Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Yay, construction paper, recess, picking on girls, geography and science all in one! It’s like Mrs. Hay’s 1st grade class!

The Wandering Nerd October 11th, 2007

Some days you’re on top of the world, other days the world seems to be on top of you. More to the specific point here, some days I’m feeling like I’m all over this German thing and speaking (sprechen) and understanding (verstehen) everything rather well. Then I’ll actually interact with someone other than our teacher (unsere Lernerin) and I feel like I should be wearing a safety helmet and eating paste and pulling girls’ hair - though come to think of it, I like eating paste and pulling girls’ hair.

The instructor is quite good and adamantly refuses to explain anything in any other language than German unless someone is really, really stuck. There is a strong component of being treated like a 8 year old, but hell, an 8 year old German speaks better German than I, so why not? What kills me is that I’m the only native English speaker in my class and one of only 5 in the entire current crop of 60 students. Yet whenever anyone gets in trouble, they switch to English for clarification or discussion. English speakers, and doubly so for Americans, have it all pretty lucky. Assuming I ever get a handle on this language, I think I’m going to pick up Arabic and Chinese. That should cover me for the majority of places I travel in the next 70 years.

You all have some homework, you should all take a look at learning a new language, or hell, just a few phrases of a different language and then go to an ethnic restaurant and try that shit out. They will look at you like you need a restraint, but keep trying and trying honestly. You’ll be surprised how helpful people can be when someone is seriously attempting to understand them or their culture. Well, everyone except those filthy Canadians.

If you happen to be a non-native speaker of English and you’re foolish…er…lucky enough to be reading my posts, assume that you can skip the homework. Simply seeing the deftness with which I handle my own tongue is enough for you. *snicker* I’m very accomplished with my tongue, so I’ve been told. *ahem* Moving along…


Where was I…Oh, right! German! (Deutsch!) Things do progress, I’ve learned some important old standby phrases:

Ich denke, also bin ich - I think, therefore I am

and I’m making some of them more fun:

Ich trinke, also bin ich - I drink, therefore I am

Interestingly (interessantlisch), and for your edification, to say the former in Latin is: Cognito ergo sum. As to the latter, I think it would be: Bibo ergo sum or perhaps Potum ergo sum. The closest I could find online is: Hocine bibo aut in eum digitos insero? which means - and I can’t make this up - “Do I drink this, or stick my fingers in it?” See this place is almost as good as 321 Contact. Only you have me as your charming and slightly inebriated host. I’m trying another Hofbräu as you can see, is this the right one Hoshi, or must I soldier on? That bottle of beer only cost .63€ … a bottle of Diet Coke - a .33l bottle of coke - costs 1.20€.   I’m saving money by drinking. Now how’s that for fiscal smarts?

Speaking of inebriated charm, the rudimentary knowledge I have of German isn’t much help in talking to local fauna. The limited library of adjectives - with the highlights being ‘huge’ (große) and ‘interesting’ (interessant) - has a somewhat specific effective target audience when it comes to describing … anything to a female. I mean yeah, it may work on a very certain type of girl, but mostly you’ll just end up rubbing away the pain in the jaw from the right hook and wishing the ringing would subside.

Luckily the likelihood of even getting in trouble like that is low here. There is one nightclub, and not once have I seen more than 7 (sieben) people in there at one time. Schwäbisch Hall is a nice little town, but it’s not hopping at all. The whole region is quiet as you’ll see in the photos. We had a little field trip yesterday. I only caught one out of ever 20 or so words the tour guide (Reiseführer) said so have little in the way of comments, but you can get a good idea of what the area is like.

On the nerd side, I’ve actually started using the XP Language Bar to switch my keyboard mappings back and forth between German and English. I kinda’ hate to say this, but this is twice now that Microsoft has actually produced something that’s useful and works as it should. Too bad the bent the consumer over with Vista, but XP is actually becoming a decent little OS.

I’m off to Stuttgart tomorrow - assuming the possible continuing union strikes with Deutsch Bahn doesn’t screw up the plan. There probably won’t be another post until next week. While I’m gone I’ll leave you with a math/physics question I worked through in my head for fun.

While we were driving around on the tour I saw numerous ‘gates’ that were made out of a long metal pipe balanced on a pin in another which is sunken into the ground. On the short end, a large amount of cement serves to balance the set up and allow for easily raising and lowering - pivoting about the fulcrum - the heavy bar/long end by hand. Now, how many pieces of information would you need to figure the necessary weight to counterbalance the above contraption? For simplicity, assume the fulcrum connects at a single point and ignore any coefficient of friction from that fulcrum. It’s just a little thought jogger - like taking your brain out for a quick jaunt around the park.

the screen is so white, and it’s so big
it’s hard to get over the feeling, you’re losing your mind
-liz phair

I’m not growing that little stasche, it’s like a beer-palooza, and just enough xp?

The Wandering Nerd October 9th, 2007

The folksfest I went to turned out to actually be in Stuttgart, so I’ll be there again next weekend and I promise not to forget my camera this time. Thus able to provide photographic evidence of the drunken extravaganza for all to see.

The streak of being nominated for ‘leader’ without consent continues. While we were in the process of collecting the group to return to Schwäbisch Hall - tantamount to trying to push a rope…a drunken rope - a few of the sheep got separated from the flock. After a fruitless search for the strays, we needed to move the rest of the group back across Stuttgart and onto the return train - the backup return train as we’d missed the first one playing grabass and searching for the lost monkeys. There was some discussion and I was nominated to be in play ‘fuhrer,’ only I didn’t have to lose a testicle, be a shitty painter or kill millions of innocent people. I’m not sure I was comfortable with the repeated references to me as said ‘fuhrer.’ So we’re all clear, it just means ‘leader’ but still a strange thing to be called in public in Germany.

Wachootoo Medicine Man: Equinsu… ocha!
Ace: [to Ouda] What does equinsu ocha mean?
Ouda: “White Devil”.
[slight pause]
Ace: Well, tell him I’m not.
Ouda: I only met you. How do I know?

We eventually made it onto the train, and the prodigal drunkards returned in time to join us. On the way back I ended up talking to a Muslim guy from Syria with 16 siblings. I was pretty drunk and he was completely sober and wanted to turn the topic to ‘religion.’ Yeah, I’ll pass. There’s that newly developing sense of self preservation rearing it’s ugly head. Actually, he was a really nice guy and I now have a place to stay when I make it through Syria. It’s a brilliant pattern that’s going along here. The more places I go, the more places I find to go. Now if I can just figure out a way to money doing it…plans are afoot.


I have actually gotten around to trying the ‘Hofbräu’ that Hoshi was so enthusiastic about. Or at least I think that’s what I’m drinking. As beers go, it’s not bad. Certainly no Delirium Tremen but a damn fine beer none the less. It reminds me of a Heineken but with a more maple or nutty flavor to it. I need to get on the whole ‘trying new and different beers’ thing while I’m here. Okay, for you people I’ll suffer through a different type of beer every night. Jeez you guys are pushy.

The German is coming along nicely, though I continue to try to skip far ahead of my current level. Try to figure out ‘Zeitgeist‘ in English. Now, arguably it should be easier in German, where it came from. But that’s not even remotely the case. It’s all gone philosophisch. I want to read Goethe, Hegel, and Kant. Right now, however, I’m stretched to follow what amounts to Germany’s heady intellectual byplay of seeing Dick and Jane chase the ball. Run Dick, run. See G read, read G, read.

I did get a chance to translate some fun stuff though, here give a go at this: Sein oder nichtsein, das is hier die Frage. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not asking for a large elephant from Tanzania.

German is interesting to me for two big reasons. One, all nouns are both capitalizes and gendered, i.e. the article placed in front of a noun has a specific gender: masculine nouns (der), feminine nouns (die) and neutered nouns (das). So if I were to say the house in German, it would be das Haus and thus neutered and subsequently a whole new set of rules on how the noun affects other parts of speech around it. Though don’t expect it to make any sort of sense which gender is which. For instance, there are three different German words for “ocean” or “sea”—all a different gender: der Ozean, das Meer, die See. So you get to learn not only the word, but the case and then what changes happen to the word when it is a plural. It’s like a rules lawyer’s wet dream - *cough* ogre *cough*. Secondly, and this is the fun part, in German you can literally make up word on the fly by combining nouns. So you get really specific in how you refer to something and the words just keep getting longer. Check out this gem: Donaydampfshiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitaenskajuetenschluesseloch. That’s right, one word. It means - the keyhole of the door of the cabin of the captain of a steamship company operating on the Danube. Now you may be thinking it’s only really esoteric shit like that, but oh no! How about this: Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften? It means - insurance companies which provide legal protection. I’m surprised there aren’t Germans passing out from lack of oxygen all over the place.

Sadly most of the idioms* or colloquialisms I’m used to - or have made up - don’t translate very well. ‘Asshat’ just doesn’t have quite the same pop in German - hinterhut or eselhut. I’m working on some new fun ones in the native Deutsch, just you wait for it kiddos.


I need to get back to the whole ‘homework’ thing, but one last thing. I got a package in the post today, thank you much Mr. Hoshi! So it turns out, I leveled up, now I can cast Curse of Agony. Pretty soon I’ll get my Voidwalker and then it’s like totally on. I have covered that I’m a nerd right?

*footnote: Megan, taking time out of her busy schedule lording over impressionable minds, was the one that jogged my memory for the word ‘Idiom.’ She gets the normal 5 WN points, plus an additional 10 WN Points for each cute young co-ed she grooms for me and my eventual triumphant return to the states.

we’re all gonna rise above all things that we lack,
good vibrations that we make will come bouncing back.

Hows that for international?

The Wandering Nerd October 5th, 2007

So I spent the majority of tonight at a German Oktober Festival drinking red wine - I was hoping for good beer - and talking to a couple of Japanese guys. They didn’t speak much English, and I didn’t speak much Japanese, but we all spoke a little bit of German and ended up trading little language bits back and forth. German, English and Japanese. All the while a German band played American songs from Annie DeFranco and R.E.M. Brilliantly random. This is why I travel. I’m off to the full blown thing tomorrow. Ideally I’ll make it back in one piece…perhaps bloated with beer, but one piece none the less.

i think I thought I saw you try

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