Friday, June 4
Today, I think I finally have the e-mail working properly. I can now send this using my desktop and it is easy to type (we have even set up an American keyboard).
Yesterday was a holiday so I went downtown on my bike. Things have changed a lot in Germany since 1985. Now the shops in Heidelberg are open until 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. and there were even some things open yesterday on the holiday. There is a grocery store and a bookstore in the train station that were open for example.
I rode my bike to the downtown area where I parked it and spent the afternoon walking around mostly. All of the tourist shops were open and I walked up to the castle and took some pictures. I had lunch in a nice place that was billed as "an old Berlin pub." The food was pretty good and the service was slow, just like usual. I didn't mind since I had no place that I had to go.
I did some grocery shopping on the way home and I went to my office for about a half hour to send and receive e-mail. I was feeling kind of bad by the time I got home (dehydration probably). I called and had a pizza delivered and I ate pizza and drank a litre of diet coke and watched Matlock on TV. All in all, a fairly successful day.
Today I've been doing a lot of library work, but mostly from my desk. I looked up a bunch of articles on medline and tried to order them by Heidelberg Electronic Document Delivery. We'll see whether or not they arrive.
Tuesday, June 8
Well, I managed to figure out the laundry system at the Schwesternwohnheim yesterday. There is a nice sign-up sheet where you can sign up for a two hour block of time to do laundry without waiting in line. I eventually figured out how to work the washers but there are 6 washers and only two dryers so I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get a dryer. It turned out that I was the only one using the dryers, so I'm still not sure how that will work in the long run. Of the two dryers, one of them didn't seem to work very well. Probably, I should get a clothes rack for a backup.
I ran about 4 miles yesterday after work along the Neckar. I'm beginning to get into a routine here. Work is going o.k. but I seem to have lots of problems with getting the research papers electronically. I guess it is better than it used to be since a lot of the stuff is available electronically, but it's frustrating at times. Anyway, I think I will eventually make good progress.
Wednesday, June 9
I am pretty well situated, and I hope to return to Rose-Hulman in good shape. In one of the last two weekends that I am here, I am planning to climb the Zugspitze with some German friends. Since I don't want to make Americans look fat and lazy, I'll try to work hard before that time arrives.
There is a pretty nice place to run here. along the Neckar River. For
a look at the view during my run click on:
It's not as nice as the view at the corner of Hunt Rd. and Old Ft. Harrison Rd. in Terre Haute, but it's good enough for now. The bridge that you can see in the picture is my halfway point. It took me 17 minutes to get there from the front door of the nurses dormitory where I live.
I don't want to make life here sound TOO easy. It is difficult to function
at a high level of productivity in a foreign language. I am making progress
and I think that it will go o.k. I can read German well enough, and if
someone speaks directly to me, I can understand almost everything. In a
conversation with three people, my understanding goes down to about 60%
and even more from there. I can say just about anything I want to say if
I think about it a while. I think I sound pretty dumb quite a bit of the
time and that is kind of hard. At least I am working in German and I am
Thursday, June 10
It has been cloudy and cool the entire week here, but it hasn't rained much, at least not in the daytime. The weather seems just about perfect. Too cool to go without a jacket in the mornings and therefore cool enough so that our office isn't too hot. Normally there are five or six people in this tiny office. I could hardly believe it. It is about twice the size of my office at RHIT, but no more. Today at lest 3 of the regulars are gone so it has only been me most of the day.
Stephan and I are the only engineers in this group. There are several M.D.'s including at least two who are also "Doktor," so something like MD, PhD. In general the M.D.'s are released from their clinical duties to do research but one or two might still see patients part time. Since Stephan is gone today, one of the residents here was asking me how to use medline and so I spent some time showing her how to do that. Actually, it's pretty nice when I can actually do something to help someone, rather than asking for help all the time.
After work today I need to go to the bike store to get a lock for my
bike. I've been using one that Stephan loaned me but I guess they need
it back. I rode mybike down there at lunch, but it was closed for lunch.
I knew it might be but I decided to give it a try anyway. At least now
I know it is open until 6:00 p.m.Now I just need to decide if I want to
run after that or just get my exercise by walking down there. I guess I
should also decide what I'm going to eat for dinner because I probably
need to buy it.
Sunday, June 13
On Friday night I went home with my colleague, Stephan Schulz, and spent the night at his apartment, where he lives with his girlfriend Karin. They have an apartment that is large enough to have a guest room. We watched the Handball World Championships on T.V. and then we went to a movie in nearby Speyer. Speyer is most famous for the "Speyer Dom." a large cathedral that was Founded by Conrad II in 1030 and remodelled at the end of the 11th century - a pretty old cathedral! See:
We didn't actually see the cathedral on Friday night, but I saw it on Saturday. It actually is far more impressive from the side, and from a good distance back. The movie we saw was, "Auf ersten Blick," which I think, in English, is called something like, "At first sight," but I'm not sure. I really enjoyed the movie and could understand almost all of it, except when they were whispering or speaking pretty fast. Stephan could translate any important points that I missed. The theater has all reserved seats so you can look at a map as you buy the tickets and choose where you want to sit. The lobby was kind of strange. It was set-up like a restaurant/cafe and it is possible sit at tables and drink coffee or beer. Stephan had the idea that it was decorated to look like something American and it might be true, but I have never seen such a theater lobby in America. Anyway, it was possible to buy popcorn and drinks as well. Overall, I had a really nice time.
On Saturday Stephan and I went to the Schwetzinger Schloss Park and took a tour of the Schwetzinger Schloss. The castle was a summer residence/hunting lodge for Karl-Theodor and was built in about the mid 1700's. The park was a kind of 1700's Disneyland with different areas of the part representing temples, gardens and churches from around the world. There are Greek and Roman temples, Moslem mosques, British and French gardens, etc. It was pretty interesting and we spent most of the day there. Schwetzingen is also famous for it's asparagus. I also got a chance to eat Schwetzinger Spargel (asparagus) last week with Karin and Stephan. The Wilhelm's also talked about Schwetzingen Spargel when I visited there. The Germans really love asparagus. It is the large white varitey of asparagus, not the small green variety like in the USA. Very tasty.
Late in the afternoon we ate lunch at a sidewalk cafe and then later we went swimming in a lake near Bruehl (the small town where Stephan and Karin live). It was a pretty warm day and the swimming felt good. It was a grassy beach with quite a few trees and the lake was probably only 100 or 200 meters wide (narrow enough to easily swim across). In the evening we made a short appearance at the "Sommerfest" for the kindergarten where Karin works. That was really fun. It was pretty cool to see all of those German 3 to 6 year olds in one spot (along with their parents). We drank beer, ate bratwurst and listened to live music. Stephan brought me back to Heidelberg late in the evening. So you can see, I haven't been wasting all of my time here in Germany by working.
Monday, June 14
Today was a pretty productive day. I gave my first lecture, covering the literature that I have researched since I came. The "state of the art", so to say. I think that the lecture went pretty well, but I did do it in English. This was not like a friendly American (much less Japanese) crowd who are all trying really hard to make sure you feel good. They really wanted to ask question about what does this mean and is that right. I talked with Gabi Nindl a little about the difference between research presentations in Germany and in America before I came and I'm pretty glad I did. Mostly, the feel is just a little different.
The lecture was in an office about the size of Paula's office at work, with 15 people and an overhead projector that projected against paper taped to the wall. It was nice to know that so many people wanted to hear my talk (or thought they should at least). People were almost literally sitting on top on one another. I sat on a corner of the desk by the overhead projector.
We had a really long discussion after my presentation about what kind of protocol we are going to use for our experiments. I guess we will eventually put mitral valves in a bunch of pigs and measure things like atrial volume vs. atrial pressure, ventricular volume vs. ventricular pressure, mitral flow, velocity curves, etc. That discussion was almost completely in German but once again, when really important discussions happen, they often turn into a mix of English and German since all of my close colleagues here can understand English fairly well. We're going to finish the protocol by the end of this week and our first pig surgery is scheduled for next Wednesday.
Monday, June 21
First of all, I had a really nice weekend (June 18-20). On Friday night, I went to a Biergarten with Stephan, Karin and another colleague Jon. There is a mensa (student cafeteria) where they used to keep horses many years ago. Now they feed students instead of horses. Anyway, the beer garden is in the courtyard of that historical building. It was really nice to be invited out for a beer on a Friday evening - kind of like the German equivalent of going to Sonka's.
There were a bunch of nice people there and someone brought up the subject of Zungenbrechern, so I even got a chance to use my favorite tongue twister - " When one black bug bled blue-black blood the other black bug bled blue." That one never fails to get a good laugh out of the Germans.
After it got too cold to sit outside, we went to a party at the Europa Haus, which is a dormitory for foreign students. I got the chance to practice German with a Japanese student whose German was about like mine. I think she was pretty surprised that I could speak a little Japanese and had lived in Japan. She was from Nara.
Eventually we made our way back to Jon's apartment (he lives in the old part of Heidelberg, not far from the castle) and we drank another beer and ate sausage and bread. I was home and in bed by about 2:30 a.m. It was wonderful.
On Saturday, I slept until 9:30 or 10:00 but then I got up and walked downtown to do some shopping. Strangely, one of the lenses had fallen out of my glasses on Friday night without me noticing it. Of course, it was the left lenses (the eye in which I am blind) and I could see fine without it. It only looked a little strange. Actually, you could hardly tell unless you were looking closely. Anyway, I found a shop that could repair it - Haus der Brillen or Brillenhaus or something like that. They put in a new piece of plastic for DM35 (about $18).
I ate pizza at a nice Italian restaurant for lunch, did some grocery shopping, dropped off my pictures to be developed, bought a disposable camera and came back home. There was a note on the front door about a party on the roof of our building that night. I decided to go up and check it out and it turned out to be fun. I met several nice people and got a chance to practice my German some more. I was back in my room by 2:30 a.m. once again.
On Sunday after I got up, I went to the zoo. The Heidelberg zoo is only about a 10 minute walk from here and it costs DM7 for an adult admission. It's a pretty cool zoo. Not a very big one, but a pretty nice one. I like zoos. I also went to the zoo by myself in Tokyo and once in Berlin. It's more fun with somebody, but still fun by myself. It reminded me a little of the zoo in Hangzhou because people were throwing food to the apes, despite the signs that warned them not too. These apes (chimpanzees?) were absolutely hilarious because they were truly communicating with the people. When the people stopped throwing food, one of the apes would beckon to the people, wave and tap himself on the head. "Come on, toss me another one - I'm an intelligent ape."
I was back home by about 5:00 and, after a short rest, I decided to take a walk to Handschuhheim which is about a 20 minute walk. A German woman on my plane from Chicago to London told me about Handschuhheim and the cute little castle they have there, with a moat. I thought it would be really quiet, with almost no people but I walked right into the middle of their yearly festival. There were thousands of people there. The Burg (not really a castle) belonged to Hans of Handschuhheim, who was a knight who lived from 1585 to 1600. Not a very long life for a knight, but evidently an interesting one. At least the people of Handschuhheim still talk about him. Actually, I think he was only the last owner of the Burg and someone else built it. It is really cute, just about like you might see in cartoons. It's probably about the square footage of our house, but it has about a 30 foot deep moat around it (the moat is empty) and the Burg goes pretty deep into the ground (several floors down).
Needless to say, I went to bed early on Sunday and it was good to get back to work today to get a rest. A couple of my office mates were out of the office today so it was mostly just Stephan and I. We also had extremely cool weather today which the Germans complain about, but I like. It was cloudy and in the high 50's with a pretty strong wind.
We had vegetarian egg-rolls in the Klinik cafeteria, which was a really
nice idea, with a pretty tasty sauce, but unfortunately they were burnt
pretty badly and had a consistency pretty near shoe-leather. After lunch
I went to the bank and picked up my ATM card which has finally arrived.
I also went to the train station and got a reservation for my trip to Holland
this weekend. I'm looking forward to meeting the "three Dutch," after
Jerry and I have corresponded with them so much
over the past couple of years.
Oh yeah, I actually did do work today. My model is coming along quite nicely I think. I am doing it in Maple so far and I think I will try to come up with a version for Matlab. We're going to do our first pig on Wednesday to collect some data and see if the model makes any sense.
Wednesday, June 23
Hi. It's Wednesday night. Today was not such a good day. I'm not sure exactly why I feel a little bad, but I think it was partly because the server at Rose-Hulman was down the entire day and I couldn't send or receive any e-mail and I also couldn't check on how the Solar Phantom was doing. That's not really so bad. I guess I also felt like I didn't accomplish much today.
We did our first pig surgery but that was a lot of standing around and I didn't really do much of anything. The surgery went OK and the pig didn't die (not until we were finished with it at least) so I guess I should be happy about that.
Since I was having so much trouble with the computer, I finally just came home around 5:00 p.m. (which is pretty normal anyway). Tomorrow will be better. I'm also a little tired today because I've been staying up a little too late watching German television. I don't really likewatching TV that much but I feel like it is o.k. since it is helping me to improve my German.
Earlier this evening I saw "Hogan's Heroes" in German. That is really hilarious. I never imagined that they would have dubbed "Hogan's Heroes" ("Ein Kaefig voller Helden," auf Deutsch) to show it here in Germany. One of the strange things about it is that Sgt. Schultz sounds just like the Sgt. Schultz in the American version. I wonder if they got the same actor to do the dubbing.
Friday, June 25
The basic version of my model is coming along pretty well. The Maple stuff all works o.k. and now I am trying to write the same thing in MATLAB. I'm on the steep part of the learning curve with MATLAB, but I'm making a little progress.
Next week I need to write up another presentation for the following Monday (written in German, but given by someone else) and then start adding in some of the more difficult parts of the model to make it useful. I also need to start analyzing some of the first pig data.
Last night I bought carry-out from a tiny Lebanese restaurant which is just at the end of my street at the edge of the campus. It's pretty much a fast-food type place but the food was really good. They were out of the first couple of things I ordered, however.
I had a really wonderful weekend in Holland. When one goes to visit complete strangers, you take your chances about whether or not it will be much fun. In this case, I really had a lot in common with the Willems and they were really fun. Han Willems is around Jerry Fine's age and has three grown children. He is an MD an a director of a large national research lab in Holland. His wife teaches elementary school but she shares her job with another teacher. She works Monday, Tuesday and half of Wednesday and the other teacher does the other half of the week.
They lived in Tanzania many years ago and one of their daughters was born there. In addition to Dutch and English, Han also speaks Swahili and is learning Spanish.
On Saturday, Han and I went to Amsterdam. I saw the national museum. The most famous painting in the museum is the "Night Watch" by Rembrandt. It is a giant mural of a group of 17th century soldiers. Anyway, that was really cool and I also had a chance to see a lot of paintings by 16th and 17th century Dutch masters -- very nice. Afterwards we had a beer in a famous gathering place in central Amsterdam and then we walked through the town and took a boat ride through the canals. I guess that Amsterdam is mostly below sea level and is protected by dikes. Anyway, it is completely criss-crossed with canals.
After the boat ride we walked through the part of town called, Jordaan, which used to be rather poor until the yuppies started buying it up. Now it is an upscale neighborhood where the artists hang-out. I think one guide book called it Bohemian.
Later we had dinner at the restaurant, Kilimanjaro. What a surprise.
Han said that when he found out I was coming, he knew that we should eat
at Kilimanjaro. It is a very nice African restaurant, quite popular.
I hand Ethiopian food, very much like what I had when Jerry and I visited
an Ethiopian restaurant in Arusha.
The train ride to The Hague (where the Willems live) is about six hours in each direction. It was actually quite pleasant with a long stretch along the Rhine and then the last couple of hours through the Dutch countryside. There really are a lot of windmills, however, no tulips this time of year. On the way there, my train was late arriving in Utrecht (by about five minutes) so I missed my train to The Hague. Luckily the next one was just about 20 or 30 minutes later, but there was also confusion about where I should get off.
Han had suggested that I get off in Vorburg which, as it sounds, is just before The Hague. When I was in Utrecht, I saw that the train that I missed, did not stop in Vorburg anyway. He had also said in his e-mail that if I didn't get off in Vorburg, he would drive to The Hague (not far away). So now, I was trying to decide what to do. I figured that when the first train didn't stop, or when he saw that I didn't get off he would drive to The Hague, but I didn't know if he would wait in Vorburg for a while first.
Finally, I decided to get off in Vorburg and wait. I thought I better wait at least a couple of hours. I had forgotten to bring his phone number and he never told me his address, so if he didn't come, I would eventually need to find a hotel.
Indeed, I got off at Vorburg, he had seen the train go by and he drove to The Hague. It was much closer than I thought, so he was back in Vorburg a half hour or so after I arrived. It's a good thing I didn't take the next train to The Hague, because we could have crossed paths over and over again. Anyway, all's well that ends well.
Coming home yesteday I had about a half hour wait in Cologne for my train to Heidelberg, so I walked around and saw the Cologne Cathedral once again. It really is spectacular.
To read more about the Hauge see
I also scanned a couple of photos of Heidelberg and you can see them
Wednesday, June 30
I got an e-mail from Charissa Bolind this morning. She was in my biomedical fluids course in the spring. Anyway, Charissa said that she is flying to Paris on Thursday and then she will go to Marburg to visit someone she knows who is studying there. She asked if she could come to Heidelberg to see the research that I am doing. I told her that it would be great if she can come to visit. Anyway, we'll see what happens.
Last night on T.V. I watched a Japanese movie with German subtitles for a while. It's actually pretty easy for me to read the German subtitles and I could even understand a little bit (10% ? of the Japanese). Sugoi desu ne? Actually, I didn't watch the movie very long, it was pretty boring.
I had canned, smoked trout for dinner last night. I ate it with feta cheese and six-grain bread. Very tasty. I need to go to the grocery store again because I think the only food I have left is a can of tuna, half a pepper, some cabbage and some mustard. Actually, at the moment, even that stuf doesn't sound bad. I guess that means I should go to lunch now. I always can get plenty of food at lunch time.
Thursday, July 1
There is an Asian market here in Heidelberg called, "Asian Market" just like in Terre Haute. After work yesterday I left at about 5:15 p.m., I bought bread on the way home, ran four miles, rode my bike to the Asian Market to buy noodles, soy sauce, almonds, & pita bread, and was back home by 7:30 p.m. Isn't that
amazing? I still had plenty of time to eat dinner and do my laundry.
I was signed up for the washing machines between 8:00 and 10:00.
I have pretty much given up on using the dryers. There are 6 washing
machines and 2 dryers.
There should be three dryers but one is "defekt" and it has been since I arrived. Since I am moving next Monday, I don't look for it to be fixed before I go..
Friday, July 2
Today I brought in rolls from the bakery to celebrate my anniversary and the Fourth of July. I asked the lady at the bakery to recommend something and I think everyone liked the rolls pretty well. Everyone shook my hand to congratulate me -- very German.
Yesterday I stopped in at the university guest house where I will move in next week. Already it looks a lot nicer and I haven't even seen the rooms yet. There is a woman in charge of my building and I have only seen her once. When I stopped in at the guest house there was an office where a woman was sitting at her desk. She knew who I was and when I was moving in before I even told her. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the move, although where I am is completely o.k. for the moment.
Yesterday at lunch we were talking about movies. I guess Star
Wars won't come to Germany (in German) until August. It takes a while
to get it dubbed. We had a
long discussion about dubbing and it is pretty interesting. Once they pick a voice for an actor, they always stick with the same voice forever. Sometimes it causes big problems when some famous actor's "voice" dies. When people here hear the voice, on the radio for example, they really feel like they are hear the real actor.
Also, native speakers of German (like Sargeant Schultz) do, do their own dubbing. I was right. One exception is that Arnold Schwarzenegger has such a terrible Austrian accent that they use someone else to dub his films in German. The Germans think this is hilarious.
Monday, July 5
Overall, I had a pretty nice weekend. Friday night I walked downtown and picked up my pictures and had dinner at a typical German restaurant. Afterwards I had a beer at an Irish Pub. It was a big surprise how many English speakers were in there- it seemed like everyone in the place was Irish.
On Saturday I rode my bike to a neighboring town to look around a bit. I did a little shopping and in the afternoon, I took a tour of the castle and saw the giant wine cask. I rode my bike and walked for so long on Saturday that I was pretty tired out by Saturday night. I watched "Wall Street" on Saturday night (Michael Douglas, Charlie Sheen) and went to bed early.
On Sunday I got up and went to church. There is a nice old church
downtown where they seem to be pretty friendly towards visitors.
Actually, there was a pretty
large youth choir there from West Virginia which provided music and so they even made some announcements in English so the youth choir could understand. The guy who did the English was kind of old and had a pretty heavy accent so the English wasn't really any easier for me to understand than the German. I think I'll go
there again on the weekends when I'm here, which isn't that many.
After church I had "bento" at a Japanese restaurant. It's pretty
much right in the middle of the Altstadt. I ate outside and there
were tons of people walking by. It was very pleasant. By the
time I walked home it was getting hot, so I rode my bike to the swimming
pool where I spent the remainder of the afternoon.
The swimming pool was really jammed with people. There wasn't really much space for swimming but it was o.k. for cooling off and then lying around in the shade,
drinking a coke, and reading.
Overall, it was a fairly pleasant weekend although one with pretty limited contact with other human beings. I don't think I would like to live this way for a long time, but it's ok for a few weeks.
Today I'm moving! I'm really curious to see what the new apartment
will be like. They need some time to clean it, so I'll go in the
afternoon and see if
they are ready for me to pick up the key. I still haven't talked with the person in charge of the Schwesternwohnheim to see when they need me out. I better stop
by there sometime during the day also. Usually, I don't see that person anyway. Of course, I'm usually not there in the middle of the day during weekdays.
Stephan is not back from Italy until tommorow and two of my other usual
office mates are gone on a trip to Karlsruhe, so I'm alone in the office
at the moment.
It should make it slightly less hot in here as the day goes along. It has been really too warm over the past weekend to be comfortable without air-conditioning. Not really terrible, but a bit too warm.
Tuesday, July 6
It went from terribly warm yesterday to really nicely cool this morning. In fact, when I went to bed, there was a thunderstorm taking place, and the cool breeze was
really pleasant. I left the windows open for a while and then got up in the middle of the night to close them.
The new apartment is great. It is open and breezy with nice lighting. There is a refrigerator/freezer, microwave, range, dishes, pots & pans, telephone. Of course, the other room was only $180 per month and this one is more like $400. Still, it seems worthwhile at the moment. Of course, it has a lot to do with expectations. During the month that I was living in the other room, I was perfectly happy with it.
I also see, in the guesthouse, that there are a lot of foreigners living there and quite a few organized activities. It will be tempting to speak English more since many of the people who are living there speak English better than German.
Since I was moving yesterday, I didn't go running, but I think I will today. Maybe I'll run into some other joggers living in the guesthouse. I also hope I'll have time to run to the store and buy ice cube trays before it store closes.
I heard Bloomington, Indiana on the news a lot yesterday. I didn't listen to the news on Sunday, but yesterday I heard on the German news and on AFN about that crazy guy who shot a bunch of people and finally shot himself, in Bloomington.
Looking at the calendar, I realize that I only have one more weekend here in Heidelberg before I come home. This weekend I will be in Berlin. Then I will be here. Then at the Zugspitze and on the last weekend before I get home I'll be in London. I guess time is getting short. I sure am looking forward to seeing you when I get home.
Wednesday, July 7
Last night I went running after work, then took a shower and road the bus downtown to do some shopping. I bought two ice cube "bottles", where you fill
the bottle to a certain line, put on the cap and then lay it down on it's side and it becomes an ice cube tray. The ice cube tray is molded into the side of
the bottle. When the water is frozen and you pop the ice cubes out, they are inside this handy bottle container. Extremely clever, these Germans. Anyway,
the ice cube shortage has been temporarily alleviated. I also bought some tofu, ground pork, ginger, garlic, green onions, sesame oil, rice, etc. and made Ma Po tofu. I don't think I'll cook so much in the long run, but it was nice for a change.
Wednesday evening - Today was a pretty good day. The weather was nice and cool. It was raining when I left for work but itís so close that it doesnít matter much. That reminds me that I left my umbrella at the lab.
A fairly large group (six of us) went to lunch together at the cafeteria for hospital employees which is nicer (and a bit more expensive) than the student cafeteria. They were talking about eating horse so I asked if it was common to eat horse in Germany. It isnít of course but that led to talk about eating strange stuff and I told the story about eating pig tendons in China. That got a pretty good laugh.
Stephan came back today from his trip to Italy. We had a discussion
about the model and I think I have a pretty good idea about what needs
to happen next. Now
I hope I can make some good progress over the next few days.
After work I went running and I met a German woman who was running at the same time. I caught up with her after I had run about three miles. We ran several miles together. It was really nice to have someone to talk to while running for a change. It also caused me to run further than I would have otherwise. She said that she is working toward being an attorney - currently she is something like an intern.
She pointed out two giant trees that were blown over and ripped up by the roots during the storm on Sunday night. I hadnít even noticed them before. I didnít realize the storm was that bad but maybe I should have since it was loud enough to wake me up once in the middle of the night.
I cooked a bratwurst for dinner tonight. I had a bratwurst, bread, sheep cheese (similar taste and consistency to feta cheese) and an apple for desert. I donít think the food makes so much difference but it feels so much better to be able to sit at a table to eat instead of sitting in an armchair in front of the TV. I really like this new apartment.
I'm taking off Friday to go to Berlin. My train leaves about 8:05 a.m. tomorrow morning and gets into Berlin around 1:30 p.m. Sylvia doesn't get off work until 3:30 p.m. so I'll look around for a couple of hours and meet her at the KDW department store around 3:30. I think Sylvia's current boyfriend has a sailboat so she said we might go sailing this weekend. Sounds like fun.
Monday, July 12
I had a nice time in Berlin. You can see photos if you click here. I took the day off Friday and left about 7:30 a.m. from my apartment for an 8:05 train from Heidelberg Hbf. The Inter-City Express between Mannheim and Berlin was quite pleasant. It goes between 250 and 300 kilometers/hour (150 - 190 mph) and is very, very smooth. In first class you
can watch movies or listen to video. It only took a bit over five hours between Heidelberg and Berlin.
I got to Berlin around 1:30 and put my stuff in a locker and walked
around for a bit before meeting Sylvia at the KDW (Kaufhaus des Westens)
at 3:30. The next
day we read in the newspaper that there had been an armed robbery at the KDW a little past noon and it was swarming with police for a couple of hours afterwards. I saw a couple of policemen there but didn't think much about it. The robbers got away with a half-million marks and one of them escaped in a taxi
while the other escaped on foot.
On Friday we picked up Lennart from daycare and then we met Sylvia's
boyfriend, Jochen, at Wannsee, where he has a sailboat. We spent
a few hours sailing on
This weekend, the "Love Parade," took place in Berlin. About 1.5 million "Techno Pop Fans" come to Berlin for this parade. The standard visitor to the love parade has brightly colored hair and a lot of tatoos and body piercings. It is a little strange because the people who are dressed normally (as we think of normal) tend to stand out in this crowd. The music tends toward a continuous, strong beat with little or no melody and no words.
Anyway, we all (Sylvia, Lennart, Jochen and I) took bicycles on the S-bahn to the Brandenburg Gate where the Love Parade starts. It was pretty cool and after I get the pictures developed I'll put one or two on my web page so you can see. It didn't take long to see all of the Love Parade that we needed to see and we went up in the new Reichstag (the building where the parliament meets - equivalent to the capitol building in the US). They are just finishing a very expensive renovation with a glass dome and it looks pretty cool. We went up in the dome.
In 1989, there was a large grassy area in front of the Reichstag where people were playing soccer. Well now it's just one large construction site. The Brandenburg Gate is almost surrounded by large buildings now instead of standing in an open field. Berlin is really changing a lot.
After we say the Reichstag we rode our bikes through the Tiergarten and had dinner in a nice Spanish restaurant. You can imagine that by the time we were done, Lennart (a second grader) was pretty tired. Actually, I'm amazed at how much we did and how well Lennart could keep up - especially the last fifteen minutes of riding his bike back to Sylvia's apartment.
I really had a nice time seeing Lennart over the weekend. I don't think he really remembered meat first, but he had heard enough that I think he sort of imagined remembering me. Anyway, he was not at all shy with me and we had a really good time together. We made paper airplanes, played catch with a whistling football, played with legos . . . and when he acted-up, I didn't need to mess with him at all. I just left that to Sylvia and Jochen.
I think Lennart may turn out to be an engineer some day. He asked question like, "How many cars are there in the entire world?" or "What is the English word for Kanalizierung?" I had no idea what this word means in German but it turns out to be something like "sewer system." i.e. it refers to the system of canals that run beneath the streets to take waste-water back to the treatment plant. I think you would say sewer system in English but I'm not even sure about that.
On Sunday I went out on my own for a few hours (after sleeping late) and saw an exposition about Alexander von Humboldt, the famous German explorer and scientist. I didn't know it but he was one of the first explorers ever late 1700's) to use his own money rather than government support. In one sense he was the first German tourist, also the first visiting scientist. He visited Mexico and South America including the Mexican volcanoes (Ixtacihuatel and Popocatapetl). He also attempted to climb Chimborazo in the Andes (over 20,000 ft) but I don't believe he made the summit.
I walked down Unter den Linden and had lunch at an Italian restaurant
and then went to a photo exposition about the last 50 years of German history.
I got back to Sylvia's apartment about 4:30 in time for coffee and blueberry
cake and in time to meet Jochen's mother and brother who came for a visit.
It was interesting to get to know Jochen and his family because they are
true Beliners who have lived there for a long time. Jochen talked
about when the wall went up in 1961 riding his bike
to see the American tanks on one side and the Russian tanks on the other side and having the feeling that a battle might begin any minute. Jochen's mother came from a part of Germany that now belongs to Poland.
I only spoke German the entire weekend. I guess I have reached a point in my German language ability where I can speak well enough that Sylvia and I just stick to German. I guess she could also understand English well enough, but the others can't so it's easier to just stick with German.
My train left Berlin around 7:45 p.m. and the train was really, really crowded. I was glad that I had a reservation and that I was traveling in first class because people were sitting in the floor, in the aisles, everywhere (in second class - not so much in first class). I got back to Heidelberg around 1:30 a.m.
Tuesday, July 13
I'm back at work but I still haven't rested up much from the weekend. It was really warm in the office yesterday so I didn't make much progress but it's much cooler today and I have the office to myself.
Yesterday after work Stephan invited me to dinner and to go see a movie with him, Karin and some friends. We had leberwurst and bread for dinner - very tasty. We went to see, "Notting Hill." I really enjoyed the movie and I think I understood everything except perhaps an ocassional joke. For example, when Hugh Grant poses as a reporter and asks Julia Roberts why there are no horses in her films I didn't quite understand her reply, but everyone laughed so I knew it was funny. Later I asked Stephan and he told me that she said it was because the movies take place in space. It was another very enjoyable evening.
Wednesday, July 14
Newly scanned photos of my office and of Amsterdam can now be seen at:
I haven't got the Berlin pictures developed yet but when I do, I'll scan a couple. We got a new scanner here at work and it is connected to my computer. It is a lot nicer than the old scanner which took about 15 minutes per picture when you count the number of times it crashed (about twice per scanned photo).
I have been eating relatively healthy - although I suppose the German food in the mensa cannot be described as very healthy. It is always some kind of main dish with sauce - there is always sauce. I guess students here don't get to eat anything without sauce. Brown sauce, white sauce, sauce, sauce, sauce, . . . In general, the food in the mesa tastes good.
Despite eating in the mensa, I think I have lost weight on this trip, but I don't have a scale so I will not get my hopes up too much. It is completely natural to walk a lot here and I have been running. It's funny, the new apartment is a lot nicer but I also tend to eat more because I now have kitchen facilities and a bigger refrigerator. At least I have not been eating out much. I ate out a couple of times in Berlin of course - including one expensive meal when I treated Sylvia, Jochen and Lennart.
I was going to run yesterday at 5:00 p.m. but about 4:30 we got a giant thunderstorm which lasted a couple of hours. I can get to my apartment by walking through the connected building to the mensa but then I have to go outside. The walk from the mensa to my apartment building might be as much as 75 yds, but no more, so it was no problem getting home with an unbrella.
I took the bus downtown and went grocery shopping. Inside the bus was like a sauna but smelled a little like a sauna full of wet dogs. It was completely packed because of the weather of course.
There is a pretty nice grocery store at the shopping center at Bismarkplatz where they have separate shopping areas for meat, vegetables, etc. It is part of a large department store. A little like Jusco in Japan. I bought some stuff to have pork and broccoli. The weather has cooled off nicely compared to yesterday so if the sun doesn't come out I may actually get some work done today. Yesterday afternoon I worked but it was too warm for me to be very efficient.
Thursday, July 15
Today the weather is really pleasant. Once when Ruth and I visited Maui it felt like this. In the morning when we woke up there was a cool, relatively dry breeze coming in the window. Well that's how it is here today. Probably the temperature is in the low 70's and there is a nice breeze coming in the window. Nobody else is here yet (it's 10 minutes before 9 a.m.) and the computers were off during the night so it's nice and cool.
Yesterday I went running about 4 miles after work (34 minutes) and then
went home and watched T.V. while I ate dinner. It was just a nice
evening for resting up.
I also finished a book by John LeCarre (translated into German) about the murder of a professor's wife at a private school in England.
I went to bed relatively early the past two nights so I am beginning to feel rested up from the weekend. Tonight I will need to do laundry and I think I'll also cook some Chinese food - pork and broccoli.
There is a stand outside the mensa here where a guy (I think he is British)
sells used books everyday. It's kind of like the Bookworm, without
a building or cash
register, just tables and boxes of books. He packs up all his books every night and brings them back the next day. It is a high traffic area so there are a lot of people looking at books around lunch time. You can also buy English books there. I saw a whole bunch of Louis L'Amour westerns one day. He has been
there every day this summer, so I guess it is permanent. Anyway, that's where I buy most of my books. The John LeCarre book was DM 4 (about $2). I also bought a translation of Hemmingway's "Farewell to Arms," for DM4 which I have just started. I think I have read about 4 or 5 German novels since I came.
I did pay full price for one book when I first came. I bought Michael Crichton's "Airframe," translated into German. That was a good book.
On TV last night I watched "Freunden wie wir," which looks to me like
the German equivalent of "Friends." It is a German series, made in
Germany and uses German actors but it looks to me like the same show set
in a different culture. I think the German version is more serious/
less funny. The characters are not as
silly/comical as in the American show.
Today I think I will leave work early and try to get my hair cut.
It is always confusing the first time in a new country to get a haircut.
Where to go, do you
need to make an appointment, . . . ? Anyway I'll go down to this shop which advertises "Salon fuer Sie und Ihn" and see if they take walk-ins. If not, I'll
make an appointment for later.
I see from this morning's e-mail that RHIT Chemistry has a new interim department head. Dr. Farrell Brown, a retired Dean and Chemistry professor from Clemson. I think he's planning to stay a year or less.
Monday, July 19
I had a nice relaxing weekend after I locked myself out of my office on Friday afternoon. I went back to my office and called the care taker and he came right away as promised and let me into my room. I apologized but he said that I shouldn't worry about it. I was not the first and not the last to lock my key inside the apartment. He told me a story about a person who had a spare key made so that he would always have a spare in his office, but then he managed to lock one apartment key in his room, along with his office key and the other in his office and he still needed to be let in.
The whole scenario made me think of a test I took when we were in third or fourth year German at Iowa State (I can't remember the woman teacher's name at the moment). I had to take an oral language test and the scenario was that I had lost my key and needed to ask for help. It surprised me to think how hard it seemed at the time and how easy it wason Friday evening. I just called up Herr Baumann and told him the situation.
On Friday evening, Stepahan's girlfriend Karin had to work (they had
an end-of-the-year overnighter at the kindergarten), so Stephan and I went
out on the town here in Heidelberg around 9:00 p.m. We first sat
at an outdoor cafe and drank a couple of beers and ate nachos with salsa.
Later we switched to a different location and listened to some very
loud music in a bar that was completely packed. Stephan said that
this was the ultimate test of my German language ability -
whether or not I could understand German under those circumstances. In fact, I don't think it matters if the language was English, German or Chinese, you wouldn't be able to understand much.
On Saturday I slept late, eventually got up and did a little cleaning at my apartment. About 3:00 p.m. Stephan and Karin picked me up and we went swimming at a mountain lake in the Pfalz Berge (Palatinate Mountains) about an hour or so away from here. The lake was quite nice. The water was relatively clear. The weather was hot and sunny. It looked crowded to me but Stephan and Karin remarked about how there would have been much more going on earlier in the day.
After swimming we went to see a couple of ruins of old castles. I guess that actaully a Burg is something like a castle, but not so nice and not where a royal person lived. Anyway we saw Burg Drachenfels, which was really interesting. It was built in the middle ages and is pretty much a castle that is just carved out of a sandstone cliff.
Around 9:00 p.m. or so, we went to have dinner in a small town in the mountains at a winery. They had a roof over their courtyard so that you could eat outside, but still be under a roof so it wasn't cold at night. We ate Leberknodeln and Saumagen (not truly pig stomach according to Stephan, but some mixture of meat and vegatables) and drank the local wine. Saturday was a really wonderful day. Very pleasant.
On Sunday, I slept late again, and after lunch I took a walk along the Philosophenweg here in Heidelberg. There are some fantastic views of the city from along this path. I eventually came out near the Altstadt and went to the Kurpfalz Museum. Among other things, they have the jawbone of the "Heidelberg man" - the oldest known skeletal remains from a human living in Europe. I think he lived about 600,000 years ago during the early stone-age.
It was terribly warm yesterday, so after visiting the non-airconditioned museum, I sat in the garden cafe and had an ice cream sundae and a very large bottle (.75 L) of mineral water. I sat in the shady garden cafe, ate ice cream, drank mineral water, and read my book for an hour or so. Eventually I made my way back to the north bank of the Neckar and sat in the park along the river and read and napped for another couple of hours. By 7:00 p.m. I thought that it was cool enough to be pleasant back at my apartment so I went home and ordered a pizza for dinner. There was some confusion on the phone about where my apartment was actually located, but when the delivery guy came, he said it was no trouble finding it.
Anyway, you can see how a person can lazily while away an entire day in Heidelberg without really thinking much about it.
Tuesday, July 20
Yesterday it was terribly warm. Already in the morning it was hot in this office, it was sunny all day, and by the middle of the afternoon, it was ridiculous. The funniest part was that on the hottest day of the summer, everyone was at work for a change and several associated colleagues popped in to lament about the heat so at one point we had eight people and six or eight computers running in this room. Each additional person who came in added their 400 or so personal watts. I asked about the age old story that I hear from the Germans, "we don't have air-conditioning much in Germany but we don't really need it." The reply of course is that we don't USUALLY need it but this is a very unusually warm summer. This, of course, has been the reply in every summer that I have asked this question. I think it has been an unusually hot summer in at least three of the five summers that I have been in Germany.
the good news is that the heat doesn't last long and by evening it was
pleasant. It rained in the night and it's raining now. At the moment
I'm sitting in my
relatively dark office, completely by myself and there is a cool breeze coming in the window and a gentle rain is falling.
Another piece of good luck is that in the hottest part of the day, I
went over to the surgical clinic to see the mitral valve replacement surgery.
scrubs that surgeons wear are nice and cool and the operating room is air conditioned, even though the hospital in general is not. One of the doctors from
our lab was participating in the surgery so I already knew one of the doctors. The surgery lasted four hours so I was pretty tired by the time I got home around
8:00 p.m. Watching open heart surgery is extremely interesting, but I wouldn't exactly call it relaxing.
Operating rooms in Germany and in the US look very similar and the level
of technology seemed indistinguishable to me. There are a few interesting
differences. For example, I noticed that during open heart surgery in Terre Haute, they pump cold saline into the heart, to cool it, through the heart lung
machine. Here, they poured cold saline out of a big pitcher right into the chest cavity to cool the heart. That looks dramatic. I also noticed that they used
defibrillator paddles to restart this patients heart, but in the one I watched in Terre Haute they just turned on the pacemaker to restart the heart.
There are also small, inconsequential differences like the funny looking green rubber shoes that everyone hear wears instead of paper shoe covers. It is dangerous to generalize of course and I can really only compare one heart surgery in Terre Haute to one in Heidelberg. They may do things completely different in Indianapolis or in Munich.
Wednesday, July 21
Today the weather is fairly cool but it is sunny and looks like it may warm up in the afternoon. There is a pig experiment going on at the moment so everyone is
here today, but they are mostly next door in the pig surgery lab.
I got e-mail from the Wilhelms today and they made a reservation for
Friday evening in Garmish-Partenkirchen. I will take the train to
Garmish and meet them
there. We'll start hiking on Saturday morning and spend Saturday night at the Knorrhütte high on the mountain, where we already have reservations. From there
I think it takes about 2 1/2 hours to reach the summit, which we will do on Sunday. We will take the Seilbahn back down which is a pleasant change from the
usual moutain climbing trip where you have to spend a long time hiking back to the bottom. I think it will only be me, Georg and Ursula making this trip. If
you want to see pictures of the Knorrhütte, check out the following web page:
I ran four miles yesterday and then rode my bike to the grocery store.
After I got home, I cooked chicken with broccoli and greens - something
close to Sechuan
chicken, only with broccoli. I also did my laundry while I cooked dinner and watched TV so it was a pretty productive afternoon/evening.
Friday, July 23
I'll take a train arouind noon today and get to Garmisch-Partenkirchen about 4 1/2 hours later. I think I'll arrive long before the Wilhelm's who are driving from Siegen. I should get there early enough to enjoy a few hours looking around Garmisch-P. We are going to stay at the Gaesthaus am Skistadion tonight and tomorrow we will hike for six or eight hours to the Knorrhuette. We'll stay overnight at the Knorrhuette and on Sunday it should take about 2 1/2 or 3 hours from the Knorrhuette to the summit. We'll take the cable car back down to Garmisch from the summit. Sounds cool, huh? It's also comforting that Georg and Ursula
are pretty reasonable persons, so I feel quite confident that none of us will be tempted to try any hiking that is the least bit dangerous.
I hope that the weather is good and that I can get at least one or two
good photos with my disposable camera. It's really nice that I have
that poster on the wall in my office so if I don't get any pictures I'll
still have the poster to show people. It's also funny how people
at work and at church who don't see me very often usually begin by asking
something like, "Have you climbed any more mountains lately?" So
it will be good to have an affirmative reply for a while, even though it's
a little bit of an unreasonable question to ask someone who lives in Terre Haute, Indiana.
I scanned some Berlin photos and you should be able to see them at:
It could take a couple of minutes to load. They load pretty fast here, but could be slow over a modem. If you start them loading and then go get a cup of coffee, you can see them when you get back.
Sunday, July 25
It's Sunday night 9:15 p.m. and I've already been home long enough to get a shower, unpack my things and get a drink. I better type this tonight, because tomorrow should be a pretty busy day at work and I'd like to get an early start without spending an hour typing an e-mail.
This weekend was really great. We did indeed make it to the top of the Zugspitze but it was not easy. It was a weekend to remember.
On Friday, I took off at noon and took the train to Garmish-Partenkirchen.
It was a pleasant 4 hour train ride and I had a direct train from Heidelberg
to Munich and I only had to change trains once. The Wilhelm's had
already made reservations at a bed & breakfast in G-P and it was called
Gasthaus am Skistadion, so I just took the bus rom the train station to
the ski stadium and found it easily. Since the Wilhelms were driving
and it was a Friday afternoon in Germany, I knew
their drive would take at least 7 hours (they were planning to leave at 1:00 p.m.) so I walked around G-P, bought some postcards and a Zugspitze map, and then came back to my room around 7:30 p.m. and had a short nap. I didn't know if Ursula was going to climb (she hurt her knee) and it might be just me and George on the climb. They arrived around 9:00 p.m. and it was a big surprise because not only was Ursula going to climb, but they also showed up with Stefanine who I had heard wasn't coming.
We went out to dinner in a Bavarian restaurant on Friday evening. It was full of tourists and they had live (accordian) music and played all of the same songs that you can hear at the Octoberfest in Terre Haute (except, perhaps, the chicken dance). George suggested, and I ordered, Sweinehaxe (ham hocks?) and it was pretty good. We ate a lot, had a few beers (the normal half- liter beers) and they were kidding me about ordering one of the large beers (3 liters) but we didn't. After dinner we went to a different place to drink schnapps. Just the thing to do on a night before a long day of climbing, drink a lot of beer and then switch to schnapps. Well anyway it was fun on Friday night.
On Saturday we got up and had breakfast at 8:00. By the time we ate, drank lots of coffee, packed and got all of our stuff together it was 10 a.m. We knew that Saturday's hike was supposed to be about 7 hours so that seemed o.k. We also knew that it doesn't get dark here until about 10:00 p.m. and we didn't need to pitch a camp so it was o.k.
The first 5 hours were really pleasant. There really weren't very many other hikers after the first hour and the trail went up through a really green and somewhat secluded valley. At one point in the valley, the path goes through a series of tunnels in the side of a very steep canyon with water rushing through the canyon. It reminded me a little of a similar tunnel that we saw in Switzerland near Interlaken.
We hiked and hiked on mostly broad trails and roads and the distance was long but the slope was really gentle so we didn't gain much altitude over a pretty long period. We had been really worried about the weather since in had rained steadily all day Friday, but it didn't rain a drop on Saturday. By afternoon we began seeing some sun. After about five hours we began to climb more steeply and we started seeing lots of grazing sheep.We were hiking steadily along a river that ran down from the mountains and we began seeing snow, even though the weather was warm and we were all sweating as we hiked.
The last 1 1/2 hours was pretty nasty. You know how it is when everyone quits making jokes and small talk and they just put their heads down and climb. The trail became quite steep and was mostly over fairly large rocks and sometimes over gravel. It was a little like the last hour on Tateyama above the hut where you stayed. Anyway, we were all o.k., but it was really, really good to see that hut.
Knorrhhette was a really nice hut. I could hardly believe it.
It was almost like staying at a hotel. But, this is, after all,
a mountain hut and even though it is well upplied it certainly does
not have a shower and the bathroom is two floors down from the sleeping
quarters. I don't know how they keep the hut supplied but they have a big
room with tables where all of the climbers sit and eat and talk and you
can buy food, buy drinks, probably even a few souveniers. We arrived
hut around 4:30 p.m. about a half hour ahead of schedule. Since it was early we had lots of time to get rested up.
I put on dry clothes (mine were drenched with sweat) and we walked around a little bit and then we went into the dining room and drank beer at these really large tables. We were some of the early ones to arrive and as others arrived all of the tables filled up. There really wasn't anything else to do and by this time, it was quite cold outside the hut and very warm inside the dining room. There was a younger German couple at our table and we talked with them a little and then two more guy sat down and they turned out to be Englishmen - Chris and Andy. They had both lived in Germany some years earlier but now had returned to climb the Zugspitze.
It was pretty funny because they both turned out to be engineers so
we had two doctors, two engineers and a biomedical engineer at the table.
It was really fun because I could speak German better than the two Englaenders
and I could speak English better than everyone else, but it was also fun
because everone at the table could speak at least a little of the other
language and they all talked to each other and listened patiently.
Georg spent a long time talking to the Englishman who didn't
speak much German but somehow they were able to communicate amazingly well. It's strange speaking German to an Englishman, but I did because it seemed like the polite thing to do when some of the people involved in the conversation couldn't understand English very well.
It was also interesting because the two Englishmen turned out to be really nice guys and they were really surprised to meet an American who could speak German. They also thought that all Americans only get 10 days of vacation. I hope I dispelled one or two notions that they had about Americans. They told me about what I should see in London next week and they asked me about climbing 14'er is Colorado. One of them is going on a trip in September to climb Elbert and Massive. Overall, it was really a memorable atmosphere - really fun.
They also served dinner at the hut although it wasn't very extravagant or particularly memorable. I paid about DM14 for bockwurst, saurkraut, bread and potato salad. Later some more people came and joined our table and they were polite but not so friendly as the others. We ate and drank more beer and eventually people started wandering off to bed around 10 p.m.
The rooms where you sleep are pretty much community rooms where everyone
sleeps on mats. There are some rooms with bunk beds as well.
a problem with the reservations because Ursula only made two and then we ended up with four people on the trip. She thought the hut wouldn't be full, I guess, but it was. I'm still a little but confused about what happened because the place where I was supposed to sleep, was supposed to be really crowded with six people on a mat that looked big enough for four. When I went to bed there wasn't anyone else on the mat. As the night went on, I think two more people came to bed and one of those came around 3:30 a.m. So there seemed to be only three instead of six people on this mat, but you know how I sleep - there could have been a couple
of more people who came to bed after I fell asleep and left before I woke up at 6:30 a.m. At least I didn't wake up yelling in the middle of the night. That would have been interesting.
We got up and had breakfast around 7:00 and were hiking by about 8:00. It takes about 2 1/2 hours from Knorrhuette to the Schneefernerhaus. That was a pretty steep but fairly reasonable hike. We had to cross a number of snowfields and Ursula was hiking with tennis shoes so I think she was worried about it, even though she also had ski pole to help. It was a bit slippery in places but not too bad. (Of course, I had on my really nice hiking boots).
When we got to the Schneefernerhaus, I expected to see some route to the top which we had not seen when we were there in 1985, since it was advertised as being climbable without ropes, etc. When we first saw the beginning of the route, George and Ursula had a big argument about whether or not it was the correct route. We were pretty early so we didn't see anyone ahead of us and Ursula didn't think there was any way we could go up it.
They argued for a while and eventually Stefanie and Georg sat down for a rest while Ursula and I went to the cable car station/restaurant to verify that it was the correct route. It was indeed, and Ursula was expecting Georg and Stefanie to follow us to the restaurant (I wasn't) so we hung around for a little while. When we finally went to look for them, I could see that a group had started up the route and with my monocular I could see that Stefanie and Georg had joined them.
It was just as well. They got a half-hour head start and we followed them up. It wasn't nearly as bad as it looked. It was bad enough, but it was comforting to be following some other people who were obviously making good progress.
The first part which didn't look as bad, was actually the worst because it was just pretty steep snow. The good news is that I don't think it was dangerous. It was steep and slick but at worst, you might slide a couple of hundred meters down this snowfield until it flattened out at the bottom. Of course, nobody did but it was hard work on a steep slope.
The part that looked terrible was really pretty straight forward because they had put in fixed cables and all you had to do was walk along holding onto the cable and it was almost all over rock instead of snow. It was only about 1 1/2 hours from Schneefernerhaus to the summit and when we got near the top we found Georg and Stefanie lying on a bench in the sun waiting for us. By this time it was starting to get pretty windy and a bit cold, but not bad.
Well, of course we made it to the top and it was crowded with tourists who didn't show any sign of recognizing that we had come up the hard way. It's a little bit of a let down, but that is offset by the fact that you can skip the climb back down and just ride down. It's quite nice to achieve the summit and then be finished. I liked it. We weren't completely beat, but tired enough. We took the cogwheel train back down to Eibsee and finally back to G-P. We first had to take the cable car own to Schneefernerhaus and the train didn't leave for another 45 minutes so we bought cokes and candy bars and sat on the terrace and enjoyed the sun. I took some more pictures and there is also a church, the highest church in Germany.
Back in G-P, Georg went after the car while Stefanie, Ursula and I had ice cream and coffee in an Italian ice cream shop. There was much discussion of my travel arrangements and they offered to drive me to Heidelberg or to Ulm . . . but I think I finally got it across that my train pass was already paid for, it had one more travel day, and that I wasn't going to take any more trips between Sunday and Thursday. In addition (I didn't say this) the first class section of the train is very roomy, quiet, you can get dinner in the dining car and it only takes 4 hours and 15 minutes from G-P to Heidelberg. They were almost certainly going to be sitting in a stau somewhere on the Autobahn. Anyway, they dropped me off at the train station and I had a really nice ride back to Heidelberg and I had trout for dinner in the dining car and two bottles of mineral water.
Tuesday, July 27
It's Monday night around midnight and I thought I'd type another e-mail before I go to bed. Today was really a fun day. I went to work and spent the morning getting ready for my presentation, but I wasn't too worried about it and it was already pretty much finished.
We went to lunch in a large group around noon and it was really
fun. They were all giving Stephan a bad time because he said we were having
Jaegerschnitzel for lunch in the cafeteria (therefore we should go to the
mesnsa instead of the dining room for hospital personnell) but lunch turned
out to be spaghetti or potato pancakes. Anyway, there was a lot of
kidding around just like at the faculty dining room at Rose-Hulman. After
lunch we went to the Botanik Garden Cafe to have coffee (or ice cream -
I had coffee) before we went back to work. They were making jokes
about staying there and having my talk at the Botanik Garden and
I told them no problem and that my lecture would take less than two-hours, which got a big laugh (it was really about 20 minutes).
By the time we got back from lunch it was almost time for the meeting. It wasn't quite as crowded as last time but the room was still full and we projected overheads on the wall. This time however, I felt really comfortable with the group and I cracked a few jokes about Stephan and it went really well.
Stephan said some really nice things about me (in German -- my talk
was in English but everything else mentioned here takes place in German
unless I say otherwise), about how hard I had worked and how he hadn't
thought that we would get very far on the project but that I had delivered
the complete project, finished, including a "booklet" (report). Several
people asked questions and they talked about several other projects and
how they would use the results from my model . . ..
Don't misunderstand, it's never possible to really do amazing things that
nobody else ever thought about, but sometimes you can accomplish quite
a bit if you have a well-defined problem, a few resources, and not very
many distractions in eight weeks. There are a bunch of nice people
here who all want me to do wonderful things and want me to succeed, but
the Germans are not like Americans and they will tell you if they think
you are wrong. Stephan corrects my German often enough to be slightly
annoying, but of course it is good for me and I tell him thank you every
time. Several people asked questions that showed that they pretty
well understood what I had done, and I think I had good answers for all
of the questions. They were already talking about inviting me back.
You know how that goes. Talk is pretty cheap. On the other hand,
Stephan also mentioned tonight, that they had gotten a Mahnung ( warning?
reminder? monition? talking to? notice? - I forget the exact translation)
about how they needed to spend more of the money that has been designated
for visiting scientists. At the moment, I think it
would be fun to come back, but I would rather do it with you instead of by myself.
I'm still a bit tired from the weekend, so I sent a couple of e-mails after my lecture and then came home early. I started some wash and read my book for a while and Stephan picked me up around 6:30 to have dinner "bei Mutti."
That was really, really fun. Stephan's mom and dad are really nice. I think his dad was a high school teacher and they have traveled a bit. Stephan's sister studied in Canada, at Waterloo, for a year or so. I think they were genuinely interested in talking to an American who could speak German.
Anyway, Stephan talked about this dinner for about a week ahead of time and told me several times today that his mom was excited about it. That made me pretty nervous actually. We had a kind of soup with meatballs (Markloeschensuppe) that are made from bone marrow (I know it doesn't sound nearly as good as it tasted), then we had sauerbraten and semmelknodelen (bread dumplings?). All day, Stephan wouldn't tell me what we were having for dinner, but he told verybody else at lunch and they were all trying to get invited to dinner the rest of the day. Karin mentioned how difficult it was to make this soup and asked Stepan's mom if she had bought it. I thought that there might be some serious violence, but it passed quickly. Stephan's mom made it quite clear that she would, never, never, never . . . buy such a soup instead of making it from scratch.
I guess you can imagine that we also had something to drink. We
started with Italian champagne, then we drank beer from the Black
Forest (Tannenzapfel) , then we drank wine from Baden and before the night
was over we also drank Kirschwasser. Desert was Apfelstrudel and
I had never had it quite like this. It was home made - of course.
The dough is rolled really thin and then it has raisins and apples and
the usual spices and it's rolled into a roll (like cinnamon rolls) and
sliced. I ate three pieces, which I think, had a huge entertainment value. It simultaneously made Stephan's mom really happy and gave Stephan something to kid about.
They asked me a lot about you and what kind of presents I was going to buy and take back. We got into a long ( an hour or more) conversation about what I should buy. I told them that I had a problem, because you always want me to bring German bread, but that I had to lay over several days in London. That generated a huge amount of excitement. Impossible, the bread couldn't possibly last that long, maybe schwarz Vollkornbrot, -- no way impossible -- maybe in a plastic bag, -- never! Stephan suggested that I might send bread by Federal Express, but that it would cost about 100 DM to send a 5 DM loaf of bread.
We had a long discussion about music CD's which I might buy for you or for Sarah. There was some talk of jewelry and then a general agreement among the men present that jewelry is dangerous because you might buy something that doesn't suit the woman's taste, and it could be a pretty expensive mistake. The women present seemed less certain. You can hardly imagine how much I enjoyed this conversation and the entire evening.
Another really positive thing about all of this is that my work is essentially finished (according to Stephan) so I can sleep as late as I want for the next couple of days, type e-mail, buy presents, pack, etc. It's like a three day vacation, in the middle of a two month vacation. Actually, I can use the rest after this weekend.
It's a bit strange but I find myself wishing I could stay here instead of going to London for three days. I'll do some searching around on the internet in the next couple of days and see what I can arrange for reasonable lodging in London. I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I get there. Long days of only speaking German don't give me headaches anymore. I think I'll miss having the chance to speak German.
I think I'll go to bead since it's now 1:30 a.m. and my social manager (Stephan) has plans for me for the next two nights.
Wednesday, July 28
Today is my last full day in Germany this summer. Tomorrow I'll head for London for the weekend. It has been a really wonderful experience. I am a bit sad about leaving but I'm also really looking forward to seeing Ruth, Sarah and Bill, and to see what has become of my poor vegetable garden.
Last night Stephan picked me up and we went out with Karin and a friend
of theirs, Erich, who is an elementrary school teacher in Bruehl
(where Stephan lives). He is 51 or so and has three kids around the
age of our kids. His oldest son is a bit older, studying medicine.
He has a son Sarah's age who is just finishing high
school and a daughter Bill's age who is still in high school.
Anyway we went to a Mexican cafe in Schwetzingen. What a surprise. Germany is getting more and more like America these days in many regards. I had already eaten dinner so I just order nachos. There are still some pretty big differences here, like nachos without salsa and with feta cheese. It was a bit of a surprise but I liked it. I'm not sure the typical American would. We also drank Mexican beer which was a huge surprise for me. I would never order such a thing in Germany if the Germans didn't order it first.
Today I need to finish paying my bills, send some e-mail and do some packing. I think I have finished all of the necessary shopping, but I'm always a little worried that I'll regret it later if I don't get enough or the right kind of presents.
I've also been finding out more and more about being a doctor in Germany,
although it's from a somewhat skewed prespective of all my medical colleagues
here. By all accounts, a beginning doctor, right out of school (an
intern?) makes less money that you can make working at McDonalds.
That was such a surprise that I asked
several people, including the Wilhelm's, and they all confirm it. I also found out that unemployment is a significant problem among Germany's doctors - I still can't quite understand that.
If anybody wants to reach me for the next two months, there are many possibilities (the world is becoming a smaller and smaller place). You can send e-mail like normal. All messages will be forwarded to me in Heidelberg. I will also try to check my RHIT phone messages once a week or so, but not every day.
My office phone number is: 011-49-6221-56-6260.
My apartment phone number is: 011-49-6221-54-7015.
My German friend/colleague is Stephan Schulz. He will know where I am most of the time and his home phone number is:011-49-6202-72011. Stephan speaks English fluently.
My address is:
INF 370 Appartement 15