Monday, December 31, 2007

Dog walks on the Barton Creek Greenbelt trail

We got back to Austin late last night after flying back from all the wedding events in Utah. So it was nice to walk out the stiffness of the airplane rides with a walk into Austin's Barton Creek greenbelt, just across the street from our house. We live on a plateau above the creek, so you walk about a quarter of mile to the edge of the arroyo, or small canyon, that leads down to the creek. You can see a bit of the last slope down to the creek in the first photo.

Then there is a long trail along the creek. We are near the middle of the trail, so you could walk several miles upstream or downstream. If you walk about three miles downstream you hit Barton Springs swimming pool, which fills from the creek and from natural springs around it.

The second photo shows how green the area along the creek tends to be, all year, even when the grass up on the plateau by us has dried up.

One of my favorite sights along the creek is a tree which was toppled sideways by flooding, which happens several times a year along the creek (no threat to us since we live several hundred feet higher up on the plateau). Flood waters deposited a prickly pear cactus, which decided to take root and grow, onto the tree.

I usually let the dogs off the lease to run around, at least those that are healthy and well behaved. At present, one has to stay on the leash or further strain her ACL ligament by running and the youngest one is too impulsive to trust off the lease -- he might not come back.

In the next photo one of the other two dogs, Ally, looks back to make sure we are still coming.

We usually walk about half a mile upstream to where a much smaller arroyo, that is dry except for rainy days, runs down the hill into the main creek. There is a nice steep trail along it that makes for a vigorous climb back up to the top.

The last photo shows another of the dogs, Ti, who has pleaded her way temporarily off the leash, hopefully not long enough to push the ACL ligament too hard.

It certainly is nice to have a bit of wilderness this close to hand.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Rolf and Kristy's reception

Our son Rolf and Kristy Money got married in the Salt Lake City Mormon Temple on December 28. Mormon marriage in the temple is interesting because it is "for time and all eternity." Mormons believe that if you are married in the temple and live well, you get to stay married and connected to your family in the hereafter. It makes for a deeply moving, serious ceremony.

We had a small reception for the families afterwards in the Lion House on Temple Square, which was Brigham Young's house back in his day. The first photo shows Sandy, Kristy, Rolf, Joe and Chris in the hallway of the Lion House.

The second photo shows me making a toast to the bride and groom -- just punch, this being a Mormon wedding, after all. But I have always thought you can be just as festive, happy and excited without the alcohol as with it. Certainly people were happy here, basking in the glow radiating out from Kristy and Rolf.

The next photo shows Kristy and Rolf with her father, Bruce Money, at a reception at their house in Provo, Utah. Beautiful house, on a bench, or flat spot on the side of the mountain above Provo. (Interestingly these flat spots, that people snap up for houses, circle the mountains as a leftover from an ancient inland Lake Bonneville.)

We spent much of the reception in our penguin suits in a reception line for guests coming in. The next photo shows Joe, Sandy and Chris having a quick snack between new guests. It was a fun event, with a lot of old friends, like Sandy's roommate Christine (Craig) Seppi and Duane, her husband, whom Joe knew at Stanford; and a lot of new in-laws. Kristy comes from a big Utah clan, who seem to be very nice. Funny Texas note, her grandfather was once a pretty major development guy at Texas A&M, so a little UT and A&M banter went by.

We did all get to sit down and relax eventually. The next photo shows Rolf, his old roommates James and Bronson (with Chris between them), Julia and Sam. Very nice event, put together really well by Kristy's mother, Kim, who you can see in the last photo, which shows her on the right during the Lion House dinner. (These were done by my nephew Jon Thorne, who is only a couple of years younger than me, and has been one of my best buddies since childhood.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy Hogswatch

I love Christmas, for decorated trees, families getting together, big dinners and presents, but I also mean not just "Happy Holidays," but Christ mass, the Christian holiday that celebrates a sacrifice for the benefit of the rest of us. If we take that seriously, we ought to be thinking more about what we can do for others than what we hope to get.

I don't mean to be parochial about Christian holidays. Most of the major religions have major themes and holidays focused on helping other people. But this is the one that is central to many of us, and it would be nice to reclaim more of its charitable and less commercial aspects.

Like many people, I really dislike the commodi- fication of Christmas, turning it into one more occasion to buy stuff. Granted, we bought a lot stuff for each other this Christmas, but we put a lot of effort into picking things, often rather obscure, that would really speak to and please each other, rather than responding to advertising.

One of the best satires of the commodi- fication of Christmas that I have read or seen lately is The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett. It features a Christmas like holiday in an alternative universe where a fat man with jowls and tusks drives a sleigh pulled through the sky by four hogs. There are some hilarious bits sending up people focusing on selling things and making money out of the holiday. A department store manager is driven to despair when the person doing the Hogfather's job as the department store "Santa" actually starts to give things away. (There is a book version and a made for Brit TV movie that was shown on Sky TV as couple of years ago.) We watched the film version on Christmas Eve and had a good laugh. But we also read Luke 2 for the Christmas story over Christmas dinner. Nice to keep a balance on things.

Sandy is under the weather with a cold. So I did Christmas dinner, which you can see in the photo above, along with our son-in-law Sam, me and our son Rolf (in back), and our daughter Julia, Sandy, and our son Chris (in front). Presents were fun, especially when you give someone something they did not ask for but are delightedly surprised by, but best is to sit around dinner and talk.

Merry Christmas from the family!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wedding ahead

We came back to a hectic but delightful time in Austin. Our son Rolf is getting married to Kristy Money in Utah December 28 and we just had a reception for them here December 22.

Exhibit A here is the cake for that reception.

Next is a picture of Rolf and Kristy themselves. Rolf is 25 and is teaching 4th grade students in a largely Dominican-American neighborhood in New York City as part of the Teach for America program. Kristy is 23 and is finishing a Ph.D. in counseling psychology at BYU, now doing an internship in New Y0rk.

Rolf and Kristy had met just before he left to work for a health education organiza- tion in Mozambique 2006-07, so it has been sort of a virtual courtship much of the time. (Sandy and I did that too, with me in Brazil, and her in the USA and Iceland, in the couple of years we were "courting" at a distance.) The tools are a lot better now. We became aware of Kristy when she started commenting on Rolf's blog while he was in Mozambique. They blogged and emailed and skyped and so forth. (Back in 19776-78, we had slow letters and expensive phone calls.)

We just now met her face to face. The poor girl had to do the whole meet the parents scene with us in the last few days. She seems to have held up well and she struck us as absolutely delightful.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Back in Austin

I don't mean to make any friends in Denmark or Massa- chusetts feel bad, but our first morning back in Austin was sunny, warm and beautiful. The gods were smiling. This first picture is just down the street from our house, where the road heads down into a small neighborhood park.

It was a great day for photos. It was just cool enough to enjoy dog walking (out of the photo are the four, count them four, dogs I was walking -- two of mine and two of my daughter -- who has been watching the house and dogs. But there was also great horizontal winter light. As the second photo shows.

The neighborhood park is a nice place to let dogs run a bit. It has a pond in it that you can see, along with one of the dogs, Titania, a 10 year old pit bull/boxer mix, who looks a bit fierce but is very sweet.

There is a permanent flock of ducks on the pond, along with a goose who is the boss. And who does not like dogs very much, imagine a lot of honking as the sound-track to this last photo.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas & Leaving Denmark

We have taken a lot of trains from Århus this fall. The enter- tainment in the station waiting room revolves around a large model train set maintained by the train company. When you put coins in, the train runs and the revenue goes to charity. It is fun to watch small kids of 3-5 look at it with very wide eyes. The mother of one little girl of three or so was out of coins, so I treated them, and was rewarded with a great, shy smile. In the Christmas season, the train has elves climbing on it, which you can barely see in the photo.

When we were in Roskilde the other day, I was struck by the wintry, rather spartan beauty of the countryside around the campus. The back part where resides the communications school juts out into the countryside. I was struck by these bushes and berries.

They took me back to my boyhood in Idaho where I invented a tradition for myself of going down to the river near our farm and looking for berries, holly and evergreens to make a Christmas wreath out of. It was always fun wandering around the mostly empty river bed, walking or sometimes ice-skating on the frozen pools of water. That river was sort of an all purpose entertainment. My nephews and I walked all over it when we were small, swam in it and floated down it on auto inner tubes in the summer when we got bigger, and ice skated and explored the river bed in the winters. It seems like a story out of a book about some classic boyhood in the countryside now, but it was just life as normal at the time.

We are in a hotel at the Copenhagen Airport, waiting to catch a plane tomorrow. With large bags full of six months of stuff, we thought it best to take it in stages.

Leaving Denmark to go back to the US is bittersweet. We have really enjoyed it here and have made some great friends, particularly among my colleagues in media studies at Arhus University. Among supposedly reserved Scandinavians, we have made at least as many friends and good collegial relations as I remember making among a comparable time among very outgoing Brazilians.

Plus it has been really interesting to learn about Denmark. I am used to doing fieldwork, reading up, interviewing and observation, to learn about places like Brazil, Mexico or even South Texas. It was interesting to do that in Denmark. In fact, last week, after I presented the initial results and thoughts on my research on Danish TV programming and audiences that I mentioned here a couple of posts ago, one of my hosts at Roskilde University was a bit amused that I was here doing fieldwork, studying them-- since it mostly goes the other way around with Danes, as in the US, where We go out to study Them. (Observing this was Thomas Tufte, who also did his dissertation research on Brazilian TV and whom I have known for a long time. So it was particularly interesting for him.)

Us and them gets more complicated all the time, particularly between the US and Denmark. If you come from my part of the US, Idaho and Utah, and your family has been there for a couple of generations, the likelihood of your having Danish ancestry is well over half, from what I have been told. (I have one Danish great grandfather.) Ironically, Denmark is one of the few places I have ever worked where people took me from my appearance for someone local. Denmark is a big piece of the US national and my own personal hybridity. So we have met the natives and they are us.

But exciting times await in Texas. Our daughter Julia just graduated with an MA in library/ information science at UT and just got a librarian job in Cedar Park, just north of Austin. Here is a picture of her in full graduation fig. And our son Rolf is getting married to Kristy Money of Provo, UT in Salt Lake December 28. So the pace of things is about to speed up, with Christmas and a wedding in short order.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas at Den Gamle By

Today we decided to go back to visit Den Gamle By (the old town), a collection of genuine old houses, from the 1500s to the 1800s from several places in Denmark, collected together into a living history village in Århus. They are famous for their Christmas fair and a nice old timey Christmas atmosphere.

As you can see from the first photo, it was a very popular idea. The place was crowded, with many children. I can see how this would be a very magical place for a kid at Christmas. It is not half bad for adults. Quite a few people also had their dogs, which many people seem to think of as their children.

Part of the charm and historical interest of the place are many reconstructed interiors, like this apothecary, or drug store.

An even bigger part of the charm for me are the exteriors of the buildings. Here are two photos of different parts of the façade of a half- timbered building from 1571. The first one shows you the doorway. The second one shows you a carved detail from the right hand side of the doorway.

The next photo shows some Christmas decoration on one of the main streets. Sandy just observed that one of the nice things about this place is that it is only somewhat commercialized, about enough to be self-supporting. No cartoon characters. No chain stores or restaurants. It is a bit like the Colonial Williamsburg model. Things get sold inside the appropriate stores. The exteriors are kept pretty close to their time and place in terms of decoration. The interiors tend to be of a later period, 1700s-1800s, no matter what the exterior, but they are probably using what was available. There is also quite a bit of early 20th century nostalgia in a couple of museums, like the toy museum, and exhibition spaces, like the one today that had Christmas shop windows from the 1920s-1970s.

The last photo is looking out over their reconstructed mill pond. A bit artificial but well done, and quite pretty. Living history seems to be alive and well.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas at Tivoli

We were in Copen- hagen Dec. 13 after I gave a talk at nearby Roskilde University, so we decided to see the Christmas decorations and fair at Tivoli, one of the world's oldest amusement parks.

One of the first things we saw was a parade of girls in white, singing the Italian tune Santa Lucia. It represents a traditional Swedish custom of young girls dressing in white on St. Lucy's day (which it happened to be) and bringing light in mid-winter.

Christmas shopping fairs are also a big custom in northern Europe. There were all kinds of booths selling different decorations, presents and kinds of food. Here is one that made me think of our son, Rolf, who is a very passionate advocate of buying fair trade goods from developing countries, that is, handicrafts made by artisans there and sold by companies who pledge to pay the artisans a fair price by world standards, not just the lowest price they can get away with, taking a huge mark-up for themselves. (It is the opposite of buying cheap goods made by poorly paid labor in China, for example. You pay more in part so the person who made it gets a living wage.)

It was a cold night outside, but kids were still very excited by the rides. We watched little kids on a very stylish, old-fashioned carousel. It was fun to see how enraptured the littlest kids were by riding the horses that moved up and down as the carousel turned. It made me get excited about the prospect of being a grandparent one of these days and getting to help take grandkids to something like this.

There was another area that was very popular with children, an elves' village, where there was a big, fairly elaborate set of scenes with elves and animals moving around, climbing mountains, skating, skiiing, drinking at the elves' pub -- shown in the picture here. We hit the human side of the pub, just opposite, for hot chocolate, honningkage (gingerbread-like honey cake) and æbleskiver (apple pastries). That was nice after walking around in the cold.

On of the odd things at Tivoli was the area set up for kids to go visit Santa's sleigh. It had a very funky Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer made of carpet with a light bulb nose and a very odd polar bear whose expression reminded Sandy of what she thought Renee Zellweger might look like after a night of hard drinking (if she had white fur and four legs).

Monday, December 10, 2007


Interesting how music marks our consciousness and, after a while, our history. I went to graduate school in International Relations in 1973 to study how nations used media to communicate with each other and to develop themselves internally, ideas that are still relevant, but much more problematic than most of us realized at the time.

One of the moments I remember most is going on a field trip with a graduate class in politics of developing countries to see The Harder They Come, about a fictional singer turned revolutionary and drug runner in Jamaica, played by Jimmy Cliff. It was astounding to me then, to see such a vivid depiction of some of the issues we were talking about -- bringing home what a movie can do above beyond all the books you might read. The movie looks a bit dated now. When I showed to students a couple of years ago, they thought it was corny. But what stuck with me longest, still does, was the music soundtrack from the film.

I wasn't alone. In 1973-1974, that movie soundtrack intrigued a fair number of American listeners. Maybe it was just living in internationally oriented Cambridge, Mass. then, but it seemed like the music struck a chord-- people were more interested in what people in developing countries were thinking. And music, like film, has always slid across cultural barriers with some ease. This music was also pretty immediately interesting and accessible. It did not take a lot of work to like, unlike some musics that are eminently worthwhile, but require more work.

What drove the appeal of reggae home even more was the more coherent, deeper and also more openly political music of the Wailers, later Bob Marley and the Wailers. The album that really broke that awareness open in the USA and elsewhere was Burnin', also in 1973. It was challenging, political and in your face, but you also found yourself swaying along and tapping your foot.

For me at least, reggae opened the door to more seriously looking for interesting music from other countries. Sort of what the world music category was intended to do on a more massive scale later. When I moved to Brazil and found first samba, and then samba reggae, I thought I had died and gone to music heaven.

Burnin' retained a special spot for me, though. I have played this album a lot over the years, wearing out an LP, then a pre-recorded cassette, and making it one of my first CDs. My son Rolf says that he thinks he memorized it in the womb. We also played it a lot on car trips. It was the perfect road trip music, interesting lyrics--something to think about, energetic, but mellow.

The album was recognized in an NPR story today as one of the most significant of that era. Check out the NPR story at

Or if you like videos, here are concert videos of two of my favorite songs on the album, Duppy Conqueror and Small Axe.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pipeline (to California)

Idaho, where I grew up, is in many respects a very cool place. Mountains, lakes, deserts, mining ghost towns, great skiing and hiking. Here is a photo of the Sawtooth Mountains, less than half a day's drive from where I grew up. Most members of my extended family are still there. Mostly you could not drag them away to anywhere else.

So what made me so hot to get away and move to California for college? Some of you are thinking, dumb question, everyone wanted to go to California in the late 1960s - hippie mecca, land of opportunity, specifically the land of very good colleges that were not all the way away on the East Coast of the USA. (One of the few times my father absolutely put his foot down was when I got a college recruitment letter from Columbia University in New York-- way too far away for him, and kind of scary.)

For me the siren song of California was kind of there in the background, past and present. Even my father had ridden freight trains to there looking for work during the Depression. But its attraction heated up for me with surf music and the whole early 1960s image of beach paradise in California. (My weakness for Brazil shows that I still like a good beach paradise.) I remember reading car magazines about the hot rod customizers of LA, hearing the Beach Boys on the radio, and absolutely loving instrumental surf music (still a prominent mix in my iTunes).

So here is a little post-modern take on surf music, mixed with Texas. This is a video of Dick Dale, king of the surf guitar, playing one of the archetypal surf songs, Pipeline, with Stevie Ray Vaughn, who is so beloved in Austin that he has a statue on the Town Lake walk/bike trail. The clip is an extended take with footage from Back to the Beach, a fun but silly movie with the fictional post-1960s adventures of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Enjoy. (For a second helping, if you like the first, or for greater authenticity, if we can use a word like that here, is a clip of Dick Dale from 1963 playing Misirlou, which some of you may remember from Pulp Fiction. Third scoop, if you are feeling nostalgic, is the Beach Boys, combining both car and surf images, very important California icons, in Don't Worry Baby. The cars and striped shirts from the latter did make it to Idaho, but the surf was hard to import.)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Julemarked Århus

We wandered out to the Århus city (Byens) Christmas market (Julemarked) today in search of Christmas spirit and presents. The comparable Christmas fair in Austin, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, is an annual favorite, so we thought we would see what this one looked like -- both had a lot of crafts, but this one a lot less art, and a lot more clothes. No music here, though. One of the fun things about the Armadillo is all the good local bands that perform.

Still it was very festive, as you can see in the second photo. It was held in a former military horse riding pavilion (the Ridehuset) that is now frequently used for such things. We went to a natural foods exposition there a while ago.

It was fun. Although Scandinavia is very secular these days, they are big on tradition, so all the non-religious aspects of Christmas are still very important. Red hearts are a traditional motif, which we have always had on our tree at home, since Sandy has been way into Scandinavian Christmas stuff for a long -- sort of a professional side effect for an old Norse person. She has been collecting some more Christmas stuff to take home.

It was also a nice sunny day, which is rarer these days, so we walked around quite a bit, taking photos of places that we had meant to look at before we leave for the USA again. These two little dragons glaring at each other over a doorway, for example, are on one of the main bus lines, and I always look for them as a favorite landmark.

There is a bittersweet quality to our last week here. Just by the time we have gotten to know Århus a bit, and really come to like it, it is time to head home. But our son Rolf is getting married in Utah on December 28 to Kristy Money of Provo, and there is suddenly a lot to do, although fortunately tradition assigns most of the work to the mother of the bride, so we are getting by fairly easy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Anglophone Danes?

One of the things I am currently working on is further developing an idea from my recent book, World Television From Global to Local (shameless plug alert). Something I was playing with in the last chapter is that people seem to be developing more multi-layered identities that both guide and respond to an increasingly multi-layered set of television productions, channels and choices.

I have been applying that idea to some programming and audience data available in Denmark. While I tend to prefer more qualitative work these days rather than teasing out numbers, the great data elf in the sky decided to place in my path a remarkably tasty (and dauntingly large) data base from the Danish audience ratings people meter system plus television networks' self report of the origins of their programming. Plus this data fits pretty well from what I have been observing and hearing from my colleagues and students.

So, data geek warning on:
Comparing both programming and audiences for US, other Anglophone, Danish, other Nordic, and other European levels of programming and audience viewing from 1993 to 2007, I am finding that Danish programming is still most prominent and most viewed. US programs have increased numerically without the audience really increasing, except among youth. Nordic programming (from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland) is sort of stagnating, and, an unexpected and really fascinating result, other Anglophone programs (from UK, Australia, etc. -- not including the US) are growing notably in both number and audience, so they are now the third largest source of programs (after Denmark and the US) and the third largest share of audience viewing time spent with different programs. Data geek warning off.

So the interesting theoretical question is, are Danes, particularly younger ones, taking on a new layer of Anglophone interest or maybe even identity, that overlays their continuing interest in Danish TV but maybe replaces or diminishes their identification or interest in other Nordic culture? That may be an overly ambitious question regarding identity, per se, but if I limit the question to what people watch on TV, it certainly looks like something like this is taking place.

One interesting caveat or dilemma in interpreting all this is what to do with programs, like who wants to be a millionaire, where the format is imported from someplace else (Britain seems to be the most popular source for Danes) but produced locally. For the moment, I am throwing those in with other Danish production, but I would like to come back at this later and consider those as a separate issue and maybe look at where formats are coming from parallel to where actual imported programs are coming from.

References: The Joy of Cooking (Data).

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Danish folk music

Globalization strikes again. Here I am sitting in Porto, Portugal, listening to U.S. National Public Radio on the Internet through my laptop, and what comes up but a story on Danish folk music, which has popped up in this blog before, when Sandy and I have gone to hear it in Denmark.

Here is an image from the NPR site of Danish "electro-synth band" Infernal. (Probably the folk band photos available did not have such good hair.) But the NPR story really wants to talk about Danish folk, with good reason, because the folk revival and folk-rock syntheses have been an interesting story in lots of places recently, but particularly Scandinavia.

Check out the story at

Portugal - past and present

Maybe it is just the people I talk to in Portugal, but one of the interesting things about the place is how it is situated between past and present, Europe and the Portuguese-speaking countries that are its former colonies, many identities and options. I am working with people exploring the current awareness of Lusophone heritage in several countries, as well as doing a methods seminar for young tech types in a multimedia MA who can't wait to spring into modern Europe.

You see a lot of reminders of Portugal's glorious past, like this statue of a 1600s era soldier who guards the breakfast room in my hotel. Most European countries are rediscovering their glorious pasts, many--like France--have always had that front and center anyway. But Portugal is somewhat unique in being a very small country with an outsize role in colonizing the world at a certain point, because they had both the technology and the national will to push into the world a bit before other European powers, decades before Columbus. They first presented their new role in the 1400s as pushing a crusade into Africa to take the Moors' resources away from them. Gradually they turned that into something different and helped invent imperialism and colonial- ism, a rather ambivalent heritage. Like Spain, they took enough trade, gold and money out of the Americas (and in the Portuguese case, India, Indonesia and Japan), to build a lot of lovely cathedrals, like this one, the Catedral da Sé, in Porto.

One positive aspect of all that colonial devastation and exploitation was creation of a new global space for communication and culture, the Portuguese- speaking or Lusophone world, shared by Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique,Cabo Verde, East Timor, etc. Hundreds of millions of very otherwise diverse people brought together, to some degree, by language and cultural heritage. There is still a lot of interest in that world here, but a lot of people, particularly the younger ones, would prefer to look toward their place in a dynamic, expanding European economic and cultural scene. In some ways, it is a false dichotomy, both the Lusophone world, linked to the past, and the prospect of greater integration into Europe, are and probably should be layers of a complex Portuguese identity and future plans. But it is interesting to sense the tensions between the two.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Rio Douro

I had a chance today to go walk around the oldest part of Porto. Here is the Rio Douro, seen from a spectacular steel bridge that you will see in a minute. It has many of the oldest buildings in town, as well as the warehouses for a lot of the port wine companies that make it famous now.

The second photo is a look at the Douro on the other wise of the bridge that also shows a short section of the old city wall just to the right of the bridge. Very interesting set of contrasts, a medieval city wall and a very state of the art bridge carrying subway traffic on top and car traffic underneath. Portugal has used a lot of the money it received from the EU to catch up with other countries on infrastructure, which was useful. But I have heard people say on this trip to Portugal that it might have been smarter to use more of the money for investment in education as Ireland did, instead of loading it so heavily into roads, etc. It is true that Portugal has to work hard now to bring its workforce up to the level of Spain, Ireland and others that had lagged behind others in Europe but are beginning to catch up.

The third photo shows some classic Portuguese architecture and tile work from the era of the height of their empire. This is from a palace on the other side of the river, in the main part of Porto.

The fourth photo shows the view back over the river from the level of the riverbank on the same side as the palace above, just a steep five hundred feet lower. This is roughly the view from a restaurant where I had lunch the other day. I was sandwiched in between a couple of young Germans on a bike tour and a very whiny couple of English tourists who were annoyed with the waiter, who they thought was rude. Truth be told, I thought they were the rude ones. It made me happy to be a place where I knew the language well enough to chat with the waiter and not be a tourist struggling with the language, which was probably the core of the problem of the English tourists, they assumed the waiter understood their every word in English.

The last photo is of the restaurant in question. Very cute place with great fish, and a great big German Shepherd dog, with a weakness for chasing bikes. Fortunately the German bike touring couple were clever enough to walk their bikes until out of his turf. It makes me happy to see people put a little energy into figuring things like that out.