Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Don't be such a square, man

During a January visit to Halle (Saale), we toured the Kunstmuseum Moritzburg. Even before we reached the art, I was fascinated. The building has square toilets! Have you seen similar ones before? Maybe they're designed for Spongebob Squarepants?

Friday, May 26, 2017

This Kunstautomat is really arty

In January, my friend L. and I took a day trip to Halle (Saale). We had actually intended to visit Jena (the opposite direction) so obviously we were quite a bit off!

It was a happy accident, however. We bumbled through the city, visited their museum, and came across the Kunstautomat below.

It's an art vending machine and features local and regional artists. It puts the Automaten in Kaiserslautern to shame; or at least its colorful outside does! Even the money slot is happy.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

76 Trombones...

Since I work for an organization with locations worldwide, teleconferences are ubiquitous for us. I prefer face to face communication but that isn't possible so I've learned to deal with teleconferences and to give trainings online.

They are certainly not without problems. During our last huge worldwide teleconference, someone put her phone on hold and the meeting had a soudtrack of the loud hold music...which was marching band music. This went on for about 5 minutes of the meeting. It was a new level of teleconference Hades.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Deutsche Bahn gives some mixed signals

On a recent train journey, the display on the train showed the message below as we were approaching the final stop.

Ha! It's very confused.

It says "Wir reinigen, - einsteigen!" -- We're cleaning, enter!

via: bitte nicht -- via please not

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

German public trash cans: what goes where

Non German-speakers, have you come across a trash can out in public and feel as if you need some sort of user manual to know that to toss where? Sometimes these trash cans are at least labeled in several different languages (usually in German, French, and English) but often they aren't. Sometimes there are graphics too, but they might not always make sense.

Let's take a look at a trash can together, why don't we?

So, meet Mr. Trash Can of the K in Lautern Mall. He has many cousins in the mall, too, and they're hungry for what you want to toss.

Now that we've made his introduction, let's take a peek at his three hungry mouths, why don't we?
Mouth #1, labeled Papier, is on the left. Can you guess what this is? Take out the "i" and you have "paper." Not too bad, eh? So, you'd throw paper in here, such as receipts, those flyers people hand you as you unsuccessfully try to dodge them during shopping, etc. 

Mouth #2, in the center, is for Kunstoff, which is plastic. It also might be labeled as Verpackung, which is packaging. This is where you can put empty containers. 

Mouth #3, on the right, is Restmüll, or garbage. It also might be labeled as Abfälle. In this Mr. Trash Can's case, you'd put whatever else doesn't belong in his other two mouths here.

A mouth not pictured here is one for Glas (glass).

There you have it! Before you throw something in, make sure that you pick the right mouth. You don't want to anger the rubbish gods nor those of the Germans who are just ready to get their Schimpf on.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Anger or the city hall?

In Naumburg (Saale), the city offers several destinations: Anger, the Rathaus, etc.

It appears that one can pick a state of unhappy emotion or the city hall. Perhaps if one visited the city hall and didn't find a desired outcome that could result in anger.

Or, it could just be that in German, "Anger" means a square/green. I guess it depends on the mood of the viewer.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring at the farmers' market

In Germany, the land starts to wake up and spring shows its face in about March. At the farmers' market, typical spring offerings start to show up in April. 

Bärlauch (ramps, which taste like a mild garlic), Spargel (white asparagus), and strawberries make their debut. 

Early in the season, Spargel and strawberries, especially that grown locally, is expensive. As the season progresses, the prices come down a bit. I wrote some more about Spargel in another blog entry, here.

Soon it'll be pick your own strawberries season, and if you'd like to learn more about doing that in Kaiserslautern, you can can read about it here.

Enjoy the flavors of spring!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kaiserslautern Stadtteilfest: May 13, 2017

On Saturday, May 13, the tenth annual Stadtteilfest will occur in Stadtpark in Kaiserslautern. It's basically a city festival in which community organizations set up booths in the city park. They are available to answer questions about what they offer. Some sell food, books, or rummage sale items as a fundraiser. Gardening enthusiasts will find a plant exchange. Bring a plant, take a plant.

Where: Stadtpark Kaiserslautern (Pirmasenser Strasse 62 is a nearby address)
When: 1100-1800

1900: concert with Shaian
2100: open air movie theater showing Paulette

Sunday, May 7, 2017

My week: April 2 ed.

During the beginning of the week, I was in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a beautiful town at the foot of the Zugspitze Mountain, among others. I was actually there for work. It was so "difficult" to work in such an enviornment. Or maybe not ;) Plus I was able to work with some colleagues for whom I regularly provide support but very rarely see. I really enjoy that aspect because sometimes it feels a bit stiff and cold to conduct everything by email or phone call, especially when it's a support issue that's so much faster when addressed in person.

On the train ride home, I finished watching Heimat. It's a tv series that follows the lives of a family in the Hunsrück region of the Rheinland, which is somewhat northwest of Kaiserslautern. The first series covers the years 1919 until 1982. For those curious about how life in Germany was during this time, this series covers it reasonably well, at least from what I can tell from my studies in history. For example, one can see why National Socialism would have been attractive to some Germans at the time because of the promises it made during shaky economic times. The series is slightly twee and nostalgic but it gives a decent rundown of German history for this time period.

When I got back to Kaiserslautern, I met my tandem partner and we practiced more for the German telc test that I would take in April. Can I just say that test preparation sucks the joy out of learning German for me? Okay, maybe it's not so dramatic as that, but reading a controversial editorial or findings of a research study and expressing my opinion about it gets old. In the next German class, C1, it's going to be even more intense because that is the level that is required to get into German-speaking unversity programs.

During the weekend, I met some friends at the palace in Schwetzingen. I've been wanting to visit for years but the palace itself had been closed for renovations. It was finally open again and even better yet, the cherry blossoms were still around.

Spring showers bring...cherry blossom flowers, and cherry blossom flowers bring...cosplayers! I bet that you didn't see that one coming, huh? (hehe) Our group, including my friend and her partner (who's also my friend), their child, and my other friend A. gathered under the trees for a picnic and some great people watching. Ladies wearing steampunk-inspired gowns primped and posed under the trees. The majority of people showed the peace hand symbol (can that just stop please? Seriously?).

We shared quite a laugh because J thought that a security guard was cosplaying. Heck, I laughed really hard because initially I thought that she wasn't really a security guard, either, just someone in a costume. However, her body language was very police-like and I later saw her in the security office.

A. and I bought tickets for a tour of the castle. It lasted about an hour and traveled through one set of apartments. The guide asked everyone not to touch the fabric or furnishings in the rooms and even showed us a sampling of the fabrics and those we were allowed to touch. Of course people still touched the fabric in the rooms. Gah.

Later we toured the grounds and ran into literal forests of Bärlauch, or in English, ramsons. They are a cousin of chives and have a mild oniony and garlicky taste. I had been looking for them in other places and so badly wanted to find some. It was definitely a tease to find so many of them at the castle; I didn't dare pick any of them, whether or not there was a cosplaying (or not) guard around. Below is a picture of the Bärlauch at a farmers market and some of it on the castle grounds. They are a major symbol of spring around here and people go nuts for them. You can even find them for sale at times at the grocery stores; my friends saw them at Lidl. Local restaurants cook soups and other dishes with them.

Passing wistfully by the Bärlauch, we visited the back part of the palace grounds and came upon the mosque. It was built in the Turkish style during the late eighteenth century. A examined it and pronounced, "I hope you do not think that this is how mosques really look. This is not accurate."

That cracked me up as I saw this building, while beautiful, as a European vision of a mosque with its mysterious, lovely, undulating designs and Arabic. It was probably not meant to be accurate as it was constructed for a Christian ruler who wanted an exotic building on the grounds. A. squinted at the Arabic on the ceiling. She is an Urdu native speaker and can sometimes read Arabic. This script was too difficult because of its stylized nature.

After leaving the non-authentic mosque, we continued to visit the lake and ran across what I call a "turducken thingie" and of course had to explain my excitement and the backstory.

I found the castle worth a visit, especially during cherry blossom time. It's beautiful and definitely has some interesting flora and fauna.