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Better Safe Than Really Bummed Out

12 Jul

If only it was this easy to indentify bad guys. *Sigh*

Today I’m hoping to offer a kind of public service to any potential travelers.  You see I read an awful lot of blogs, forums and websites dedicated to travel.  Perhaps I do this so that you won’t have to!  Or maybe this is just me rationalizing my reading habits.  Take it how you will.

I’ve also done many a lengthy business trip and have traveled thousand of miles as a roller derby announcer (don’t ask).  I’ve been over seas once and to Mexico and Canada multiple times.  By offering up my credentials I’m saying “trust me, I might possibly have some clue here”.  If not, stay tuned.  I promise to write about ponies tomorrow.

General Thoughts

Leaving electronics plugged in when you’re not around is a huge temptation for thiefs.  If someone does enter your room the first places they will look will be your bedside table and the outlets.  I’m a big fan of hiding things in the bathroom since very little of value is typically stored here.

Bad guys like dumb people.  Dumb people like being cell phone zombies.  Dumb people like having belongings but not keeping track of them.  Put the phone away unless you are calling for help because it’s a distraction.  Before getting down to other business make sure your things aren’t laughably unsecure.  Ladies can wrap their arm or leg through a purse strap.  Gentlemen can put a camera bag or laptop bag between their feet.  Anything that helps you avoid a big travel sad face, my friends.

Make some noise.  Bring an emergency whistle, have an app on your cell phone or learn how to yodel.  This will come in handy should you want to dissuade any troublemakers.  Of course, it’s easier to avoid trouble if you’re actively looking for it.

Never count money in public.  Never.  Go to a bathroom and have some quality time alone with it.  Do your best not to look like you have extra money.  Leave your nice watch and jewelry at home.  There are a lot of desperate people in the world these days. 

For the Ladies

When checking in to a hotel make sure that they don’t announce your room number in case any skeevy sorts are eavesdropping.  If they say it then just ask nicely for a different room.  One clerk gave me the same room but made sure to say “I’m sorry, here’s a new room” and then wrote down the same number on a new slip.

If you order breakfast and have to leave a slip by your door only use your first initial.  I do this with my luggage, too.  Better they don’t know I’m a lady.

When leaving the hotel room leave on the radio or TV.  I hate using this one because I feel like I’m a environment villain.  Then I think of how much more energy would be used to ship home my corpse and well… yeah.

If you’re out walking by yourself check reflections in windows just to make sure you don’t have any unwelcome admirers.  Someone there?  Cross the street and then look them in the eye.  This lets them know you see them and you’re not above letting them know it.  Don’t worry about being rude here.  Failing in the etiquette department isn’t your biggest concern and I’m sure that your non-buddy won’t worry about his manners when he’s mugging you.

For the Studs

If you are carrying a wallet (with all your really important stuff in a money belt, natch) keep it secure.  Try pants with deep pockets, zippered pockets or button closures.  Chains look too heavy to me but there are other ways to keep your wallet attached.  Many companies make wallets that loop around your belt, hook onto your belt loop or hang the darn thing inside your pants.  Add duct tape to the sides to make it stick in your pocket.  Buy one with material that is grippy and makes sliding it out tougher.

Empty your wallet.  Though it may be filled with receipts for Quizno’s and phone numbers you don’t call the potential new bad guy in your life doesn’t know that.  For them big wallet equals big money.  Keep just the basics here.

If you’re hanging in a really tough part of the world, I’m talking developing countries or south Bismarck here, take an extra precaution.  Think about getting a wallet that hugs your calf so if you are asked to drop your pants (yes, really) it will be covered.

Take a fake.  This primarily works in developing countries.  Put a few cards that look like credit cards and some bogus money in a real wallet.  This way if someone wants you to hand it over, you can.  Shopping club cards, old hotel key cards and the like will do the trick for the credit cards (ask a female friend if you’re out).  For the money I’ve heard of people using very low value real currency for the fake cash.  Others have used very good phoney money with the wrong picture on one side.


Making Our Dreams Come True

11 Jul

Schlemiel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated.  While this post has little to do with Laverne and Shirley, I can’t help but include this little bit of the title song.  And since I’m Cliff Claven (apparently) let me learn you on those three unique words.  Schlemiel is a habitual bungler, someone who is perpetually screwing things up.  So, for instance, FEMA might be considered a schlemiel.  Next up, schlemazel.  This means a person who is perpetually unlucky.  I could maybe say Tiger Woods as an example here but I’m going to stick with FEMA.  As for hasenfeffer, that’s actually a dish made with pepper and bunny rabbit.  I’m sure it’s great but it’s one of many culinary dishes that takes a little getting used to if you’ve watched enough Disney.  I’ve eaten Bambi though so I’m sure that I can eat Thumper.

Mom is on the far left with her cousins Vicky and Becky on her right. Directly after this picture they broke into hijinx and shenanigans.

Now as to what this post is really about: dreams.  Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be an inspirational, made-for-Oprah tale, I promise.  I just wanted to share.  We lost Mom a year ago today and so I was reflecting on how that got me thinking that we should take this trip.  There’s many reasons for that but I’ll just share the two biggies: life is short and Mom would have wanted us to be happy (although this would have been much better achieved by her not dying, don’t you think?)

I don’t know when my ticket expires but I do know that at some point it will.  That in mind, my someday trip to Europe had to turn in to a planned one.  Instead of saying maybe next year I needed to get out a calendar and say when.  Since Mom left I’ve been trying to be better about doing instead of wishing.  That’s not always easy and it’s not always possible.  Especially when grief kicks you upside the head because it’s not exactly gentle with your insides, my friends.  And it’s murder on your hair.

Mom would like to know that we didn’t stop dreaming and hoping the moment she stopped breathing.  She’s still very much a part of our lives.  I find myself praying to her when I’ve misplaced something (which is at least three times a day).  It seems that she always places what I’ve been looking for in a place I’ve already checked but that’s definitely in keeping with her spirit.  As in, the “I’ll help you but you’re going to have to earn it” school of parenting.

Part of the trip I’ve got dreamed up is climbing the Duomo, lighting a candle in Nôtre Dame and enjoying a beer in Munich’s Hoffbräuhaus.  These are things that I not only want to do for myself but because they connect me to Mom.  She was a fanatic about Florence, the Dome especially.  Lighting a candle in such an enormous and historic place as the Nôtre Dame strikes me as comforting, as most prayer is.  And the beer?  Well, I like beer, for one.  In the basement of my childhood home in Bismarck, ND, there was a poster-sized picture of my parents with two beer steins.  The mugs were as large as their heads.  The look in their eyes was one that I wanted to have some day as they both looked content in where they were, what they were doing and who they were with.  If the Mister is game to drink beer with me then I’m game to have that moment with him. 

Yes, I’ll think of Mom on our trip but I won’t mourn her there.  I still miss her, I still have sad days and I still cry.  I wish that I could have more time with her and I wish that she were around to hear me talk about all the planning.  Still, I know that since she is gone, I’m able to go.  I no longer need to worry that Cancer will take her while I’m gone.  I no longer need to bank vacation days for a time I knew would come.  And I’ll be able to go and make my new memories to add to my old ones which include her in so many different ways.

We miss you, Mom.  We’re thinking of you today.  Oh and…  we’ll do it our way, yes our way.  Make all our dreams come true, for me and you.


Your Butt is Mine

9 Jul

Today’s post is about your “personal business” and travel. When you go abroad so does your digestive system. It’s not always thrilled with this proposition either. During my reading this past day I’ve run into a couple of things that made me pause and consider it.

I’ve been lucky enough to avoid the many biological time bombs that traveling can sometimes serve up. First off, I pretty much eat anything whether I’m at home or on a street in Tijuana  Perhaps it’s my continual willingness to roll the dice that helps me out here. Or maybe I haven’t gone anywhere foreign enough yet. If I just jinxed myself to a close personal friendship with a hotel latrine then so be it. I think I may just have it coming.

I started thinking about this as I was reading Carnet de Voyage by Craig Thompson. He is a cartoonist and I don’t have any of his other work but I saw this on one of my many recent trips to the library and I read it in one go. The book is compiled of his sketchbook during a trek through France, Morocco, Barcelona and the Alps. He makes sure that you know that this is just for fun but enjoy it anyway and I did. I took a picture of the section where he wrote about travel diarrhea because it made me laugh so loudly that our dog Henry thought I was barking.

Then today I started reading a book I not only checked out from the library but reserved called A Guidebook to the Bathrooms of the World by Lilín M. Rauchle. And even for a book about bathrooms it’s pretty darn bad. Lilín can’t seem to stop herself from putting exclamations at the end of every sentence. It’s as if we’ve had a bad date but she doesn’t get it and she’s hoping that we can do this again real soon! She had a fantastic time and it was really great to meet me!

Her book is chock full of opinions without information and photos that shouldn’t have even been processed let alone published in a book that I’m sure someone donated to the library (or left in the bathroom). Some are overexposed so that you cannot even see what it is that she’s describing. It’s less a guidebook than a sad walk down someone’s memory lane, one where the toilet seat is always up and the comments are always about squatting. I will admit to writing a letter to a friend on DeutscheBahn toilet paper. That stuff you got on the trains was not Charmin, that’s for sure. That’s what makes traveling exotic… maybe someone has written a guidebook of the different ways to wipe your bum?  Fascinating!  A really good read!  Let’s do this again real soon like!

Freedom Fries for Surrender Monkeys

8 Jul

When we were kids my sister and I used to man a small, “portable” frier called a Fry Daddy.  We’d stand on the cement near our picnic table, by the side of the house, and make fries.  This was the last step in a process that involved washing, cutting and a whole lot of anticipation.  When they were finally golden brown we’d pop them on to a paper towel-covered plate that stood waiting and sprinkle salt liberally.  From then on it was just a matter of time, a delicious waiting game until the fries were no longer a danger to our tongues.  They were heaven and still my favorite fries in the world.  I, unfortunately, have a lot of experience in this arena.

Now for the freedom fries and surrender monkeys bit.  Not everyone is a fan of France.  Some people are not a fan of pants or looking at the road while driving, so that’s not saying much.  I wanted to understand a bit better where these two neologisms came from.  That’s my new word, neologism (pronounced “nee-oh-low-jih-sum”).  It means a recently coined word and is something that English knows a bit about being we have 500,00 words to bat around.  The French, for example, have 1,000 words.  But let’s not start chanting “we’re number one!” yet.

Bart sez "Sacré bleu!"

Let’s start with surrender monkeys.  We can thank Groundskeeper Willie for that.  If you watch the Simpsons you may remember him teaching Springfield elementary kids French and referring to the French as cheese-eating surrender monkeys.  As the Mister can tell you, the Simpsons makes for good quoting material and this phrase caught on.  I was listening to a Rick Steves podcast (I know!  Me?  Listen to Rick Steves?) and he mentioned that it’s easy for Americans to call the French this as we haven’t had a war on our turf since the Civil War.  Perhaps if our downtown was bombed to bits we might be more eager to seek peace.  Or not.  War’s good for jobs, right?

Anyhoo, the term freedom fries came about when the French took a stand against the US invading Iraq in 2003.  Some wanted to ban all things French including fries.  Little did these people know that the French in French fries actually refers to the cut and not the country.  The same as julienne is a style of culinary chop-chop, so is Frenching.  And you thought that just had to do with kissing!  It’s just a bit wider cut.  So you can French potatoes, like we do, but you could still do the same to carrots or Spam.  The fries themselves were an invention of the Belgians.  Along with the saxophone, I might add.  But that’s another story…

A true Belgian-style fry or frite (pronounced “freet”) requires two trips into the hot fat.  The first, at a lower temperature, cooks the fry.  The second, at a hotter temperature, makes the fry puff up and crisp on the outside.  They then dunk the fry in mayonnaise to eat and probably drink some artisinal beer.  I’ve heard a few Belgians admit that though the mayo is tradition they’ve found a deep love for pouring malt vinegar on as the Brits do. 

Let me go on record here as being pro-France, pro-French fry and pro-Belgians and their inventions.  After all, they gave us the Smurfs and some wicked good tapestries.  If you’re in to that sort of thing.  If not, there’s always the Simpsons.

Oh and one last thing… if you really do want some freedom fries you can still get them.  You’ll just have to visit Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill.  There you can get them as a side with your fried bologna sandwich.  Just bring a good American attitude and some R-o-l-a-i-d-s.


I Love Library

6 Jul

Fabric horns. Memories are made of this/these.

When I was a kid we’d often spend weekday evenings in the Bismarck Public Library. I remember there being a painting on the wall of a woman with horns but they were unthreatening fabric horns. At the time it didn’t make sense and, let’s be honest, it still doesn’t but at least now I understand what I was looking at. Check out this linkto see dystopos explanation of Van Eyck’s painting. Or don’t. Still a free country.

Anyway, those trips to the library were something I really looked forward to. My sister and I would carefully select items keeping our limit in mind and also keeping that of our father’s in mind as he could often be talked into loaning us room on his card. Mom was a totally different story.

At the end of her life Mom’s frequency at the library stacks had made her a minor celebrity with the librarians. She had her own shelf in the reserve stacks and a few of these book saints attended her funeral. Mom kept long, intimidating lists of books she wanted to read and even longer lists of books she had read. My main truth as a kid was that Dad had done everything and Mom had read about it.

These last few months I have rediscovered the library. At times I feel like an untrustworthy research assistant for some absent-minded professor. I’m using our trip as an excuse to learn. Now that I’m not getting a grade on it I’m fully engaged. I get the same thrill out of using my library card as I do going through the checkout at Target except my shopper’s remorse is far less expensive.

Things have changed. Today, for instance, I’m using the internet at the library for the first time. To my right is a woman researching job openings and to my left is a man learning Tagalog (and bad metal, apparently). And searching for a book on the library’s site not only finds what I’m looking for but other and better options. Poking through the stacks also expands my choices and it feels like a shame to leave without scanning a barcode… after all, books need love, too.

Less is More and Also Less

1 Jul

I think we all know what eyedroppers look like so here is a picture of my dog, Henry J Buddy.

I was thinking about this post and planning on naming it “Mule for Hire” but then I worried that people would be contacting me to carry drugs across the border.  And while I realize that I should be glad of an equal opportunity employment offer it’s not something that I would ever be interested.  I may like travel but I also like my vital organs and the freedom to sleep in a bed without a woman named Jimmy telling me I have a pretty mouth.  Though that would certainly be flattering, come to think of it.  I guess it would depend on how she said it.  Because if she didn’t intend it as a threat it would be a mighty fine compliment and who doesn’t like compliments from ladies?

Anyhow, I’m here to talk about packing today.  Not drugs.  Not even packing of drugs.  Just regular going on a trip, putting stuff in a bag, packing.  I read a book called, strangely enough, The Packing Book: Secrets of the Carry-On Traveler by Judith Gilford.  If you’re the sort who likes to read books about packing then you’ve read this already and have taped certain parts of it to your body for reference.  It’s pretty good.  Gilford does get a tad bit detailed about clothing.  And from what she writes I’m pretty sure that she and I don’t wear the same thing.  Not only do I not own a two piece dress, I would be clueless as to where to find one.  And I’d have to buy half the jewelry she suggests as everything I own is plastic or plastic-inspired wonderfulness.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t write a whole post on this book, as per my usual, it’s because I feel like talking about something else.  Blame it on the heat.  It’s 95° in the shade today and I can’t bear to think how hot my car is.  For some reason the high temperatures have got me thinking about eye droppers.

I read this post a few months ago on the Travelite blog and was inspired to put some of our toiletries in eye droppers.  The author makes great points about the suckers saying that they are less prone to leaking and better about dishing the amount you want.  As I’m terribly guilty of doling out an entire bottle of conditioner in one go, these sounded fabulous.  Another post on pretty much the same topic was made here on Brian’s Backpacking Blog.  And from that I found this site which should make the Mister nice and worried.  Pretty soon I’m going to be putting everything into a dropper and labeling it.  I may even use it after I bottle it!

Lately I feel as if I’ve been going to the gym a fair amount.  If you do this too then you will understand when I say that I feel like I’ve been packing for months.  Thanks to this I’ve been finding out what works and what doesn’t as far as travel containers go for long term.  The sample sizes that you buy at CVS are nice but I am hard pressed to get anything out of them.  I’ve had luck with the Go Toob but the Recommender has had trouble with the suction cup variety… and they’re a bit big for some of the things I want to tote along.  A big one, or should I say a dinky one, is perfume.  I know that solid perfume exists but I also know that I haven’t found any that I like enough to use for close to a month.  So itty bitty eyedropper could solve that problem and we could all sleep well tonight!  That is if it’s not too freaking hot.  Blargh.

Other Fish in the Sea

28 Jun

Look at that... he knows I've been untrue but he still wants to tell me about these cows. Rick's quite a guy.

I’ve been checking out a fair amount of travel videos from the library.  It’s fair to say the Rick Steves is my gold standard but even I cannot live on the Rickster alone.  I’m totally biased in my take on other travel shows now but I keep checking out the competition.  And I like to tell myself it’s not just so I can be relieved to go back to my one and only.


I like Samantha Brown.  She gives good information and is outgoing and spunky just like Mr. Steves.  I’d be a bigger fan of her if it wasn’t so dang obvious that she’s traveling for the Travel Channel.  She shops, dines and stays in upscale places.  She also packs an entire Macy’s department store for each trip.  I watched an episode on Switzerland in which she wore three different pairs of boots, two winter coats, four hats and four scarves.  It could easily be said that since Sam is a lady that she needs to dress up.  No one wants to see a frumpy female talking about the wonders of the Alps, right?  The effect is that I’m distracted.  I don’t remember what sights she saw, only that she changed into a different beret to do it.  I think that I like my tour guides to be bigger geeks, honestly.

Travel Channel’s Samantha Brown


Speaking of geeks, I really enjoy Burt Wolf’s non-stop trivia tidbits.  I have a co-worker that teases me by saying “oh, no.  Karli is going to make us learn again” because I like to randomly throw out useless trivia.  Maybe Burty and I could have a trivia off?  But maybe not because homey is always on cruises.  It’s safe to say that his travel shows are geared towards the older traveler.  Though there is some charm in having a floating hotel room on a river there is also the lack of spontaneity.  And the addition of guest speakers.  Mr. Wolf also has the tendency to use the same musical cadence repeatedly when speaking so it’s kind of like listening to the same car commercial over and over.  I’d definitely watch his stuff again because though I’m not a fan of his mode of travel the information is fantastic.



I think that this is the wrong kind of geek for me.  This is “stop, you are embarassing yourself” kind of geek.  Many a time I find the cheese level beats out the information.  The visuals are fantastic as many of his shows are taped in HD.  He’s contributed to NPR shows and National Geographic Traveler magazine so he’s got street cred.  His facts are good but his pronunciation of foreign words is pretty aggravating.  Someone else writes Rudy’s script for him, perhaps they could also write out a phonetic guide?  It’s not that his accent is bad (it is) but that he simply says things incorrectly.  I’d hate to see a bunch of Americans asking a Florence tour guide about “Broon-uh-leh-ski” when it should be “Broon-uh-lesh-ee”.  You call it nitpicking but I call it aggravating.  When it comes to language I’m easily irked.  Just ask the Mister.  He has to watch baseball with me and those announcers aren’t so much mispronouncing things as making up new words.



I was going to try and make this sound less harsh but these guys are a bunch of nut jobs.  Plain and simple.  While it’s nice to learn about the mistakes others have made it’s puzzling to watch a paid “professional” making them in front of you.  One guide forgot to validate his bus ticket and his train ticket in the same show and paid the fine.  Another guide drags us to a Venice film opening and then makes us watch as she tries to grab Oliver Platt’s attention.  Because they’re so dang kooky they also manage to get into interesting situations.  I keep getting these because this is my kind of reality TV.  So random and unfocused but these guides are really trying.  They are just traveling with very little scripted information and a bunch of energy.  It’s somewhat like watching a real traveler released into the wilds.  You never know what’s going to happen.  And if you find one you like, you can download wallpaper of their face.  Yes, really.

The official Globe Trekker website


Body by Italy

25 Jun

Get on that traghetto and engage that core!

Italy is a beautiful country. There are so many amazing historical sights and natural wonders. It would be a shame to miss something. So I’m keeping Italy in mind when I head off to the gym. It’s a far better way to stay motivated than by just telling myself I need to spend time on an elliptical. Here’s what I’m training for:

Some say that the Renaissance was born in Florence and that one of the main catalysts is its cathedral. Santa Maria del Fiore was such a unique feat of architecture for the time and its beauty continues to inspire visitors hundreds of years after its completion. This was also a special place for Mom. She loved visiting the Duomo (“cathedral” in Italian). So you add her enthusiasm and the fact that I loved Ross King’s book about the Duomo and this became a necessary stop.

Activity: Climbing the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore
The dome was constructed with an inner and outer shell. When climbing, the visitor is able to see some of the perspectives the original masons would have seen. You are also rewarded with an amazing view of Florence from the cupola. Not to be missed.

Workout potential: climb 463 steps, equivalent to over 46 flights on the Stairmaster but with better views and better artwork

Though Pisa is home to the Field of Miracles (Piazza dei Miracoli), the star of the show is the bell tower or as we know it, the Leaning Tower of Pisa. As I mentioned before, this was closed during our visit in ’92. It is now stable and safe to climb. You can also reward yourself with a picnic in the Field of Miracles afterwards on the prettiest lawn in Italy.

Activity: Climbing the Leaning Tower and Walking to the Piazza dei Miracoli
You are only allowed 30 minutes to walk up the stairs, see the view from the top and then climb back down and retrieve your belongings from the lockers reserved for this purpose.

Workout potential: climb 294 steps, equivalent to over 29 flights on the Stairmaster. Walk 20-30 minutes from Pisa Centrale train station to the Piazza dei Miracoli while stopping for picnic ingredients on the way.

These five separate towns are perched on the edge of mountains. Each has its own character, dialect, traditions and hiking trails. There are ocean views, olive trees and white wine along the way.  We can’t wait to relax here and enjoy the local cuisine.

Activity: Hiking in the Cinque Terre
There are paths of differing difficulties available. All five towns are connected by hiking trails and train. Boats also make connections though they are dependent on sea conditions. One of the hikes is called Via dell’Amore or Walk of Love. It’s the quickest, averaging 30 minutes, and the shortest, only half a mile. It also has the ugliest cement walkways but they make for easy trekking.

Workout potential: 9.5 miles of hiking trails available, some with climbs, taking as long as five hours to complete

The whole city is an island so you can walk without fear of getting lost because, hey!, you’re still on an island. You can dance at St Mark’s Square and you can climb the stairs at the Doge’s Palace. I’ve picked a much easier workout for us at the end of our Italian adventure.

Activity: Riding a traghetto across the Grand Canal
A traghetto (pronounced “trah-jet-toe”) is a gondola powered by a gondolier. The difference is that these gondola are available at key points along the Grand Canal so that commuters can cross easily. The rides are cheap and last only a few minutes.

Workout potential: Standing up on a traghetto as the locals do and engaging abdominal muscles throughout, then heading off to find some pasta to exercise your… flavor muscles

My Favorite Traveler

19 Jun

I bet you thought this would be about Rick Steves, didn’t you?  It just so happens that my dad is my favorite traveler.  When I think of how someone can make the most out of a trip he is my gold standard.  He always loved going somewhere, meeting new people and gathering new stories.  He’d often have a camera at the ready and a smile on his face.  Until the Mister pointed it out to me, I never realized what a positive guy Dad is.  That’s just how he’s always been, right?  I didn’t realize it was remarkable until I realized that this is a decision he made and continued making.  Even when the cards are down he’s pretty damn good at keeping his chin up.

I hope that you all take time to think of your dads today.  They are all special.  I hope that you still have him in your life and if that’s not possible, I hope that you are able to celebrate him in your heart.  Thanks to my sister and her Facebook page, here are some pics of my hero.

Photo by The Bear. Dad always said that when he was an "old guy" that he'd wear overalls just like his dad did. Note the Nikon around his neck.


Here's Dad with his favorite traveler. They saw a lot of the world together. It's good to have someone to wear leiderhosen with.


Photo by Uncle John. Here's Dad taking our picture. It's hard to find as many of him because his face was always behind his trusty Nikon.

Scenic Walks of the World – Wonders of Man’s Creations

18 Jun

This video is another example of me trying too hard.  You could say that this whole blog fits that description but everyone needs a hobby.  Blogging about my Europe research has to be a bit more constructive than, say, being a sniper.  That’s the only argument I can think of right now as my brain is numb from watching this sucker.

You are getting very sleepy...

The Scenic Walks of the World series is brought to us by the good people at Reader’s Digest.  As I fought to stay alert I had a flashback of many a video shown in darkened classrooms.  It was tempting to put my head down and move my pen back and forth over my notebook to pretend that I’m taking notes.  And that I’m awake.

It’s the measured tones of the narrator that does it, I imagine.  Perhaps he considers his pace as one of reverence for a very serious topic.  We’re talking about the Colliseum, Machu Picchu and the Kremlin, after all.  I would prefer enthusiasm over drowsiness any day.  The information is all good but I’m hard fought to remember any of it as every word carefully flows into the next.  Basically, it’s so well narrated it put me in a trance.

I did perk up when the subject turned to Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.  That’s why I had checked this DVD out in the first place.  Though I didn’t learn anything new about either structure it was fun to see pictures.  I was reminded of how large Versailles is (very) and how the Eiffel Tower was scheduled for demolition in 1909 but it came in handy as a radio tower.  Then when it helped the French intercept German transmissions during the Great War, Parisians decided to keep their tower around.  All interesting stuff, I will admit.  I can’t help breathing a sigh of relief that it’s over… just like today’s post.