Saturday, June 28, 2008

Green German spider?

I was in Lidl today and carrying around some carrots and bananas when I discovered a light green spider on my arm! Yikes! I must have looked like an idiot tossing all my stuff down so I could brush it off right away. But, the point - what the heck was it? I have never seen a green spider before. Could it really have been a local outdoor spider and followed me into the store from outside? Are there green spiders in this part of Europe? Or could it have ridden in on the bananas I was carrying?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dear US Embassy,

8 comments was so worth it to not be hiding in my apartment during the game last night.

Also, everybody is making fun of you right now. This is just the small sampling I had the patience to find.

Hope to hear from you again on Sunday for more laughs,
CN Heidelberg

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


B. has posted a big warning from the US Embassy to stay away from public viewings of the Germany vs. Turkey game. My comments on the matter are over in her comment section. Suffice to say: I'm not staying in my apartment tonight, and walking home after dark in any American city on any day of the year is probably more dangerous than walking home tonight for me will be. I think the concept of public viewings is awesome. Of course there is the possibility of things going poorly. Just like they do in the US whenever someone wins a big game. I'm glad I do not get these Embassy emails because I don't want an injection of Pure American Fear (TM) into my days over here.

Snooker posted it too!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


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It's pretty hard not to get into the whole soccer thing right now, as the Eurocup Championship has taken over. There are free Eurocup mini soccer balls in the Babybel cheese packs, free Eurocup t-shirts in the paper towel packs, text messages from Vodafone promising highlights by cell, and German flags waving from cars (no, that's not standard here!). Every night, SOMEONE's team has just won and people are driving up and down the streets screaming and honking. And, Germany will be in the semi-finals!...against Turkey, a team which apparently can't be beat under any circumstances! It's not that they're great - they're fine, but their real key is amazing luck. I missed some of their games, but I watched them come from behind in the last 15-20 minutes to beat the Czechs, who were crushed because they had been ahead most of the game. Then a couple of nights ago, in the very last minute of overtime, after Croatia had finally gotten a goal and was sure they'd won, Turkey got a goal too. That tied it and they had to go to penalty kicks to determine the winner, and Turkey won. I have nothing against Turkey, but frankly it was painful to watch Croatia's emotional roller coaster. And now Germany has to play these lucky Turks. Yikes! I don't know if I should go out to watch it on the big screen outside to watch the madness unfold, or hide in my apartment!!

And to commemorate the Eurocup, here's something absolutely terrible, brought to you by the same people who gave you "Cotton-Eyed Joe":

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Poll #2

Please participate in these two polls! It's anonymous (and if you want to leave comments, you can make them anonymously also). Thanks!!


Poll #1


Friday, June 13, 2008

Best Eis in Heidelberg?

The comments for my last post took a new turn recently with discussion of the best Eis (ice cream/gelato) in Heidelberg. That is some seriously useful information, so I'd like anyone who has a favorite to post it here!

I've probably mentioned it before, but I think the best Eis in Heidelberg is at Cafe Venezia, which is inside that little mall at the Bismarckplatz. Sometimes they have a little cart with just a few flavors along the Hauptstrasse too. They have both good Eis and good cones. My absolute favorite is the Nutella, which has little crunchy bits and some extra chocolate on it - but some of the fruit ones are also awesome.

Actually, Eis recommendations for other towns are also very welcome. We all need to hit up the Eis place now and again at this time of year!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Three Tidbits

1. Tonight's the first Heidelberger Schlossbeleuchtung of the year!

2. Ever go to get yourself some Eis (ice cream) in Germany and wonder what the green flavor Waldmeister is? Then you ask the staff, and they can't explain it, except that it's just Waldmeister? In English it's called sweet woodruff. You can also buy little jello snacks and hard candies in this flavor.

3. Bek wrote this post today that reminded me of the noon whistle in the town where I grew up! I hadn't thought about that in a while and I don't even know if my town still does it or not. A siren did one big blast every day at noon. The same whistle was used for fires and tornadoes, only it went longer for those. Wondering about them, I googled "noon whistle" and discovered that the internet is full of siren aficionados! They take videos of sirens going off, talk about siren models, where they are, and when they go off, and share the videos on YouTube. Each of the siren videos has hundreds of comments from these siren people! Who knew!? Try playing some for yourself, but turn down the volume, or your neighbors might think you're under attack.

Friday, June 06, 2008


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As seen on body wash.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Losing Weight in Germany

It's never really been possible to kid myself, but if it had been, it definitely wouldn't be now. I have packed on some serious pounds since I moved here, probably from all the eating while traveling. This last couple of months have been especially food-filled, as I gorged on all my favorite can't-get-it-in-Germany junk while I was in the States, then we went to France, where the conference organizers stuff us with two four-course meals a day. Big courses. The organizer was one of us, and she was quite sensitive, so we didn't want to be rude - we ate it all. Not to mention, the food was pretty damn good.

I've never been really thin or athletic at all, but I don't want to be where I am right now either. It's moving into unhealthy territory, and anyone studying epidemiology as I am - or even reading the health news - knows fat around the middle is a very, very, very bad risk factor for every chronic disease under the sun. Keeping the family butt is.... okay. Putting on the doughnut around the center - bad.

I've only gone on a weight-loss effort once before, when I was living in Boston. I lost about 15 pounds, but it took many months and was really not fun. I love food and I hate feeling limited. I did it by counting every calorie and by playing Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) in my living room (much to the dismay of the downstairs neighbors). The counting approach worked very well for me because it set non-hazy limits. Anything hazy, and I WILL cheat. My love of food goes well beyond any capacity for willpower or any other motivation. DDR was great because it counted up for me the calories I had burned so I had a fully-quantified weight-loss program going on. And just as importantly, it allowed me to exercise in my living room in my ratty clothes with my hair looking all stupid, and with my fat jiggling around with an audience of zero. And, it's a game. It gives little, attainable goals that feel fun rather than feeling like torturous self-loathing. I was already getting the torturous self-loathing by withholding North End cannoli from myself.

I can pick up the DDR again here, thanks to my friends Mike and Jason, who brought me new dance pads when mine didn't survive the move. I'm not open to any public exercise, with the exception of walking or biking. And even worse, competitive sports - not. a. chance. I'm afraid for the day that I get too old or creaky for DDR - and I'm sure it's just around the corner, if not already kind of a bad idea.

But what of the counting calories? German nutrition labels aren't as detailed as American ones, and the calorie values are not given by a volume-based serving size, but per 100 grams. I don't have a scale of any sort (can't even weigh myself) to weigh out the grams of all my food. Has anyone tried calorie counting here? Did you have to suck it up an invest in a scale? Or did you just stick to foods that you can look up the values for online? (ie. medium apple = x calories, boiled egg = x calories, etc - sticking only to these types of foods) Or maybe recipes from a book/magazine that gives volume-based calorie info?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Only in Europe...

...will you find a sleeping bum on the last tram of the evening who can yell at you to shut up in three different languages.

Monday, June 02, 2008

An Augsburg/Ulm Quickie

This weekend we took a quick day trip to Augsburg and Ulm on the super-cheap, courtesy of the university and a student friend who could invite us along on the trip! The trip included a bus ride over there, quick tours through the towns, and the ride back.

Augsburg May 08

The guide informed us that although Augsburg lies in the state of Bayern (Bavaria) it doesn't identify as Bayerisch, as Muenchen does, but rather as Schwaebisch - much like Nuernburg identifies as Frankish even though it also lies in Bayern. Augsburg has a Renaissance-style town hall which is supposedly of some importance and a really great 1000-year old cathedral with the oldest stained glass windows in the world. Check out the photos!

Ulm May 08

We spent a bit less time in Ulm than in Augsburg, which was lucky because we just missed some serious rain. Ulm's gothic cathedral boasts the world's highest church tower! Its exterior is extremely detailed and impressive, whereas Augsburg's cathedral was more impressive on the interior. We also stopped by the town hall, which is covered in intricate details and paintings, then had a few minutes of free time. In our free time we ran into a little town festival going on, where we had an unfortunate run-in with a local, who told us that all the seats at his empty table were taken, then mumbled that we couldn't understand him anyway. (Obviously we did.) Despite my urge to go back and argue once I realized what happened, I figured if a riot started, all of Ulm might be on his side, so I better not. I had a strong urge to go home and listen to some immigrant punk, and started to look at everyone from Ulm as a potential jerk. I guess this demonstrates the power that one bad remark can make when you are serving as a representative of your town or country. I didn't know anything about Ulm's people, and he was the only contact I had - and overwhelmingly an ass. Luckily, a friendly art store owner later helped us find our way back to our bus and completely redeemed the city. Thanks, art guy!

Check out the photos!
And here's the immigrant punk.