31 January 2005


Well, Jeannette and I signed up for the Trollinger Marathon today. We have 4 months to be able to run 20 km. Yeah, we're only doing the half marathon.

I don't plan to win the race, but I do have two goals:
1) Finish the race
2) Not be last (subgoal: not be last in my category, that is males of my age group)

I think I can do #1, but since I haven't run distances in ages (since the high-school soccer team), I am worried about #2.

29 January 2005

Stonehenge: Where the Demons Dwell

I'm pretty late with this, but over the next several days (or weeks?) I will be filling in some stuff from our trip to England over Christmas & New Year's.

I believe it was January 2nd, we took a trip out to Stonehenge. Interestingly enough, when we mentinoed this to some people (not Brits) back in London, they said "What's Stonehenge?".

Of course, I kept singing "Stonehenge" by Spinal Tap throughout the visit.

Stonehenge & Lens Flare
Stonehenge with Lens Flare

Stonehenge & Bird
Lucky Bird He gets to see Stonehenge from above

Jeannette & Stonehenge
Jeannette & Stonehenge

The town of Salisbury is near Stonehenge, and we spent the night there. The day we arrived, the weather was terrible. But the next morning, it couldn't have been better. We got to see the moon hanging over the massive cathedral.

The Moon & Salisbury Cathedral
The moon over Salisbury Cathedral Look close, it is there.

The Moon & Salisbury Cathedral
The moon & Salisbury Cathedral Luckily I wasn't singing "when you get caught between the moon and Salisbury cathedral..."

One thing cool about Salisbury Cathedral is that the best of 4 remaining copies of the Magna Carta is kept here. It was pretty cool to see this document, a pre-cursor to modern Democracy (such as it is).

The oldest mechanical clock in the world
They also have the oldest mechanical clock in the world. Or something like that.

Salisbury cathedral at night.
We also visited the cathedral the night before (so much for blogging in chronological order!)


28 January 2005


So I got an email from my brother today, and after my response, he said he thought it would be something blog-worthy.
So, here is the exchange:

hey do you know about this? wow i want to hear it.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 13:37:32 -0800
From: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To: xxxxxx@xxxxx.org
Cc: xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.com
Subject: those wacky germans

Watch out Britney....

A children's song by a little girl has raced to the top of the German singles charts in just a few weeks. The song Schnappi, das kleine Krokodil or "Snappy, the little crocodile" has relegated hits by Linkin Park, Snoop Dogg and Kylie Minogue to the lower echelons of the Top 10.

The song is basically about the teething efforts of a little crocodile with lots of sharp teeth. Seven-year-old Joy Gruttmann's aunt Iris recorded her singing the tune three years ago, when she was four. Iris Gruttmann, who co-wrote the song, then posted it on the Internet as a kind of family joke.

But when a couple of major radio stations discovered the song, other pop stars didn't stand a chance. The tinny-voiced "Schnappi" is on rotation on radio stations nationwide and MTV.

Even nightclubs are playing a disco remix version, with people crowding the dance floor, singing the refrain "Schni Schna Schnappi."

My response:

Yeah, I saw the video once at a Turkish restaurant. It is cute. The German iTunes music store has the song with 7 remixes. You can hear samples there. Fire up iTunes & select the German music store after you click on the music store in the left pane of the main iTunes window.

The French try to get more French songs on the air by mandating it by law. The Germans do it by choice. Basically, I have heard some sucky songs in German beat out popular (but usually still sucky) American songs, and I think the only reason is because they are German. However, that isn't to say there aren't good German songs. I like quite a few, some actually get airplay on TV or radio.

I also think there is something about kids. There is a popular "segment" on the big radio stations called "Nils & his Hamster" or something like that. Basically, it is a guy talking in a kids voice, prank calling people and talking about the wacky things he & his hamster do. It is quite the hit, it seems, since they devote like 5 minutes every morning to it, and it isn't like a song where it is the same every time.

It is a cute song. The lyircs are simple enough for me to understand. The original German is on the linked website. Here's my quick & dirty translation (no attempts to rhyme or anything).

I am Schnappi the small crocodile,
I come from Egypt, directly on the Nile;
First I was in an egg,
Then I snip, snap, snapped myself free

Snip, snap snappy! Snip, snap Snappy!

I am Schnappi the small corcodile
I have sharp teeth and a heck of a lot of them
I snap whatever I can snap
I snap because I do it so well

Snip, snap snappy! Snip, snap Snappy!

I am Schnappi the small crocodile
I like to snap, it is my favorite game
I sneak up to my mom
and show her how well I can snap

Snip, snap snappy! Snip, snap Snappy!

I am Schnappi the small crocodile
And I can't get enough snapping.
I bite my dad on his leg
and then I simply fall asleep.

So, yeah, it is pretty basic. And cute.
And I guess you can dance to it, with the right remix.

To make it more interesting, I saw a CD at the grocery store today, with the same 8 mixes from the german iTunes music store, plus the video. It was 5.50 Euro. I'm considering getting it. Maybe I should send it to my brother... I think I still owe him a birthday present.

27 January 2005

Something to do with Cheeses

Today I was talking to a co-worker about some of the Holidays in Germany that we don't have in the USA. In particular, there are several in the month of May. I knew what 2 of the three are, but the third I did not recognize and none of the words made much sense to me. So I asked.

Let me back up a second and say that I was being very bad and speaking English with this co-worker. His English is quite good, so he needs the foreign language practice less than I do. But it isn't perfect, as you will soon see.

Anyway, the conversation went something like this:
Me: So what's this 3rd holiday in may all about then.
Him: Well, it is a Christian holiday.
Me: OK, most of them here are. But what is the significance?
Him: Well, it has something to do with Cheeses.
Me: What?
Him: Cheeses. You know, it is a Christian holiday.
Me: Yeah... Don't you mean, Jesus?
Him: That's what I said.
Me: No you didn't. You said "Cheeses".
Him: You mean, "fromage"?
Me: Yeah. Exactly. "fromage"
There was a short break for laughter.
Him: Cheeses. And how am I supposed to say it?
Me: Jesus. With a "J".
Him: "Cheeses" "Chesus" "Jeeses" Sounds the same to me.

I still never found out what the holiday is all about. Other than it is a Christian holiday about cheese.

24 January 2005

Push or Pull?

OK, so I have been living in Germany for nearly 4 months now, and before that I have had several visits here, so really, I have spent at leat 6 months in this country, and most of that time I have had a pretty good grasp of the basics of the language.

So why is it, after all this time, I find myself pausing at doors (even doors I have gone through many times already) and asking myself, "Does 'ziehen' mean push, or pull?".

(Insert your "Midvale School for the Gifted" comments here)

23 January 2005

Another Weird Thing

Another weird thing about Germany...

Or maybe it is just my apartment...

But the walls are some kind of concrete stuff instead of drywall.

Which makes it a real pain in the *ahem* bottom *ahem* to put pictures & stuff on the walls, when all we're equipped with American style hanging apparatus.