Friday, June 27, 2008


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sleeping Hazards

The summer sun forgets to set in Copenhagen. I hadn't thought much about what that meant in practice until 11 p.m. my first night there, when the sky looked like this:
As a result, a lot of midday napping occurs - apparently, not just in my meetings:

Guess which is the safer napping area, the lawn or the boat? If you said lawn, think again. Lawn nappers live in constant fear of the remote control lawn mowers:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Please, Tell Me How to Stop for Blink!

In Copenhagen, the language barrier wasn't too much of a problem in business interactions, since most Danes have a good working grasp of English, for which I was extremely grateful. However, English is most certainly not the quotidian language, and it's been some time since I've traveled to a place where I have less command of the language than a cat on the dinner table. I was left constantly wondering, why is everyone yelling at me?!

I spent my first few days completely befuddled, since Danish looks and sounds completely made up. Like I said the other day, I'm wholly convinced that Danish derives from the language Santa's elves, which was then passed down to baby harp seals in the Peppermint Forest before arriving at its present state. Imagine a language that sounds like someone put a gigantic bite of piping-hot snausages in his mouth and then proceeded to speak, and præstø, you have Danish!

You can buy delicious hand-cranked ice cream just about anywhere on the street, but the Danes are apparently not without a cruel sense of irony, since these signs are abundant:
You'd better believe that ass fodboltroljer is my new favorite insult:
And this, I suppose, what you get for calling someone an ass fodboltroljer:
The Danes are an extremely law-abiding group of citizens. Badning is forbudt, parkering is fobudt, and mystery parkering is really, really forbudt:

There were some signs in English, and when they were imperatives, I worked especially hard to make sure I followed that law, since I was their target law-abiding market. But this one really threw me:
Sadly, I did not get a picture of my favorite sign in English, a plaintive plea over one of the toilets (which, in keeping with Danish love of good design, have dual flush options for whether you will be eliminating #1 or #2): "DANGER: Please do not put so much paper in the toilets."

I declined to rent a bike from this store, since "high" and "rolling" in a section of the city run by lawless hippies would probably detract from my comportment as a professional businesswoman.
Sometimes, they liked to throw me off by sneaking in a sign in French:
And yet, Danes speak the international language of suckers - namely, Dianetics:

Monday, June 23, 2008

It Makes for a Different Kind of Rush Hour

The Danes are a very civilized, orderly group - the kind of people who wait patiently for the crosswalk man to turn green, even in the absence of imminent traffic. As I was hurrying to a meeting one quiet Sunday morning, I came to an intersection. Two friends were meeting up, one on either side of the road. The pedestrian signal was red, but looking left, right, up, down, and sideways, I saw neither cars nor bicycles in any direction and so proceeded to blow through the light. The woman next to me started to follow my example until her friend across the street started waving her arms and yelling at her to get back on the sidewalk, frantic over the consequences of breaking the law.

As far as I could tell, only two exceptions to this orderliness exist. Put Danes in a line and all hell breaks loose, blond hair flying as people push, jostle, and shove their way to the front. Sure, one can understand the abandonment of decorum at the prospect of acquiring danishes or stroopwafelen, but chaos ensues in any queuing activity, not just the pastry line As I tried to get on the metro for the first time, my feet were stomped by sensible and well-made shoes attached to a crush of stampeding teutonic types. I'd steeled myself for a train jam-packed with people vying for a position, but once we got through the embarking process, the train was relatively empty and order resumed as the Danes took their seats and spoke using tempered, inside voices.

It seems that most Danes avoid the horror of having to form a line to get on public transit by biking. According to my guidebook, more than half the city's inhabitants use biking as their primary source of transportation. With separate lanes and traffic lights, the city is the cycling commuters' paradise. But since the infrastructure has been set up so that cyclists don't need to worry about traffic, they don't extend any worries to any sort of common-sense biking habits. Wear a helmet and you'll get laughed off the road or worse, yelled at in Danish, a language hard to take seriously since it both looks and sounds like the creation of Santa's elves.

Cyclists routinely roll around the city in suits and/or stiletto heels, and from time to time, a child precariously balanced on the front handlebars (it's worth mentioning that many people had custom-made child carrying contraptions that looked like a beer cooler strapped to the front of the bike. My favorite Saturday night activity quickly became parkering myself with a wafelencone and watching cyclists under the influence fall over. From the nonplussed looks on their faces, it's just another part of cycling culture.


Oh, hello! Or, shall I say, hællø. I'm finally back in action after my whirlwind trip to Copenhagen to talk blood, outreach, and of course, soccer/futbol. Sorry for the radio silence, but the good news is I'm back and armed with stories, so stay tuned to hear all about my brush with Danish crime (involving a McDonald's bag), my visit to a castle-turned museum curated by schizophrenics with ADD (highlight of the trip), and why the Danes wear leggings so much.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Wonder If It Will Snow Tonight

The peoples in my office have essentially stopped working, because the current weather is far too distracting to focus on blood diseases. A bow echo came over the region and in a matter of minutes, the sky turned from hazy summer grey to inky black and Valkyries swooped down M Street. We held our breaths as sheet rain threatened to knock the construction workers across the street off their steel girders. The tower at Dulles Airport has been evacuated, a "trained weather spotter reported a funnel cloud near Middleburg, VA" (where I was this morning...) and frightened school children are calling in to moms here to say that the school bus almost blew over or that they have to stay at school. How can we be expected to concentrate under such conditions? My main priority in life right now is to find out how one becomes a trained weather spotter.

Evidently, the Object is having the same problem; it's mighty difficult to concentrate on climate change when it's playing an extremely active role right outside your window. He just called to report that he has decided not to bike home and also update me on the state of the climate bill currently in the Senate. The Republicans are mad at Babs Boxer (D-Ahhhnoldia) for the speed of judicial appointments, and they have decided to punish the Democrats by forcing the Senate clerk to read the entire climate bill out loud. So Joe Lieberman (D-Booooooor-ing) and Babs Boxer keep interrupting with motions to stop reading the entire climate bill out loud, which I would imagine only exacerbates the problem. As all this is going on, Mother Nature made a motion of her own to stop delaying the climate bill by sending out a few funnel clouds. Announcements of the tornadoes keep interrupting the interrupting of the reading of the climate change bill, which has to put a pretty nice punctuation on that whole climate change discussion.

Also, you may have noticed that Barack Obama is giving a rally tonight at the Nissan Pavilion. It's starting to seem that Mother Nature wants to punish people who should know better than to host events at Nissan Pavilion - doesn't it seem like we just went through all of this a few weeks ago? I wonder if Barack will dedicate a speech to those who can't make it through the weather.

Just Hold Your Horsies

More bloggering soon, including a story involving a guy pooping in a trash can. There will be pictures.