Monday, September 29, 2008


I'm sitting in front of the TV and trying to figure out what I think about the 700 billion dollar bailout plan failing.

I wasn't thrilled with the first plan, but the compromise reached on Saturday night seemed a little better. But under it all was the feeling of fundamental unfairness in bailing out firms that had made unwise choices. After all, I didn't profit from their risky investments, so why should I have to pay when the investments didn't pan out?

But now that the plan has failed, I'm faced with another set of queasy feelings. Now we're staring down into the abyss, and there's no telling what's down there. One week ago, we were told the US economy would utterly collapse unless a bailout plan was ready when the markets opened on September 22nd. There was no plan last Monday, and my ATM card still worked (even though my bank failed). So maybe everything will be ok. Maybe the invisible hand of the market will punish the firms that did stupid things and reward those who stayed away from the casino.

But maybe not. Maybe things are going to get much worse. I don't know. The only comfort I took in the bailout plan is that it was something. It was an imperfect something, but, well, it was something. Now there's nothing.

There's a chance that nothing is better than something. But it could be some time before we know. In the meantime, I guess I'll stock up on ramen noodles.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 27, 2008


(Yes, I know it's not Friday, but there's a financial crisis going on here. How can I be expected to do anything while there's a financial crisis? I could have suspended this blog but I didn't. So there)

While I don't know how true this is in the Faroe Islands, a belief in trolls is not uncommon in many Scandinavian countries. Indeed there are stories of crews in Iceland having to change the course of roads because the pavement would destroy a troll's home.

In the Faroes, the village of Trøllanes gets its name from a legend involving, not surprisingly, trolls. Tradition has it the good people of Trøllanes were visited by trolls on each Twelfth Night (January 6th). The troll swarm was so unpleasant that the people of the village left town each January 6th to avoid it.

But one year an old woman was too weak to make the journey, so she remained behind. When she beheld the terrible sight of trolls dancing and singing, she exclaimed, "Jesus, have mercy on me!"

Upon hearing the name of "Jesus", the Trolls left the village and haven't been seen since. That's really a shame for the trolls, because there are some lovely views of the sea and other islands from Trøllanes. Just look at this...
But now the village is visited by something much more terrible than trolls. Something that scares me much more than any goblin ever could...
No, it's not that woman, it's the mysterious lumps behind her. It's something called Garnatálg and it looks pretty disturbing. Look at this close up...
Oh my! What exactly is that? Wikipedia describes Garnatálg as being "made with offal such as intestine, covered in a layer of fat and usually served in slices." Garnatálg is a specialty of Trøllanes, which may explain why only 27 people live there.

Don't get me wrong. I still want to visit the Faroes. And I'd really like to see Trøllanes. But I just might pass on the Garnatálg. Or is that the price of admission?


Friday, September 26, 2008


I saw this hunk of video and I must say I found it quite chilling. Answers like this one make Dan Quayle look like an intellectual heavyweight. So watch this video (and the annoying 15 ad that precedes it) and join me a little further down the page...

Watch CBS Videos Online
This response bears a striking resemblance to a video that went viral last year. Now I'm not saying Ms. Palin's answer is this bad, but well...

And seeing as she mentioned more countries in her answer, I'm left with the impression that Miss Teen USA South Carolina has more foreign policy experience than Governor Palin.

Be afraid, be very afraid.

(Note: Faroe Friday has not been suspended, it has been simply been delayed until Saturday)

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 25, 2008


...did yours?

Washington Mutual Goes Tits Up.

I feel proud to be part of the largest bank failure in U.S. history. Something I can tell my kids about when we come home to our refrigerator crate.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


We're back tonight from out first trip to the emergency room with Will. Now before anyone gets too worried, let's skip to the end of the story: Will is fine. He was discharged from the hospital without receiving any treatment other than some antibiotics.

But there were a few scary moments. It started when Will was brushing his teeth before going to bed. He tripped on the little footstool he stands on and cut the inside of his mouth. I was at work when this happened, but Julie says he was bleeding pretty badly from the mouth.

So when things calm down, Julie checks the Internet and talks to some people and eventually has a nurse friend of ours come by to take a look at Will. Soon afterwards, I arrive home and find a perfectly happy Will sitting on the couch watching Pixar cartoons.

But the nurse on the phone and the nurse in our house say the gash in his mouth is pretty big and probably needs stitches. The decision was made to take Will to the hospital. So Julie drives Will to the emergency room, I drive back to work to put together a shortened version of my news story for that night, and Ronnie (God bless that woman) stayed home with Nate.

One hour later I was walking through he hospital parking lot towards the emergency room. I've been the father of two boys for just over two years and the thought occurs to me that this may be a walk I'll be making many times over the next 16 years.

The hospital staff takes me to a room and opens the door and I see Will jumping on the bed and trying to play with all the knobs that complicated piece of equipment. He's fine, and a few minutes later a doctor comes in and says we were right to have the little guy checked out by a doctor, but he'll need some rest and some antibiotics to prevent the cut from getting infected.

Moments later we got our discharge paperwork and we were headed back to the car. Will seemed to treat the whole thing like an adventure where he got to stay up way past his bedtime. His parent's are just happy the whole incident wasn't really much of an adventure.

I've given Will permission to sleep in tomorrow. I hope he does.


Monday, September 22, 2008


It's hard to know what to make of the financial meltdown we've seen over the last week.

Big financial firms are vanishing, the government is buying insurance companies, and by the time you read this, the government may have agreed to spend 700 billion dollars of our money to buy bad mortgages from banks.

On one hand, I guess I should be proud that, as a taxpayer, I now own thousands or perhaps millions of homes. I look forward to spending the night in some of them the next time I travel. And it certainly is exciting to own the world's largest insurance company. I trust I can look for a discounted premium next time I need car insurance?

But on a less silly level, I'm stuck with a vague sense of anger, but I don't know enough about economics to know if it's justified.

I know about the sub-prime mortgage mess and how people who shouldn't have had mortgages were given them anyway and now these loans are traded between financial institutions. And I know that these financial instruments may now be worthless and it's causing a lot of banks and investment houses to crash.

But the rest is a mystery to me. The simple facts don't add up. A bunch of people made some bad loans, but they made a lot of money making those loans. Those people still have that money they made, even though the loans are bad. I never made any money in the go-go era of sub-prime lending. Yet now I'm being asked, as a taxpayer, to buy those bad loans so the banks that were poorly run can keep from destroying the economy.

We're told the nation's financial markets are on the brink of freezing up, and if that happens, the entire American economy will collapse. What exactly do they mean by "collapse"? Do the stores run out of food and we all lose our jobs? Does our money immediately lose its value? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm being serious. Is this what happens? Because I have no idea, and if you sent me to school for another 12 years I still may not be fully equipped to evaluate the claims some in the financial sector are making.

So we're all supposed to pay a lot of money to help fix a problem wealthy financiers have made... or the economy as we know it may collapse. But I have a sinking feeling those financiers will still be wealthy when this is all over. And most of the rest of us will somewhat worse off.

If we are indeed facing the end of the world as we know it, then I guess it's worth the money we're going to spend. But I don't know, and I don't have a way of finding out. Instead we have rely on the types of people who got us into this mess to get us out.

In a world where nothing is certain and money is nothing more than an idea, that's hardly a comforting thought.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 19, 2008


While the there is financial and political turbulence here in the US, there's something brewing in the Faroe Islands as well.

I heard a little about it last week when someone I know in the Faroes told me about a spat over office space between two cabinet ministers. A day or so later, the prime minister fired four cabinet ministers and thus dissolved his ruling coalition.

The rest is kind of a mystery. I don't speak Faroese, and there is no English language news on the subject, but I think the Faroese prime minister may be embattled. The only evidence I have is the above photo. It was the lead photo on portal.fo. I can't read the article that accompanies it, but any time you have a photo of a politician opening a door and scowling while reporters try to take his picture... that's not a good thing.

So this week's highly informative Faroese news update is as follows: There is political upheaval in the Faroes right now, it may have started with an argument over office space, and the prime minister has been seen scowling in photos. Is that clear enough?

Ok, enough of that, here's a lovely photo:

This is Skansin Fort. It was built in 1580 to help protect the trading port of Torshavn. Indeed, soon after it was completed, word came that Turkish pirates had sacked a town on a southern island. The original fort didn't last long, it was a victim of French plundering in the early 1600s. According to the Bradt Guide, the French destroyed the fort "when their final demand for 100 oxen, 200 sheep, 500 pairs of gloves, 1,200 pairs of stockings, and 60 nightshirts couldn't be met by the people of Torshavn within the 12 hour deadline."

It has been said many times: foolish is the man who stands between a Frenchie and his stockings.

The fort is just across the water from the Faroese parliament. Perhaps the prime minister will have time to walk there and sort the (alleged) political mess out.

(And thanks, as always, to Erik Christensen for posting tons of great pictures that he allows folk like me to post.)

Labels: ,

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Yesterday, a coworker showed me a piece of video someone had emailed to her. The email said it was an Australian politician trying to explain away a oil tanker crash. Whoever sent the email thought the video was legitimate, but the comic timing in the interview was a little too good for an actual politician. So we dug around the Internet a bit and discovered that the video was, in fact, a sketch from Australian comics John Clarke and Bryan Dawe.

I must admit, I had never heard of Clarke and Dawe before last night, but there is a lot of video of them online, and it's quite funny. Their deadpan delivery reminds me of American comedy vets Bob and Ray.

Check it out. This clip is from the early 90s...

And this is a more recent clip on the subject of the Iraq War...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


If you're anything like me, you're intently following the Canadian general elections. You also don't have many friends and can say inappropriate things at large social gatherings. This probably has to do with the fact that you're following the Canadian elections so closely.

If you love elections, you've got to love Canada, these days. They've had several in the last few years, and each has resulted in a minority government. Indeed, Canada today is much like Italy without the passion, food, or hundreds of years of rich history.

The election pits Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the ruling Conservative Party against the Liberal's Staphane Dion, who has a girl's name, speaks French, and shares a last name (if not a lineage) with Celine Dion. Needless to say, things don't look too good for Mr. Dion.

Allow me to take a short diversion to the Faroe Islands. I can justify this diversion because of a bird related sideshow in the Canadian elections involving a Puffin. The arctic bird is common in the Faroes and I'm told that Faroese expatriates almost always have a stuffed puffin in their home to remind them of the land they left behind. Indeed, I have a Faroese tour guide that has a picture of a puffin on the cover, and a Faroese tourism site features puffins prominently. They even have a series of puffin cartoons.

So what does this have to do with the Canadian elections? I'll tell you. Last week the Conservative party released an advertisement that showed a puffin pooping on Stephane Dion. Don't believe me? Take a look...

The site also features spoof Facebook pages for Dion and other Labor Party leaders, but I'll stick with the puffins.

After complaints, the Conservatives pulled the and Harper said the ad was in bad taste.

As for me, I'm of two minds on the subject. First, as a public advocate for all things Faroese, I'm appalled that the Canadians would let such a prominent symbol of the Faroe Islands poop on a Canadian leader. Shame on you, Canada. I encourage all Faroese to turn his into an international incident.

But on the other hand, the election here has been dragging on forever and becomes more depressing by the day. I can't help but think of how much more fun the election would be if the candidates released humorous photos of their opponents being pooped on by birds, or any other animal, for that matter. I think even uninterested voters would pay attention if someone produced pictures of a polar bear pooping on Sarah Palin. Or how about a bald eagle doing his business on Joe Biden?

At this point, it certainly couldn't hurt.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 15, 2008


Some nasty stomach bug has me feeling like I'm close to death. And as a result, this blog may have appeared dead, too. It's not dead, it's just resting. And it could be back to full health soon.

I have been able to continue working through this ugliness, and my coworkers have curiously take up the art of origami. I can't pretend to know what compels grown men to suddenly begin folding paper into cranes, but it must be something mighty powerful.

As for me, I'm going to down another bottle of Pepto Bismol and see about getting into to work. And for you, dear reader, I offer a small slice of video to give you an idea of where my colleague's origami obsession may be headed. It's Mitchell and Webb spoofing Welsh TV:

Monday, September 08, 2008


While scouring the nation's wire services this weekend, I came across two news stories that are in turns puzzling and hilarious.

I'll start with the one that features a famous person.

This weekend, former child star Gary Coleman was arrested at a bowling alley in Payson, Utah for trying to back over someone with his truck. It seems someone was trying to take Mr. Coleman's picture and he just wanted to be left alone, so the only solution was to back a car over the photo hound.

For people like myself who don't keep up with the comings and goings of Gary Coleman, one rather obvious question arises from this story: Why was Gary Coleman bowling in Payson, Utah? Why was he doing anything in Payson, Utah. I've been to Payson, Utah, and I can tell you there is no reason to be there. Ever. Not even if you live there.

But reading the story further, I learned an even more shocking fact: Gary Coleman was in Payson, Utah because he now lives in Santaquin, Utah. And if you live in Santaquin, Payson is apparently where you go for fun.

As for why Coleman lives in Santaquin, that's anyone's guess. A 2005 newspaper article says he moved to the very small, very boring central Utah town after appearing in a low-budget movie about Mormons playing basketball (I swear I'm not making this up). The newspaper goes on to say that Coleman was sick of the red carpet scene in Los Angeles. Well, he certainly is safe from that in Santaquin.

But that story looks positively bland compared to the news coming out of Fresno this weekend. Really, the headline says it all:

"Burglar Awakes Men With Spice Rub, Sausage Attack."

The story is just as the headline suggests. Two farmers were awoken by a intruder who was rubbing spices on one man, an hitting the other with an eight inch sausage.

While the man apparently knew how he wanted his farmers prepared, he wasn't a very good burglar. He stole some money, but he also left his wallet inside his victim's house.

The money was recovered, but what of the sausage? I'm afraid it wasn't so lucky. The Fresno Bee says "the sausage was tossed away by the fleeing suspect and eaten by a dog."

I can only hope to live long enough to cover a story where I can end with, "the sausage was tossed away by the fleeing suspect and eaten by a dog."

Brilliant. Just Brilliant.


Friday, September 05, 2008


A series of illnesses and poorly timed events leave me with almost no time to jot down much of a Faroe Friday post. But I have a sacred responsibility to the islands, so I'll just share a bit of trivia and call it a night.

Did you know that broadband internet service in the Faroe Islands is very expensive? I've been told it can cost $140 (USD) per month. That seems a bit steep to me. Internet access here costs between $40 and $70, depending on how fast you want it. So to my brethren in the Faroes who are paying the big bucks and still reading this little blog: thank you. I had no idea you had to go through so much.

This week's Faroe photo is from the village of Eiði. It's got a population close to 500, which makes it one of the bigger villages on the island. It also serves as one of the most spectacular locations for a football field I've ever seen.

This looks like it would be a good place to hold international matches. While big guns from countries like Belgium and Germany stood slack-jawed at the natural beauty around them, the part-time Faroese players could kick in goal after goal. (Note to team: feel free to use this strategy free of charge.)

More next week, when hopefully I will have had some sleep.


Wednesday, September 03, 2008


So my friend Sam entered some contest where you make a video cheering on our Olympic athletes in Beijing. I guess he won, because I'm told this video is playing on a billboard in Times Square.

And kudos to Sam, who looks like he nearly broke his leg while shooting this 30 second video.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 01, 2008


I've spent the last 24 hours obsessively checking the NOAA website and watching the progress of Hurricane Gustav.

Three years ago, I was doing much the same thing as hurricanes Katrina and Rita stormed towards the gulf coast. Back then, I was working crazy hours while covering the storms affects on the Texarkana and Shreveport area. I spent time hanging out at hotels as evacuees filtered up to the city. I spoke with Red Cross volunteers as they loaded up supplies and drove south. I shot video as evacuees who were stranded at the Superdome finally ended a two day bus trip that included stops in Houston, Dallas, and five other cities.

The people who came off that bus had a look that is hard to describe. Most had blank stares that hinted at the horrors many of them saw during the previous weeks. Almost all the people I spoke with had to step over dead bodies as they made their way to shelter. Some had been victims of violence. When I asked one man how he was holding up, he simply answered, "I'm alone."

These images come back to me as I look at the maps and read the evacuation orders for cities like New Orleans and Beaumont. I think of friends like Darrell who find themselves in the path of the storm. I know of the great destruction and misery that will likely visit thousands of people. My prayers are with those people tonight.

The good news is that Gustav appears to be weakening it nears landfall. Perhaps I will awake on Monday and learn that Gustav is more annoying than deadly. That's about the best outcome anyone can hope for at this point.

Of course, there is the selfish side of me that wishes I was heading east with a photographer right now to cover the storm and it's aftermath. It's one of those sick things about journalists: you want to be where the action is, even if the action is in a place you shouldn't be.

Indeed, one of the coolest things about being a journalist is getting to witness things that few others get to see. You get to see cities that have been completely evacuated. You get to visit locations that are guarded by barbed wire and security cameras. You get a front row seat for the rally/concert/trial that everyone wants to see. It's a shallow reason for liking journalism, but, well...

This time, I'm thousands of miles from the action, and the closest I'll probably get to the story is interviewing local volunteers who are headed south to help with the recovery efforts. But for the next few days, I'll be looking southward, praying for my friends, and wishing that I was there.

Labels: ,

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner