Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pretty much the most resilient grandma around

Today is Thursday. Today my grandma was up at 6am, she made herself breakfast, she helped my mom feed the dogs, she put away dishes - aside from not lifting anything over 15 pounds with her left arm, she's living her normal life. Why is this of any interest to me or anyone else? Because my grandma had a modified radical mastectomy* on Tuesday.

Yup, a surgery that I thought would have her down for at least a few days barely phased her. She of course spent the day of the surgery in the hospital bed, but that was the beginning, middle and end of bed rest for her.

Yesterday my mom came into town and I was to pick her up a the airport. Of course it wasn't in the books that grandma would come, but since she was feeling so good, she decided it would be great fun to surprise my mom at the airport. I was going to go into the airport and grandma was going to wait in the car and we were looking forward to the look of surprise on her face. Now, I say that my grandma was feeling good, but I didn't realize how good until we were at the airport. I go into the airport, wait for my mom and we walk out of the airport together. Then I decide to walk to the back of the car, since you wouldn't see grandma as well until you actually got to the car, thus keeping the surprise until the last moment. Well, we walk around the back of the row of cars, look down the row, and see my grandmother - my grandmother who had a breast removed the day before! - crouched over, sneaking behind the back of the car. To clarify the image, she looked a bit like Golum from Lord of the Rings. She had been peeking out in front of the car to see if we were coming and then ran to the back when she saw us. It was pretty much the funniest thing I've seen all week and definitely assured me that grandma is doing pretty damn well.

* A modified radical mastectomy is the removal of an entire breast and the lymph nodes under the arms and is in contrast to a radical mastectomy in which the pectoral muscles under the breast are also removed. In keeping all that muscle, the patient is saved a bunch of time in physical therapy, learning to do things with a whole section of muscles missing. Modified radicals are far more common today and the traditional radical mastectomy is only performed when the cancer has spread to the surrounding area.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Back from the Love Boat, uhhh . . . I mean Peace Boat

So I finally made it back from my 3.5 week journey to Jordan and the Mediteranean region. I'm still working on getting photos together from everyone -- I forgot my camera in the US and am just collecting photos from all my friends and hoping from the best. But, just to give you a taste of what's to come, here is a picture of me with some of my fellow students on board the Peace Boat. By the was, it's harder to breathe in a kimono than you might think.

There will be more soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am the auditor

I love the absurd. My lovely friends in Victoria also love the absurd, the silly, and the utterly offbeat -- that's why we are friends. So while I visited Victoria in August, it was no surprise that while at a cocktail bar, we found a drink called The Auditor. Now don't tell me you don't think this is completely silly, because it just is. It is almost as enjoyable that there is a drink above it on the menu called The Larry. I myself had to go for The Auditor, because what a better prop for posing for pictures could there ever be?

The menu.

Me--the auditor--considering the numbers.

Oh! Something is amiss! I've found some botched numbers!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nazis suck . . . and I stole these pictures from the newspaper

So way back when in July, some Neo-Nazis decided to come to Tübingen for a rally. Why did they choose the peaceful, left-leaning university town? Because it's a peaceful, left-leaning university town. And because, much to most Tübingen residents surprise, the city is home to a prominent right-wing extremist publishing house. Probably the only intelligent thing this publishing house does it to keep a low profile.

At any rate, I had written to inform you that this rally was happening and at that time promised photos of it all. Well, here they finally are, although they are taken from the local newspaper, as Sarah and I, in the excitement of the moment, both forgot to take cameras.

The rally against the rally, that is the peace rally that was organized in response to the fascist rally, started out in the Main Square of the city, where there were speakers, music, and lots of people handing out sunflowers, probably as a sign of peace and beauty.

We then walked down to the train station and stood around and waited for the Neo-Nazis. I was in this big crowd of people. There was a lot of music and people trying to have fun, but there is only so much fun to be had when you're packed into the bus station parking lot for six hours. Yup, we waited six hours for some people whose point of view we think is insanely uncool.

This is a scene we didn't see: the fascists arriving at the train station. This is actually probably what it looked like for a lot of the day, because the police did a great job of doing what they could: slowing those jerks down. Many people in the crown were calling for the police to stop the rally, but I must remind all citizens of democratic countries that the police don't make decisions, they only carry them out and if they were making decisions on their own about such things, that would be a reason for concern. At any rate, over a thousand police were there that day and they did a fantastic job.

Here are those cute Neo-Nazis again, surrounded by tons and tons of police officers. This was part of the efforts of the police to protect everyone involved in both rallies.

Here we see the police keeping the area in front of our group free. Technically, the Neo-Nazis had the right to march in front of where we were standing but the police thought it would be too dangerous for us to all get that close to each other and we whole-heartedly agreed. In fact, we never even saw the Neo-Nazis. For a few minutes at one point we could see their flags, but in the end they only got to march by the train tracks.

Here they are again. Pretty normal looking folks for the most part, except that they are holding a sign that says, "We can do everything except speak Turkish." This is a take-off on a popular advertisement for the state of Baden-Württemberg which jests that "We can do everything, except speak high German", which is the form of German that all Germans should be able to speak despite having different dialects.

At the end of the day, the Neo-Nazis left Tübingen and had a spontaneous rally in a near by town. The police there let them have their rally, but they weren't allowed to leave the train station parking lot, so I'm sure that was stirring. I think we were all glad about not having let them really enter our city at all, but it remains discouraging to everyone that such movements still exist.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Under Construction!

Please excuse the current strange-looking Claire in Tuba-Town. I'm (slowly) working on improvements and learning how to make it look snazzier.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Badlands -- Not bad after all

Dear Readers,

I'm back.

Actually, I'm not really back in a physical way, as in being at my home in Germany or my home in Milwaukee. I'm in Cranbrook B.C. in a hotel with Miss Lewis, awaiting the wedding of our dear friend Marnie. On the way here we passed through the Badlands, which didn't live up to their name at all. They were beautiful! And to make the whole thing even more exciting, the Badlands National Park threw in some prairie dogs and buffalo! Just feet away from our car! Yahoooooo!

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Neo-Nazis are coming to Tübingen

The Neo-Nazis are coming to Tübingen and we're fighting back with the P to the A to the R-T-Y, yup, we're fighting back with a big party.

The JN or the Yound National Democrats (aka the Neo-Nazis) are coming to Tübingen, which is a widely accepted "left stronghold", to strut their stuff, win new members, and I'm assuming to give the finger to the well-established anti-fascism movement in Tübingen. Lucky for us that the city was quick to take action, and creative action at that. First they tried to forbid the meeting, but I believe the JN fought the "Verbot" and is allowed to have their march. They won't, however, be able to march when the entire city is covered in a giant party. At that point the police will be obligated (and all to happy) to stop the JN out of concern for an escalation of the conflict. This is, in my opinion, a brilliant way around the JN's freedom to assemble -- assemble more. So, this Saturday there will be a huge "Citizens Festival" in Tübingen to celebrate diversity and have a good time fighting evil. I was perusing the list of activities and groups that are participating and was most tickled by the following entried: "dressed up dwarfs", location: overall in the city; "Dance Away the Nazis"; and "The Chaise Lounge Offinsive", which I believe features everyone in Tübingen who owns a reclining lawnchair in Tübingen bringing it and a beer and plunking down for the afternoon.

I'll be running around having fun and taking photos, so hopefully you'll see what I'm talking about.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Only because Jean rocks, not because I like to talk about myself or anything

My cousin Jean (well, my cousin Alex's wife Jean, who I like to call my cousin) tagged me on her blog, Stimeyland. What? She told the blog-reading world 8 random facts about herself and now I should do the same, because I have been tagged. You know the game. If you know me personally then you probably know that I'm not against talking about myself, so away we go!

But first, the rules:

1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

The facts:

1) I love to watch ducks eat. It is one of my simple pleasures in life -- watching their funny feet wave in the air as they peruse the bottom of the pond/river for bits of food.

2) I live in Germany (not random or new information) and I have found that I do not like to try new things (things that are new to me, that is) without some kind of German supervision. For example, I was interested in buttermilk drinks for a long time. I didn't really know what they were but I knew they sounded gross. I waited for months and told several people that I had never tried the buttermilk beverage until someone bought one for me and shared it with me.

3) Another thing about Germany. This one actually just occurred to me the other day. A question that people ask me all the time in Germany (and I do mean several times a week) is why I came here. Until recently I had always started with taking German class in school, which I pretty much remember doing because it seemed easy (good call, Claire). However, I have been thinking about it more and I would now say that I probably started taking German all those years ago and then came to Germany because my cousin Alex did it. And what Alex did was cool. So here I am in Germany.

4) I have really incredibly square feet. In fact my orthapedic specialist took a photo of my feet to use in his lectures.

5) I think that I have a very acute sense of smell.

6) I love nicknames but I suck of thinking of them for other people. For example, I call my friend Kristen "K". Way to be creative. My very favorite nicknames that others thought of for me are Staniel, Clarity, and Princess Poodle-Dee-Poo.

7) My dentist once told me that I had some of the best oral hygein he'd ever seen. That was in the 8th grade and I've felt very proud about it ever since (that's about 12 years of feeling proud about clean teeth and healthy gums).

8) I truly believe that I have the coolest parents ever and feel competetive with others when they try to tell me that they have cool parents.

Woo hoo! I did it. It took me two day, some beer, and a bunch of chocolate, but I did it. Now I shall tag people.

1. My favorite married person, Sarah over at Mysterious Objects at Midnight.

2. My favorite almost librarian, Alli over at tales of a traveling (almost) librarian.

3. My favorite international journalist, malaria expert, and shoe fiend, Katie over at Oogling Uganda.

4. My favorite scrabble partner and knower of so many words, Maria at Brigands and Nabobs.

5. My favorite resident of Toronto, Meghan at Meghan's Tumblelog.

6. My favorite arm-fat-toucher, Joyce at Joyce in Okinawa.

Yeah, those are all the bloggers that I really know, so six will have to do. I think it would be very cool if others answered since random facts are fun and amusing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I suck at this

You guys have probably already heard the news, but I suck at blogging. Don't know what happened, but I've lost my drive. Well, my computer is also on hiatus (that's a very optimistic way of putting it) making it harder for me to become one with the internet as often as I'd like. And also, it's so incredibly cold and rainy that I just don't feel like writing. But wait, wouldn't cold, rainy weather make you stay inside and blog more? Ummm . . . interesting question, next please!

In light of the lack of interesting stories I have to tell, I'll tell you about the delicious spread I just made. As you may or may not know, Germans love bread and Germans make delicious bread, better than most Americans can even dream of. And for those Atkins folks out there, I'm not talking bread out of a bag made with lots of crap white flour, I'm talking whole wheat and all sorts of crazy grain flours like spelt and such with whole nuts and seeds inside -- I'm talking hearty, healthy, delicious bread here. Both breakfast and dinner are often bread-based meals, which is nowhere near as boring as it might sounds. At breakfast expect some cheese, meat, jam and at dinner an extravaganza of meats, cheeses, spreads, veggies, and the like. Enter delicious spread.

I'll call it Red Lentil Delight. It's healthy, delicious, and easy to make. I think that it should be eaten quickly but I have no idea since the first time my roommate made it I ate the whole jar of it in a day. Here's what you have to do:

ingredients: red lentils, 2 carrots, fresh ginger, some finely chopped cashews (use your best judgement on amount and chopping size), vegetable stock, curry powder

1) don't worry too much about amounts or times or whatever, I think it will turn out regardless of what you do. Just try it and be creative and taste it while it cooks.
2) First I fried some of the ginger with the lentils for a few minutes in the pot
3) Then I added the vegetable stock, enough to cover the lentils
4) Then I finely grated the carrots into the pot and let it boil, then turned the head down a bit
5) At this point I just kind of kept tasting it, adding more veggie stock as necessary
6) After maybe 15 minutes I put in the nuts and added some extra ginger
7) When everything started getting as soft as I wanted (Since it's a spread I wanted most of the lentils to mush together a bit) I added the curry powder
8) Put in jar or tupperware, enjoy

Yup, that's how you too can make delicious spread. I bet no one will do it, but oh well. Actually, I could imagine Maria and my mom doing it . . . we'll see what happens.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Oh, I see, it was all just a big confusion!

My friend Christian cares about the truth. As one of the head mediators in our upcoming mediation simulation, Christian is responsible for clearing up misunderstandings and helping people with differences understand each other. In that light, he sent me this video.

What this terribly informative video has taught me is that what many of us think of as pollution is actually life. Yes, it's really quite simple. Thank you, Christian, for bringing us the truth. Watch and learn.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Solar panel installed on my leg

Yesterday I had this solar panel installed on my leg. It collects energy from the sun and powers a heater that provides my entire body with heat all day long.

It has also transformed my ankle from a collection of muscles, tendons, and bones that can move at will into solid mass. Since last night, I've thought of my foot at "club foot". While cleaning my room yesterday, I realized that I was using my club foot to slide things around on the floor. So, along with heating my body, it's also a useful tool. How cool is that?

Monday, June 18, 2007

These are the people in my neighborhood . . .

in my neighborhood!

in my neigh-bor-ho-ood!

I live in a pretty typical residential neighborhood in Tübingen. Most of the houses are either single-family or houses with 3-4 apartments in them. They have gardens. A canal/little river runs along the street. It's normal.

Thank goodness for the characters in my neighborhood. I can think of four people in my neighborhood that I see frequently and am 1) highly amused by and 2) who make the song "These are the people in my neighborhood" play in my head. Unfortunately, I'm too polite and/or wimpy to take pictures of them for this blog. I'm so sorry. You'll have to make do with my artful descripions.

The Absent-minded Professor: This name really says it all. I probably don't even need to describe this guy to you, but I'll just do it for the sake of posterity. The professor is an older gentleman, probably in his late sixties, and goes for frequent walks with his obese, wirey-haired dog, which appears to be a dachshund or something of the sort. He himself has a large mass of gray wirey hair, causing him to kind of match his dog. I have never seen him without a three-piece suit on. The absent-minded professor isn't all that strange, but rather a delightful and intriguing character.

Woman who should probably be institutionalized: Woman who should probably be institutionalized is probably in her late thirties or early fourties and can be spotted most any days wearing clothes which are quite innapropriate for the weather. Mostly she just talks with herself, but once, while I was sitting in the car, getting ready to drive away, she walked by the driver's window and smacked my window quite forcefully. I don't mean to poke fun of the mentally ill, but it was pretty amusing.

Skirt Man: If you were to just look at a headshot of skirt man, you would probably guess that he worked in a bank or something really normal like that. Maybe at the train station. At any rate, he dresses in full goth garb, including a long black skirt and reidculously large platforms with metal plates on the heels.

Model Man: Model man is my absolute favorite neighbor. Model man is tall, skinny, and not remarkably good looking. Yet, whenever I see him his hair is perfectly styled and he's got the full-on catwalk gait going on. Regardless of the weather he dons sunglasses and always has the perfect runway straight face. Love it, love it, love it.

So if you haven't visited yet, you should. We could sit down with some gin and tonics at the bus stop across from my house and just watch these people. I'd really like that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Joy of Jumping (for photos)

Unfortunately, I am not of the opinion that jumping is, in and of itself, a particularly fun activity. I'm sure there are plenty of people that would disagree with me, but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that 95% of them are under the age of 10. At some point I think jumping become a reminder of how heavy or breakable you are. And from recent experience I can tell you that jumping is pretty strenuous, not only in terms of energy expended, but also in terms of impact on joints and feet.

But enough of me being down on the jump because the point of this whole post is that jumping makes for cool pictures. On our way back from Bron-Yr-Aur (remember, the cottage where Led Zeppelin stayed for a bit) we took the following jumping shots and I am pleased both with how they turned out as well as with how good I am at jumping . Until now I was always under the impression that me feet barely left the ground when I jumped.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Moustache Series

A rainy Sunday in Brighton.

Maria took me out for a traditional Sunday roast at a very hip pub in the (maybe) North Lanes of Brighton. Her cousin Bruce came along and we had a lovely afternoon over a lovely roast. After we had eaten and drunk to our contentment, we decided to take a stroll through the Lanes and do a bit of shopping in the few stores open on a Sunday. One of these open stores happened to be a costume shop and there I found a lovely fake mustache, which I bought without hesitation.

The following is a series of self-portraits taken the day of the mustache purchase.

There are many more mustache stories and pictures to come. So many more.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Three's the way to be

In the planning of this trip, Maria went out on a limb. She decided to invite her old friend Eric from high school to join us on our journey to Wales. Why do I say that she went out on a limb? Well, because friends of friends don't always get along. I'm not suggesting that the chances of us really not getting along were all that great, but it was certainly possible that Eric and I wouldn't hit it off or that the dynamics between the three of us wouldn't be that great.

But as I think you've already guessed, that wasn't the case at all.

Eric met us in Cardiff on Wednesday evening after the last exam of his undergraduate career and the next morning we left bright and early for Wales. Although Maria and I had already been contemplating a trip to Wales, it was Eric's pilgrimage to a cottage where Led Zeppelin wrote some of their best tunes.

So off we went to the small town of, eep, I can say it but I can't write it, to visit Bron-Yr-Aur, the little cabin where Led Zeppelin chilled for a few months. Yup, the picture below is the famed (not really) Bron-Yr-Auer.

We did a bunch of other stuff on the trip, but if I told you all about it now I wouldn't have anything to write about tomorrow. So for now I'll have to leave you hanging and say that there is more to come.

Point of this post: traveling with Eric and Maria rocked and I'm looking for ways to go on vacation with the two of them again one day. Thanks you two!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tea Time!

As I may have already mentioned, I didn't expect much from British food, especially tea time. Not expecting much can be a fantastic thing though, as it sets you up to be really pleasantly surprised. And surprised I was when I partook in my first afternoon tea.

So the tea part is pretty standard. Very good black tea, sugar, and milk. Then comes the excitement:

Cucumber sandwiches; fruitcake; and scones with butter, jam, and the piece de resistance, the clotted cream. Now I know that the name "clotted cream" sounds horrible and you might be considering upchucking, but wait, not so soon. Clotted cream was sent from heaven to make people happy and probably to give them heart attacks. Scones with butter, jam, and clotted cream was one of the most purely delectable things I have ever placed in my mouth. Then some tea and cucumber sandwiches to clear the palate . . . divine! The fruit cake could be cut out of the equation if you ask me, but apparently the tea house didn't ask me, so I ate part of it.

So in case you haven't picked up on it by now, I was quite taken by the British tradition of afternoon tea. I do however hope that the Germans do not sell clotted cream because I don't think it should be an addition to my daily diet or my waistline.

Me in the midst of it all!

The famed cucumber sandwiches -- simple, elegant, delicious.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Treacle or Spotted Dick?

I didn't go to Great Britain with high hopes about the British cuisine. Was I expecting a wide array of Indian and other ethnic food? Yes. But good British food, not really. Well, for the most part, the Brits did some pretty good cookin', due much to the fact that they have warmly embraced fusion cooking (was it really a choice or more of a necessity?). However, a trip to a British restaurant or the grocery store will take you back to the old standby stereotypes.

Treacle and Spotted Dick.

A few days before this picture was taken Maria and I were eating at Wetherspoons, a popular UK pub chain. We weren't stuffed after our meal and thus, in the tradition of the trip, decided to get dessert to ensure we were adequately gorged. I ordered some chocolate ice cream concoction and Maria decided to be daring and order the Treacle Sponge. In retrospect, the name should have tipped us off to the badness of what was to come, but I guess it seemed intriguing at the time. At any rate, it turned out to be a big mistake and Maria suffered from 'treacle belly,' an ailment in which evil treacle releases its spongy rage on you, for the better part of the evening.

On my second to last day in the UK, we made a trip to the grocery store to stock up on Twinings tea, HP Sauce, and lemon marmalade. While strolling through the isle we saw the strange and disturbing pairing of treacle and spotted dick on the shelf. What does it all mean? Not really too sure. Luckily, Wikipedia has come to the rescue again and has informed me that spotted dick is "a steamed pudding, containing dried fruits, usually currants. The dessert is especially popular in the United Kingdom, usually served either with custard or with butter and brown sugar. Spotted refers to the currants (which resemble spots) and dick may be a corruption of the word dough. It is also known as spotted dog, plum duff, figgy dowdy, as well as plum bolster, and Spotted Richard." I'd say that the fact that it is also called 'Spotted Richard' kind of debunks their dough story, but what do I know. All I could learn about treacle is that it's just a word for molasses.

Moral of the story: don't eat treacle sponge and steer clear of spotted dick . . . although I'm guessing that won't be too much of a challenge.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Share with me your wisdom, oh wise ones!

I know you've all been anxiously awaiting my Easter entry, but it's going to have to wait. I need advice! My digital camera is starting to get seriously finicky and I suspect that he/she is approaching the end of his/her life. I, on the other hand, am still kickin' and taking photos left and right. I am also going on a very cool trip in the fall to Jordan, Egypt, and the Mediterranean area aboard the Japanese Peace Boat (more on that later) and want to take wicked cool pics of everything while I'm there.

Soooo, the point of this is, I would like your advice about digital cameras. I was somewhat in the know three years ago when I bought my beloved Canon Powershot A80, but things have changed and I fear I have been left behind. Do you love your digital camera? Do you hate it? What rocks about it? Tell me!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My teeth are cleaner than your teeth

My teeth are cleaner than your teeth. Unless you're German, and in that case, you could possibly have teeth as clean as mine, but not cleaner, oh no. To be honest, I can't really fathom cleaner teeth than mine.

You see, yesterday I went to the dentist and shelled out 80 Euros for a professional cleaning. Unfortunately, the term 'professional cleaning' doesn't really convey to the average American reader (or to anyone who hasn't had one before) the true significance of the procedure. It is serious. (Caitlin, I'm still undecided about if it's fucking around or not fucking around about fucking around.) The procedure began with a supersonic or ultrasonic cleaning. I believe that the purpose of this was the shake the plaque off of my teeth. This was followed by a step which was comparable to sand blasting but which was carried out with lemon powder. Then came the part I was familiar with -- the polishing. And last but not least came the fluoride treatment that smelled like nail polish remover. All of this stuff was pretty horrible. I yelped in pain more than once.

But I would do it again. I will do it again in the recommended amount of time because, sweet jesus, my teeth have never been this clean. My respect for German dentistry has skyrocketed and I'd like to invite any of you to come by and see my dentist for a cleaning.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh sweet Jesus, thank you for jogurt cheese

Yogurt Cheese.

Say it again.

Yogurt Cheese.

Yup, I said yogurt cheese. And I will follow that with a big MMMMMMMMMMMMM! A big shout out goes to the Moosewood Cookbook for introducing me to yogurt cheese, my new favorite food. Think good plain yogurt, tasty and sour, but the consistency of cream cheese. Who needed all that water anyways?

Yogurt cheese was easy as can be to make, as well. All I had to do (and all you would have to do if you decided to make yogurt cheese) is to put a few coffee filters in a strainer, put a bowl under it, put yogurt in the coffee filters (gelatin free please!), cover the whole shabang in plastic wrap and let it go to town! After a few hours it is advisable to drain the water from the bowl so that it doesn't get super full and touch the yogurt cheese.

I'm not exactly sure what the many uses are for yogurt cheese are yet, but I enjoyed it with a spoon quite a bit. I am a cheese-loving Wisconsinite though . . . Brown rice came to mind . . . what else? Curried veggies . . .

I'm open to all suggestions, just try some yogurt cheese. By the way, I used full-fat yogurt, but you could also use low-fat yogurt if you're a big sissy or something.

PS Maybe this is kind of like quark, the stuff that German people eat loads of . . .

Ah yes, the next entry will cover the incredibly current topic of Easter. Start checking in regularly again, I'll be posting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Let us examine a jar of peanut butter

Thanks to Jack for this video tip and to Chuck Missler for finally setting me straight about that evolution crap.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

So very reminiscent of a Peter Gabriel music video

On Sunday I was in Stuttgart with my friend Dan and while walking by the new castle, our attention was caught by an orange street performer. His first act was my favorite because of the fact that it was reminiscent of a Peter Gabriel music video. Unfortunately, I only remember that I had my camera along at the very end.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Wow! I spawned a discussion!!

One of the things that I do to waste my time and to feed the obsessive element of my personality is to look at my blog counter. I can see where the visitors to my blog are from and how they got to my site.

Today I saw that someone from France had looked at my page, and since I don't really know many people in France and don't have many readers in France, I thought I'd take a closer look at how they got here. I clicked on the page that linked them to my blog and was shocked to find that one of my blog entries about Germans loving Lauryn Hill had been posted on a Lauryn Hill web forum and had generated a bit of discussion. I'm so very honored! I was also incredibly thankful that I wasn't torn to shreds by the critics . . .

Friday, March 30, 2007

MC Rove

MC Rove

This link constitutes one of the strangest and most disturbing things that I have seen in a long time. Throughout this 2.5 minute long video I was tempted to turn it off because it was just to strange (and I'm generally a fan of the odd and outlandish) but I held out and you should too, because this video takes our current administration to a whole new level of absurd and sinister.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

And then it rained deodorant . . .

I had just gotten out of the shower and was going through my usual routine of putting on lotion and deodorant. All of a sudden I felt many very small particles falling into my side and back. I was terribly confused.

But really, at this point I should take a few steps backwards and tell this story from the very beginning.

The very beginning of the story is that I've become European in another way: I use and enjoy using spray deodorant. Of course there are some Americans that use spray deodorant, but the majority of them prefer solid or gel deodorants. It certainly took me awhile to warm up to the idea but I'm totally sold now. In fact I had even begun to take spray deodorant for granted until numerous North American guests commented on the strangeness of my deodorant preferences. So that explains what I was doing with spray deodorant in the beginning.

Now comes part two of the story: the words that kept ringing in my head. The day that Johannes left for New York he asked to use my deodorant because he had packed his, so I handed over the can. He took it, lifted his arm, sprayed and then wondered aloud, "Why isn't it cold?" He tried again and this time a pleased look of contentment spread across his face as if to say, "It's cold now." I am of course referring to the coldness of products that come out of pressurized cans.

So here we are in the moment directly before it started raining deodorant on my body. I sprayed my armpit and then heard those fateful words again, "Why isn't it cold," and I decided to spray again. That's when the rain started. To be honest, it totally freaked me out. I felt it first, then looked down and was completely terrified to see little white flecks all over my body. I thought that perhaps they were falling from my nasty foam-core ceiling. But no, it was just way too much deodorant. Way way too much deodorant. My shock multiplied when I looked at my armpit, because it was totally white as well. Have a look for yourself:

The armpit.

That's me looking kind of shocked and freaked out about my armpit and having been rained on by deodorant.

This is the culprit, Rexona Girl. Covered user in white flakes? Check.
I bet that's what the check mark on the bottle is for. Seriously.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Germans take the song "Eye of the Tiger" to a whole new level

This past weekend I traveled to Speyer to visit my old host families and to go to my host brother's graduation dance/dinner. In most regards this dinner/dance was quite comparable to prom. The most notable difference is that the family and friends of the graduates are invited and the graduates put together a bit of a show for their guests. While I wasn't all that impressed with the planned entertainment, I was terribly amused by the reaction of the audience to the song "Eye of the Tiger".

Everyone on the dance floor did classic parter dancing. Everyone. Maybe you too have tone some classic partner dancing to "Eye of the Tiger" and don't see it as a particularly strange thing to do. I, on the other hand, have only ever witnessed people "rocking out" to this song -- bouncing head, jumping, possibly moving arms about wildly -- and was thus quite shocked (and maybe in some way pleased) to see "Eye of the Tiger" accepted into the world of pairs dancing.

Two couples "rocking out" German style to the 1982 hit, "Eye of the Tiger".

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A note of clarification: calming words for the masses

Today my friend Alli left a concerned comment after the hot water bottle post. It reads as follows:

"I feel like I need more details.

Do you boil water? That kind of hot?

How long does it stay warm? I mean, is it lovely as you're going to sleep and then, you wake up in the wee hours, and your bottle is cold, and it makes waking up just that little bit worse because you remember when it was warm?

I'm worried."

No need to be worried, Ms. Larsh! Yes, I usually boil the water and then pour it from my kettle into a small pitcher that has an excellent spout, which is much better for pouring into the small neck of the hot water bottle. Then one inserts the bottle back into the stuffed casing and gets into bed, as outlined repeatedly in the last post.

The great thing is that is stays warm for hours. If it stays under the covers with you, it may still be warm when you wake up. If not, it's usually not cold enough to actually make you cold. By then you are usually in your warm sleeping mode anyway and it's ok. At that point, the bottle continues to be nice to cuddle with because of it's mass. I'm not sure why this is so, but it is.

Alli, if you need me to send you a stuffed water bottle friend, just let me know. I'm here for you.

Monday, March 19, 2007

One small step towards German-ness, one giant leap towards warmth

For times like this when I have little to report about the events that fill my days, I like to delve into the photo archives and into my memories as well. The topic of this entry is the hot water bottle. The purchase of said water bottle was a major event in 2006. And really, when I say 'small step towards German-ness', I really mean 'freakin' huge step'. In the same respect, when I say 'giant leap towards warmth', I mean 'is warmth in its essence and entire being.'

Now I know that hot water bottles aren't just German. I know that we have them in America too (by the way, I like to pronounce 'America' like this: a-merrr-ka) but who have you ever seen using a water bottle? I believe the last time I even heard about a hot water bottle was in a Judy Bloom book about the start of menstruation. If you're cold in A-merrr-ka, then to the best of my knowledge you warm yourself with electricity or fossil fuels. Although my family insisted upon keeping the house at frosty temps to save on heating bills and maybe to be environmentally friendly, we were no strangers to electric mattress pads or electric heating pads in general.

Thus, when I moved to Germany so many years ago, the hot water bottle was truly a phenomenon. A phenomenon which took me about seven years to approach and get to know. Seven years. Think about all the fear of the unknown that develops in seven years. Really, think about it.

Then, one day last spring I was in the grocery store of all places and they had hot water bottles with snuggly animal cases for just 3 Euros and I knew I had to act. However, after purchasing said snuggly hot water bottle, it sat on a high shelf in my closet through spring, summer, and fall. I thought about using it and then at the last moment I always turned away, for doing something for the first time can just be daunting at times.

In December I was visiting my darling host sister, Anna, when I was overcome with illness. Anna, being a good German, gave me a hot water bottle to sooth my aching body. And voila, I was in love!

Throughout the cold winter (ok, it actually wasn't that cold) I diligently filled my little ducky with hot water, crawled into bed, and had some of the most glorious nights of sleep of my entire life.

Thus, when Maria came to visit over Christmas, I knew that she must also have a hot water bottle. Because wouldn't it be cruel to fill up my snuggly hot water bottle each night, crawl into bed, and have the best night of sleep ever, while next to me, a cold little Maria lie awake) (OK, the awake part probably isn't that likely, but I digress.) And to be honest, the thought of just giving her my hot water bottle for the duration of her stay was far too much for my fiendishly warm egocentric self. And so, for her birthday, she got this little lamby.

And that is the story of the hot water bottle, one of the little things that makes me feel more German . . . and warm.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Long walks and SHEEP!!

The sun is back, the days are getting longer and the weather is borderline warm -- time for walking. During a warm spell in the winter Kristen got me into walking. In over two years of living in Tübingen and being surrounded with big hills all covered in woods, I had been walking in the woods maybe 4 times, max. I am indeed quite lucky that K tuned me onto the wonders that are just feet away from my doorstep because climbing those hills is not just good, knee-friendly exercise, it's also an incredible sanity builder. Got a problem? Feeling neurotic? Feeling down in the dumps? Mad at someone? I suggest a walk in the hilly woods! (Even better is to start with a nap, wake up, have a light snack, and then head out to the woods.)

Anyhoo, I'm getting off track here. The thing I was actually really excited about was the sheep. I got to the top of my big big hill, looked up, and saw sheep sheep sheep! Yahoo! You might not know this about me, but I love sheep. I think they have great faces, I love wool, they say great things -- what's not to love? Actually, when I got to the top of the hill and saw the sheep I actually uttered the words, and pardon the language here, "F#%k yeah" because (1) I was really happy to see sheep and (2) because they seemed to me to be a sign of good things to come.

So, in conclusion, yeah to walking and yeah to sheep.

This is a picture of me making a sheep face. Not quite as good as my toothbrush cover impression, but not so off base if you ask me.

Monday, March 12, 2007

My Favorite German Tradition


Weisswurstfrühstück, or a breakfast of white sausages, is one of my very favorite German traditions. The picture of Johannes above pretty much sums up the Weisswurstfrühstück experience: white sausage, wheat beer, and big pretzels. The breakfast/brunch is traditionally served before noon, although I don't think we pulled ourselves together in time for the deadline. Carina and Ari did come over at 11 but it seemed that the only things we had were pretzels and sweet mustard, thus lacking the key ingredients of sausage and beer.

I kind of forgot to take pictures until the breakfast was well underway . . . so it's a bit meager looking. Actually, Weisswurste and co. never really look good . . . they just taste delicious. Also featured on this plate is a pile of white which is Johannes' onion dip -- delicious.

Here Carina executes an excellent Weizen pour. The rule was that you had to drink one beer (1/2 liter) for every pair of sausages that you ate . . . oh my.

The preparation of the pretzels! Big big salt! If you've never had a big German pretzel and you're thinking that it's maybe like big pretzels in America, please think again. They are not comparable.

After our breakfast we went for a short walk in vineyards to, you guessed it, keep drinking beer. The sun was shining and tons of people were out walking, hanging out with family and jogging. We were the only people we saw sitting on a bench with beer . . .

In conclusion, I recommend all of you to come to Germany and have a Weisswurstfrühstück with me. Don't be daunted by how icky Weisswürste look; I can assure you that they are delicious!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Berlin Highlight #247: Glasses

It is no exaggeration to say that my trip to Berlin revolved around glasses. Two beautiful specimens owned by Matthias, Caitlin's beau. One doesn't just wear these glasses; one wears a persona. Donning the glasses means adopting a new personality or simply realizing an previously ignored aspect of your own.

Wearing the glasses is a form of self creation of self recreation.

Wearing the glasses is the ultimate disguise. You become utterly unrecognizable.

Wearing the glasses changes how you are seen by others and by yourself. They change the way you walk . . .

. . .and the people that will talk to you (Do you honestly thing Paris would hang with Matthias if he was glassesless?)

The glasses add a newfound element of seriousness to your life and to your being.