Bruce

  6. Baby :: I love you

  7. Mystic :: Man

  8. Kate :: a friend, I wanted to write her last name but did opt for her anonymity

  9. Boobies :: What?

  10. Raid :: Insects, bugs

Friday, November 21, 2008

10 vaguely interesting things I've done

I found an interesting blog activity/meme at La Vie Quotidienne.

Of course, I was also intrigued by this blog because the name resembles my own Cuisine Quotidienne.

I couldn't resist leaving the blogger a comment about how a lot of people don't know what "quotidian" means. I hope her readers (somehow I'm sure it's a woman but I could be wrong) at least know what vie means.

But I digress.

The meme consisted of marking in bold print the things you've done out of a list of 150 activities. Yes: 1-5-0. That sounded like a pretty long undertaking, so I decided to take it differently and divide it in different categories of 10.

And that might just get me through to the end of November and NaBloPoMo!

So, here are 10 vaguely interesting things I've done:

1. Said “I love you” and meant it (are there that many people out there who say that insincerely? Hmmm...)

2. Visited Paris (for work, for family, for education, for travel...you name it)

3. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise (and even got in trouble for it...)

4. Gone to a huge sports game (Go Ms!)

5. Changed a baby’s diaper (Wait, are these interesting things... even vaguely...???)

6. Given more than you can afford to charity (I hope the Obama campaign counts here)

7. Bet on a winning horse (Yes, I've actually been to the races)

8. Had two hard drives for your computer (For sure!)

9. Taken a road-trip (from Olympia to Fort Collins, Colorado with my whole French family -- unforgettable)

10. Alphabetized your CDs (Mais of course! I wouldn't have it any other way...)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Unconscious mutterings 1

I got onto this fun blog activity from some new commenter, and I can't remember who! I'm sorry because I wish I could link back to you...

The idea, presented on Unconscious Mutterings, is a kind of free association activity...just for fun; no heavy psychoanalysis going on or anything! And I'm going to try to do it without too much self-monitoring or trying to be clever. Here we go with week 303 (!) of this prompt:

  1. Please stop :: referring to Obama as "le président noir" in France. The French are making way too big a deal out of his race.

  2. Move over :: rover

  3. Sweet as :: sugar, honey, sugar just couldn't be bought.

  4. Bet :: 'cha

  5. Mad about :: London

  6. It’s over :: THE ELECTION

  7. Intend to :: finish NaBloPoMo with more quirky activities like this one

  8. Blame :: game

  9. Jefferson :: Airplane

  10. Heartless :: Hopeless
Well, that was decidedly fun. I think I'll have to try it again...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A tale of two Internet sites


Somebody has probably come up with a definition of the Web 3.0, and somebody will probably be smart enough to tell me about it in a comment.

I haven't done any personal research on the concept, but I feel Barack Obama seems to be ushering in a whole new era of Internet use that will make the Web an indispensable and inescapable tool of democracy...could this be the Web 3.0?

Any doubters who thought President-elect Obama's (I love writing that) Internet strategy would slow down once enough money had been amassed to run the most brilliant presidential campaign in American history have only to click over to the uplifting, user-friendly change.gov, the new virtual "Office of the President-elect."

There's a very different feel and look going on in Obama's Web office than at the decidedly dour and user-hostile whitehouse.gov, where if you look very closely and can read tiny, light-gray print, you can figure out that President George W. Bush lives there.

The site's tab says "Welcome to the White House," but a quick scan of the content makes the visitor feel anything but. And once again, all over the site there's a clear preference for minuscule fonts -- do they really want anybody reading their garbage?

Given their own definition of the situation they're passing on to President-elect Obama, I have to think the answer is no:

"
With our Nation at war, our homeland targeted by terrorist adversaries, and our economy facing serious challenges, the Administration is committed to establishing and executing a transition plan that minimizes disruption, maintains continuity, and addresses the major changes in government since the 2000 transition..."

Well, dubya, it sounds like you did a great job with your two mandates! You've got an inspiring legacy going there!

I'm thinking I don't want that much continuity maintained. Sorry.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NaBloPoMo oblige

I don't really have the time to post to this blog today, nor to La France Profonde tomorrow. But I will: NaBloPoMo oblige.

As I mentioned over on La France Profonde, I signed up for this blogging extravaganza this month.

For those who don't know about it, NaBloPoMo is a type of blogging "event" to encourage bloggers to post every day for a month. As their site says:

Post every day for a month. That's all you have to do.

I got onto NaBloPoMo last November when some of my blogging buddies were doing it. (Oh, that peer pressure...) And at the time, I was under the impression that November was the one and only National Blog Posting Month.

I remember thinking "November -- what a terrible time to undertake such a project." The days are getting longer, winter energy lack is setting in, and in my case, my work schedule is getting heavier and heavier.

When I went to the site, though, I noticed that you can actually participate any month you want.

What the heck. It was November 1st, and I signed up.

Bear with me.

And with Blogger being so smart and all, why can't they figure out that I'm actually posting this on THURSDAY THE 13th at 6:30-ish AM and not on WEDNESDAY (Pacific Standard Time.)

I got up at 5:45 to make sure to have time to post, so this is counting for my Thursday post, no matter what the date says!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Where do we go from here?

(Click on image to enlarge.)

A friend of mine sent me this comic from a fun-looking "Webcomic" site, xkcd, whose artist is kind enough to share his creations through a Creative Commons License.

It so reflects how I am feeling right now.

What can I do with all the Internet time I spent obsessively reading fivethirtyeight, pollster, and The Huffington Post, just to name a few?

All suggestions are welcome!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Lest we forget...

Of course I am still basking in Obama's victory.

But I hope Americans will not forget the crimes of the past President.

Monday, November 03, 2008

One day more!

Maybe you have to be a political junky and a musical comedy geek to appreciate this...

Maybe you have to be me!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

My last word on the subject

(Photo courtesy of Alice from 10,000 Monkeys and a Camera, one cool blogger I got onto during the campaign)
What a long, strange trip it's been...
Let's all hope it was worth it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Positive energy is great -but I still can't resist this!

I got a recently circulating email about how we should all calm down about McPalin and their insulting, incompetent and incendiary campaign. Instead, we should start visualizing Election Day and how wonderful it will feel when Obama wins.

In fact, we should start visualizing the next eight years. It won't be easy, said the email, but Obama will be an historically great President, and we will all feel proud to have been part of his election.

That's all well and good -- but I'll think those sweet thoughts in one week.

In the meantime, take a look at Keith Olbermann's latest blast of Palin.

Oh, and is John McCain even still running? It seems like I read next to nothing about him.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Good-bye Twitter. Chirp. Tweet. tweet.

I have just chirped my last Twitter. I guess between emails, my blogs and my reasonably active Facebook account, Twitter just wasn't for me.

If you're interested in keeping in touch with me on Facebook, I'm there. I'm also hoping to organize a little Facebook election night party so I have some people to celebrate with (95.7% chance according to fivethirtyeight.com as of today) or commiserate with (4.3% chance...etc.)

(Update from Monday: make that 96.7% vs. 3.3%!)

Actually, commiserate is not a strong enough word. Let's not go there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Could you repeat that, please?



I told you John McCain had been studying at the Sarah Palin school of clarity and syntax! Or maybe the old guy is just getting tired.

I say it's time to head back to Arizona, John.

Monday, October 20, 2008

And time...goes by...so slowly....

Appetite: spotty

Internet habits: fivethirtyeight.com, then news of or from my daughter in the USA

Suspense: killing me

Two. More. Weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This speaks for itself...

...and echoes my thoughts from my previous post.

Do something -- get out and vote!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

John McCain, you are a pathetic excuse for a presidential candidate, a Senator, and a human being!



Time was when I honestly thought John McCain would run a respectful campaign for the presidency -- as he promised to do, mind you.

Now I'm starting to think that just about any of his former opponents -- maybe even Huckabee! -- would have kept things a little cleaner.

Of course the press is abounding with reports of "hate" growing in the McCain-Palin crowds, and I've spent the morning reading commentary and analyzing videos.

McCain seems to be getting some sort of credit -- "extra credit," perhaps -- for trying to tone things down on the angry, racist bent of his latest crowds. But listen to the actual text above of his half-hearted "defense" of Obama, first on the question of being "scared" by an Obama presidency:

"He is a decent person, and a person that you do not have to be scared as President of the United States."

McCain is clearly ill at ease here, or else is taking lessons at the Sarah Palin School of Syntax.

After being booed, his follow-up suggests he may also be studying at the Sarah Palin School of Incoherency, G-droppin', and Folksiness:

"Now, I I just, now I just, now, now, look, I, I, if I didn't think I wouldn't be one heckuva lot better president, I wouldn't be runnin', okay?"

What does that have to do with anything? I almost feel sorry for you, Johnny, because I'm not sure you expected to end up running this type of town hall meeting. But when you play with fire, you get burned.

And you end up having to deal with inconvenient side effects, like the most horrifying question yet asked in public by anyone during this campaign:

"I cannot trust Obama. I have read about him, and he's not, he's not...he's an Arab."

First, notice McCain's nodding understanding after the first phrase. Then his supposed "high road" reaction:

"No, m'am, no m'am, he's a decent, family man citizen..."

That totally idiotic, racist question should not have been dignified with a response and McCain should have said so in no uncertain terms.

And this is being billed as defending Obama? Giving this lady the subtext that an Arab, of course, can't be "a decent family man, citizen?"

I guess he's just doing the best he can. But it's sure not good enough.

So John, why don't you save what little is left of your much-touted honor and drop out now -- and take Caribarb Boobie with you?

Oh and hey, John, can I call you Jack? Because I can't wait to see you hit the road.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My last class was a bomb, but my reward's in heaven



Sure, there are days when I feel like a suicide bomber, plowing into a class of tired students with my arsenal of pair work, debates, vocabulary sheets, and fun facts to know and tell about the present perfect.

But is my reward in heaven?

Doggone it, Sarah, I thought you couldn't make me feel any sicker than I already am. But there you go again.

And did it cross your fact-crammed brain that references to "can I call you Joe" + wife + heaven might be a little on the tacky side?

Okay, I'll give you a break there. I don't think you did it on purpose. It's hard to keep everything straight with all those Supreme Court decisions on your mind...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

All analysis aside...


My mind is racing after a three-hour, link-jumping orgy of watching campaign-related videos and reading post-debate analysis.

I'd love to say something brilliant, but where to begin?

So I'll just quote my 15-year-old daughter who is living in the USA this year and who saw some of the debate (before falling asleep...)

"I just remember that Obama's cute and smart.
And that McCain is NOT."

Now I really can't wait until next week's debate, when we'll get to see "cute and clueless."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

With running mates like this, who needs enemies?

While John McCain is trying to get time off to prepare for his presidential debate ("Oh damn! Maybe I shouldn't have said I didn't know much about economics!"), Ms. Moose is on the campaign trail, and doing quite the "job" of it. Judge for yourself in this extract from an interview with CBS News:

"Couric: You've said, quote, 'John McCain will reform the way Wall Street does business.' Other than supporting stricter regulations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac two years ago, can you give us any more example of his leading the charge for more oversight?

Palin: I think that the example that you just cited, with his warnings two years ago about Fannie and Freddie - that, that's paramount. That's more than a heck of a lot of other senators and representatives did for us.

Couric: But he's been in Congress for 26 years. He's been chairman of the powerful Commerce Committee. And he has almost always sided with less regulation, not more.

Palin: He's also known as the maverick though, taking shots from his own party, and certainly taking shots from the other party. Trying to get people to understand what he's been talking about - the need to reform government.

Couric: But can you give me any other concrete examples? Because I know you've said Barack Obama is a lot of talk and no action. Can you give me any other examples in his 26 years of John McCain truly taking a stand on this?

Palin: I can give you examples of things that John McCain has done, that has shown his foresight, his pragmatism, and his leadership abilities. And that is what America needs today.

Couric: I'm just going to ask you one more time - not to belabor the point. Specific examples in his 26 years of pushing for more regulation.

Palin: I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you."

I'll try to find you some and I'll bring them to you? In what form? In a 15-page research paper with footnotes?

And she has been called a powerful campaigner. I guess I just don't get it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It'll be just like starting over

I just marked 270 blog posts "as read" on Google Reader.

I must use it every day. I must. I must. Repeat 100 times.

How I plan to accomplish this:

1. Get home from work. Ignore breakfast dishes left out in the kitchen, accumulated mess strewn about the living room table, professional blog post to be written, the possibility of making yet another $25.00 donation to Barack's campaign, and the overwhelming desire to scour MySpace and Facebook for traces of what my youngest daughter is up to.

2. Get out of my faux-pro work outfit and toss on something scruffy and scroungy that reminds my husband that I am, after all, an American.

3. Get a glass of wine alone (!!) and before dinner (!!!), which reminds my husband...etc.

4. Get onto my Google Reader.

Does that sound like a plan?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Gimme shelter!


I think we can safely say that we have seen way too many photos of Alaskan wildlife in the presidential campaign.
I'm not a vivid dreamer, but last night I had a nightmare that really shook me up.
A bunch of raccoons were trying to break into my living room through our sliding glass door, except my house was somehow in the USA -- get it?
Suddenly, one mangy raccoon was actually running around inside and I decided it had to go.
Oh, damn, I don't own a gun! So I took a deep breath, grabbed it, and it bit my hand real hard. Even in my sleep I could feel the palin.
Then the scenario morphed into a TV debate: Sarah Palin against Barack Obama.
(I know, Republicans, I know, Palin is not running against Obama! Except if your candidate croaks, which I guess we can all start praying won't happen, or goes totally senile, which I honestly think is taking place before our eyes, we are stuck with Ms. Moose...so stop pretending you just can't understand why people would ever make such a comparison!)
And Sarah slammed Barack with some real tough-chick crack that had the whole country buzzing about something other than the economy, health care, the war, the lies, the lies, the lies....

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Palin's problems: "Let's just make them all go away!"

This is painfully funny, or just plain painful, depending on how you look at it:

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Great Debates


"What is it exactly that a VP does every day? "

Sarah Palin

A long time ago, I thought John McCain had half a brain and that his debates with Obama might be quite interesting.

Now, after reading Big John's bizarre interview with Time magazine, and especially after his strageoid choice of a running mate, I'm starting to think he has only half a brain. And that his debates with Barack will be just plain weird.

The debate I'm really looking forward to now? Biden-Palin.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The bumper sticker of wrath



A chilling tale of anger and political hatred in Lacey, Washington:

My sister and I were stuck in traffic there on our way up to a concert in Seattle.

We were in a left-turn lane, and noticed an elderly man -- at least 75 years old -- in the lane to our right. He seemed to be muttering and trying to communicate with us somehow.

We thought he might want to get into our lane, or perhaps needed directions. So we pulled up and from the passenger side, I opened my window and was about to say "Sir, do you need any directions or anything?"

I didn't even have time to let a word slip out: he yelled right at me "OBAMA SUCKS AND SO DO YOU!"

Usually quick-tongued, I was tongue-tied. This was not at all what I had expected for our good intentions.

My sister yelped out a not-so-brilliant "Well, you suck too!" - -which we later agreed could have been a better-turned phrase. But who was I to say, having remained mute through the entire incident?

To close the little exchange, the geezer yelled "FUCK OFF!" at us and drove away.

Monday, July 28, 2008

This is where I belong


My sister and I went to a great concert on July 19th: Ray Davies at the Showbox in Seattle.

I used to really be part of the Kinks Kult and had seen the band plenty of times in the 70s and 80s, but I didn't know if I would cross Ray's path again.

The show was absolutely fantastic. I won't bore you with the details -- I've got the Kinks Preservation Society mailing list to do that -- but I can tell you the concert sure made me want to get back in the Kinks/Ray Davies fan line.

And I've just been thinking that Waterloo Sunset may be my favorite song ever.

Here's wishing you the bluest skies, Ray. I've missed you.


Discover The Kinks!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Having fun with Evernote


In my endless quest to organize my virtual life, I ran into a cool site called Evernote.

I haven't completely explored it yet, but it seems to be a little like a personal del.icio.us -- which I never use because I can never remember where the dots are in the address -- but with a visual aspect.

I'm getting notebooks going on the interesting Internet stuff I'm finding this summer, and it seems like this platform might be just what I'm looking for.

How do you organize your Web finds?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Americana 2: Roll on, Columbia roll on


(The Columbia River between Vantage and George, Washington)

Yes, there is a town called George, Washington. And the tiny town before it on the usual trip from Olympia to Spokane is aptly named Vantage, because it enjoys a view similar to the one above.

When I was a child, my family often stopped at Vantage on the way over to Spokane, where my paternal grandmother lived. There was an A&W hamburger joint perched over the river: arguably the best view from a fast-food restaurant in Washington State at the time, or ever.

I remember looking across the Columbia at a road that descended directly into the river. My father explained that that was where Vantage used to be, but that the town had been sacrificed to the construction of a dam -- the Grand Coulee? -- which somehow brought the water level up and put the town underwater. I knew that this was all planned and that it wasn't like a real flood, but the story still horrified me and I loved imagining that the remains of the town could be found intact underwater.

On last year's road trip from Olympia to Fort Collins, Colorado, it was interesting to see my French husband and daughters -- who had never been "East of the mountains" -- react to the drastic change in scenery once we got out of the somewhat wooded Ellensburg area.

"How can this be the same state?" they asked. "How can this still be my state?" I wondered.

Washington is often called "The Evergreen State," but obviously not all parts of the state were taken into consideration when choosing the nickname.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Americana 1


An over-sized, slightly tattered American flag flies over a pancake house in Ellensburg,Washington

Since I've lived in a foreign country for almost two decades, people often ask me if I "still feel American." Of course I do, but I realize that my vision of the USA is constricted by the geographical limits of my visits here: mainly Olympia, with an occasional hop up to Seattle or down to Portland.

So for me, it's the Pacific Northwest all the way, every time.

A friend recently told me he thought Pacific Northwesterners took themselves "way too seriously." Is that the case? If so, does it explain why I still feel so at home here? And why so many bloggers I relate to seem to have a PNW connection?

Last summer I did break out of my green cocoon and took a road trip to Colorado with my family. As soon as I crossed the Cascades and got "east of the mountains," I knew I was in a different world.

A pancake house was our first stop on a short but revealing journey that reminded me to think beyond Puget Sound when I am asked about the USA.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blog status

After promises of "blogging from And So Forth" over the summer, I am finding myself with strangely little to say. But I do want to signal my return to the blogosphere after varying degrees of absence from my three blogs.

I suppose I can start with the summer status of each publication:

La France Profonde: After thinking about taking a summer break from this one, I have reconsidered and will be writing some postlets from time to time.

Cuisine Quotidienne: Officially on vacation until September, with a possible redesign in the works.

This blog: Timidly tiptoeing into uncharted territory...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Signing off until summer

I have sorely neglected And So Forth lately, for various reasons. If you're reading this, you likely know I keep up two other personal blogs: La France Profonde and Cuisine Quotidienne. That keeps me pretty busy in the blogging department, and to top it off, my professional blogging load has just doubled.

So... I think I'm going to put And So Forth to sleep for a while. However, I plan to make it my summer place when I'm in Olympia for July and August, so I'll see you there and then.

In the meantime, feel free to add suggestions to my holiday reading list!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Good Google Reader Housekeeping


Feeling a little overwhelmed by all things Internet-related, and perhaps all things period, I just undertook a major clean-up of my Google Reader.

I was trying to limit myself to 50 subscriptions, but was slipping up toward 60. Is that a lot? Not really?

I just know that I was feeling discouraged when I opened, with some dread, the Reader over the weekend (because I never managed to keep up during the week, which is supposed to be the idea, right?) and was finding upwards of 150 unread posts.

So, to get an idea of reasonable dimensions, I asked a very Internet-oriented friend of mine how many feeds he had: around 30.

Definitely time to sweep up.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Real McCain


I'm sorry the website "The Real McCain" doesn't know the difference between "less" and "fewer," but I suppose that is a pathetically minor point compared to what's at stake in the 2008 election.

If you're attracted by McCain's maverick stances, if you've always been a little tempted to jump the Democratic ship if the Republicans could come up with a seemingly respectable candidate of the center, take heed: NOW IS NOT THE TIME!

Thank you, Randall, for the link to the Real McCain site in your great post Friday -- but I'd love to see you change your endorsement logo.

Of course, nobody is perfect, especially in the world of politics. But anyone who has been criticizing the Iraq war for five years and doesn't take a stand for the candidate most likely to get us out of the mess is, in my opinion, part of the problem.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Online to-read list

Do you have book recommendations for me? I am stepping up my reading pace, and thought it might be fun to put my to-read list on And So Forth. And maybe some of my readers can do just as good a job as Amazon at telling me what tomes I would enjoy.

The first entry on the list is French Toast by Harriet Welty Rochefort. I got onto it from My Inner French Girl, who is somehow much more up on everything French than I am.

In case you're wondering about my tastes, this is what I'm reading at the moment:

Since my post about reading in public, I have slipped a book into my handbag and have decided I will always have a bag-book en fraçais on me. So recommendations in French are permitted and encouraged -- but they must be slim, light volumes. This is my current French, in-the-purse, read:



My husband didn't care for it, but it was the first literally lightweight book in French that I found, so I decided to give it a try. So far, so good -- although since I don't take much public transportation, progress is markedly slow.


My current bedside volume is a third-time reread:


Not that a few books can define my tastes, but maybe it will give you some ideas!

Recommendation number two has come in from SpacedLaw:


I thank her for the reminder because I have enjoyed other books by Daniel Pennac and have meant to read this one, but kinda sorta forgot about it.

I can't wait to get more recommendations! Remember, the books don't have to be in French. I'm looking for smaller tomes in French to carry around in my handbag, and English for evening reading.

Monday, March 24, 2008

CD Pile-ups


Have you stopped buying CDs? I suppose if I were 20 years old and broke, I would have by now. But both my husband and I are still attracted by the object itself, and our eclectic tastes combined with online one-stop-shopping for used CDs means our collection is burgeoning.

Today I decided to reorganize them all: the horror, the horror. Our CD storage space is overflowing and piles of CDs are strewn about different rooms of the house. The worst part of the process is discovering empty cases or homeless discs.

Then there is the classification system itself. Pop, rock and jazz CDs don't cause that much trouble: artist by alphabetical order, then title by alphabetical order. But the classical department (we have our CDs in those two basic categories: classical and the rest) proves to be more of a challenge.

The titles are in German, French or English. So for example, within Mozart, I end up having to alphabetize "Concerto pour piano," "Piano concerto," and "Klavierkonzerte." I decide it should all go under "Concerto, piano," which will precede "Concerto, violin." But somehow nothing looks right.

And what to do about opera? I decided to give it a section of its own. But do I file "Mozart Portraits" by Cecila Bartoli under Mozart or Bartoli? It's pure Mozart, but I bought it because it was by Bartoli. And now for that matter, it's only two-thirds opera -- so does it really belong in the opera section? And what about all of those classical CDs that feature works by several different composers?

All this thought and I know it will only stay in place a few months at best...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Friday's Feast


I haven't done a Friday's Feast for a long time, but this one caught my fancy:

Appetizer

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 as highest), how much do you like your own handwriting?

I would have to say a three. It is small, scratchy, often unreadable, and totally unworthy of a member of the teaching profession.

Soup

Do you prefer baths or showers?

Sad to say in these environmentally-charged times, I prefer baths -- especially in the winter.

Salad

What was the last bad movie you watched?

My movie-watching time is so precious that I really don't watch many bad ones -- or if I start a lousy flick, I don't finish it. So I honestly can't remember.

Main Course

Name something you are addicted to and describe how it affects your life.

Like many Pacific Northwest natives, I'm addicted to coffee. It controls my early morning routine, and I really need my hit of java during the morning break at work. Since I live in France, people (like my husband) tend to look askance at my dragging-a-mug-around habit.

Dessert

Which instrument is your favorite to listen to?

I play the violin and the piano, so I feel like those should be my responses. But I think my real answer would have to be the human voice -- I just enjoy songs so much more than instrumental music.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Social Networking -- Does It Work for You?


I haven't posted much to "And So Forth" lately. But the platform carries on -- I'm not going to let go of it so quickly! And I expect to post here quite a bit this summer, from the USA, when La France Profonde and Cuisine Quotidienne won't be so relevant.

Also, I must admit that one of the reasons I haven't had much to say on this blog is that I've been playing with social networking sites.

I've held off on going there for quite a while, telling myself that if I started getting into social networking, blogging could go down the drain.

But yet these sites have tempted me. MySpace? Facebook? Linkedin? All of the above? I have reasonably lame sites on all of them. Should I just choose one?

Where do you social network online? And what do you get out of it?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

If My Life Were a Movie

OK, this is kind of lame but I'm trying to post more often to And So Forth. And I actually enjoy some of these silly Blogthings quizzes, as well as the way the site admits that they are "like junk food for your blog."

So, if my life were a movie, it would be...tah-dah...!


The Movie Of Your Life Is A Cult Classic
Quirky, offbeat, and even a little campy - your life appeals to a select few.
But if someone's obsessed with you, look out! Your fans are downright freaky.

Your best movie matches: Office Space, Showgirls, The Big Lebowski


I'll buy that since I'm feeling like my life is actually pretty boring at times.

Moviewise, I am definitely into some cult classics, though. My favorites are "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "This is Spinal Tap."

What are yours?

(Here is the link to the above quiz if you want to play: If Your Life Was a Movie, What Genre Would It Be?)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I laughed, I cried...


After my unconclusive experience watching Sweeney Todd in "version française," I was determined to catch Juno in English.

My daughters had both seen it here in French and had truly regretted not hearing the actors speaking "American."

So partly for this reason -- and partly for reasons much more related to shopping -- we zoomed off to Montpellier for the day for my daughters' only out-of-town outing of their two-week winter holiday. Travail oblige.

One film, two viaduct crossings, six pairs of new shoes, and twelve hours later, I can definitely say it was worth every minute.

I adored Juno.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cross-Cultural Clichés?

For a year or so, I have been receiving the expat email bulletin from Telegraph.co.uk. My British friends have admonished me about this source of information, and yes I KNOW THE GUARDIAN IS TEN TIMES BETTER! In fact, the latter updated their website not too long ago and it is quite spiffy-looking, so I highly recommend it for quality reading.


But for a mix of legitimate news and plenty of "oh yuk" and "gosh, really?" stories, The Telegraph is just great. It also offers a lot of high-hope-inducing headlines, like these National Cultural Profiles.

"National Cultural Profiles are your guide to the thinking patterns of all the world's major cultures. The resource is taken from the CultureActive cultural web programme, which is used by corporations, governments and non-government organisations."

The CultureActive program is available by subscription only, and I can only hope its information is more complete than the excerpts provided by the Telegraph:

"The Chinese truly believe that they possess a huge store of positive traits, which makes them superior to others..."

"Finnish manners in general are characterised by reserve, reticence and modesty. The sauna is a place where they relax and become more talkative."

"The French believe that they are intellectually superior to any other nationality."

"Senior Saudis, though benign, often adopt a moralistic tone to younger Westerners..."

"Greece is a tactile culture..."

Hmmm, I didn't realize "Greece" was a culture. It looks like both the journalism and the writing could use a little improvement on this piece!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Love emails, anyone? Everyone?

Is anybody surprised to learn that the art of writing love letters is on the wane?

I wonder -- all right, I'm downright curious -- just how long-distance romances are managed in the age of Web 2.0. I'm sure some of you out there could tell me a thing or two.

Of course lovers can now stay in real-time touch with their distant soulmate. They can use Skype to chat free -- no more sinking realizations that their long-distance love conversation just cost about $20.00.

But what has really replaced the old-fashioned love letter: the letter written solely for the purpose of expressing romantic feelings, the letter lovers used to carry around in their purse or pockets, the letter that can still spark a wave of passion when found in a box tucked away in the attic?

Do emails really cut it for this purpose?

(Inspired by Valentine's Day, this post was written last Sunday and modified to submit to Sunday Scribblings, which announced the prompt of "Passion" Sunday February 24th. Click here to read more passionate posts.)

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Take this country; come take me home again

"Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Now I've been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun..."

Hey, these are the restuls of the caucuses in my home state (Washington) and I'm proud of them!


Barack Obama
21,629
67.6%

Hillary Rodham Clinton
9,992
31.2

Or, as my friend Dan from the Empathic Rationalist put it in the conclusion of his eloquent post Spring Fever:

"Obama and I pine for the day when we Democrats will enjoy the kind of renaissance that the Republicans enjoyed with Reagan. Republicans were optimistic. They were bold enough to dream big dreams. They got together in spiritual communities and spoke about social change. They took to the airwaves spreading their ideas. They realized how easy it is to influence Congress with orchestrated letter writing campaigns. And above all else, they realized the benefits of unity.

Sure their ideas were reactionary. But at least they had faith in ideas. And armed with that faith, they changed this country and this world.

That’s all I ask – to have our own day in the sun. It doesn’t even have to be 70 degrees. But we do have to be together. You. Me. Barack. And all the other politicians and non-politicians who are willing to get their hearts broken over and over again if that’s what it takes to change the world in a progressive direction.

Keep the faith."

I wanted to end with a clip from one of Obama's speeches, but I suppose everybody who's interested has been watching them. I ended up running into something on the creative side instead.


A little sappy? Perhaps. But don't you want to feel something other than sick to your stomach when you associate the words "U.S." and "President"?

For me, at this point, any dream will do. And Obama's is a stirring one.





Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Adieu Marquee

If you read La France Profonde -- and if you're reading this, you probably do -- you know about my fascination for the underside of old-ish places.

I emphasize "old-ish" because prehistoric sites, Roman ruins and vestiges of medieval structures don't do it for me. Give me traces of the 20th century -- like this movie theater marquee in my home town, Olympia, Washington. It went up in 1940; it came down last week.

While plenty of Olympians apparently felt nostalgic about the loss of this downtown landmark, the local paper's photo gallery on the dismantling reveals that the marquee masked treasures: stained glass and sculptures that had been hidden from the public for almost 70 years.

"Removal of Capitol Theater marquee brings sadness but uncovers beauty," reads the headline of the article about the change. Would that all architectural changes were that way...

(Photo courtesy of Ken McIntyre. I couldn't find how to contact Ken to ask if I could use his photo, but given all of the html links he has provided on his Photobucket site, I assume he won't mind.

If like me, you are fascinated by old movie theaters, check out the theater section of cinematreasures.org.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fountain of Sorrow

free music

In high school and college, no singer spoke to me more than Jackson Browne. He was one of those artists that kind of dropped out of my listening habits with the years, mainly because I had all his music on (legal) cassettes.

A while back, my daughter introduced me to Deezer and I set up a Jackson Browne playlist. It's almost too painful for me to listen to, yet I keep coming back to it.

Fountain of sorrow, fountain of light...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Change I Believe In

I haven't posted much to ASF lately, and few people have noticed since this is my least-frequented blog.

I guess one of the problems of a "catch-all" blog is what to catch!

In the meantime, you will notice from the side logo that I have made up my mind about an important issue.

I was having trouble making a commitment on this primary race, and was also feeling a strange fear of being hurt. Let's face it - -some of us have been through a lot since w's election.

But partly thanks to my college friend Daniel Spiro, author of The Creed Room and blogger at Empathic Rationalist, I managed to take a stand.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll be back rambling about something here one of these days.

In the meantime, I've been posting quite a bit to Cuisine Quotidienne and La France Profonde if you want to take a look.