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2008-04-11 - 12:03 pm.

...naked Verdi, planes, and the lungless frogs from Borneo...

I woke up this morning and heard several most excellent news stories.

It seems that an Austrian director is staging a rather unique production of Verdi's The Masked Ball in Erfurt, Germany (within spitting distance of where I lived) - featuring bold costumes of Uncle Sam, Elvis impersonators, and a soprano sporting a pink ball gown and a Hitler mustache. There are also bold non-costumes: a choir of naked senior citizens wearing Mickey Mouse masks. The whole opera is set within the 9/11 ruins of the World Trade Center. The director suggests that "The naked stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass, who donít have anything anymore." The description made me roll my eyes a little bit, but the pictures of the staging were quite tantalizing. In either case, inviting 35 enthusiastic naked pensioners was enough to sell out the performance, and also to make the international news. Ostentatious? perhaps.

The other cool news story I heard was about a plan for Japanese astronauts to launch origami paper airplanes off the back of the Space Station, moving 20 times the speed of sound. The wind tunnel experiments have already suggested that paper airplanes shaped like the space shuttle and coated in teflon are durable enough to survive re-entry into the earth's atmosphere. I am waiting to hear more about the launch date, because I'll be scanning the skies for falling paper. Can you imagine a paper airplane falling from the heavens into your backyard? How COOL is THAT??

The third story was about the lungless frogs of Borneo. A team of scientists in wet suits and snorkle gear have found lungless frogs living in the freezing cold high mountain streams on Borneo. The frogs have evolved without lungs, presumably because the air sacs would make the frogs too buoyant, which would bring them to the surface and make them visible to predators, and also make it difficult for them to navigate the strong river currents. Instead, the frogs are very thin and flat and absorb oxygen through their skin. Can you imagine taking a research excursion to Borneo to find these little peepers? Can you imagine sitting on the plane next to the research guy going to Borneo to snorkel for frogs, and asking if they are there on holiday, and instead getting this story?


I am one day closer to filing taxes. I met with the tax accountant yesterday with my list of questions, and left with my head spinning. I wrote down all of the answers I could. Based on his advice, I recalculated my passive income tax credits, including income I hadn't known was eligible. I revised my foreign income exclusions...and now I owe $0 to the US feds. Which scares me. $0???? So then I looked up whether or not I'd simply deducted myself into an Alternative Minimum Tax. Nope, apparently not. The number comes up $0, and the audit risk looks pretty low. I'm still not confident. I need to go through one more time to look for expensive mistakes... Same for Canada, but only after US is finished.

Susi is sleeping very very soundly - K's Ex sent us an excellent Swiss baby hammock. I was very skeptical, and so was Susi at first. But in the past week she's really taken to it. Anytime she starts to stir, the hammock lulls her right back to sleep. We're hoping that the hammock isn't her first stop on the way to other popular recreational activities here in >>ahem<< British Cannabis. Dude.

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