Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Here is a mind-blowing statistic: only 27% of American citizens have passports. Everyone knows the stereotype…Americans are terribly reluctant and perhaps even frightened to leave their country and experience other cultures. While there tends to be a shred of truth in many stereotypes (otherwise why would they exist), I didn’t realize how true this one was. I would have guessed this statistic to be somewhere between 40 and 50%. I apparently overestimated my countrymen’s desire (capability?) to travel abroad. On the other hand, it does explain the occasionally baffling stupidity of Americans concerning events, places, cultures, etc. outside the U.S. Here’s an example from my own personal experience. I was preparing to leave Nebraska and head for Finland, so I was canceling various services, such as the phone, TV, internet, etc. It was typical for these people to ask why I was ending the services, and my reply was always that I was leaving the country. Generally, that was a satisfying answer for most people, but some particularly curious people asked further questions about where I was going and why. After telling one particularly bright service agent that I was going to live in Finland, he gave this bamboozling reply (as best as I can recall): “what, is there a war going on there?” Stereotype confirmed.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

After a few great party experiences with the Singstar videogames, Ines decided that a Playstation 2 was a worthwhile investment. So, since around Xmas we have had a playstation. The only games we had, though, were the Singstar games, and I'm just not in the mood to sing most days (generally my blood alcohol level is far too low). This weekend we decided to experience other PS2 games, so we went to the video store and rented a game called Rayman: Rabid Rabbits. I really don't know the premise of the game, but the object is essentially to complete a variety of mini-games involving crazy rabbits which scream and try to smack you with various household objects, e.g. plungers, spatulas, shovels, etc. In general, I think the game is pretty fun and hilarious. Check out this video on youtube to see some scientific facts about these wacky bunnies. You'll see that the common theme is "they can dance". Awesome.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Forgot the pic for the previous post.
Decorate (in the imperative)

When I moved into my KOAS (student) flat in Jyväskylä 2.5 years ago, it was white, painfully white. The building was only about 2 or 3 years old, so it hadn’t seen much wear and tear, and the current residents weren’t big decorators. However, when I left this fall, there was all kinds of junk up on the walls; the place had taken on a personality of its own. This always seems to happen. I never have any pre-conceived idea of how to decorate a living space, but eventually, with some living, the white on the walls disappears. In other words, in my experience decorations happen, they aren’t planned. After moving into this new flat, though, I’ve realized (and been told) that this is very much a student’s approach to interior design. There can be design schemes, developed around different pieces of furniture, intended to produce various states of being in different rooms. For example, the living room isn’t just the place where the TV should be (like it was in my house). Nope, the living room should somehow have a fun, yet relaxed atmosphere created via its decorations, regardless of the presence/absence of a TV. See what I mean? Decorations are intended to produce different feelings, emotions, fung shui etc…it isn’t just about covering the white of the walls. Though I write as if I actually understand this issue, I would be quite the liar if I claimed full comprehension of the psycology of interior design. I don’t really know what colors induce what feelings, what colors go well together, how furniture may complement wall paper, etc. Think of it this way, I am that male stereotype with poor taste. Because I can’t comprehend these things, it makes it difficult for me to relate to Ines’ desire to decorate things in certain ways. When my opinion is asked, I usually don’t have one, thus my typical, unsatisfactory answer “I don’t care”. This reply is unsatisfactory because, apparently, I’m supposed to know what looks good and why. Moreover, I should have a better answer because I’m decorating my own living space, so it should have a bit of my personality infused into the decorations, right? Well, as I mentioned above, my personality seeps into decorations over time, gradually. It can’t be planned I have never put together a scheme which is somehow an expression of my personal identity nor will I probably ever. Anyways, I’m rambling as if I was charged with the complete decoration of our flat from day 1. This was not the case; it was more or less done for us by two gays friends of Ines. These guys decorated before we even moved in, and before I ever saw the flat itself. In the picture, you get a sample of the creativity they brought to this project. I was pretty nervous about the complete lack of control I had, but overall I think they did a good job (though I can’t say I’m a fan of pastel purple, see pic). From this whole mind-boggling experience of decorating a living space, I’ve learned at least 1 thing: I like symmetrical things and dislike asymmetrical things. Whether this lesson actually helps reduce the stress and confusion involved in the next design project, only time will tell.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My sister sent me this interesting article on the money spent in the Iraq war. No wonder the U.S. is running record deficits. Seems like an economics 101 student could've done a better job managing this thing...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The perils of being offline and writing while distracted

Let's explain the title. Right now, I am watching a Jackie Chan movie on german TV. I don't understand much because everything is in German, but it isn't as if dialogue is integral to any of Chan's movies. Then again, I do miss Chan's fractured English providing occasionally unintended comedy. The point, though, is that I am writing this while distracted, which guarantees that I will jump between topics or trail off, you know how it goes...

Ines and I were talking today about how over the last month or two we have failed to communicate with any number of people we should stay in contact with, e.g. how's so and so? no idea. Though we do have a variety of things consuming our time, the primary reason (besides laziness) that we have fallen out of contact (if you want to put it to that) with different people is that we have not been connected to the internet as frequently in the last weeks (also my excuse for a slow blog). In Finland, whenever I was at home, I was more or less online. In those days, Ines was also online to talk with me. Since we were both online rather often, we chatted periodically with various people. Now, though, I am not online as often because there are other things to entertain me here in Germany besides the internet, e.g. TV, playstation, my girlfriend. And, since I'm right here, Ines can communicate with me directly without the need for messenger. So....I was distracted by a pretty good car chase in the movie and forgot how I was gonna end this post. Maybe I'll just say that Ines and I wonder how everyone is doing even though we don't ask it as frequently as we should.

Next time, I think I'll watch the Simpsons and try to write something without pressing the delete button once. Then we can see how completely incomprehensible life would be without erasers.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

We just returned from NYC and moved into a new flat in Leipzig, but instead of regailing y'all with travel tales or a description of our new flat, I'm just gonna post these two pics of us at the Statue of Liberty. Why would I do that? Because I be too lazy to write a genuine post. But I do have a topic for you, the reader, to consider...which candies are better, M&Ms or Skittles? Who wins the contest of the brightly colored, circular candies?