Saturday, April 26, 2008

My second-favorite ad campaign ever.



My first favorite (if such a thing exists) is the series of "memo" promo clips done for the San Antonio Spurs back in... 1999, I think?

Hey, maybe I can find them on YouTube, too. Off to look...

Update

I just got off the phone with my dad, and the ceiling is still intact. Whew.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Four years ago today, my ceiling in France fell in while I was out on a 5-minute trip around the corner to buy a phone card to call my dad and wish him a happy birthday.

I really hope that doesn't ever happen again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Scrapbookers, help me!

One thing I loved about living in San Antonio -- two HUGE scrapbook stores within a 10-minute drive of my house.

I wasn't able to bring any of my scrapbooking supplies here when I moved because they were too heavy and took up too much space. One of these days, if I manage to get a permanent residence permit, I will bring all of it over. But not until then.

Here's the problem... I may be making a scrapbook as a gift for someone in the near future. And I have no idea where to go to get quality supplies in or very near Geneva. You know, 12x12" (or 30x30cm) refillable albums with good paper and page protectors, some basic cutting tools, a wide variety of colored and patterned papers, die cuts and stickers, vellum, cropping tools, stencils, colored and metallic pens, etc. I'm used to using Creative Memories for my album and cropping supplies, but they don't have any consultants in Switzerland.

Anybody have suggestions?

Thanks!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NCIS

Bloodbath. Episode 67 (3x21). Abby and Gibbs in the elevator.

I can't stop crying.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Don't eat salad.

Drink a Coke. You need more calories."

I love my doctor.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Not really much I can say right now

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?

It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Friday, April 18, 2008

Don't dish it out if you can't take it

So, I've been really sick for the past week and a half now. And one of my three passive-aggressive roommates (who is Swiss, in case you're wondering) has really outdone himself, from leaving large piles of garbage to rot in the middle of the kitchen to playing incredibly loud, angry, angst-ridden music at all times of the day and night.

So anyway, yesterday when I was trying to sleep, he turned on his angry, angst-filled music on at full blast. After about an hour of having songs where "motherfucker" was every third word blared through my wall, I'd had enough. I compiled an hour-long playlist of the loudest, rowdiest country songs I could think of, cranked up the volume on my computer, and told it to sing its little heart out. And it did, starting with Travis Tritt's "T-R-O-U-B-L-E", going through Alabama, Brooks & Dunn, Big & Rich and Gretchen Wilson, and finishing off with a rabble-rousing rendition of the National Anthem of the United States of America.

I think he just about died of culture shock. At any rate, he hasn't played any loud music since.

Just in case he decides to start up again, though, I'm compiling a playlist of loud country songs about Texas...

Still sick.

New and improved! Now with vertigo!

Doctor's appointment #2 is in 8 hours and 45 minutes. Not like I'm counting down the time or anything.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Here's your sign

Before you ask, yes, I'm still sick. I've been trying to entertain myself while waiting for my doctor's appointment, and what better way to do that than with the "Here's your sign" sketches?





Gotta love Bill Engvall...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dear Mom,

Please send American deodorant. Thanks. Love, Me.

Seriously, y'all... I ran out of American deodorant yesterday. Went to Migros to buy some European deodorant and was dismayed by the selection. Saw one that was supposedly "hypo-allergenic" and rejoiced... until I read the ingredients and saw that it contained fragrance.

Note to all of the deodorant makers out there: a hell of a lot of people are allergic to fragrance. Myself included.

So now I am suffering from a headache from my fragrance-containing deodorant and can't wait to get my hands on some Secret unscented solid sticks.

That care package can't come quickly enough!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I love my mom.

Growing up, my mom's favorite remedy for everything was Vitamin C. 1000mg every hour. Headache? Allergies? Sinus infection? Take Vitamin C.

I called my mom this morning to check on her. She's had a raging sinus infection for something like six weeks now, and she's going to have sinus surgery on Thursday.

"It's amazing!" she said. "Since I've been sick, I've been craving oranges. Usually I don't like them, but now I'm eating 2 or 3 every day. I can't believe I'm not craving cookies or candy or sugar... My body must really need Vitamin C!"...

(pause)

..."Oh. I guess I could go buy some Vitamin C, huh? What a great idea! Why didn't I think of that before?!"

"I love you, Mom."

(giggling)

"Why, because I'm so simple?"

"Nope. Just because you're you."

Confessions

I'm afraid of petting other people's cats.

What are you afraid of?

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm sick.

Sorry I haven't been posting lately. I was in Belgium from 4-6 April, and then on Wednesday morning I came down with a fever that hasn't really wanted to go away since.

Never fear. I will be at the doctor's office tomorrow morning. Yes, on a Saturday. Some doctors in Geneva actually are open on Saturdays, believe it or not.

I hope to be back to posting pictures soon!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Syria -- Palmyra

My friend and I spent Easter Sunday in Palmyra, a ruined city at an oasis in the middle of the Syrian desert, about 3 1/2 hours to the east of Damascus. All you see along the road is miles and miles of sand... it's a little bit of a lonely feeling! There are Bedouins who live out in the desert with their animals, too, but I didn't see any along the road.

Palmyra is listed in 2nd Chronicles as one of the cities built by King Solomon. The presence of religious sites where the ruins of the temple stand dates from 2000BC, and the ruins of the temple (dedicated to Baal) date from 32BC. By the mid-1st century AD, Palmyra had become a wealthy city along a prosperous caravan route, and it was conquered by the Romans in 64AD. In the 3rd century AD, Queen Zenobia of Palmyra took over Bosra to the south and conquered Egypt to the west. She ruled until 274AD, when Emperor Aurelian of Rome came and captured her in person, taking her to Rome and giving her a villa in Tivoli. In 634AD, Palmyra fell to the Arabs, but the city began to decline in the 9th century. In 1089AD there was a massive earthquake, and the city was abandoned. The fortress atop the nearby hill was probably constructed during the 12th or 13th century AD, and the tombs date from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.

Here's an exterior view of one of the tombs from... well, a window somewhere. There are quite intricate paintings inside that supposedly have never been restored, but it's hard to believe that they'd be in that good of shape almost 2,000 years after they were painted.



This is a boy and his camel outside of one of the tombs. I had wanted to go for a camel ride, but we got so flustered about how we were going to get home that we forgot.



These are pictures from the Temple of Baal:





The Roman theatre (if you think this one's neat, wait 'til I show you the one from Bosra!)







Some views from the top of the wall around the theatre:





(That's the fortress in the background on top of the hill.)

And a view from the fortress itself:



The sand dunes that surround the city are quite stunning. Palmyra is a small oasis with a palm tree grove and all, but the fact remains that it is smack in the middle of nowhere in the desert. Sand as far as the eye can see.

We were actually quite lucky to get back home to Damascus that night... all the public buses were sold out (you can't buy a ticket in advance in Palmyra -- you have to wait until the bus gets there from Deir-es-Zor in the east and see if there are any free seats left!) After circling the city for an hour in a taxi whose driver got out at the bus station two or three times to see if any tickets were available (but who was reluctant to let us out at the station by ourselves because we were girls travelling alone), we finally managed to get on a private bus of Syrian oilmen travelling home from their two-week shift in the east. (Everyone at the bus station told our male taxi driver that there were no tickets available, but as soon as they saw two young ladies travelling alone, they were bound and determined to find a solution for us!) The oilmen whose bus we took were quite curious about us, as it isn't normal for young women to travel alone, especially not a white young woman like me! One of them had spent five years in America working for Conoco, so he fielded all his buddies' questions for us. They turned out to be really nice guys.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Syria -- Damascus, part 2

On Wednesday we went to several places around the Old City. First we went to Azem Palace, an Ottoman palace built from 1749 to 1752. The palace has 45 rooms, and it is said that during the three years of its construction, no construction was undertaken anywhere in the rest of the city because all the masons were required to work on the palace.











Then we went to the Omeyyades mosque. Its history is quite interesting... it was built on a site that was originally dedicated to the worship of Hadad, an Aramean god, then in the 3rd century AD it was converted into a temple for Jupiter. In 379AD, Christianity became the official religion in Damascus and pagan cults were banned, so the site became home to a church. Then, in 705AD, the muslim ruler decided to build a structure that was meant to be the most splendid place of worship in the Muslim world. The mosque is famous today for the quality of its mosaics.











After that, we went to the souk to grab a bite of ice cream. It's not like either American ice cream or European ice cream, but it is so good! (Other than the fact that they roll it in pistachios. I don't like pistachios. So they were nice and didn't put any on mine.) I took a picture of the sign, so should you ever stop in the souk in Damascus and want ice cream, go here:



(By the way, the black shapes around the telephone? Those are numbers. It says 2235737 2212870.

And this is a statue of Saladin, also near the souk. Saladin led the Muslim armies during the Crusades and recaptured Jerusalem. He is seen as the symbol of Eastern victory over the West.



The last thing we did on Wednesday was walk through the Old City to the church that was supposedly built on the place where Saul converted and became Paul. The streets are really narrow here, and it's impossible to get a good picture of the fa├žade.

See? I told you the streets are narrow. And this isn't the worst of it.



This is one of the doors to the Old City.



And this is a Coke ad. I think Coke really is the universal language:



The young woman in this ad is the "Britney Spears of the Muslim world". Or so says my friend.

And here is the symbol on the front of what I like to call the "Saul-to-Paul church".

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Syria -- Damascus, part 1

I spent my spring break visiting a friend who is living in Syria this school year to learn Arabic. In addition to her schoolwork, she volunteers as an English teacher in the Palestinian refugee camps and she's hoping to begin working with Iraqi Student Project this month.

The city of Damascus has a long, rich history. Inhabited for the first time between 6,000 and 5,000BC, by the 11th century BC it had become an Aramean capital. In the 10th century BC it passed under the control of David, then later that of Solomon. In 732BC it fell to the Assyrians, and then it fell to the Persians in 539BC. Then it was conquered by Alexander the Great, and then in 332BC it fell to the Greeks. Damascus began to flourish economically after being conquered by the Romans in 64BC In 634AD the city fell to the Arabs. It was seiged during the second crusade, then came under the control of Saladin, the ruler of Egypt, in the 12th century. In the 13th century it became the capital of the Mamluk Empire, then fell to the control of the Ottomans in 1516. The Ottoman period was a time of prosperity, and saw Damascus become part of the pilgrimage route to Mecca. The 19th century saw the rise of Arab nationalism and renewed conflict, and then the French mandate began in 1920. Syria finally became independent in 1946, with Damascus as the capital.

We spent Saturday night and all day Wednesday going around Damascus to sightsee. Saturday was spent at the Iranian mosque and the souk (after we finished a very painful Arabic-to-English translation about the medical consequences of the torture performed on a certain refugee by bandits. It was very hard to get through, and it made me very glad that I'm not a man.)

The Iranian mosque is known for its opulence, and certain sects are very critical of it for that very reason.





I looked pretty ridiculous in the cagoule-looking thing they give all tourists to wear.



The souk has stalls selling all sorts of things, from spices to shoes and clothing to silks and water pipes.









I was quite surprised to find an underwear store with its wares displayed for all to see... and some of the items for sale inside were a little kinky!



The Omeyyades mosque is right outside the souk. We didn't go in until later on in the week, but it's very pretty from the outside at nightfall.





By the other souk exit, there's also a billboard of the president (well, okay, dictator. But we don't discuss politics on this blog!) It's the second of a two-part ad -- the first one says, "I believe in Syria."



That night we went out for dinner at a traditional restaurant and ate tons of delicious food. The vile-looking green liquid I'm drinking? That's the most wonderful lemonade I've ever had in my life. It's got ground fresh mint leaves in it... so good!