Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You love cheerleaders!

You love cheerleaders!

This was my mantra as I tried to convince three young men to get out of bed on a Saturday morning to watch my friend Caitlin and her fellow cheerleaders at a promotional event. You wouldn't think that young men, or men of any age for that matter, would need a lot of prodding to go see some cheerleaders, but these men were no easy sell.

First of all, they're German. I believe they saw the cheerleaders as a strange and misplaced form of American culture, which they are. I however, tried to use this as its quirky selling point. Furthermore, these are smart masters student boys who like history and culture, so cheerleaders might not have done it for them quite as much as say, the Pergamon Museum for example.

Benny, Johannes, and Christian waiting for the show to begin.

In the end, however, I won. I'm not sure if they accompanied me because of the boobs and the midriff tops or if they were somehow unable to resist my feminine charms or if, perhaps most likely, they just went out of pity for me.

So what was this cheerleading extravaganza?

E-Sports Tournament


Yeah, that was my reaction too. E-Sports are electronic sports, as in video games. And this was a tournament of the best video game soccer players in Berlin, the region, the world? I dunno. Can't really tell you. Caitlin and her troop were, however, really cheerleading, not e-cheerleading. They were there "for the men in the crowd", although I think the average age was like 11, so I guess they meant for the guys with me and the dads. Unfortunately, we had to wait for ages for the cheerleaders to go on and the whole thing to begin because Giovanni, the B-rate celebrity that was hosting this thing, was taking his sweet time getting there.

Giovanni being a bad ass on the red carpet with his cheerleader escorts.

For this picture I asked Benny to make a pissed off face. The thing I like best about this shot is the fact that we interpreted pissed off so differently but both look really pissed off. We were sick of waiting.

I think this is my favorite picture because you can just feel Christian's excitement about the cheerleaders.

In the end we went into the movie theater, listened to a bunch of crappola about eSports, saw one dance from the cheerleaders and then got the hell out of there. I managed to waste a good part of everyone's day, for which I very much hope they will someday forgive me.

Oh yeah, I got some free popcorn too. That was kind of cool.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I heart Berlin

Berlin was, as always, a good time.

The field trip (i.e., the reason for the trip) was a success, albeit a pretty silly one. I say silly because it is not only the streets of Berlin that are filled with goons, but the political foundations, international organizations, and television stations as well. We had two jam-packed days of activity, including the Federal Foreign Office, Deutsche Welle TV, the Arab League/League of Arab States, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, and the IfA gallery.

I'd like to write more about the trip but lesson planning is nipping at my ankles, so I'll have to save that for later. In the meantime, I invite you to look at the few Berlin pictures that I took.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Pretty much the greatest music video, umm . . . EVER

OK Go - Here It Goes Again

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Don't tell me this doesn't terrify you

Yes, it's true: these pictures are from my home. Sent to me by my dear parents, they document the stunningly terrifying Moon/Antarctica cross-over that is Wisconsin. Amazing really, since we've barely felt winter at all in Germany.

The funny thing about not really having winter is that I have begun to convince myself that I can handle the cold. I believe that the reality of the situation is another -- it's not actually that cold outside and thus I'm not freezing. No actual adjustment has taken place in my body. Most unfortunate really.

Any-hoo, I'm off to Berlin tomorrow and have no idea what my time, motivation, or internet access will be. We'll see what happens, but I wouldn't worry about it because I'm not wild about being away from the dear blog for all that long.

Goodnight my friends; sweet dreams!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

who did they made the tuba

Well my friends in Mundelein, Illinois, I don't know. Your question, however, is valid: Who did they made the tuba? And yet I still wonder: Did you find the answer to your query on my blog? I would dare to say, no.

The title of this blog entry is the string of words that a person/some people in Mundelein, Illinois typed into Google and to which my blog came up as one of the top hits. And so the question is raised: How do strangers find their way to my blog. Until recently, my blog was accessible mainly to people who knew the URL. Then I got greedy and decided that I wanted more readers (more readers, muaahahaha!!!) and made the blog public. Since then a slow trickle of readers has appeared, among them our curious friend from Mundelein, Illinois. The interesting thing is that I can see the terms used to search for a webpage in google. And thus I found the search phrase "who did they made the tuba". This is how people come to my site. What does this mean about me? About my site? About my readers?

I dunno, but I'm going to bed. Thanks for all the advice about my sore bum. My almost doctor friend, Kai, totally backs you up on that going to the doctor thing. I'm going, I'm going.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

How long should this hurt?

Around Christmas I fell on my bum. The situation was this . . . wait . . . this might get embarrassing fast. The long and short of it was that I fell out of my chair once and then my friend Stefan thought it would be funny to pull the chair out from under me when I was getting back up. Haa haa.

My bum still hurts.

Well, not my bum exactly, but my tailbone. Is this normal?

I looked on the internet and it said that a bruised or fractured tailbone could hurt for ages and, get this, that I should be sitting on a donut cushion while it heals. I don't know about you, but that sounds slightly demeaning to me. But who am I kidding, I'm the one writing about my bum on my public blog.

Anyhoo, if anyone has experience with such things, let me know. You've all got bums, so I'm sure one of you has bruised it before.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I'm saving my own life!

My good friends at Harvard University just let me in on some great great news: I'm saving my own life! And how am I saving myself? No, I haven't accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and I suppose doing that only promises to save your soul, not your life. I take naps!

"A study that followed more than 23,000 people for six years showed that regular napping can cut deaths from heart disease by as much as 37 percent, providing a benefit in the same order of magnitude as that linked to lowering cholesterol, eating a healthy diet, or exercising."

And what I think I like most about the study is that it was carried out by Dimitrios Trichopoulos, a Greek scientist. The reason I love this fact is that my friend Stelios, a Greek Cypriot, is the biggest advocate of the siesta that I have ever met. You've got a problem? Stelios will advise a siesta. You just ate? He'll tell you to take a siesta? You're nervous? Siesta. It's Tuesday? Siesta. You get the point. This culture appreciates the joy and practicality of the nap.

So do something good for yourself without even feeling guilty -- take a nap!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The hidden evils of Ladie's Night

Thank God injustices like this are coming to the forefront.

Christmas Food Come to Life

After a long stretch of avid blog writing, I seem to have entered a short phase of writer's block. Well, not really writer's block. That might imply that I had some ideas but just couldn't get them on the page. No no, this is the far simpler problem of just not having any ideas at the moment.

However, this isn't your fault and you're obviously upset about it. I get comments and e-mails either encouraging me to write more or commanding me to do so. And I hate very much to disappoint my readers because it is very kind of them to read in the first place. To remedy this problem I decided to look at Maria's blog for ideas. Mainly I was looking for pictures of our weeks together that would make me laugh and think of a story to tell you. It took about 36 seconds for me to find such pictures.

The theme of today's entry, as you can see above, is 'Christmas Food Come to Life' and documents the animation/reanimation of two items of food, a cookie and a tomato. The cookie was meant to have personality--that's how we made him--but the strength of his personality and his liveliness could never have been predicted. My friends, I give you the Italian moon man.

Needless to say, we ate him last.

Our second case of food come to life is this tomato from our deeeeee-licious Christmas pizza. Now the amazing part about the tomato is that neither Maria nor I can really take credit for his creation, he just was. What is somewhat alarming, however, is how a creature that came into being through the creation of a delicious pizza would look so terribly angry. He too was eaten in the end.

So there you have it, Christmas Food Come to Life.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I knew there was something fishy about Google

The technology behind Google's great results

As a Google user, you're familiar with the speed and accuracy of a Google search. How exactly does Google manage to find the right results for every query as quickly as it does? The heart of Google's search technology is PigeonRank™, a system for ranking web pages developed by Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University.

Building upon the breakthrough work of B. F. Skinner, Page and Brin reasoned that low cost pigeon clusters (PCs) could be used to computer the relative value of web pages faster than human editors or machine-based algorithms. And while Google has dozens of engineers working to improve every aspect of our service on a daily basis, PigeonRank continues to provied the basis for all of our web search tools.

Why Google's patented PigeonRank™ works so well

PigeonRank's success relies primarily on the superior trainability of the domestic pigeon (Columba livia) and its unique capacity to recognize objects regardless of spatial orientation. The common gray pigeon can easily distinguish among items displaying only the minutest differences, an ability that enables it to select relevant web sites from among thousands of similar pages.

By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings.

diagramWhen a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases. Those pages receiving the most pecks, are returned at the top of the user's results page with the other results displayed in pecking order.


Google's pigeon-driven methods make tampering with our results extremely difficult. While some unscrupulous websites have tried to boost their ranking by including images on their pages of bread crumbs, bird seed and parrots posing seductively in resplendent plumage, Google's PigeonRank technology cannot be deceived by these techniques. A Google search is an easy, honest and objective way to find high-quality websites with information relevant to your search.


PigeonRank Frequently Asked Questions

How was PigeonRank developed?

The ease of training pigeons was documented early in the annals of science and fully explored by noted psychologist B.F. Skinner, who demonstrated that with only minor incentives, pigeons could be trained to execute complex tasks such as playing ping pong, piloting bombs or revising the Abatements, Credits and Refunds section of the national tax code.

Brin and Page were the first to recognize that this adaptability could be harnessed through massively parallel pecking to solve complex problems, such as ordering large datasets or ordering pizza for large groups of engineers. Page and Brin experimented with numerous avian motivators before settling on a combination of linseed and flax (lin/ax) that not only offered superior performance, but could be gathered at no cost from nearby open space preserves. This open space lin/ax powers Google's operations to this day, and a visit to the data coop reveals pigeons happily pecking away at lin/ax kernels and seeds.

What are the challenges of operating so many pigeon clusters (PCs)?

Pigeons naturally operate in dense populations, as anyone holding a pack of peanuts in an urban plaza is aware. This compactability enables Google to pack enormous numbers of processors into small spaces, with rack after rack stacked up in our data coops. While this is optimal from the standpoint of space conservation and pigeon contentment, it does create issues during molting season, when large fans must be brought in to blow feathers out of the data coop. Removal of other pigeon byproducts was a greater challenge, until Page and Brin developed groundbreaking technology for converting poop to pixels, the tiny dots that make up a monitor's display. The clean white background of Google's home page is powered by this renewable process.

Aren't pigeons really stupid? How do they do this?

While no pigeon has actually been confirmed for a seat on the Supreme Court, pigeons are surprisingly adept at making instant judgments when confronted with difficult choices. This makes them suitable for any job requiring accurate and authoritative decision-making under pressure. Among the positions in which pigeons have served capably are replacement air traffic controllers, butterfly ballot counters and pro football referees during the "no-instant replay" years.

Where does Google get its pigeons? Some special breeding lab?

Google uses only low-cost, off-the-street pigeons for its clusters. Gathered from city parks and plazas by Google's pack of more than 50 Phds (Pigeon-harvesting dogs), the pigeons are given a quick orientation on web site relevance and assigned to an appropriate data coop.

Isn't it cruel to keep pigeons penned up in tiny data coops?

Google exceeds all international standards for the ethical treatment of its pigeon personnel. Not only are they given free range of the coop and its window ledges, special break rooms have been set up for their convenience. These rooms are stocked with an assortment of delectable seeds and grains and feature the finest in European statuary for roosting.

What's the future of pigeon computing?

Google continues to explore new applications for PigeonRank and affiliated technologies. One of the most promising projects in development involves harnessing millions of pigeons worldwide to work on complex scientific challenges. For the latest developments on Google's distributed cooing initiative, please consider signing up for out Google Friends newsletter.

So if you saw this when it came out on April Fools' Day in 2002, you're way cool. Oh wait, you forgot to tell me about it? Not cool. Many many thanks to Fabi for the heads up! Ah yes, here's the link to the original.

PS If any other blogger can tell me why the text spacing is irregular in some of the paragraphs I may well bestow upon them my eternal love.