Thursday, July 31, 2008

A church bell fix for those not in Germany

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A recording collector over at A Closet of Curiosities has posted an old recording of church bells pealing all around Germany - bells in Aachen, bells in Koeln, bells in Ulm, bells in Muenchen, even bells from right next door in Speyer. Check it out if you'd like to get a fix of what it often sounds like here! In fact, I decided to check them out and put it on just as the bells here in Heidelberg were ringing, and it sounded like my speakers were just echoing the sound from outside.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My job here is done.

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I have found a blog that does everything this blog wishes it could do, only can't. It's hilarious and accurate, and of course all tongue-in-cheek.

Behold, Nothing for Ungood.

Now I don't have to feel guilty if I'm too busy worrying about homework to write anything here. You can just go there. :)
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Some pictures, including German and American nutritional labels!

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For last Saturday's Schlossbeleuchtung, we had an impromptu barbecue at our apartment. This is actually the smallest amount of food we've ever made for a gathering at our own place, since it was so last-minute - and we still had leftovers! Everyone here brings so much stuff with them to a party - usually at least three items per guest!

Last summer I put some clothes out to dry on the terrace and when I brought them back in, one of these bugs fell out of the clothes. It wasn't so alive anymore, but not completely dead either. It was, frankly, really creepy. I've been drying clothes just inside the door ever since. But this week we saw one just hanging out on our camellia plant! So, now I had an opportunity to take a photo and show it off in all of it's long-antennaed, leaf-butted goodness. I have no clue what it is! I looked up lots of photos of German grasshoppers, but couldn't find anything that looked like this.


They call this stuff buttermilk, but actually it's a beverage that tastes like liquid yogurt and comes in lots of flavors. I found it to be pretty good, once I was able to get past the name and drink it. In the US, buttermilk is usually a cooking ingredient, but some people do drink it straight. (I don't know of anyone who does so, though.)

This is a German food label, and you're lucky if you get this. Some foods are not labeled at all. Occasionally you will find a more detailed label, that includes sodium and fiber. Or if it's one of those rare fortified foods, then it will list the vitamins and minerals. But this pretty standard one includes calories, protein, carbohydrate, and fat information per 100 grams. This is the label from the buttermilk. The 500-gram container is clearly supposed to be one serving (you can't even close it again once you open it) but they still insist on this stupid per-100-grams information, so you can practice math by taking it all times 5 in your head. What's even funnier is when things like sauce mix are marked per-100-grams. You know, in case you're going to just down 100 grams of sauce powder. But anyway, I hate these labels! I just want to know simple things, like am I getting any freaking calcium from this!? And how much? (I am aware that I sound neurotic, but if I could just know what I'm getting so I don't have to start taking a calcium pill to be sure, that would really be nice.)

Sorry for the bad quality. (Note to all: do not get the Canon S5IS. It's unwieldy and takes pictures like this.) This is an American food label. It includes a sometimes-but-not-always reasonable serving size, then information per serving. Calories, fat (including saturated and trans), cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate (including fiber and sugar), protein, and any relevant vitamins and minerals are included. This isn't a good example because I guess there's not much for vitamins and minerals in creamed corn, but we are a little short on American food labels in our apartment for some reason. ;) So this was the best I could do. All foods are labeled like this by law. It's definitely one thing I miss, now that I'm trying to cut the extra expat pounds while still getting enough of everything crucial.
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Monday, July 14, 2008

What's small, cheap, flat, and German?

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Any ideas?

I'm sending a tiny package to a friend. The stuff needs to fit in a flat padded envelope and of course be mailable. I'm trying to think of something particularly German, or even just particularly European, that might fit the bill. So far, some chocolate and some gluehwein spice packets have made the cut. But I'm really stumped!
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Three things that are pretty much awesome

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Root beer floats!! We had some to celebrate the Fourth of July. The root beer came over with us in our luggage, and we have only one bottle left. Two other bottles were taken to the Eurovision party we went to, where the Europeans who were there declared that it tasted like Mundwasser: mouthwash.


Raspberries! These ones came from just down the river in Ladenburg and there wasn't a bad one in the whole bunch. They had blueberries too which looked just as good. There are some really great funny oval-shaped tomatoes at the markets now too.

My sister!! For sending me this cool Iowa shirt, the proceeds of which went to help with the floods in Iowa. (The photo isn't the greatest; it says: "Dam!!! Now there are 2 states with 10,000 lakes... Iowa Flood Relief 2008") Thanks!! Mail isn't a big part of our lives anymore like it was when we first arrived - both sending and receiving. On both ends, everyone seemed to realize the costs - there's not really any cheap way to get stuff over the ocean, and postal rates in the US have even gone up since we moved here, even though they are still cheaper than the Deutsche Post! So, it makes mail all the more special to get. :)
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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Germany: No Fortification with Vitamin D

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It recently occurred to me that German milk isn't fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D isn't in a lot of foods, but you can get it from spending some time in the sun at the same times of day that you are normally told to avoid (due to skin damage/cancer risk), about 10am to 3pm. Luckily it only takes a bit of the sunlight, apparently, to trigger your body to make enough vitamin D, and you can avoid staying out too long and getting burned/damaged - even if you're lily-white like me. But what about cloudy days? How do Germans get enough vitamin D when the sun hasn't been out in a week? Do they just get extra when it IS sunny, to make up for it? (Vitamin D is stored in body fat and retrieved as needed from there.) Or is there fortified milk somewhere and I just haven't found it?

Germans are generally not into fortification, it seems. In addition to not having fortified milk, the only fortified cereals you can find are American brands. The other day I was snacking on a little bit of an American cereal in class (Toppas, which are the equivalent of Frosted Mini-Wheats) and a classmate asked me if I was still addicted to American food. I told her I was eating it because it was fortified with some things I have had trouble getting enough of in my diet. She made a horrible face at me and told me I could get it all from fruit. This after she had watched me eat bananas, watermelon, apples, carrots, and pineapples during class for the previous few days. I have trouble with iron, calcium, and magnesium - not with all the things you can get from fruit. However, you can get vitamin supplements in stores, so I guess Germans are not completely against unnatural sources of vitamins and minerals. It's better if it's in a pill than in cereal or milk?
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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Carbage In, Carbage Out

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Definitely the worst, but funniest, German English mistake I've ever seen on a Powerpoint. I thought it was just a mispronunciation, but when I looked up, there it was, in big letters on the screen. Carbage in, carbage out.

Anyone else want to share some funny language mistake stories?

In other class news, today one presenter was talking about a non-cortisol skin cream and referenced its popularity in the US by making reference to the "paranoid Americans" deciding they should smear it on everything. Half the class turned around to gauge my reaction. I would have defended us, but hey, it's true. The US operates on fear.
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