It is not a convention… but it is Berlin!

4 02 2009

Guten abend from Berlin! I have been quite busy for the past few months, but now I am here in Germany and somewhat acquainted with the city and ready to start spilling my adventure stories! To start with, here are the top ten things that have surprised me (thus far) about Berlin.

1. I always push the door when I should pull and pull when I should push. It must be backwards from what it usually is in America, because I ALWAYS do the wrong thing. And it is always awkward.

2. The keyboards here have the y and z switched, among other things. Typing is slightly off… when I am not paying attention it would go like this: Hez! I hope zou are having a great daz! But I am learning to switch it fairly rapidly, so hopefully I will be back up to my normal typing speed soon. I wonder what that will mean when I switch back to an American keyboard?

3. Crossing the street is weird. I never wait for lights to cross the street, you just cross when there are no cars, right? WRONG. And also, when the walk light is green, cars can still run you over.. and frequently try.

4. “Subway” (S Bahn, U Bahn here…) tickets are on a on-your-honor system with a little bit of fear. You buy a ticket, but you do not have to show it anywhere or validate it when you ride the train or anything… however, randomly they “control” you which means undercover agents are on the individual cars and once the train is moving pull out their official badges and make everyone show them their tickets. If you do not have a valid ticket, it is 40 Euros. Yikes! I have been controlled once already. It is actually pretty exciting as long as you have a valid ticket.

5. Food is really cheap in supermarkets. (And supermarkets are really small.) I went in and bought things for the whole week (meat, cheese, bread, etc. plus some random fun things like chocolate pudding) and it was under 9 Euro.

6. Most of the people I have met thus far do not speak German as their first language. This is due to the fact that I am attending a German language school, where everyone is learning German. Oddly enough, almost no one there is also a native English speaker. So communicating on any level is a mosh of German, English, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish… etc. Right now I am going to be learning Turkish in addition to German because I live in the Turkish center of Berlin, Kreutzburg.

7. The city, as far as I can tell, is made up of parks, canals and waterways, graffiti, cobblestone, bicycles and very large sidewalks. The buildings are a weird conglomeration of super old, super new, super falling a part and most have graffiti and murals covering the sides. Also, the whole city is gray in the winter.

8. EVERYONE smokes. I thought Hampshire was bad but here… yikes. My clothes are beginning to smell like smoke, and I hate it.

9. Beer is cheaper than water and they do not give you tap water unless you ask, and even then they think you are crazy.

10. Berlin is the city for bikes, dogs and street cleaners. I have walked with four street cleaners already in my first week of being here! They cruise along at about walking speed, so if you are headed in the same direction it is like you are walking with them. They are very friendly, but a little loud.


Lindsay’s Future

8 12 2008

I hope Lindsay joins the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists.

Happy National Novel Writing Month!

1 11 2008

November is National Novel Writing Month! I am celebrating by attempting to write a novel. We shall see how this works out. I have figured out that if I write roughly 6 pages a day (starting today, of course) then I will be able to complete the challenge. Wish me luck! I will try to keep you all up to date as far as my progress is going, and if I decide I’ve written things worth reading, I’ll share.

Are any of you out there attempting this brave feat?

Playing with Death

27 10 2008

Here is a question for all you gamers out there: If Death was coming to collect you and you could play one game (has to be a two person game where only one person wins, win and you stay alive) what game would you play?

Assuming Death has had a heck of a long time to master games – a friend of mine suggested that playing a random chance game (odds 50/50) would be the best strategy. What do you think?


1 10 2008

You may already know that Earthquakes happen quite frequently here on earth thanks to plate tectonics, but have you ever wondered how frequently? I have been using this amazing Earthquake tracking site which shows the latest earthquakes in the world. It’s quite an interesting site to glance at every hour or so and watch as new earthquakes are recorded. You can easily see each earthquake’s magnitude, location, depth, and if you’re interested you can look at any area’s seismological history.

And that is only one small part of what I have been up to these past few days.

Babyquakes and King Richard’s Faire.

22 09 2008

Today I half fell asleep during my Geology Lecture (I blame this entirely on King Richard’s Faire, which I will speak to in a moment) and had a dream about babyquakes. It’s like an earthquake, but in a baby. I’m not entirely sure what it would mean, but in my dream there was a scale for it and everything (feeling it while holding the baby, shaking the crib, etc.)

On Sunday I made the two hour trip to Carver, MA to spend a delightful day at King Richard’s Faire. A friend of mine works at one of the shops there, and subsequently had free tickets to give away. I saw “jousting” and a Liger (that thing is huge), ran around the shops, talked up pretty sword smith boys and aerial silks girls and saw a high school friend I haven’t seen in years! My father and youngest sister were able to meet up with me there, which was also a nice surprise.

All in all I had a lot of fun and I recommend the faire for anyone who is close enough to Carver, MA to consider it. Of course – having free tickets is a particularly nice way to enjoy it and those of you accustomed to SCA events might be horribly offended (I saw at least six Captain Jack Sparrows and one Link walking around.) But if you like laughing and running around in the woods with a commercialized “Medieval Faire” in the background – you’ll probably enjoy yourself just fine.

Experiences with Science Classes and The Importance of Pink and Blue

16 09 2008

I am currently taking a Science Teaching course aimed at teaching science in an engaging way without any money, and also looking at all the reasons why it isn’t taught like that in the first place. Today our class shared stories about some of our own experiences with science while growing up. I am going to share with you all one such story (about Math, actually) which made me particularly angry, but I would welcome other people’s opinions!

In second grade a girl was beginning the math portion of her day. Her teacher passed out books, one accelerated math book and one lower level math book. I am not sure of the methods the teacher used to evaluate the class – but the now-young-lady recalls vividly being upset because she recieved a blue accelerated math book while the lower level math book was her favorite color – pink.

It was the same company, and the covers were distinctly blue and pink. Someone, somewhere along the line had to have made that choice. Discuss!

(Also – I would love to hear people’s experience with science classes throughout elementary school, middle school, high school or even higher education. What engaged you? What really turned you off? What was boring? What was fun? What did you really like learning about and why?)