Monday, June 29, 2009
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Okay, technorati, here's our secret handshake: 8re2ftgkjn
Posted by Patti McCracken at 7:45 PM
The things you see while moseying in Europe in a London taxi ... it ain't a monkey on his back, but still... I just wanna throw a little Graig David his way:
I'm walking away, From the troubles in my life, I'm walking away, Oh, to find a better day
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Most European newspapers had already gone to press when the news of Michael Jackson's death was announced. Here, Austria's Der Standard managed to get it on Page One, although according to the copy here (hard to see in this smaller version), they only were able to get the cardiac arrest, not the death.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
The Danube continues to rise. Badly effected here, but not as bad as in the state of Upper Austria, which has seen several towns and villages evacuated.
Austria--Europe in general--isn't prone to extreme weather like hurricanes or tornadoes--they happen occasionally, but not often. But the rising water is impressive.
Remi and I often walk here, in the "Au" --one of the most significant wetlands in Central Europe. But today it was not just wet, but soaking wet. Below is an image of the flooded street (leads down to a yacht club), and a canoe the forest service is using. In the distance, a few people are coming up on a raft.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Rain, rain, rain. And more predicted. The military has been called out, as the Danube is about to break its banks.
This is a view of the Danube in Hainburg. Onlookers have come out to see the high waters, which will probably flood the Old Town Square and beyond within the next 48 hours.
The worst flooding in more than 300 years occurred in 2003.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Sleepy Vienna is not often known for protests, but an estimated 700 Iranians took to the streets to protest the election. Protests appear to be taking place around Europe, including Copenhagen, Paris and London.
Meanwhile, news that Ahmadinejad "was part of a death squad" in Vienna 20 years ago slipped under the radar. An Austrian politician said he "had no doubt [Ahmadinejad] was involved." Authorities believe the Iranian president may have even pulled the trigger on the gun that killed three Kurdish Democratic Party leaders in Vienna.
"A president who has probably engaged in massive election fraud, been responsible for the deaths of many journalists and Kurds in Iran and strongly suspected of murder in Vienna is not someone capable of respecting democracy and human rights," said Green party spokesman Peter Pilz.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Austrians and Germans like to add charming frescoes to the outside of their homes, often something having to do with the town's history, or something otherwise sentimental. A house in Lower Austria has Indians and buffaloes, because the owner liked stories of the Wild West.
I spotted this painting on a house in a German village. What appears to be a fan or a socket of some kind in the left corner looks to me like a little eye looking down on the painting.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Was in Brussels not too long ago--this is a snap of the street my hotel was on.
Continental breakfast ("including fruit" was apparently the big selling point) went for an eyebrow-raising €25 ($34). I didn't raise my eyebrows, but I did snub my nose at it.
But Remi was well-treated there--she made friends with two bartenders and slummed for crumbs. She also ran Figure 8's in the small garden attached to the bar. Oh yea, and I was there for a conference.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
No one outside of journalism seems to care about the implosion.
For us, it's a twin kick in the backside. We're seeing and experiencing, from the inside, the critical value our country is losing--and I do mean critical--with the collapse of newspapers. (You can't tweet Watergate).
And meanwhile we're watching our livelihoods, our means, get wiped out. Snap, just like that.
Yea. I get it. Not every journalist is a Woodstein. I write essays about my dog, for chrissakes.
But we live and breathe journalism. It's like a safe roof over our heads.
One of the times I was in Ukraine, I was working with a group of local journalists to plan a media law conference. We got into a heated debate about the range of the conference, because I was sticking to my guns about not promoting the legislation of ethics. This tug of war went on for more than two hours. But it was important. I was worried they would end up being hung by their own rope--creating a protection law which ends up being used against them.
Who's hanging by the rope, now?
I said to one of them later in the week that journalism was like a religion. It's a belief system, a way of living our lives.
She looked at me, stunned. "Patricia, you are so right. This is our religion."
So not only is there the horror at the risk to our democracy, but more personally, the loss of our religion and how we perceive our lives. Cloudy lenses now.
And more immediately, our jobs--and the uncertain future of our ability to make a living. My friend and colleague Amy Green writes eloquently about her experience of this free fall. In some ways, what she expresses gives me hope--in these tough times, we are pulling together for each other, trying to help each other through the storm. For me, one of the gems in the rubble is the graciousness I've found among fellow journalists during these dark days.
But I can't help but come back to the larger picture, the greater concern: who has time to fight for the fourth estate when you're fighting to keep food on the table? We need bread now, more than we need beliefs. And how utterly, tragically sad is that?
Monday, June 15, 2009
There's Powhite Parkway in Richmond, Va., which out of courtesy you try to pronounce Pow Hite, but are inevitably corrected by locals: "Oh no, Honey Bunch, it's 'Po white'."
As mentioned in previous posts, Austria has the little hamlet of "Fucking," which is really pronounced "Fooking" in German and doesn't mean what it does in English. But since it has no meaning in German, and everyone in the world knows what it means in English, and everyone in the world finds the meaning in their own lives in that meaning, by default and by delight, Austrians have named their hamlet after sex.
Which indelicately brings me to Worms.
After grandly screwing up a morning of travel last week, in which I was to arrive from Brussels into Munich at around midday---but by midday wasn't anywhere near Munich, other than to say I was in the same country--I called the editor with whom I had scheduled an informal meeting and told her that unless I could bring the third wheel to her romantic evening out with her husband, or follow them around the garden center the following morning helping them pick out grass seed, that it simply would not be possible to meet. Not this time 'round.
Confession: It was actually she who suggested she had these things to do, halting my attempt to reschedule and hone in on her personal life. She was seeing, before her very eyes, a run-of-the-mill coffee meeting with a freelancer about to turn into a "What About Bob" sequel.
After some "see ya next times" were exchanged, she went back to work, and I sat back and thought about how many restraining orders editors have had to take out against freelancers.
And I thought of Plan B: Get off the car-clogged freeway and forget Munich, and head home via the backroads. Maybe I'd run smack dab into a story. Remi the Wonder Dog was all for it.
No story chased me down and tagged me "it," but I did drive by a sign for Worms, a sign for Worms South, and then when there were no more signs of worms in sight, I decided to turn the car around and go back.
If I'd been driven through the backhills of Austria to find Fucking, dammit I was going to the heart of Worms. Such as it is.
We parked the car in the town center and took a gander. It's actually the oldest city in Germany, and where Martin Luther started the Reformation. Before the war, this city also had the largest number of Jews in all of Germany.
I went in search of someone to tell me a bit about the town. A Worm, if you will. Or is it Wormer?
I planted myself in a chair at a cafe, Remi hiding in the shade beneath it.
I ordered a cappucino and eyed the waiter as my victim.
"You seem to get a lot of tourists here in Worms," I said.
"Yes, especially now, when the weather is so nice."
We talked awhile. A nice guy. He's a student, presumably at Worms University. "Worms U," I imagined emblazoned on sweatshirts. Or "U of Worms."
Finally, I asked what about the city really drew in the tourists.
"Two things," he said. "Martin Luther's Worm Diet and Jewish Worms."
He talked awhile, helpfully giving me more info than I would ever need on Christian Worms and Jewish Worms. I drank the last of my Worm coffee while Remi lapped up the last of the shade before, uh, we de-Wormed.
And no, I didn't steal a sign.
Posted by Patti McCracken at 4:04 PM
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Remi the Wonder Dog awoke feeling poorly. We went for a walk at 5 am, and then she came back and promptly threw up in the yard. All really worrying for me because she suffered DDT poisoning when she was a one-year-old and has had intermittent problems since.
Took her to the good doctor. He diagnosed a gastrointestinal infection.
"How did she get that?" I asked.
"A lot of things can cause it... drinking water that's too hot, drinking water that's too cold, a different diet, etc. Stress can also be a factor. Has she been under a lot of stress recently?"
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
My fellow writer friend, Chelsea Lowe, pointed out to me that the Chevy Nova being a "no go" in Spain is actually a no go altogether--apparently an urban myth. Damn.
But this did lead us to a discussion of English words used on products in non-English countries.
Creap creamer in Japan, notes Chelsea.
Creap is very good. Very good, indeed. But I'd have to say that Barf detergent in Republic of Georgia trumps it.
I've often washed my clothes in Barf.
Not everyone can say that.
Or would want to.
Monday, June 08, 2009
No posts, you ask? I was on the road last week.
Road trips in Europe ain't like those in the USA. You never run across the World's Largest Ball of String, or the Potato Chip in the Likeness of Richard Nixon. Or, for that matter, the lovely Frying Pan Park in Virginia.
I did whiz past what appeared to be a monument to the world's largest walnut, but didn't u-turn to take a better look. Also drove through Worms, Germany, as one is wont to do when in the vicinity of Worms.
In any case, while tooling along back roads and passing these gas stations, I wondered how "Turmoil" gas would sell in America. About as well as the Chevy Nova did in Spain, where nova means "No go."