Conversations in Italian

I like to travel with my family to Italy twice a year, so I study at least two lessons a day on my Italian Rosetta Stone program. It’s a great program, but sometimes I get too involved in the attitudes and lives of the people in the pictures.

Example in the pictures below:

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These people greet each other (they look like they’re on a date), then the girl asks the guy how he’s doing.

He says he’s fine and asks her how she’s doing.

She says she’s COLD!

Then they go to the performance and then say goodnight. She has no extra jacket on.

So in my eyes, this guy is a jerk and didn’t even respond when she complained that she was cold. Where’s the panel where he offers a jacket or rushes her inside to the warmth? It’s like he just ignores her and then dumps her at the end of the performance back on the cold street.

I’m waiting for more advanced lessons when there will be more panels that teach me how to say, “You’re a jerk.” “Why aren’t you listening?” “Give me my money back!” “This show is terrible!”

But that’s probably more around level 15. For now, I’m stuck on bad Italian dates.

 

Bugs! Get them off me!

 

This is why I can’t have any indoor plants. The minute I spot one bug on them, I throw them off the balcony!  At least they have a chance to survive out there.

But a whole apartment full of plants? I feel things crawling on me just reading about it.

 

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I’m on this new bee diet

Many people wonder why people in Sweden don’t get fat at the end of the summer after eating loads of ice cream, hot dogs and chips. Well, I’m here to let you in on the secret to Swedish summer weight loss.

Bees.

August is the time when the bees tend to swarm in our area. Apparently, once the weather starts turning to autumn and flowers start running out of nectar, the bees charge on a desperate search for food. Those of us who like to eat dinner on our balconies are plagued by bees crawling all over our meals. People getting outdoor food from a food truck are likely to get a BURGER FULL OF BEES as we did this past weekend.

I once saw a Duncan Donuts in Germany covered in bees. There were bees on every donut on the display and the workers didn’t seem to care at all. What could they do? The doors and windows are open all day.

This is the one time of year that my kids refuse ice cream. Normally they don’t care if it’s snowing outside, they want their ice cream, but during this time of the year, ice cream and sweets attract hordes of hungry bees!  A trip to the park was completely ruined last year by bees crawling all over my children’s ice creams. And even when they threw their ice creams in the trash, the bees just went for their hands and faces because they were covered in sticky ice cream. (I tried to make this a lesson to always use a napkin, but they couldn’t hear me through the terrified screams.)

So there you have it. Swedes lose all their summer weight in August because our food is covered in bees.

Feel free to market this wonderful diet plan. I’ll take 20% of the profits.

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Fruitopia

We seem to be having an early season for apples and other fruits here in the Stockholm area, and I’m lucky enough to live in a place that used to be a fruit orchard at some far point back in time. Or maybe it was a dump where lazy people threw out rotten apple cores and plum seeds. Whichever it is, it’s paying off now! Earlier this season the cherry trees were full of fruit, and now we’ve moved on to apples and plums. I’m also lucky to have young, eager climbers to get up and reach the good apples. The freezer is full of pies, breads and muffins.

And if I’m not in the mood to search around, people in my neighborhood who have an abundance of apples and plums from their trees often put out baskets for anyone to take extra. Just walking for ten minutes, I passed seven baskets of fruit (and came home with two bags full, while still leaving plenty for other people).

I was thinking how this wouldn’t work in the area of Texas where I grew up. People would probably just steal the basket.

However, people do have the neighborly, sharing spirit there, just in other ways. Instead of fruit, people put their old couches and televisions out on the curb. It’s understood that anything on the curb is free to take. Once or twice when one of my parents would put something like that out on our curb, I would hide near the window to see how long it would take until someone took it. I never had to wait more than five minutes.

Meanwhile in Sweden, I have this bike I bought for about five dollars that I hate and I can’t get anyone to steal it! There’s no lock on it and it’s out in front of the building. I know I need to take it to the dump, but that requires loading it into the car, which requires muscles and time. I have a limited amount of both.

Maybe if I put the bike in a giant basket and hang some apples from it, someone will get the idea. It’s worth a try.

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Pet Rock – The Next Generation

I told the kids I had a Pet Rock when I was their age. They thought I made it up.

Then I showed them the exact one I had, on the internet (pictured here), and they laughed so hard they actually fell on the ground.

They have now collected 2 big rocks with the plan of painting eyes for them. Now I hear them discussing their rock plans in the bedroom. “Mine is lava, so it will be a fire type!”

“Sulphur floats! It’s a water type!”

And now they’ve just come out to tell me they’ve invented Rockémon and they’re going to start battling rocks.

It’s cheaper than a Playstation, I guess.

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The only way I will fly Delta

So Delta airlines had pizza delivered to waiting passengers on a plane during the recent delays caused by their computer system. My thoughts:

  1. Can we please just do this every time instead of airline food? I will pay extra.
  2. Do the delivery guys get tips in airline tickets?
  3. And still, Pizza Hut won’t deliver to my neighborhood.

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Seat saving criminals

Italy is now handing out fines to people who hog beach space by setting up umbrellas and towels overnight in order to have prime space in the morning, or people who take up way too much space with empty towels and chairs waiting on friends who may not be coming for hours.

Article here: http://tinyurl.com/j6ylopj

I think this is a great policy!

The next move is to extend these fines to school performances. Every year at my youngest son’s Christmas and End-of-School performances, parents fight like they’re trying to board a RyanAir plane to get the best seats and then proceed to throw jackets over about 5 other chairs for grandmothers, aunts and angry teenagers who didn’t even want to come in the first place.

Didn’t we learn this lesson back in elementary school as students?  No saving seats!  If a 5-year old can understand, so can a 35-year old.

I say, a €200 fine for each seat with a jacket thrown over it, plus that family has to make all the snacks for the next performance.

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Isn’t this how everyone boards RyanAir?

Apparently a RyanAir passenger was late for his flight and decided to run for his plane on the tarmac. CNN may be shocked, but to me, this is basically how one normally boards RyanAir.

I wrote about this airline in my book. We took it only once and decided NEVER AGAIN!

To board a RyanAir plane, the normal procedure is to make a mad dash across the tarmac to the two sets of stairs leading to the front and rear of the plane. Because seats are not assigned, people push aside the elderly and infirm to get a prime position.

Granted, the plane still had stairs and WANTED us to board for our one experience with the airline, while the man in the news story seems to be chasing a moving plane, but I still say it doesn’t seem that much of a stretch from normal RyanAir boarding procedures.

And to emphasize my point, RyanAir actually let the man on the plane.

Article here: http://tinyurl.com/h6slz5k

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Every scar tells a story

I see this phrase often, so let’s give it a try.

“Once upon a time, I cut my ankle while shaving my legs in the shower. And then it happened again, and again, and again, and then I decided I should probably be slower and more careful. The end.”

I don’t know. I think that story sucks.

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A Knuckle Sandwich for Breakfast, dear?

I punched my husband in the face this morning. Right in the nose!

Of course, I thought he was some weirdo trying to attack me in a hotel.

Yes, I was dreaming and my husband’s face was unfortunately positioned in a perfect punching position. On the positive side, I’ve never been able to punch anyone in my dreams, my arms are always too weak, so this is an improvement. Gotta look at the positive side. Oh wait, maybe this is very much NOT an improvement for my husband.

I realized this morning that for all my complaining that I can’t sleep on the nights my husband snores, he just may have a better reason to complain about interrupted sleep.

I occasionally suffer from night terrors. I will shake and scream in the middle of the night to call for help when I’m being chased or attacked in my dreams. Obviously, this wakes up my husband, who is nice enough to calm me down and get me back to sleep while he stays awake another hour, because who goes back to sleep after blood-curdling screams? (Besides me.)  Of course, he was not kind enough to help me back to sleep this morning after I punched him in the nose, which I suppose I might deserve.

So I’m going to have to lay low on the complaints about snoring for at least a week.

I just had a thought. Maybe my punch in the nose cured the snoring!

Always look at the positive in life, I say.

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The best of false advertising

Yesterday, I wrote about false advertising. Looking up the most famous examples took me down a wonderful rabbit hole of the worst offenders. It made me laugh, so I thought I’d share the best examples with you:

wrinkles

icecream

rabbi

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K.F.C., ads and wallpaper paste

Yesterday, I got into a heated discussion with my son about how it’s possible for KFC to have so many secret spices. My son insisted the commercial he saw in the U.S. claimed Kentucky Fried Chicken had 17 secret spices in their batter (I’ve since discovered it’s 11). To him, this was blatant false advertising. His argument was that products can have one secret ingredient but to have 17 (or 11) is completely ludicrous.

While I’m glad my children recognize these commercials in the U.S. as exaggerating and occasionally outright lying (“Mac & Cheese – a great source of calcium!”), it does get exhausting trying to explain marketing and how companies get away with things. While standards aren’t perfect here, there are many more laws in Sweden about advertising that make American advertising “laws” quite laughable.

In Sweden, companies are not even allowed to advertise toward children under the age of 12. In the U.K., advertisements must not ‘exhort children to purchase or to ask their parents or others to make enquiries or purchases’.

This is quite different from advertisements in the U.S., which are very much directed at young children to pester their parents into using a product, my best example being a few years ago when my children saw a Chuck E. Cheese commercial in Texas and then told us, “This says the coolest parents take their kids to Chuck E. Cheese. Why aren’t you guys cool parents?”

To come around to the original KFC subject, let me share something that I found interesting:

Sanders sold the Kentucky Fried Chicken corporation in 1964, and the gravy recipe was changed in the 1970s. Colonel Sanders was quite disappointed, stating “My God, that gravy is horrible. They buy tap water for 15 to 20 cents a thousand gallons and then they mix it with flour and starch and end up with pure wallpaper paste. And I know wallpaper paste, by God, because I’ve seen my mother make it. … There’s no nutrition in it and they ought not to be allowed to sell it. … crispy recipe is nothing in the world but a damn fried doughball stuck on some chicken.”

Now THAT’s truth in advertising!

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No politics at all !

Just reminding everyone that I have a new book out – “As Long as I Have My Own Bathroom” – which is great summer reading while you’re on vacation, but most of all, IT CONTAINS ABSOLUTELY NO POLITICS!

For sale in the U.S. here – https://amzn.com/1530292964

For sale at other Amazons, such as – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530292964

For sale in Sweden here – http://tinyurl.com/zfjql79

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Too many ninjas in my life

After 2 years of longing, my husband finally got the object of his dreams – a Ninja Blender.

He was sucked in 2 years ago on a trip to the U.S., where several channels seem to be required by law to run day-long advertisements about the life-changing Ninja Blender. Apparently, your life is not complete without one and once you buy one, you attain total enlightenment. At least, this is what I assume from my husband’s obsession with it.

Ninja Blender isn’t sold in Sweden, but my husband figured out that he could order one with our voltage from the UK. It arrived yesterday. Nothing got done for over an hour as smoothie-making and worshipping at the Ninja altar took precedence.

Since acquiring the sacred Ninja Blender, I’ve noticed how the word “ninja” seems to be in all aspects of society. Of course, there are Ninja Turtles on t.v. and the movies, but there is also the video game “Ninja Kiwi” that my  kids play constantly on the computer, as well as “Fruit Ninja” on the phone and “American Ninja Warrior” on the t.v. in the U.S.

But my favorite has to be Ninja Burger delivery service. Unfortunately, it does not appear they are active in Sweden, but look at their list of countries!  (*except Detroit – apparently too dangerous even for a ninja)

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A day at the beach

While many of our friends were posting pictures from their beach vacations on the Mediterranean, we were on the Texas Gulf Coast where we were subjected to warnings about avoiding the beaches because they contained flesh-eating bacteria, sea lice, alligators, sharks, and snakes in the sand dunes. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not.

I thought it would be hard to convince my kids not to get in the water at the beach, but it turns out when you let them read an article about a man losing his leg at that beach the week before and how people are breaking out in rashes from sea lice, they kind of decide for themselves not to get in the water.

And just in case you don’t believe me and think, “But why would people even live in that area if there were alligators, snakes, sharks, lice and flesh-eating bacteria?” here’s one of the articles that was in the local paper:

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My children are brought to you by …

One drawback of having children in Sweden who NEVER see t.v. commercials is that they become quite overwhelmed by them when we visit the U.S. After about a week, my youngest was saying things like, “This breakfast today is sponsored by…” and “Brushing my teeth is brought to you by …”

I guess I should be glad they are adapting to the customs and language.

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Customs video FAIL

As usual, when we arrived in the U.S. last month, we were subjected to a special video that re-played every three minutes while we waited in the long line at immigration/customs.

At least this year there was a new video. I was really getting tired of listening to super-happy people repeating, “I am America…… I am America…. I am America” over and over. I kept thinking, “Where’s the angry lady that shouts at me when I don’t have correct change for the toll? Isn’t SHE America? And where’s the guy who cut me off and stole my parking space last year in Texas? Isn’t HE also America? I don’t see these people in the video.”

But anyway, this year’s video for customs was a little instructional piece for stupid people and children explaining why we have to stand in an hour long line to enter the country. In one part of the video, a little girl asks a customs official, “Why are you taking my mommy’s fingerprints?” and the man replies, “I’m making sure she really IS your mommy and not someone PRETENDING to be your mommy.”

What kind of psychological damage is that customs offical subjecting that little girl to? “My mommy may not be my mommy but someone PRETENDING to be my mommy?!  AHHHHH!!!!!”

Another fail for the customs video writers. My suggestion is simply to run some Tom & Jerry cartoons like they used to do at Six Flags Amusement Parks while I waited in line. Trust me, I get just as much useful information from that as I do from a customs video.

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I need this trash can

Smithsonian Air & Space Museum trash can. Forget the Wright Brothers’ plane, Apollo 11 and the Spirit of St. Louis – where can I buy this trash can?

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Back from Bacon-Land

We’ve returned to Sweden this week after a 3 week trip to the U.S. – or as it really should be called – “Bacon-Land.” They might as well change the name already and get it over with.
Needless to say, we are all spending this first week home detoxing our body from bacon and fried foods.

A Texas baked potato

A typical baked potato in Texas – with pulled pork of course:

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