Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Twin Egg Debate

Hot or not hot, that is the question. The object in question: twin eggs.

Over the weekend I bought a small, six-piece carton of eggs. They weren't organic, but they were free range. Now, I generally buy medium eggs because it seems to be the most common size here in Germany, but on this occaision the XL eggs caught my eye. I'd never seen such a thing. Let me rephrase that: I coulnd't remember ever having seen such a thing. I have undoubtedly bought XL eggs in the US, but memories of grocery shopping fade fast. I peered into the carton; I liked what I saw. Six enourmous eggs. Visions of over-easy eggs and toast starting dancing through my mind.

The next morning, I cooked up an over-easy egg for myself. As I cracked it open, I was quite surprised to see that it was a twin egg, featuring, of course, two yolks. A fluke I thought. Later that day I was making banana bread and found that eggs number 2 and 3 were also twins. As were eggs 4 and 6. Egg number 5 was the only one-yolk baby in the bunch.

What does this mean?
Does this somehow point to genetic engineering or chicken fertility drugs? Or are large eggs just by nature likely to be twins? Can two chicks grow in one egg? Isn't it possibly that they would injure one another with their sharp little beaks or claws?

Is this hot or not?
The answer to this question is very much dependent on the answer to the first question. Without knowing the nature of twin eggs, I am unable to judge their hotness or lack thereof.

To my German audience (which may very well be composed of just one person): does this fall into the category of a German topic? It was inspired by an incident in my oh so German life. I might be able to get more German inspiration for my blog if I went to places of interest near Tü, like Burg Hohenzollern for example (cough cough, nudge nudge).

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Do you like This American Life? Because if you don’t, you may be asked to step off to the side"

I recently asked my friend Katie if she thought that This American Life is the best radio show ever. I asked her this for several reasons. First of all, Miss Lewis is an accomplished radio journalist in Canada and I know that she very much appreciates the art of radio. Secondly, as a Canadian I hoped that she could give me a somewhat unbiased opinion on a show with a very American name. Thirdly, I know she loves the show and I guess I knew that she would give me the answer I wanted to hear. So there goes all of my scientific method out the window. At any rate, right I was--Katie pulled through with clear-cut "definitely". She went on to write that liking This American Life was becoming a requirement for her friendship.

"Do you like This American Life? Because if you don’t, you may be asked to step off to the side," wrote Miss Lewis.

Quite precisely, my dear Miss Lewis! Quite precisely! My sentiments exactly.

If you aren't familiar with This American Life, you should aquaint yourself immediately. If you live in the United States, then your local NPR station probably broadcasts it, most likely on Sundays. If you don't live in the US, then I would suggest listening to the show on the internet. You won't regret it. It is absolutely informative, emotional, intimate, hilarious, tragic, heart-warming, quirky, honest, and some other powerful adjectives. It tells the stories of people's lives, of countries, news events, events that didn't make the news, comedians, and normal people with a microphone and a tape recorder.

Thank you, Miss Lewis, for once again being the inspiration for a post. You will most definitely not be asked to step off to the side!

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Some fantastic musings on testosterone from Ira and the gang.

2005, Episode 220, aired 4/30/05

Friday, November 24, 2006

How did they keep this a secret from me?

Governments lie to and hide things from their people. That's what they do. All of them. And mine is probably one of the most successful at this lying and hiding game. When it comes to a scandal or some corruption, I'm not usually too shocked. And then there are the things that shock me. Listen up people, there are some strange things going on in the United States and I'm here to inform you about one of them.

The Presidential Turkey Pardon. Yup, you heard me, the Turkey Pardon. Via her blog, Miss Lewis alerted me to this strange tradition, which has been taking place, unbeknownst to me, since 1947! Each year the president gets a turkey and then "pardons" it, letting the turkey live a long and peaceful life and eventually die a natural death. Now I'm not the biggest animal rights activist and have been known to partake in the force feeding of geese, but nonetheless, it does seem cruel to tell a turkey that you're going to kill it when you have every intention of not killing it. What we have on our hands here is a clear case of psychological violence (for a hilarious account of some Dutch psychological violence check out the Episode 201, Act 2 of This American Life, aired on 12/7/01). But in light of the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the US government would emotionally abuse a turkey.

By the way, did you guys know this was going on? And if so, why didn't you tell me?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Today today, what a day!

I just got off the phone with my parents. As my mother put it, we hadn't talked in 20 million years, which is actually true if you do the proper calculations, taking into consideration the physical distance between us, the fact that I am an only child, my height and weight, the current length of the days, and the position of Jupiter. And man oh man did the parents pull through for me today. Here were the highlights:

I asked my father what he might like for Christmas. He thought for a bit and said that there probably wasn't anything that I could get him that he would be interested in, other than $100 million. He then proceeded to tell me that the one and only thing that he wanted for Christmas was an infrared meat thermometer and that he had already asked his mother for it. Let's take a step back here. I did indeed say infrared meat thermometer. I was told by my father that one must simply point it at the meat and it tells you the temperature, not just of the outside, but all the way down to the bone. In retrospect I should have asked if this worked on people and animals too, but at the time I was too busy giggling. At any rate, my father was recently reading a book from a chef that he likes about everything that a good gourmet kitchen must have and suddenly realized that he had everything, except for the infrared meat thermometer. I agreed that if the only thing that you could think of for your Christmas gift was an infrared meat thermometer, then you probably really didn't need anything else.

My mother's shining moment in the conversation was when she told me about the 91 year old man who was hunting with a shotgun by our cottage last weekend. Apparently Hunk, the granddad of our neighborhood, told this buddy of his that he could do some hunting on the land around our cottages, with his shotgun. Although two of our neighbors and close friends hunt frequently on this land, they do so with crossbows, a hobby which is far less disruptive to people in the area. So this 91 year old man caused quite a ruckus all day and was also so hard of hearing that when my parents, on separate occasions, returned from running their errands, they had to inch behind them in their cars as he walked down the road because he couldn't hear them. My mother reported that she almost had to bump the man with her car so that she could pass. Eventually he turned around and notice the car, and my mother noticed that his fly was down. Good that a man with a rifle is so aware of himself and his surroundings.

If you know the parents of the Claire, then those stories are probably pretty amusing, if not, you should really meet them. The parents rock.

I hate to sound all new agey, but I think that I was somehow aligned with planets or something cosmic today. I'm not really sure what it was, but as I walked around the city today I felt totally energized and present. Then I came across a box of free ribbon (curling ribbon to be exact) and I knew it was true--today is my day. I now have over a kilometer of ribbon (fuchsia, black, and white) and I feel great about life.

PS Timothy, if you're out there and reading, I think that the sushi district in Tübingen is at my house. If you want a lesson, I'm here for you. You just have to bring the wine.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Schwaben Quellen were really disappointing . . . NOT!

Good day, dear friends! We've got two issues on the agenda today: the Schwaben Quellen and not jokes.

Many of you may remember anecdotes about the German baths/saunas that I frequent in the winter. You know, tales of old naked Germans in co-ed textile-free saunas--tales that don't quite fit into our puritanical American modesty, and thus evoke giggles and wide eyes. Yup, those are the ones. Well let me tell you, there is a whole world of said saunas which have been, until now, just waiting for me to discover them. Until recently, I had only been to one bath/sauna in the area, mainly because I knew where it was and how to get their on the train. I was content.

And then came Sunday and the wellness adventure.

Sunday afternoon I received an text message from a friend, inquiring if I would be interested in a wellness adventure later that evening. And you all know me; I hate wellness and relaxation . . . NOT! So, off we went to Stuttgart, to the Schwaben Quellen (the link is to their English page, so don't be afraid to check it out), where I was wowed by sauna after sauna, steam room after steam room, pool after pool--right, you get the idea. Let me try briefly to paint a picture in your mind this relaxation paradise. After putting your things in a locker, stripping down to your birthday suit, and donning your robe, you stroll out of the standard locker room environment into what can perhaps be described as a classy version of a theme park. The main hall is decorated with a tiki flair and from here, you can wander in most any direction to discover a myriad of other whirlpools, cold pools, saunas, steam rooms, relaxation rooms, and showers. Although many of the design elements could be categorized as kitsch, the fact that you are completely warm and relaxed really allows you to look past the fake bird noises and enjoy the whole experience.

The end. . . NOT!

In case you haven't checked out the What's Hot/What's Not list, not jokes are so not hot . . . NOT! Anyone above the age of 20 is used to the trends of their childhood being brought back in a slightly altered form to sell to the youth. It's happened with every era: When I was in high school, the 60's fashion revival was in full swing and we were all clamoring for bell bottom pants; in college the decades made their brief comebacks and we embraced the 70's and the 80's, with brief stops in the 30's and 40's. Much to my dismay, we've been caught in the 80's/90's for quite some time and until now it could be ignored. I could ignore the tapered jeans; I could ignore the horribly cut 80's skirts. Not jokes can indeed be ignored . . . NOT!

Borat has revived the not joke. Dare I say "revive" in my current setting? I would tend to say no. You see, dear readers, not jokes are making their debut on the German scene. Germany was apparently too busy speaking their own language and thinking about that wall of theirs to even notice the not joke trend that swept through the US, or at least it's 10 year old population. And so it is with great pleasure that I witness a whole new generation of not joke users explore the seemingly limitless potential of the not joke.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Temperatures are dropping, excitement levels are rising

Yes folks, it's true, Patty and I are now the proud parents of a small freezer, which will soon be stocked with frozen veggies, ice cream, frozen pizza and maybe some meat that we won't be using immediately. The decision to purchase the freezer was made after a brief period of mourning for our deceased dishwasher. While the dishwash is dearly missed, we're proud to announce the arrival of this new appliance into our small and humble home.

Vive les appareils!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

16 glorious degrees in the middle of November!

For those of you not so up to date on your celcius, it's 61 F here in Tübingen today, the sun is shining, and a light breeze is keeping the smell of autumn fresh in the air!

While I have nothing of great interest to report, life in Tübingen continues to get better and better (although not surprisingly, since I wasn't at all thrilled about being back at all when I arrived a month ago). My classes, both taught and taken, are progressing well and I feel that I am getting better at managing my time with regard to leisure activities, exercise, school, work, and friends.

I do so very much hope that all of your lives are equally fulfilling at the moment.

P.S. Did I mention how much you guys rock at commenting? It's like Christmas every day!

P.P.S. Just a animals were an ever-present feature of Maria and my What's Hot/What's Not list at 259 Bay St, grown ups on scooters will also forever be on this blog's What's Not list. Every couple of weeks I see an adult on a motorless scooter (you know, a board with four wheels and a stick that you steer with) and am overcome with the feeling that it is not only not hot, but downright not right. Take that scooter people!

and just one more thing before I go: Today I learned an important rule for life: wear socks and wool clothing in months that have the letter "r" in them. If that's not a rule to live by then I don't know what is.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sushi sushi sushi in my belly!

I'm so perfectly filled with sushi and so absolutely delighted about it, as well. While I'd like to be able to afford lots of expensive and fancy sushi, I'm also pretty content with my homemade maki and the occaisional nigiri. Making sushi was really a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend.

Friday I had dinner with my friend Emily and then went out with some friends. The cold, gray and rainy Saturday was spent reading a novel, a luxury that I rarely grant myself. And Saturday night was spent at a great house party and the delightful dancing extravaganza that is the Funk Explosion at the Bier Keller. Sunday was slightly less exciting, but was at least relaxing at had the previously mentioned excellent sushi ending. I think after this weekend I actually feel ready for the week ahead. Rested and relaxed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Word of the day: crackerjack

Yes, the word of the day on my google homepage is actually crackerjack, meaning "of striking ability or excellence". Well let me tell you that the teaching workshop that I went to today was great, due to our teacher, who was absolutely crackerjack. This workshop got me absolutely giddy about teaching and language learning.

PS What do you guys want for Christmas?

Sprechen Sie Deutsch? . . . Uhhhh, maybe

Remember how I used to speak German well? Yup, it's over. I'm past my German-speaking prime.

Due to all this English teaching and intensive Skyping with the Canadian people, I am officially out of practice when it comes to the German thing. I went out with some new friends tonight and, through lack of coherent speech, managed to portray myself as either shy or boring, neither of which are adjectives that I would generally choose to describe myself. I'm sure that every foreigner and expat has this feeling now and again, but I've generally prided myself at my relative aptitude at switching between my two tongues and it's got me a bit blue.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This is pretty much all I eat

Well, the heading basically says it all. I eat pumpkin, lots and lots and lots of pumpkin. I didn't actually know that I liked pumpkin until about two years ago. Actually, I take that back. At the Nelson's house I ate Terry's pumpkin pie and liked it when I was about 10 but she's an exceptional baker so I think that I just figured I liked it because she made it, not because of the the pumpkin itself. At any rate, I think pumpkin is a veggie to be celebrated and since it's only around in the fall, well, it's time to party hardy! The next time I'm back in the states I think I'll bring back one of those kids pumpkin carving knives, as I think they might be one of the most effective ways to carve a pumpkin. Who'd a thunk it?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tink visited and I have proof!

Hey Everyone!

A most exciting weekend it was indeed! My dear old friend, Tink, came for a visit! Tink's real name isn't actually Tink; it's Ragnhild, however, I and everyone I know is so bad at saying her real name that we all just call her Tink. So anyhoo, Tink came all the way from Norway to pay me a visit--our first visit in over six years--and it was great. We spent the weekend eathing yummy food, hanging out, walking around, drinking coffee and generally amusing ourselves. Nothing could have been a better end to the week of 7th and 8th graders.

Tink eating a mound of cake . . . that other mound of cake is mine

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Tink on the Neckarinsel

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

High on lesson planning . . .

Or is it the permanent markers?

No, I'm here having a great time planning my lessons. I'm on my 6th or 7th hour here at the desk/computer and I think I've really hit my stride. We'll see if I actually enjoy being in the classroom with the pubescent monsters tomorrow, but I just might. I'm finally getting the hang of what these little buggers need: the perfect mix of games, very structured worksheets and grammar activities, activities that remind them that they don't actually know how to use what they think they know, and discipline. Yes, it's true, I often try to remind them that they don't know things. I know it sounds horrible, but it is one of the only ways to make them listen. Their propensity to cockiness is unbelievable, due mainly to the fact that they are good at worksheets and structured situations. What they are not yet so good at is actually using what they have learned. So we go back and forth between speaking and writing practice, and the rules and worksheets.

In other news, my palm needs a new pot; it looks really squished.