Monday, September 8, 2008

Oh yeah, we're patriotic

Our fifth year of hosting is going pretty well. I do, however, feel a bit sorry for our student. He arrived during the all-Americans, all-the-time Olympics (except when they were showing teensy little gymnasts who probably had milk, cookies and a nap right after they did their parallel bar exercises).

Have you ever noticed that no events that Americans are not expected to excel in are shown during prime-time network television? I never noticed that phenomenon until we started hosting exchange students. This year I’d be all: “Hey, there’s a German swimming in this race – come watch!” ‘Cause it’s a rare occurrence. Unless the German was in a race in which Michael Phelps was also swimming. I personally could have done with a little bit less volleyball in bikinis and a little bit more of, say, archery. But my husband would probably disagree!

I guess we’re not alone, though. My daughter was in Europe during most of the Olympics and she saw nary an American on the small bit of television she watched. Of course, she was entirely too busy touring castles, taking gondola rides across the Grand Canal in Venice and visiting the Brandenburg Gate to watch too much television.

Not that I’m jealous or anything. But I’ve mentioned my lack of jealousy before, I think. I’m sure that really impresses upon you the sincerity of my lack of jealousy. My mentioning it all the time, that is.

As soon as the Olympics were over, we launched into two weeks of political conventions. Do you have any idea how many times speakers inform the viewing audience that we live in the BEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD during both political conventions?? Lots. Again, not anything I’d noticed until we were hosting someone not actually from our country. A speaker would launch into the BEST COUNTRY portion of his or her speech and I’d just have to kind of sheepishly say “Yep, we’re kinda arrogant here.”

Of course, I believe we live in the best country in the world, too.

But I hope people in other countries feel equally adamantly that THEY live in the best country in the world. I think it would be rather sad to live somewhere, all the while yearning to be somewhere else "better." So I don't get offended if someone disagrees with me on the topic of BEST COUNTRY. It's subjective.

Plus, castles? Great Walls? Koala Bears? Grand Canals? CN Towers? Windmills? There are AWESOME things EVERYWHERE. I want to see it all! And then come home.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It’s always interesting to see how people find my little corner of the internet.

The widget from Feedjit lets me know when my former exchange students have visited (little German, Italian and Australian flags herald their arrivals) or when someone clicks the link on my Swap-Bot profile page.

Folks from StumbledUpon who have expressed an interest in clothing sites, of all things, are occasionally directed to this entry. I’m not sure why, since the topic would seem to be the lack of clothes, but apparently someone else felt otherwise and added my site under that category.

And every now and then someone will perform a search and Google will send them here. I apologize if you’ve searched for “Ginger Hokey Pokey” and wound up at this site. I can’t help you with that recipe, but you can try these Ginger Snaps, if you like.

But the person who searched for “how Shakespeare would do the Hokey Pokey”? I can definitely help you!

Back in 2003, the Washington Post’s Style Invitational invited readers to “rewrite some banal instructions in the style of some famous writer.” Jeff Brechlin of Potomac Falls, Virginia, provided the winning entry with his sonnet version of the Hokey-Pokey in the style of William Shakespeare. So, according to Mr. Brechlin, THIS is how Shakespeare would do the Hokey Pokey:

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heavens yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the poke -- banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.