CAROLYN'S COMPOSITIONS

January 4, 2011

Shoplifting in Munich, Germany?

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

SHOPLIFTING IN MUNICH, GERMANY?

    As the Munich, Germany, shopkeeper looked at me with suspicion, I knew he was about to call the police to accuse me of shoplifting.

     We spent two weeks in Munich, Germany, visiting my son when he held a post-doctorate position at the Max Planck Institute. While there, I was almost arrested for shoplifting another local newspaper.

     Early one day my husband and I stopped at the newspaper office, located off the main square. It was a site I wanted to visit, since I’d written for numerous local newspapers—all in rural towns.

     The lobby was akin to those found in large city newspaper offices. There was a manned desk, with a gate preventing entry to the offices to all but those with authorization. 

     “Can I purchase a newspaper?” I asked the woman at the desk, hoping she would understand me, since my grasp of the German language goes no further than “Sprechen die Deutsch?”   

     The woman, in broken English, communicated to us that they didn’t sell newspapers in the lobby.

     “You have to go to the kiosk in the square,” she instructed.

     We left the lobby and stopped at the ticker tape outside the office. I casually leaned against the stand, and held up a copy of the Greensburg (Pennsylvania) Tribune Review (Fay-West section), acting like I was “reading” it. Monte had the camera to take the picture.

     Suddenly, three people ran out of the newspaper office, yelling at us. It stunned me—what were we doing wrong? (more…)

November 2, 2010

Watching the 2000 Election from Munich, Germany

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

WATCHING THE 2000 ELECTION FROM MUNICH, GERMANY

     My most memorable election experience—the 2000 presidential election.

     It wasn’t made memorable by the controversy over the Florida votes, although, like most Americans, the controversy made the 2000 voting unforgettable.

     It was memorable because (more…)

March 26, 2008

THE SMART CAR: IS IT SAFE ON AMERICAN ROADS?

WHAT WAS THAT?

We were zipping south on New York State Rt. 81 at a pretty good pace when what should go zipping by?…It couldn’t be…Surely it was NOT!…But it WAS… It was a (more…)

March 17, 2008

THE SMART CAR

 

CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS

THE SMART CAR

     Compact cars are proving they can be economical yet still have some pizzazz…The Internet article refers to them as “Sleek and Stylin’”—Today’s small cars are all about good design, great gas mileage and real value, the headline states—small cars don’t have to be boring!

     “The past few years have seen a record number of compact and subcompact vehicles hitting the market…All of these vehicles cost less–often much less–than $20,000 dollars, come preloaded with oodles of standard features and, most importantly to their Gen-X and Y buyers, look great and drive really well, considering their small price tags…However, this wasn’t always the case. Back in the dark days of the automobile industry, say 25 years ago, budget-oriented consumers had essentially two choices–take a gamble on a used car or opt for a tiny econobox with a bad design, an even worse ride and none of the modern features people have come to expect (i.e. power windows, power steering and air conditioning)… “The Scion ethos is ‘keep it surprising,’ ‘keep it versatile’ and ‘keep it simple,’” continues Mark Templin, vice president for Scion. “We go after a pure price. All of our vehicles are mono-spec, and everything, from the design of the car to the buying process, is about simplicity.—” read the rest of this article at http://autos.yahoo.com/articles/autos_content_
landing_pages/192/sleek-and-stylin (cut and paste)

     OK. But I’m watching for the Smart car. 

     No, I’m not referring to Intelligence! A while back a newspaper carried an article about a German car (written by Matthias Pfannmüller). Headlined “Fortwo Set to Come Across the Pond,” it read “When the Smart Fortwo arrives in the U.S. in early 2008, parent company DaimlerChrysler doesn’t want to repeat past mistakes. The first Smart car hit the European market in 1998, but the brand has never been  profitable. With the new Fortwo, Smart is starting anew with a car tailor-made for the United States. Standard safety features include four airbags, ABS and stability control. The U.S. Fortwo will have increased cabin and trunk space and a new 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine making 84 bhp, mated to a refined semi-automatic transmission. Company executives claim the car will get about 40 mpg.”
     I first saw the Smart car while visiting my son, Nolan, in Munich, Germany in the fall of 2000. I immediately had my husband Monte take a picture of Nolan and I beside the car, with the name “Smart” prominent in the photo.
     I didn’t do it to brag about our “intelligence.” The photo was taken because we are descendents of the (New England) Smart family. I thought it was neat to have a car named after our ancestors!
     I learned about the Smarts while pursuing my genealogy hobby. The most notable Smart was Captain Richard, who was the first privateer from Portsmouth, New Hampshire in the war of 1812. He took his boat, the Nancy, out only once. He returned with enough booty to build a home in Portsmouth that still exists today. It’s located behind the town’s hospital.
     Both my late mother and my sister are named Nancy. I’m not sure if my grandmother chose that name because of the boat or not, but I’d like to think so.
Genealogy has taught me a lot about myself.
     If anyone dares call me anything less than intelligent I have a response. They are wrong! After all, as a Smart descendent, how could I be considered unintelligent, regardless of the evidence?
     I’ve also learned I’m eternally youthful—what else could I be, being a descendent of the Young family of Eastham, Massachusetts and Lamoine, Maine? I also follow my cardiologist’s advice—and should be in good shape—since I’m a Walker (Exeter and Lamoine, Maine and Alton, New Hampshire).
     However, you might want to hide your axe when I visit you. I’m also a descendent of the Rhode Island Cornell family, as was Lizzie Borden. Yet the same family might confirm my intelligence quotient inherited from the Smarts—Ezra Cornell also descended from the same line, and he founded a university that’s the size of a small town today.
     So I await the Smart car’s introduction in the United States. It’s a neat little scoot-around car, just big enough for the driver, one passenger and the groceries. Small enough to fit into tight parking places, it might even enable me to parallel park.
     And if anyone were to accuse me of being precocious by advertising my intelligence, all I have to say is “I’m a descendent of the Smarts.”

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