Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sports Nut

Nicholas with his good friend, Hiedi, from the State of Iowa

My son, Nicholas III (30) is a sports nut. Just how this came to be I suspect is from the aquifers supplying the drinking water to the people of Iowa where he went to the University of Iowa. It can be the only explanation, genetics having been denied.

No month is nuttier than March (They don't call it March Madness for nuttin). You name it, March is the closest time a sports nut can get to nirvana, and the sports bar is the temple where a sports nut can slake his/her taste for unadulterated bliss.

In a sports bar I sit with my son, surrounded by seemingly hundreds of huge TV screens projecting every kind of worldwide sport from seemingly hundreds of sports networks amongst clustered groups a fans yelling at images. Passions run high as if each game, each play, might change the face of mankind.

After all it is NCAA basketball tournament time, my Michigan State Spartans just won, and little time to bond with my son. So what if I am wearing my Michigan State T-shirt, hat, and underwear. I am smug, confident that I am not one of THOSE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Не България


"Not Bulgaria" for me. The Peace Corps selected someone else for their six month assignment to assist the Bulgarian Boy Scouts. A disappoint, yes, but this one and the one to work with the Diabetes Association on the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia, seemed to fit so nicely into my background. When another such opening comes again, I don't know. Maybe it is time to set my sights on another adventure.

Не България is "Not Bulgaria" in Bulgarian. Time to return my Bulgarian tapes to the library.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010



SPAM Regular
Top Row: SPAM Lite, SPAM Hickory Smoked, SPAM Bacon
Middle: SPAM Turkey, SPAM Black Pepper, SPAM Garlic
Bottom: SPAM Less Sodium, SPAM Hot & Spicy, SPAM with Cheese

How could it have been this long to visit the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota? It took being in Samoa to appreciate where SPAM is served to honored guests and where I was informed about the SPAM museum. I could go on and on about SPAM facts, but the fact the 44,000 cans of SPAM are made every hour should give you some idea of its importance.
Hawaii eats the most SPAM in the US (A lot of Samoans live in Hawaii).
For lunch we went to a nearby restaurant for, what else?, SPAM sandwiches (every eatery in Austin, MN serves SPAM).

Mary at SPAM Museum in Austin, MN

SPAM burger with chips, please.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lobbying in Washington DC

Getting ready to desend on Capitol Hill.

Lobbying is not a bad word. It is how you get things done, or try to anyway. There is no better way to make your opinions known than to go to the offices of your elected representatives and tell them.

This past week I was in Washington DC attending a conference on international student exchange programs.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2nd Most Favorite Holiday


Some things you just can't explain to foreigners. One is my most favorite holiday, Halloween. The other is St. Patrick's Dayand the best place to celebrate is in the mother lode of Irishdom, St. Paul, Minnesota. All the crazies who have been waiting for this moment to celebrate the first warm day of the year and the clearing of snakes from Erin are out in force.

There are lots of people dressed in green elfish loooking outfits. Lassies on fire engines.
Girls being tossed in the air by the "Tossing Club" of St Paul.
Green Men
and Elvis, too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BUBW Conference, San Diego

March 3 - 7, 2010

While awaiting a possible Peace Corps Response assignment, I have reactivated my association with the foreign student exchange program, AFS (formerly American Field Service). One of my duties was to attend a conference in San Diego conducted by a Muslim Imam and his American wife (formerly US Army and a convert to Islam). The conference called "Better Understanding for a Better World) was for U.S. Department of State scholarship students from 23 different countries, mostly Muslim and the former USSR.

Whereas many people never venture into a church of a different faith, these students went to the Episcopal Cathedral of San Diego, Congregation Beth Israel , and the Islamic Center of San Diego where they heard from the clergy about these different religions. The day was concluded with the three religious leaders coming to the mosque as part of a panel. The students could ask any questions of the panelists and did, with no panelist wanting to be the first to reply. It was an experience we all should have.

Group picture of students, many in native costums

Saint Paul's Episcopal Cathedral of San Diego

Rabbi Berk at Congregation Beth Israel

Imam Abdel Jalil Mazgouri and Sister at Islamic Center of San Diego

Panel of Reverand Richard Scott, Rabbi Katz, and Imam Mezgouri

Women volunteers and students wearing hijabs before entering

German student in red leading group while awaiting bus

Dinner cruise and "Fire on the Dance Floor"
What will I look like when I am 64?