Category Archives: General

Currently

So here’s what’s been going on.

Nothing.

But more specifically.

Still looking for gainful, non-temporary employment. And it’s proving exceedingly difficult.  I have a temp assignment at Neversoft in video game testing. All I know is they’re working on the new Call of Duty, but I have no idea what I’d be working on or which console. It’s a job I can certainly do well, but it’s a dead end, not stable, and not something suited for me time-wise anymore. There are other potential things in the future, but nothing worth speaking of.

I’m sure I’m gaining some weight, but hopefully not much. Who knows.

And that’s about it.

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The Home Stretch

I guess there’s things to speak of for once. Fancy that.

Chris is scheduled to defend his dissertation on the 23rd, just 2 weeks from now. We could conceivably leave just a few days after that, but we’ll be sticking around for a little just to have enough time to sort out whatever might need sorting.

So we booked our flight home (OUR FLIGHT HOME!!!) for December 8th. We’ll have a 5 day layover in Reykjavik, Iceland, which I’m unbelievably excited about. Iceland Air was the cheapest flight available, especially as a one-way flight, and as Hal informed me when he went last month, they offer a free layover of up to 7 days.  We had saved up a little money for a vacation of some kind, as we wanted to see somewhere else besides Germany while we were over here, so Iceland seemed like a great fit as it would add no cost transportation-wise.

And besides, on my list of most wanted travel destinations, Iceland is up there:

  1. Tokyo/Japan
  2. Paris
  3. Iceland
  4. Rapa Nui/Santiago
  5. Norway/Sweden

So, I can finally strike one of those off the list. We had heavily considered Paris, but it was very difficult to do on our budget. And if I’m going to go there, I’d rather do it with the right budget. Which means a minimum of 2 days at Disneyland Paris. At least.

I’m in the midst of booking everything for Iceland now, and I can’t wait. Despite what one might immediately assume, it’s not that cold in Iceland in December. It usually hovers in the low to mid 30s, which is fine. No different than Germany right now.  Just less sunlight at only 6 hours or so. But the northern lights!

After Iceland we’ll continue on to LA via Seattle on the 12th. Just a week later I’ll go to Oregon for a week for Christmas.  And then back to LA for…a while I guess. We don’t know.  It’s all very uncertain, which is kind of OK in a way. It’s been uncertain for a long time, but at least it’ll be uncertain in English.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-the same

It seems like the end if finally in site, though it’s still blurry. Chris will (hopefully) know his thesis defense date on or around October 10th, and is aiming for the second Friday of November. Just a few days after the date I really wanted to be home, but it is what it is.

After that. Well. Still up in the air. But, fingers crossed, we’ll have Thanksgiving at home.

But in the meantime, nothing will change.

I just finished Darksiders 2, which has left me thoroughly burned out on games for the time being. I still have Sleeping Dogs to play, but I’m just not feeling it right now. Borderlands 2 should get here within the next two weeks (if customs doesn’t snag it…again), which I’m looking forward to. I haven’t been watching movies because I’ve been plowing through all five seasons of The Wire.

Strangely enough, I’m feeling like reading a book. Of all things! I haven’t read anything since The Hunger Games books back in March. But I don’t know what to read. I usually stick to non-fiction, but I’m thinking Cloud Atlas right now. Even if it does seem like a pretty daunting title. We’ll have to wait and see.

I wish I could say I was writing, but I’m not. Something is percolating, but that’s all I’ve been able to muster as of late.

Next Monday will mark 2 years of our being here, and the third Oktoberfest. Seriously trying to make at least a day trip happen, even if it is expensive. It really is a shame to be here for so long and not go to an event so synonymous with the country. Every German I speak to says it’s terrible, awful, crowded, and expensive. But that I shouldn’t miss it for the world.

Beyond that, should the timing be OK, the other tentative plan is to stop off in Iceland for a few days on the way home. Because, why not?

Nope…Nothing

I’d post more often if absolutely anything was going on. I really would. But nothing is happening. No news. No change.

Been debating vacation options as we saved up a small sum and why put it something useful when we can go somewhere fun instead? Was pretty intent on Paris for a week, but that idea has peaked and financial trepidation has set in. Currently the thinking is Iceland while on the way home. But who knows if that’s possible time-wise. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Glad the Olympics are over. I’ve never understood the appeal. Why do we only care about competitive swimming so feverishly every 48 months? Why do we care at all?

Most of Germany is on vacation in August. Since everyone gets 4 to 5 weeks of paid vacation at a minimum, they take at least 2 or 3 in August. So it gets quiet around here. Most of my students are gone. That means (even) more free time for me, but bad for my paycheck.

And now I’m out of things to mutter on about. Oh well.

140 pounds lost.

They Put What on Pizza?

It’s not like I have an extensive list of places I’ve traveled to prove such a thing, but I’m getting the feeling there’s no such thing as authentic pizza as every country has their own specific interpretation. That’s not that surprising considering it’s history. We think of it as strictly Italian fare, but they just solidified the tomato part in the late 1800s. It originated in ancient Greece and moved around and evolved, as things are wont to do. So says Wikipedia, at least.

That being said, you still sort of settle into the normal and accepted toppings and ingredients as an American. They’re even pretty consistent and understandable here in Germany. But, man, they have some weird combinations over here. Sure, you hear tale of the Japanese putting mayonaise on their pizza, the Saudis baking mini cheeseburgers into the crust, and so on. But I’ll just stick to what I see here in Germany. And these aren’t examples of, say, pizzas you find in gourmet pizza places. This is just your average delivery place.

The basic differences between US and German pizza aren’t too much. The crust is always much, much thinner and they don’t seem to use nearly as much cheese.  All in all, this probably makes it a much healthier endeavor. As healthy as pizza can be at least. The only important difference to really note is that, should you order pepperoni, then they’ll just put a bunch of tiny peppers on it. If you want pepperoni, in the American sense, you ask for salami. Simple enough, and you learn that quick. And sausage as a topping doesn’t exist here at all, which is odd considering the German penchant for cased meat products.

Instead, here’s some of the stuff that, to me, just seems a bit weird.

Pizza Tonno – tuna, olives, and onions. This one’s really popular here. But I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of dry, cooked tuna from a can on a pizza.

That’s a Peach Club pizza, a current special at our delivery place of choice. It’s got sun-dried tomato sauce, pork strips (Germans put pork/ham on everything), bacon, peach slices, and honey.

Peach slices and honey? I’ll admit, strangely enough it doesn’t so too crazy to include the sweet with the savory meat tastes. But it’s certainly something you’d never see Dominos or Pizza Hut launching nationwide like they did here.

 

 

 

 

 

This is Pizza Crazy Dog (not translated, it’s in English) and it has hot dogs, Danish pickles, ketchup, grilled onions, and Danish remoulade sauce. I have to wonder if a 12 year old concocted this one.

Remoulade sauce?  I’ll admit, it’s the slathering of random sauces onto the top of pizzas that’s the most puzzling to me sometimes. Sauce under the cheese, sure. Naturally. But on top, above the already included sauce? Really?

 

I’ve actually ordered this one, called Pizza Dutchman. It doesn’t seem that crazy as it only has ham slices, tomato, broccoli, and hollandaise sauce. That’s the part that just didn’t work. Hollandaise sauce…

 

 

 

 

While I still maintain it’s a bit odd to sprinkle corn all over a pizza, this one still isn’t that odd. It’s got , onions, bell peppers, olives, broccoli, and the aforementioned corn.

No, to me the really odd part was that they labeled this “French Pizza.” These are not ingredients I associate with French cuisine in any way. Frankly, I’m not sure there’s one regional cuisine you could attach them all to.

 

 

 

 

I only saw these two recently. Frankly, they both look kind of disgusting.  Actually, really disgusting.

The first is just bacon and eggs, which they helpfully call “British Pizza.” The second is spinach, ham, and egg.

Are these breakfast concoctions?  They don’t seem to be, and even then I’d be hard pressed to dive in. An egg or two just plopped into the middle of a pizza?  Really? Are they runny eggs?

 

 

 

 

 

And last, but certainly not least, is Strandfieber, or translated to English, “Beach Fever.”

It has honey mustard sauce (instead of tomato), edamer cheese, chicken breast, mozarella slices, and mandarin orange slices. Mandarin orange slices? Really? REALLY?

Does this just make you want to rush to the shores? Does it fill your head with images of palm trees and sand and…orange slices?

 

 

As I said though, these are just weird to me. But I’ve yet to see anchovies on any menu here (not that I’ve known anyone to order it in America) which might strike Germans as disgusting, but it is, um, interesting nonetheless. Hell, I once had a slice of pizza at a Pizza Hut in Hannover that had cream cheese baked into the crust. It wasn’t half bad.  I think corn was involved too.

But tell Germans you put melted butter on your salty popcorn and they’ll look at you like you told them you poured liquid feces on it. To each his own I guess, but I’ll stick to pizzas with sauces under the cheese. And without randomly assigned fruit slices (pineapple excepted, of course).

Can’t Be Trusted

I’ve long said I don’t ride bicycles because I don’t trust things with only two wheels. They seem so inherently unstable to me. Almost illogically so. With that said, I haven’t ridden a bike in something like 18-20 years. I liked it fine when I was a kid, but not beyond just riding in circles on the jogging track behind our house. I was never the kind to just ride around the neighborhood or anything. Even that would have been limited as we were surrounded by some pretty busy LA streets that my mom probably would have never let me venture onto. There’s still no bike lanes in that area I think.

There was a brief period when I would enjoy a motorized scooter my dad had. That was fun. Mainly because it was the only remotely entertaining thing to do during the long, endless days we had to spend at the race track in Palmdale or wherever. And that was fun and all until, facing a standoff with a semi, I crashed into a bunch of gravel and took a really nasty spill.  Considering how hard I vividly remember hitting my head on the asphalt, while not wearing a helmet, I’m still surprised I didn’t pass out or anything. But that spoiled the whole concept for me. That coupled with the one time I tried to ride a moped and fell over immediately.

But it’s not just fear or mistrust. There was also the weight thing. Fat people look ridiculous doing most every physical activity, but especially on a bike. That’s the big reason that, even though I’ve had no interest anyway, I wouldn’t consider even trying it again.

So now that I’ve lost 135 pounds or so, riding a bike seems like a good exercise alternative. Of course, here in Göttingen, we have no bike to ride. Go figure. Göttingen actually has more bikes than any other city in Germany, or so I’ve been told. The area outside the train station is a veritable sea of parked bikes in every direction. There’s even a bike parking garage. So there’s no shortage of bikes, or bike stores, or bike lanes, or places to ride.

I briefly considered buying a cheap bike around September or so, but I decided against it thinking that once the snow came that I wouldn’t be able to ride for a few months. And this was when we were still thinking we would be leaving here by July or so at the latest (how frustratingly naive of us). Naturally there was no long-term snow this year. Unlike last year where it was around for three or four months, this year it lasted just a few days tops. Disappointing in that some snow is nice sometimes, and frustrating in that I could have been riding a bike the entire time.

Yesterday I walked to Real, which is the German equivalent of Wal-Mart or Target, and they had plenty of bikes for under 200 Euro. But I’m still resistant to it as, the current thinking dictates, we’ll supposedly be out of here by November or so. Give or take. Hopefully take. So that’s not a long time to ride a bike, spending money I don’t necessarily have and would rather spend elsewhere (*cough* Paris *cough*). But with my gym membership almost done I feel I should do something physically stimulating that isn’t just long walks. I don’t have any friends with bikes I can borrow, and I haven’t the faintest idea of where to buy a used one (the concept of Craigslist-like services seems foreign here). Considering how many of the parked bikes at the train station must surely be abandoned, I’ve even thought of just swiping one. There’s a roped off area there now that will be cleared for construction on Tuesday, and any remaining bikes will be…disposed of somehow.

There are bike rental places, which I may try. Deutsche Bahn, the train company, even has text-a-bike, a service found in many major cities worldwide now, but navigating that system in German seems difficult.

Then there’s testing the old saying of “it’s just like riding a bike!” Is riding a bike just like riding a bike? Will it take me just moments for it all to come back to me? Or will I be a wobbly, freaked out hazard for a while before I get the hang of things. I’ve also never ridden a bike with gears. I haven’t the faintest idea how that whole process works. You shift? When? How? Someone tell me!

Chris has two bikes at home, and we may be moving somewhere bike friendly. So it’ll definitely be something I try once we’re back. But I can’t stop thinking about doing it while we’re here. But, knowing me, I probably just won’t get around to it.

Ich haße Schwitzen!

I’ve been going to the gym roughly 3 times a week (never less than 3) since July. Certainly the longest physical exercise routine I’ve ever maintained. Though, when I say gym I really just mean weight training. Because, as I’ve ranted about before, I find the idea of regular gym activities insulting and awful.

I chose the gym I go to now because 1) It’s close. Just around the corner. So only truly inclement weather would stop me. 2) They only offer weight training and have a strictly outlined plan and 3) My mom paid. Lord knows I don’t have the money for something like that. In theory, weight training should be beneficial as building any muscle at all is a benefit, should help raise the ‘ol metabolism and increase how many calories I can consume in a day, and is the most bang for your buck as you burn more calories with weights in the same amount of time as, say, anything else. I also appreciated how simple and short it seemed. Try to do 90 seconds, then move to the next machine. 10 machines in all. No dipshits yelling at you to “just do one more” or anything like that. And no bad music blaring.

And I’ve been doing it pretty much nonstop since I signed up in July. There was a slight gap when I went to Hamburg, and I missed once or twice when I got sick around Christmas. But otherwise, 3 or 4 times a week like clockwork. Totally didn’t bother me. Got up, went to the gym sometime in the late morning, did my thing, and it was over.

Then I went to Prague and, as a result, took about a week off from it. Now I loathe the idea of it all of a sudden. I still go every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and it’s over before I know it. But, ugh, I don’t wanna!

Maybe it’s because I’ve sort of reached my limit? The amount I lift isn’t going to increase much anymore unless I were to change something. And I’m not. The goal was never to become ripped or anything. I can feel muscles now that I’ve never felt before, and that’s nice. But there’s still a layer of fat (and, to be disgusting, extra skin) over it all that negates any real visual progress. I even have the slightest semblance of pecs, but they’re betrayed by the remaining man-boob fat that still hangs there.

My membership expires in July, and I haven’t talked to my mom about renewing. I’m not 100% sure if I want to. Maybe find other things to do? Stick to the same schedule but spend the time walking or something instead? It’s the structure of the gym that makes the habit possible. A structure that someone else put in place. I worry I’m not as likely to keep that on my own. And what would happen if I stopped? Would the muscle immediately disappear? Would I lose a few pounds of muscle, but only replace it immediately with fat? I’m going to have stop doing it for a time anyway whenever we move to wherever we move to.

I hate exercise. I hate it so much. I really don’t understand why some people willingly do it all the time. I’ve never finished a workout or any stenuous physical activity (recreational or otherwise) and felt amazing. Renewed. Refreshed. I know that’s what they say it’s supposed to be like. But I just feel tired, annoyed, and sweaty. And who wants to feel sweaty?

I still maintain that I’ve never seen someone look happy while jogging. Look at them sometime. They look miserable. Because they are.

Odd, I was the only one out today wearing green. It’s as if the Germans don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Then again, they have enough special occasions marked with copious amounts of alcohol consumption.

Passed the 130 pounds lost mark. Just in time for vacation, where I’m sure to gain a few back. But so be it. It’s getting pretty crazy though, I now fit in a pair of Chris’ old pants. Strange.

Off to Prague tomorrow. We’ll be there until Thursday. I’m sure I’ll post a trip report post or two next weekend.

Other then that, nothing of note going on.

Das Schaltjahr

I realize I’m a few days late with these thoughts.

But, honestly, why isn’t the Leap Year something special? It’s an extra bonus day that comes once but every four years, you’d think cultures would’ve started doing something to mark the occasion. But no, nothing. Just an extra day. A work day even. Unacceptable.

I propose a truly extra day where we celebrate by doing nothing. And I mean nothing. No commercialization of exchanging gifts or pressure to spend time with family or make extravagant meals. Just nothing. As in, with the exception of people who work in public safety (fire, police, hospitals, etc.), going to work should be expressly forbidden. Illegal even. You can’t even go out to eat, because that would force those people to be working. And those who are forced to work for legitimate reasons should be given a token day off within seven days of the actual day to compensate.

Would it really be so bad to just have a day where we celebrate recharging? Taking some time to ourselves to oversleep, veg out, read a book, or stare into space. It’s only once every 4 years. Of course, as Americans, I’m sure many would stress over what is the best way to make use of the extra time. To duck into work to finish that project or what have you. When instead, the pressure should be just how best will we maximize our time to do nothing at all.

If only.

Then again, if the 29th fell on a weekend, that would totally suck.