Holy crap

Be Here Now

vintage-bell-telephone-naked-baby-ad5Since the spaceship landed, parenthood has rendered me little more than a twitching fatherly fiber. I currently have 10 drafts – one for each month since our time traveler joined us – just a few words when my mind has a chance to clear before something new knocks my head off.

And then it’s all out of date.

In becoming a father, I was certain that I would churn out chronicles of experience as steady as a stream of conscious. Hilarious observations, delightful learnings, dangerous debacles, and a fountain of love.

But up until now I’ve uttered nary a peep.

Every single day there are roughly 353,000 children born. Parenthood is as common as you can get, it’s as natural as going to the bathroom in the morning after that first cup of coffee.  Continue reading

Germany, Holy crap

The time for Spargel

There is a time of year in Germany  when asparagus is king. A time when the earth smells spring from thawing ground and the humidity is thick enough to slow you down. But  asparagus time in Germany has been more than adequately documented by others here, here, and here. A bit more over there, this one includes a short video and don’t forget about this good one about Germans connecting in San Francisco, or what about this one?

Thus, I will not tread on well-worn paths. No, today I will keep it short. I present to you for your delight, the asparagus peeler near our home.

hell, Holy crap, protest, Serious Shit

Can I just get a crappy coffee, please?

It’s been two weeks without coffee. And it’s not been too bad. Then I read this “The 10 Most Annoying Coffee Trends.” So if you skip ahead to #8, you get to the heading of ‘Sky-High Coffee Prices.’

There’s a strange selfish pride in the statement, “Sorry I am not paying more for a cup of coffee than I do for a gallon of gas.” And it usually comes from folks who grew up on Folgers (not that they’re necessarily bad people). Working in coffee and around coffee and drinking coffee, it’s difficult to hear these things and not get annoyed.

There are commodities. Things like wheat, soy beans, corn. Hundreds of acres handled by a single farmer, a hired hand and some farm equipment. And then there’s coffee, right up there among the others with people unwilling to pay more than a few cents per cup, because, well only numbskulls would pay more for coffee than gas! Flour is cheap. Corn is cheaper.

But coffee isn’t like these other things. Continue reading

cockfights, Holy crap

There is a Zoo in Addis Ababa

“So what’s worth seeing in Addis Ababa?”

I queried an expat couple joining us for dinner. Following four days in the coffee lands near Yirgalem, Ethiopia, I had a full day ahead to wander the streets of one of Africa’s busiest capital cities before my flight took off at 2 a.m. They mentioned the usuals, including the orthodox church where Haile Selassie was interned, the Lucy Museum and more, but my interest was captured when they mentioned the Addis Ababa Zoo.

“I mean, you should see the animals there. It’s like they’re barricaded in. They aren’t even really cages.”

Of course this caught my interest. They went on to explain how bad they felt, the sad state of the animals, including the monkey doing push-ups who seemed to be suffering from some kind of mental illness brought on by small confines and limited diversions.

My reaction to the zoo reminded me of the old ‘Shitty Soup’ sketch from the Kids in the Hall. If you haven’t seen it, please watch below and join me after the jump.

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Holy crap

Old Growth: Bialowieza Forest

Put in superlatives, this place sounds great:

  • one of Europe’s last stands of primeval forest;
  • home of the rare European Bison;
  • the revered hunting grounds of Polish kings and Russian tsars;
  • a strict preservation policy that allowing nothing in, nothing out (no matter how good those mushrooms look);
  • wolves, lynx, eagles, moose, badgers, birds and more!

Well, it’s not.

I found a blog post about the Bialowieza Forest and eagerly told friends of its legend. In my mind I saw startling nature, stands of old growth, wild animals fighting for dominance, sunlight blocked out by canopy, mushrooms littering the ground, pristine terrain. I lifted this forest to unattainable proportions in my mind. I saddled it with expectation (even though the writer of that blog kept it in proper proportion). And I told friends that I was going to visit without ever checking how long it would take to get there.

Not forest.

By the time I scheduled a week off and started looking into details, I was confronted with a 22.5 hour journey clear across both Germany and Poland with no real time for exploring sights along the way. Just a late night arrival in Warsaw and an evening in Bialystok.

Leaving Bialystok, you immediately begin seeing what comes to mind when you think Eastern Poland. Actually, I had no clue. But if your mind’s eye conjures small wooden houses with clever shutters and picket fences, you’re on track. Sturdy folk on tractors plowing up dark thick earth. And wide fields peppered with tiny towns. Our bus continued through the countryside.

And here’s the thing about going to see a forest. It’s not like cruising over the hill near Cochiti in New Mexico and seeing the grandeur of the Santa Fe National Forest laid out before you in the distance. It’s not like driving toward the California coast and suddenly finding yourself at the edge of the earth. You just see a line of trees in the distance under an ominous blanket of gray skies*

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cockfights, duh, Holy crap, protest

Dudley writes back

Every Sunday as we trundled out of the long nap commonly known as church, the whole family would eagerly board the Blue Behemoth – our Ford station wagon – and head for Roundy’s grocery where we had our choice of candy (on some Sundays this treat was supplemented by a sweet roll of the Long John variety). When I was younger I tended toward the Skittles (when there was just one variety), Mambo or one of those other chewy, sugar concoctions.

I can’t remember when it happened, but my taste eventually matured I started looking for things with more complexity. And so it happened. Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll came into my life. A combination of sugar and salt, crunch and chew, nougat and nut that kicks the ass of nut roll competitor, Payday (don’t trust the review though, not even close).

This amazing painting by Thomas Ojanpera comes up if you search for ‘Salted Nut Rolls in history’.

According to Pearson’s random, marginally dated website, the salted nut roll “was introduced in 1933 at the height of the depression and soon changed its name to the Choo Choo Bar in an effort to distinguish it from its competitors.” Mysteriously, this amazing name was changed back to the generic Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll to help confused customers find it among a sea of competing salted nut rolls.

I like the idea of a sea of competing salted nut rolls. And salted nut roll barons looking for every single competitive edge, slicing margins, corporate espionage all just to get ahead in the cut throat nut roll world.

I really hit that candy bar around the time of high school. The way the salt just so slightly overpowered the sugar was key. Beyond that, Pearson’s had enlisted the help one of the finest mascots the world has seen, Dudley P. Nut. My sense of irony had become more keen by the time I reached high school and I found in Mr. P. Nut a perfect foil for my sweet tooth. Continue reading

cockfights, Germany, Holy crap

Way to go, Germany


Germany is a pretty swell place. A lot of crap to see here. But the recent discovery of the completely random Crouching Tiger and Turtle in the nearby town of Duisburg is the best so far. Perched on a  hill close to the end of the line in an old, musty, industrial town, the sculpture at first site online demanded a visit. And even though it’s the only thing to see/do in this neighborhood, it’s more than worth a day trip itself. Continue reading