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.