Archive for the 'blogging' Category


Adolf Hitler is my idle —- still more search terms that coughed up this blog

While I recover from a bad ski injury – sure to be blogged about because I now have a lot of time to lie around the house – I thought I’d clean out my draft post drawer.  Much easier than cleaning out your sock drawer.

Here’s one that’s been sitting around for a bit.

One of the wonderful things wretched bloggers get to look forward to every once in a while is a look at the dashboard behind the pretty facade to find a fresh batch of search terms to ponder.  Over the years – just check that sidebar – the anonymous masses have entered quite a selection of terms into the great algorithmic storm that is Google, but that list is getting a little dusty.  An update is long overdue.

Adolf Hitler is my idle

turkey-turkei-istanbul-shopping-hitler-chess-piecesNo doubt our homophonically challenged goose-stepper was on the prowl for fodder to shore up his twisted worldview.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the image that popped up on his screen was either that of a flatulent Führer overflowing the throne, or of the swastika-splashed chess set we came across in an alleyway windowshop in Istanbul.

Stork sex


Say. No. More!

Snake eats man

python-swallows-dog-head-chopped-off-hong-kong-sai-kungNo, it doesn’t!  Snake eats cat, though.  For the longest time I thought it was a little dog hanging out of the business end of that 6-foot long reptile an old girlfriend and I nearly stumbled over while out on a hike in the wild northeastern pathways of Hong Kong.  It took a commenter to point out the little feline paws.

Cheerleader shits herself

Ewww… But in the interest of truth and openness, it must be included.  The search for inspirational incontinence may have failed this time, but this blog’s cheerleader photos still get lots of viewers:


dutch chicks ice skating naked

You will never find this, ever, so stop looking.  Dutch people take their ice skating far too seriously to be caught sliding around the windmills bare-assed to the wind.  But googling ice skating holland usually brings up at least two or three of my photos, including this one…


…which one blogger recently saw fit to steal without attribution, a link back, or so much as a fuck you, sucker.  Bloggers like that should be banished to myspace.  At least she had the decency to take it down when I complained.

i think most of us would be horrified to meet ourselves and discover what everyone else already knows about us- calvin and hobbes

Sometimes I read over old posts and can’t recognise the person who wrote it.  Have things changed that much in six years?


the day the lolcats died

If you’re like me and woke up feeling rather clueless because you couldn’t tell the difference between a SOPA and a PIPA so you went to Wikipedia to get some info and found a black page with the ominous message that the Intrawebs as you know them will be forever damaged but why should you care because you’re not living in the USA and have never had a congressthingy to write to…

…the following video lays the issues out very clearly.

I was going to join the bandwagon and black out this humble blog for a day of protest, but unlike them and other heavyweights like Wikipedia, I’d rather have a laugh instead.

This guy’s kind of out of tune, but he’s funny:


Cologne on high alert as Germany expat bloggers gather

by Dirk Dajerk

COLOGNE (CP)  A special task force has been set up in the western German riverside city of Cologne to prepare for what officials are calling “a catastrophe waiting to happen” as Germany’s band of English-speaking expatriate bloggers prepares to descend on the city in late October.  Police have already booked reinforcements from neighbouring Bonn and Aachen to help cope with the threat.

“They trash practically every place they visit,” moaned Cologne police desk sergeant Pensell Puscha.  “Just look at what they did in Dresden.”

Now generally known as the “Dresden Disaster,” in public safety circles, the 2007 bloggers’ meetup/donnybrook at the eastern German city on the Elbe is now used in training sessions as an example of how not to prepare for a visit from Germany’s English-speaking bloggers.

“Dresden was hit totally by surprise,” said Cologne city counsellor Bieriz Mylaff.  “By the time we called in for extra help, the rioting was totally out of control.  We’re definitely not going to let that happen to us.”

The annual bloggers’ meetup has grown from an informal gathering eight years ago of five online droolers desperate for the real-life company of anyone willing to tolerate for more than five minutes their tedious whining about the trials of expat life to an unwieldy gaggle of at least 25 who plan the event down to the last triviality for months in advance on three different platforms: their own blogs, an event website and discussion board, and now Facebook, that death of all blogs.  That’s not to mention the usual slurry of time-sucking drivel on Twitter.

“You’d think they could just decide they’re going to get together somewhere and have a few beers, but no-ooo,” lamented Cologne police detective Slyck Dyck. “From the morning after the last meetup ends they start planning the next one.  They plan side trips with Umlauts.  They plan Friday night dinners and guided tours the next morning.  They kick back for the afternoon, but that has to be planned, too.  They gather for a Saturday evening dinner and then go out to a frickin’ gay bar!  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

“Then they all have this thing they call brunch when they’re all hung over on the Sunday.   They even make allowances for kids, the annoying little brats.”

The choice of Cologne as a meeting point and the timing itself has been the subject of controversy ever since both were decided months ago in an online poll.

“Cologne?  Nothing but a massive pile of bricks, bells and gargoyles surrounded by whackos, clowns and an ugly shopping centre,” lamented one blogger from Hamburg.  “I haven’t even considered going there for years.  That part of Germany is so full of whores, they outnumber the cars!  Even the neighbouring city of Bonn has decided to take action, setting up parking meters so the city can recoup a few losses on the clean-up.

“And while we’re at it, what about the timing?  Why hold it at the end of October? It’s damn near winter!  Didn’t we decide a few years ago to hold it closer to summer so we could at least have half a chance to enjoy a warm evening or two?  November in Dresden, we had to burn buildings just to keep from freezing to death.”

Critics are also pointing out the dangers of just walking around Cologne, citing the tendency of entire buildings to suddenly collapse in on themselves, swallowing up irreplaceable manuscripts by, among others, Karl Marx and Heinrich Böll –  along with the odd human life or two.  They’re calling for safety checks to ensure visitors won’t end up in some sort of black hole.

Feeling stung by the criticism, organisers are scrambling to reassure attendees as well as the general public.

“We’re gonna have like, fun and stuff, so they should just lighten up, you know?” said one organiser.  “Besides, if they don’t like it they can just stay home.”

The Cologne engineering department is taking no chances as the group is set to storm the upper reaches of their famous cathedral sometime on the Saturday. “We’ve installed structural reinforcements, so we’re reasonably confident the building will withstand the extra burden of the lot of them humping up those stairs to the upper reaches,” said chief city engineer Helmut Askew.  “We’ve also taken the precaution of installing audio reminders at every level suggesting they look up from their smartphones once in a while at the amazing artwork surrounding them.”

Participants are expected to hold a vigil in memory of one member who has been to every meetup since the beginning, but will no longer be attending.  J, or J for short, has finally decided that Germany – or at least Bonn – indeed does suck, and has voted with his feet accordingly.

J’s absence will most be felt on Saturday evening when the evening’s traditional gay bar outing will take place.

“He never really used to know whether we were in a gay bar,” said one blogger, “and so we had to remind him that yes, indeed, we were in one, even though he might not have realised it at the time.”

Other absentees include Eurotrippen, holder of much of the blame for the 2007 Dresden Disaster.  Having lived the expat life for a number of years, Eurotrippen and brood returned to the States in 2009 to become ex-expats, then returned to Germany not long after to become ex-ex-expats, but are now back in the States, finally having decided that the status of ex-ex-ex-expat is what they enjoy the most.  For now.

Any illusions the gathering is attended by all of Germany’s English-language blogging scene will be shattered by a brief Google search.  Perennial hold-outs include the culprits behind Observing Hermann, Planet Germany, Charlotte’s Web, Ich werde ein Berliner and some guy in Cologne itself who calls his kid His Holiness.  The Irish Berliner, voted in an informal poll of one as Germany’s most outstanding blog, is a newcomer to the no-show crowd.

“Well, that’s a good thing,” said one Cologne officer. “The damage would be much worse if they showed up, too.”


2010 blog year in review

After weeks weeks of not posting a thing, I now discover that has taken over this blog.  Or so it seems.  Perhaps it’s their way of reminding me to get my blogging ass back in gear, but some bot over there has seen fit to mail me a ready-made Year in Review post.  Perfect for a bone-lazy blogger like me who’s been wondering when, if ever, that urge to post regularly will ever come back.

Who knows?  Happy New Year anyway.

Snarky comments  in bold are mine.


The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

The Blog Zombie Meter reads: Putrefaction stage

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 5 days for that many people to see it.

I’m sure each would demand his entry fee back.  As for the posts themselves, if you were to print out every post in 10-point and glue each word together, you would have enough to string from the Statue of Liberty’s base up to her armpit.  Aren’t stats meaningful?

In 2010, there were 53 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 374 posts. There were 143 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 30mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

Troll comments deleted: 13.  Spam referral links: countless.  Estimated date WordPress will do something about spam links: whenever.

The busiest day of the year was February 15th with 647 views. The most popular post that day was Are we raising our kids to be wimps?.

Go to freerangekids for the answer.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, WordPress Dashboard,, and

See how important it is to comment on blogs and leave links back to your own on forums?

Some visitors came searching, mostly for the queen, horses jumping, naked 13 year old girls, swallows, and snake head.

That list is so embarrassing, I almost left it out.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Are we raising our kids to be wimps? August 2009


Europe’s largest-circulation newspaper runs photo of naked 13-year-old June 2008


Queen Elizabeth Foundation email scam reply December 2007


10 things I learned about skating in Holland January 2009


How we nearly tripped over a headless snake that had swallowed a dog whole March 2009

Wow, wasn’t that fun?

WordPress.  The blogging platform that’s so good, it writes your blog for you!


A Hamburg weekend

If you’re going to be meeting me and a few other bloggers in Hamburg the weekend of Sept 10 – 12, this post is for you.   These photos will illustrate some of the details I’ll be posting on our little forum site.

For the Friday side trip with Umlauts, go to the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof and look for this view:

If you’re standing right here, turn around and you’ll see a huge Burger King sign.   We’ll meet there!

Do resist the urge to indulge as you wait for others to arrive, as we’ll be having lunch in Umlautsville.

Personal anecdote: the first time I was at the Hamburg central station, my wife-to-be and I almost tripped over some junkies shooting up in a corner just outside.  The place has been cleaned up a bit since then.

Skipping to Saturday afternoon, I’ll be posting a raft of nautical options to enjoy after lunch.  Beside, on, or under the Elbe – your choice.

Bonus flashback look at winter on the Elbe, as seen from the upper deck of one of these ferries:

OH!  That reminds me.  A blogger in Alabama kayaking (!) through the Panama Canal a while back thought of me when she saw that very ship – or one in its fleet – sailing through that busy ditch.  Here’s what she posted on her blog:

Double-secret-special-bonus photo of the bar That Queer Expatriate and I were forbidden to enter, probably because we weren’t dressed for it:

I guarantee you the best view of the entire harbour through those huge, tall windows at the top, but if you go, make sure you’re clothed in a little better attire than just jeans and t-shirt.  If not, walk straight in like you own the place and head for the windows just to get a glimpse before they throw you out.  It’s worth it.

And finally, the Sunday breakfast/brunch thing:  We’ll catch a boat on the Alster to get to the restaurant. This way you’ll have covered Hamburg’s two great natural attractions – the Elbe and the Alster.  We’ll meet at the foot of the big wooden quay on the southeast corner of the Binnenalster.  The end of the quay looks like this:

Please remember to wave to man standing guard as you float by:


Still more facts and opinions about Canada

Enjoy Canada Day!

Or else.

Carrying on the annual lettershometoyou Canada Day tradition, we now present – for the fourth time – 10  facts and opinions about my Home and Native Land.

1.  I am in Canada right now!  Not only in Canada, but in Ottawa, the nation’s capital.

2. I have never been anywhere near Ottawa on Canada Day.

3. The Queen of Canada is also in Ottawa today as part of a nine-day Royal Tour.  As I make last-minute changes to this post, the Queen is standing in front of the Parliament Buildings as a band of Mounties in full-dress regalia plays O Canada.  To an expat American on a trip back home, this would be like being in Washington, DC on July 4th listening to a stirring speech by a resurrected George Washington.

4. The Queen of Canada does not have a beard, despite appearances as shown on the only photo posted on this blog without attribution… in other words, stolen.  So sue me. encourages you to copy stuff these days anyway!

5. Nobody has ever attempted to walk backwards from the Skidegate, Queen Charlotte Islands to Come By Chance, Newfoundland.

6. Sorry, as of four weeks ago, Queen Charlotte Islands is now officially known as Haida Gwaii.  Prounounced Hide-a-gwei, it really means “cold and wet as fuck.”

7.  Canada’s coastline is the longest in the world at 208,080 kilometers.  About 5km of that is swimmable for seven days in summer.

8. Poutine, a rich, gooey mess and major contributor to the crisis in Canada’s healthcare system, was invented in Drummondville, Quebec.  Or somewhere else, depending on who you’re talking to.

9. I will not be enjoying poutine as I used to do when living here.  I’m also dragging around about 20 fewer pounds.

10. I must return to the CBC coverage of Canada Day. So no 10th fact or opinion this time.


How to tell people you’re a blogger

In less than a day I’ll be flying back to Canada.  I can’t wait!  After a few days’ work I’ll be re-connecting with friends and family I haven’t seen for 20 years or more, many of whom I’ve lost touch with for so long, the person they see might be vastly different from the one they remember.

So before I set off for memory lane trips through Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal – and even Sherbrooke, Quebec –  I’ve been trying to come up with ways to break it to old friends and family that among the many things I’ve done since the last time we spoke in 1993, I’ve become a blogger.

I know it’s not as if I’ve grown a second head or have one of those dumb-looking disks dangling from my earlobes, but still I hesitated before telling them.  I was thinking: will they receive the news like the people did at a grill party last summer in Canada?

Short anecdote:

Last summer in Canada wife K and I are visiting an old friend of mine at his summer place on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia.  It’s so warm, we’ve been swimming naked at midnight and lounging away the afternoons with cool drinks and conversation.  Invited one afternoon to a barbecue at his friends’ place across the road, we arrive and settle into get-to-know-ya chit-chat.

Sooner or later the subject comes around to online life and I reveal that I’ve been blogging the past couple of years and quite enjoy it.  The lady of the house, a woman in her early 60s, looks across the table at me as if I’ve just let loose a loud, wet fart at her only son’s funeral.  Her husband snorts and gapes at me as if my sulphur-laden winds have been aimed directly at him.

“I’ll never understand how or why anyone would want to put personal details of their lives out there on the Internet for all to see,” the woman says in a withering tone.  “What’s the point of it?”

Because she’d been going on about golf and how she’s SO disappointed that a back injury has been forcing her to stay away from her beloved greens, I feel like shooting back at her that I’ve never on earth understood how anyone who considers herself a sentient being could find any point in paying a hundred bucks in a hundred-degree heat ticking off whacks at a white ball, but I hold off.

Instead, I try to assure them I’m aware that the secret to being a complete bore is to tell all, that nobody cares what I had for lunch unless it’s in a detailed restaurant review, that my most personal details will remain offline, and that the goal of blogging for me is to try to describe aspects of my life and things that happen to me in a way that other people can find relevant to their own.

They’re not in the least bit convinced, but I know it’s pointless to keep trying.

So back to telling people.

I know it’s irrational to be hesitant.  Everybody is online, right?  There are tens of millions of bloggers, nearly a half-billion baring all on Farcebook, and for the past couple of years already the cool kids have all shunted over to Twitter.  But in a lot of minds there remains this aura of dilettantism around blogging, that it’s mere teenage scribbling, that sooner or later they’ll put down their toys to do something more serious.

The truth is,  beyond making the entry easier by pointing out stuff on this blog I’ve been most happy with, I have no other way to go about telling them.  None of it needs any justification, rationalisation or explanation.  It is what it is.

So yeah, I’ve been blogging, but I’m still OK.

If you want to start anywhere here, you could look at a few travel posts which have received a lot of feedback.

A month in South Africa and Lesotho about our 2006 trip there and  10 things I learned about skating in Holland – from January, 2009 – are two I’m quite pleased with.  Warning: very long!

Speaking of skating, this past winter it felt like I was living back in Montreal.  It was so cold, the lake in central Hamburg froze well enough to support thousands of skaters, strollers, golfers…

I don’t blog about work, but if I do on rare occasions, I make sure to reveal no details.

I don’t blog about the two ladies in my life unless it’s really special, or pertains to an issue others can relate to, such as asking the question: are we raising our kids to be wimps?

I love writing fake news.   It’s harmless fun, good practice and, because I’m a bit of a lazy sod, requires absolutely no research.

You might find a writing experiment or two, because I like to play with language.

I’ve been doing a lot of travel posts lately, because the places we’ve been going to the past year mean a lot to me.  Turkey and Egpyt were two stops on a backpacking trip 30 years ago, and there was a lot to catch up on.  I think between the two of them you’ll find 20 posts and dozens of photos.

Funny how the posts I’ve linked to so far aren’t the most popular in terms of the number of hits received.  This one – a scam email re-write – is still the top one.  The comment count is now at 112.

If that’s not enough to get you started, let me know. 🙂


The Irish Berliner

I’ve been reading a great new blog called The Irish Berliner, written by, as you might suspect, an Irishman living in Berlin.

He’s a freelance journalist also doing an internship at the dreaded Bild Zeitung, but don’t hold it against him.

His writing is enthusiastic and refreshing and his latest post is the coolest thing I’ve stumbled across in a long time.  Imagine tooling around a real museum of history, pulling open filing cabinets and rummaging though the old Iraqi embassy in the former East Berlin 20 years after they beat back to Baghdad.   Oh, and dodging the cops to get inside.

He’s done it all, brought back words, pictures and a how-to-get-there. 



Laugh along with and the new fun feature

Have any of you bloggers out there checked out the new fun feature?  Go to your dashboard and change your settings to Surprise me, then sit back and wait for the laughs to begin.

Monday  morning in search of yucks midst dreary news of volcanic cataclysms, a fifth day of flight groundings throughout Europe, Polish state funerals in the wake of last week’s horrendous crash in Russia which wiped out a sizeable chunk of Poland’s elite, not to mention personal ailments including a left shoulder that’s half-hanging out of its socket, a left knee that feels like stretched ligaments – oh, and a blood test – all due to be hashed out over an appointment with my doctor later today, I went online.

My go-to place for all things comedy? The brand new hit count!

Used to be you’d go to your dashboard to find the same old graphic across the top of the page.  Boooorring!  OK, you could choose from its vast menu of Daily, Weekly, or Monthly statistics, but doing so was about as funny as waking up hung over in early November, 2004 realising your fellow citizens had chosen four more years of so-called leadership from the world’s most famous white-knuckle drunk.

No more. under its frolicky good-time Surprise me setting now has the Humanize button featuring links to upbeat, fun news stories that cheer your heart and put a smile on your face just before you head out the door into the harsh light of day.

The laughs behind Humanize are all based on how many hits you have, kiddies!  How fun is that?  For example, if you have 92 hits and click on Humanize it will tell you that there were also 92 people aboard American  Airlines Flight 11.  In case you haven’t been paying attention, that’s one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001!

Laugh?  I needed to change my Depends:

Hey, it gets better!  If you wait around for a little while as that hit count builds throughout the day, you can contemplate the fact that 290 people aboard Iran Air Flight 655 plunged to their deaths after the Americans blew it out of the air because its trigger-happy navy can’t tell the difference between a pterodactyl and a parrot!  Or maybe they just don’t give a shit. Should it therefore have come as a surprise their military can’t tell the difference between a Reuters cameraman and a freedom fighter with a rocket launcher?

But I digress.  There’s more!

If you have just one hit fewer than 92 – that’s 91 if you can do the math without the aid of GPS or the iPad calculator app – you get this:

The King David Hotel bombing?  OK, an attack by Zionists against the British in Jerusalem only a year after the end of World War 2 has neither the spectacular hilarity of a good plane crash nor is it newsy fodder for light-hearted Larry King talk-show banter, but hey.  We all needed another reminder via of just what a crazy world we live in.

I  just hope I’m never hungry if ever visiting their offices.  If this is what calls fun, I’d hate to see what their cafeteria calls food.


Plea for video editing software tips

As much as I like our new Sony VAIO laptop, Sony’s PMB video editing software is driving me crazy.

All I want to do is put three simple digital video scenes together to make a short 45-second movie in MPEG-2 format to upload to YouRube to show brother Gordon all the ice clogging the Elbe.  I mentioned it to him on the blower the other night and told him I’d post it.

After two hours of trying to decipher Sony’s cryptic instructions IN GERMAN and scouring various audio-visual forums, I’ve given up.  Out of time, I am left with posting just one short clip because I can’t figure out how to jam them all together to one file.

Oh wait, yes, I figured that out, but it saves the individual .mpg files to some useless Sony-only format that Youtube doesn’t recognise.  And trying to convert that file back to .mpg didn’t work.

I rarely go cap in hand to readers, but  I ask you now: Do you know of any simple video editing software that is easy to use and readily downloadable?   Links to good sites where I might do some more research?  Thanks very much. And in the meantime, here’s that clip.  It was taken from a ferry two days ago.

We plan to be completely cut off from the rest of the world over the next four days, so if I you do have a tip and I don’t respond right away, that’s why.

The banner photograph shows the town of Britannia Beach, BC, Canada, where I grew up. It's home. But I don't live there anymore.

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