Handegg (and why Sir Nerdalot is in the dog house)


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have praised my Sir Nerdalot on many an occasion on my blog. This is not one of those times. Because, what is almost as bad as the Man Flu? Yup, you got it: Handegg-season!

fb_img_1465235134972Now, what is so wrong about Handegg-season, and why do I have a problem with it? Oh, let me count the ways (brace yourself):

funny-american-football-demotivational-posterWe are Norwegians. We live in Denmark. Handegg games come on in the middle of the night over here, because what’a-ya-know; we don’t play that stupid sport over here! Thus, we have to wait for the Americans to wake up, have their coffee, and start their game – and by then it is evening and soon night over here in the “Old World”

Who in their right mind would choose the poor copy, when we can have the real deal in our own part of the world? Why does the good ol’ Nerd not follow Rugby? It’s right over there in the UK! He can get a cheap airplane ticket and go see a game live if he wants too!

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There are no motorcycles in Handegg! Yes, you read me correct;

There. Are. No. Motorcycles. In. Handegg!

Shocking, isn’t it? They wear crash helmets, but at no point in the game will there be even one measly little motorcycle!

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b71c2e9542729837482bd07c30a61085afa821ed5682db1b17a5b0a3944be3a5For the sake of communication, our relationship, love, respect and blah blah blah, I have asked the good Nerd exactly what he likes about Handegg, what is it that gives him pleasure to watch this strange game – to which he gave me a lengthy lecture that made absolutely no sense and bored me to sleep. When I woke up, I asked him to sum his long rant up in one sentence (ten words maximm), or – if possible – into one word. “Tactics”, he said.  He must think I’m stupid. This is “tactics” displayed in Handegg: Run a yard – and everyone in a pile. Run another yard – everyone in a pile. Run another yard, and I’m out like a candle in a windstorm. Pfth! Tactics Schmactics!

nfl-replacement-ref-meme-4_display_imageNow, I could live with all of the above – if the Nerd had his priorities straight. You see – and this is the clincher, really – the other night, the Nerd was all engulfed in a NFL thingy. Yanno, wearing his jersey and being all “handegg-nerdy”. I was craving some attention, as I hadn’t seen the Nerd all friggin day. I tried to strike up a conversation, but he was not really listening to me, and only granted me answers in one syllable grunts. Figures, eh? So I opted for my go-to-move in situations like this; I started to take my clothes off all seductive-like. Yanno, batting eyes, pouty lips, wriggling slowly out of my clothes. I was down to my undies and socks, and still no response from the Nerd. I asked him, quite annoyed, was he unable to see what the heck I was doing?

«Yea», he responded grumpily, «why can’t you sort the laundry somewhere else?»

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Care to join us at the #WeekendCoffeeShare ? Then go to  Parttime Monster Blog and join the link up!

Want to see my previous contributions to the #WeekendCoffeeShare? They are funny, I promise:

The Doc’s in!

Fall Folly

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An Irishman goes into a bar…

Once in a lifetime

Sausage much?

Brexit explained

The Nerve!

Brexit Tea

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Trouble is my middle name

We should not sleep away the summer night

Diet much?

Wolf Whistle much?

An eggy conundrum

Happy Mother’s Day!

#WeekendCoffeeShare

Nice to meet you

Coffee and taxes

read my blog

Our American winter vacation, a recap


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Waiting for boarding to commence

Oh, what a wonderful vacation it was! What an Adventure! We saw so much! We experienced so much! We ate so much! We didn’t come home with great tans this time, but that wasn’t the type of vacation we were after anyways. The tickets were bought on a whim (see the first post from the list below, it is funny), and we took it from there. Sir Nerdalot being just who he is – a nerd – took it upon himself to book rental cars and accommodations, despite the fact that Old Mamasan is indeed a seasoned Travel Agent. Have to hand it to the Nerd though – he did well!

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Somewhere along the way…

Posts written before the vacation:

Impulse Control vs. Sir Nerdalot

Travel Book Much?

Upcoming travel

We kind of knew what we wanted to see and experience, so the entire vacation was planned accordingly. Well, the outline was planned, the details came while on the vacation. We wanted to leave a little bit for our impulsive selves.

We flew in and out of Dulles International Airport, close to Washington DC, with SAS. We got a really, really good deal on the tickets, and to sign up for newsletters from your favorite airline might be a smart move. It was for us, that is for sure.

At Dulles, we had rented a car from Budget. Being descendants from the great Norse Vikings, we opted for a not so small car, a Ford Edge or similar. Man, did we hit the jackpot! Turned out that Budget had a waaaaaaaay nicer car from their New York office, which needed to be returned, so we got a BMW X5 for the same money.

That first day, after picking up the X5, we drove to Gettysburg, PA, in crappy weather. We are used to snow covered roads, but the visibility was poor on roads we were not familiar with. We had landed at 1 PM, it took a couple hours to get through immigration, and get the car checked out – plus we were quite jetlagged. The drive therefore took its toll on us, so after dinner, we all fell asleep before our heads hit the pillow. We stayed at the Days Inn Gettysburg, for one night. The hotel was easy to find, and the room was comfortable.

06-20160216_102849We woke up early the next day, and the roads were glazed from the ice storm that night. The plan was to find a civil war museum of any kind, and the nice people at Perkins advised us to spend the day at Gettysburg National Military Park. You can read all about it (and see the pictures) here:

Gettysburg National Military Park

After visiting the Military Park Visitor center, it was time to move on to Newark and deliver the car. It was a beautiful car that was lovely to drive. At this time the roads were ice-free, so the drive up to Newark was quite nice. We had booked a hotel at Newark, but the power was gone, so they could not check us in and not even let us in to our room (everything is computer based these days, and the door locks are electronic), so we made our way to the Newark airport where we delivered the car and caught a taxi into New York, where we checked in to Wyndham Garden Manhattan Chelsea West Hotel for one night. This hotel is within walking distance to the Flatiron District – which you can read about here:

I ❤ NY – Flatiron building

The next day we moved to the hotel we had booked from home, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, at Times Square South. With this as our base, we explored the City:

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Old Mamasan and Lady Liberty

I ❤ NY – Ground Zero

I ❤ NY – Union Square

I ❤ NY – City Hall Park (Civic Center)

I ❤ NY – Top of the Rock

I ❤ NY – Grant’s Tomb and the Miracle on the Hudson

I ❤ NY – Times Square

I ❤ NY – Yankee Stadium and Yogi’isms

I ❤ NY – Plaza Hotel and Central Park

I ❤ NY – Castle Clinton, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

I ❤ NY – Dum Dum, Give Me Gum Gum!

I ❤ NY – Cawfee much?

I ❤ NY – Gems and navigating the city

Cityguide: NYC 🇺🇸 (the Karate Kids words on the City)

After some really interesting days in New York City, it was again time to get on the road. The hotel arranged a transport for us back to Newark, where we picked up a new rental car, again with Budget. This time we were not lucky enough to get upgraded, but a Ford Edge was also nice.

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The Karate Kid and Sir Nerdalot posing with the Ford Edge

We were headed for Lancaster, PA, but stopped for a really nice lunch at a wonderful little diner in Whitehouse Station, NJ:

Readington Diner, NJ

Eat much? (a rant on food in the USA)

When we arrived at our hotel in Lancaster, PA, the Hawthorne Suites by Wyndham, we passed the entryway and made a small detour on the highway. Second time around, we crossed a non-crossing line to get into the hotel. We did however figure it out – we just needed to pass the hotel, and make a U-turn and come back. Not the greatest of locations, but the suites were really nice, and the complimentary breakfast was also very nice. Although waffles are not – have never been – and will never be – acceptable for breakfast! Waffles are something you serve with your afternoon tea!

Lancaster is a great starting point to experience Amish Country, which we did after a good night’s sleep (followed by waffles for breakfast):

Intercourse much?

Amish country

After some Intercourse in Amish Country (*giggle*), we headed for Dulles Airport again, to deliver the rental car. From there we took a taxi into Washington D.C. and our hotel, The Hotel Harrington, from where we enjoyed the D.C.:

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The Karate Kid and Old Mamasan at the Lincoln Memorial

Rock the Red! Love the D.C.

#Rock the Red! Capitals vs. Coyotes

Rock the red – The Smithsonian Institution

Rock the red – full circle

I really think we got great value out of our vacation, and during a relative short period, we crammed alot of interesting thing in there, without it ever feeling «crammed» and busy. Here is the route we took, the stops are marked with red stars.

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We started at Dulles, drove to Gettysburg, and then on to Newark, where we delivered the BMW X5. After our NYC adventure, we pcked up a Ford Edge and drove to Lancaster, and then delivered the car at Dulles before our D.C. adventure.


 

2-12985507_10153876965106622_6531013635553233800_nAlas our vacation came to an end, and we flew back home to Copenhagen with SAS. Coming home does have it’s advantages, and picking the pets up from the kennel is a really good thing!

Now we will live on the memories of this vacation, we will glance nostalgically at the pictures, while we look forward to the next. Just as the vacation came to an end, so does this series of US posts and Old Mamasan will move on to other topics. Hope you will stay with me, and read non-travel posts as well.

Until next time; Travel Safely and Rock On!

 

 

Rock the red – full circle


I don’t think the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at the Mall in Washington D.C. needs much introduction. We all know what it is and what it’s for. I will however tell you that it doesn’t matter if you have a personal connection to it; the Memorial is still an emotional experience. We were all very touched. Even the Karate Kid felt this wall sent a very powerful message about war in general.

If you on the other hand do not know too much about it, you can read up on it here. I strongly advise setting aside a few quiet minutes here at the wall as opposed to just snapping a couple photos in the passing.


Serendipitously, we came full circle with our last stop on our winter vacation, the Lincoln Memorial. We started in Gettysburg at  Gettysburg National Military Park, where Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address, and we ended at the Lincoln Memorial with the Gettysburg Address written on the wall. The mere scale of the statue and the memorial fills you with awe. And the view once you turn around towards the Mall and the Washington Monument (as I have written about here) is breathtaking, even on a rainy day like we had. The idea of the Mall and the sculptures, the geometry of it all, strikes me as genius. L’Enfant, and everyone else involved throughout time to think it, execute it, maintain it – I tip my hat to you. Job well done indeed.


Now that I have shared with you all my pictures and feelings from our winter vaccy in the US, all that is left is a round up post, including practicalities like route, rental cars and hotels. The last post will be uploaded sometime during the weekend. Until then: Happy Blogging and Rock On!

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Rock the red – The Smithsonian Institution


The Smithsonian Institution must be the eighth wonder of the world with its vast collection of absolutely everything from ancient times throughout modern times. When visiting the D.C. you can’t and shouldn’t miss out on the Smithsonian. The Mall is lined with wonderful themed museums (11 of them), so you pick and choose which ones you want to visit. I know I could spend weeks in the museums, but alas our vacation was about to reach its end. The Smithsonian is good excuses to return to this wonderful city though!

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But what is the Smithsonian Institution really? It is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. It was established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge”.  And best of all – it is free! (If you want to contribute, make a donation or shop ‘til you drop in the museum stores)

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Why is it called the Smithsonian Institution and not “United States National Museum”? Actually that was the original name up ‘til 1967. Henry James Hungerford was the nephew of British scientist James Smithson who left him most of his wealth in 1829. Then when Hungerford, who had no heirs, died in 1835 the estate was willed  «to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men»


The Castle is the Institution’s first building and is still its headquarters, housing he administrative offices and information center. The Castle was designed by James Renwick Jr, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

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The Castle


So here we were, in the rain, with so many great museums to choose from, all within walking distance. What to choose? As Europeans visiting the US, it seemed natural to us to visit the National Museum of American History. This is a really educational and fun museum to visit, with great exhibitions!


Where to next? Our second choice came to us just as natural as the first one: The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. (Those of you that have followed my blog for a while are aware that I live – and travel – with Sir Nerdalot) As we were getting tired, we concentrated mostly on the “space”-side of the museum. Oh my! We all thoroughly enjoyed it! I will admit – we did have a hard time agreeing on what show to catch in the Planetarium. As I had just enjoyed the gowns of the first Ladies in the American History Museum, I let the boys have final say in the Air and Space Museum. They chose “Dark Universe” narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. And a good choice it was!

A day well spent. Make sure you schedule in some of the Smithsonian museums on your next travel to Washington D.C!



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For Posterity

#Rock the Red! Capitals vs. Coyotes


For those of you that do not follow NHL (National Hockey League), the #Rock the Red might appear as an enigma. I will not hold you in suspense – but reveal right now that Rock the Red is the Washington Capitals team motto. The Washington Capitals are an American professional ice hockey team – based in Washington D.C – that competes in NHL.

When visiting Washington D.C. with a former hockey player (he was talented too! Won the Norwegian Championship as a youth) – do you think there is any way to not go to a game? No, Sir! Of course NHL is interesting in itself – its faster, bigger and badder then what we see in Norway. (Although our home team is of course the very best; FORZA OILERS!)

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Sir Nerdalot practising his primal scream to be used as cheers when the Caps scores, and embarrassing the Karate Kid in the process.

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This is Old Mamasans «Oh I am so excited»-look

 

Sir Nerdalot was skipping and dancing all around Washington D.C. all day in anticipation of the game.  It was quite interesting to see the city turn more and more red as the day turned to afternoon and evening. All the supporters wore red jerseys, hats or scarves.

Sir Nerdalot made us go early too – because he had a date with the supporter shop. Let me tell you, the MasterCard almost melted in there! (Of course, as a good lil’ wife, I said nothing to his spending, I just tallied up the amounts for later revenge.)

The “Caps” were founded in 1974 and their home hockey rink is the Verizon Center right, smack downtown Washington D.C. It was within walking distance from our hotel and very easy to find. We didn’t need any directions or maps – we just followed the red stream. It was a very nice arena, with food, snacks and drinks places evenly distributed, but Sir Nerdalot had not gotten us the best seats. We were seated very high up, so the puck was impossible to follow. But it was fun to be there anyways.

Right in front of us there was a couple, obviously out on their first date. Every time the young lady got up to go to the bathroom or whatever, the young man took notes on his smartphone. Notes about what he had learned about her through conversing.  When I asked Sir Nerdalot if he had done the same on our first date, the Karate Kid jumped in with one of his snarky teenage comments: “You would have noticed if he had brought a boulder, chisel and hammer to take notes, mom!” (And that’s when the rest of his inheritance got redistributed)

I was a little surprised at the lack of chanting and cheering, though. I had expected the American supporters to be, well, typical American… Yanno, loud and obnoxious.

The game was against the Arizona Coyotes and the Caps won 3-2, after they almost gave it away on several occasions. Of course they didn’t really give it away; they are after all the best! I am not kidding you – they did win the league!

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Proof!

Slapshot (which also means the hardest shot you can make) is the Caps mascot. He is a large bald eagle who wears the number 00 on his jersey.  He even has his own home page (or is it home nest in eagle terms?) check it out here.

When writing about hockey, there’s no getting around the Zamboni. The Zamboni is an ice resurfacing vehicle developed by Frank Zamboni in 1949. Frank Zamboni was originally in the refrigeration business, and as the demand for ice blocks waned, he had to find another way to capitalize on his expertese with ice. To resurface a skating rink manually is a very time consuming process, so thank goodness for the Zamboni, or we might still be at the game!

After the game, Sir Nerdalot kept his red Caps jersey on, and I must say that was a very good ice breaker (pun intended). Everyone we met on our way back to the hotel and in the hotel lobby wanted to know the scores from the game. Sir Nerdalot is still rocking the red jersey all the time, and is only changing into his Oilers one when the Caps jersey is rocking the washing mashine.

Washington Capitals – you have gained a diehard fan over here in Europe!

Rock the Red! Love the D.C.


Wonderful, beautiful, interesting capital of the United States of America! I love, love, love Washington D.C.! The wide streets, the National Mall, the beautiful old buildings, the Smithsonian, the monuments, oh my list could go on forever!

(Unfortunately we didn’t have the best weather for photographing, I guess that is what you risk when travelling to D.C. in Febuary…)

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Washington D.C., formally the District of Columbia, is not a part of any US State, as the Residence Act approved the creation of a capital district (July 16, 1790), as also provided for in the US Constitution under the executive jurisdiction of the Congress. Think about it – if one of the states in the Union should hold the Union capital, which might shift power in favor of one state, that wouldn’t be very fair.  Therefore, the capital is not a state, it’s not a part of any state. It’s a district in the federal republic.

Washington D.C. is a planned city, in 1791 President Washington commissioned the city planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant to design the new capital, who made a plan featuring broad streets and avenues and open spaces for landscaping – a design that was based on some European cities. His design also featured a “grand avenue” in the area that is now the National Mall*. L’Enfant was dismissed in 1792 due to conflict with the three commissioners who supervised the capital’s construction, and Andrew Ellicott was asked to complete the design. Ellicott did make some changes to the plan, but L’Enfant is still credited for the overall design of the city.

*The National Mall is not a shopping mall, but a national park downtown Washington D.C., situated where L’Enfant had envisioned a garden-lined “grand avenue”.  Mathew Carey, an Irish-born American publisher, who published America’s first atlases, is reported to be the first to name the park the “Mall” in his 1802 map of Washington D.C.

Two states, Maryland and Virginia, donated land to form the federal district and the City of Washington was founded in 1791 – named after the first President of the United States (George Washington)

The Federal Government of the United States consists of three branches; legislative (Congress), executive (President) and judicial (Supreme Court). The centers of all three branches are located in D.C. The power is shared between the federal government and state government – meaning that the states have their own set of laws in addition to the Federal laws. One of the pillars of the US Constitution is the idea of “checks and balances” among the powers and responsibilities of the three branches.


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The Karate Kid and Sir Nerdalot enjoying the view of the White House and coffee on a rainy day.

The White House is where the President of the United States resides and works (See? I’m not the oly one who likes working from home!)  The White House was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800. The first President (George Washington) operated first out of New York City, and from Philadelphia PA from Dec 1790 which was the temporary national capital while the Federal City was under construction. President Washington never occupied the White House.

Washington’s Vise President, John Adams Jr, was the first President to occupy the White House when he was the second President of the United States. Not to get into too much detail, but after retiring to Massachusetts, him and his wife established a family of politicians, diplomats and historians, now referred to as the” Adams political family.” His son, John Quincy Adams, became the sixth President of the United States.

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The White House


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Washington Monument

This obelisk on the National Mall was built to commemorate George Washington, and is called the Washington Monument.  The monument is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. Construction of the monument started in 1848, suffered several halts, and was officially opened on Oct 9, 1888.


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Capitol Hill in the fog, clad in scaffolding as a restoration project is ongoing

Capitol Hill (the United States Capitol) is the seat of the United States Congress (the legislative branch of the U.S. government), and is situated at the eastern end of the National Mall. The original building was completed in 1800, and has since been expanded.

As English is not my native tongue, the usage of the words CapitAl and CapitOl greatly confuse me, and as the great State of Confusion is not a place I like to visit frequently – I just had to look it up. I found a good explanation at grammarist.com:

«Capital vs. capitol

As a noun, capital refers to (1) a city that serves as a center of government, (2) wealth in the form of money or property, and (3) a capital letter. As an adjective, it means (1) principal, (2) involving financial assets, and (3) deserving of the death penalty. There are other definitions of capital, but these are the most commonly used ones.

Capitol has two very specific definitions (outside ancient Rome): (1) a U.S. state legislature building, and (2) the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. State capitols are located in the capital cities of U.S. states, and the Capitol is located in the capital city of the U.S. If you’re not talking about any of these capitol buildings, then the word you want is probably capital.

The Capitol building located in Washington, D.C. is spelled with a capital C, but state capitol buildings ordinarily don’t have the capital C (which is not to say that some writers don’t capitalize them anyway).»

In other words; in the US you have a capitol in every capital, except for Washington D.C which has a Capitol.


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Ford’s Theatre from the 1860s is a historic theatre and also the site of the assassination of U.S. 16th President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. The theatre was later used as a warehouse and office building, and in 1893 22 died and 68 were injured as part of the building collapsed. It was renovated and re-opened as a theatre in 1968.

The building was originally built as a church in 1833, for the First Baptist Church of Washington. When the church moved to new building in 1861, John T. Ford bought the former church and renovated it into a theatre which he first called Ford’s Athenaeum.  The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1862, and rebuilt the following year – with seating for 2400 persons.

Being a Theatre Manager, John T. Ford of course had many friends in the theatre business. The famous actor John Wilkes Booth was well known to him. Booth was pro-Confederate and quite outspoken in his hatred of President Abraham Lincoln. Five days after General Lee’s (Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War) surrended, President Lincoln and his wife attended a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre when Booth stepped onto the box of the presidential party and shot Lincoln. Booth then jumped onto the stage and yelled out “Sic semper tyrannis” (a short version of “Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis” which is a Latin phrase meaning “Thus always I bring death to tyrants”), before fleeing through the back. President Lincoln died the next day, and Booth were tracked down and killed on April 26.


 

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FBI headquarters

 

The J. Edgar Hoover Building is the headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) from 1975. The building is named after former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology. He is also a controversial figure, as evidence of his secretive abuse of power has surfaced. Hoover was also somewhat
unpredictable in his leadership; he frequently fired “stupid-looking” agents, and relocated agents that had displeased him to career-ending assignments and locations. FBI directors are now limited to a ten-year term (but subject to extension by the United States Senate) because Hoover’s actions came to be seen as abuses of power.

Now, I wouldn’t normally mention a person’s sexuality, as I see that as uninteresting. As long as we are talking about relations between consenting adults, I couldn’t care less!  When it comes to Hoover, however, it is very interesting, you will soon see why:

Rumors have circulated since the 1940s that Hoover was homosexual, and a cross dresser. Hoover reportedly hunted down and threatened anyone who made insinuations about his sexuality. He even spread rumors that Adlay Stevenson was homosexual in order to help Eisenhower and Nixon in the 1952 presidential campaign.

It has been speculated that Clyde Tolson, who became an associate director of the FBI and the heir to Hoover, was his lover. Hoover described Tolson as his alter ego, and they did spend a lot of time together, both at work and in their free time. Hoover is also rumored to engaging in cross-dressing in the 1950s homosexual parties, and that he also had sex with underage boys.

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I find the rumors about Hoover’s sexuality interesting because homosexuals have not had an easy time in the era when Hoover ruled the Feds. There was even an Executive Order signed by President Eisenhower (April 29, 1953), barring homosexuals from obtaining jobs at the federal level. I guess that means that Hoover had to hide his homosexuality or he’d lose his job. Or – if he was not gay – these rumors would be devastating to his career if they were allowed to grow. In public, Hoover waged a vendetta against homosexuals.  He kept secret files on the sex life of prominent politicians and allegedly was not afraid to use them to get what he wanted.

Was Hoover good for the US? In some ways he was – the US needed a federal police, and the modernizations to police technology. In other ways – he was a true terror.


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If you are visiting Washington D.C., I can recommend the Hotel Harrington.  The location is great for tourists and you can walk to all the attractions and museums. The hotel has also been in business for over 100 years, and seems only fitting that history-nerds like us stay at a historic hotel. (And Harry’s Pub that are famous for theire burgers, you can read about here.)

There will be a couple more posts from Washington D.C., so please check back later.


Tourist

Amish country


 

I will admit I have had my fair share of fights with the GPS throughout the years (as I have written a funny story about in the post Road rage much?) This time it wasn’t so much of a fight, but more of a missed turn as we were leaving Intercourse. We figured she (the GPS) would get us back on track before soon, but all of a sudden we were in bat country.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, that we wound up on the back roads instead of the highways were very much welcomed. It took us twice as long to get to Dulles to deliver the car, but this route was very scenic, and we got to see a lot of Amish homesteads and schools.

The great state of Pennsylvania is beautiful. Well, the parts I have seen anyways. Picturesque. Serene. Did you know that the official name is Commonwealth of Pennsylvania? It’s a nomenclature used by four of the first fifteen states to join the Union (Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Massachusetts and Virginia), and it has absolutely no legal meaning. Do not confuse this with Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands – which are not states and where the term Commonwealth indeed has a distinct legal meaning.

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Pennsylvania is one of the thirteen original founding states of the US, founded in 1681 when William Penn was given the land of what today is Pennsylvania and Delaware by King Charles II as payment of the debt the King owed William Penn’s father. Must have been a considerable debt – or extremely low value of the land. William Penn was a deeply religious Quaker, and the Swedes, Dutch and English settlers in Delaware didn’t like the “Quaker government” he had set up, and so they broke free in 1704.

 

If someone handed you a huge chunk of land, wouldn’t you name it after yourself? I sure would! I think Old MamaSTAN has a nice ring to it! And that is what William Penn did. If you found it – you name it! All jokes aside, William Penn is an important figure in the history of the United States of America. Not a very well-known fact is that William Penn is also considered the very first to suggest the creation of a European Parliament.

 

05-20160222_100219_025The Amish are traditionalist Christian church fellowships, with Swiss Anabaptist origin. They are not the same as Mennonites, but are closely related as they have the same origin. Anabaptists are Christians who believe that, opposed to being baptized as an infant, baptism should be delayed until the person confesses his or hers faith in Christ. In the 1690s, one of the Anabaptist leaders, Jakob Ammann, spoke about a particularly strict and humble Christian lifestyle, which attracted a group of followers – and they were called Amish (after Jakob Ammann). The Amish met massive opposition in Europe, where many had their land taken from them, were tortured and even burned at the stake.

Many Amish and Mennonites immigrated to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century, and the most traditional descendants of the Amish speak “Pennsylvania Dutch”

 

The Amish live a simple life, dress plainly and do not use modern technology. It’s like they are stuck in the 1700’s… No car, no phone, no TV. While most Americans have a birthrate too low to maintain the population, most of the Amish have 6-7 children. Infant and maternal mortality has decreased greatly in the 20th century, and has together with high birthrates, helped to increase the Amish population greatly in latter years.

02-20160222_095714_008The children are raised as Amish, but are not considered members of the Amish church until they are baptized, usually between the ages of 16 and 25. Once baptized, they are only allowed to marry within the faith (once married, the men grow their beards). Of course this endogamy leads to inbreeding, and thus the Amish have higher incidents of dwarfism, Angelman Syndrome and various metabolic disorders.

Rumspringa (meaning “running around”) normally begins around the age of 14-16 and ends when the youth chooses baptism within the Amish church. During this time it is generally OK to own and use technology, cars and even use alcohol.

Musical instruments are forbidden by the Old Order Amish community; because playing an instrument would be worldly. (I keep thinking they really miss out on some great melodies. They believe that it would be contrary to the spirit of Glassenheit (humility).

You might have heard of Barn Raisings? They are a cherished tradition in the Amish culture and symbolize acts of selflessness and assisting one’s family, neighbors and community. It is also very much so a social event. In addition to being farmers, there are many very talented artisans and crafters. They make some beautiful furniture and quilts.

The Amish intentionally segregate themselves from other communities as a part of their faith. The practice of humility is the main motivation for almost everything the Amish do. They believe outside culture has a morally polluting effect, as it promotes pride, greed, immorality and materialism. They believe God will judge them on how well they obeyed the church rules during their lifetime, and contact with the non-Amish world makes it harder for them to obey their rules. This is the Bible verse they point to as reason for their self-imposed isolation: “Come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord.» (2 Corinthians 6:17)

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As every other Christian community – they pick and choose what parts of the Bible to live by. As the Bible is full of contradictions, it is not hard to find a verse that will suit whatever rule you wish to enforce, and this one in particular is in fact highly judgmental. Judgement and humility does not go together. In a different part of the same book, you can read that: “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40) Choosing to isolate yourself from your neighbor, is that love? The Amish say that fraternizing with their neighbor will morally pollute them, is that humility? Not in my eyes. In my eyes this is self-righteousness.

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Every member of the church must observe the ”Ordnung” – the rules of the church – that cover most aspects of day-to-day living. Most Amish do not buy commercial insurance or participate in Social Security, and as pacifists they will not partake in any form of military service (Mustaches are forbidden among the Amish people, as they associate it with the military). Members who do not follow the church rules (the ordnung), and will not repent, are excommunicated or even shunned, meaning that all contact with the shunned person is cut. Even parents must shun their own grown children.  I see the practice of shunning as manipulative and cruel not just to the person being shunned, but also to the family and friends as they risk also being shunned if they remain in contact with the shunned, and its only purpose is to control the members through fear.  The effect on the individual is not a positive one for sure. They have been brought up in a community where contact with non-Amish has been very limited, and when shunned they are left all alone in the world. They know no one, have no education, and do not have any social skills in the “English” world. This is psychological violence.

I have no beef with the Amish for living without modern technology, for dressing the way they do, for growing their beards and for being self-sufficient. Good on ‘em! I have no beef in them believing in a higher being. Good on ‘em! Their self-righteousness, their judgement, the psychological violence though the practice of shunning, I cannot respect.

 

Opposites

Intercourse much?


If you are expecting sexually explicit stories from my personal life in this post, you will be disappointed. The Intercourse I am referring to is a little town in Pennsylvania, US. No it’s not a joke. It actually IS called Intercourse! (*giggles*)

Intercourse is located in Lancaster County, PA, and has a population of a mere 1274 (2010 census). (Low population numbers might be a sign that the inhabitants do not practice what they preach.) This town is in the middle of “Amish country”. I will write a separate post about the Amish, but the short version is that they are a group of traditionalist Christian church fellowships, and they live like in the good ol’ days without modern technology. You might have seen the documentary “Breaking Amish” on the telly? Well, this is them, and this is where they live.

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Back to Intercourse (*while Old Mamasan shamelessly continue to giggle*); Intercourse is a very popular site for tourists because of its location in Amish country and for its sexually suggestive name, the sign posts for the town is frequently stolen (Go figure! *giggle*). Other place names that I guess frequently have their sign posts stolen are Blue Ball, Fertility, Smoketown, Ronks (this might be funny to Scandinavians only) and Paradise. Or how about planning a route like this: Leave Ronks, go to Blue Ball, Intercourse, Paradise, Smoketown (if you smoke after Intercourse, you’re doing it too fast!) and end destination Fertility? (*giggles have now passed into full-fledged belly laughs while rolling on floor and slapping knees, while snorting and gasping for air*) Seriously, this whole area were settled and inhabited by deeply religious people, what the heck went on in their warped minds while naming these towns? (And there are more funny names; they just didn’t fit on my map.)

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Ooooh I sooo need to focus on Intercourse here (*ROFLMAO*):  Intercourse was founded in 1754, and was originally named Cross Keys. It changed name to Intercourse in 1814, and there are three theories for the origin of the name, as stated on the Village home page:

“First, our town used to sit at the edge of a race course, right where visitors would enter the racing festivities. The entrance was coined «Entercourse» and may have evolved into Intercourse. Or, the name may have come from the Intersection of two major roads, or courses. The Old Kings Highway which traveled from Pittsburg to Philadelphia and the route from Wilmington, Delaware to Erie, Pennsylvania. One final theory suggests the town was named after a phrase commonly used at the time of the town’s founding. In early English, Intercourse was used to refer to fellowship and social interaction shared in a community of faith, a description still relevant to our town today.”

Intercourse is a picturesque village, where you often hear the cloppeti-clopp of the Amish horse and buggies. We were there so early in the morning (and on a Monday, when the Treasure Place is closed), that not a lot was open yet, which surprised me as the Amish tend to get up at crack of light. Or so I thought. Maybe the Amish roosters slept in that day.

The Corner Coffee Shop is a part of a shopping place Smucker Village. In addition to being extremely cozy and absolutely adorable, they also served great coffee. Starbucks doesn’t even play in the same division, trust me, we have tried quite a few, read about that in I ❤ NY – Cawfee much?.

I would just love to go back to Intercourse in the summertime, with a thick wallet and lots of baggage space to fill up. (I suspect Sir Nerdalot knew that the Treasure Place were closed on Mondays, and deliberately planned it this way.)

If your answer to my question “Intercourse much?” is “No”, then you need to change that! You just cannot miss out on Intercourse, you’ll absolutely love it! (I’m sorry. I can’t stop laughing)

(Note to self: Now that being a serious travel blogger is out the window, a Plan B needs to be thought up fast!)

Opposites
Ambience

Eat much? (a rant on food in the USA)


When in America, do as the Americans; Eat!

In the US, you can stuff your pretty little face with anything your little heart desires, and it might not come as a shocker that the USA has a severe obesity problem. Being a foodie myself, and even a foodie with a sweet tooth, it was unavoidable that I gained weight during our 10 day vaccy in the US. Mind you, it would have been a lot worse if we weren’t out and about all day long. We covered great distances on foot, and even though walking around in museums for hours upon end is not considered a work-out (seriously, we didn’t even break a sweat), at least we were active! Still, weight was gained around Old Mamasan’s jelly belly, and her ever widening sit-upon did what it usually does; it widened!

To regain control over my weight, I have now started acting in the way my doctor told me:

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How I keep control over my weight…

Doc: The best advice I can give you… is to move around alittle more.

Old Mamasan: Oh… Does that mean jogging, situps, spinning and the whole shebang?

Doc: Not at all… It is sufficient just to shake your head every time someone offers you something to eat!


Hard Rock Café

This music-themed chain of restaurants will rarely let you down. They have great burgers, they have great desserts (you have to try their apple crumble!), they have great everything. Of course the Karate Kid is collecting the Hurricane-glasses from Hard Rock, so even if we don’t always eat there – we have to pop in and get a glass. Sir Nerdalot seems to collect leather jackets from the Hard Rock Café souvenir shops. (Yes, I live with two Hard Rock Cafe hoarders!)


Froot Loops

The Karate Kid has been hounding me for years about Froot Loops. I have told him over and over that he’s not going to like it, but to no avail. So when visiting the US, of course the Kid got himself some Froot Loops, you know the multicolored little rings of artificial-tasting, plain old awful sugary things, that Kellogg’s have the audacity to call a “breakfast cereal”. Seriously, these little rings of nastyness are no good way to break the fast and start the day.

I do see the appeal for young children though, as they tend to like colorful things, and their taste buds are a little different than those of grownups. I still believe that much of the faff has to do with the colors, and that kids eat those more because they are funny-looking then good-tasting.

On the bright side of things, the Karate Kid has now tried the Froot Loops, found out for himself that they are not fit to be called food, and has gotten it out of his system. Finally! He only had a couple spoonfuls before giving up. Had he finished the bowl I’m afraid he would be farting in Technicolor!


Harry’s at the Harrington Hotel in Washington DC.

They said they were famous for their burgers, and I believe them! Sir Nerdalot wasn’t feeling all that well one night, so the Karate Kid and I went down to Harry’s alone for dinner.  We both had burgers (huge portions!) Really good burgers. I asked nicely if it was possible to get a burger and fries to go for my sick hubby, and that was absolutely no prob. Back up at the room, Sir Nerdalot also enjoyed the burger from Harry’s, and he concurred that if Harry’s weren’t famous for their burgers – then they certainly should be! There’s a recommendation for ya! Order the burger at Harry’s the next time you are in Washington DC!

We were back at Harry’s on our last day in DC, to spend some time away from the rain and get some lunch in the time between having checked out from the hotel until our airport transfer picked us up. Again, due to a really big breakfast, we weren’t really that hungry, but cups of chowder and chili were available on the menu. And onion rings. Love the onion rings!


Twinkies

Both Sir Nerdalot and the Karate Kid like the Twinkies. Old Mamasan realizes her family is absolutely nuts, however not as nuts as Weird Al Yankovic with his “Twinkie wiener sandwich”. Kids, don’t try this at home!

As if the Twinkie is not nasty enough as it is, you can also find deep-friend Twinkies, which means that you freeze the darn things, dip it into batter and slip it into the deep- fryer – and then you drench it with a very sweet berry-sauce. What a waste of perfectly good batter!

No thank you!

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

“As of September 20, 2012, Reese’s is the best-selling candy brand in the United States with sales of $2.603 billion, and is the fourth-best-selling candy brand globally with sales of $2.679 billion—only $76 million (2.8%) of its sales is from outside the United States market.” – Wikipedia

Because they are THAT good!

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Perkins

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Sir Nerdalot enjoying his breakkie

I love love love Perkins! Mind you, this was my first visit to a Perkins Restaurant. There were a Perkins right next to our hotel in Gettysburg, and we asked the receptionist at the hotel what type of restaurant it was. «Kind of like Denny’s», she said. Sir Nerdalot and myself jumped with joy, as we both know Denny’s well, and this type of Restaurant was just what the doctor prescribed for our first dinner in the US. And Perkins did not let us down! I remember saying that it was waaaaaay too much food, when the waitress brought us our dinners. But OMG it was good!

As we were tired after a long flight, followed by a couple hours’ drive from Dulles to Gettysburg on icy roads and low visibility, we wanted to turn in early. We stopped at the bakery section and got some cookies to go, for us to enjoy at the hotel room.

Perkins being the nearest restaurant to our hotel, we of course returned there for breakfast early next morning. During the night an ice storm had made the little walkway from the hotel to Perkins glazed with ice, so we started the day with an adventure just getting there with no broken bones. The breakky at Perkins is wonderful, and you do run a great risk of overeating. We certainly overate, and didn’t really eat much more that day. However, it was good to have fueled up on nutrition before visiting Gettysburg National Military Park as there were lots to see, take in and learn.

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Old Mamasan and the Karate Kid enjoying fresly brewed coffee in the morning


There are so many food-places I haven’t mentioned (and some that are mentioned in other posts), but that doesn’t mean that we haven’t visited some really great places. Generally you get obscenely humongous portions, and no normal-sized person stands a chance of finishing their plate (mind you, neither of us are particularly thin and petite, being of real Viking-blood we are quite big). Apart from Mickey D, the only places I’ll advise you to stay clear of, are the cafes at the museums. Every one of them that we visited on our journey from Gettysburg, to New York City, to Washington DC – were truly horrific. If you can plan your visit to the museums without meals, then try to do so. Eat before and after.

So, eat much? I sure did!

(and now onto practising shaking my head when food is offered) 

Cityguide: NYC 🇺🇸


Would you be interested in a 14-year old’s take on our trip to New York City? Here is the Karate Kid’s blogpost, where he in his own words (and second language, mind you) and own pictures gives a quick recap of what he enjoyed the most in the big City.

Even Andreas Sverkmo

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So I have recently been in the United States of America, well so we arrived at Wahington Dulles airport, then we drove to New York. There we slept at DoubleTree by Hilton, the hotel is rated as ★★★★☆, but I would totally rate it as ★★★★★. In the reception there are people there to give you advices on where to go, where to eat, which people to keep away from and lots of other stuff.

Well so I would like to tell you about some of the great things to do if you visit New York for the first time, and how to see as much of the city while you are there.

The Apple Flagship Store is located at 767, 5th avenue, this is the Apple Store where the products come first. The store is below groundlevel, but the entrance is above groundlevel,  the entrance is a glass box with a…

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