Friday, July 20, 2007

Sweden bound

Vacation has arrived...and just in time. Sweden bound so check in with you on the flip side (in about a week).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One bad apple apparently....

Not sure I quite understand why, but apparently, there is a storm brewing on German TV ...and it's related to the Tour de France. Patrik Sinkewitz, a rider for Germany's team, T-Mobile, was suspended on Wednesday because he failed a doping test in which he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone. (To make matters worse, this guy crashed and burned on Sunday when he was injured in a high-speed collision with a course spectator as he rode his bike from the stage finish to his hotel - that's a bummer - not even injured on the race course). Just not this guy's week.

Anyway, back to point of today's post. After two German TV stations broke the news of the rider's suspension on Wednesday, these TV stations decided they were suspending coverage of the Tour de France altogether until further notice. Don't get me wrong, I know the cycling sport struggles over the issue of doping, and while I understand the need to police this, it seems that the German media's decision to yank coverage based on the actions of "one bad apple". Assuming the rider is ultimately found guilty, as he is appealing the ruling and requesting another drug test, this announcement has spoiled the fun for millions of Germans who might be interested in following the daily trials and tribulations of not only the T-Mobile team "sans Sinkewitz", but other Tour de France teams from around the globe.

The Tour has been pretty vocal in its fight against doping, so it's a shame that the real losers in this soap opera are apparently the Tour de France and its legions of German fans who wanted to catch a little TV coverage of the event.

Liken this to a player from major leaque baseball found guilty of a drug test for "performing enhancing drugs" and NBC, CBS, and ABC networks yank coverage of major league baseball in the US.

So, in the famous words of The Jackson Five, "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch, girl".

Thursday, July 12, 2007

German response to terrorist threats

Quite a ruckus has been kicked up of late thanks to the proposal by Wolfgang Schmidt, Germany’s security chief, pertaining to his approach for dealing with potential terrorist threats “post 9-11”. Germany has come through relatively unscathed to date, as compared to the terrorist events the UK has been grappling with, exception for the botched bombing attempt at the Cologne main train station (very close to Düsseldorf, I might add).

Among the methods up for debate: (1) preventive detention for people suspected of terrorist activities, (2)assassination of terrorist leaders abroad, and (3) clandestine searches of private PCs via the Internet, all of these which are currently forbidden. Opponents of this approach say this is a violation of personal rights and invasion of privacy…among other things.

For obvious reasons, Germany has been particularly sensitive to the rights of individuals since WWII, but this proposal has drawn some obvious references to the Nazi regime as well as Communist East Germany.

The balance between liberty and security is a fine one indeed…more rhetoric on this topic can definitely be expected as this proposal moves forward.

Think about the country in which each of you, the blog reader, hail from? Whether home or host country…do you know your country’s position on dealing with terrorism? Where does your country come down on issues such as these?

Food for thought….

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

European sports

Baseball is THE summer game of all summer games. At least that used to be my thinking. When one can't get good Major League Baseball coverage, and sports are central to the weekend relaxation and enjoyment factor, one has to improvise. Could I even tell you the current standings of either the National or American League?

So, "make lemonade out of lemons". Yes, I have been recently known to watch America's Cup (sailing), Wimbledon Tennis, and Tour de France on TV. Who'd ah thunk it?

I draw the line on darts...much to the Budman's chagrin.

And the difference is?

A recent article on the English language website, Deutsche Well, cites some statistics about how many Germans fail to sit down for a meal, but rather choose to eat while driving. Apparently, the main tenet of the article was that as compared to their Swedish, Polish, Italian, British, Dutch, Belgian, French, and Spanish counterparts, they do not hold the “sit-down” meal as sacred as these other countries. Almost 60% of those surveyed eat behind the wheel of the car, as compared to 1 out of 5 Italians or Spaniards.

No real conclusions were drawn as to why the Germans hold this record, which would have been an interesting side note. Another statistic revealed in this survey is that German drivers also hold a poor record when it comes to using the blinker; a third of drivers saying they forget to use it.

So, it was not surprising that the main “take-away” I had from this article was less related to the disintegration of the quintessential sit-down meal but rather driver safety. I mean, if using a hand-held cell phone is banned while driving in Germany, surely the pretzel and a cup of coffee would also contribute to safety issues.

At the very minimum, it might explain the lack of use of the blinker….

Monday, July 09, 2007

Win some, lose some

Recent trips to the grocery store have resulted in some alarming trends. Apparently, there must be some “kiss of death” curse that the Budman and I are putting on our favourite foods that is resulting in the items being discontinued. At first, I thought it was just the Budman’s vivid imagination, but I am now starting to think that some sinister plot is at work here.

For example, I didn’t worry too much when the Mexican salad mixture was discontinued. “So it is an acquired taste”. (And yes, I could technically make the concoction from scratch but those who know me, know that will never happen). Then, there was the pseudo “Little Debbie” snack cakes that went be the wayside. And then there was the rash of items just last week: The Ritz crackers, the frozen eggrolls…just to name a few.

It’s those comfort foods …you know, the ones that remind you of home (sure…I miss my Chinese food from Asia - consider that part of my "home" food).

On the plus side, we’ve found a source for ginger snaps, flour tortillas and refried beans. So, as the saying goes, “you win some, you lose some”....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nos amis

As Paris, being one of my top three fav cities, is always reason enough for a trip, a college friend and her daughters traveling in Europe brought us all together in the City of Light.

Is it possible we’ve been out of college for 23 years? I don’t feel like it but the pictures don’t lie…

Paris June 2007 050

Paris June 2007 046

Paris June 2007 047

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

It’s not the same as an old-fashioned main street parade, a friendly gathering where the menu consists of hot dogs, deviled eggs, potato salad, baked beans, and homemade ice cream, and a Texas sky full of fireworks, but it is about as good as a Texas Gal can get in a “land far, far away”:

• an umpteenth viewing of Yankee Doodle Dandy
• today’s office music consisting of John Philips Sousa, culminating in a rousing rendition of Stars and Stripes Forever
• German sausages and potato salad (OK, not exactly Mom’s recipe but you gotta use what you have on hand)

Whatever you’re doing today, Happy Independence Day!

(and since the Budman and I are not celebrating the 4th together in D’Dorf today, a photo from previous 4th of Julys past).


Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Family pets have had a tough time of it these days in the Budman/Hachie Gal extended families. This time, Purringtyme Sissy Sue, a Young family member’s beloved pet and family member has gone on up to cat heaven. So, in memoriam to “Sissy”…you were one of a kind!"


Jelly donut

I never took German in high school and college, so the humor was lost on me until Randell, our Fat Tire Bike Tour leader explained it. You know the famous speech with JFK standing in front of the Brandenburg Gate? The one where is says, "Ick bin ein Berliner"...well he technically was saying he was a jelly donut. Most Germans apparently understand what he was "trying" to say, which was, "I am a Berliner" of you.

Still, was an interesting sidenote.