Saturday, December 30, 2006

Politically Correct Holiday Greeting

I received this clever greeting from a friend and thought I'd share it with the rest of you. So for a politically correct holiday season...:

I wanted to send some sort of holiday greeting to you, but it is so difficult in today's world to know exactly what to say without offending someone. So I met with my lawyer yesterday, and on his advice I wish to say the following:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practised with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.

I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms: This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/him or others and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Disclaimer: No trees were harmed in the sending of this message; however, a significant number of electrons were slightly inconvenienced.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

While it is still appropriate I wanted to post these pictures of Christmas decorations / lights / nativity scenes that I saw in Italy.

In Venice, I saw the most wonderful nativity scenes on display. They were part of a contest. Different groups entered the scenes that they had created. Many, such as the one you see above were very elaborate. The nativity in this particular display has been set down in the middle of a very European looking village with castles and Swiss style chalets in the background.

Throughout Italy, I saw various nativities and other festive scenes like the one above displayed in peoples yards or in parks. The one seen above and those below were in Camposampiero which is a little village not far from Venice (perhaps a half hour ride by train). While visiting Venice, I stayed in the small village of Fratte not far from Camposampiero and would usually make the trek over to Camposampiero at least once a day to frequent the restaurants or cafes there. Being just a little larger than Fratte, they had a bit more variety and choice. The food was excellent and the locals extremely friendly.

This elaborate display was actually in someone's yard. It looks like it was probably a fair amount of work to set up, but it certainly was lovely to look at.

This is part of the same display as above. This person's yard borders a little creek that winds its way through town.

Every town and city I visited had lovely displays of Christmas lights though their down town core. I particularly liked these ones in Florence as they looked like giant icicles dangling across the streets.

That's about all I have time for at the moment. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Foreign Crooning

Men in Rome sing. Yes, that’s right. When they want your attention, they start singing. The first time it happened, I didn’t think too much of it, or rather, I assumed that it was a unique occurrence. But after it happened a few more times, I had to acknowledge that a pattern seemed to be emerging. These incidents weren’t really too much of a bother, as soon as I looked in the direction of the singing man…or men, he/they usually stopped and smiled and occasionally waved. Of course all that being said, I have no idea as to the contents of the lyrics. I didn’t encounter this phenomenon anywhere else during my travels in Italy, perhaps if I had continued further south…but from Rome, I started heading north up along the west coast.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Travel Update

I've decided to strap on my backpack and take off for the better part of December, nothing like trying to travel off season. I will do my best to download my photos and post, but I imagine that it will probably be a little sporadic. Presently I am in Geneva. The people here are as friendly and polite as the last time I visited. They would give Canadians a run for their money any day in these departments, and overall I think Canadians are a pretty friendly polite lot. I'm off for Venice within the hour...but first, I need to get myself a good Swiss coffee. Swiss coffee will deserve a whole post unto itself. I think the Swiss do coffee better than anyone else in the world...but I have yet to taste Italian coffee. I hear it's pretty good too. A bientot!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Lutefisk - Culinary Catastrophe

For those of you who have never heard of lutefisk, it is a Norwegian delicacy of dried cod that has been soaked in a lye solution before boiling to give it a gelatinous consistency. Sounds delicious, doesn't it? I tend to look at Lutefisk like I do certain Scottish most likely started off as a dare. Coming from both Norwegian and Scottish origins, I figure I'm entitled to at least some opinion on such matters. I mean really, what were they thinking? Dig a hole in the ground, throw in some dried raw cod fish, cover it with lye, bury it, dig it up six months later and call it dinner? It kind of reminds me of a saying that I've heard regarding Scandinavians and their relationship to food: "Norwegians eat to live, Swedes live to eat, and the Danes eat to drink." Now I'm not sure about the Swedes and the Danes, but if Lutefisk is representitive of the best of Norwegian cuisine, then no doubt the part about Norwegians is true. In any case, I am not knocking all Norwegian cuisine. There are many Norwegian "treats" that I absolutely love and at sometime will hopefully be able to share with you in posts. But in terms of this particular delicacy, my advice would be: "Lutefisk, just say no!"