Archives for the month of: June, 2010
World Cup Tomorrow:  England vs. Germany

I’ve lived in Germany and England so I have divided loyalties. Just in case, I have the flags of Germany and England in my apartment, including a Berlin bear.  I have all the basis covered.  Too bad the USA is out.  I always pull for the underdog.

Two Cents Worth

Unlike most people, I didn’t expect much from President Obama. I wasn’t particularly impressed with candidate Obama; yet, over the past 17 months, he has shown restraint and thoughtful leadership skills.  When he is allowed to be himself, he is particularly impressive: thoughtful, reflective and reserved.  In those rare instances when he tries to be the “common man,” it doesn’t work.  He comes across like a Tiger Woods apology – disingenuous.

President Obama doesn’t participate in theater politics or make impulsive decisions.  In some circles, he’s seen as too professorial or detached. His critics may have a point, but being reflective, intelligent and detached are qualities that can be advantageous, particularly when making difficult and complex decisions.  For the most part, his presidency has avoided the carefully prepared “sound bites” so common in today’s market politics.  I applaud him for his restraint.  I am sure those around him have advised otherwise.

However, I do have a bone to pick with the President.  It’s his negative statements about the previous administration.  It first started during his Inaugural Address.  His comments about the failures of the previous administration were unnecessary. This was the time to talk about his presidency not the previous one. This was especially inappropriate since President Bush was sitting just a few feet away. To those viewing the ceremony, the comments came across as crass and unbecoming of the “change” President.  Did change mean it was okay be rude.

Unfortunately, the President has continued to make these types of disparaging remarks throughout his first year in office.  He keeps reminding us of how America has a long way to go to repair the mistakes of the past and how his administration is going to fix them. While I am no fan of President Bush or his policies, President Obama’s comments are inappropriate and show a lack of propriety.  He’s not running against Mr. Bush. The election is over.  Does the President want to lower himself to the level of the US Congressman who shouted “liar” during his Congressional address?

Last week, the President continued his assault.  While eating a hamburger and french fries (trying to show how he is just a regular Joe) with Russian President Medvedev, the President stated that the USA and Russia had come a long way in repairing the damage done during the previous administration, and that he looked forward to improving relations between the two countries.  Why the President found it necessary to again reference the previous administration in an unkind light is unclear. 

It’s no secret what occurred during the Bush administration: unbridled abuse of power, blatant disregard for civil rights, and irresponsible fiscal policies.  We don’t need to be reminded.  We experienced it first hand.  As a result, we voted the Republicans out of office.  Now, it’s time for the Obama administration to continue with its own priorities, stop finger pointing, and get down to business. There is no reason to continue to cast blame. Actions do speak louder than words. 

I suggest that the President follow an example from the Laura Bush Play Book: be gracious, be polite, be yourself, and don’t use another person to make yourself look good.  

We live in an uncivil society.  Decorum is a thing of the past: four letter words are spoken in polite society and nobody raises an eyebrow, crass remarks are made by our elected officials and they are viewed as “speaking the truth,” someone cuts you off on the freeway and you feel obliged to flip them off.  It’s all okay.  Well, it’s not okay.  It’s time to return to civility. 

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World Cup Tomorrow:  England vs. Germany

I’ve lived in Germany and England so I have divided loyalties. Just in case, I have the flags of Germany and England in my apartment, including a Berlin bear.  I have all the basis covered.  Too bad the USA is out.  I always pull for the underdog.

Two Cents Worth

Unlike most people, I didn’t expect much from President Obama. I wasn’t particularly impressed with candidate Obama; yet, over the past 17 months, he has shown restraint and thoughtful leadership skills.  When he is allowed to be himself, he is particularly impressive: thoughtful, reflective and reserved.  In those rare instances when he tries to be the “common man,” it doesn’t work.  He comes across like a Tiger Woods apology – disingenuous.

President Obama doesn’t participate in theater politics or make impulsive decisions.  In some circles, he’s seen as too professorial or detached. His critics may have a point, but being reflective, intelligent and detached are qualities that can be advantageous, particularly when making difficult and complex decisions.  For the most part, his presidency has avoided the carefully prepared “sound bites” so common in today’s market politics.  I applaud him for his restraint.  I am sure those around him have advised otherwise.

However, I do have a bone to pick with the President.  It’s his negative statements about the previous administration.  It first started during his Inaugural Address.  His comments about the failures of the previous administration were unnecessary. This was the time to talk about his presidency not the previous one. This was especially inappropriate since President Bush was sitting just a few feet away. To those viewing the ceremony, the comments came across as crass and unbecoming of the “change” President.  Did change mean it was okay be rude.

Unfortunately, the President has continued to make these types of disparaging remarks throughout his first year in office.  He keeps reminding us of how America has a long way to go to repair the mistakes of the past and how his administration is going to fix them. While I am no fan of President Bush or his policies, President Obama’s comments are inappropriate and show a lack of propriety.  He’s not running against Mr. Bush. The election is over.  Does the President want to lower himself to the level of the US Congressman who shouted “liar” during his Congressional address?

Last week, the President continued his assault.  While eating a hamburger and french fries (trying to show how he is just a regular Joe) with Russian President Medvedev, the President stated that the USA and Russia had come a long way in repairing the damage done during the previous administration, and that he looked forward to improving relations between the two countries.  Why the President found it necessary to again reference the previous administration in an unkind light is unclear. 

It’s no secret what occurred during the Bush administration: unbridled abuse of power, blatant disregard for civil rights, and irresponsible fiscal policies.  We don’t need to be reminded.  We experienced it first hand.  As a result, we voted the Republicans out of office.  Now, it’s time for the Obama administration to continue with its own priorities, stop finger pointing, and get down to business. There is no reason to continue to cast blame. Actions do speak louder than words. 

I suggest that the President follow an example from the Laura Bush Play Book: be gracious, be polite, be yourself, and don’t use another person to make yourself look good.  

We live in an uncivil society.  Decorum is a thing of the past: four letter words are spoken in polite society and nobody raises an eyebrow, crass remarks are made by our elected officials and they are viewed as “speaking the truth,” someone cuts you off on the freeway and you feel obliged to flip them off.  It’s all okay.  Well, it’s not okay.  It’s time to return to civility. 

RAT AND LOBSTER
Maine’s state symbol is without a doubt the lobster.  In Berlin, it’s the bear, and you see evidence of it throughout the city.  There are bear statutes everywhere. However, I would argue that Berlin’s real symbol is the rat.  It is estimated that Berlin has five rats for every person in the city.  With a population of 3.4 million, that means there are approximately 17 million rats living among us.  How many wild bears does Berlin have? None, I imagine.

But why the rat?  Every city has its share of these cute furry creatures.  Why should Berlin have the prestige of being known as rat city?   The simple answer:  they are both so similar.  The rat like Berlin has a history of being viewed as dirty and even evil.  Both have survived wars and plagues; yet, they are resourceful and nothing keeps them down. They survive and even thrive. 

DRUGS

A couple of weeks ago, I needed some Aleve (Naproxen Sodium).  I recently had knee surgery and the doctor recommended Aleve as an anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce swelling.  In the USA,  Aleve is an over-the-counter drug that is easily obtained.  That is not the case in Europe.

In the UK and in Germany, a doctor’s prescription is needed to get the drug.  In Norway, it’s a bit easier to get, but there is a catch.  Aleve is only approved for sale, as a non-prescription drug, if it’s used for the relief of menstrual cramps.  In other words, the pharmacist will sell the drug but only for its approved use. Well, long story short.  I bought the Aleve, and I feel great.

BERLINER ROLL

Last, but not least.  There’s this urban myth that claims President Kennedy’s famous statement:  “Ich bin ein Berliner” means “I am a jelly doughnut,” and not “I am a Berliner.”  I asked a few natives what the statement really means. Well, the answer is not that simple. To a native Berliner, President Kennedy’s statement did mean “I am a jelly doughnut,” but only to people familiar with Berlin slang.  A “Berliner” is known in Berlin as a jelly doughnut or jelly roll, but only in Berlin.  In other parts of Germany, the statement means a person from Berlin.  I hope this settles this burning question.

RAT AND LOBSTER
Maine’s state symbol is without a doubt the lobster.  In Berlin, it’s the bear, and you see evidence of it throughout the city.  There are bear statutes everywhere. However, I would argue that Berlin’s real symbol is the rat.  It is estimated that Berlin has five rats for every person in the city.  With a population of 3.4 million, that means there are approximately 17 million rats living among us.  How many wild bears does Berlin have? None, I imagine.

But why the rat?  Every city has its share of these cute furry creatures.  Why should Berlin have the prestige of being known as rat city?   The simple answer:  they are both so similar.  The rat like Berlin has a history of being viewed as dirty and even evil.  Both have survived wars and plagues; yet, they are resourceful and nothing keeps them down. They survive and even thrive. 

DRUGS

A couple of weeks ago, I needed some Aleve (Naproxen Sodium).  I recently had knee surgery and the doctor recommended Aleve as an anti-inflammatory drug to help reduce swelling.  In the USA,  Aleve is an over-the-counter drug that is easily obtained.  That is not the case in Europe.

In the UK and in Germany, a doctor’s prescription is needed to get the drug.  In Norway, it’s a bit easier to get, but there is a catch.  Aleve is only approved for sale, as a non-prescription drug, if it’s used for the relief of menstrual cramps.  In other words, the pharmacist will sell the drug but only for its approved use. Well, long story short.  I bought the Aleve, and I feel great.

BERLINER ROLL

Last, but not least.  There’s this urban myth that claims President Kennedy’s famous statement:  “Ich bin ein Berliner” means “I am a jelly doughnut,” and not “I am a Berliner.”  I asked a few natives what the statement really means. Well, the answer is not that simple. To a native Berliner, President Kennedy’s statement did mean “I am a jelly doughnut,” but only to people familiar with Berlin slang.  A “Berliner” is known in Berlin as a jelly doughnut or jelly roll, but only in Berlin.  In other parts of Germany, the statement means a person from Berlin.  I hope this settles this burning question.

 Faça uma meta

You can’t escape it.  Here is a photo of a group of Portuguese fans at Cafe Lisboa in Wilmersdorf enjoying the Portugal (7) – North Korea (0) game. Poor North Korea, nothing seems to go well for them. 

 Faça uma meta

You can’t escape it.  Here is a photo of a group of Portuguese fans at Cafe Lisboa in Wilmersdorf enjoying the Portugal (7) – North Korea (0) game. Poor North Korea, nothing seems to go well for them. 

What can I say that hasn’t been said before.  Europe is mad about the World Cup.  Cars, balconies, and restaurants are adorned with national flags.  In England, it’s the red cross and white background, in Germany it’s the black, red and yellow stripes, and in Glasgow it’s the Stars and Stripes (not many English fans here).

Back in Berlin, all the cafes and restaurants in my neighborhood have big screen TVs (inside and outside) for their patrons to watch and enjoy. You can feel the excitement.

The display of national pride is everywhere and if it supplants nationalist tendencies that’s a bonus.  I’ve often thought that our enthusiasm for sport teams was just another form of nationalism.  For example, in Maine, you can’t escape the flag of the New England Patriot during football season.  Perhaps, it’s a catharsis for our war like ways?

Even now, as I am working on this post from a sidewalk cafe, I can hear the Italy and New Zealand game from the surrounding cafes and windows.  I know this because a guy just shouted from his balcony:  Ciao Italia.  And across the street, there is a group of New Zealand fans shouting and drinking.  Not much love for Italy in Germany. I wonder what this place will be like if Germany wins?



What can I say that hasn’t been said before.  Europe is mad about the World Cup.  Cars, balconies, and restaurants are adorned with national flags.  In England, it’s the red cross and white background, in Germany it’s the black, red and yellow stripes, and in Glasgow it’s the Stars and Stripes (not many English fans here).

Back in Berlin, all the cafes and restaurants in my neighborhood have big screen TVs (inside and outside) for their patrons to watch and enjoy. You can feel the excitement.

The display of national pride is everywhere and if it supplants nationalist tendencies that’s a bonus.  I’ve often thought that our enthusiasm for sport teams was just another form of nationalism.  For example, in Maine, you can’t escape the flag of the New England Patriot during football season.  Perhaps, it’s a catharsis for our war like ways?

Even now, as I am working on this post from a sidewalk cafe, I can hear the Italy and New Zealand game from the surrounding cafes and windows.  I know this because a guy just shouted from his balcony:  Ciao Italia.  And across the street, there is a group of New Zealand fans shouting and drinking.  Not much love for Italy in Germany. I wonder what this place will be like if Germany wins?



I like to wander in the cities I visit. I generally select a few places that I want to see; but otherwise, I just walk around with no fixed destination.  For example, today I was walking around central Olso and discovered a great jazz cafe.  It was tucked away in a courtyard that I would have missed if had been bicycling or been on public transit.  Even walking I would have missed it, except I happened to notice a group of people entering a narrow alley and looked in. There I found a courtyard and outdoor cafe tables. Inside was a jazz music store and upstairs from that was the cafe itself. The interior of the cafe was a small affair with exposed brick walls and intimate tables surrounding a small performance stage.  No other word describes it but charming. 

Later, while returning to the hotel, I happened upon a mid-summer parade full of trolls, vikings and other assorted goblins, accompanied by Norwegian folk music.

When I let the city unfold at a leisurely place, I never know what will pop up.

I like to wander in the cities I visit. I generally select a few places that I want to see; but otherwise, I just walk around with no fixed destination.  For example, today I was walking around central Olso and discovered a great jazz cafe.  It was tucked away in a courtyard that I would have missed if had been bicycling or been on public transit.  Even walking I would have missed it, except I happened to notice a group of people entering a narrow alley and looked in. There I found a courtyard and outdoor cafe tables. Inside was a jazz music store and upstairs from that was the cafe itself. The interior of the cafe was a small affair with exposed brick walls and intimate tables surrounding a small performance stage.  No other word describes it but charming. 

Later, while returning to the hotel, I happened upon a mid-summer parade full of trolls, vikings and other assorted goblins, accompanied by Norwegian folk music.

When I let the city unfold at a leisurely place, I never know what will pop up.