The Real American Heroes

We went to trivia night run by the Lions Club at a local hotel this week and picked a GI Joe motto as our team name. I’m not sure where our friend Kathleen saw the signs but she invited us and our table of four (Kathleen, her sister, David, me) didn’t come in last but sure didn’t win! It was more fun than I expected. We were the youngest participants for sure! They were raising funds for local charities through the entrance fees and raffle tickets. It lasted over three hours! We also got a map of the defibrillators in town to keep in our wallets…

The MC was a dry-humor English guy and he sang Happy Birthday to people when they came out of the bathroom (because it really was the first lady’s birthday; “happy birthday to Sue, she is in the loo”). There was an entire round with questions related to lions.

Things we knew or guessed:
How long is elephant gestation? (I don’t know why I had this stored in my brain)
What was Beethoven’s disability?
Who designed St. Peter’s in Rome?
Who flew too close to the sun?
Year the US civil war began (no other table got it right!)
How many times Armagh won the All Ireland senior championships (I don’t remember now if it was about hurling or football, but we guessed the number, except I think David was reading lips at another table)
Largest cell in a human body
A LOT of questions about songs, from Bonnie Tyler to Tony Bennett to Phantom of the Opera to Eurovision

Things we got wrong:
Neil Diamond being the writer of a Monkees song (I put down Mickey Dolenz but actually had second thoughts about Neil thanks to my brother)
What team some famous soccer player played for (I crossed out Man United but it was right)
What town Gilbert O’Sullivan is from
Most of the names of streets associated with pictures of buildings in Kinsale
What year the Republic of Ireland became the republic (they multiple choiced it, so I guess not everyone here knows?)
Bono’s real name

The big prize was a hamper, which is what they call a prize basket, but it always makes me think of dirty laundry. We even get a Christmas hamper at work with a turkey AND a ham voucher. I’m curious what the mentioned vegetarian option is… and why they mailed a company-headed letter to everyone’s home to ask which butchers they want to use instead of just asking us at work!

“Why did I need coffee now?”

So most of you will be familiar with this, but I’m guessing some of my relatives are out of the loop. Time to catch up!

First watch this clip, Witness describes robbery attempt, from the news in Kansas. She’s a character.

…Which means someone autotuned it and it went viral. Now time to watch the hilarious musical version! (Ignore the stupid stuff at the very end.)

I don’t know why it makes me laugh so much. But is she better than the Bed Intruder?

NaBloPoMo participants: cool prize offer here!

Things that pissed me right the F off this week

I started this post several weeks back and thought I’d resurrect it.

All this travel means so many pretty pictures and not enough rants on my blog! That’s like going against my own philosophy. I’m afraid I’ll become extra boring if I’m not staying true to my roots. Or I’m growing older, I guess.

Pretty much all of these items were posted by US friends on Facebook. Either I don’t have enough acquaintances here to be close enough to be pissed off, or Americans really are self-centered and annoying.

home parties
fireworks killing dogs
going to the circus
purpose breeding your dog
hunting
whining about how much you hate moving (not you, TMC!)
right wing insistence on radical Islam’s focus
UK TV (it’s so American)

I guess I’m done now.

I thought of something else Ireland doesn’t have: big bags of potato chips. They only sell big bags full of single-serve bags of potato chips. Useless!

I’m trying to decide if I should do NaBloPoMo this year. I will never post a real post every day but I have a bajillion pictures and could do one a day pretty easily.

Someone at work made fun of me for saying awesome a few weeks back, even mimicking me with an American accent. So I tried not to say it so often (I didn’t realize I said it at all), and then our taxi driver made fun of me for saying awesome this weekend in Belfast. I looked it up and have said it 22 times on the blog. That’s not too much over four+ years, is it?

Finally feeling better after having a nasty upper respiratory thing last week, though the cough is lingering. I’ve been frustrated by lack of cold medicine here–all they do is take acetaminophen and suffer. You can get codeine OTC but not cold and flu treatment. I saw empty blister packs for something orange called DayNurse at another sick person’s desk and got excited that it might be like DayQuil, but it was just the same pain reliever crap. Anyway, I learned two new words for being sick: dosed and smothered. “Oh, you must be smothered!”

I also heard someone use the term away for slates, which I picked up at corkslang.com but had never heard in person before! It’s something like being content or everything’s hunky dory (the more common phrase is “happy days”).

A peace wall in Belfast. Our taxi driver was a little strange and looked like he might have been in Flock of Seagulls. I think he said the walls, gates, and checkpoints are currently scheduled to come down in 18 more years. The gates are still closed at night. I took the name “Peace Wall” to sound rather hopeful, but really I think it’s just acknowledging that the only reason there’s peace is because of the wall.

Things Ireland doesn’t have

Inspired by our observations and frustrations, a few being exaggerations. May have multiple installments. Co-authored with David.

1. Mountain Dew
2. salted food
3. snakes
4. lightning bugs
5. Kosher salt
6. swimming pools
7. thunder/lightning (very rare), tornadoes
8. canned pumpkin
9. monkey shoes Five Fingers
10. garbage disposals
11. thermostats
12. enough room to drive down the damn road
13. Half & Half
14. electric coffee mills
15. Ivory bath soap
16. any actually useful OTC medicine in the pharmacy or grocery, including Benadryl, melatonin, and Dramamine
17. boxed macaroni and cheese
18. lemonade
19. hot sunny days (a “scorcher” is anything above 70 F)
20. fast food
21. drive thrus
22. cities (I guess there are two)
23. Starbucks infestations
24. poison ivy
25. taco sauce
26. Mexican restaurants
27. Walmart, Costco, mega-shopping in general
28. ales
29. weather forecasting
30. washer fluid
31. factory farmed cows
32. skunks
33. pay at the pump
34. light bulbs that make any sense
35. fountain drinks at gas stations
36. fortune cookies
37. big bags of potato chips

Work finished kicking my arse for the week (one in which I had to ask for the hilariously pronounced ARRS form more than once), last week’s visitors returned to the States, and this week’s visitors arrived today. Yesterday was the company’s Day of Service; we get some time off to volunteer around town. Back in Indy they closed I-70 downtown and 8500 of my coworkers planted trees and flowers along the interstate. Somehow I ended up on my knees painting a dingy bathroom baseboard at a nursing home, which would have been fine but I was all by myself breathing high-VOC paint for hours and now I’m sore from crawling on the floor. Being by myself was ok since I was in a hell of a mood anyway, and I did feel more positive about life afterward, but I’m not sure how much of that was due to paint fumes. I did find it strange that back home, most employees participate, but here the site attitude was different and people thought it was kind of amazing I volunteered to help out in a country that wasn’t my own. Plus we stopped for a tea break!

An action shot from Connemara last weekend:

500

Would you believe I’ve written FIVE HUNDRED posts? The only interesting thing I found for 500 at Wikipedia is that’s about the year when they stopped burying people in catacombs.

I spent four minutes making that stellar chicken picture, too.

Some quick stats: I’ve had this domain (as website, since blogs weren’t invented yet!) for nine years. We had 1104 visitors in the last month. For the top 25 searches coming to my site, there were seven variations on my name. Other notable searches were vegetarian poop, cymbal-playing monkey, paperclips are more useful than, “happy chicken” indianapolis, and baby huts for guinea pigs from pet stores in glasgow. Visitors came from 65 countries, at least since I switched to the new stats service a couple months ago.

STOP THE PRESSES! It’s also four years to the day that I started blogging! This deserves another fine piece of art.

Does Egon drink Guinness?

Our second day in Dublin (last weekend) included a trip to the Guinness brewery. Here’s how a conversation went after seeing the old flower ad above: How do you define flourish? Then looked up fleur de lis. That’s the symbol of the Three Musketeers. They were in Slumdog Millionaire: what were their names? Athos, Porthos, and had to look up the other one. Aramis, but can only think of someone in Ghostbusters… Harold Ramis!

Ireland is a country in love with its courgettes and aubergines. Now, I thought I loved zucchini and eggplant, but darn it, I’m getting tired of them. At home every token veg dish is pasta and here it’s pasta with aubergines or some other variation of aubergines with courgettes tossed in for good measure. Hasn’t anyone heard of BEANS? I miss beans.

There are no screens in the windows. Cheerios taste like sugar cereal here and are marketed by Nestle, not General Mills.

The letter Z is pronounced zed here. We have a lot of abbreviations and acronyms at work, so I hear zed just about every day. And I always think of General Zod from Superman II.

I found this handy from Wiktionary: (Latin script letter names) letter; a, bee, cee, dee, e, ef, gee, aitch, i, jay, kay, el, em, en, o, pee, cue, ar, ess, tee, u, vee, double U, ex, wye, zee/zed. But I’d also like to note that H is not aitch here, but rather haitch, so it’s p-haitch at work and spelling my name includes haitch in the middle too.

I’m sure it’s not dominating the US TV and water coolers like it does here, but the World Cup is going on in South Africa right now. The Irish folks at work said they would be rooting for the US since they didn’t want to root for England. We get a lot of British TV so I’m seeing a lot of support for England as it is. David and I watched the England/USA match last night and I still think soccer is boring. Somehow the US is considered to have “won” even though it was a tie game. And there was this horrible buzzing noise from the crowds the whole time. Oh well, I’m going to have to live here longer to understand this one.

Some good news from the States:
California bans plastic bags
Pet-friendly license plate will be available next year in Indiana!

Albuquerque bans companion animal sales in pet shops: “Since the ban started, animal adoptions have increased 23 percent and euthanasia at city shelters has decreased by 35 percent.”

And yes, I get almost all my news from Facebook.

The Bad Santa of leprechauns

We are in Dublin for the weekend. Casper came home tired but well from the vet and we seem to have found a good petsitter, so we went ahead with our holiday weekend plans. We are being boring in the hotel room right now but overplanning makes us cranky, so down time is good. We tried to fight it out from laptops with online Battleship but couldn’t get an interface that worked, so now I’m blogging and he’s working on an invoice.

Pardon the repeat first picture there. I’m not smart enough to figure out the gallery feature on this site.

Gallery: First we have the dogs earlier this week, in a picture that should be captioned, “No, we didn’t poop up here!”
The rest are Dublin pictures: a creepy statue with really long legs and huge feet. David finds Starbucks and is ecstatic (despite the way he doesn’t look ecstatic). Then we have streets and shops of Dublin. Dinner: boxtys (boxties?) at Gallagher’s Boxty House, which was a little touristy but they had vegetarian boxtys (kind of a potato pancake thing from the northern counties) and I’m just not likely to find those in most pubs. The food was really good.

On to “Why go Bald,” another bunny ad, and finally David jaywalked without me while I was looking the other way and then there was too much traffic to join him. I took a picture of him way over there, abandoning me, but that crazy giant guy (we’re calling him German) decided to be a ham as well.

We got into town in late afternoon, so mostly just wandered at St. Stephen’s Green and into Temple Bar for dinner and drinks. Hopefully tomorrow will hold more specific tourist visits.

Eurovision 2010, brought to you by a snarky Brit

David and I watched the Eurovision finals Saturday night, which has been a song contest among European-television-area countries since 1956. It includes Israel and north African countries are eligible too. I guess I’d call it an American Idol/Superbowl combo in popularity. ABBA won in 1974 with Waterloo.

The broadcast we watched was voiced-over by a British guy, who actually talked over the hosts on the screen and everyone else quite frequently. This made the show pretty funny because he made sarcastic comments on a lot of the performances and the voting.

It turned into a geography lesson for us too, because we looked up all the countries we weren’t sure we could find (like Moldova and Armenia) on Google Maps.

Some highlights (the snarky Brit’s comments are in italics):

There were 25 finalists in this show, but other countries had been ruled out in previous shows. Spain drew second place for order of performance.
No one has ever won from second place. I see no reason why that should change tonight.

Spain’s performance was interrupted by a Catalan guy who sneaked in (apparently he does this a lot) and actually made the performance much better before security got him off the stage. The Spanish singer looked like Screech/Richard Simmons and had people dressed as toys dancing with him, plus a backup Screech guy appeared toward the end, who we thought was an interrupter too but was actually supposed to be there. Because of the interruption, they got to perform again at the end, to which the host commented during voting, They performed twice. Doesn’t seem to have helped.

On one of the onstage hosts: Nadia’s back for no good reason.

There was a jumping and spinning neon fiddle freak and a sax player from the 80s in the general freakshow that came from Moldova.

David on Belarus’ golden butterfly lady’s hair: “There was a semen accident,” a la Something about Mary.

On Niamh from Ireland, who won previously: No one has ever won wearing purple

David noted that Booger from Revenge of the Nerds made an appearance in the Albanian performance.

Turkey had a Robocop guy.

Steve Buscemi was in the Russian gig.

Armenia reminded me of the Stonehenge performance in Spinal Tap and was probably weirdest overall. Then I saw Moldova again.

On the appearance of another stage host: Now this looks like it’s going to be lame

Most countries sang in English, but I guess the rules have changed over the years about what languages are allowed (official languages of the entrants, artificial languages, etc). There were a lot of fake wind and fire swamp effects.

David thought the Denmark guy looked like MacGyver or Luke Skywalker.

Each country has judge voting and call-in voting, and gets to give points to their top ten entries. Each country’s vote would show up on screen like “22 of 39 countries voting.” Viewers can’t vote for their own country. It’s like the electoral college or something.

The representative reporting Poland’s results was a little awkward on satellite, saying, “And here are the votes from the Polish people. In Poland.” She was also being a little slow in her reporting. The voiceover host:
That’s where Polish people are from.
In your own time.

Niamh, the Irish entry, had won about ten years ago but did pretty badly in the voting last night. However, the UK did worse and the host guy wasn’t too thrilled about that. In fact the UK came in dead last. As Ireland continued to get a point here and there, Ireland: they’re getting a drip feed of points. They seem to have stopped for the moment.

On the French vote reporter from satellite view in Paris:
The Eiffel Tower again? Build something else famous.

Latvia’s vote reporter was apparently a previous competitor and mentioned it. I want that jacket. Oh let go of the past, Thomas. Latvian reporter: “I hear some applause, that’s good.” Rare for you I suppose.

On Belarus’ Olympian vote reporter: He’s better at skiing than presenting votes.

There was a lot of booing for Russia when they got votes from other countries.

The British vote presenter said, “Thanks for voting for us if you did.” Host: You’re not thanking very many people there, Scott.

When Israel presented their votes: And I did notice, nothing for Germany.

Ukraine have 108 points and we have 10. There’s something wrong.

In the end, Germany won by quite a bit. I’m glad we watched it but I think there may have been some Irish presentation of it that we missed. We enjoyed the British guy’s snark. The Norwegian broadcaster that hosted the event (because their performer won last year) sold their rights to the World Cup, a big deal over here, to be able to afford hosting the event. And I shall leave you with the German performance, a catchy song I like:

And a general picture gallery