Heather reads to the pets


The Bear Twins Get Dressed
Originally uploaded by h. donohue.

I have lots of pets. Don't laugh. They are a source of great joy and comfort. But with our travels, some of the pets had to go into a box — there were too many to bring and we needed them to protect our goods from the evil movers. Some of the pets are with me and Enrique. You're probably well acquainted with Hamish, the blue elephant, if you know me. BrwnBer is with Enrique.

The other pets are on vacation with Nick and Heather in Montclair, New Jersey. Heather has taken the opportunity to read to them. Left to right: Scotty (the tiger), Euclid (the alien) Saffron Georgia Petunia Ionesco (the rhinoceros), Opus (who is 22 years old), and Max (the fuzzy dog). Nick and Heather are great hosts, as you can see.

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terra americana!

About 12 hours ago, Enrique and I landed at Newark, thus drawing to a close the European (and for me, Asian) part of our summer. Magically, the travel went really well…

On August 1, we headed to Berlin to spend a few days there with my German sister Birke and my dear friend Vicky. The crap weather in Europe managed to subside for a few days and we wore holes in our feet, as we walked all over the place. It was something between my 15th and 20th visit to the city–I have lost count– but it was Enrique's first. We saw museums (Altes Museum, in particular because it is a Schinkel building and because it now houses the excellent Egyptian Museum; Stasi Museum, which I'd seen two trips ago), we ate Berlin specialities (currywurst, döner kebab and German-Japanese fusion), we went to beer gardens (Prater, Schleusen Ufer) and industrial beach bars on the Spree River (Kiki Blofeld, Klub der Visionäre). We saw my first love, Martin Nachbar, now a well-known dancer an choreographer — he'd not seen Birke since she was 7; there was a Noend reunion with Paul, Stephen and Dagmar — old friends from San Francisco; there was a tasty dinner with Vicky, Patrick and Vicky's friends Tanya and Erkran (I'd met Tanya when I lived in Munich).

Next stop, Düsseldorf, where I lived for a year in high school. I see my host family there every year but it was their first introduction to Enrique. (They approved, but Felix the dog did not. He was scared because Enrique is tall and has broad shoulders, says my host mom.)  Düsseldorf, too, was about museums: the excellent K20 and K21 collections of the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen. I'd never been to the K21 before, which first opened in 2002. It was great. We saw Volkmar, my dear friend from school and beyond.

Today, we are the featured people on the home page of my favorite bookstore!  Müller & Böhm Literaturhandlung have featured our pic on their site! Rudolf and Seelinde have been friends of mine since 1993–they put on dozens of events a year and now have moved into the Heinrich Heine Haus. Rudolf wasn't there my first visit because he was on the jury for the German book prize. I'm delighted to see their success.

We took a night train (in a private compartment, no less, which was cheaper than the 6-person compartments) to Copenhagen, saw an old friend there, repacked our goods, said goodbye to our hosts at ReD and our great apartment near the Kongens Have, and headed to Kastrup airport. The smooth good luck continued when we requested seats and actually got upgraded by SAS — the one nice thing the airline has done for us.

We are rested, we are in the US, but the travel continues. Enrique heads to Texas tomorrow to see his family. I go to Minneapolis tomorrow, then to SAN FRANCISCO on Thursday. My stay there will be long — at least 10 days — and then I'm trying to decide about whether to go to Burning Man.

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My Minneapolis contingent seems to be okay…

We woke up this morning to the news of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Part of 35W that I drive over every day in the Twin Cities collapsed into the Mississippi during rush hour. (Everyone else is probably more up on the news than I am… I can't figure out how to get CNN on Vicky's TV in Berlin.)

I have heard from family and some friends and from what they know, everyone they know is okay. I hope the news is similar for my other friends. The Twin Cities is a deeply connected place where everyone knows someone you know.

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Summer holiday

It's done, it's in the bag. Today, my project at ReD completed. Christian and Jun are somewhere over the Atlantic. In two days, Enrique is interviewing Bjarke Ingalls from BIG for Archinect. And then: we go to Berlin and Düsseldorf on planes and trains. We'll be there for friends, architecture, museums, Birke's going-away party (who goes to India and then to the US again).

I've loved Copenhagen and met the nicest, coolest people. It'll be amazing to come back. I'm also very much looking forward to the first break I've had since March. The sleeping compartment (the real kind, not with 6 bunks) back from Düsseldorf to Copenhagen will be nice, followed by a SAS flight 6 hours later.

Other plans? Burning Man. Maybe.

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Hüsker Dü on the Today Show

Oh Melissa, please tell me you're reading.

It hit me tonight that somewhere on the Internets, there must be a video record of the first time I really cut school, 20 years ago (?!) when Hüsker Dü played on the Today Show. Melissa and I drove to downtown Minneapolis to see this. The band played for about 30 seconds on the show, then went on to play a 45 minute gig in downtown Minneapolis, right outside what is now the courthouse where my mom is a judge.

There's some part where I was caught on camera during a commercial break. My mom was watching the show and didn't see me. I think it took years before I admitted that I had indeed cut school to do this — but what a great, legendary Minneapolis region to do so. I was 15.

The sound sucks but the clip is great.

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Pissed off at MT 4 beta 6 (and 3, 4 and 5)

Damn damn dammit.

I've now wasted three nights trying to get some permutation of beta MT 4.0 to happen on my server so that I can get Girlwonder.com up again and launch a new blog. I know beta software has its pitfalls but this is just pissing me off.

Guys, this is a dealkiller. Can't someone help me out?

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Denmark, Red, scams, the future

Been a while. A few notes…

I'm pretty sure we're being scammed by our movers. They showed up and wanted $500 more than they originally quoted, and that was just for packing and loading, not delivery or storage. Doing some web searches on them, they're connected to one of the biggest mover rackets. I think we're fucked and I'm hoping our stuff will at least come back from storage. No clue how much we'll have to pay for the privilege — recovering money will require formal complaints and possibly court. Shit. I hesitate to mention their name publicly lest it harms us further.

Still, it's been great to be in Denmark. I'm enjoying the folks at Red Associates (hi guys). Copenhagen proves to be a lovely city. We're in a gorgeous apartment in the center of town, a block from the royal gardens and just around the corner from the office. It's been a warm landing, a great group of very intelligent people from diverse disciplines. The projects are fascinating, high-impact, deep. Very cool.

Fieldwork took us to Shanghai in June, which was a trip. As I zipped down the street in one of a million cabs we took over the week, I realized that Shanghai is the future: that it's not just modern, but that the West is in retirement. This future is high speed, connected by chat and SMS, Tudou and QQ (the equivalents of YouTube and ICQ meets Cyworld). It's also a world that throws people at problems — so many people standing around, so many people doing menial jobs. Lots of cloned websites and software and media (we bought Oceans 13 on the street) — why do they need licenses or proprietary whatever? It is fascinating and disconcerting at once. English? Sure, okay, but it's incidental. And the Shanghai skyline and the center city's megastructures, almost all of which has been built in the last 5-10 years– what would it be like to grow up with that as your skyline?  In this worldview, Copenhagen looks like the content retirees and the US looks like the retirees who never could bear to slow down. But retirement means you're in the last phases of your life and that's what the West seemed like in comparison.

I've been flying SAS every week for the last five weeks: Newark – Copenhagen – Shanghai – Copenhagen – Newark – Copenhagen. I no longer have the airline status I had circa 2004 and SAS won't be useful in getting it. I got 972 miles for my last flight to Denmark from NYC. Schmucks. They're cheap, which is a surprise to me: I'd always wanted to fly them and now I'm looking forward to avoiding them in the future.

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