Saturday, January 26, 2013

We stayed in the hotel from Sideways!

Last weekend I went to California to visit my brother and sister-in-law. We had a lovely time in Los Angeles but the highlight was our northern sojourn in Santa Barbara wine country.
We hired a driver to carry us between vineyards which, really, is the only way to sample wines comfortably.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Resolutions: 2013

I LOVE New Year's Resolutions. Just thinking about them can be one of the most rewarding experiences you'll ever have. (HAHAHAA! Did you catch it?!? Adapted Zoolander quote.) January is an optimal time to make them, but New Year's Resolutions should also be made whenever a good one comes up. I don't remember what it was, but I'm pretty sure I established a New Year's Resolution in October 2012.

New Year's Resolutions must also be concrete and quantifiable. Setting resolutions to do things "more often" or to do things "better" invites delusions of accomplishment.

"I resolve to go to the gym more often in 2013! I already went once! I didn't go at all in 2012. Mission accomplished!" 

"No. You totally failed."

One (lifted from my sister-in-law's FB status) : read all the books I currently own that I haven't read yet. This is a big deal because I have a lot of those. As soon as I made this resolution I took action right away by rushing out and buying another book. This wasn't intentional, I was in a bookstore and noticed a book by the Oscar winning screenwriter of one of my favorite movies (On the Waterfront). There are laws of physics I would have violated by not buying it.

[The book is The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg.]

Two: Send birthday and anniversary cards to friends and family. Immediate amendment : friends probably don't need to expect cards unless they live out of town. Baby steps here, folks. I get a head rush in stationery stores with well designed, high quality paper and pens, and will probably buy enough stock to lock myself into this resolution until death. A terrible salesperson could sell me paper products while I was standing in a burning building.

Three: Be able to look at a world map and enter the names of all countries. It was with much shame and glancing over my shoulder that I googled Trinidad and Tobago to confirm in what region of the world it lies while at work this past year. If I'm going to continue being amused by students who stop by my office and announce, "I feel like I want to study abroad sometime in maybe Europe, Italy or Rome, or what are some of the other options?", I need to international education myself a bit more.

Finally: Call immediate family once a week. Issue: I do not like talking on the phone. I do like talking to my family. And since my motion that Viner parents, children and spouses move to the Twin Cities didn't carry, I will talk on the phone more often. Perhaps I'll get used to it and then grow to like it. Like eating broccoli. I put broccoli in my fruit smoothies now; too much makes them taste kind of odd but a reasonable serving goes unnoticed. Broccoli is also good when dipped in mayonnaise. One of the few sanctioned uses for mayonnaise.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

News Bulletin

France recently decided on a 75% income tax on their wealthiest citizens. French actor GĂ©rard Depardieu applied for Russian citizenship shortly following the announcement because, according to a letter to Russia's main state-run broadcaster, he likes Russian writers and his father was once a communist. Mr Putin said Depardieu was granted citizenship because he has been in a lot of movies about Russia.

Everyone was fighting about tax breaks and spending cuts until the last minute on December 31, 2012. In a shocking turn of events, taxes will go up and decisions on spending cuts have been delayed. In other words, no one fell off the fiscal cliff and all can stop worrying about it for a few months until it's time to make more decisions. The final deal is generally thought to be a victory for democrats, but no one is super happy with it. The American people are increasingly exasperated, stating they don't know where the cliff is and 'how can anyone fall off of it if everyone just keeps moving it.'

Google CEO Eric Schmidt will be joining U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Bill Richardson, and other persons on a trip to North Korea this month despite the strong reservations of the U.S. State Department: 'This seems like a dumb idea and they know we think that but we're not the boss of them.' Considering most U.S. to North Korea trips are attempts to rescue other Americans who have been arrested in NK, there is speculation that the excursion may be related to the recent arrest of an American. Since North Korea only has about 10 websites, none of which are Google, Schmidt is thought to be going on the trip because he knows of no other way to figure out what exactly is going on.