Friday, October 31, 2008


Despite what the hastily written title may imply, the Faroes are not in need of a financial rescue. In fact, just the opposite is true. The Faroe Islands are helping to bail out another country.

Not surprisingly, that country is Iceland. Iceland and the Faroe Islands were both settled by Vikings, they both have ties to Denmark, and they both have a tradition of fantastic sweaters.

This week, the new prime minister of the Faroe Islands offered Iceland a 344 Kroner (about $60 million US) loan. While $60 million may not seem like all that much money compared to the billions being thrown around in the US right now, it's important to understand that the Faroe Islands only have a population of 48,000. This loan amounts to 2% of the Faroe Island's GDP. Two percent of the US GDP would be about $230 billion.

According to my exclusive sources inside the Faroe Islands, this loan offer (the IMF is the only other organization to offer one) has set off a love fest between Iceland and the Faroes. Radio shows are clogged with callers from Iceland offering their thanks.

This week's Faroe Photo is of Sandavágur. If you look very closely, you can see the home of a very sharp Faroese man. That same person responded to my call for more photos of banks in the Faroe Islands.

The top photo was taken from a collection by Arne List. He's a German man who has taken some great pictures of the Faroes. More on him in a later Faroe Friday edition. This particular bank is very old, and in Torshavn. I believe it's another branch of the famed Eik Banki. It was sent my way by none other than Faroe Man. That's about all I know about it.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


Julie is in Florida this week, and she told me she's missing the little guys. So I thought I'd post a few pictures to tide her over until she can kiss her little boys again. Here's a snap of Julie and Nate.
And another with Will...And the same with both...And now a few pictures of the fun we've been having back home. Will has spent a lot of this week jumping on the couch...And Nate has kept busy by taking off my hat, putting it on is head, and then putting it back on my head. (For Julie's co-workers, that's a Campus Pipeline hat.)And we'll keep on having fun here. But we look forward to the day when Julie is back home with us. We love you!

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Monday, October 27, 2008


Ever since John McCain announced his running mate, I've had that sinking feeling that he had gotten the whole enterprise wrong.

I mean, Sarah Palin? Come on! If there are any Palins who should be our vice president, it should start with Michael. Known as the friendliest member of Monty Python, Michael Palin helped redefine sketch comedy in the 20th century. Later he became the host of numerous BBC travel shows and has circled the globe many times.

With just those two facts, Michael far outpaces Sarah in the race for vice president.

I have seen both Palins on Saurday Night Live, and there was no comparison. Michael triumphed, especially in his "feeding the fish" sketch. Sarah's appearance on SNL was nothing short of an abomination. That woman had no business walking the same stage where comedy legends like Gary Kroger once stood.

And with the travel shows, Michael Palin once again shows that he's got a lot more foreign policy understanding than Sarah.

Not surprisingly, I am not the first person to believe that McCain selected the wrong Palin for VP. A search on Google or YouTube for "Michael Palin for president" returns a lot of results. So I'll leave you with a video produced by the good people at michaelpalinforpresiden.com. I only wish I had thought up the idea first.

The photo of Michael Palin comes courtesy of Chipps and is used under a Creative Commons license.

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Friday, October 24, 2008


This week's Faroe Friday post is all about beer. Well, kind of.

As I'm sure you all know, there is but one brewery on the Faroes, and they make Föroya Bjór, which I'm pretty sure literally means "Faroese Beer." This week, a member of the Faroese parliament introduced a bill that would allow the brewery to make a beer with more than 5.8% alcohol.

I'll be honest, I don't have a lot of experience with beer (none, as a matter of fact), so I had to do a little poking around the Internet to see if 5.8% was really all that much alcohol to begin with. What I've learned is that they measure alcohol in two different ways (by weight and by volume) and I can't make heads or tails of the thing. But I'm pretty sure 5.8% is a lot of alcohol by American standards.

So anyway, Föroya Bjór makes a beer that's 5.8% alcohol, and a lawmaker wanted to allow them to brew some stronger stuff.

Apparently, this didn't sit well with members of the "Centre Party." From what I can tell, the term "Centre" may be a bit of a misnomer. I'm told the Centre Party is actually pretty right of center and peopled by evangelical Christians. Something of a brouhaha broke out and names were called and some unwise words may have been spoken. I'm a little sketchy on all the details, so I don't want to be more specific. But suffice it to say, those Centre Party people are very much in favor of weak beer.

So it's unclear if the good folks at Föroya Bjór will be able to make a new brew to help the Faroese stay a little warmer during the fast-approaching winter.

This week's Faroe photo is of Klaksvík, where the country's only brewery is located. The photo was taken by a woman in the Netherlands called Sietse Snel. Sietse's hobby is to visit and photograph buildings before they are demolished. An example of some of that work can be found here.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Time, work, and ill health have all conspired to limit the amount of time I can spend writing here. So as a small offering, might I direct you towards FAIL Blog.

The premise is pretty simple, post images of signs that don't really communicate what they should.

It's a pretty popular site, so I can't claim to be breaking any new ground by recommending them here. But if you're looking to avoid work and to distract your co-workers with muffled giggles from the cubicle next door, this is a good place to go.

More later.

Friday, October 17, 2008


As the economic crisis festers in Iceland, it's starting to affect it's neighbors. This week, Nasdaq's news wire reports that Polish workers are leaving Iceland. Between 10,000 and 15,000 Polish people were working in Iceland, and sending much of their money back to their home country.

But the Icelandic Kroner is worthless on the international market, so the Polish workers are moving on. And where are they going? The Faroe Islands. Not all of them, of course, but some.

The Nasdaq story says there may be construction work for the Poles in the Faroes. Fair enough.
If the Poles fly into the Faroes, perhaps the'll see scenes like the two above. They're taken from a series of areal photos from the Atlantic Airways website. They've got a massive gallery of pictures taken above most villages in the Faroes. The upper photo is of the dramatic coast of Mykines, and the lower photo comes from Torshavn.

So anyway, there's a lot of good images on the site. You should check it out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


It has been much too long since there have been any cute kid photos here, so let's remedy that...

Last week temperatures went from flirting with 100 to hovering around the freezing mark. So we bundled up the kids and went to the park. And when we go to the park, they will inevitably spend a lot of times on the swings.

That's Will up there, being pushed by his grandma. And below, wearing the blue hoodie, we've got Nate...Nate's getting a push from his mom.Will also got some motherly attention...Taking pictures of the little guys on swings is not an easy thing because, as with all photo sessions, all Nate and Will really want to do is grab the camera.And the quest to get a good photo of both Nate and Will in the same frame continues. They move around so much that it's almost impossible to catch them together. So now that they're confined to swings, this should be a breeze. Just hold the swings and get them to look at the camera. And what we came up with was this...Oh well. The shade made that one a tough proposition anyway. Christmas card season isn't for another few months, so we'll keep trying.

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Monday, October 13, 2008


This probably makes me a sick person, but the commercial below is perhaps the funniest thing I've ever seen. It's an ad for a security company that claims, through song, that there may actually be a killer in your home at the very moment you're watching.

It is both hilarious, and disturbing. Give it a watch and join me below...

(Note: it gets funnier the more times you watch it.)

Now admit it, you're going to be singing that song for the rest of the week. "Your life could be on the line..." Pure poetry, I tell you. And what about the dad? He comes home to see his family butchered in the living room and reacts like his dog has just taken a dump on the carpet. At the very least, it looks like this is not the first time this has happened to him.

It's awful, but I can't stop laughing. No matter how hard I try, I just can't stop laughing.

(I promise I'll post cute kid pictures tomorrow, really. You'll love it. Unless of course, you're murdered by cat burglar between now and Tuesday.)

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Saturday, October 11, 2008


(KEY: Red text means completely false.)

Yes, I know, it's not Friday, but I thought I'd just pop in for a moment and congratulate the Faroe Islands national soccer team for their tie with Austria today.

Austria looms large in Faroese soccer lore. Some 18 years ago, the Faroese team (made up mostly of amateur and semi-pro players) beat Austria 1-0. The guy who scored that single goal became something of a national hero.

Well the guy who scored against Austria today is the son of the player who scored in 1990. I may be mistaken here, but I think he was born just a day or two after the 1990 game. See update.

When the Faroe Islands team ties an international opponent, it's pretty much as good as a win. They rank near the bottom of the UEFA rankings (even below Somalia!), so nobody expects them to win anything. Indeed, they've lost their last 18 international matches in a row.

But not today. Today they tied. Way to go, fellas!

UPDATE FROM "KH": "Hey Workman. You got some facts mixed, Torkil Nielsen was the one who scored in 1990 and became father 2 days later. Bogi Løkin scored today and his father Abraham Løkin was part of the 1990 team."

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Friday, October 10, 2008


If you've been following the international financial meltdown that has most western economies in it's grip, you've likely taken a moment and wondered, "how are the Faroe Islands doing in all this?" Well, I wondered that, anyway.

And it's a pretty reasonable question to ask. Just next door in Iceland, things are so bad that they make the problems back home look like a simple rounding error. Iceland's currency is worthless on the international market, almost all the banks are closed, ATMs didn't work for most of the week, and their assets in the UK have been frozen.

So has this ugliness washed up on the Faroese shores? Not exactly. Icelandic banks do have interests in some of the Faroese fishing fleets, but those may be taken over by Faroese banks. And banks on the Faroes haven't really gotten into the high flying world of idiot finance that has sunk other banks.

And while the Faroe Islands are well connected to the larger world via the internet and are looking to play a bigger part in the world community, well, it's still a work in progress. In fact, their continued isolation may actually help them weather the storm better than Iceland, who went on a shopping spree and bought half of Europe before they ran out of credit.

Indeed, the Faroe Island's biggest industry is fishing, and no matter how bad the economy gets, people still have to eat. If the faltering world economy causes fish prices to drop, that will be bad news for the Faroes. But for now, people seem to be crossing their fingers and hoping that they can ride out the storm with as little damage as possible.

And while Faroese banks appear to be in good shape, the state of Faroese bank photography is nothing short of appalling. I can't tell you how many hours I spent online looking for a picture of a bank on the Faroe Islands. I did image searches, but that turned up nothing. I guess it's understandable. When people vacation anywhere, they usually don't take pictures of the banks. And bank pictures rarely feature in tourist literature.

Eventually I found a list of every bank in the Faroe Islands and visited their websites. Finally, I found one bank that had a media section and three pictures of their branches. It is the wonderfully named Eik Banki. To realize how much I love this name, just say it out loud, "Eik Banki." It sounds like you're either afraid of the bank or just don't like banks. But either way, it's pretty fun to say.

I tried to look up more information in Eik Banki and it looked like it might actually be a bank based in Denmark. But it might actually be a homegrown Faroese bank. So because they have good pictures online, I'm declaring Eik Banki as the official bank of Faroe Friday. (Although, if you own a bank in the Faroe Islands or even have a good picture of one, I'd be willing to reconsider my choice.)

While it may be hard to find good bank pictures, there are no shortage of good photos of Bøur, especially when they're taken by my new favorite photographer Erik Christensen. Bøur is a village of about 70 on the island of Vágar. It has traditional turf roof houses and a spectacular natural setting with amazing ocean views.

As near as I can tell, it does not have a bank.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008


So much to write about, but an abundance of guests in our house means I don't really have access to my computer or the internet right now.

But, just so you know that I haven't forgotten you, I offer another sketch from those lovely British comics Mitchell and Webb.

More later (for instance, did you hear that western capitalism is ending?)

Monday, October 06, 2008


Back in 2000, I was watching the Democratic and Republican presidential primaries unfold and I had a wonderful dream. "What if," I thought, "John McCain and Bill Bradley won their respective nominations?" It was a long shot, but I couldn't help but dream. After all, Bradley and McCain were said to like each other, and both had agreed to certain spending limits and to running something other than the typical presidential campaign.

Instead, we got Bush and Gore and one of the most depressing election cycles ever... until 2004, of course.

But I kept thinking back to that dream matchup. If only two principled people could come together and have a real, thoughtful debate about the future of our country, then America would be the real winner.

In the last eight years, I've grown older and more crotchety. But I'll admit my foolish dream of 2000 was revived this year when McCain and Obama won their parties nominations. Here were two intelligent, principled people who want to lead our nation. Now we can have that awesome presidential campaign I'd always dreamed of. Untethered by the divisive politics of the past rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s, this campaign would be about the future and about how American can live up to the promise laid out in its founding documents.

The election is less than a month away, and I'm now willing to admit that I'm a complete idiot for ever thinking this election would ever be anything other than the depressing slog it has become.

McCain has Palin out saying that Obama is making herbal tea for the Talaban. Obama is preparing to run ads linking McCain to the Keating Five scandal and the Savings and Loan collapse of the late 80s. It's pretty much conventional wisdom that the campaign will become increasingly negative over the next four weeks.

So how did we get here? How did we start with two people who seem basically decent and end up with the exact brand of dispiriting bickering both promised to stop?

One idea is that the bubble of the campaign is so complete that candidates slowly lose touch with reality as the rest of us know it. Once these candidates get Secret Service protection, they're pretty much isolated from everyone except immediate family, campaign advisers, and crowds of security screened adoring fans. How can that not warp your view of the world? The campaign also allows candidates little time to do much other than campaign. Obama was mocked by some for saying he wished he had more time to think during the campaign, but there may be something to that.

Another factor may be the the permanent campaign infrastructure in Washington. Drifting around DC are political hacks who drift from campaign to campaign over the course of their careers. They're hired guns who supposedly have the know how to help a candidate win. But they also have their own agendas. Many get kickbacks for big television ad buys, and all are certain they know the way for victory in November. I'm told by someone who should know that there are some decent political operatives out there, but from what I can see, they tend to be sleazy lot. In seems like they've got the same depressing playbook, and they just plug new candidates into the formula (if I might mix my metaphors).

But there is, perhaps, another more depressing reason why the campaign is taking a dismal turn. Perhaps the very act of running for president is harmful to one's soul. When I was in Washington, a reporter who had covered many presidential campaigns said nobody can become president unless they want it more than anything in the world. Maybe all that desire whithers the spirit.

If that's the case, then I guess it's time to take a cue from "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy." In that world, anyone who had the desire to rule the galaxy was disqualified from having the job. And right about now, that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

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Friday, October 03, 2008


Two weeks ago Faroe Friday took a look at at a photo of the Faroese Prime Minister and concluded that he was in some trouble.

Today we learn that there has been a change in the Prime Minister's office. The dust has settled and the Faroe Island's new Prime Minister is Kaj Leo Johannesen. He's a young man, just 44, and he used to be a soccer player. Apart from that... well... I don't know all that much. His Wikipedia page just appeared this afternoon and I've pretty much shared all the information that can be found there.

Nothing is sourced on the page, but I was able to confirm that Johannesen did play on the national team. The Wikipedia page also says he, "got 4 full caps for the Faroes in 1991-1992." I have no idea what that means.

But no matter what a full cap is (holding the other team scoreless?), the political tension appears to have eased somewhat and everyone can go back to their fishing vessels.
This week's Faroe photo comes from, once again, Erik Christensen. It's an image of the shipyard at Klaksvik. As has been mentioned in this space before, Klaksvik is the Faroe's second city. It has a bustling nightlife, considering there aren't even 5,000 people living there. It's also home of the island's only brewery and a movie theater ("The Love Guru" will be playing there next week).

And we end this week's Faroe Friday by sending a special shout out to Faroe Man. His blog has been dormant for a number of reasons, but today I've learned that he's been pretty ill this week. So tonight we send love and prayers across the Atlantic with hopes of a full recovery soon. Hang in there, my friend.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


The little guys are getting older and they're starting to develop their own musical tastes. This is hardy news. Before he was even born, Nate reacted strongly to hip hop, electronic music, and anything with a strong bass line. Will jumped around in the womb to soul music, especially with female vocals.

Now they're branching out even more. I'll tell a story about Nate later this week, but Will took the music spotlight this week.

In my ongoing efforts to keep the kids as far away from children's music as possible, I've been playing different kinds of music for them at mealtimes. One day, it was time to try a little second wave ska. When Will heard "I Just Can't Stop It" by the English Beat, he went nuts. While he's never seen such a dance, the kid started skanking. When each song ended, he looked at the stereo and said, "more, more." And when the next song would start, he would squeal with delight.

Efforts to document this have been difficult, as getting out a camera immediately alters any scene in our home. So I tried to get a short video of Will dancing when he was strapped into his highchair. It was only marginally successful. The 30 second clip below features shaky camera work as I tried to coax Will into dancing, then an explicit plea for him to do so. In the end there's about 10 seconds worth of dancing.

But still, it's something. And every day I've got him and his brother listening to the English Beat is one more day that they haven't had to listen to those damn Wiggles.

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