Sunday, October 29, 2006

Round the World, anyone?

The sky was grey today. It rained a bit. I didn't mind so much- it made me more motivated to catch up with school work. But here's a picture from yesterday's long walk of our ping-pong table. When Coy and I discovered it at the playground of a school nearby, we bought paddles that week. I won't tell you who usually wins because bragging is impolite.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Is the smell of fall really just leaves rotting?

Even if it is, I love it. I am so glad that we've had a long autumn here. By late August, I was worried that I would wake up one day to find that winter had arrived overnight. Instead the average of beautiful days has been comparable to a Memphis fall. Now the only thing I need is a good high school football game. And I'd like my husband back too. Though I imagine when he sees this picture he'll just think of how dangerous it could be to walk on all those slippery, unstable leaves. Good way to break a leg.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Birfday Greeting to Mobile

It's Coy's big day and there's an ocean between us. Thought it would be fun to have the kiddos make the card. The mushy, sentimental, who-needs-Hallmark-anyway musings need not be recorded here in the blog. Happy day to you, my love, and your wonderful brother too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

What would you do?


From the "Top 100 Things I'd Do If Ever I Became an Evil Overlord"

  1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

  2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
  3. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.
  4. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
  5. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
  6. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.
  7. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.
  8. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.
  9. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.
  10. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.
  11. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.
  12. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

Saturday

Monday, October 16, 2006

No War, No Peace

Given my current condition, it was easy to muster the patience needed to watch the 3 and a half hour Russian period film, Dr. Zhivago. I tried to watch it once in high school with my girlfriend, but only succeeded in turning a 3.5 hour film into 2.8 hours of making out. The only thing I took away from the movie was a pair of chapped lips.

Second time around, I found the story pretty engaging: the protaganist, Zhivago, is caught in the midst of World War I, the Russian revolution, and the two women he loves. Quite a tangle. But better than the story itself is the dramatic backdrop it creates for Russia during the Bolshevik revolution.

The film prompted me to brush the potato chips off the keyboard and do a little additional reading about the folks who started the Russian revolution. While researching, I came across a useful historical andecdote about Leon Trotsky and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk during the first World War.

The situation was this: Russia under the Bolsheviks was torn in too many directions - Germans to the West and internal factions struggling for power after the fall of the Tsar. To relieve some pressure, Lenin sent Trotsky to the Western Front to negotiate an armistice with Germany. In return for peace, the Germans asked for Poland and Lithuania (which, according to Wikipedia was an "easy deal"). Trotsky refused, wanting to maintain Russia's borders and to save face. Neither party would compromise. Trotsky, irritated with the Germans, stepped away from the negotiations with the solution "No war, no peace" (turn of phrase, courtesy of the Wikipedian)

This non-agreement resulted in nothing, of course, and 8 days later the Central Powers abandoned the armistice, took over Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States and threatened Petrograd. The Bolsheviks were backed into a corner. To stop the onslaught, Russia had to concede Finland, the Baltic States, Poland, Belarus, Ukriaine and all land captured during the Russo-Turkish War.

This little history lesson reminded me, much as a sage co-worker had a couple of weeks ago:

Make a decision, lest the opportunity to choose be taken from you.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The most expensive blog yet

Who knows what my Company's accident insurance had to pay to get these photos (not to mention the intangible pain and suffering of your's truly), but here you go:





For those of you who haven't heard the news, an ill-fated paint ball accident led to a broken leg and a week-long stay in the community hospital in Muri, Switzerland. 3 breaks and 10 screws later, I'm back at the house. The folks at the Kreispital Muri were kind and helpful, but unfortunately, not enough to significantly reduce the enormous suck-factor of a broken leg.

Stay tuned for the travails of this one-legged man in a city with a strong two-leg bias.

It's sure to be entertaining for everybody else.





(The uncertainly earned McTasty mit Bacon that was my McComfort on the way home from the Kreispital. Too many of these and I'm sure to be as fat as a McHouse.)

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Run run as fast as you can


So I’ve not been faithfully blogging like I ought. Apologies to those who have been eager to know how the return to the classroom has gone for me. Though I recently threatened to pull a ‘Miss Nelson’ on my kids, it has been a great start to the school year so far. The weeks have flown by which is a small clue about how different this experience has been than my teaching in the Memphis. (I already had a countdown to summer mentally calculated at this point in my first round of teaching.) Here’s a picture of some of my kiddos the day we had a Gingerbread Boy hunt. Our school has a really nice kitchen just for classes to use so a mom volunteered to cook with my class (Clues number 2 and 3). We read the book, made the cookies, and then discovered that the cookies had run away when we returned to take them from the oven! Dorky poems that I wrote led the kids around the campus and, by the time we caught the cookies, excitement was full pitch.
Yeah, it has been a good six weeks overall. Hopefully I’ve found a groove that will bring the kids’ learning curve closer to my own. But now I’m off for a week and ready for the break. My high school pal, Rachel, is here to share the fall break. We’ll be traveling for the next few days. Maybe that will give me long enough to not wake up with visions of spelling journals and math centers lingering from my teacher dreams.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

it's been a long day...



"Consider the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. Yet I say unto you, even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed as one of these."
Jesus Christ, Sermon on the Mount

“There are men who, through ownership of land, are able to make others pay for the privilege of being allowed to exist and to work. These landowners are idle, and I might therefore be expected to praise them. Unfortunately, their idleness is only rendered possible by the industry of others. Indeed it is these people’s desire for comfortable idleness which is historically the source of the whole gospel of work. The last thing they have ever wished for is that others should follow their example.”
Bertrand Russell

“Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things. And it is by no means certain that a man’s business is the most important thing that he has to do"
Robert Louis Stevenson

"Every mode of life has its conveniencies. The Idler, who habituates himself to be satisfied with what he can most easily obtain, not only escapes labours which are often fruitless, but sometimes succeeds better than those who despise all that is within their reach, and think every thing more valuable as it is harder to be acquired."
Samuel Johnson

Monday, October 02, 2006

Switzerland #1






















This week, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published its global competitiveness index for 2006. The results? You guessed it, Switzerland was ranked #1. Now for those of you like us who have no idea how the term "global competitiveness" translates into anything but business jargon, we'll let the WEF website explain:

"The Global Competitiveness Report assesses the ability of countries to provide high levels of prosperity to their citizens. This in turn depends on how productively a country uses available resources. Therefore, the Global Competitiveness Index measures the set of institutions, policies, and factors that set the sustainable current and medium-term levels of economic prosperity."

So, the way we see it, global competitiveness is how well a country enables its citizens, through its infrastructure and policies, to enjoy a high standard of living compared to other countries.

Up until now, the United States has been el numero uno, but our sizeable public debt and trade imbalances (according to the WEF) have shuffled us down to No. 6 after Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Singapore.

This is certainly interesting news that probably warrants all sorts of analysis, but instead of blabbering on about a lot of economic mumbo jumbo that we don't really understand, we thought it better to list some of the lesser-known implications of the WEF's report.
So, without further ado, we introduce:

Top 8 Implications of the WEF's Global Competitiveness Report

1. Average yearly sales of big foam
fingers in Switzerland increased from 7 to 13

2. Switzerland has voted to officially change their tourism website from "MySwitzerland.com" to "MySwitzerlandisbetterthanyours.com"

3. In 16th-ranked Canada, this week's sales of T-shirts with the slogan "We're now only 10 places worse than you" totalled $12.4 million

4. America can no longer support the claim to be the "Greatest Nation on Earth", instead it will just be called the "Best Spot North of Uruguay"

5. Likelihood that in the next 7 days a French journalist will reference the WEF report as evidence for the "Decline of the American Empire" = 99.98%

6. Likelihood that an American could find all of the top 5 ranked countries on a map = 6.7%

7. Number of Americans who will wonder how export sales of the Swedish Bikini team affected Sweden's overall ranking = 253,302

8. Number of Europeans who will try to connect the effects of Big Mac consumption to the spike in our public deficit = 20,324,105