A weakness

I’m going to admit something to you. I don’t dig entertainment on TV and usually don’t watch any of it. Honestly! But when we first came over here I was forced to watch a show on TV called Britain’s got Talent. Forced! (Gotta blame it on someone, haven’t I)…

But, nobody’s forced me to watch every programme since then!

There’s something completely irresistible about it. Every time we’ve been watching the auditions we’ve been asking ourselves what it is that makes people who are absolutely devoid of talent, charm or any other asset go on TV and showcase their shortcomings to the world. Some of them are just absolutely incredibly untalented!

But then, in between all the more or less terrible acts, come these unpolished gems right out of the sticks. Out of nowhere, wih so much talent that you’re left speechless! And sometimes some more polished gems make you think where A&R (artist & repertoire) people around the country have had their eyes and ears?

Here are some of my favourites:

George Sampson – dancer

Hoop-La-La – eh, hoolahoop dancers. Didn’t go on to the finals – much to my regret!

Flava – a street dance group way above what you usually see. And one of the boys’ mum had actually done the choreography! They didn’t go on to the finals, lost to these two little cutiepies:

Cheeky Monkeys.

Another act that didn’t reach the finals, was Tracey. I would have loved to have seen him perform in front of the Prince of Wales!!!

Some of the absolute superstars of the programme are a young girl and a young boy. They both sing and they both sing classical music. And both their voices make the little hairs on your back stand up! Andrew Johnston and Faryl Smith.

The judges of this show are national heroes, it appears. I don’t particularly like any of them… Piers has been editor of some of Britain’s worse rags, which qualifies him to absolutely nothing in my eyes. Amanda is probably a fine actress, but I’ve never seen her, so… And then there’s the world famous Simon. I think he’s horrible. Not because he’s “the tough one”, but because I think he’s got poor taste. He’s one to fall for a cleavage… (and take a look at his own haircut and open-necked shirts, sooo eighties!!!). At one point we saw a pair of dancers who were very good at what they did. It was like ice dancing without the skates. Which is to say not exactly high brow or anything. But Simon went on and on about how he preferred baked beans to caviar. Which was why he didn’t like this act??? They were exactly beans!!! Good, fine, talented. But beans. To Amanda’s credit she rolled her eyes at him!

I’d love if some of my readers (I actually know you’re out there!) would like to comment now and then. It’s quite OK to disagree. But if you do so in foul language, I’m not going to publish your comment. It saddening how many people leave horrible and obscene comments on perfectly above-board blogs. Shame on you!

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Link day

From Marginal Revolution this about Icelanders being the happiest people on earth.

From the New Yorker a bone-chilling recount of Nixon’s presidency and why that period is still very relevant to America today.

Kottge.org links to this incredible collection of legs as used in book- and magazine covers…

Puzzled as I am as to what this really is, animation, film, graffiti, a figment of someone’s imagination? I bring you this absolutely stunning little film. Found by Tore.

Ezra Klein has a couple of posts about Ted Kennedy. The first just a short notice about how sad it is that it is this particular senators of all senators who has to suffer from a malignant brain tumor. In the second post he quotes other mourners and reflects some more. Ezra Klein writes like he’s ancient and has studied intensely all his life. But no, here’s yet another young person who’s just immaturely brilliant! He writes for the liberal magazine American Prospect.

No Impact Man points to this funny Australian/soon-to-be-American blog about Icing. Icing as in the clothes we put on, the make-up we wear (or don’t as it is) and the outward signals we send in general. Not surprisingly, I really like her post about what to wear when you’re well past forty!

A tulip field in Holland!!! Picture snatched from a food blog on the New York Times. It was an interesting lecture on TED which directed me to Mark Bittman’s blog. Cow farts are mentioned…

Jeff Jarvis has a funny post about our personal health in the public space. I didn’t even know such a thing existed as Google Health. But there you go. He points to this site, which looks very interesting to me, who, as many of you know, suffer from all sorts of weird little ailments…

Megan McArdle reminds us of Tom Lehrer. How can such an old clip still be so relevant. It’s just same old, same old, isn’t it? And she has this remarkable story about milk subsidising in the US. I haven’t verified it – having almost unlimited faith in The Atlantic. And as the lady says, you just can’t make these things up!

On the Danish website ComON (news about the IT world) I was astounded to find this link. It shows you how to modify your Iphone so the interface looks like Windows Vista! Who on the planet would want that, other than Bill Gates? My husband’s just got a new laptop for work and it has Vista. I find it absolutely horrible. It’s just plastered with widgets and warnings about this, that and the other and a completely useless “opening screen”. Give me XP anytime if I have to use Windows…

On the Blog with the Long Name (on anthropology) I found this interesting post: What Women Want. You just can’t help clicking, can you?

Gretchen, one of my happiness-gurus has this interesting post about how to stop a tantrum (in children, that is…). I’ll give it a shot next time Dane starts slamming doors.

You might be wondering (if you’ve made it all the way down here) why I read so many American blogs and so few British. I certainly wonder about that myself. The truth is, I don’t think much about it, I just put down the good ones I come across. As it turns out, they are mostly American. If you can point me to some exellent British ones, I’d love it! You should know my taste by now!

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Food for thought

I’ve recently added a new blog to my “daily rounds” (or weekly, it depends…). It’s on The Atlantic’s website by Megan McArdle. This woman can write. And, tada, she’s not a journalist (and not an economist either)!

Her blog is supposedly an economy blog, but if that’s economy I want to be an economist too. Actually, economists seem to be a lot more fun than I’d ever imagined. As I’ve previously let you in on, I also follow economy blog no. 1, the Marginal Revolution blog. Very often the posts are not about economics at all, quite often they are about economy but in such an interesting context that it doesn’t seem that way. And some times they are about hardcore economics and I just skip them…

But back to Megan. The post that made me sit down and write this is about racial issues. But it’s also about litterature. And philosophy. And it is so beautifully written – such mastery of language! An example:

I see the two communities looking suspiciously at each other and saying “Once you have perfected yourself, then I will love you as myself.” But this will not work. The very act of watching the other, at a distance, for signs of change creates the problem we want to solve.

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350!!!!!!

Global warming… Copenhagen 2009… Waterlevels rising…

The answer, apparently, is 350!

OK, so what’s it all about? I didn’t know that that number had any kind of significance until a little earlier today, when I read about it on the No Impact Man blog.

350 is the red line for human beings, the most important number on the planet. The most recent science tells us that unless we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million, we will cause huge and irreversible damage to the earth.

The above is quoted from the about-page on 350.org.

When the object of the countries participating in the next climate conference (the one in Copenhagen, thanks to Ms. Hedegaard) is to agree on 450 (optimistic) or 550 (much more likely), it dawns on you why some people out there suddenly think they need to build an entire organisation around the number: 350.

The post on No Impact Man is full of good and solid references.

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A basic belief shattered…

or is it? I’ve always believed firmly in the so-called Easterlin paradox (although never really knowing what it was called). It’s an economic term named after the man who first wrote about it. (Some) statistics can be read in a way that indicates that, until you’ve reached a basic level of economic security, you get happier the more money you earn. The paradox being that once your finances are in such a state that you have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your mouth (and healthcare and education possibilities for your children), your level of happiness evens out no matter how much money you earn after that.

This dogma is now being challenged by a couple of young American economists. According to an article in the New York Times their data is fairly substantiated. But read it for yourselves, I can’t explain it half as well as that excellent journalist who wrote the story.

First read it on a favourite blog of mine, Marginal Revolution. On New York Times’ Freakonomics blogs there’s more.

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Oh no!

Up early, all eager and happy. Arrive at new flat in excellent mood and lovely sunshine with son and helpful sister-in-law. Get call from movers that they can’t get through gate. Look like big questionmark – gate is very wide, removals lorries, delivery vans etc. drive in and out every day. Appears they‘ve used a 17 meter long giant-lorry to transport our stuff…

Must be the one at the back…

Bottom line – they drive back to depot, reload our stuff into a smaller vehicle (See, it’s possible, it fits!!!) and come back. On Monday.

I don’t cry about things like that, but I do feel very, very disappointed!

So tonight we’re back with our hospitable and patient family for another weekend with nothing much to do.

While sitting in the almost-empty flat waiting for a delivery (new vaccuum cleaner), I found that one of the undoubtedly nice neighbours has left his/her router without protection, so I’ve been perusing the Internet most profusely in my echoing and almost-empty kitchen.

Here’s some of the interesting things I’ve read today:

The Independent tells about research that has now proved that some colour additives bring on or enhance ADHD or “just” generally unruly behaviour in children. If this subject interests you, be sure to check out the other articles in the series, found at the bottom of the story.

My heart fluttered a little when I saw this headline:

The Email Habits That Make People Hate You

because I use e-mail a lot and often wonder why some some people don’t reply. Maybe they just don’t care about me and think I’m a general nuisance (just let it lie there, will you…), or maybe I’m just breaking lots of e-mail rules and annoy people that way? I was relieved to learn that I only really break a couple of the rules (4 & 5) and only some times.

On my friend Gabriela’s blog I found this wonderful speach to the American people, which made me laugh out loud. I thought of John Cleese only yesterday when I overheard two Englishmen doing their traditional good bye routine, where both parties try to pile as many compliments and niceties on top of the other person as possible within a couple of minutes. Cleese & Co. had a lovely sketch about that once upon a time. Maybe one day I’ll try to locate it on Youtube. If you’re one of those people with sticky brains and long memories, please tell me the name of the sketch and where to find it.

The Chief Happiness Officer had a look at office pranks and this is his favourite. It’s mine too. But I couldn’t help wondering when these people work and what they do?

Finally, I learned that videos can now be uploaded to Flickr. So I tried it – and it worked. Next step is to learn how to embed videos here on the blog. I just haven’t had sufficient time online to look into these matters, but mark my words, I will SOON! After all, on my old and much simpler Danish blog, I embedded videos succesfully.

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England

I know I’ve been a bit secretive as to what’s going to happen now. A reason for that could be that we weren’t entirely sure ourselves…

But – now we’ve decided, we’re going to settle down here in England, my husbands home country, which he’s been away from for almost thirty years. We have our eyes fixed on a lovely flat in Woking, Surrey. That’s south-west of London, a 20 minutes journey by train to Waterloo. Almost all the family is in Surrey, so we’ll be close to baby-sitting opportunities ;-) The deal is not done yet, so cross your fingers, please.

We’ve got ourselves a bank account – sounds easy-peasy doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t! You have to produce evidence of residence – e.g. an electricity bill with your name on it. That’s not easy when you’ve just arrived in the country! AND you have to be on the electoral register, which is only updated every three months… Well, I wont go into details about how we got all of this fixed, but we did and now have a joint account with Natwest. The bank manager was all apologies over these new rules – you can try a wild guess as to why they’ve been implemented…

We’ve also bought a car – that was a lot easier than getting a bank account. You just go to the car dealer, choose a car, pay with your credit card and sign on the dotted line and Yippeee, you’ve got a car! Ours is a slightly battered eleven year old Audi A6 stationcar. It’s a lovely car, although a bit of a hassle to park. And it was dirt cheap, compared to Danish prices.

Until we’ve cleared it with the flat we’re staying with David’s sister and her family. Dane is having a fantastic time with his cousins Avi, 11 and Simmie, 9 and all their friends. He has really been missing other children on our trip, so this is just great. The family is most gracious, letting us stay, lending us all sorts of things that we need, giving us advice on schools (that’s a BIG deal over here!), public transport, parking, shopping etc. etc. Families can be really useful, you know!

We’ve been driving around the southern English countryside and – oh, it’s just so beautiful! It’s so much more hilly and wooded than the Danish countryside and villages seem to live on, in spite of the spreading suburbia and the huge supermarkets everywhere. We’ve heard from a number of sources that the preservation of villages is a cause that has captured many Englishmen’s hearts, besides the ones owning the ailing village shops. I’ve borrowed the picture from this page.

Oh, and on another note – my travel blog, still this one, just being transmogriffed into a different kind of blog (with some kind of purpose, don’t know which yet), has been nominated to an award. I’m very honoured, but can’t quite do what I’m supposed to do yet, since I haven’t had time to look at many blogs lately. Hope it’s ok for me to get back to my duties later. Thank you to Capac for thinking of me and promoting me this way!

If you only stumbled over my blog today, just click the travel category and you’ll get all the posts from our travels. There are quite a few, we travelled for six months and have only been home for about two weeks.

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