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December 30, 2007

Happy New Year to All

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language, and next year’s words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning.

~ Hal Borland


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December 28, 2007

Friday Linky-love

Want a fun way to expand your vocabulary and donate rice to charity? Then play the word game at: www.freerice.com

Have some time to shamelessly eavesdrop on New Yorker’s conversations? Be endlessly entertained and horrified: www.overheardinnewyork.com

Didn’t get that puppy for Christmas? Check out: I do dog tricks

Need to escape the dreary and cold December weather? Place yourself in the middle of this scene:


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December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas ~ Happy Holidays

We’re heading up island to eat, drink and be merry. My best wishes to you and yours for a safe, happy and memory-filled Christmas.


And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.

Dr. Seuss

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December 17, 2007

Read: Bonfire of the Disney Princesses ~ Barbara Ehrenreich

Complete article on The Nation Online:

Disney likes to think of the Princesses as role models, but what a sorry bunch of wusses they are. Typically, they spend much of their time in captivity or a coma, waking up only when a Prince comes along and kisses them. The most striking exception is Mulan, who dresses as a boy to fight in the army, but—like the other Princess of color, Pocahontas—she lacks full Princess status and does not warrant a line of tiaras and gowns. Otherwise the Princesses have no ambitions and no marketable skills, although both Snow White and Cinderella are good at housecleaning.

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December 13, 2007

Read: Feud Erupts Over Famous German Christmas Cake

By David Crossland in Dresden from Spiegel Online.

Dresdner Stollen baked in the grand city of Dresden is the queen of German Christmas cakes and has gained a growing popularity abroad. But the small town of Torgau is risking the wrath of Dresden’s bakers by claiming it invented the cake 550 years ago, and launching its own Stollen to mark the occasion.

At Christmas time in Germany, no household is without its “Dresdner Stollen,” a bread loaf-shaped cake containing raisins and marzipan which the city of Dresden has prided itself on for half a millennium.


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December 12, 2007

Little Rabbit Foo-Foo


Buy this fine art print: Blue Dog Rose.

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Thursday Thirteen # 33 - An obstruction of dons, a melody of harpists and other such phrasings . . .


Continuing my recent fascination with the names of things, I bring you thirteen MORE collective nouns for this week’s Thursday Thirteen.

1. An obstruction of dons

2. A talent of gamblers

3. A galaxy of governesses

4. A conjunction of grammarians

5. A herd of harlots

6. A melody of harpists

7. An observance of hermits

8. A neverthriving of jugglers

9. A banner of knights

10. An eloquence of lawyers

11. An illusion of magicians

12. A cortege of mourners

13. An illusion of painters

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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Woot: Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year 2007

W00t received the most votes for inclusion in Merriam-Webster’s Open Dictionary. Here’s the definition:

1. w00t (interjection) expressing joy (it could be after a triumph, or for no reason at all); similar in use to the word “yay” w00t! I won the contest!

Submitted by: Kat from Massachusetts on Nov. 30, 2005 23:18

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December 11, 2007

Shall we dance?


Buy this print from Broomhill Pictures.

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Talking Jesus Toy Sells Out

Forget the Nintendo wii, the 12-inch Talking Jesus Messenger of Faith doll, made by one2beleive of Valencia, California is the must-have toy of the season. Walmart sold out last week. Read Consumerist.com .


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December 10, 2007

Danielle Crittenden - Islamic Like Me

Do you have sky miles? From the Huffington Post.

Danielle Crittenden wore a burka for a week during her daily life in Washington, D.C.

I’d like a one-way air fare to New York on the next available flight. I have no luggage. Could you make sure the ticket is refundable…in case I change my mind?”

I was standing at the Delta shuttle counter at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, dressed in my Saudi burka.

“Sure, no problem,” the clerk replied brightly. “Do you have Skymiles?”

“Uh, no.”

“I’ll need some form of identification.”

I handed her my driver’s license, which showed the occupant of the black tent to be a blonde, blue-eyed resident of the District of Columbia.

“Thanks.” Tap, tap, tap at the keyboard. Out popped my boarding pass. “Have a great flight. Next passenger please.”

I scooped up a plain black canvas carry-on bag and head over to the security line. I had no intention of flying to New York. This was an experiment. I’d become suspicious of the lack of suspicion I’d received during my week-long veiling. I’d encountered no fear, no hostility, hardly even any curiosity. If anything, my fellow Washingtonians showed unusual courtest to a woman in a burka.

And so it continued at the airport. The ticket agent had registered zero reaction when I’d approached the counter, except to offer an extra cheerful greeting: “Hi! Where are you travelling?”

It had been he same the day before on the Washington subway. I entered the train at morning rush hour carrying a large black backpack, which I clutched to my chest in the center of the train. With the exception of one elderly passenger who bolted up from his seat when I got on, scurrying to the most remote end of the carriage, everyone else aboard resolutely ignored my appearance. The woman closest to my mysterious backpack glanced up and then resumed her Blackberrying. Two women beside her carried on gossiping about their childrens’ school. The huddle of office workers in the space by the doors appeared untroubled by me or my unusual parcel.

I can’t know what they were thinking, obviously. A few must have wondered whether I was about to explode. But evidently they’d rather be blown up than exhibit any behavior that might be construed as intolerant.

And good for them, I suppose. “The vast majority of Muslims abhor terrorism,” we are frequently reminded, and of course that’s true. And yet, even tolerance can be taken too far.

If I had chosen to walk about Washington in a white hood and sheets rather than black ones, I doubt I would have encountered such universal politeness. And yet, what the Klan outfit represents to someone of African-American descent is exactly what the burka should represent to every free woman. Those who impose it upon women believe that a whole category of human beings can be treated as property; that this category may be beaten, sold into marriage, divorced at whim, denied education and work, raped with impunity, and stoned to death for offenses that would be pardoned in a man. For the wearer of the white hood, the subjugated category is defined by race. For the wearer of the black hood, it’s defined by sex. Otherwise the two garments carry the same meaning—with the slight variation that one is worn by the would-be oppressor, the other by the oppressed.

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December 7, 2007

The happiness of life


The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions: the little soon-forgotten charities of a kiss, a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of a playful raillery, and the countless other infinitessimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling. ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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If celebrities can tell us what books we should read, why shouldn’t they tell us who will make the best president of the United States?

In Iowa on Jan. 3, the battle of the celebrities, Barbra vs. Oprah, will decide the future of civilization — or, at the very least, help determine who might win the Democratic presidential nomination.

The ignorant sneer at the Iowa caucuses, since they involve only a handful of the citizens in a state that has fewer than three million residents and is known to foreigners mainly as the place that isn’t Idaho. But political soothsayers agree that Iowa counts. In presidential politics, Iowa is destiny. A good showing at the start of the electoral cycle creates momentum — “the big Mo,” as George H.W. Bush once called it. Over the years, Iowa has breathed fresh energy into several limping candidacies, including George McGovern’s, Jimmy Carter’s and John Kerry’s.

“Celebrity,” said John Updike, “is a mask that eats into the face. As soon as one is aware of being ‘somebody,’ to be watched and listened to with extra interest, input ceases, and the performer goes blind and deaf.”

Updike makes celebrity sound horrible, but much of the world craves it, until they get it — and then, with mixed emotions, they cling to it. A great comedian, Fred Allen, once remarked that “A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.”

But these individuals, while self-maimed by the lust for money and fame, are the mythic rulers of the Earth. They own everyone’s imagination. They can sell anything from perfume to T-shirts. Their status is special and they know it. They expect special treatment.

From Robert Fulford’s article, National Post.

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December 4, 2007

Read: Gauguin’s teeth found in well

Don’t know why this intrigues me so:

LONDON. An archaeological dig on the remote Marquesan island of Hiva Oa has uncovered the secrets of the water well used by Paul Gauguin. The buried objects range from a New Zealand beer bottle to four human teeth …

Gauguin is likely to have suffered from syphilis, and had serious eczema. A buried syringe and two ampoules which had contained morphine were presumably for pain relief. The four teeth show signs of severe decay, suggesting they are European (the Marquesans did not eat sugar). They are likely to be Gauguin’s, and he may have had them extracted and then saved them.

Read Martin Bailey’s article in the Art Newspaper.

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December 3, 2007

Listen: Greek Music ~ Notis Sfakianakis ~ Gyftisa

Sfakianakis Notis …
This music transports me to a small, dark cafe in Greece and washes away any worries I may have. Enjoy!

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What not to do: Top 10 international faux pas

Read the full article here.

1 Blowing your nose into a handkerchief in Japan

The Japanese call snot hanakuso - literally “nose shit” - and find the idea of walking around with a cloth full of it disgusting.

2 Getting your host’s name the wrong way round in China

In the Far East name order is reversed, with the surname first, then a middle, generational name, then a given name. So calling Mr Li Wong Chee of Beijing “Mr Chee” would be like calling Mr John William Smith of London “Mr John”.

3 Confusing a Canadian with an American

Or a Paraguayan with a Uruguayan, an Englishman with an Irishman or an Australian with a Kiwi. Neighbours are always the twitchiest about each other.

4 Keeping your shoes on in a temple or home in the Far East

Take them off at the door, everywhere from Burma to Japan. It’s wise to be wearing clean socks - and do remember where you put your shoes. It’s an awful bore to get back to the hotel and realise you’re wearing Mr Yamazaki’s brogues.

5 Looking at your feet when drinking a toast in Scandinavia

Right across Northern Europe, you should always meet your host’s eye when saying “Skål!” or “Prost!” And the drink must then go down in one. If you fail to do this, the Germans say, seven years of bad sex will follow.

6 Teasing an Australian about how useless their national team is

Sport is the one sacred activity Down Under.

7 Giving a bottle of malt whisky in a pigskin bottle holder to an Arab host

If your Muslim host drinks, he certainly doesn’t do so publicly, so drawing attention to his love of Glenfiddich is not the best idea. Like the dog, the pig is unclean in Arab countries, so pigskin only adds to the offence.

8 Being on time for an Argentinian dinner party

Dinner in Latin America is always late, but you should arrive later. Turning up on time isn’t regarded as polite - just greedy.

9 Eating with your left hand in Africa and India

In areas where they routinely eat with their hands, you must use the right one. The left is the “unclean” hand, reserved for a related function a few hours later.

10 Leaving your chopsticks upright in a bowl of rice in China or Japan

Of all chopstick no-nos this is the worst, as it mimics a Japanese funeral rite, when chopsticks and rice are left by the bedside of the newly deceased.

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