26 September 2005

Return of Couscous

Awoke yesterday to the sound of a plastic bag rustling. As the fan was pointed in the opposite direction, my groggy brain began to send warning signals to my hung over body.

Crawling out of bed — many hours spent playing a drinking game revolving around being the first one to know the name and/or title of the random 90s songs that kept coming on at the bar made me realize the years of mosh pits and free DJ passes to the Rocket, Babyhead, Rathskellar, countless clubs named Trocadero and many more I can barely remember, may have finally taken their toll — I stared at the Whole Foods bag that held the remains of a massive vegan chocolate chip cookie eaten over several e-mail sessions.

Slightly to the left of said bag I realized, even in my half-blind non-contact-lensed state, something was staring back at me, and that’s when I realized that yep, it really is fall, and Couscous — or his bastard offspring; he was mighty small — had already taken up residence in my humble abode.

A little back story: I don’t mind most animals or spiders; most other bugs heeb me out. Unless, that is, I’m laying in the middle of the woods surrounded by a canvas tent or some other form of camping acoutrement, in which case I am inhabiting some other creatures’ home — thus, I can cope. But, in my own home, I prefer to live in solitude. Plus, I’m afraid they’re going to crawl in my mouth while I sleep and take itty bitty digital pictures to send to all their furry friends… (“Woo hoo! Lookie me! ha ha! I got my whole HEAD in that snoring human’s mouth! Betcha’ she’d freak out if she knew! Squeak!”)

So, it was a bit disturbing when, last winter, I realized I have a roommate of the small, furry variety. Calling him one day, in vain, he was anointed with his nom de squeak: CousCous. (Imagine this, people: a few glasses of red wine and I’m wandering about, flashlight in hand, sing-songing, “moose-moose! C’mere moose-moose!” Thus, Couscous stuck…)

So, Couscous, or, perhaps, Spawn of Couscous, has returned, and with him, crisp, cool weather. That I do not mind, though that means driving in snow isn’t much behind, but that as well I am a bit of an expert at, so it’s all good. (Riding in snow: different story. I’m a wimp. It’s true. Walked out of Whole Foods today (yes, it’s an affliction: I am yuppie, hear me roar as I carry organic non-BSE laden cheese products to my mouse-ful lair… *sigh*) into the pouring rain.

Skidding on painted stripes, nearly getting taken out by buses and getting drenched in the process as I slowly turned the pedals toward home, I had a massive flashback to El Nino, and my long-lost messenger 50-degree always wet sniffles EmergenC in the water bottle getting hit on Polk Street unable to stop and get out of the way of the nearsighted station wagon driver nerve damage makes the left hand go numb after too much time on the drops and the messenger bag digging into the shoulder doesn’t help much days. Sometimes the worker bee cubicle don’t seem so goddamned bad…

And, as my roommate came dragging in as wet and dirty as me thanks to her similar two-wheeled trip up Walnut, and we sat in front of the idiot box watching some new sitcom er other, I found myself wondering if a single mouse is really that bad. Because, as Thendara can attest, once upon a time in the SF we were overrun…

Although, and laugh at me all you want if it doesn’t work: my mom told me she uses dryer sheets to keep them out of her camper.

My entire room now smells like a Bounce factory exploded…

23 September 2005

To-do list, No. 6,089

Saw the funniest thing last night riding home from ManyHunks:
An entire busload of tourists piling out of their coach and up the Art Museum steps a la Rocky.
Guess you had to be there...

22 September 2005

Buddha I am SO not

Tossed on the running shoes last night and people never cease to amaze me: now that school's in, all the UPenn students are swarming around the 'hood like sorostitutes to a frat kegger. I swear I saw a handful of people attempting, very poorly, to parallel park, on my relatively short run.


And yes, they were all women.


Someone tell me what that's all about.
I mean, I can parallel park a Suburban for chrissakes — Hondas and the other assorted parent-purchased sedans practically park themselves!


Maybe it's an age thing. Or a car thing. I was shite at parking until I got the VW — it's pretty much like piloting a big red sneaker…


Or a neighbourhood thing: what with megamalls and massive parking lots populating most of the U.S.


Or perhaps it's just that some people have absolutely no driving abilities whatsoever… which is why I'm glad we don't yet have flying cars…


Although, that would just mean more girls dressed like Paris Hilton sobbing into their Motorola Razor phones to their boyfriends about how they accidentally drove the saucer up a tree…



19 September 2005

The Devil Wears Hatred

So it seems there a big flap over Vogue Editor-at-Large Andre Leon Talley telling Oprah that Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour has an aversion to fat people.

"Most of the Vogue girls are so thin, tremendously thin, because Miss Anna don't like fat people," he said. And Oprah should know: according to the story in the Daily News, she was forced to lose 30 lbs. by Wintour before she'd let her face stare out from the cover of the vapid mag (even though I do buy it occasionally—I'm human, people!).

Apparently, this set off a firestorm over at the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance.

"That you can make that statement and not realize it's hateful, in this day in age, is shocking. Either he thinks the world hates fat people and that's an okay thing, or he's so self-hating that he didn't see how hurtful this statement is," said NAAFA spokesperson (not sure if it's male or female!) Sandy Schaffer.

Forgive me for pointing out the blatantly obvious, but duh! OF COURSE Wintour hates fat people—her entire existence revolves around anorexic coat hangers and the fabric hanging off their skeletal frames.

Good lord, how much of a complete gobshite do you have to be to not realize that Talley's remarks are about as shocking as Dick Cheney eating puppies for lunch or photos showing supermodel Kate Moss doing lines of coke?

I think Schaffer needs to rename the organization National Association of Clueless People Just Looking for a Reason to Whine.

And, seriously, if NAAFA thinks that some dude spewing that Wintour, who makes $2 million a year and can afford to be thin and toned, dislikes cellulite is hurtful and hateful, they need to get their heads out of the sand and look around at what's really wrong with this world.

Maybe they should take some cues from PETA.

18 September 2005

Fruitless fantasies of the closet gadget girl

This weekend makes me angry. Angry I tell you!

Why? Oh why oh why oh why … did I just get sucked into the void created by the combination of couch and television turned, ever so tantalizingly, to the Food Network?!!?

Now, usually, being the masochistic freakshow I am, I’ll watch the Food Network while I’m at the gym, panting like a dying field mouse after cat’s had her way with it, watching all the waaay too good foodstuffs they concoct on any of the bajillion shows. I love it all; I even love the stuff I don’t eat. I just like to watch. (Ooh, I mean, the food … the food!)

However, this afternoon was far more insidious: remember the cartoons they’d sometimes show on Tom & Jerry, where the housewife (always pert and you just know loaded to the curlers with Valium!) would marvel at the kitchen of the future?

Well, FN just did the same thing, only it was immediately followed by kitchen gadgets. I found myself salivating, and it certainly had nothing to do with the leftover pasta and soy sausage I rummaged from the fridge after bicycling myself silly up, down, over and around Manayunk for several hours.

Of course, everyone who knows me also knows I do not cook. Hell, half nights microwaving is too much of a chore and I can, invariably, be found sitting on the porch in front of half a glass of merlot and plate of cheese and crackers. But, I have to wonder: if I had really cool shit, would I use it?

I mean, I cook at my parents’ house. They have cool shit. But then again, so do I: mutha’ Kitchen Aid, orange microwave, blenders in every combination, and a food processor (though currently broken thanks to Cuisinart’s shitty plastic construction. Gr.). Not to mention the European-style electric water kettle (and the British tea to go with it, straight from the Thames … er … market).

But I want more. MORE!

Or maybe just some counter space … ah, it’s the little things.

Which, unfortunately, this weekend have been ignored. You know, little things like balancing checkbook, going grocery shopping, cleaning … oh, wait. No, that I did in spades. Cleaned like I’d been possessed by Mr. Clean, actually, thankfully, though, without the baldness and silly outfit (although Halloween is coming up …)

Cleaned the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom, wandered to the store that makes the Dollar Store look expensive next to the Fu Wah for new shower curtains, re-taped my handlebars, did the laundry, and, of course, the dishes … and felt like the biggest dork known to man!

(Dutifully lowered my head in shame when Justin called Friday night and I was … I was … reading!!!! I figure it’s either that or take one friend’s advice and troll for a rebound fuck, though considering the fact that holding the book up to my face is taxing, I’d best wait ‘til I’m feeling a bit more rambunctious—and obviously insane—for that business.)

Maybe what I really need is a break. I’ve been trapped in this mini-opolis (not to be confused with Minneapolis) and maybe what I need to go is get in the car and head north, visit the fam, run around with the dogs (or after them as they’re very misbehaved), and go get some badass canned goods and homemade wine from Justin, and hang upstate staring at the leaves as they change as fast and furiously as my recently volatile life ... only they look prettier in the process!

14 September 2005

Meanderings of an addled mind

It was bound to happen: Google now has a blogsearch function.


Of course, seeing as many, if not most bloggers tend to be rather anonymous, it's not that easy to find people. In fact, the only person I was able to find was myself, but then again, if you know me it's not too difficult to figure out. Either way, for me it was a letdown: I know where my blog is.


The most interesting part, however, was how many previous SPL posts it located have been deleted.


Many of you know I have somewhat recently performed a virtual purge on these here pages, and my life, of someone I shall hitherto refer to as the Deleted One, a.k.a. Dead-To-Me-Go-Rot-In-Hell. (Unfortunately, deleting people from your brain takes a bit longer, but I'm working on it by maniacally watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind .)


In the meantime, I have wasted half a day looking.


Of course, it's easy to get sucked into the Web—so far today between looking for blogs, bikes and room and board (my bro's on a mission to move me to Manayunk, or ManyHunks as that bald anorexic beyond-vegan raw food junkie Justin calls it, so curiosity's got me thinking a move to Philly's bicycle-mecca might be in order post-snow days) I've done nada.


Except for a quick trip to that great green Satan: Starbucks.


Failed vegan I may be these days, what with my recent Swiss-on-crackers addiction, but with the exception of those minor cow milk fat magnet transgressions, I love my soy and soy products. Is that so wrong? (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, I did take the Farm Sanctuary "Go Vegan!" sticker off my car so as not to appear the hypocrite as I carted the cow-stuff outta' Trader Joe's!)


And goddamn did it taste good, like a little liquid slice of chocolate heaven as I drove back to the dark, dismal Bat Cave* marveling at how fast the weather's changing to fall (or autumn for you humorless hardasses).


As if the Halloween candy and decorations at the drug store didn't give it away, the swirly wind sending leaves in circles under my tires as I rode home from ManyHunks last night sealed the deal. The paved path along the Schuykill is dumb pedestrian hell in daylight, but as soon as it's dark and the yuppies retreat to their TVs the river looks like a dark, placid lake and all you can hear is turning of your wheels … and the occasional boomin' system going by.


Even though, it's awesome.


Fall is my favorite season, and this one's gearing up to be one of the best yet. After the suicidal tendency-inducing summer complete with lying losers, broken cars, shitty jobs and house-disrupting construction I've suffered through, I certainly deserve it.


Bring on the pumpkins!!!

Fwd: Only in North Dakota...

My friend Charles sent this to me today. It totally cheered a grey, rainy day up for me:

This was in the local newspaper today...LOL

The West Fargo Chamber Of Commerce requested restricted parking signsaround their building. They requested 10 or 15 minute parking onlysigns, giving the city the choice of making them 10 or 15 minutes. The city gave them this.... How diplomatic can you be?

13 September 2005

Norwegians vote to keep the welfare state

Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik, a Christian Democrat, announced today he will step down after his party lost majority rule in the country's national assembly in yesterday's election.


Jens Stoltenberg (above, thinking, "Why is there a weird flower swirly over my head? Oh, what, that's our logo? Crap! Damn lefty hippies!"), a left-wing Labor leader who ran under the three-party Red-Green alliance, which includes the Labor, Socialist Left and Center parties, will take over on Oct. 14 provided his party has formed a government by that date (hey, progress takes time!).  


What's interesting is that Bondevik's platform called for tax cuts, owing to the country's vast reservoir of wealth thanks to high oil prices ( Norway is the world's third largest oil exporter, after Saudi Arabia and Russia). Sounds familiar, doesn't it?


Norwegians had a different idea: Stoltenberg's platform calls for using the country's riches to increase funding for the socialist country's welfare state, including increasing spending for education, health care and the elderly, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  


The Times reported that, "The most important thing the Americans will notice is that the main lines of Norwegian foreign policy will remain fixed," Mr. Stoltenberg, 46, said in a pre-election television appearance. "But they will also notice that we pull back our soldiers from Iraq."


Norway has a token 10 officers in Iraq, helping with reconstruction.


Stoltenberg will now be able to expand Norway's focus on environmental and social protections, and repeal some of the previous tax cuts. The Times explains it well:


Under Mr. Bondevik's fragile coalition of Christian Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, Norway experienced a surge in prosperity, with the stock market tripling since early 2003 on the strength of oil exports. Interest rates fell sharply, personal incomes rose and the United Nations Development Program designated Norway the best country in the world in which to live.


But letting the good times roll is not really the Scandinavian way. Even at the cost of moderately higher taxes, most Norwegians on Monday seemed intent on protecting or expanding generous sick-leave, pregnancy-leave and job-security policies along with subsidized day care and free college tuition.


What a concept: Looking to the future, anticipating the needs of the entire population, not simply the proverbial haves, to hell with the have-nots (as the glaring example now plays out in New Orleans) and social benefits such as health care, education and a work environment that actually allows for time off—whether it be for sickness, childbirth or, gasp!, vacation.


And this is why, if I am ever forced to choose between my two passports, I will choose Norway. And, considering the scary trajectory this U.S. empire seems to be following, I may have no choice!


I'm thinking of holding a lottery for some poor sap to marry me and get the citizenship, too!


On second thought, scratch that—I'd rather just do it the old-fashioned way and get knocked up … bwahaahaah! Oh, I kill me … I can't even keep a plant alive...


Fortunately for me, and the potential demon spawn, being a Scandinavian I'm too responsible for anything like that to happen, and, being me, too enamored with being irresponsible to want to be tied for the rest of my life to anyone or anything.


Well, except for maybe a puppy … and, you don't go to jail if you leave them at home in cages while you go to the pub …

12 September 2005

Buh-bye Brownie

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, under fire and recalled to Washington in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, resigned on Monday, senior administration officials said on Monday.

A different sort of Orangemen


Just when you think things are getting better, the news comes 'round and slaps you square in the face, making you realize yeah, the countries, parties and deities may change but it's always the same ol' same ol':


BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Protestant extremists attacked Northern Ireland police and British troops into a third day Monday, littering streets with rubble and burned-out vehicles in violence sparked by anger over a restricted parade. Crowds of masked men and youths confronted police backed by British troops in dozens of hard-line Protestant districts in Belfast and several other towns.


Two Protestant paramilitary groups, the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), launched into violence against police—including homemade grenades—on Saturday when police prevented the Orange Order, a legal Protestant brotherhood, from parading near a hard-line Catholic neighborhood. (It's always funny to think of the Orangemen as anything but Syracuse University players, being an alum and all, something Gerry Adams pointed out when he came to 'Cuse for the St. Pat's parade a few years ago.)


From the Guardian: But while the IRA has built a major base of support through its Sinn Fein party and has grown central to ongoing negotiations on Northern Ireland's future, the Protestant paramilitary groups have dismally failed to win electoral support and barely register in political talks. Instead, they wield power through criminal graft backed by occasional intimidating shows of force.

11 September 2005

Time flies when you're slagging away at it...

So I have been in Philadelphia a year. Amazing how fast 12 months can go. (Hell, amazing how fast four years can go …)


I have to be totally honest and say that this has probably been one of the toughest years of my life—tossing myself into a random place, with no real plan and no real idea of who or what I'd be when the first annual where-am-I checkup came.


In many ways, I'm a million times better than I was in September 2004. And in a few ways worse off than I'd ever hoped to be. But goddamn if this 1/4 Polish peasant isn't doing all she can to pull herself up by those proverbial boot straps the old codgers are always so fond of referring to.


A few weeks ago someone told me I was living in a fantasy world: that I'd fashioned a reality in my head that somehow didn't coincide with the actual flesh and blood existence going on around me. God, if only. I'd always wanted to be one of those children with an invisible friend, going off to the playground alone with my pretend friend by my side, dawdling away the hours with a big, dumb smile on my face.


Unfortunately, for me and the fool who had the gall to suggest I was somehow in a different, and allegedly, better place: I don't have enough imagination when it comes to what I see around me. I exist emmeshed in the day-to-day drudgery and mind-numbing minutiae that surrounds me. Give me your tired, your poor, your shitty grammar and misplaced commas, and by golly I'll set it right.  


In fact, the more I think about it the more I realize I could probably do with a little dose of fantasy, a bit of fancy and silliness and wild-eyed star gazing naïve hope: "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight …"


So here is my goal as I trudge into my second year of not knowing what the fuck I'm doing but still plugging away because it's not over 'til you're six feet below:
I will charter regular flights of fancy, and allow myself the luxury of imaging what, in my mind, would truly be fantasy-land. What? You say you want houses made of Cadburys and an Audi TT? It's your fantasy, take 'er for a test drive!
Living like an undergraduate getting you down? Well, imagine a life not stacked and propped in plastic cubes! Daring! Shocking!!! You're old enough to move out of the eternal dorm now dear...


Sometimes I forget I'm a boringly over-educated scholarship-toting geek-girl with schmancy degrees from even schmancier schools who has managed to wind up a mildly talented, entertaining, borderline intelligent world traveler with an occasional free spirit driven not by drugs or alcohol but pure, maniacal why-the-hell-not-ness. I do what I want—not everyone can say the same.  


And, for the poor sap who misdiagnosed my malaise as some disenchanted Cinderella mind funk, I can honestly say that in my newfound Tinkerbell cotton candy sparkle-land, my true evil twin would most definitely be able to meet me halfway—intellectually, morally, financially, spiritually—and for chrissakes, if I'm in fantasyland even a churlish Capricorn like me would leave the ex-wife, child and bleak, uneducated future out.


That's called real life.


Well, someone's—definitely, thankfully not mine.

09 September 2005

mein detention camp?

Holy shit : A federal appeals court ruled today that the president can indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil in the absence of criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.


What's the next step? I'm afraid to ask…

Brownie's lack of horse sense

Shocking… Shocking! It seems, now hold your hats here, that Michael Brown, current BushCo ass licking head honcho at FEMA, lied on his resume about his disaster management experience:


Time magazine on Friday reported that Brown's official biography overstated his emergency-management experience.


You're fucking kidding me!


I never, ever would have seen that coming, I mean, especially considering the fact that ol' "Brownie" was, prior to receiving his BushCo blowjob for bending over during Campaign 2000, head pony boy at the International Arabian Horse Association.


I am truly, deeply shocked and saddened to be faced with the news, in all the major outlets, originally reported by Time, that those in the current administration are in positions of power, making life and death decisions on a daily basis, because they got to play cowboys and injuns in the last two presidential campaigns, proudly displaying their Ranger or Pioneer metal badges while sipping champagne and masturbating to the thought of perks like a massive tax cut for the top 2 percent of American earners, a repeal of the estate tax, and phat bonuses for businesses that screw workers on a daily basis— Pension schmension! Unions? Hell no! Increased productivity with fewer workers? You betcha! Who needs a vacation anyway? (I mean, except for Bush…)


And Brownie's not alone:


Five of eight top Federal Emergency Management Agency officials came to their posts with virtually no experience in handling disasters and now lead an agency whose ranks of seasoned crisis managers have thinned dramatically since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.


Well, it certainly makes me feel safe to know that a man who likes pretty horseys, and former lobbyist, TV talking head and PR flack (Brooks Altshuler, who's not even on FEMA's Web site) are also on FEMA's payroll, which may begin to explain why the U.S. looked like some teenage boy caught jacking off in the bathroom by his mother last week… wide eyed, holding a small, limp dick.

08 September 2005

We were the world

You have to ask yourself how a country such as the U.S.—the richest, most powerful country in the world—can be so woefully ill prepared to deal with something like Hurricane Katrina.


It's not only shocking, it's embarrassing, and we are quickly becoming the laughing-stock of the world. Two pieces published today show the stark differences between what the U.S. sees, and how the rest of the world sees us (I've color-coded the two pieces to better show the freakish parallels):



US accepts nearly $1b in foreign aid

Thursday, Sept. 8 in Boston.com


WASHINGTON — The State Department has announced that it has accepted nearly a billion dollars in pledges of foreign aid following Hurricane Katrina, including hundreds of millions in cash to be donated directly to the federal government as well as planeloads of ready-to-eat meals, tents, and baby formula.


The assistance is beginning to pour in from countries large and small, a week after President Bush said on ABC's ''Good Morning America" that he had not asked for foreign assistance and didn't think the United States needed it.


Yesterday, Harry Thomas Jr., the State Department executive secretary who is helping to coordinate the foreign relief effort, denied that the Bush administration was lukewarm toward accepting the help.



U.S. unprepared to receive foreign aid

Friday, Sept. 9 in the International Herald Journal


WASHINGTON — Generous offers of aid for victims of Hurricane Katrina are pouring in from scores of countries, but in many cases the United States is unprepared to receive the goods. As a result, the U.S. State Department is pressing countries that have offered the use of helicopters, water purification equipment and telecommunications gear - among other items - to provide cash or ready-to-eat meals instead. Even with difficulties delivering foreign aid, it is beginning to arrive at or near the Gulf Coast, including ready-to-eat meals from Britain, tents from France, and first-aid kits and baby formula from Italy.


But the United States is more accustomed to giving aid than receiving it, and the Bush administration seemed to have trouble accepting the role reversal.


Early last week, President George W. Bush said the United States could take care of itself. "I do expect a lot of sympathy, and perhaps some will send cash dollars," he said. "But this country is going to rise up and take care of it."



''Not in the State Department," Thomas said, without referring to the White House. ''We welcomed all offers. This is unprecedented."


As the proportion of the crisis became apparent, the view changed. But preparations to receive anything but the simplest forms of aid have not caught up. Thomas explained that the United States has no experience with situations like these. "This is unprecedented," he said several times to reporters Wednesday.



Aid officials in Poland and Austria said yesterday they had not yet heard back from the United States about whether their offers of aid had been accepted. Planeloads of supplies waited yesterday morning in Sweden and India without word from the US government on whether or when they would receive permission to land in the United States.


When Sweden received the American request, it loaded a Hercules C-130 plane with water purification equipment, emergency power generators and components for a temporary cellphone network. The plane has been ready to take off since noon Saturday, but on Thursday it still had not been given clearance by Washington. "We are still waiting for the green light," Victoria Forslund said at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm.



A Mexican army convoy and a navy ship stocked with food, supplies, and specialists made their way north toward the US border last night, days after Mexico extended its offer of assistance. On Tuesday, the first planeload of tents arrived from France at a military airport in Little Rock, Ark., after officials spent all weekend trying to determine where the shipment should land. Another French plane filled with food was due to land yesterday in Biloxi, Miss.


Sweden is not the only country that has encountered problems delivering aid to the United States. France, Germany, India and Taiwan, among others, are awaiting answers to offers.



Aid officials in Poland and Austria said yesterday they had not yet heard back from the United States about whether their offers of aid had been accepted. Planeloads of supplies waited yesterday morning in Sweden and India without word from the US government on whether or when they would receive permission to land in the United States.


The slow pace of aid acceptance, after the urgency of the U.S. request, has bemused many countries. Thomas, the State Department secretary, said embassy officers in each country have tried to explain why the aid requests are being handled as they are and insisted "every country has heard back from us."


But as Europe prepares more supplies, officials there say they are beginning to wonder whether the aid is really needed or will ever be used.



But what's even scarier is what countries we've actually accepted aid from so far. Sounds like a who's who of oil rich and/or nations that stand to gain or keep something politically to me (well, except for Ireland, which was smart enough to give straight up to the Red Cross):



Kuwait : $400 million in oil and $100 million cash

United Arab Emirates : $100 million cash

Qatar : $100 million cash

Republic of Korea: $30 million cash and in-kind donations

Australia : $7.6 million

China : $5.1 million cash and relief supplies

India : $5 million cash

Ireland : $1 million to Red Cross

Iraq : $1 million cash

Bangladesh : $1 million cash

Azerbaijan : $500,000 cash

Gabon : $500,000 cash

Afghanistan : $100,000 cash

Armenia : $100,000 cash

Bahamas : $50,000 cash

Maldives : $25,000 cash

Sri Lanka : $25,000 cash

Bosnia : $6,414 cash


SOURCE: US State Department

A picture is worth ...


Thanks to Mags for the midday laugh!

07 September 2005

Tummy ache's living strong

Today I feel sick. Just plain ol' sick—stomach hurts, can't eat, head aches … ugh. Oh winter, you must be around the corner!


Of course, a small part of my nausea could be caused by the fact that Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow are engaged. Ain't that always the case—the bike boys dig the non-bike riding girly-girls.


Well, fuck 'em. I guess they need to feel more manly, what with their shaved legs and all. (Not that I'm against that look, I'm just disappointed that time and time again I'm forced to face that fact that, character-wise, men are pussies.)


Although, it looks like I'll be heading to France next summer:


PARIS—Lance Armstrong plans to train with his team this winter, increasing speculation he will end his retirement and attempt an eighth straight Tour de France win.


"It's definitely an open possibility, I know he is on the bike," Discovery Channel team director Johan Bruyneel told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Wednesday.


Considering the fact that Armstrong is saying he wants to race to piss off the French, who keep battering him with doping allegations, I think I'll definitely be carrying my Norwegian, not American, passport!

06 September 2005

VW to lose 10K jobs... Oh! boo! hoo!

Okay, so, let me be the first to throw my head back and let out a big, hearty laugh at Volkswagen's financial troubles: specifically, the fact that the company has announced it's probably going to have to cut 10,000 jobs in Germany in an attempt to stem its money woes.
"With sales lagging, Volkswagen's German factories are suffering from overcapacity. Mr. Dudenhöffer suggested that it close one of its most troubled factories, in Brussels, where the compact Golf is made, and move production to Wolfsburg, where it could be absorbed "overnight,'" according to the Times.
Ha ha! Serves them right!!!!
I own a 2000 Golf, and let me tell you, my experiences with VW, which mirror those of many others, have been a nightmare. Ever since the German automaker decided to redesign its cars and flood the market, starting in 1999, owning one of their plastic junkmobiles has been nothing like I thought it would be. And I did my research. Sadly, the research was pre-'99.
Granted, the car's cute -- damn cute -- and fun to drive, but it's also made primarily of plastic, which means that shit just breaks.
The laundry-list of problems with the car started almost as soon as I drove it off the lot with a grand 14 miles on it:
New transmission at 24,000 miles, new air conditioner many, many times, four new gloveboxes (I've given up and let it hang), countless sets of new brakes, shocks and tires, a new side mirror, which corroded (forget the plastic knob that broke off, which turns them from inside the door -- I just push them now), new front cupholder ($60!!! Dude at the shop asked the VW agent, incredulously, "Does she at least get a cup with that?") -- I've no intention of fixing the rear one that nearly took out my eye when it snapped, window hinges, plastic, that caused my window to fall into the door, and many many more plastic doohickeys that I find littering the interior. Where they belong, I seriously do not know.
Now, not that cars aren't breakable objects, but the issue is that every time I've attempted to deal with VW, even on problems that are either under warranty, recall items or just plain crappy, they've steadfastly been rude, unhelpful, and have persisted in stonewalling me.
Thus, I have, for the past five years, told anyone and everyone who inquires about my car what a complete and total piece of shit it is, how expensive, rude and unhelpful VW dealers are, and then I tell the "customer service" horror stories I've lived through dealing with VW of America.
So, take it from me: Avoid VW of America if you don't want to regret your purchase, or you'll find yourself wondering, as the car continues to disentegrate, what to do with it (burn it? blow it up? park it in Newark?) because, as I and others saddled with these rolling mounds of debt have discovered, it's not worth a dime.

03 September 2005

A picture's worth....

Originally uploaded by tycoonforthekids.
I don't know ... should I find it amusing, or horrifying ...

Either way, I find the entire Katrina debacle to be further indication that the office of the "leader of the free world" is occupied by a tard.

Not that I've felt any differently since BushCo. took office, it's just that more and more are starting to agree with me.

02 September 2005

You know that movie, the one where NYC is destroyed by water? ...

We're in for it now, peeps:


FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Amid the unfolding disaster left by Hurricane Katrina, Colorado State University researchers said Friday they expect more storms over the next two months.


"The very active season we have seen to this point is far from over," researcher Philip Klotzbach said. "We expect that by the time the 2005 hurricane season is over, we will witness seasonal tropical cyclone activity at near-record levels."


Couple that with a New York Press article my roommate told me about last night, which predicted the potential for a catastrophic hurricane to hit the metropolitan New York area is ripe:


"The 1938 Long Island Express, a borderline category-4 hurricane that plowed into West Hampton, causing widespread death and devastation across New York, New Jersey and New England, was the last major hurricane to hit the region. Statistically speaking, 'a storm of that magnitude may repeat every 70 to 80 years or so,' Mike Lee, director of Watch Command at New York City 's Office of Emergency Management, says.


'So, do the math. Whether it happens this year, next year, or in five years, it's going to happen.' And with this year's hurricane season forecasted to be even busier and more dangerous than last year's record-setter, 'It's just a matter of time,' Lee says."


And, considering the fact that this is just the beginning of hurricane season, it looks like we've got a long, wet and potentially deadly fall here on the good ol' east coast.

01 September 2005

An even hotter pic of Matt Taibbi

Brains, beauty and a penchant for hurling horse cum pies... sounds like the perfect man to me! muwahaahah!