Friday, February 27, 2015

today is the day

dear google, why the hell are you tweaking all my photos when i upload them?
today is the day that i will...

...start to look forward and not look back.

...make some awesome food to share with friends.
...spend the evening laughing despite my tears.

...perform three creative acts.

...lift my head.
...look at the possibilities in the world around me.
...stop berating myself for things beyond my control.
...give myself a little bit of room to grieve.
...admit that it's been a hard few months.

...find a magical genie fairy to grant my deepest wishes.

...grant myself my deepest wishes, because that magical genie fairy is me.

* * *

today is the day the internet went insane about a gold & white (or is it blue & black?) dress.

* * *

today is the day i read this piece on peaking again.

how is it that we find the things we need to read precisely when we need to read them?

* * *

happy weekend, one and all.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

pondering happiness

loving inna's post about happiness...and pondering it myself. how connected is happiness to contentment? to gratitude? to satisfaction? to feeling safe? to sunshine? to being well rested? to things? of course, i'm pondering this in relation to our happiness project and those eternally happy danes, but also just in terms of my own personal state of being. and i'm wondering if i'm happy? i think in moments that i am, but that those moments feel fleeting and elusive. how can we better hold onto them? and disconnect them from material things? i don't really know the answers. but maybe this will help...i signed up for 100 days of happiness starting march 1.  i don't know if it will help, but it should at least give me renewed motivation for my daily photos.

* * *

by the way, something that makes me very happy that i had not yet shared, is this little project which i had the pleasure of working on at the end of last year: 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

a toothy problem

it's windy and blustery outside and grey and the weather seems generally cranky. and it's rubbing off on me. and it's not improved by an email exchange with the municipality dentist people. you see, children's dentistry is provided for free until they are 18 in denmark. they should be called in yearly for a checkup and until the 6th grade, sabin was. and it occurred to me (and her) recently that she hadn't been invited for a checkup in nearly two years! 

so, i went to the municipality's website to look up contact details. they have a "self service" button that you're supposed to press and make your own appointment (the government in denmark wants everything to happen electronically, but alas, hasn't really set up the systems to support it). right above that is a big long message about how the self-service is currently out of service. so i managed to find an email address to write to, since no one ever answers the phone numbers that are buried about three layers in. i think they have a secret 5 minute window where they answer the phone that you have to try to guess. and probably as soon as someone guesses it, they change it, so good luck getting through.

originally, i wrote on february 4, asking for an appointment for the child. funnily enough, i didn't get any response. no email back, not even an automatic "we received your mail," and definitely no appointment. and this, even tho' i wrote in danish, so it wasn't that they were intimidated by an email in english. so yesterday, i wrote again, this time specifically requesting a response (and a little put out that that was even necessary). 

a couple of years ago, i did a big research project where i talked to a lot of foreigners living in denmark and from them, i repeatedly heard a story of how the municipalities are a bit lax with the children's dental offer towards children with foreign parents. i heard again and again how kids with crooked teeth were assured they didn't need braces and how checkups were offered less often than to purely danish kids. and i rather smugly thought that i had never experienced that. but now i'm starting to wonder. with an aging population, the welfare state in denmark has to begin to make choices regarding their resources. so to let a few children with a foreign parent slip through the cracks on the dentistry offer would probably save a few kroner here and there. in my second mail, i brought this up and said i hoped that wasn't the case.

this morning, i had an answer. although i had signed my name, the answer was rudely not addressed to anyone, no "dear julie," no "hi julie," it just launched into a question regarding the child's social security number, which, unfortunately, i had typed incorrectly in my original mail. i answered back with her correct number and received an answer with a time in one month, at 9 a.m., during the school/work day. in other words, not a convenient or possible time.  she also provided a link to the non-functioning self-service, as if it were working (or perhaps she was unaware that it wasn't working), pedantically telling me how i could look up the records and make appointments there myself. if only it were working. i took a screenshot of the message about how it's not working and said that i would have been happy to make the appointment that way, were it possible. and while she was generally responsive and answering my mails right away, she ignored that part of my mail.

she also tried to tell me that they had sent multiple appointments to us and that maybe we hadn't checked our e-boks (the electronic system where all communication from the state now happens). i do check my e-boks regularly, because i have it set up to send me a mail when there is something there. but i checked it again and funnily enough, there were no mails from the municipality regarding dentist appointments. oddly enough, husband doesn't have any either. and the only conclusion i can draw from that is that she lied about that or sent them to some other parents.

being a conflict-shy dane, she also completely ignored my question about sabin being pushed allowed to fall through the cracks because she has a foreign parent. like she didn't even see that bit. and in all of her answers, despite my modeling back to her the correct way to write a mail, with a salutation of "dear so-and-so or the more normal danish version of "hi so-and-so," she continued to rudely refuse to follow the conventions of basic email etiquette and politeness.

funnily enough, in the middle of this, the postman came to the door with the mail and in it, there was a postcard from the local school dentist, with a time for sabin on february 18. and it arrived today, on february 24. so we missed it because we didn't know about it. and a postcard is quite different than an electronic letter. i tried to call the number of the local school dentist that's on the postcard, but i apparently missed today's 5 minute window, because it just rang and rang and cycled back through the system. so we are still appointmentless and it's been two years and counting.

well done, vejle kommune. well done.  (you might recall that this isn't the first time vejle kommune has had an epic fail.) 

* * *

the day continues in weirdness mode. the telemarketers are getting more and more cheeky. on principle, i don't answer my phone if it is a blocked number, but i suppose that happens quite a lot for telemarkers, so they have started to call from numbers that show. because of my waiting state, i answer the phone, even if i don't recognize the number. this one was a young man who wanted to ask me some follow-up questions about a contest i'd supposedly participated in online. not having participated in any online contests (buzz feed quizzes don't count), i laughed and said that was weird. he got really mad and said i had and that i had provided my full name and address and phone number, tho' funnily enough, he wouldn't tell me what my full name was, or even my first name, nor my address. i just kept laughing and then he got petulant and said he'd give the trip to spain to someone else. you go right ahead and do that, buddy.

* * *

fat cat photobombs famous paintings with hilarious results.

Monday, February 23, 2015

winter's last gasp (or too little too late)

so, we woke up to this. heavy, wet, springlike snow, falling in more quantity than it's bothered to do all winter long. but it's already melting and it feels like the last gasp of winter. we'll be back in the garden soon, i'm sure of it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

cataloging and compos(t)ing the weekend

i swear something happened to the blue of this photo in the upload. it doesn't look like that in iPhoto
a weekend of physical work outdoors. spring cleaning - of bunny cages, stalls, the chicken coop and the little barn where we store the chicken feed and feed the cats. plus lots of work in the garden. planting willow and moving some little oak trees. husband is creating a oak "hedge" in the middle of the garden to create a bit of protection from our ever-present west wind. cutting down last year's raspberry canes, working in the strawberry beds, preparing the soil for moving some asparagus that's way too close to the rhubarb (we didn't expect the rhubarb to do so well and get so big), fertilizing all of the fruit trees and bushes (that horse poo from the stalls had to go somewhere). it felt great. fresh, cool air. lots of sunshine (today at least). results that you can really see when you're finished. happy chickens. happy bunnies, happy horses. and the cats thought it was awesome that we were outside all day - molly and tiger thought we were there just to hang out with them. we even ate lunch in the garden today, it was so nice outside. tho' it clouded up and rained at the end of the day, i was tired by then anyway, so it was ok to go inside.

such a list of activities might sound a bit boring, but it felt so satisfying. there is something about honest, repetitive physical work and fresh air that soothes the soul. much of the time, i listened to various podcasts (99% invisible, radio lab and benjamen walker's theory of everything). it was good for my mind. the work was good for my body. and i think cleaning and tidying was good for my soul. it's just nice to do tasks where you see a concrete result when they are done. there's also something to there being no shortcuts. all of these things just take the time they take, there is no shortcut. i think it was just very good for me. i certainly feel much more at ease inside my skin at the moment. ready to welcome the week ahead with open arms, whatever it may bring.

* * *

i did quite a lot of reading this weekend as well. i've got several books of essays on the go. ursula le guin's the wave in the mind. i've never read le guin before, but i do admire the way she thinks and she says, "i think best in writing." i can so relate. i'm picking and choosing among the essays in this book, reading whatever grabs my fancy, but her thoughtful way of looking at the world definitely makes me want to read more of her work. i'm not sure why i never had read her before. i especially enjoyed her essay on fiction vs. non-fiction. 

i'm also reading siri hustvedt's book of essays, living, thinking, looking. i have enjoyed her novels, but these essays are grabbing me much less than le guin's at the moment. there is kind of a haughty, over-wise, pretentiousness in them that i'm just not in the mood for. it's rather disappointing, actually, as i normally love her work.

the last volume is musings on mortality edited by victor brombert. it's got pieces on the topic by such folks as tolstoy, kafka, camus (the reason i ordered it from the library) and virginia wolff. not exactly light reading.

i'm also reading all russians love birch trees, a novel by olga grjasnowa on my iPad via the kindle app. i am not impressed with the kindle app, i must say. i haven't actually read that many books that way and i've never used a real kindle. i, a great writer-inner-of-books from way back, cannot stand the dotted underlining of passages according to what others have underlined. the help claims you should be able to turn it off, but it doesn't seem to work, at least not in my version. i find it so distracting and it makes me just loathe it. the app, not the book. i'm enjoying the book. it's fiction that feels quite autobiographical, which is interesting in light of reading the le guin. she talks about the way that writers are influenced by their experiences and suggests that they form a kind of layer of compost from which the writer draws her fiction.

quite fitting to think of words that way when my weekend was spent in the garden, don't you think?

* * *

another thought-provoking look at the LEGO community
on the building debates blog.

* * *

go for a walk and find the answers to life, the universe and everything. 

* * *

this rather makes one not want to be on twitter.

* * *

this will give your brain pain. in a good way.

Friday, February 20, 2015

own your shit

so, yesterday i deleted the facebook app from my phone. it feels quite momentous to do so. and more than a little bit liberating. now those moments when i'm waiting for sabin's train to come or for my turn at the bakery, i can just be with myself, in my own thoughts. i don't have to entertain myself with the inanities of the latest gizmodo or nytimes share or who has just had a coffee with pretty latte art. and i didn't take the drastic step of leaving facebook altogether (baby steps), i just now have to look at it via my computer instead of on my phone all the time. i left it on the iPad, because i've got a wifi iPad and use it more like a laptop in the evenings, so it wasn't such a dominant time thief there. 

there are things i like on facebook and i would miss those. the core group of friends around the world who i interact with the most. updates from the guardian and the nytimes. and the oatmeal and his crazy exploding kittens kickstarter, which just blew all previous kickstarters out of the water. and elizabeth gilbert. she of eat, pray, love fame. i honestly enjoy her feel-good posts. they often feel like she looked into my mind and said, "hmm, this is precisely what julie needs today." like on wednesday when she shared a post about owning your shit. 

she says, "You guys, for serious, it's very important that you learn how to own your shit. At some point in your life, you really have to get honest about the weirdest and most damaged and most broken parts of your existence, and take responsibility for it all...lovingly, but unblinkingly. ... That doesn't mean abusing yourself: it just means taking accountability. Own your shit with love and perspective and self-compassion...but definitely own it."

while we may not control everything that happens to us, we do (and more importantly, can) control our reactions. i haven't done a very good job of that this week and spent a good couple of days completely paralyzed by sheer terror and what feels like the unfairness of my situation. i let it control me and i wasted quite a lot of time and much more energy than i'd like to think about. i was also a complete bearcat to my family and impossible to be around. but, it helped me a lot to just own it. to own that i felt miserable and afraid and anxious and powerless and that i hated all of those feelings and that they were getting in the way of me being able to do something. anything at all. i gave myself permission to feel the way i felt instead of berating myself for being unable to get all of the things done that i "should" have been doing. and it helped, even if it was a bit of a fleeting feeling in that moment. owning your shit is a full time job and it takes a lot of strength. and for me, having that strength isn't a consistent thing - sometimes i'm weak and sometimes i'm strong. but that's part of my shit and i intend to concentrate on owning it.

* * *

gary shteyngart spent a week at the four seasons watching russian state-owned television.
and it was quite amusing.
tho' i'm glad it wasn't me.
and i wonder how different it really was from watching fox "news..."

* * *

i thought this article was very interesting and thought-provoking.
it seems we call for a muslim enlightenment every time there's a new tragedy.
but maybe we no longer really understand enlightenment ourselves.
or modernism.

and maybe what's really needed (tho' that's not mentioned in the article)
is for the sensible, moderate muslims (which are surely the vast majority)
to say that enough is enough.

own that shit.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

a day in the life of the world's happiest people starts at home

a few of us from the drink & draw group got to talking about this whole notion of denmark as home of the world's happiest people. i still maintain that if the danes are so happy, you definitely can't see it on them. even my fellow drink & draw-ers are a bit provoked by the whole notion and they are danish! so, we are putting together a project where we are going to ask a wide variety of people of all ages, backgrounds and from all over the country, to keep a diary for a day (all of them on the same day). we will collect the diary entries and see if they shed some light on what it is that makes the danes so darn happy. we don't want it to be a scientific, clinical look, we want it to be personal and intimate. our intention is that then we will invite a variety of artists - painters, actors, storytellers, filmmakers, playwrights, sculptors, whatever - to gather and give creative expression to the diaries. in my head, there's definitely a podcast in it, undoubtedly with multiple episodes. i think that also in my head is something along the lines of the wonderful and profound humans of new york - with short, poignant stories that tell so much about the culture at large. but i'm also trying to reserve judgement and remain open, because once we have the diaries in hand, they may point us in another direction entirely and i want to be able to move in that direction.

yesterday, we all tried the task on for size ourselves. we figured we should feel it under our own skin if we were going to ask people to do it. we agreed that we would write it all out - good and bad and try not to hide anything. we have shared our diaries with one another and will get together next friday and talk about the next steps in our project.

i wrote my day on my marquee blog (see sidebar if you're interested), but i also did some much-needed art journaling to go along with it.  i think i needed both the linear timeline side of things and something more abstract and creative. and i can definitely tell that i needed those moments of creativity and the different sort of concentration that accompanies them. in fact, i've continued them today and they helped me settle down and get back to work again. they quieted some of yesterday's restlessness. i also thought it was quite wonderful that i came across the quote in the one on the bottom while paging through an old magazine, looking for collage materials. it's a bit uncanny how you often come across the thing you most need to hear at precisely the moment you need it.

i realize once again, working on this, that i'm happiest when i'm setting an idea out in the world and seeing what becomes of it. i can't wait to see where this will take us, but i'm also definitely enjoying the place it's helped me occupy right here and now. and to be bringing this to life with a group of awesome and creative women is pretty magical as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

wonderful wonder woman

in our second of a series of salons i've been co-creating at our local library, the theme was wonder woman. but not only the comic book character wonder woman, but the wonder woman in us all. this year is the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in denmark, so we brought in that aspect as well. we didn't get the vote in the US for another 5 years! afterwards, i looked up when women got the vote in countries around the world and there are some pretty surprising facts on that list. like that switzerland, which i would have thought was a pretty progressive place, didn't allow women to vote until 1971! appalling! and turkey gave women the vote in 1934, but france didn't follow suit for another 10 years in 1944. also appalling.

we prepared two rounds of questions for the tables to discuss. my thought was to start it off a bit lighthearted in the spirit of wonder woman and ask people what they thought their super power was. or what they would want it to be if they could have one. the age range at my table went from a bit younger than me (early 40s) to 60s, so approximately a 20 year span. and i quickly realized that aside from one (my partner in the arrangement), they actually didn't know what was meant by a super power. and they definitely didn't take the question in the lighthearted way it was intended.

i came to find out that they actually had no idea who wonder woman was at all! they weren't familiar with the cartoon, nor the fabulous series from the 70s starring lynda carter that so defined how i jumped out of the swingset for a good portion of my childhood. so, they looked a little blankly at my superman socks and wonder woman converse. they just didn't get it. and i have to say that it made me feel so sorry for them! but then, it hit me that they felt sorry for me for knowing about a comic book heroine. it was just another example of those shallow americans and their lack of culture.

they obviously didn't know that jill lepore (a harvard scholar, no less), recently wrote a history of wonder woman and the story behind her debut in 1940 as well as her place in feminist history. they didn't know that the book just beat out 132 other contenders to win the american history book prize. wonder woman is huge and awesome and a feminist icon. she is not merely a cartoon character, she is so much more. she is strong and brave, a real amazonian princess. and it was funny, because several people mentioned that they wished they could be more like those amazon women of legend. they just didn't seem to realize that wonder woman was the best known one of all!

next time, i'll not assume that everyone is on the same page and prepare a bit more explanation so that we all start on equal footing, or at least that we understand where we're all coming from.

in all, tho', a very interesting evening anyway.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

the beginning of a new photo obsession

i asked my friend bill to give me some photo assignments to do to get me through this interminable wait. we've had some very grey, dark days and i haven't really felt too inspired, but today, i decided that despite the grey fogginess of the day, i'd tackle one of them. the assignment was: reflections. the indirect reflection of someone or some thing. the actual person or thing can't be in the pic.

this fits very well with the theme of our local creative group's spring exhibition, so i cleaned up an old ikea mirror that we had hanging in our bathroom at the old house and i went outside. here are the results:

and one of myself, because i couldn't resist.

i liked the assignment. i'm less fond of the fir tree than i expected to be - the fine, black, bare branches against the grey sky just work better. i like the brightness of the mirror, tho' i'd like to have had some cool gold-framed oval-shaped one. there's something about the blue and green mosaic mirrored edge and the way it blurred out with my 50mm fixed lens that i just like. it gives a life and color to the photo that would have been absent. i spotted another location when i picked up sabin from school and i suspect i'll be loading that mirror into the car and carrying it around with me. that won't look way sillier than lying on the ground, photographing minifigures, now will it?

while i am waiting...

waiting is seriously underestimated as a device of torture. they should use it on those guys at guantanamo, i swear they would crack and tell them whatever they wanted to hear within a month. while i'm eternally waiting, i thought i'd dig out some bright colors from my fabric stash and make a quilt. i always instinctively turn to anna maria horner's bright, cheerful patterns. they just brighten up these grey, february days. and there's something to sitting down with fabric and the sewing machine and making something tangible that you can have in your hands, or your lap, as it were, when you're finished. i chose a simple triangle square pattern. i hadn't tried it before and it seemed like it would sew up quickly and not tax my brain too much. because that's the other thing that waiting does to you. it rather heavily taxes your brain and renders you not very clear in your thinking. and moody. moody as all hell.  just ask my family. at least they'll soon have the comfort of a quilt to console them. or to hide under when the waiting storm cloud that is me blows through. stringing people along like this is just not right. but at least something bright and cheerful might come out of it.

i certainly hope this wait is worth it.

* * *

did you see that president obama made a buzzfeed video?
how awesome is that?

* * *

nice piece in the new yorker on jony ive and what's ahead for apple.

* * *

also in this week's new yorker, a new murakami short story.

* * *

and one more from the new yorker.
an interview with flemming rose, the editor who originally printed the muhammed drawings
that may have sparked the chain of events culminating in copenhagen last saturday.

* * *

dang, it is a good week for the new yorker.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

in the same boat

still trying to absorb what happened last evening in copenhagen and like with the charlie hebdo events a few weeks ago, i find it too easy that the supposed perpetrator is killed before making him explain. now we will assign whatever meaning we wish to it - fear, terror, suspicion - and it will only continue in the long run. us against them will solidify rather than dissolving.

i have this notion that instead of being afraid, we need to hold more events where we discuss free speech, we need to have so many of them that no disgruntled, disenfranchised person with skewed ideas can possibly attack them all. we need to overwhelm them with the freedom of our speech.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


someone with murderous intentions has attacked a free speech event in copenhagen which featured a swedish cartoonist who published islam-critical cartoons back in 2007. it's happening again. probably (tho' we don't really know that for sure, since photos of the perpetrator are very sketchy at best, as are descriptions). one of the people in denmark who means the most to me is a cartoonist. he wasn't involved in the jyllands posten drawings back in 2005 (he works for a competing newspaper), but he is equally sharp in his editorial cartooning skills. and it shakes me to the core to think that i have to worry about his safety as he goes about his everyday life here in denmark. but it probably really has come to that after charlie hebdo and now this attack in copenhagen. is it really possible now that people will die for free speech and being clever and skeptical? and is it worth it? at this moment, even in the face of the uncertainty over what has really happened in copenhagen earlier today (and we don't really have a clear picture of it yet as i write this), that might very well be the case. keep your loved ones close and tell them that you love them.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

happy anniversary to us!

husband actually looked much happier than this minifig 16 years ago when we walked over to bronshøj kirke hand in hand and got married. then we had a bit of champagne with his fancy uniform-clad colleagues and headed off to london for a weekend mini honeymoon. i think the minifig husband is a bit sad because today he also turned 50 and that's a bit of a tough one. not that i would know. yet.

we gave husband a pair of waders for his birthday. it's what he wanted. he also wanted burgers for dinner. homemade ones. with plenty of guacamole and bacon. and port. that man loves port. we'll have a big party to celebrate this milestone in the summer when the weather is good. garden parties are always the best.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

a thousand and one memories

continuing on my niche perfume mania, i blindly ordered a couple of interesting-sounding scents from black phoenix alchemy lab. their scents are oils and very reasonably-priced, so you can definitely chance it and just order up a couple that sound good without breaking the bank. so i ordered kit (it had me at "pen ink") and café mille et une nuits. there are many other promising-sounding scents on the site and they were kind enough to send four samples with my order, so i will likely be going back.

when i put on café mille et une nuits, i was slightly put off by a sweetish, candy scent, but it soon dissipated and settled into a smoky, retro scent that transported me to the afternoons i spent studying at great midwestern in iowa city in the late 80s. like an underlying sweet waffle cone layered with smoky patchouli and freshly-ground coffee that brought to mind images of shopping the secondhand racks at ragstock and wandering into the soap opera for some bath goodies. i was reminded once again how scent is inextricably tied to memory and just a faint hint of an old familiar scent can cause a tidal wave of memories to wash over you. i've been so taken with it, that i haven't even tried kit yet.

have you ever been transported by a scent? tell me your story in the comments below!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

reading and listening and strangers and historical perspective

i just finished the last book of ken follett's century trilogy. i know they were novels, but as historical fiction, i feel like they gave me a more personal take on the sweeping history of the 20th century and a greater understanding of things like the cuban missile crisis and the fall of the berlin wall. literature can do that, as can 20+ years to reflect on the events. it struck me that it's very hard to know the meaning of things immediately after they happen. or even a decade after. i think we are definitely still struggling to make sense of september 11, 2001. and i think our round-the-clock style of news doesn't do us any favors. the nature of today's media means that analysis must begin immediately, before we even really know what's happening and i think it's diminishing the human race. we can't possibly know the meaning of things without reflecting on them. but that certainly doesn't stop the relentless talking heads on television. makes me glad i pretty much only watch netflix and hbo nordic these days (plus my guilty pleasure of a few programs on tlc).

i've also been listening to as many of the strangers podcasts as are available on iTunes. they are filled with stories that make me long for more stories. stories of people who were strangers to one another, strangers to themselves, and then strangers no more. since the host is danish and refers to that fact quite often, i feel a strange connection with her that makes me wonder if it borders on stalkerish. she's been in my country a little bit longer than i've been in hers and she is at times as bewildered by the US as i am by denmark. she seems like someone i'd love to invite over to dinner.

this listening, coupled with reading the edge of eternity got me thinking about marina ivanovna, the very soviet-style russian teacher i had at iowa back in the early 90s. she struck fear in our hearts - using public humiliation as her main motivator. that works for me, i must admit, so despite how tough she was, i quite liked her. she lived in russian house, a big old house on a tree-lined iowa city street where a bunch of russian majors lived - kind of a sorority/fraternity house for slavic geeks. and i wonder what she made of it all? so weird that i never wondered that at the time - i thought of her as a teacher, not as a person. i think we all did with teachers at some point in our lives - being surprised at seeing them outside of school with their families or just mowing their lawn or something entirely normal. it seemed so strange that they were just ordinary people, living ordinary lives.

but here was marina ivanovna, a professor from moscow university who must have lived her entire life under the soviet system, plopped down in iowa city, just as the soviet union was dissolving. it must have been so bewildering and overwhelming in many ways - the nature of the students, the abundance of consumer goods, the informality of it all. i wonder what she made of it and whether she had aching moments of homesickness or whether she felt so fortunate to be there. what did she think? did she find it all so strange? was she happy or frustrated or overwhelmed or puzzled? she was probably all of those things at different moments, just like i am here in denmark, even after all of these years.

we can all feel like strangers at times, even when we live in our own cultures, but it is magnified when we live abroad. i guess all we can do is keep telling stories to try to make sense of it all, and remember to be patient, because it may take the vantage point of years before it does indeed begin to make sense.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

legography lately

i don't know what's happened to my words. they dry up in my head before i can coax them out my fingers, but with the light returning, at least i'm inspired to take some whimsical photos. it's probably also helped that we've actually had some snow. we hoped our lake would freeze enough that we might even be able to skate, but it thawed all weekend, so alas that isn't going to happen. but at least the ice was still solid enough for the minifig skater. the unicorn sparkle fairy continues to be my go-to fig, but i'm also having a bit of fun these days with batman. and getting quite a kick out of those aliens from series 13.

what's helping you through the shortest month?

* * *

i hope these guys are finland's entrant in eurovision.

* * *

it's never too late to discover LEGO, as this blog proves.
thank you, amy for introducing him to LEGO and for sharing with me!

Thursday, February 05, 2015


on the same day, i picked up a vintage typewriter that we bought on an auction because it reminded me of one dad had at the enterprise during my childhood and i also got a new 21.5" iMac to replace my severely aging 24" iMac from 2008. talk about a contrast in technologies. i can't believe how thin and sleek the iMac is! and fast. and quiet. it is good to upgrade, but it's also nice to do a little old school typing. i think it's a little bit of a shame that today's computers aren't going to be able to be acquired in the future as working machines that can be used in the same way as a good old fashioned typewriter.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

what are you listening to?

ever since serial, the fabulous podcast that changed the way we all think of podcasts, ended i've been a bit bereft and in need of other stories well-told. so i've been on quite the podcasting binge. of course, one turns to serial parent this american life, but you are quickly out of episodes of that as well, since they don't seem to leave them up for long. also a TAL spin-off is invisibilia, which is brand new and wonderful, tho' wonderful in a different way than serial. the hosts lulu miller and alix spiegel are charming and the episodes are self-contained, but fascinating in their mix of stories and science and they too leave you longing for next week's instalment. also arguably a TAL spin-off is startup, where TAL and planet money alum alex blumberg chronicles the start of guessed it...podcasting business. if you have an inner entrepreneur, you will find yourself practically taking notes and definitely encouraging all of your entrepreneurial friends to listen to it as well. reply all is the first podcast released by blumberg's gimlet media and is definitely worth a listen if you like the internet (which i assume you do if you're here). last among these good ones is criminal, the first podcast i discovered from the radiotopia collective. unlike serial, it explores, in self-contained episodes, short tales of often very strange crimes, including a baby-killing pig who was put on trial and hanged in 18th century france. as an example to other pigs, so they wouldn't turn to a life of crime as well. you can learn a lot listening to podcasts.

as i already said, in recent days, i've stumbled onto some podcasts that are part of a collective called radiotopia. 99% invisible's roman mars seems to be at the helm of this particular collective and his podcast is definitely worth a listen if you're looking for different stories. but my favorite of the bunch is probably strangers, which has a danish host, tho' she's been in the US so long you can't hear it. lea tau, the host, was involved in the moth at one time and that shows in her storytelling ability. another one worth listening to is benjamen walker's theory of everything, which did a recent awesome 5-part series on the "dislike club," his dream of a platform for people who are tired of facebook and twitter (the last episode of it is found on another podcast called radiotonic). snap judgement is interesting too, but love & radio didn't capture my attention at all.

the cool part of all of these podcasting collectives (feral audio is another one, heavy on comedians), is that they refer you to their other podcasts, so it's a little like following an endless string of hyperlinks and you can discover lots of cool stories. i don't subscribe to all of them. generally, i download a couple of episodes to see if i like them and then subscribe if i do. if they are so engrossing that they can make me forget that i'm mucking out stalls then i subscribe. radio diaries and the truth are also part of radiotopia and i haven't yet decided about them. i listened to a rather terrifying story on the truth (which oddly, isn't truth, but is small mini fictional radio plays, not reporting) while i did chores this evening. it was a story that will probably give me nightmares tonight. but i think it's good to have stories that stick with you. slumber party i downloaded only the episode with the oatmeal's matt inman, because i wanted to hear him. i will not be subscribing as the two hosts are rather full of themselves in that way that only people from LA can be and poor matt hardly got in a word edgewise, the way they prattled along.

hello internet is insufferable and i'll be deleting it. in fact, i just did.  i've listened to entirely too many of the thinking sideways podcast. the three hosts are just average people with mediocre brains, a marginal ability to google things and too much access to recording equipment. they prove that although anyone can put out a podcast, maybe not everyone should. i've only listened to as many episodes as i have because they do like to cover mysteries like the voynich manuscript and jack the ripper. however, because they seem to get all of their information by reading wikipedia, i suggest you take a shortcut and just read the wikipedia yourself so that you don't have to hear the one dumb guy say he's not an expert (as if you hadn't noticed) while the pretentiously-named girl devon tries to blame it all on aliens.

spilled milk is another one that proves that not everyone should podcast just because they have a microphone in their macbook. i loved molly wizenberg's blog and cookbook, but she and her sidekick (whose name i've blocked out) in this one just annoy the hell out of me. i only tried it out because they were going to talk about cocktails. the sublime one below it also contains a cocktail episode which i haven't yet listened to. i think spilled milk is another one i'll be getting rid of.  there are too many good podcasts out there to waste time listening to crappy ones. 99% invisible with roman mars, as i said above, is a keeper. big ideas features some longer, more professorial talks by scholars. you have to be in the right mood for those.

last up in this rundown is the moth podcast. they were telling stories before it became fashionable and they are damn good at it.

you may wonder when i'm doing all of this listening. generally, it's when i'm on a long drive. but since that doesn't happen all that often, i tend to put on headphones and listen while i'm making dinner, doing the evening chores or cleaning out the stalls on a sunday afternoon. i can also listen while i sew, tho' i haven't sewed anything much lately. when i can't listen is when i'm not doing something else...if i try to listen at bedtime, i fall asleep immediately and miss the whole thing. i also can't listen and read or type something, so i'm not listening right now. i will say listening to podcasts has cut into my netflix time, but i think that's quite all right.

did serial get you into podcasts? if so, what are you listening to? any and all recommendations are most appreciated.

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and in case this isn't enough, here's a list of the best podcast episodes ever (according to slate). and a whole language for talking about them from a critical perspective, in case you really want to nerd out.