Einkaufen Laufen

It’s so nice to be able to do all my shopping on foot. Since every time I go grocery shopping I buy only as much as I can carry, I usually need to go every couple of days. This has several pleasant benefits. One: I can keep us stocked up on fresh bread, fruit and vegetables all the time. And two: I’ve invented a new exercise which I call einkaufen laufen, meaning shopping hiking (if you like made-up phrases in German).
My groceries usually weigh about 12 kilograms (a little over 26 pounds) and I carry them in bags rather than using a granny cart. Plus we live on a hill, so it’s a nice bit of exercise. I don’t know if einkaufen laufen can take all the credit, but I am in better shape now that I’ve been living here over a year.

Bags of groceries
My two bags of groceries

Bookworm that I am, I really liked Moby Dick

Moby-Dick or, The WhaleMoby-Dick or, The Whale by Herman Melville
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked it. In the beginning when I was getting to know the characters they seemed a lot more modern than I was expecting. I guess human nature hasn’t really changed all that much in 160 years, and a good writer can capture the timeless truth about people. The story becomes more and more fantastic and the writing more stylized as the book goes on, until it’s very Shakespearean: filled with symbolism, grand drama and tragedy at the end.

Melville inserts a lot of explanation about whaling in between the progress of the story. They’re necessary to understand the plot and mostly very interesting, but sometimes they get a little dull. That was the only thing I didn’t enjoy.

But other than that, I was really happy to read it. I also liked recognizing a passage Stephen Fry quoted on QI! “Ere long, it is taken down; when removing some three feet of it, towards the pointed extremity, and then cutting two slits for armholes at the other end, he lengthwise slips himself bodily into it. The mincer now stands before you invested in the full canonicals of his calling.”

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Snow day in Zürich

snowy street
A fresh layer of snow makes a pretty street even prettier

Over the past few weeks we’ve had regular snow, sometimes heavy and sometimes light. Sometimes it melted away in a day, sometimes it stuck around until it had melted and re-frozen enough times that it was more lumpy ice than snow. But every time a fresh layer of fluffy snow arrived, it always made the day a little more fun.

I had to go out this morning and since it had been snowing for hours, Zürich was a little thrown off from its regular schedule. The streets were covered in a few centimeters of the prettiest, fluffiest snow. The snow plows were going around regularly, but it took awhile for them to catch up and for the streets to be completely cleared. Since this snow was a little slippery, traffic was lighter than usual and the buses weren’t running their full routes. The bus I was on came to a slidey sort of halt at every stop. A friendly lady sitting next to me said something about us “just going through” rather than stopping. Passing a school I saw all the kids running around and making snowballs during recess, and grownups were either laughing and commenting, or were concentrating on keeping their footing. The snow made everything just different enough that you had to take notice.

Red berries and fluffy snow
Red berries and fluffy snow
icicle
cute little icicle
winter branches
winter branches

The beerbird of happiness

Who knew faux-wooden beer tankards could be so inspirational? Once you start drawing them you keep drawing them, and then you feel the need to create a bird, and finally you end up creating this:

beerbird of happiness
The beerbird of happiness.

Maybe I’m imagining magical woodland pubs? It must have something to do with all the forests and trees here, plus all that Lord of the Rings and Hobbit reading I did as a teenager.

In any case I’ve just opened up a Cafe Press store named Zuritopia, and I’m selling this graphic on t-shirts. You can visit the US store here: www.cafepress.com/zuritopia, and the UK store here: www.cafepress.co.uk/zuritopia (although I think it defaults to whatever is closest to your IP address, they are clever that way). I’ll have some other designs and products available soon!

I am tweeting from the past

I’ve been creating some graphics that look like they come from childhood circa 1958. If we were tweeting 60 years ago, I imagine these could be icons on a child’s smart phone. They could go with educational slogans: “Tweet a cheerful update” or “Stop and think before you tweet”. (Good advice for grownups too).

tweet bird

tweet policeman

Here are a few more of my favorites. Although they aren’t twitter-oriented, they are still pretty darned cheerful.

happy girl

hello groundhog

buzzy bee

When I worked for JDA I created a design I’ve always been pretty fond of, and which I think of as Happy Squirrel. You can see I now have a Happy Girl and a Hello Groundhog, which is very satisfying. I think it’s the combination of retro style and cheerful nonsense.

By the way, if you are ever looking for vintage images, a very fun place to find them is Vintage Printable. At the moment the site is in the middle of a re-vamp, so don’t be put off. It’s a cool site and getting cooler.

Ugly Mug

Well, maybe not ugly. But this mug is definitely a little funny-looking.

beer mug
Very 70s ceramic made to look like wood. The little hoops around the barrel are real metal!

I found some great old kitchen things when I unpacked some of Alan’s mystery boxes, but something tells me this is not a valuable antique Bierstein.

A California designer living in Zurich