Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 comes to an end

I am SICK of all the eye-rolling about the University of Connecticut's women's basketball team surpassing the UCLA men's team record for consecutive wins. I am SICK of the dismissive comments that imply or say outright: it's only women's basketball, and there are only a few teams that play at the same level as UConn and, therefore, it's no big deal.

As my Mom used to say every time the Wooden record got brought up, "Who in the hell did UCLA play in the 1970s?!" How many college teams in the West Coast basketball league in the 1970s were any where near the level of play of UCLA? How many of those West Coast college teams, including UCLA, could have made it against the teams of the SEC or Big East?

UConn's accomplishment is EVERY BIT the accomplishment of UCLA in the 1970s, PERIOD.

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What were the highlights of my year? In no particular order:
The Top Words I used in Facebook status updates in 2010:
    1: Out - used 33 times
    2: -- - used 32 times
    3: One - used 32 times
    4: Up - used 32 times
    5: Want - used 29 times
    6: More - used 28 times
    7: Now - used 28 times
    8: Back - used 27 times
    9: Time - used 26 times
    10: Ill - used 26 times
Yes, my number one used word was a freakin' HYPHEN!

* * *
Stefan is off to China for my birthday. Second year in a row he's missing my birthday. Were finances and timing different, of course I would go with him. 45 in Shanghai! But it is not to be - we don't have the money and I have two big work projects right now. I'm so glad he's doing so amazing in his job. And very proud. But, yes, I'm being a big baby at not having a birthday celebration for the second year in a row.

Last year's birthday was, you may remember, a disaster: Stefan was in Europe on business (and promised that would be the LAST time), I was alone in what felt like a foreign country, in a city and state where I know very few people and have no close friends, it was my birthday, and I thought my dog was dieing. What a miserable, lonely birthday that was... I spent most of it crying. Poor me. Poor Albi.

And it wasn't the first time Albi decided to have a life-threatening condition and surgery on my birthday; she had a large cancer and several breasts removed back in 2008 for my 42nd birthday. At least then we were all together!

Albi has promised to not have any medical emergencies for my birthday this year. I'll be going to a training for Girl Scouts in Portland that day and, if I can find it to rent, watching Seasons 2 and 3 of the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.

The good news is that it looks like I'll get to go to Budapest, Hungary at the end of January to lead a training. I've been to Hungary, but not to Budapest. Very excited -- I'm training for a group I really, really love.

I'm so hoping that 2011, at last, leads to a full-time job for me, preferably back East. We'll continue to make the most of Oregon and The West, but we're ready to be in friendlier surroundings (and a much shorter plane ride to Europe). And we're still trying to put a motorcycle trip together for 2011. Stay tuned.

* * *

Our Christmas Eve meal was pot roast and veggies, cooked for five hours in my crock pot. It was gooooood. Our movie selection was Die Hard, which is always an excellent Christmas Eve choice (Ho Ho Ho!). My Christmas Day viewing was one of my favorite "family" movies, The Lion in Winter. Let's face it -- Lion in Winter puts the FUN in dysFUNctional. Then we watched the latest Wallace and Gromit adventure, A Matter of Loaf and Death (why, yes, we DO own all of their films now, thank you very much). A Matter of Loaf and Death is cute, but surprisingly cheese-less.

Thanks, Han Solo, for being there!

Watching a retrospective on some morning show of over-the-top reactions of kids opening presents on Christmas from year's past makes me really happy there is no video of me when I was six and realized Santa had brought me a Donny Osmond album. Which gets referenced in A Matter of Loaf and Death, much to my delight.

* * *
My Afghan friend, Fariba, has written a new essay for the Afghan Women's Writing Project. It's very short, and really worth reading. And if you read it, please leave a comment on the page -- it means the world to her to get comments. Actually, comment on ANY of her six essays there, please?

* * *
While watching The Wizard of Oz the other night, during the "Over the Rainbow" scene, Stefan didn't believe that was really Judy Garland's voice. Cause that voice is so BIG and she's so little.

Stefan had never heard of Judy Garland before he met me, but he did know who Liza Minnelli was already. Liza is known in Germany, but The Wizard of Oz is virtually unknown there. Germans know the Blues Brothers and they quote from it regularly (though they have no idea that The Blues Brothers really was a band before the movie) and they know Gone With the Wind, but not The Wizard of Oz.

I never realized just how much The Wizard of Oz permeates American culture until I lived in Europe. It's constantly referenced in our movies and TV shows, and I constantly reference it without even knowing it - so when we're watching something and there's a reference to The Wizard of Oz and I laugh and Stefan doesn't, I have to try to explain it... and it's impossible if you haven't seen the movie 50 times, really. When American movies and TV shows are dubbed into German, these references have to be completely altered. For instance, years ago, I was watching the X-Files movie dubbed in German, and at the end, instead of saying to the Lone Gunmen, "Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow...Toto?" Mulder says something like, "Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty..."

The Sound of Music is also unknown in Germany, and even in Austria, where it was filmed and where the story is set. There's a whole Sound of Music tourism industry in Austria that is centered around American and Asian tourists, but most Austrians outside the tourism industry don't know the movie at all. They've never heard the song Edelweiss and don't understand why Americans keep asking them about it.

Stefan's never seen The Wizard of Oz in its entirety, nor The Sound of Music (he doesn't do musicals). He knows the latter only because of a joke a German friend of ours made when his then girlfriend made him watch it: when did Austria ever have a Navy?!

* * *
Will gay marriage ruin the sanctity of Hugh Hefner's latest marriage?

* * *
Did you catch the Polar Bear - BBC camera smack down? Awesome!

What about The Hag's comments after the Kennedy Center Honors? Also awesome!

* * *
I stumbled upon a documentary I've never heard of, Thread (2008), and as I watched, realized I know two of the people featured in it. Filmed in 2005, the film focuses on the lives and struggles of five Afghan women entrepreneurs. Each woman talks about the challenges of living under the warlords and then the Taliban, and their hopes for both themselves, their families and their countries. The film also shows their homes and their businesses in Afghanistan, and how these businesses were founded and operate (all of the businesses featured relate to clothing in some way). The documentary provides a glimpse of how these women are -- or are not -- supported by their families, including husbands, fathers and sons, in their businesses. The film shows how these women have been assisted by nonprofit organizations such as Bpeace (Business Council for Peace), and by women from the West. The highlight of the film focused on a visit these women make to New York City to collaborate with women-run businesses in the USA, to get advice they could use in Afghanistan. The film presents images of Afghan women that are in stark contrast to anything on news reports.

If it shows up on the Documentary Channel again, be sure to give it a watch!

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Just a small percentage of Appalachian mountain landscape leveled by mining has been transformed into new developments such as businesses, prisons, golf courses and subdivisions, as coal companies promised. Read for yourself. Outrageous!

* * *
I need a Mr. Giles in my life.

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When I'm feeling down, I watch this video yet again.

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