Monthly Archives: October 2011

Smile Project

Beep, Beep... SMILE!


I finally gave in to the iPhone and allowed them to know my location. I was motivated by a story about a guy who left his iPhone in a taxi and was able to find it only because he could track its whereabouts. I, however, got an unexpected dividend.

I am now able to type in tasks and have a reminder alert go off when I leave a certain area. So as a test and a whim, I typed in my first task: Smile. And set the alarm to go off every time I left the house. And it is great! I never remember it is going to happen, but when the alarm goes off and I look down, there it is: “Smile.”

And it makes me smile.

This morning I was grumpy. Because it was Monday, and because it was the morning. The boys and I were walking to the tram and my alarm went off: Smile.

So I smiled.

After dropping the boys off, I went to a downtown cafe to work. I was the next in line, and then a man cut in front. I muttered something in English but also indicated with body language that I was next in line. He seemed to understand, but when it was the next person’s turn, he pushed ahead.

I got a shot of pissed flooding my system, but then I quickly smiled. It’s OK, I told myself, who cares, this is not a big deal. I was becoming more relaxed because I had already smiled once this morning, and had been smiling every day. I felt better.

And then the barista who has asked the guy what he wanted turned to me and smiled. “Hi!” she said. “What do you want?”

She was ignoring the guy and taking my order!

“How are you?” she continued. And then I realized I knew her. She owned a hip local artists store where I had bought a travel bag.

I ordered by double espresso and talked to her as she simultaneously filled my and the guy’s orders.

My espresso came and I pulled out my coins. But she said “No, no, this coffee is for you. It is on the house.”

I give you the power of the smile.

Jack-O’-Kitty / Boys Experiment with Genetic Engineering

Adam and Jack are very much into the idea of Mad Scientists. So it was a no brainer (literally, not a very good idea) when their Dad agreed to their request to try out a Halloween-meets-Genetically-Modified-Organisms experiment.

We sampled some DNA from Basel, our deliciously curious and trusting cat, and some pumpkins the boys recently carved with their Granny Merle. We then smeared the DNA on Basel’s very expensive, hypoallergenic, protein-encapsulated, tasty-as-all-get-out cat food (Basel has a food sensitivity and also an exquisitely calibrated palate). Basel ate the food, incorporating the DNA into his system.

We then put Basel into our DNTTAH (Dual Neutrino Tri TetraCool Anti Homologue, or Do Not Try This At Home) machine. Flicked the “on” button. Blew out all the electrical curcuits in Switzerland and Liechtenstein (disclosure: Liechtenstein only has two blenders, a toaster and one electrical bidet, so no big deal). Waited for Jessica to stop asking why her hairdryer had just stopped functioning, and opened the DNTTAH door.

It worked! Jack-O’-Kitty!

And no worries. It lasted only two minutes until Basel returned to his normal state. Though he does now have a delicious pumpkin pie smell about him.

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Bubbles! Amsterdam!

Amsterdam embraces a diversity of people, beliefs and airborne matter.

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Extra Sterk, of Course

We stocked our Amsterdam apartment with the essentials, which included toilet paper. Eventually I noticed some curious print on the packaging: “Extra Sterk”.

I have no idea what it means, and I actually never need to know. I just know it sounds cool as hell. I will now be asking for everything with extra sterk.

“Steak, medium rare, extra sterk.”

“Two shirts dry cleaned. Extra sterk, of course.”

“Dry vodka martini, shaken, not stirred, three olives, extra sterk.”

“Dude, the waves were extra sterky today.”

“This vitamin promotes good circulation, this one is for antioxidants, and this one is for extra sterk.”

“The numbers all go to eleven. Eleven. Exactly. Extra sterk.”

“I’m feeling extra sterky today.”

“Something is different about you. New haircut? Lost weight? I know, extra sterk! Nice.”

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Hello Amsterdam

We’re in Amsterdam for the week with Michael and Merle. The city is beautiful. Lots of happy people, bikes, canals, old stone buildings, cobbled streets and sidewalks, restaurants of every stripe, food and clothing stores, bikes stores, yoga studios, and cafes.

Yes, having your own weed monger may help with people’s moods, but the city carries with it a separate charm. There is a distinctive youthful, welcoming, engaging, happy energy about the place.

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Welcome to My Blog: Now Leave

This week’s top search terms for people googling and getting a link to this blog:

1. Sex Pigs

2. Faggots Grocery Store

3. David Energy

4. Productivity Frustration

The number one hit, “sex pigs”, links to the Valentine’s Day Gift, German Style post. The one with the photo of copulating almond paste pigs.

I was intrigued and so did a google image search for “sex pigs”. The results? First a disclaimer:

If you know me well, you know I embrace the weird and disturbing. The perverse and unusual. The vulgar and the bizarre. So please, please, please trust me when I say this: DO NOT google image search “sex pigs” unless you are prepared for seriously disturbing images. Let me repeat: Seriously Fucked Up Shit. Wacked. Not Normal. Not Close to Normal. Bat Shit Crazy Messed Up Creepy Lose-Your-Faith-in-the-Goodness-of-Humanity Kind of Shit. So I am not going to tell you what came up. If you want to know what I saw, you will need to do the search yourself. I am now going to wash my brain with hot water, soap, and a strong disinfectant.

A google search for “faggots grocery store” returns much tamer results: mostly mentions of the Mr Brain’s Pork Faggots highlighted in my post Not Coming Soon to America. What’s more disturbing, I think, is who is typing that search term, and just what are they looking for and why?

I’m guessing a “david energy” search is by a guy named David looking for some mid-afternoon mojo. And if he’s a Jew, he’s on the right track: Finally, a Jewish Energy Drink.

As for searching “productivity frustration,” I’m guessing a manager at the end of their rope. He or she may very well be in the middle of a heat wave — Heat Frustration Productivity Index: Extremely Hot — and sorely need an energy drink. May I suggest a nice Jewish one?

Fruit Organizers as a Metaphor for the Swiss Approach to Living

The boys’ awesome German tutor, Debbie, was digging through her bag looking for some books she had brought over for Adam and Jack. She started emptying the bag, and brought out a long, curved, yellow plastic enclosure that resembled a banana.

“Cool, a banana pencil case,” I said, picking it up.

Debbie smiled. “Ah, it’s for a banana.”

As banana’s come nature-wrapped, I found this redundant and told her so. She then pulled out an orange-colored round plastic orb. “For an orange.”

“That’s so Swiss,” I exclaimed. “Over-engineered and over-organized.”

Debbie is Swiss, so she is polite and just smiled at me.

But fruit carrying cases? Maybe for grapes that can be squashed, or a kiwi that can be bruised. But specific carrying cases for a banana, or an orange?

These are not bad things, of course. Well designed. Keeps things clean and in their place. But, maybe, just maybe, a bit too organized and structured?

I would, however, buy in a second a Slim Jim carrying case. Now that would be just the thing.

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