Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone is having a great Christmas, although for those of you in Europe, I guess it's almost over. I'm hanging out with my family, listening to my sister and uncle debate the relative merits of chainsaw versus axe. Fascinating.

Later, we are going to see Sherlock Holmes. It's in English, like all the movies here. That's awesome.

Here's a picture of the Christmas tree, but it's quite grainy. Still, you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The View From My Window

Good morning! I took this video to show you guys that it's snowing hard here, but apparently snowflakes (which, as I learned last night are called "ice flowers" in German) don't show up well on my digital camera film.

At any rate, you can see the view from my balcony. The cats are fascinated and confused. They were delighted when I let them out, and now they're staring longingly at the window. Also, please note the appearance of my snuggie sleeve in the video. That is what I'm wearing. Also, a tank top, underwear, and leg warmers. Ah, the joys of working at home.

Also, I finally posted another poll. Sorry, I know I did one about Christmas music last year, but this one is slightly different, and it's likely that you didn't remember anyway.

Ko points out that "Eisblumen" are actual frost patterns, usually on glass. Meanwhile, according to Leo, snowflake is "Märzbecher."

Also, Charles suggested that if I jumped off my balcony I could get better snowflake video, since then I'd be moving at the same speed as the snow. I have not yet attempted this.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dresden Christmas Market

You know that there must be something nice about a Christmas market if it can be cold, crowded, and involve shopping - and, somehow, I still enjoy it.

Ko and I went to Dresden last weekend to experience one of the biggest Christmas markets, right about the time that temperatures went from, say 40 degrees in Germany to 20. It was big difference, and very, very cold.

However, I did manage to get all the things that I needed to get, so if you requested that I purchase something for you, it's has been accomplished. So, here are some pictures of the Christmas market.

I spent most of the day pointing out individual snowflakes to Ko. Apparently it really snowed during the night, because this was the view from our hotel the next morning.

Okay, not the best picture, but you get the idea.

So now I'm back in Jena (where it's also cold and snowy) trying to get stuff done before I leave for the holidays. I'll be flying out on Dec. 20, so mark your calendars.

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Weekend

This weekend I was in Goettingen again. Things that happened included:

  1. A visit from St. Nicholas. He brought me a book and a chocolate letter "E."
  2. A moment in which I totally broke down over the job stress deal. Ko handled it very well.
  3. The purchase of a beret. I'm not sure if it's cute or if it makes my head look like a mushroom. My head was cold, okay?
  4. The watching of many episodes of "Bones." Thanks Katy!
  5. Ko and I baked a chocolate coconut cake. Here's the picture:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

St. Nicholas Day

I've been learning about the Dutch holiday, "St. Nicholas Day." Ko refers to the American Santa Claus as "an abomination," which I think it rather harsh. However, many of the Dutch traditions are quite different (certain people have objected, probably fairly, to the term "bizarre").

Here's the deal: St. Nicholas lives in Spain most of the year. He comes to The Netherlands on a steamboat with his horse, Amerigo. He also comes with a little friend, called "Zwarte Piet," or "Black Pete." They leave presents in your shoes on the night of December 5.

Here's a picture of St. Nicholas:

It's quite easy to see how Santa Claus could come from this guy. The thing that really gets me, though, is Black Pete.

It's easy to see why this tradition doesn't really go over that well in the U.S. I was alone in being shocked that a white guy would put on black make-up and play the good Saint's comic sidekick. But he's everywhere in the Netherlands. Ko assures me that he's black because he shovels coal on the steamboat. However, according to Wikipedia, that's only one possible explanation. I also enjoyed this particular quote in the article:

"If they have been really bad, Black Pete may take them back to Spain in his sack, a tradition now frowned upon under the influence of modern child psychology."

Ko seemed to have been told about getting taken back to Spain in a sack, so perhaps it's not that frowned upon.

Anyway, I had already heard of some of this because of David Sedaris story "Six to Eight Black Men." Ko swears that this is not the case, that Black Pete has never been a slave, and his skin is only that color because of the coal. I'll leave it to you to decide.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Phone Interview!

I have my first phone interview at 6:00 pm tonight (noon, EST). It's at a small (public) liberal arts university in the NE. I'm very, very excited. I also interpret this to mean that my application is good enough to warrant consideration generally.

I'll let you know how it goes.


Not great, I think. I'll tell you about it in more detail tomorrow, but we'll maybe chalk this one up to "learning experience."