Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another, um, cultural difference between the U.S. and Europe

Do you know what I've been thinking about recently? Circumcision. My friend the internet tells me that while most (about 79%) Americans are circumcised, the rate is much lower in Europe. Germany wasn't listed, but Wikipedia claims it's under 20%. Based on an informal survey (NOT a visual inspection!) I suspect the rate is much lower than 20%, at least among white scientists ages 25-35.

Somehow I was unaware until recently that the the US differs in it's circumcision policy from most of the rest of the world. Jenny and I had a few questions about exactly how the procedure is performed, so we turned to the internet again to figure it out. Click here for a computer animation of what happens. And, if you've got the stomach for it, here's a real live video. I was shaky for a while after I watched it.

So. I guess I doubt that the baby was in so much pain the the second video - he was probably just mad. And I doubt that any of the circumcised men that I know suffer much from the trauma of having this done. Also, I'm aware that there are some benefits - easier hygiene and less chance of spreading STD's. But doesn't it seem strange to cut off a part of the body when it's not medically necessary?

Ah well. Since ASLO is a hypothetical child I don't have to make a decision for him yet. Perhaps I'll let his hypothetical daddy make the decision.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back in the Lab

I'm back in Germany, and sort of adjusted to the time difference. The weather could be worse. It's warm, but it's also raining. Sigh. It's looking cool and sunny for the weekend. People seem mostly glad that I'm back, or maybe they're just glad that I brought the giant Spock sticker for the freezer in Charles's lab. And a whole lot of peanut butter candy.

Anyway, I thought I'd provide just a few pictures for you all. Here's my family one night while were were at the beach. First, here are my lovely siblings:

Here's one of me with Mom. Notice the difference in skin color. Really, it's insane. In theory, I have half of her DNA. Part of it is living so far north, but I think it's mostly genetic.

Here's one of me with my friend Tiffany and her new daughter, Shelby. Shelby is six weeks old, and has feet sort of like mine. Sorry Shelby. If it keeps up this way, shoes are going to be an issue. Sammy is on my other side. He's jealous of the baby. I think you can see it in his eyes.

The final picture is what awaited me when I got home. It turns out that you really shouldn't leave coffee in the coffee pot when you're going to be away from a couple of weeks.

So the message here is that I don't really take pictures. The ones from home are courtesy of Quinton. Unfortunately I don't have one of me holding Wendy's baby or with my friends or extended family. Oh well. I think there's something to be said for enjoying a moment rather than trying to document it all the time. Anyway, I had a great time and it was good to see everyone. Now it's back to work, although at the moment I'm posting this blog rather than actually working.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dispatches from the couch

Quinton and I are hanging out for a while, since we've finished packing the car and vacuuming and stuff. When Mom gets off work we'll head down to Florida. We managed to get everything in the car - only one unpacking event when we realized that we forgot to include the beach chairs.

So far my time in the U.S. has been pleasant. It's warm here. In Germany my feet are always cold if I'm not wearing socks. Now I don't have to worry about that.

I bought some bathing suits yesterday. It was traumatic. I managed to get two, but it involved a lot of staring critically at my body in the mirror. From the experience, I can recommend that no one look too closely at the back of my thighs. It's not pretty - I should know. I guess that's the other nice thing about Germany. A person doesn't have to wear a bathing suit so often when their feet are cold.

What else? So far I've eaten some tacos, biscuits and gravy, and pimento cheese. I've also decided to open another restaurant in Germany. In addition to the taco stand and the deli I think Jena needs a barbecue joint. I think I can probably manage it with the money I'll make from my vending machine empire.

Also, American television is awesome. For example, I'm watching a commercial now about how to "lift and firm your booty" by doing "flirty girl dancing." Lots of hip gyrating. Apparently it involved a chair dance, and for advance students, a stripper pole. I'm wondering if it could do something about the back of my thighs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Just a quick note...

Hey everyone! I think I have something like 54 hours before I begin my journey home. It starts when Goeran drive me to Erfurt at something like 4 Thursday morning. Obviously, I will love him forever for this (but not in a weird way, in case he's reading). My train leaves from Erfurt at 5:18, and arrives in the Frankfurt airport at 7:50. My flight leaves at 9:45, and from then it's just a quick 10 or so hours before I arrive at Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (or, ATL).

International travel is exhausting. I can say that because I'm so worldly and well traveled - sophisticated, one might say. Especially since I was wearing a cowboy hat, star stickers on my face, and the colors of the flag while I was dancing around the yard waving a sparkler and singing "God Bless the USA" this weekend. Unfortunately, no pictures. But you've got that mental image to keep with you.

Right, so I'm trying to get some things done this week before I go, so if I didn't e-mail you back it's both because I'm a bad person and because I'm trying to get a rough draft of a paper written before I go. I'll be home at 1:55 on Thursday and leave at 4:25 Tuesday the 21. Call me. I'll have my U.S. cell phone. Georg is German in his thinking and believes that no work should be done over a holiday, so I'm going to keep to that, but at some point I'll be going with my family to Jekyll island for a few days. I've seen the ocean in the past year, but it was cold and that seems wrong, somehow.

Wow. Boring post. Also, if I had a stalker they'd probably be able to track me down, which is kind of creepy. Anyway, I'll see you all soon!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Emily's Craft Corner

I haven't put a knitting related post up in a while, and I'm sure that my audience has been wondering what I've been up to. In keeping with my desire to 1) avoid counting stitches and 2) finish all projects within a couple of hours I made some felted beer cozies. They're different sizes because beer comes in differently sized bottles here. I personally feel that they look better in person, but I don't hold that against them. I'm not so photogenic either.

Anyway, it turns out that the concept of a cozy (I thought it might have been coozy, but according to my friend the internet, that's a vulgar term for um, something else) is pretty much unknown in Germany. But they're also much less concerned about the temperature of beverages, so I guess that all makes sense.

I saw a girl the other day with some felted flowers in her hair, so I'm considering making some with my leftover yarn. I'm so crafty, I know.