The Best Of.

Watching blog statistics is an infurating hobby.   I’ve been writing here now for just over five years, and no matter what I do, the same two posts are always at the top of my stats.

1)  ICE, ICE, Baby! (A Beginner’s Guide To The Deutsche Bahn) – Written in early 2013, almost halfway through my time in Germany, this is a fairly detailed how-to styled post about how to use the rail system in Germany.  I took a lot of time to write this one, and gathered a ton of photographs from my own travels.   I left the comments open for the first couple of years, and I would routinely get comments from people about to go on their first German rail adventure, seeking advice.    I still get the occasional question through normal e-mail about this one, and it is always, always, always at the top of my stats for the most visits on any given day.

2)  Germany’s Most Dangerous Export: Kinder Surprise Eggs – This post from late 2013 is the second busiest post on my entire blog.  These little chocolate eggs are illegal to import into the United States, with a very steep fine per-egg if you get caught bringing one through customs.  I see them for sale from time to time in places like Sawgrass Mills, and I haven’t the foggiest idea how they got them through customs.  Rumors persist that the ban has been lifted, but I haven’t seen anything official to confirm that and I guess regular google searches about Kinder Eggs bring up my post.

The third place for top post is usually the most recent thing I’ve posted.   There are a few older posts that I really enjoyed putting together, though.  Sometimes I wish some of these would be in the top stats instead.

1)  Grokking Expatriates in Sci-Fi – This is another post from early 2013, and it’s one of the few posts where I got really geeky.  I went through an insanely long list of television, movie, comic, and literary characters out of the sci-fi genre who could be considered expatriates, and I grouped them into categories I made up.  This post was so much fun that it’s the first and only time that I’ve ever been Freshly Pressed.  (Thanks again for the nomination, Rara!)

2) Last Looks – I wrote this in late 2014, as I was preparing to move back to the United States.  It’s a long list of things that I thought I would miss about Germany, and things that I wouldn’t miss.  I also mentioned a lot of stuff that I was looking forward to about being back in the US, and I was right about everything except the cell phone signal.  That still sucks.

3) – Hunting Krampus in Berchtesgaden – Besides being a fascinating look into holiday traditions that are a little bit less tame than modern Santa, this post is a very fun look at the time in late 2013 that I went on a Krampus hunt with a friend from work.

4) Any of my travel posts.   I’ve written up many fantastic trips, with lots of great photos.  For some of my favorite examples, check out Cairo, Budapest, or Reykjavik.  I’m immensely proud of some of the posts I’ve written up about my travels.

What gets the most traffic from your blog?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?


With perfect clarity, I suddenly realize.

I have a memory of camping, when I was a pre-teen Boy Scout.

It was the summer of 1984, and I was eleven years old. I was exiled to a week at the Camp Tanah Keeta’s summer camp for Boy Scouts in Jupiter, Florida.  I say exiled because I really don’t think I wanted to go.  Both of my brothers were Boy Scouts as well.  They each attained the rank of Eagle Scout, and Jonathan also reached Order of the Arrow.   Where my brothers saw community and fun, I saw something that kept me from television.  I would much rather have been home watching new episodes of Automan than going to meetings.

ghostbusters-original-movie-soundtrack-cassette-tape-1984This particular run at summer camp was during the summer of 1984.  I know this because when we went to the mess hall to get dinner one night, someone was playing the brand new Ghostbusters soundtrack on a portable boom box near the dinner line. Music is always memorable to me, and to eleven-year-old me, the original red plastic cassette box of delight that Arista used for the Ghostbusters soundtrack was like catnip.

This is also the summer that I nearly got lost in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, but that’s a story for another time. Besides which, Jonathan Dickinson is only a few miles wide. No matter how immense it seemed at the time, I wouldn’t have been lost for very long.

Back to the camping.  A few lucky souls had cabins, and some of the cabins even had air conditioners.  I was not so lucky-  my camping area contained pre-set canvas tents set on wooden slabs.   There were cots.  On the bright side, I did not have to pitch my own tent or sleep on the ground.  I was still sleeping in a tent, though, and it was open to nature.

i-regret-nothing-your-garbage-was-deliciousA recent post by Controlled Chaos recounts a time that she was sleeping in a tent and was terrorized by a small (and probably adorable) wild animal getting into their stuff.  That post made me remember a similar experience from Tanah Keeta.   During that week of summer camp, I had a box of Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies zipped into my duffel bag.  One day I came back from the day’s activities to find the cookies gone.   A tiny rip in the side of the duffel bag suggested that a raccoon had gotten into my bag and had made off with my cookies clenched in tiny paws.

Except I’m no longer convinced that it really was a furry masked bandito.   The post by Controlled Chaos mentions “tiny little nibble holes,” but the rip in my bag didn’t have that shape.  It looked like two straight-line rips.   The box that had previously contained the cookies wasn’t nibbled through or torn either, and there was no cookie dust around the scene of the crime.

With perfect clarity, I realize now, more than thirty years later, that some kid ate my cookies and staged a crime scene to frame the local wildlife.  What a dick!

Have you ever realized after many years that your perception of a past event was incorrect?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

At least a third of my readers are in countries that don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving, but that’s happening today in the US and it’s going to keep me pretty busy.  Because of that, I’m going to cheat a little bit on today’s post by sharing a selection of my favorite Thanksgiving joke images.  Enjoy, and I’ll see you here tomorrow with more actual words!

dc-villains-thanksgiving jabba-the-gobbler sesame-street-thanksgiving-sesame-street-1705164-210-320moo-moo-moo turkey-cannibalsklingonturkeys

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?


Sometimes, when I’m looking for specific information on the Internet, I stumble across truly ridiculous and hilarious memes.    We all know the double rainbow guy and nyan cat, because they’re everywhere now.  But my favorites are the ones that surprise me, and the ones that make me laugh out loud.

This is the most recent video to make me laugh so hard that I couldn’t help but share it with others.  The little Spock-dance at 22 seconds in is one of the funniest edits I’ve ever seen.

What’s your favorite funny video?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?

It’s a little bit corny.

Combat Babe mentioned a thing in a recent post about sodas and sugar free drinks,  and it reminded me that I’ve never posted about my new-ish intolerance for high fructose corn syrup here in the blog.   I grew up never noticing a problem with it, and I didn’t realize until after I returned from Germany just how much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is used in food and drink here.

It’s sweeter than real sugar, and food manufacturers use it by the truckload because it’s also less expensive than real sugar.  It’s also linked by various studies to cause increased desire to keep eating, and it has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.   For me, the effect is much more immediate:  terrible, percolating heartburn so severe that it makes my eyes water.

This isn’t something I ever noticed before I lived in Germany.  While I lived in Regensburg,  I would routinely have Coca Cola and Oreo cookies at my desk while I was working.  When I came back to the US, I realized almost immediately that if I drank a regular bottle of Coke,  the burning would start almost immediately.     A few tests proved that Coke Life (in the green bottle) and Coke Zero were both fine, it’s the red bottles specifically.  Even more damning, I found out that if I have any cola at all made with real sugar, I don’t experience any burning.  This applies to both red-label Coke from Mexico and the kosher Coke they sell around the Jewish high holy days.

After I figured out that it was the high fructose corn syrup, I started to notice it in everything-  even Oreos, which are essentially vegan, still use the processed HFCS instead of real sugar.  For real sugar, I have to go to non-Oreo brands now.    (Or, you know, I could stop eating cookies.  NOT gonna happen.)

Even more frustrating is the fact that I can actually tell the difference in flavor-  HFCS might be sweeter than real sugar, but it doesn’t taste better.  At least, not to me.  The Coke in Germany tastes significantly better than the Coke here.  Oreo cookies in Germany are the same story- better there where real sugar is in play.  It turns out that HFCS isn’t used in the European Union all that much because it isn’t manufactured in significant quantity there.   In the US, we’ve got HFCS to spare because the government subsidizes farmers to produce more and more corn.

There is some good news on the horizon, though-  many major brands in the US are starting to pay more attention to what’s under the label and certain artificial sweeteners and chemicals are being tossed aside.   There are lots of food items now without HFCS.  Pillsbury has reworked most of their Ready-To-Bake cookie doughs to be free of high fructose corn syrup.

Sounds sweet to me.

Do you have any food allergies?

Editor’s Note:  I’m attempting to blog every day in November with CheerPeppers.  I don’t expect to succeed because life be crazy, but any blogging in excess of my previous post-free month is a win, right?