Posts tagged ‘just plain silly’

June 30, 2015


The other day we took a stroll through the center of the historic German town we currently live in when I stopped in my tracks.  Right in front of us was a new store I had never seen before – this might be a bit strange in such a small town but then, things change quickly and seeing  new store normally doesn’t stop me in my tracks – unless, of course, it is an Antique Store, or better yet some sort of indoor flea market type store.  With the town rapidly gentrifying tit was neither.

Friking  - a questionable name choice and an similalrly questionable slogan (c) Tina Baumgartner

Friking – a questionable name choice and an similalrly questionable slogan
(c) Tina Baumgartner

What stopped me in my tracks was the name.  The store – which sells men’s fashion – is called “Friking” – seriously? Friking? The word doesn’t mean anything in German and might be a name.  In any case it is pronounced slightly differently from the English “freaking” – but only ever so slightly.

Now, a German store owner might be forgiven for not knowing that Friking is way too close for comfort to “freaking” if they didn’t make a point of using an English slogan right under that name.  But not only that, they use a slogan that makes no sense whatsoever. The slogan, right there outside the store says “you are in the shop”

Ehm, what?  I am clearly not in the shop, I am outside looking at it in disbelief.  And even if I was in the shop, what would the slogan tell me?  I would know I am in the shop, then, I needn’t be told. I  tried to make sense of this by translating it literally into German, but it doesn’t make sense in that language either, so it isn’t a case of literally translated idiom.  Maybe the webpage holds a clue as it is a Spanish webpage ending on .es – so some Spanish store using a bad English slogan in Germany?  The headache of it all!

Another point, maybe an US vs. UK English point is the use of “shop”.  In US English one would say store rather than shop, a shop has the connotation of a small place where often services are performed such as body shop (car repair), barber shop to get a shave (do shops where people are getting shaved still exist?)

I am still scratching my head over the fact that somebody spends lots of money on merchandize, the very expensive rents in my quickly gentrifying little town, hires sales people etc. etc – but can’t be bothered to ask somebody fluent in English something along the lines of “hi, buddy, help me out here.  Does this slogan make sense?” This is a friking mess, really.

December 28, 2012

Drive-thru Nation

I never thought that eating while driving was a good idea.  I also always thought it was a rather good  idea to actually park your car, get out, walk 30 feet to a door, walk in,  order your food, sit down (or the other way around if you choose to not go to a fast food restaurant) and eat it without spilling ketchup all over yourself because you are eating that double burger with extra cheese and the curly fries with one hand while maneuvering a big ass truck (or a Honda Civic or anything in between).  Alas, I seem to be in the minority as some recent observations have confirmed.  We are all used to the Drive-thru fast food joints, all the big names of this world and slowly getting use to the drive-thru upscale coffee places (yes, I am talking Starbucks) although I am still wondering why I would want to pay almost $5 for a medium (they call it grande) Frappuccino and then not enjoy it because I am  negotiating Los Angeles/Bay Area/Toronto/add other places as appropriate traffic.

The latest, and I have seen it several times now including today, is a Drive thru drug store, like Walgreens, or Rite Aid or one of those.  I am waiting for Drive thru Safeways, and Drive thru fine dining (you’d get a complimentary linen napkin and probably one of those self-heating containers to keep the bisque warm ), for men only I could envision a Drive thru haircut place, I assume most women would not go for that one, but one could definitely drop off dry cleaning in a Drive thru kind of a way.  Why hasn’t anybody thought of that yet?  They probably have and I am just too out of touch to have heard about it – yet.

Drive Thru - so very convenient.

Drive Thru – so very convenient.

What I still don’t understand is the appeal of all of that.  Is the act of getting out of the car so inconveniencing people that they avoid it at all cost, although we are reading constantly that even a little exercise every day helps a lot in terms of health outcomes or do people love sitting in their cars so much that they don’t want to get out ever?

One thing, I believe, Drive thru anything is often not: faster.  The Starbucks this morning had a line of at least 5 or 6 cars whereas we were the first in line inside.  I remember distinctly one time when, on a road trip, we went to have lunch at a fast food restaurant and on our way between tour parking spot and the door had to cross the Drive thru lane.  We almost got run over by a driver too focused on deciding between the tantalizing meal options so I remembered the car.  When we came out, after ordering food and eating it, sitting on a chair with a table in front of us, washed our hands in the bathroom, and walked out, that driver was just ordering his food at the Drive-thru window.

So much for faster.

I think it comes down to the word I have learned to hate: “convenience”.  Getting ones butt out of the car and walking a few steps  is so not convenient so people much rather sit in the car longer to avoid that hassle.  How sad is that!

July 16, 2012


Where we live we have play dates for our kids.  They don’t just go out and visit their friends’ and classmates after school and homework as we used to do, no, generally, you have to make a “date” for such an important event.  This involves two parents – mothers, mostly – taking out their smart phones and scroll through their and their busy off-spring’s  calendars.  A conversation like this ensues:

Parent 1: “Monday and Thursday Jimmy has soccer training, Tuesdays is piano class and afterwards  we go to the library, Friday is his Chinese class and Saturday morning a soccer game.  We could do a week from Wednesday but not before 4:30 because of art class every other week.”

Parent 2: “Let’s see, a week from Wednesday … that won’t work, Danny has swim practice.  Maybe Friday after Jimmy’s Chinese class and Danny’s chess club.  Or maybe on Saturday between 2 and 4 pm – before the birthday party at 4:30 pm.”

The Fallacy of play dates, (c

So a date is set for a week from Friday at 4:45 pm for an hour or so before Jimmy or Danny has to run off again for some special event or another.  Chances are, though, this play date will get canceled at some point before Friday: “i am sorry , we won’t be able to make it on Friday after all, Jimmy has an extra chess club training event to get ready for the tournament.  Maybe we could reschedule for four weeks from now when the tournament is over.”

The funny thing is, almost all the parents I ever ask about that practice hate it (admittedly most of them are either Europeans or from India – given where I live and whom I hang out with) and all fondly think back to their childhoods when they would come home from school, eat, do homework, do whatever else kids have to do and the jump on the bike or run on over to the neighbor’s house, or go to the local park where a bunch of buddies were already kicking or tossing a ball – or whatever kids would do.  All without calendars and schedules and a multitude of enriching afternoon activities.

Yet, the play dates continue unabashedly.

May 26, 2011

Land of no vacation

Proof what I write about vacation in the US, pic:

Okay, I admit that this is a bit of an overstatement – but only a bit.  We can let the statistics about vacation speak for themselves: The US is the only advanced (however that might be defined) country that does not obligate employers under federal law to offer any paid vacation to employees.  Even the Japanese – long thought of as the hard workers of the globe slaving away in their jobs giving half of their few vacation days to the company –  fare better: they get a mandated 10 paid days off.

Most American employees in fact get some time off, like 2 whopping weeks.  These come with strings attached.  Mostly it is considered unacceptable for an employee to take more than one week off at a time.  Even for that period of time the employer will generally expect the employee to check email, answer them and be available for phone calls.  With most parts of the world in reach for a week-long vacation completely wired even the “I couldn’t get a cell phone signal” excuse doesn’t fly anymore.

The weirdest thing to me is, that a good number of employees defend this and think it right.  Arguments I have read, heard and pieced together run the gamut from “the company sure won’t survive if I am away for more than a week”, “if I leave for that long they realize they don’t need me and fire me”, “we Americans are hard working and the rest of them are slackers”, “we aren’t like the French”  and similarly logical reasoning.

The funny thing is – or actually rather sad – that people seem to think that their relentless working makes them super competitive, when in fact the US was ranked fourth in the World Economic Forum‘s 2010-2011 rankings of the most competitive nations and the slackers in Sweden, with their five weeks of vacation, came in second.

Go figure.

May 16, 2011

Art vs Prudishness

David's assets are modestly hidden in this picture, Pic: Tina Baumgartner

Here is another story under the heading “Only in America …”  This one plays in the town of Abilene in Texas and started with some new people moving into the neighborhood and putting a piece of art into their yard.  Not just any art, though, a replica downsized version of Michelangelo’s David.

David is a good-looking guy and he doesn’t wear a fiber of fabric on him – neither in the marble original located in Florence, Italy nor in the replica downsized version now adorning that front yard in Abilene.  And that is where the problems start – a statute of a nude guy upsets the neighbors – they find it offensive, they are outraged.   Especially the families are upset, specifically the mothers because children start asking questions and comment on David’s “assets”.

“So?” I am inclined to say – being my immoral European self – let them ask and then answer, its not like some explicit sexual act is being shown here – just a guy.  And: “To hell with all the prudishness and moral outrage over body parts.  Get over it, explain to your child that this is how they used to do it back in the days in Italy and that they didn’t think much of showing a guy’s (insert word for the body part in question you normally use at home, if you don’t use one it is about time you start).

Word is, that the homeowners have no plans to take David away or put a pair of swim trunks or a fig leave on him – I’ll try and follow that story, though, to see how long it will take for them to crumble under the combined moral outrage of an entire neighborhood.

Be strong, guys!

April 30, 2011

Gym Parking Lot

I go to the gym three times a week, sometimes more.  I go there to exercise and move my body.  I assume most people who go to the gym would do it for the same reason.  Why else would you hang out in a sort of smelly noise place with people dressed in unattractive outfits?

Rather wait than walk, pic:

I do take my car to the gym most always for a variety of reasons and do feel somewhat guilty about it – I should really use the bike.  So I get to the parking lot in front of the gym and more times than not witness the following scene: big car waiting, indicator lights on  for some guy to open the car, open the trunk, then put his bag in, than futz around a bit, then futz a bit more, then getting in the car, grabbing a bottle of water, having a drink, turning the car on, buckling up, having another drink, checking email on the smart phone and then – finally, slowly – drive out.

If the parking lot was full I’d do the same but – for crying out loud – there is a parking spot, in fact two or three right there, all you have to do is walk ten more meters to the gym entrance.  Not happening.  People rather wait – patiently to my amazement – for the guy to stop futzing around and leaving than walking 10 more meters before they hop on the treadmill.

This must be one the most irrational behaviors ever.  I cannot (unless it rains

cats or dog or you are in North Dakota in February with below zero Fahrenheit temps) think of any even moderately good reason to behave that way.

April 22, 2011

Make-over party

make-over parties for little girls, so wrong on so many levels,

A friend told me the other day about a make-over party, complete with make-up and hairdos and all sorts of other fun sounding stuff.  I thought to myself that this sounds like a great way to while away an afternoon -if one is into whiling – until I realized that we were not talking about a make-over party she was invited to – but her 3-year old daughter.

In fact, it was a 4th birthday party for a kid from daycare and the parents had apparently reached the conclusion that it would be a wonderful and appropriate idea to show three and four year old girls how to put on lipstick, do their hair right and apply glittery products all over their faces.   My friend was shocked – but what can you do? Grab your child and leave under protest, causing something approaching an international incidence resulting in a permanent ban from all birthday-party-lists for the next two years or swallow hard, screw a smile on your face, and pretend that you think this a very cute idea?

My friend’s little girl keeps wondering and asking whether she looks pretty now, without all that make-up on her face and my friend keeps telling her that she is beautiful and does not need all that stuff.  But seed has been planted – a seed that does not need to be planted, especially not so early.  In 10 years’ time she will fall into that trap of defining her worth by her looks anyway.  Do we really need to get them started at 3 years old?  I think it is absurd and obscene to make-up little girls like models.  Sometimes I am very happy to have a boy! (other times not so, see blogs about guns!)

April 5, 2011


This is another political correctness gone wild in the California school system story.  This one didn’t happen to my child but a friend’s child who attends a private school – which goes to show that the craziness does not stop with the public education system.

Bullying: does not exist in the perfect world of California schools, or does it? pic:

Anyway, the story is that one of his classmates was bullied by a few other students, and it finally reached the point where the mother couldn’t sit by the sidelines anymore and felt she had to intervene to protect her child.  So she went to have a talk with the principal and the conversation (and here I paraphrase) went something like this:

Mother: “I am here to talk about how these kids behave towards my child and what is being done about it.”

Principal: “I assure you that all necessary measures are being taken.”

Mother:  “I don’t think so, my child has been bullied by these kids for some time now and nothing has been done to stop the bullying.”

Principal (using the same low, slow, and indulgent voice generally used with recalcitrant or slow children): “Please do not use this word around here.  There is no such a thing as bullying in this school.”

Ahem, please??

So we want those perfectly behaved little angels (just like we were at 7 years old) who sat things like “I would appreciate if you made better choices about the way you speak to me to avoid hurting my feelings” and if they – surprise, surprise – do not live up to those standards we just define the problem away.  Bullying: does not exist in our school – despite evidence to the contrary – because we don’t want it to exist, because it cannot exist in our perfect rainbow-colored world of little angels.  If it existed, we who set out to create the perfect world of little angels, would have failed – and that is impossible, unacceptable.

The degree of self-delusion at work here amazes (even jaded) me.

March 31, 2011

Bachelorette Parties

First there were the bachelor Parties, those questionable events when the guys took the groom for one more night on the town before he got married and had to forever after be a good boy.

Now does that look like fun to you? pic:

Rightfully, the ladies wanted equal treatment and so Bachelorette Parties (man, the spell checker here doesn’t even recognize the word bachelorette but gives me one of those red squiggly lines indicating that I goofed up – spelling-wise) came into existence.  I have to confess to only ever having been at one bachelorette party and that was a while ago and civilized affair with dinner in some restaurant and a bit of dancing afterward.

Since things have changed, these days dinner-and-a-dance has been replaced by “Learn how to strip” events where “a professional female” will come to your home and teach the bride and her girlfriends the ancient art of strip dancing.  Pole dancing and lap dancing can also be included.

Then, I learned, there are “passion parties” where a – get that – “passion party consultant” (no gender specified) comes to your house and demonstrates adult toys.

Then, of course, there is the girl equivalent of attending a strip club where some imitation of the Chippendales dance for the ladies.

This all must be very awkward, I mean, how can it not be awkward sitting on the couch of the bride, nibbling on Cheetos, drinking Chardonnay and have some stranger explain or – worse – demonstrate adult toys.

The good old dinner-and-a-dance sounds still best to me.


March 29, 2011

Only in America

Now I might have said this a few times already but this time I mean it, I really, really mean it.  Or let me put it another way: can you think of a country, any country where you would find a headline like this:

Christian pole dancing class …

wait, we don’t even need to read the rest, this is amazing enough.  Christian pole dancing – just think about this for a bit.

Advance pole dancing - probably not for Jesus but paying customers, pic:

Just to make sure everybody is fully appraised to the amazing details: pole dancing is nothing like pole faulting but is a form of dance involving a pole which is generally performed by scantily dressed women in places referred to as  “Gentlemen’s Club” with names like “Stud Ranch”.

Now a bunch of women in Texas are creating a big controversy because they discovered pole dancing for Jesus.  Don’t ask me how that logic works , there was some talk about bodies as temples and taking care of them and being closer to God etc.  I do respect people for taking initiate and getting off their generally overweight butts but pole dancing for Jesus??  Can’t you just go jogging or spend some quality time on a elliptical machine like yours truly?  What is next?  Lap dancing for Jesus?

I am no prude, I am European, if you want to pole dance, pole dance, but don’t make it into a religious exercise – that is just so wrong and hypocritical on so many levels.  An now I am going to the gym, 45 mins on the elliptical ….