Archive for the 'Culture' Category

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Came across this movie tonight somewhat by accident. Very cool!

The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces

This witty and original film is about the open spaces of cities and why some of them work for people while others don’t. Beginning at New York’s Seagram Plaza, one of the most used open areas in the city, the film proceeds to analyze why this space is so popular and how other urban oases, both in New York and elsewhere, measure up. Based on direct observation of what people actually do, the film presents a remarkably engaging and informative tour of the urban landscape and looks at how it can be made more hospitable to those who live in it.

You can buy it here for $95 or watch it in full on Youtube (part one through six):


Here’s part one:

German expressions for those OMG moments

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Here’s a little end-of-year krautsourcing experiment. I’m looking for a list of German phrases that express a certain kind of surprise, disbelief, irritation, annoyance or sometimes appreciation and compliment. When saying them out loud, they can or may occasionally be accompanied by a slap on the knee or standing one arm akimbo or other gestures (e.g. two hands raised to the head if it’s really bad).

Here’s a few examples (note that even though technically some of these may be questions the intonation tends to be that of a statement or exclamation, hence no question mark):

  • Ja, gibt’s denn sowas.
  • Ja, ist es denn die Möglichkeit.
  • Haste nicht gesehen!
  • Leck mich am Arsch!
  • Ja, do legs di nieda! (Bavarian, sp?)
  • Heilig’s Blechle! (Swabian)
  • Das schlägt dem Fass den Boden aus!
  • Das ist doch wirklich das allerletzte!
  • Da wird doch der Hund in der Pfanne verrückt!
  • Heiliges Kanonenrohr!

You get the gist.

Thing is, the junior finds these absolutely, completely hilarious and has the best of times when he hears them. He can’t seem to get enough and I’m quickly running out of variations.

Please help me expand this list. Let me know: what do you use when something like that just happened? What do your parents or grandparents use? Don’t be shy, some of these can get quite expletive. Give a little background (like region), too, if you feel like it.

Happy New Year!


More expressions that fall into this category (rhythm and melody wise):

  • Sapperlot!
  • Himmel, Arsch und Zwirn!
  • Mannomann!
  • Ach du liebe Güte!
  • Ich fass es nich’
  • Ich glaub, mich tritt ein Pferd
  • Zapperlot!
  • Ach du grüne Neune!
  • Grundgütiger!
  • Du meine Güte!
  • Jetzt schlägt’s Dreizehn
  • Ach, du ahnst es nicht!

Update 2

More good ones…

  • Leck mich in de täsch! (Rhineland)
  • Ich glaub, mein Schwein pfeift.
  • Mich laust der Affe!
  • Heiliger Bimbam!

Wordie: My list of German words

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

So it turns out I really like Wordie. Don’t use it every day, just occasionally when I come across a word that’s worth capturing.

For what it’s worth, here’s the list of currently 60 German words that I have collected over the past year or so:

  • Abendbrot
  • Alltag
  • Angesicht
  • Antlitz
  • Apfelkitsche
  • Blödsinn
  • Brötchen
  • Butterbrot
  • Currywurst
  • doch
  • Ebenbild
  • edel
  • Edelnutte
  • Eselsbrücke
  • Fimmel
  • frohgemut
  • futschikato
  • Gartenzwerg
  • Glanz
  • Goldjunge
  • Griesgram
  • Halunke
  • Heidschnucke
  • Heimat
  • Huckepack
  • Huld
  • Hupkonzert
  • inniglich
  • Kandiszucker
  • knatschig
  • Knilch
  • knorke
  • Knäppchen
  • Lebkuchen
  • Lückenbüßer
  • Mumpitz
  • Rabauke
  • Schelm
  • Schlawiner
  • Schlingel
  • schmunzeln
  • Schnitte
  • Schrottplatz
  • Schweinehund
  • Spekulatius
  • Stulle
  • Totalverlust
  • Tuppes
  • üppig
  • verboten
  • verwunschen
  • Verzierung
  • wacker
  • Wiegenlied
  • woll
  • Wonneproppen
  • wonnich
  • Wunderkind
  • Zugzwang
  • Zwieback

I’m not going into patterns here (I see quite a few), but one thing they all seem to have in common is that they are hard — for me, at least — to translate into English without losing that certain something that makes them special to me as a native.

While this list of words is closed (you can view it but only I can add to it), here’s a fun one I recently started: Political pet names (feel free to add your favorite insults).

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Knospen sprangen, Da ist in meinem Herzen
Die Liebe aufgegangen.

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Vögel sangen, Da hab’ ich ihr gestanden
Mein Sehnen und Verlangen.

Music by Robert Schumann, from his song cycle Dichterliebe, lyrics by Heinrich Heine.

Old politics

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich explains his upcoming endorsement for Senator Obama and hits the nail on the spothead:

“I saw the ads” — the negative man-on-street commercials that the Clinton campaign put up in Pennsylvania in the wake of Obama’s bitter/cling comments a week ago — “and I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics. It’s the worst of all worlds. We have three terrible traditions that we’ve developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn’t possibly believe and doesn’t possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters. And these three aspects of the old politics I’ve seen growing in Hillary’s campaign. And I’ve come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can’t in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president. Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They’re lending legitimacy to a Republican message that’s wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past 20 years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It’s old politics at its worst — and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It’s just so deeply cynical.”

For more commentary on this election cycle, check out his blog. download dell laptop bluetooth software Cheap soft shop

Talking about guns…

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

When the topic of guns came up at the debate tonight, actually what I wanted to do is twitter the number of annual firearm-related deaths in the US. Instead, I came across these four rules for gun safety, originally proposed by some Colonel Jeff Cooper back in the day.

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. (For those who insist that this particular gun is unloaded, see Rule 1.)
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. This is the Golden Rule. Its violation is directly responsible for about 60 percent of inadvertent discharges.
  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified.

You know, just in case. Might come in handy next time you find yourself in a situation. prices drywall sheets test

Zappos: Above and beyond customer service

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Earlier in February, I attended the Customer Service is the New Marketing (CSITNM) conference in San Francisco. I first had a chance to hear Tony Hsieh (Zappos’ CEO) speak at SXSW Interactive last year, where he basically shared the same insights, but it’s so good it’s worth posting again here:

If I ever start a company, it shall be the above and beyond kind for sure.


Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

I’m on Wordie.

Wordie is for people who love words. Start by making word lists: words you love, words you hate, words on a given topic, whatever. Add citations, comments, and tags. See who else has listed the same words.

For example, here’s my current favorite.

Via: factoryjoe Flickr stream

My 2007 dictionary: The year in words

Sunday, December 30th, 2007

Straight from the tag cloud: Stuff I added to my dictionary in 2007 (in reverse chronological order).

So many words, so little time…

Benny Lava

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Contemporary, indeed:

My loony bun is fine Benny Lava!
Minor bun engine made Benny Lava!
Anybody need this sign? Benny Lava!
You need a bun to bite Benny Lava.