struggling through the recession one tattoo at a time

18adco-inline1-190I suppose it was only a matter of time….

Ms. Gardner, 50, said in a telephone interview that she had told the officers that she was fine and had shaved her head for an advertising campaign by Air New Zealand, which had hired her to display a temporary tattoo. She turned around and showed them the message, written in henna on the back of her head: “Need A Change? Head Down to New Zealand.”

Ms. Gardner was among 30 of what the airline calls “cranial billboards.” For shaving their noggins and displaying the ad copy for two weeks in November, they received either a round-trip ticket to New Zealand.

flu sucks

the flu has ripped right through our working group, laying low about 25% of the attendees – not to mention more in the other working groups. 

more stuff when I feel better.

this shouldn’t be the change you were hoping for

I don’t think for the moment that anyone is seriously predicting this sort of outcome, however it must be remembered, [difficult as it is in our ahistorical post modern era] that plenty of successful twentieth century tyrants leaned heavily on populist movements generated under economic duress and creating and leveraging fears prompted by uncertain futures:

The writer Webster Tarpley has argued that classical fascism is not just a police state imposed by a powerful elite, though it may end up that way.  To cement the new order, fascism relies upon a widespread mass movement from below in which the people throw their enthusiastic support behind an apparent saviour.”  and


One of the more ominous results of the Bush years was a steady concentration of power in the hands of the president.  For one man to hold such power, and with legions of followers doing his bidding, is anathema to a system of checks and balances.  And when a nation crippled by war and economic disaster is told that it must unite behind a messianic leader who will save it from destruction, history tends to provide a grim view on the future of that nation’s democratic political institutions.  

Although I tend to disagree with the author – rather I expect the next populist authoritarian movement to be located, not in the USA [due to no particular skill attributable to Obama] but rather to one of the European tribes, especially if this particular economic downturn turns out to be both lengthy, exacerbated by a protectionist trade war [buy american anyone?] and immune to the ‘stimulus’ of corporatist europe.

in an ideal….

….and just world I would own one of these, but more likely in a fit of practicality I might instead drive the Volkswagen Passat R36 [“look dear, side impact air bags“].   passatr36What’s not to like?  It hauls family and it is sehr schnell as they say.  Sadly, unavailable in the land of maple syrup.

Meanwhile, I must placate myself with the Audi A4 rental wagon – a nice enough beast to tame the autobahn – but somewhat lacking in character. 

Enough with the rolling stock already- this could go on all day – rather the point is to ask – if money were no object and in an ideal world what would you…..?

around the world – part 33.5 (hiking in franconia)

February 03 2009:

They say only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun – to which I might add, only mad dogs and Canadians go hiking in the midwinter freeze.

Schwarzachtal - looking north towards Mettendorf

Schwarzachtal - looking north towards Mettendorf

 I foolishly took up an offer for a ‘short’ walk in the neighbourhood which turned out to be a three hour hike over hill and through dale in a clockwise fashion along icy roads and paths, up steepish hills, through woods and eventually back to the salvation of the AmMarkt and beer.  [Is there nothing that beer can’t do?].  Notwithstanding the distance and duration, I must say that I did enjoy our excursion – enjoined at a pace calculated to keep warm and burn off enough calories to justify a gutmann helles *or three upon completion.

This little corner of the world is known as the Schwarzachtal (or Schwarzach Valley) named after the meandering stream which flows roughly north to south, paralleling the Autobahn 9 (A9) into the Altmuhl river near Kinding.  The valley is situated firmly within the Altmuhltal Natur Park, one of the largest wilderness** areas in Germany.  In summer it is full of cyclists, hikers and due to the favourable updrafts, plenty of gliders.  It is without a doubt one of my favourite corners on the planet – beautiful without being overstated, far enough from anywhere to escape hordes of tourists, and yet no more than an hour from Munich, twenty minutes to Nuremberg and dotted with tiny hamlets and towns.  


 *helles:  light [as in colour rather than alcohol content] beer.   As opposed to Dunkles or dark beer.   Other useful beery words to know:  “noch einz bitte” – another one please….

**wilderness being a relative term of course.

around the world – part 33.4 (german as she is spoke)

978-3-468-11136-5February 02 2009:  

Those of you who have stopped  by this blog will have noticed by now that I spend [herself would say – considerable] portions of my life in Germany.  Kid 2.0 delights in calling it ‘Chernamy“, but then he is only three years old and has yet to master the English language.  In his defence though, he does also attend a french language day care so that’s quite a lot for his neural pathways to contend with.  I, on the other hand really have no good excuse.  Which leads me to the topic of the day – muddling by in a second language.  

In an earlier life I studied high school German, mostly to fill an empty slot in my ‘electives’ made vacant by my utter ineptitude / disinterest in chemistry and/ or biology.  So two years of high school Deutsch later and then fast forward several years in an odd coincidence I met and married my beautiful and very patient wife who just happened to be German Canadian – possessing a natural grasp of the language brought on by living in her family of very opinionated German girls.

My travels take me to Bavaria mostly – the residents of which, depending upon who you talk to, don’t actually speak German, but rather some quaint regional dialect [news, I am sure to the Bavarians].  At any rate, apparently my frequent visitations have done no good to my already poor grasp of the German language, infecting it with regionalisms and worst of all an accent.  [Apropos speaking in another language – an aunt referring to my uncle’s butchered french sighed “he never conjugated his verbs!” – which pretty much sums up my fractured German grammar].

I was reminded of my linguistic shortcomings when about a year ago whilst visiting my wife’s[very recently departed] great aunt I referred to having visited the metzgerei here in town.  Being the gracious lady that she was, she chuckeld very politely and corrected me nicely – surely I meant the schlacterei – as butchers are known in the proper parts of Germany. 

At which time I began to consider that perhaps this concentrated exposure to only a very regional part of Bavaria  might be having a negative effect on my vocabulary – and how many other colloquialisms had I unwittingly adopted without even knowing it?  Long story short – I am now making an effort to not only improve my German vocabulary, but to understand regional oddities as I encounter them – thus some Bavarian German:

[a note on spelling: it is difficult to replicate the sound of the umlaut accent over a vowel – so spelling below is phonetic]

Greuss Gott:  A form of greeting found throughout Bavaria, in place of Guten Morgen or Guten Tag.    The visitor will encounter this expression offered up by the shopkeeper upon first entering a shop, and it is normal to repeat it in response.  I am told that this particular greeting is connected with the Roman Catholic history of Bavaria and that it regained some popularity during the war years amongst Germans who wished to politely dissent from being associated with the Nazi regime.

Zhoin:  a corruption of ‘zahlen’ which is the root verb ‘to pay’.

Zvoh: a corruption of the pronunciation of the number two – or ‘zwei’.  Bavarians, and Austrians for that matter, tend to soften the vowels and

Servus:  hello; and of course

Metzgerei: the butcher’s shop – known variously as a schlacterei elsewhere in the Federal Republic.