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Warning: do not read the following if you are easily offended...

Wednesday )
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Wednesday, 8 March: 11:30 AM
Those of us who were early risers were in a big nineteenth-century room in the Rotes Rathaus (the city hall, whose name we'd just been told twice had nothing to do with the city's current governing coalition). We´d just had a panel discussion on "International perspectives", from Fulbrighters who´d been flown in from other parts of Europe, on what their experiences had been. And now we got the Mayor, who gave us what was actually a pretty cool talk on the current state of Berlin, including its problems (integration of non-Germans, education policy, and of course rebuilding--construction on the Brandenburg Gate is going to stop for the world cup, but then they´ll be putting the scaffolding back up!) And of economic problems since it had stopped being heavily subsidized by both halves of Germany. Since this remains a problem (despite, as she was keen to point out, progress by her government), she jokingly told us that we'd better spend some money before we left.
I, in fact, had already done so. Like an idiot, I'd brought my computer but not my digital camera's download cord, so my camera was out of memory from all the pictures I'd taken--it had been an eventful couple of days. So I'd gone out and bought a cheep-@$$ memory card. But that was on Monday. Like I said, it had been an eventful couple of days. I'll tell the story homerikos: Read more... )
UPDATE )
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Sunday, 5 January: 1:40 PM
The Park Inn Hotel is a late soviet-era building (now privatized and equipped with a mini casino), located on Alexanderplatz near the center of what used to be East Berlin. Alexanderplatz was apparently some major center, and still has some actually rather nice 1960s murals on one of the nearby buildings. At the moment, though, it’s mostly a big construction pit. So pretty much typical for Berlin on both counts. I arrived by airport bus, disheveled and somewhat later than I’d planned, but still before anything officially started...Read more... )
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Sunday, 5 January: 8:00 AM
By rights, I should have been standing on the platform in Konstanz, waiting for my train. That, at least, was the plan.
But when you’re traveling by plane, train AND automobile to the other side of Germany for the conference that your grant agency’s organized, the fates sometimes have other plans. So, apparently, did my sub-conscious, which added up the number of things that could go wrong with this program and decided that the prescribed one hour before my flight didn’t give me enough time to spare. As such, I woke up in a state of nerves at around six and eventually decided that I might as well get up and try to catch the 7:07 instead of waiting another hour.
There were, however, one or two factors that neither my conscious not my sub-conscious mind had taken into account... )
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Sorry for the long silence. We spent Sunday morning on a bus, and didn’t get our internet connections activated until today: everything here in Bavaria was closed on Monday for the Feast of the Assumption (Maria Himmelfahrt). But fear not, I have not been devoured by rampaging Holsteins!
Cut for a journal of my life. Entries on topics of specific interest to follow.

Read more... )
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So today we got a tour of the Commerzbank in Frankfurt--Europe's tallest office building, and a very cool environmental design: green roofs, passive solar, water-cooled ceilings, and interior atria with gardens, plus two-story conference room on the 49th/50th floor. The lecture by their resident neoclassical economist on the German economy was rather less exciting, but lunch after the tour was tasty, and then we got a tour of the city. It proceeded to rain periodically during this latter, but we saw some cool buildings, inc. a whole row of houses built in the 80s by the runners-up in a competition for building a new exhibition hall, and of course lots of churches. I went back after the tour to the Leonhardskirch (the city’s oldest) and the Cathedral (thirteenth century and twice rebuilt after fires since), both with MULTIPLE cool medieval altarpieces. Germany is wonderful, even when overrun with Catholic Youth.
(Less fun wonderful is all the lime in the water. And I’m going to put on several kilos if I keep eating German breakfasts.)
Also explained a reliquary of St Bartholemew to a French guy with even less German than I have. Most of my colleagues seem to have headed for cafes in search of coffee and discussion. They’re all quite nice and intelligent, but less interested in medieval architecture, so I didn’t ask if any of them wanted to tag along with me. Though we did have an amusing “Spot the Catholics” moment with the piscina.
Anyway, the computer room is currently crowded with people on the internet or watching German soaps while waiting for someone to get offline. Heh, you can do worse as a means of learning German.

Less pleasantly, I have to send my landlord yet another copy of my rental agreement. Sigh...

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