Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Maybe I Should Host a Call-In Radio Talk Show...Although From the Looks of It Only Family Would Call In

Well, at least it’s good to know that there are people out there reading what I wrote…even if it pisses them off. No, actually I had no intent to piss anyone off, but I did, and so it goes. That’s how opinions work. Some people agree. Some don’t. But gosh, isn’t the great thing about America the fact we’re all free to express them...and then be pissed off by the expression of others’. But while I do stand behind the general premise of what I wrote yesterday…that this proposed biotech lab is a good deal…a great deal…for Louisville, I do want to clear up a few points.

First, I also live in the neighborhood of biotech labs. In fact, I live in the neighborhood of the National Institute of Health…acres and acres of biotech labs. This isn’t a case of well as long as it’s in your neighborhood and not mine. Trust me, I’ve thought about the potential dangers. I’ve thought about the potential of terrorists targeting the nation’s central facility for the research of anything and everything health related. Hell, I leave for work every morning knowing my fiancĂ© is spending his entire day right in the middle of this complex. I’ve thought about contamination…I live with a kid who likes to tell me about how he had blood squirting all over him as he worked on some experiment. But the fact is, he’s safe. The lab’s safe. There aren’t any guarantees regardless and yes, we can do things to safeguard ourselves, but we can’t cower in a corner and quit progressing because of fear. Plus the work that these labs do is much too important to let fear close them. I know, and if you’re reading this blog, I know that you know far too many people who are suffering or have suffered from diseases for which there is currently no cure. I’d rather increase the riskiness of my life by .00001% or whatever in the hopes that their lives will be improved by much more than that.

Secondly, I did not intend for my comments on UL to reflect what I thought about the intelligence or ability of anyone who holds a degree from there. The truth is that the state of Kentucky does not have the type of flagship university it deserves. I would argue that UL has the potential to be that school more than UK does, but I don’t think it currently is. It is no UNC, UVA, UC Berkeley, all also public universities. The University of Louisville has a number of excellent programs, top programs, but overall it ranks, as all rankings of universities will show, as a middle-tier school. The truth is, as I think all of us know, the education you get from any school completely depends on what you put into it. Hell, W went to Yale, a school which is undeniably one of the top schools in the country, but I definitely don’t think of him as a very smart guy, while there are a great many people who have graduated from UL, who I think are extremely intelligent people doing very important things. If you felt personally attacked by my comments on UL, I’m sorry, as that was not the intent at all. My dad went to UL. My brother wants to go there for his Master’s. I obviously respect them and think of them as intelligent. I just don’t think that UL, as an overall institution, has yet lived up to its potential, and I think it would be a shame to strip away an opportunity for it to grow in stature.

And a final point, I did not attribute the adjectives “absurd and ignorant” to the people attending the meeting but to the reasons given for opposition, as reported in the Courier-Journal. I find it encouraging that people make the effort to get informed about the events occurring in their lives. I find it disturbing that people refuse to actually listen to the facts but use their energy to fight a non-battle. Concerns about health and safety are more than justified, but the truth is (and no, not supplied by me or the NIH or Jeff (how he got in this I don’t know), but by an entire history of records on the safety of such government health labs) that these labs are overwhelmingly safe. While there have been terrible health disasters throughout the history of man, it’s important to compare apples to apples here. And no, I nor anyone else, can ever guarantee that nothing bad will ever happen, but no one can ever guarantee that the house you live in won’t burn down with you inside or the car you drive won’t crush you in a crash. We inform ourselves as best as we can, and then make a sound decision. UL isn’t trying to kill anyone. That won’t help their reputation for sure. They’ve done their research. They’ve now shared it with the public. And now we make our judgments. I judge for safe. You can judge it non-safe if you choose, but if so, I’d be interested to hear a pointed argument based on the specifics of this exact lab. Now if anyone wants to oppose it for reasons like property value or traffic or whatnot, they can do that too. They should just be upfront about that being their concern.

Well, that all didn’t come out quite the way I wanted it to, but I think I covered the gist of what I wanted to say. The truth is I want the biotech lab to come to Louisville, and I want it to come for selfish reasons. I want it to spur other biotech industry in the hopes that some of it will be related to the type of work that Jeff does, so one day I can move back home and he can find a job there. So yes, selfish, but at the same time not at all. After all, Luh-vul is the city where I want to live, and you stupid, stupid UL grads and supporters are the ones I want to live by. :-)

Anyhow, all I probably did is put a few more bees in a few more bonnets, but I hope not. My original intent was not to offend anyone, and that is still not my intent. In fact, I’m looking forward to seeing all of you soon and being back in Louisville. And as a final suggestion…why don’t some more of you write blogs. You obviously have plenty of interesting and intelligent things to say, and I’m always looking for a new distraction. Just a thought.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

I just read an article in the Courier-Journal about how droves of people turned out yesterday to protest the proposed building of a biotech lab at Shelby Campus, and it really annoyed me. As I read it, it became clear that this was just another example of what is wrong with Louisville. Now anyone who knows me knows I love Louisville, but sometimes the people of Louisville really piss me off. I hear Louisvillians complain all the time about how either a) the city gets no respect or b) the city doesn’t provide the right kind of opportunities to lure people to the city. But when the city has a chance to change both of these, the people come out, act like idiots, and keep Louisville right where it is. If we want Louisville to grow and to grow in positive ways that allow the city to keep the identity we love, we have to be open to change. We don’t have to raze everything that has made the city what it is. We don’t have to give up our accents and start pronouncing Louisville with three syllables. We don’t have to be Indianapolis or Nashville or St. Louis. We just have to be Louisville, with its potential recognized.

A biotech lab built with funding by the NIH is big-time for Louisville. It’s national recognition that Louisville has the talent and ability to perform truly important research. It would make the University of Louisville, a so-so university at best, a notch closer to being the kind of university the city deserves. It would bring talented, intelligent people to the community…people who would fall in love with the city we have and perhaps help bring solutions to some of the problems we can’t seem to solve. It would serve as a lure to other businesses which can provide Louisville with the kinds of jobs that many of us who would rather live in Louisville are moving out of state to find.

The reasons that people offered as opposition to the proposed building were absurd and ignorant. The lab would pose no increased health risk or terrorism risk to the city. Labs of this caliber are incredibly safe and secure places. Our health is more likely to be endangered by the crash of a tractor-trailer carrying biohazardous material on I-65 or the air pollution caused by the zillions of cars clogging up our roads because our city has no real interest in high-quality public transportation. The people at this meeting were being sensationalist, with no true idea of what they were talking about. What they’re really afraid of is true change, and it’s a shame. Because Louisville has got to move forward. Staying in the same place at this point is the same as moving backward. If we keep saying no, opportunities are going to quit knocking. And not only will we not gain, but we’ll probably lose a lot of the positive we already have.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Gosh, I Think a Crab Would Look Great On That $46 Piece of Plastic

This Saturday, I got up early to take a little trip. Unfortunately, it wasn't to anywhere exciting, but to the MVA, otherwise known as the DMV. Apparently Maryland is a special place and feels that they need to change the name of their DMV to reflect that. But in reality, the MVA was no different than the DMV. Tons of people sat in molded plastic chairs waiting for their number to flash on the screen overhead so that they could go talk to someone who was either grumpy, inarticulate, or unfamiliar with the English language. My number was 82. I think they were in the 60s when I got there. I didn't think it would take all that long since there were about 15 open stations, but of course, it still took an hour. And then when I finally got up there and was one step from being finished with the whole tedious process, the computers froze. Just my luck. So I got to sit there and sit there and sit there until they came back on. Fortunately, they did come back on and I was able to walk out of the MVA $46 poorer, but with a new driver's license. That's right...$46. It's a freaking piece of plastic folks. That's more than a parking violation costs. That's absurd. And not only is it just a piece of plastic, it's about the ugliest piece of plastic I've ever seen. Not only is there one big horrible picture of me on it, but a little fuzzy copy of this same horrible picture in the corner. And my scribbly signature (who ever thought signing on a screen was a good idea?) is also on there twice, along with my birthdate. Apparently people in Maryland are retarded and need to see everything twice before it makes sense to them. Actually, the stupid factor is confirmed by the picture chosen for the license. It's a crab. A creepy, crawly crab smack in the top right corner of my license. Come on, people. A crab. That's a good one. I mean, I used to think the Kentucky license was ugly, but at least it was interesting. This one is just flat out ugly. No redeeming qualities at all.

So yes, I came home from the MVA a little bit grumpy. I'd had to get up early on a Saturday just to wait around forever before forking over $46 (Mind you, $46 is a significant chunk of my monthly income) for an ugly piece of plastic. Buty it just wasn't all those little inconveniences that made me grumpy, but the fact that I had to turn over my Kentucky license for a Maryland one. It was as if the MVA man threw a little part of me away when he shoved my Kentucky license through the tiny slot of the locked drawer through which nothing can ever be recovered. Sure, I do live in Maryland now and will probably for a few more years, but I don't feel any connection with this place. The only parts of the state I've ever been to are Baltimore and the DC metropolitan area. I have no idea who the governor is. I don't know the state motto or song, and I can't figure out why their state flag looks like it should be waved at a Nascar race. I have no connection to this place, and I don't really have a desire to establish one. I don't feel like anything that happens here actually affects me. Maybe that will change with time. I don't know. But for now, all I know is that there's an imposter in my wallet. It's an ugly little piece of plastic (with a crab on it!) that says I'm from Maryland when I know darn well that I am and always will be from Kentucky.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

It's Not Charlie Brown's Tree

Today Jeff and I went and got our Christmas tree. We went to a farm and wandered through rows and rows of trees, examining the trees from all angles, discarding trees that from far away looked perfect but which exhibited flaws like bare spots and odd growth patterns upon closer inspection, and debating the merits of the five or six different types of trees growing on the farm. Jeff originally wanted a small tree. He thought that we didn't have enough stuff to decorate a big tree with and that we didn't have enough space for a big one. I let him think that I agreed with that theory, but I was after a big one all along. I mean, who wants a Charlie Brown tree?

It's been well over a decade since I last went Christmas tree shopping. Heck it might be closer to a decade and a half. I'm not sure. Mom, when was that? As a small child, my family always travelled down to the Hay Market to pick out a tree. I remember wandering through the aisles with each of us picking out our favorites. I remember always picking out a tree that was much too big for our house as my favorite. I didn't have much of a sense of proportion then. I still don't really. But mostly what I remember is the smell. The wonderful undeniably Christmas-y smell of fresh pine trees. That's what I missed most when we switched to fake Christmas trees. When it was determined that it was the tree which was leading to all of my brother's holiday illnesses, we had to switch. I wasn't very happy about that, but it wasn't my decision. Since then, I've come to peace with it. Hey, it's a lot less messy. (Until today, I had forgotten how many needles live trees like to leave on the floor.) But I must say that I've already forgiven the tree for its mess, because it looks beautiful and smells divine.

So as I'm sure you all guessed, I got the tree I wanted. It's a white pine that touches the ceiling and has a hearty diameter to go with it. We bought lights yesterday (multi-colored ones, because I like they way they look when you squinch up your eyes and stare at it and can see nothing but light), and we stocked up on some ornaments today (to go with the ones that Jeff claimed from his mom while we were in Seattle for Thanksgiving and the ones I will be claiming at home over Christmas). And we have a gorgeous tree skirt that my mom made for me, which looks very much like the one we have at home and makes the tree look and feel just right. So this evening we combined the tree, the lights, the ornaments, and the skirt to make a masterpiece in the corner of our living room. A few other Christmas decorations throughout the house give the place a nice holiday feel.

Hope everyone else is starting to get into the season too. It's hard not to enjoy it. And if you find yourself not feeling quite as jolly as you should be, go into the room with your Christmas tree, turn out the lights, and squinch up your eyes. If you don't feel Christmas-y then, than you're just one big Scrooge.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Hotel Rwanda

I’ve noticed that there’s starting to be a glut of advertising for movies that are coming out this holiday season. Before you start making a list of must-see movies, let me suggest one that you might overlook. It’s called Hotel Rwanda, and it will be released nationwide on December 22. As a guest of the USHMM, Jeff and I went and saw the director’s premiere on Tuesday evening, and I now feel compelled to let you know about this movie.

Falling just under two hours in length, this movie completely captured my attention (which if you know me well, you know that that is a difficult thing to do). Without being documentary-like at all, it maintains the historical accuracy that is so often lacking in films about historical incidents. Without being preachy, it makes you question your values and actions. Without being sentimental, it makes you feel that there is good and hope in our world.

The film focuses on the Rwandan genocide of 1994 in which 800,000 people lost their lives in just over 100 days. But more specifically, it focuses on one man, Paul Rusesabagina (played by Don Cheadle), and his courageous efforts, which resulted in the salvation of 1268 lives. Paul, a Hutu manager of a Belgian hotel, is married to a Tutsi woman with whom he has four children. When the Hutus begin to massacre the Tutsis, Paul takes action to not only save the lives of his family, but also the lives of thousands of other people he doesn’t know, putting his own life on the line. While other Hutus turned on family and friends, creating one of the worst bloodbaths of the past half-century, he refuses the command to kill or be killed, and uses cunning, courage, and a bit of luck to prove that one person can make a difference. I’m not going to tell you more about the plot, because you have to go see this movie. While it does not shy away from the horrors of this brutal genocide, the movie contains no gratuitous violence, and much of the violence is implied…you think you see it, but you don’t.

What is spectacular about this movie is the range of thoughts and emotions it evokes without ever making any outright moves to tell you how to feel. One of the most powerful emotions for me was the shame that I felt at being part of a culture that turned its back on this genocide. When all it would have taken was the police force of a middle-size city to stop the murders, we refused to send any help and instead pulled out any forces we had there. Whether subconsciously or not, we (not just America, but the entire western world) said that the lives of these 800,000 people had no value to us. We looked at Africa and saw a distant, perhaps even “barbaric” land that had nothing to offer us. Unlike other wars, which we like to say we fight for “humanitarian” purposes, this one would have been a truly humanitarian fight. There would be no rewards in oil or power. There would only be the reward of peace and life. And apparently for us this was not enough. Like the journalist in the movie said, we watched it on TV, said how awful it was, and then went right back to our dinners. We were completely void of the empathy that is needed to make this world a more humane place. As humans, we must care about what happens to other humans, whether they are our friends and family or are people thousands of miles away who we do not know. They are still humans. They have the same kinds of feelings as us, the same kinds of hopes, and the same kinds of fears. It is our duty to speak up for them when they can’t speak up for themselves. One day we may need someone to speak up for us. After the Holocaust, we promised “Never Again.” But time after time, we break that promise. Rwanda. Bosnia. Yugoslavia. Darfur. Will we ever actually learn that it takes more than words. We have to have actions.

Thankfully, there are people who do take action. In Rwanda, there were a few UN Peacekeepers who refused to give up. There were some Red Cross workers who refused to leave. And there was Paul. His story is amazing. It overcomes you with emotion. It makes you wonder if you would have the same courage if you were in the same situation. It reminds you never to underestimate the power of one person to change things. It gives you a reason to hope that things will change, that people will change, that the world will change. And it inspires you to take action.

I don’t know exactly what to do. It’s a bit overwhelming. But I know I can’t just sit quietly, a hermit in my own immediate world, while so many people in the world are suffering. At the premiere, Paul Rusesabagina himself was there to talk and answer questions after the movie. He was an ordinary man, someone you’d pass on the street without never noticing. But what he did was extraordinary. He’s proof of what we all can be.

So go see the movie when it opens on December 22. And take action to make the world a better place. I’ll keep you posted on ways I find to make sure your voice is heard by more people than those you eat dinner with …on making sure that “Never Again” is more than just a fashionable catchphrase, but a reality.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Beavers in the News

This one is for my brothers.

I promise to do a real post soon. Life is busy.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Remember When He Said He Was A Uniter?

In yesterday’s speech in which Bush laid out his plans for our country’s future (or lack there of), he said, and I quote: “I’ll reach out to everyone who shares our goals.”

Is that really considered reaching out? For some reason, I thought reaching out meant going beyond your circle and attempting to bring other people into it. How, I wonder, is this going to help bring the country or the world together? Considering that a little less than 50% of the country and probably about 95% of the world doesn’t share his goals, exactly who is he planning to reach out to?

It’s already starting. We’re in for four more years of the same “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” politics, of the alienation of once strong allies, and of the deepening of the divide in America. Being President of the USA means representing all people, even those who didn’t vote for you. It’s not like being CEO of a company. You can’t fire me from America because I’m not on board with your policies. You have to find a way to incorporate me. Or at least I thought you did. But lately I’ve noticed that apparently a lot of the things I think are wrong, so hell what do I know.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

That’s My Future You Just Flushed Down The Toilet

I’m not surprised. But I am disappointed. Honestly, America, I had higher hopes for you. I thought that maybe you were better than that. Please, do tell me what inspired an ungodly amount of you to vote for Bush. What made you rally behind a man who has led us down one slippery slope after another for the past four years? Didn’t your parents ever tell you that just because one of your friends thinks jumping off a bridge is a good idea that you don’t have to do it too?

Really, I just don’t see what led you to do this. Was it the moronic grin and stupid faces he makes on prime time television? Is it the way he says nuculer instead of nuclear? Was it the fear and terror instilled in you by his sidekick Dick? Was it because you like being unemployed? Did training the foreigners who are taking over your job make you feel like you were having an international experience? Do you have some twisted illness that makes you enjoy being hated? Please, someone explain it to me, because I just don’t get it.

Exit polls show that over 20% of the people who voted said that their number one concern when deciding who to vote for was “moral issues.” And of these 20+%, the overwhelming majority voted for Bush. I don’t understand. Unless of course invoking God’s name every time you speak makes you moral. What, I ask, is moral about fighting a war that goes against every principal of the just war theory? What is moral about outsourcing jobs so that people here don’t have them and people abroad end up working for terrible wages in terrible conditions? What is moral about favoring the wealthy over the poor, about supporting unethical big businesses who leave their employees penniless? What is moral about the death penalty or the support of constitutional amendments that deny people basic human rights? Really, people, if morals are your concern, Bush isn’t your man. And if Bush is your man, be honest with yourself and don’t say that it’s about morals.

Yesterday we had the chance to stand up and say that we think America is a better place than Bush has made it and that we as Americans deserve better than what Bush has given us. We could have said that international cooperation is better than a “don’t mess with me or I’ll kick your ass” attitude. We could have said that the welfare of all people is more important than our own personal wealth. We could have said that what we want isn’t a second home in a vacation hotspot but a safe and secure home for every person. We could have said that war should be the last option and not the first. We could have said that love shouldn’t be restricted or dictated but rather given openly and freely even to those whose lifestyles we don’t always understand or agree with. But we didn’t.

We didn’t vote with our heads, but with our pocketbooks and our prayer books. We didn’t vote with our hopes, but with our fears. We didn’t stand up and say what needed to be said.

I’m afraid we’re going to regret it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

History, Don't Fail Me Now...

All signs are pointing to a Kerry win on Tuesday, according to some of the most pertinent historical statistics out there. For one, every time the Red Sox have been in the World Series during a presidential election year, the democratic nominee has won. Being that the Red Sox even managed to win this year, it seems that the odds should be even more in the favor of the Democrats. Additionally, the Redskins have been a consistent predictor of the presidential election. If they win their final home game before the election, the incumbent wins. If they lose, the challenger wins. Well today was that game, and the Redskins lost to the Packers, so it's looking good for Kerry. Please, history, don't fail this time.

Now for some random thoughts from the past week and half. Yes, I haven't been a great blogger lately.

--When I went through airport security in Louisville on the way back to DC last Tuesday, the guy at the metal detector looked at my boarding pass and commented, "Well that's different. You're the first Mary There I've ever had." I looked at him, and said, "It's Mary Theresa. They cut off the last two letters." Yeah, Mary There. Come on. I know people give their kids some strange names, but really, you actually thought that might be someone's name???

--I took the GRE this morning. Being an English major and planning to apply to History programs, I didn't really care so much for the Math section and did little to prepare for it. But lo and behold, guess which part I did the best on. Yeah, fortunately I did well on both parts, so it's not really a big deal, but it was a bit odd that I would score better on the math section. Not sure what that says. Maybe I should have stayed with science??

--I despise the fact that we just changed the clocks. The sun will now set before I even leave work. Ugh. That's disgusting. I hate winter. It makes me lazy and grumpy. I am convinced that I have SAD. I need to cut back the hours I work, so I get to spend some time in the sun each day. Think that will fly?

--Jeff and I finally have a couch. It is a big, red, beautiful, comfy couch. Seriously, it looks really nice in the room and is quite spacious. So feel free to visit now. We won't make you sleep on the floor.

--We have had no trick-or-treaters. It's sad. Living in a condo complex, I didn't really expect them to come in droves, but I thought we might have a few. But alas, no, all the candy is still sitting in a bowl by the door. Guess Jeff and I will just have to suck it up and eat it all. Man, life is hard.

--Wedding planning is hard. It makes my head hurt. There are way too many things to think about, and each thing has a million alternatives that have to be weighed. My dad said it would be okay with him if we just eloped. I think he was joking, but seriously it would be a whole lot easier. Just joking, I want the whole deal...I just wish it were easier to make happen.

Anyhow, Happy Halloween to one and all. Hope you got lots of treats and no tricks.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

It Might be Spotty...But I Like It That Way

The topic of memory has made frequent appearances in my life recently. First, Jeff and I rented and watched the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, which for those of you who don’t know is a film about a man’s attempt to erase a failed relationship from his mind using a scientific process that pinpoints the location of the memory in your brain and then deletes it. Then I went to a lecture yesterday here at the Holocaust Museum titled “The Ethics of Memory: “The Passion of the Christ” as a Case Study,” which addressed the problems with memory in relation to historical accuracy and the way we take upon memories of events that we were not first-hand witnesses of. And finally, I read an article last night in the Washington Post on a new pill that is being tested, which, if given to a person after a traumatic event, is supposed to remove the memory of that event. The preliminary research on that drug is actually going to be presented at the neuroscience conference in San Diego that Jeff is attending this coming weekend.

Memory is a particularly interesting topic to me. Without memory, so many things would lack meaning. First of all, who would we be if we had no memory of anything that had happened to us in the past? Almost every decision we make is based on the memory of another decision, action, or event. Without this memory, we would be a new person every day, and we would have to re-learn everything each day. We wouldn’t know what snow was. We wouldn’t know to look both ways before crossing the street. We wouldn’t be able to drive, to have relationships, to decide what it is we like to eat. Alzheimer’s gives us a small glimpse into what life without memory is like. For many people, Alzheimer’s is the scariest thing they can imagine happening to them. So why, I must ask, are people interested in drugs that can eliminate our memories?

Secondly, history would have no meaning without memory. It has been said that if no one remembers, it didn’t happen. Perhaps this is extreme, but it is, in many ways, true. History, as we know it, is only what we have taken the time and effort to remember and to record in some way so that others can “remember” it. Here at the Holocaust Museum, the exortation “Remember” is frequently heard. It is only by remembering that we have any chance of preventing the repetition of such an event. It is only be remembering that the event will still be real, will still have happened, after all those who lived through it are gone. Our world is ephemeral and things that are not remembered disappear. In the Jewish faith, the tradition of memory is one of the most important tenets of the faith. Every holy day is about remembering, and Jewish faith says that as long as one is remembered, one does not die. It’s a way of thinking that I like very much.

Yes, the world as we know it could not exist without memory, both individual and collective. Individual memory makes us each into people who bring unique and interesting ways of living to the world. Collective memory ties us together as people, as nations, as families. It is the root of all that we are and all that we believe. Certainly there are false memories. Certainly there are gaps in memory. And certainly there are memories many of us wish he didn’t have. But would you really want to play with your memories or let someone else? There are too many unknown side-effects, too many things that we may unintentionally lose in the process. We are who we are, not just because of the good things we remember, but also because of the bad things that we remember. We are studies in contrast. We know joy because we know sorrow. We know love because we know hate. We know gain because we know loss. Without one, it may very well be impossible to have the other. To lose the bad, might mean to lose the good. So I’ll take them both. I like my memories just the way they are.

Friday, October 15, 2004

From Today's Express

The Express is a daily newspaper that is published by the Washington Post and handed out for free at all Metro stops. It’s about 35 pages long, and contains just enough information for me to get through it all between the time I get on the metro at Grosvenor and transfer at Metro Center. It covers national, world, and local headline news, sports, entertainment, and classifieds. Today, there were two things that particularly caught my eye.

On page 10: Starbucks Plans To Extend Empire Into Small Towns – Java junkies often must journey more than two blocks to find a Starbucks, which the company sees as a problem, its chief executive told analysts Thursday. As a fix, Starbucks plans to more than triple the number of its world-wide outlets to 30,000, with half of those in the United States. It has 6,100 stores in the United States. Starbucks will focus its growth in American suburbs and small towns, with many of the new coffee shops being drive-thoughs.

Oh God, two blocks! Are you kidding me? People are currently expected to travel two entire blocks to get a $5 cup of coffee?!? Craziness. What is the world coming to? But thank God, things will be fixed soon. Now not only will there be a Starbucks across from a Starbucks, but also a Starbucks next to a Starbucks across from a Starbucks next to a Starbucks. Come on, people, why, why, why do you support this? Get off your butt and use your probably not exercised enough legs to go find a coffee shop with character, a hometown shop that needs your help to survive the onslaught of mega-chains.

Advertisement on page 25: I am opposed to same-sex marriages. To God, same-sex marriages are an abomination. Same-sex marriages will bring God’s wrath upon America, as He did on Sodom & Gomorrah (He dropped a fire bomb.) I favor the Marriage Amendment, one man, one woman. Rittenhouse for President. “”be RIGHT and write in RITTENHOUSE”.

This man apparently has a direct line to God. He knows exactly what God wants and will do. I need to look into getting one of those myself. And a fire bomb, huh. Wonder if he too thinks that 9/11 was brought about by homosexuality. Where in the hell do people get their crazy ideas? And why is it people like this who think they ought to run for president? Although I’m not a real fan of the two-party system, sometimes I’m thankful for it. If this guy had some kind of party, I know he wouldn’t get elected, but I’d sure he’d still get way more votes than I even want to imagine. Really, I think I’m better off not knowing how many crazies like him are out there.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Fall Weekend Fun

This past weekend was a perfect fall weekend. The leaves are starting to change in some places, and the air has that hint of fall in it, but the sun is still strong enough that it is warm on your face and arms. It was a perfect weekend for Cristina to visit, and for her, Tiffany, and I to get out and enjoy a bit of Washington.

Cristina, who I haven’t seen since we graduated, arrived Friday night. Despite terrible traffic (a DC constant), Jeff and I managed to pick her up on time. After dropping her stuff off at the condo and Cristina grabbing a sandwich for a late dinner, we headed out to COSI in Bethesda for dessert. Although we keep getting the same waitress there and she consistently sucks, I still like the place. I think I just like the s’mores…and the chocolate cake with raspberry sauce was pretty awesome too. We stayed there until close, and then headed home. Despite being tired, we stayed up chatting long after Jeff wished we’d head to bed. (He was sleeping in the living room where we were.) And then once we did go to bed, we stayed up even longer, giggling like little girls at a sleepover. Tiffany was ready to go bright and early the next morning, but Cristina and I were lazy bums and didn’t get moving until lunchtime. When we did finally get out of the house, we headed to Georgetown, where we had a delicious lunch at an Italian cafĂ© that almost seemed like it could have been in Europe. We then wandered around the packed streets, enjoying the weather and checking out a few stores. I did buy a corduroy blazer, which is very cute. Pooped out, we headed back to the condo where we rescued Jeff from all the football watching he’d been forced to do (poor kid). We finished off the evening at Rock Bottom, with food, drinks, and conversation.

Sunday, Tiffany headed over again, and we grabbed a soup and salad lunch at Le Madeline. The weather was so beautiful we ate our lunch outside. We then stopped in David’s Bridal, which was a highly unsuccessful trip. I didn’t find anything I even remotely liked, and although I was just looking to see what styles might look good, I never got to try anything on, because the service there was atrocious. So it goes. We rounded out the afternoon just hanging around and talking before taking Cristina to the airport so she could get back to her demanding med school life.

Jeff and I still had Monday off, so we took advantage by going to a local farm to pick pumpkins. The day was sunny with a bit of crispness in the air. With jeans and a jacket, I was perfectly comfortable. We walked out to the pumpkin patch and quickly spotted the perfect pumpkin. We snatched it up, but kept looking around to make sure we had the very best one. We did, but we also grabbed a littler one to complement it. Back at the little shop, we also grabbed three small gourds for decoration. After loading them in the car, Jeff had a caramel apple for a snack, and then we wandered down to the pond (where we saw a blue heron) and around the grounds. For $15.50, we got two pumpkins (a 19 lb one and a 6 lb one), three gourds, one caramel apple, one coke, and a perfectly lovely day. Not a bad deal at all. It was fun picking a pumpkin, and although I didn’t wear overalls, and I squatted next to my pumpkin instead of sitting on it while taking a photo, the day reminded me of the family trips we took when I was little to pick our Halloween pumpkins. There were a lot of families there too, many resembling what we must have looked like about 12-15 years ago. It’s nice to know that even when everything seems to change, there are still ways to make it all feel a little bit the same.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Notes on Monday Night Football

*It’s good to have friends. A friend from Rice, who is interning with the Ravens, gave Jeff and I free tickets to Monday night’s game against the Chiefs. Not only did we get front row seats in the club section, but we also got into the pre-game Backyard Bash where we received free food and drink courtesy of Ruth’s Chris. Pretty nice deal.

*It’s amazing how many “macho men” will don purple if it’s for football. Purple, a color most manly men tend to spurn, is worn proudly by tens of thousands of male Ravens fans. As long as it’s in jersey form, color is apparently not an issue. I wonder how pink would go over.

*Apparently Under Armor is based in Baltimore. Every time there was a break in the game (which there were a lot of thanks to TV timeouts), an Under Armor ad came up on the board. The guys behind us apparently were big Under Armor fans, because throughout the game, they never stopped yelling the slogan: “Who will protect this house? I will! I will!”

*I didn’t know that “I’m Proud to Be an American” had gained national anthem status, but apparently it has. When it was played over the stadium’s loudspeakers, everyone stood, removed their hats, and sang loudly. This was then followed by something I am told was the national anthem, but Dru Hill’s version of it did not resemble any song I had ever heard before.

*Who knew that pro football teams had marching bands? I sure didn’t, until the Ravens’ band took the field before the game. They were about as cool as the Rice MOB, which means they weren’t really very cool at all. Now band geekiness isn’t just reserved for high school and college, but can be carried on throughout your life.

*I’m surprised that I didn’t see one single Janet Jackson moment throughout the whole game. The Ravens’ cheerleaders must tape their boobs into their tops, because the tops are so tiny and the boobs so big that with all the bouncing around they do, it’s inevitable that they’re going to pop out.

*I like football the best when there are lots of long throws and runs. Both the Ravens and the Chiefs mainly played small ball on Monday, which isn’t nearly as exciting. The game was still fun, and the three and a half hours passed quickly (I never once checked to see what time it was), but the game would have been better with a few more long bombs.

*NFL games are a lot of fun. I’m glad I got to go and see all the craziness and excitement that is professional football. Everyone should check out the spectacle at least once.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Don't Forget About Poland

For me, that had to be the best moment of last night’s presidential debate. And it didn’t happen once, but twice. You’d think that Bush, even as dumb as he is, would have realized after saying it once that touting Poland as one of your biggest allies is just absurd. But no, he had to go and do it again, making a big point out of it. Poland, ah, yes, Poland. Big, bad Poland. Poland, the source of so many ‘dumb’ jokes, is now our right hand man. Gosh, I feel good. Now I’ve been to Poland (it’s the only country whose border I’ve ever crossed by foot), and I’d like to go back. I think it’s an interesting place that catches way too much grief. But I don’t think it’s any kind of world power (militarily, economically, culturally…the list goes on). It’s great that Poland is giving us some aid in Iraq, but let’s be honest. They aren’t a real partner. I took the liberty of looking up how many Polish casualties there have been in Iraq, and today’s report lists 9. We’ve had 1050+. (Britain has around 90.) It’s our war, and for the most part we’re fighting it alone. Bush can talk about his “Coalition of the Willing” all he wants, but I’m not buying it, and if you are, well then you’re just plain dumb.

Overall, I found the debate to be both interesting and revealing. I didn’t learn anything new, because I try to keep myself pretty well-informed, but I believe those who were undecided were able to see where each candidate stands, at least on foreign affairs (which right now seems to mean only the war on terror…but that’s for another time and place). Although I can’t claim to be an impartial observer, I must say that I think Kerry won that debate. While the Bush clan tried to say that Kerry flip-flopped throughout the debate, even the commentators pointed out that he took a stance and stayed with it. The Bush team wanted to say he said the war wasn’t a mistake, was a mistake, wasn’t a mistake, when in fact, what he consistently said was that the war wasn’t a mistake, but the way we went about the war was a mistake. That’s clearly two different things, and I think he’s right. Bush did his usual and kept repeating the same old lines that don’t really tell us anything. Pretty little one-liners for the non-thinking population. And most of them weren’t even that well delivered. There were numerous instances were Bush was left speechless or stumbling. And I didn’t think Bush did a very good job of adhering to the debate’s rules, always wanting a chance to rebut. But then again, Bush has always seemed to make up his own rules, so I can’t say I’m surprised.
Anyhow, I hope the debate convinced some of the undecided out there that Kerry is a better man for the job than Bush. I’m not going to say he’s the best. I don’t think he is. I think we can do better overall as a country. But at this point, we’ve got two choices, and my choice is Kerry.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Are You Serious...This is The Rest of My Life?

Yes, you’re right, I’ve done a terrible job of updating this thing lately. Sorry about that, but I had no idea the real world was so darn hard. I don’t know how people spend their whole lives working. For the life of me I can’t figure it out. I like my job, really, I do. It’s interesting, challenging, and important (I think), and the people I work with are very nice. Still, when the alarm goes off, it takes everything I have to get out of bed. I’m out of the house around 8, and I don’t get back until about 6:30. By then there is only about an hour of daylight left (and soon none, damn you clock changing), and so much to be done. Our condo is still only sparsely furnished, with most things in boxes or piles on the floor, so we grab a few bites of food and then scurry around to the stores until they close at 9. Then when we get home we try to get a few other things done – bills paid, flights booked, etc. By the time that’s done, we’re so tired we’re not worth a dime. And we still have a wedding to plan!

When are we supposed to meet people and hang out with them? When are we supposed to explore the million things that DC has to offer? When are we supposed to eat dinners that take longer than 10 minutes to prepare? When am I supposed to study for the GRE and apply to grad school? When are we supposed to go for bike rides or runs or get any form of exercise? When, people, when? Please tell me, because I haven’t figured it out. I’m hoping once we get the condo fixed up, we’ll have more time. Hopefully then I can apply to grad school and go back to the much easier life of being a student…except I’m not sure where the money will come from then. Job and grad school? There’s no way.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

In Case It's Not Who You Were Expecting on the Other End Of The Phone Line...

…and is in fact, instead, a person calling in a bomb threat, don’t worry. I’m telling you now what to do. First, a few tips.
1. Be polite and show interest. (Sir/Ma’am might be appropriate here.)Let the caller speak and listen carefully.
2. Never hang up on the caller. (Your friends and family don’t like it. Why do you think a person with a bomb would like it?) Do not disconnect the line after the call.
3. Establish a relationship by using “I” and “You” in the same sentence. (This, for example, doesn’t work: “I am listening. You are a freak.” First, that’s two separate sentences. Second, name-calling never gets you far.)
4. Write down the EXACT WORDING of the threat. (What? You were too freaked out to remember? Weenie!)

And now that you’re having a polite conversation with Mr/s Bomb Threat, here are some questions to ask. Be sure to have a place to write the answers.
1. When is the bomb going to explode?
2. Where is the bomb?
3. What does it look like?
4. What kind of bomb is it?
5. What will cause it to explode?
6. Did you place the bomb?
7. Why did you place the bomb?
8. What is your name?
9. What is your address?
10. Now, if you get all these answers, ask yourself, why am I not working as a negotiator for a bomb squad? Obviously, I am a genius at this.

But you’re not done yet. There are other things you should take note of while talking. You need to pay attention to the caller’s voice/language and background noises. It might help to have a list available where you can circle the appropriate words. Examples of things to listen for: Laughter, Crying, Stupid Speech, Lisps, Raspy Voices, Congestion, Deep Breathing, Cracking Voices, Squeaky Voices, Taped Voices, Patronizing Speech, Wind, Animal Noises, PA Systems, Traffic, Machinery, Factory Noises, etc.

Got it? Are you ready? I am. If you’re wondering where I got all of this from, it’s from the Staff Emergency Procedures Flip Chart next to my telephone. I have a handy-dandy “Telephone Bomb-Threat Checklist” right at my fingertips. It even provides lines to answer each of the questions and lists with room for circling of any words that describe the caller’s voice and the background noises. Jealous, aren’t you?

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off To Work I Go

I’m now officially an intern in the Division of the Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Museum. I started work on Monday, and so far so good. I haven’t really done a lot yet to be honest, but I think I will like my work. Since most of you don’t really know what I’m doing, I’ll give you a brief description of my department. The Division of the Senior Historian (DSH from here on out) consists of three full-time staff members, an Austrian intern here on Gedenkdienst (an alternative to mandatory military service), two volunteers each who come in once a week, and myself. The DSH is contained within the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, and we, along with the library, are located on the fifth floor of the museum building. Our division has three main responsibilities:

1. Answer any questions posed to us by the general public concerning the Holocaust and related events. In a way, we’re like one of those numbers you call and can ask the person who answers any questions and they get back to you with the answer, except our questions are restricted to the subject area of the Holocaust. In short, the people in this department know a whole heck of a lot about the Holocaust. The range of questions goes from very detail-oriented, exacting questions posed by scholars to mid-range questions posed by the media and other people with a fairly strong interest in the material to absolutely ridiculous questions from who knows who, like the one I saw in the log yesterday which asked, “Did Hitler have cats? If so what were there names?”. The only questions we don’t answer are those about what happened to specific Holocaust victims (these are referred to the Survivor Registry people), those that are looking for basic info on reference materials for a paper they are doing (those are referred to the Library), and those which come from deniers (those go unacknowledged as required by museum policy).

2. Ensure that all materials, which originate from the museum or are displayed in the museum, are historically accurate. This means we work with Education, Exhibits, Publications, etc. to fact-check and help create new materials. We also review any book that appears in the museum shop and any video that is shown in the museum.

3. Produce original research on the Holocaust. Each of the three full-time members of the DSH are specialists in specific fields, and they publish research, give speeches, attend conferences, and act as academics. When I’m not doing items 1 & 2, I have been given the task of researching and producing a position paper on the number of Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) killed in the Holocaust. Currently estimates range anywhere between 90,000 and 1.5 million, and the USHMM would like to have a more accurate number than that to give as an estimate. So I’ll be spending a lot of time in the Library looking through records (many of which have just become available in the past years as formerly closed countries have opened and begun to allow access to their records) and reading the latest literature. I think it sounds interesting, and it should help me decide if I really do want to pursue a graduate degree in history.

So that’s it. Yes, not so brief, but that really is just the overview. I’ve spent most of my time so far just getting to know the place and the people. Everyone I’ve met has been fabulously nice, and I think it will be a good place to work. I’ll let you know more after I’ve been here a while.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Uprooting and Replanting

I hate moving. It's an extremely frustrating process. First you have to go through everything you own and decide what comes with you and what stays. That alone is hard because who knows if you'll ever need or want some of those things you've had for years, if not for your whole life. There's so much stuff you live with everyday that you never give any thought to, but when it comes time to decide if it stays or goes you have to figure out just what kind of impact that something has on your life. Once you make all those critical decisions, you then have to box it all up in a way that the majority of it will make it to the new place relatively unscathed. And finally, you have to unload it and find a new space for each and every thing that you brought with you. The perfect shelf or container or closet where it used to reside is no longer available and you have to re-think everything. It's hard.

It's especially hard when you are moving somewhere sans some very important things. Like a couch or a chair or a coffeetable or end tables or bedside tables or shelves or a kitchen table. You get the idea. Of the "important things to have in an apartment", Jeff and I have a bed and a dresser. Yeah, that's about it. There are a few random chairs and parts of a desk and two bookshelves, but none are really appropriate or in the proper condition for fulltime use. We're starting from scratch. Which in some ways is exciting. It's all up to us. We can make this place anything we want it to be (well, if we had a lot of money we could). But at the same time it's frustrating, because we don't even know where to start. We don't have anything to build on. We're painting the walls, buying a couch, finding a coffee table, all with nothing but a blurry vision we have in our minds. And who knows if our two visions are even remotely the same. It sounds like maybe they are, but things are so blurry we could very well be looking at two completely different pictures.

But really, this will be fun. Our place is nice. Jeff did an excellent job of picking it out. For the price we are paying (God, DC is expensive!!), we have a good size apartment that is well arranged. It's also clean, quiet, and conveniently located to both the metro (a 4 minute walk) and any kind of store we could ever need. Plus it's in a residential-type area. We live in a condo in a neighborhood full of condos. But it doesn't feel overly planned or sterile. There are many individual buildings each with a few condos per building. The buildings extend into a neighborhood of sorts, where instead of having a single family house as your neighbor you have a multiple-condo building. In between there are lots of trees, and the area is very green. There's even a creek right down the street. In many ways, the area reminds me of the neighborhood my Grandma lived in. Big oak trees shade the entire neighborhood, and squirrels and chipmunks scurry all around the grounds picking up and burying acorns. The grass is full of clovers and other shade loving ground covering and the dirt is old and crumbly. It smells like my Grandma's neighborhood smelled, which is a comforting thing. I like it.

So yes, our place is currently empty except for boxes and piles of homeless objects, but it has potential and eventually it will become a place that I think I can call home. And if you know me, that's saying a lot. Home is a sacred word in my book.

Monday, August 30, 2004

What's Big, Shiny, and Looks Really Good on My Left Ring Finger?

My brand new, super beautiful engagement ring, of course!

On Friday, Jeff managed to surprise me, Ms. Nosy, as I was referred to by both him and my mom in the planning stages of this event, with a proposal and the most gorgeous ring in the world. While I wasn't oblivious to the fact that a proposal was on the horizon, I had no idea it was going to happen Friday. Jeff apparently asked my parents two weeks prior and began planning with them. Right before it happened, Matthew was also pulled into the planning. It all unfolded as follows: Jeff flew into Louisville early Friday morning and was picked up at the airport by Matthew, who had conveniently taken Mark to school that morning and told me that he was then going to work for a bit. Together Matthew and Jeff had breakfast and then went to a florist to buy me a bunch of daisies (my favorite). After that, Matthew took Jeff up to St. A to get the car from my mom. While Jeff drove himself out to Bernheim Forest, an arboretum near my house that I have been a lover of since I was a little kid, Matthew came home. Having asked me the day before if I was interested in going to Bernheim on Friday, I was ready to go. There was nothing suspicious about this to me as we often go out there, especially when the weather is as nice as it was Friday. Once out there, Matthew says he wants to check out the big lake and I agree. Near the lake is a "Quiet Garden" full of flowers and lily pond. Jeff at this time was positioned behind the wood building in the center of the garden. I, of course, don't know this and not having any idea there is an agenda to my visit, I piddle around the lily pond, throwing berries from a bush at bugs in the water. Matthew lets me do this for a while, but knowing that Jeff is waiting, cajoles me into checking out a bunch of flowers. I look at them and then look up and see Jeff. Matthew disappears, and I ask, "What are you doing here?". He's all dressed up and holding flowers, so really it was pretty clear what he was doing, but all I could think was that he was supposed to be at work finishing up a really important paper he'd been busy with forever. Getting down on one knee, Jeff proceeded to propose, and did so in a very fine fashion, properly nervous and all. At the end, he gave me an antique style diamond ring, and I gladly accepted his proposal. It was perfect. He did a fabulous job with location, the proposal, the ring, everything. I could not have asked for more.

So yes, now I like to use my left hand a lot and I am easily distracted by the shimmering mass adorning my ring finger. It's very sparkly. I'm also trying to plan a wedding, although I'm not really sure how one goes about that. Just looking at magazines apparently doesn't allow it to magically happen. We're thinking late July or early August of next year, and we know it will be here in Louisville, but beyond that, we have nothing. Hopefully soon though since I move to DC a week from today.

Craziness. But good craziness. I'm sure you will all here more about it than you want to over the next year, but just deal with it. If you're good, I'll let you come to the wedding, and that, I promise, will be a really good time.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Some How, Some Way, Athens Got It Done

I've been watching the Olympics every evening since they began. It's interesting to see it all happen, having spent the last year watching the Greeks attempt to pull it all together. So far, I'm impressed. It's pretty miraculous to be honest. I only left Greece a little over a month ago, and at that point, I couldn't imagine them being ready. But in some way that I don't fully understand, the Greeks are charmed. And while you still couldn't pay me to be there in the middle of it all, I am enjoying watching it. Here are some of my observations so far.

*The Greeks obviously paid off the cameramen. Everything on the television makes Athens look sparkling. But really, it's not. I'd love to see the outside of the stadiums, because I know they are not at all landscaped and instead look eerily like alien landscapes. Also, I have yet to see a stray dog, although there is definitely a 1:1 ratio of people to dogs in Athens. And finally, the run-down and abandoned buildings surrounding the new Olympic Stadium have not once made it onto the television.

*I can tell you what the Greeks spent the past month doing. First, they took the scaffolding off the Parthenon and hid it. Then they went to work on Syntagma Square turning it from a dusty construction zone into a little garden oasis. Next they rounded up all the stray dogs and took them to a farm of sorts where they will be kept until the Games are over. (They will then be returned to the streets...I am not kidding.) Then they blocked off all of the roads so the millions of cars that jam them everyday disappear into side streets that aren't shown on television. Then they got rid of the gypsy camp surrounding the new stadium. And finally, they sent almost all Athenians packing to the islands. All this in one month...really I think it's more than I saw them do during the whole year I lived there.

*Has anyone else noticed that the stands are seriously empty? Where have all the people gone? The announcers the other day tried to tell me that the gymnastics event was empty because it was the Feast of the Assumption, and all the Greeks were busy with religious stuff. Riiiight. I was there on religious holidays before, and they never kept people from doing anything else. The Greeks are, as a whole, fairly religious people, but the Greek Orthodox Church suffers from the same dwindling attendance problems common to many other religions.

*Could the commentators please ask a local person how to pronounce the Greek words they have to say? I'll be the first to admit that for living in Greece in a year, I know pathetically little Greek, but I can pronounce the name of the main sites around the city and country. Lykavatos is not pronounced Lick-A-Vat-Os and Patras is not pronounced like Pat-Ross. Really, it's not that hard. It's not like they're asking them to read the Greek alphabet.

*I lived about a mile from the new stadium. If you see a big yellow building with a red roof, that's Athens College. Nike has taken it over for the duration of the Games, so maybe I'll get to see it on TV.

*It must be pretty cool to win an event and know that there is no one in the world better than you at that event.

*It's really sad that the Iranian guy withdrew rather than have an Israeli opponent. Kind of goes against the whole Olympic spirit.

*Iraq's soccer team seems to be the feel-good story of the Olympics. You can't help but cheer for them.

*The Olympics brings out the patriot in all of least in me. Whether you mean to or not, you find yourself wanting the US to win every event you watched. I was watching swimming yesterday, not feeling any particular attachment to it, but as the race neared the end, I found myself yelling "Swim Faster! Swim Faster!" to the American.

So if you haven't watched yet, get to it...and let your inner patriot out for a little while.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Hopping Louisville

Last Friday, my mom and I went downtown for the Trolley Hop, an evening tour of art galleries held on the first Friday of every month. Although the Hop has been going on for a year or two now, neither of us had ever been. Having worked downtown last year, I had popped into a gallery or two, but I'd never really had time to explore all that Main and Market Streets had to offer, so I was excited about our adventure.

We started our tour at Glassworks, a one-of-a-kind facility that brings together glass artists of all sorts. The showroom was filled with vases, bowls, ornaments, jewelry, and a wide variety of other decorative and functional art. One of the most interesting pieces was a table whose entire top was glass. But this was no ordinary glass table where a sheet of clear glass is perched atop a frame. The glass was silver and very solid looking and it curved down around the round table as if it were a tablecloth. In fact, I originally thought it was just a table covered with an extremely starched tablecloth. It was really neat. If I were loaded, I would have bought it. If I were loaded, I would have bought a lot of things.

After Glassworks, we waited a minute for the trolley with a large group of other people, but not seeing it anywhere nearby, we just got in our car and moved down the street to the east end of Market near Clay and Shelby. In this area, the art galleries are really concentrated. We first went into PYRO, a new gallery whose name was inspired by the old fire station it resides in. There I was impressed with some black and white photos, some embroidery art, and the complimentary spread of yummy food. From there we went into Zephyr Gallery, Garden Wall, Flame Run Gallery, Swanson-Reed Gallery, Ray of Light, Towne House Antiques, and a slew of other places. The glassblowing going on at Flame Run was really interesting. Ray of Light had some neat glass lanterns. And the gardens behind Garden Wall and a number of other galleries were very relaxing.

We ended our tour on the west end of Main Street, visiting the Kentucky Museum of Arts + Design and the Chapman Friedman Gallery. We also checked out the Art Cars lining the street for the weekend's annual gathering. All in all, it was an excellent night, and I'm looking forward to making it a recurring event. With the galleries changing their exhibits frequently, it's an event that's always fresh. I highly recommend it.

I was impressed by the Trolley Hop. To be corny for a minute, it was really hopping. I don't know when the last time I saw so many people downtown was. By the time we left around 9:30pm, the streets were packed. People were downtown, enjoying the unique things that our city has to offer. While 4th Street Live does little but bring people to a select destination, the Trolley Hop gets people moving through over 30 blocks of downtown, discovering places they hadn't know about before. Not only did the art galleries get exposure, but so did all of the other businesses along the way and all of the restaurants who provided snacks at the galleries. The one thing that would make it better would be if the restaurants who serve the downtown lunch crowd stayed open for dinner on Trolley Hop nights. I guarantee they'd get a good deal of business.

If Louisville could put together more events like this, the city would really take off. It's things like this, and not things like 4th Street Live, that make Louisville a cool and interesting city. I don't think 4th Street Live is a bad idea...I just don't think it's the best direction for us to go. 4th Street Live is generic. There's nothing unique about Hard Rock Cafe, TGI Friday's or the other bars and shops that compose it. The Trolley Hop, on the other hand, is unique. Sure other cities have similar things, but they don't have our local galleries and our local restaurants. And it's these locally-owned and run places that gives Louisville it's flavor. It's these places that make Louisville somewhere I want to live. So keep 4th Street Live, but explore more unique opportunities for making Louisville into the city it can and should be. I don't want to be Baltimore or Houston or any other city. I want to be Louisville. Let's build on Louisville's strengths, not import other cities. Let's take ideas like the Trolley Hop and go from there. Let's make Louisville into the cool place that I already know it is.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

You Can't Fool Me

Are we really to believe that the recent raising of the terror alert level isn't a political move? The information is 3-4 years old for God's sake, and the most recent update to the information they can tell me about was in January...eight months ago! If the information is so accurate and important why in the hell weren't we made aware of it earlier? According to our highest and most trusted (note the sarcasm) officials, it's because Al Qaieda plans things way in advance and then acts. So really we shouldn't worry about anything new going on in the world...just things from years and years ago. Riiiiiight.

So, Tom Ridge make your announcements while praising "the President's leadership in the war on terror," and then go on to tell us the next day, after it comes out that the information is old news, that you "don't do politics in the Office of Homeland Security". Sure, we believe you.

Quit crying wolf. And quit trying to scare your electorate into voting for Bush. That's not the way democracies work. Terror is the work of dictators. And anyhow, aren't you supposed to be fighting terrorism, not inciting it?

Monday, August 02, 2004

Hold On...He's Coming

Yesterday (or maybe the night before) the local news was covering a Louisville homicide. They opened the piece with a woman neighbor/friend saying how "cool" the victim was. I think she was trying to convey that he was a good guy who would be missed, but I got lost in the number of times she said "cool". Murders are unnerving though, so I'll let it slide. The end piece was what was really interesting anyhow. Per usual, they were trying to make the beginning and end personal, with the middle giving the known info on the case. So at the end they interview another neighbor, a man probably in his late fifties, and perhaps a little crazy. This I gather from what he decided was the best thing to say about the man and the tragedy: "Well, when you wake up and find out something like this happened, you know the prophecy is coming true. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming home." (I'm paraphrasing from memory, but I think that's pretty close.)

Hmmm. I'm not sure what prophecy he's referring to, but sure sounds interesting. The victim must have been a pretty important guy for his death to be the pivotal point for the fulfillment of a prophecy. But anyhow, be on the lookout folks. The Lord Jesus Christ is coming home. Are you ready to invite him in?

Friday, July 30, 2004

Defining My Affiliation

I never used to consider myself very political. I followed politics superficially, and I voted, but I never really put a lot of thought into my role in the whole political system. When I turned 18, I registered as a Republican, because that's how my parents were registered, and while I didn't vote the party line, if I didn't know much about the candidates, I generally picked the Republican candidate. As I've gotten older, however, I've taken the time to form my own political opinions. Last year, after much thought on the issues that were most important to me, I changed my affiliation to the Democratic party, and while watching the Democratic Convention over the past week, I've reaffirmed my decision. As the election approaches, an election that is of great importance to both the nation and the world (trust me, it's a huge topic abroad), I hope everyone takes the time to reconsider what it is they truly believe in and how these beliefs line up politically. Don't vote for a party just because you always have. Don't vote for the candidate whose commercials most stuck in your mind. And please, don't not vote because you don't think any of the candidates are worth a damn. Take some time to decide what is important to you and then decide which candidate best represents your interests. Read the paper, watch television, check out the candidates' websites, and in November go vote. (For Kerry.) Okay, while I really wish you'd vote for Kerry, I mainly just want you to go out and vote. It's your country. It's your vote. Don't waste it.

And for my own and your examination, this is why I'm a Democrat.
*I'm not in this alone. You're not in this alone. We're a world, a country, a community of people, and we each have a responsibility to each other. I'm not rich. I'll never be rich. And if I ever got to be that rich, I would be more than happy to have some of my money go to help those who need it. Yes, I'm not so naive that I don't realize that some people are poor because they are lazy. But a whole hell of a lot more people are poor because of situations they can't control. I/you/anyone I know personally am/are/is lucky. We were born to families who wanted us and who have done everything within their power to give us the best future possible. I have enough money that all of my needs and many of my wants are taken care of. I have been given opportunity after opportunity. If I don't "make it", it's no one's fault but my own. Many people, however, aren't given any of that. Their parents don't want them and can't provide for them. They've had to take care of themselves their whole lives and often education, jobs, health, etc. have fallen to the wayside. Can we really expect them to "make it" without help? I doubt I would, and if I were in that situation, I would only hope that someone would be willing to part with a little bit of their extra to give me my basics.

*The environment is in dire straits. Pollution is skyrocketing. And a lot of the damage is irreversible. I love our national parks, our wildlife, our oceans, our country's magnificent beauty, and I want future generations to enjoy it. Our parks aren't for mining, oil-drilling, or clear-cutting. Instead of asking for more and more, we need to concentrate on ways to use less and less. The technology is there, but it's not getting developed right now. And it's not going to be developed until people stand up and demand it.

*All people deserve full and equal rights, not just the people that a select group of us likes. Marriage is a basic human right that should be extended to ALL people.

*Our nation is built on the principle of separation of church and state. We are not a christian country, anymore than we are a jewish country, an islamic country, or an atheist country. As such, our programs and laws should be political and not religious. We cannot legislate morals, nor should we try to.

*My right to free speech, free assembly, free press, freedom from search and seizure, and my freedom to be considered innocent until proven guilty is protected by the Constitution. Don't deny it to me. Don't monitor my phone calls, my library books, my comings and goings. I'm not a criminal. I shouldn't be treated as such.

*War should never be the first answer. And war should never be entered into without a plan for peace. Yes, we should defend ourselves. Yes, we should fight terrorism. But we should attack the terrorists, not seek revenge or address old grudges. We should equip our soldiers with the best we can give, and we should never send them into a situation that could have been solved in any other manner. And we should not go at it alone. We are one country. We need friends. The world is bigger than the U.S. We need to remember that.

*Healthcare is a universal right. In the end this will save us all money. Prevention and research is much cheaper than emergency care and chronic and fatal disease.

*I believe in the little man. The little man is the heart and soul of America, and if we don't protect him, big business is going to kill him. And big business isn't anybody but the big man's friend.

*I need a job. A good job. And I need an economy that's going to provide me with one. I need an economy that is going to keep jobs here, not reward them for taking jobs overseas and further trample on the world's downtrodden by paying them very little for a whole lot of work.

There are more reasons, but that covers quite a lot of them. Take the time and think about what you believe. Then take your beliefs to the streets and to the polls. Our national apathy is disgusting.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Why Am I In A Handbasket?

Inspired by my brothers, I took the Dante's Inferno Test, and here are my results.

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Fifth Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)High
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Moderate
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)High
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)High

Take the Dante's" Inferno Hell Test.

I don't really think that's my best fit, but hey I'm not God. I guess answering that I hate a lot of people and sometimes laugh at other's misfortunes didn't do me a lot of good. The thing is there aren't really many specific people I hate, just lots of groups of people (dumb people, rightwing extremists, ueber-conservative Christians, etc.). But at least I'm not gluttonous, prodigal, or avaricious. That, I think, is worse. What good is not being hateful if you're still going to hoard everything for yourself??? Hmmm. I might hate, but I'll still help you out. And if that won't get me into heaven, then I don't know what will!!!

Where are you?

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Does Anyone Have a Big, Sturdy Box They're Willing to Give Me?

Why is it so hard to find somewhere to live? Why can't the place I'm imagining in my head just magically appear? Life would be so much easier then. It's really hard trying to find a place that meets my living criteria and also meets my budget...especially when I'm looking for a place in the DC area while living in Louisville. Jeff's been working hard looking at places I find online, but so far things aren't going that well. Nowhere has yet jumped out as "the place". And the fact that boys and girls think differently doesn't really help. What Jeff thinks makes a place good or bad isn't necessarily what I think makes a place good or bad. He's more practical while I'm more emotional. He's looking for functional, I'm looking for aesthetically pleasing (of course, I do think that functional is good too). It's rough. So keep your fingers crossed that something works out soon. I might go crazy otherwise.

And if you live in Louisville, thank your lucky stars. I was reading housing ads in the C-J yesterday, and I can rent an entire house in the Highlands for less than I can rent a studio apartment way on the outskirts of the DC area. Absurd! Ah, Louisville and its low cost of living, I will miss you.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Reunion Time

This past weekend was my five year high school reunion. I, along with about 1/3 of my class, gathered at Sacred Heart on Friday and then at Saint’s on Saturday to celebrate this occasion. As I wandered through the halls of SHA with the girls with whom I went to Panama City for Senior Spring Break (and with whom I haven’t really seen much of since), it seemed hard to believe that it had been five years. As we searched out our old classrooms and lockers, it felt like we could have still been students at Sacred Heart. But as I admired engagement rings, met husbands, and talked about careers, it seemed that high school was history long past. In some way, five years isn’t really a very long time at all. But in other ways, it’s quite a stretch of time. It is, after all, longer than the amount of time we actually spent in high school.

I had a good time hanging out with the groups of girls I had hung out with and floated between during high school. Of the girls who belonged to the groups I ran around with at SHA, there are some who I still keep in touch with on a regular basis, there are some I get sporadic emails from, there are some who I only run into on occasion, and there are some who I’ve never seen since the day we graduated. So the reunion was fun in that I got to see at least some girls from each of the groups I hung out with and got to catch up on what almost everyone I was interested in is up to these days. I liked my class when I was a student at SHA, and I still like it now, five years later. We have all types, but we’re a pretty good group that gets along despite differences.

One thing that it seemed many of the graduates of the class of ’99 had in common was that they had returned to Louisville for careers, law school, med school, marriages, and life in general. The majority of my friends are settled here, and of those who aren’t, it seems that many plan to return soon. And while they all told me how jealous they were of my adventures, I found myself a bit jealous of their lives. Those who have stayed close to Louisville or who have returned often have been able to take the bonds that were built at Sacred Heart and develop them much more than I have been able to. They meet for weekly dinners and after-work drinks. They always have someone nearby who they can reminisce with; someone who knows their history almost as well as they do. Like my parents, they will have lifelong friends. The people they will hang out with when they are fifty are people who will be able to recall what they were like when they were fifteen.

While some may think, "Oh God, who would want anyone to be able to remember that?" I think there’s something special about it. I’ve thought about this a lot, probably because I always seem to be running off somewhere, making friends who are scattered throughout the country and the world. While I spent the first eighteen years of my life here in Louisville, I went seventeen hours away to school for Texas. Then for one of those four years, I traveled thousands of miles away to Germany. After that, I again jumped across the ocean, but of course I had to go somewhere completely different. Now I’m on my way to DC where I repeatedly state I will only stay for a few years before moving elsewhere for grad school and then probably again elsewhere for a career. Different people hold different parts of my history, and it’s doubtful that all of these people will ever be in one place at one time.

I wouldn’t trade my experiences or my friendships. They are who I am. I’ve made my decisions consciously and willingly. I treasure the fact that I can go to so many different places and have friends waiting for me there. I envy my friends who have the consistency of the past as a part of their present and their future, but I wouldn’t be satisfied with it for myself. I have an urge to go that I can’t, at least at this point in my life, ignore. But with every year I realize that in choosing one thing I sacrifice another. It isn’t possible to have it all. You can’t be everything you want to be. I don’t always know that I’m making the right choice, but I don’t feel like I’m making the wrong choice either. I’m not certain that there’s a right or wrong. There are many paths, all of which branch millions of times, and each time you’re only given a moment to choose. Maybe the path I’m on will lead me right back to the home where I started. Maybe it will lead me to a home I have yet to imagine. I have no way of knowing.

Like Bobbie Ann Mason wrote in Clear Springs, "It's an old question - the call of the hearth or the call of the wild? Should I stay or should I go? Who is better off, those who traipse around or those who spend decades in the same spot, growing roots?...We're always yearning and wandering whether we actually leave or not. In America, we all come from somewhere else, and we carry along some dream myth of home, a notion that something – our point of origin, our roots, the home country is out there. It’s a place where we belong, where we know who we are. Maybe it’s in the past…or maybe it’s somewhere ahead…Maybe we'll never find what we're looking for, but we have to look."

And that’s just it. I have to look.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Giving the Real World A Go

Although many of you already know, I thought I'd make it official by posting it on my blog. I have a job for the next year. Okay, technically it's an internship, but it pays, so I'm counting it as a job. Beginning September 13, I will be working in the Division of the Senior Historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. I'm really excited, because this is exactly what I wanted. I will be working in a museum whose focus is the subject area I am most intellectually curious about. I will get excellent experience in museum work and historical research. Plus I'll get to put my German language skills to good use. And people thought a German degree was useless. Ha, I'm showing them!

The internship doesn't pay much (not really enough to pay my bills to be truthful), so I'm still looking for something on the side. I've got resumes out for ESL teaching positions and a historic home guide position, and if I get something like that I'll be set. I'm confident that things will work out, and I'm really looking forward to it. The job sounds interesting, and I think it will be great preparation for graduate school in history (where I hope to be next year). And I'm excited about living in DC for a few years. It's going to be fun.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Forget Oprah...God Has a Book Club Too

This evening I went to the Louisville Free Public Library for the first time in at least a year. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but was merely accompanying my mom and looking for a book that seemed suitable for poolside reading. In addition to using the Dewey Decimal system numbers, the LFPL also identifies books with little stickers that help readers who are searching for books of a particular genre. Mystery books are marked with a sticker showing a magnifying glass. Westerns are marked with cowboy hats. Sci-fi/Fantasy books are also marked, although I can't remember the symbol. (Maybe UFOs??) These books have been marked for as long as I remember, and I've never thought much about it. The markings don't create categories but simply identify books belong to well-established genres. Today, however, there was a new marker on quite a large amount of books. The new marker was a cross and was labeled as Christian Fiction. I looked but didn't find any books marked with Stars of David or other such symbols. There was no Jewish Fiction, Muslim Fiction, Hindu Fiction, Buddhist Fiction, Atheist Fiction, etc. So what, I wondered, makes Christian Fiction worthy of its own special designation? Is it really that requested of a category? If it weren't identified as such would Christians not know what to read? Kind of insulting, isn't it? It seems to me that it is saying that if you're a good Christian this is the kind of fiction you should be reading and all the rest is god-forsaken trash to be left for the hell-bound non-believers. God forbid they pick up something like The Power and the Glory (I'm sure the whisky priest didn't make the list) or Their Eyes Were Watching God (faith without what is that?).  I can't help wondering what exactly is Christian Fiction and who designates it as such? Is it fiction that has God (the conventional Christian God of course) as a central character? Is it fiction that deals with Christian churches, ministers, and evangelism? Is it the type of fiction that is reprinted in magazines like Catholic Digest?  Or is it the "Left Behind" series?
Now the "Left Behind" series is one scary set of books. Maybe they should be cross-referenced as horror. I haven't read them, and I have no intention to, but there are millions of people around the world turning the books into bestsellers. Perhaps these numbers are the inspiration for the Christian Fiction label. From what I've heard about the books, they are books that vehemently preach Christianity as the one true way. Anyone who is not Christian is not simply living in the dark, but is actually despised by God. Whatever happened to the benevolent God figure I grew up with? Anyhow, the scary thing about these books is that they preach hatred toward non-Christians. They not only depict the terrible destruction that non-Christians will fact at the hand of God, but they celebrate it. In a sense, it's hate literature. It's literature that had it been written by a group of Muslims would be denounced as terroristic. Being that it's Christian though, we accept it or look the other way. Now I don't think we should ban the books (that's the job of the Christian right towards any book that is not as close to Christian fiction as they would like it to be), but I do think we should take it upon ourselves to have open and loud discussions about such books and the implications they have for our world. I'm not going to go on any longer about this, because Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times already wrote a very thoughtful article on this that I can't better. I suggest you read it.
I find all of this disconcerting. Why do we all keep turning to religion as the answer when time and time again it has shown to be the most divisive thing this world has known? If you don't believe me, reference the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the current bouts of terrorism rocking the world. Why is our way (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or whatever)always the right way? Why can't we see that whatever God it is we believe in, there's no way this is what he/she/it could want for the world? Why can't we just drop all the designations?

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Is This Reverse Culture Shock?

Well I've been home for over a week now, so I guess it's time to update my blog. I don't have anything really specific to write about though, so I'm just going to go with some random thoughts about things I've noticed since I've been home.
  • Americans are fat. That is one of the first things I noticed upon returning to the country. I've heard that stereotype over and over every time I've been abroad, but this time back I noticed that it is really pretty true. Of course, not all Americans are fat, and not all Europeans are thin, but there are a dispropotionately large percentage of Americans who are fat. The worst of it is the number of young people who are fat. In general, I've found that fat Europeans tend to be old. Here the fat can't be categorized. Half of the people who are fat probably don't even think they are. For instance, as Jeff and I were leaving this restaurant in Maryland, two guys in their twenties walked in. They were nothing special; they were pretty much your average Joes. But both of them had little beer bellies that you knew would one day grow into big pot bellies. Not really a big deal at this stage, but at the age they were you'd think they'd take more interest in their health and looks. I don't know if I would have noticed before, but I do now. It's not pretty.
  • Restaurants in the US really like to get you in and out as fast as possible. It's a race against the clock. As soon as you sit down, your waiter/waitress wants to take your drink order. Two minutes later they want to know if you're ready to order. Then once your food comes they hound you about twenty times to see if they can get you anything else. Then without you even asking they bring the check and then hover until you pay and leave. I find it annoying, but generally most people here consider that good service. I probably once did too. But after two year-long experiences abroad, I've come to really appreciate the European way of eating. You don't go out just to eat, but to socialize. You better not be starving, because your food isn't taking any shortcuts to your table. It's definitely different at first, but after a while, you realize how nice it is. Nobody is hounding you, rushing you. If you want to sit for thirty minutes before you even open your menu, fine. If you want to order in bits and pieces, fine. If you want to stay for hours after you're done eating, fine. When the waiters/waitresses aren't depending on tips for their income, they don't really care if you occupy their table for the whole night. Of course, as you might expect, this sometimes results in poor service, but actually that's quite rare. I like eating out being an event. I'm going to miss that.
  • Humidity sucks. Once Greece got hot, it got really hot. The sun has a strange intensity there that I've never encountered anywhere else. But it's not humid. At least nothing like it is here. Even Egypt with its extreme temperatures wasn't like this. Here I find myself covered in a layer of sweat just after being outside for a few minutes. It's ridiculous.
  • While it's nice to be back in a country where I understand everything that is going on around me, it does have its downsides. Primarily, I can no longer say whatever I want about the people around me and be pretty certain that they aren't going to understand what I say. In Greece, I wasn't in danger of offending people with direct comments about their clothes, hair, conversation or whatever else about them caught my attention. Even those who understood English usually couldn't understand what we were saying, because once we got going we talked way too fast for their comprehension. It was nice. In a way it was like being invisible. That's one nice thing about being a foreigner. You can do what you want even if it is strange, and people just attribute it to you being a foreigner. It's kind of like diplomatic immunity.

Okay, that's all I've got for now. I'll write a better blog soon. My brain still doesn't seem to be working 100%. Yeah, yeah, I hear you saying that it never does. Gosh aren't you funny.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

That's A Wrap

After ten months and one week, my time in Athens has come to an end. In less than twelve hours, I will be on a plane heading back to the US. It's been a good ten months, and I am sure that I will look back on this year fondly. I was lucky to find a job that was as close to a paid vacation as one can get. I got to travel to ancient sites and relax on beautiful beaches. I got to live with five people who made every day interesting. Of those five, I know that I will remain close to two of them for a very long time. I had the opportunity to try out teaching, and upon realizing that it wasn't what I wanted to do, walk away without any repercussions. I was able to spend a year thinking about what it is I really want to do. That's a blessing that most people don't get. Instead of being thrown straight from college into the working world, I was given a much needed transition period. Really, it's been a good year. I couldn't have asked for more.

But I am not going to leave here reluctantly or full of sadness. I am finished with this year. I did what I came here to do, and I got out of it what I wanted, plus more. I leave fulfilled. I am looking forward to what awaits in the next year and all the years to come after that. I've realized as the year has come to a close and everyone but Kate and I has left, that I'm not the kind of person who tears up over endings. It's not that I'm not going to miss the people I'm leaving or that I don't appreciate the experience I've had. It's just that I'm able to look at it as one adventure set among many. There's so much more waiting for me that I can't get caught up in mourning the end of one thing. I'll carry the memories with me wherever I go. It was a wonderful year, but now it's time to move on. I can't stand in one place too long. There's too much world out there.

I can't wait to see those of you in the US. I've realized that wherever I am and whatever I'm doing, it's always the people I meet and come to love that matter most.

Monday, July 05, 2004


Yesterday was a historic day not just for the USA, but also for Greece. Last night, Greece won the Euro 2004 cup, in what is being called one of the most monumental wins in soccer history. It is being compared to the 1954 victory of Germany over Hungary in the World Cup, an event that is currently the topic of a book and film, "Das Wunder von Bern". Again Greece secured the victory with a header off a corner. They beat the Czech Republic in the same way, and they also beat France with a header, although off a regular cross and not a corner. The unlikely victory (Greece had 100-1 odds going into the games) was decribed on this way: "No team in a World Cup or previous European Championships have done what Greece have done here.
They have beaten the host nation twice, knocked out the holders (France), beaten the favourites (Czech Republic) and won the tournament with a foreign coach. To add to that, they had never previously won a match in a finals (meaning any international cup)." Pretty impressive, don't you think?

The best part was that Kate and I got to be a part of it. We went downtown to Exarthia, the student area of town, to watch the game in a cafe with a Greek friend and his friends. Lambros got to the cafe at 7pm and got us great seats right in front of the huge television that had been set up. The place was packed, as was every other cafe in the city, and those who hadn't secured a seat were standing a few people deep just to watch. When Greece scored in the 57th minute, the crowd went wild, cheering and hugging everyone in sight. For the rest of the game, everyone was holding their breath. And when it ended, the place erupted. It was the biggest victory many Greeks had ever experienced. We, along with the 3-4 million other people who live in Athens, made our way to Omonia Square, the sight of the huge impromptu victory celebration. Everyone jumped up and down, cheered, sang songs, beat on drums (and pots and pans), hugged everyone in sight, set off fireworks, blew airhorns, and generally partied. I've never seen such a uniformly happy group of people. And although some people climbed up lamp posts and found other perilous perches, the celebrating, although exuberant, was well-behaved. There was no looting, turning over of cars, setting things on fire, or other ridiculous behavior that has been known to punctuate victory celebrations in the US. And all this without even the presence of cops. Yes, Kate and I looked, but we did not see one police officer. In general, surprising, but not really if you know Greece the way we do. We stayed for about an hour after the game, before deciding we'd seen what we came to see. People were still pouring in at this point, and neither of us being huge fans of big crowds, decided we'd get out while we still could. We had to walk about halfway home (over an hour) before we were able to get out of enough traffic to secure a cab. We were in good company though with most of the city out walking or driving the streets. Anyhow, it was a really exciting evening, and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. Plus I got my fireworks! If you want to check it out, google Omonia Square, and try to find some pictures. It was true madness. I know there's one picture on the slideshow accompanying the story on CNN. It's pretty good, but there's really no way to capture what it was really like. You just had to be there. Like I was.