Monday, June 27, 2005

Return from Amsterdam

Just a quick post to say that Lisa and I have returned safely from Amsterdam. Wow. What an fascinating and unique city! Canals, bicycles EVERYWHERE, trams aplenty, hash-serving coffeehouses (none of which I investigated, I must admit) and tons of interesting architecture. Lisa and I took a little excursion with the linguistic group to a fishing village about 25 miles north of Amsterdam. When Lisa saw that she could be in the lush, bike-path strewn rural areas of the Netherlands after only a 15-minute train ride from central Amsterdam, I could already see the wheels in her head spinning -- "Okay, how soon can we move here?"

There are certainly worse places to end up.

I'll post more on the trip later, but I will leave with this thought: Dutch looks like a kid's made-up language. On the public phones that take credit cards, the monitor says "Steek Kaart in." On the way to the fishing village was a sign to a town called "Krabbensplaat." There were many other examples that made me and Lisa both crack up. But if I end up having to learn Dutch, too, so be it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The ugly, techy truth

Well, finally I'm updating from Heidelberg. It's been annoying because I can't seem to get my ftp program to upload any photos from my handheld. So no cool photos yet. The connection I used last time from Star Coffee is being problematic currently, but I hope to resolve those issues (although I'm not sure right now how I'll do that).

So far I've mostly been hiking in the hills around H-berg (which to my pleasant surprise has MILES of backwoods trails within easy reach of the city). And of course, drinking beer. The current Hefeweizen champ is Heidelberg's own hefe from Heidelberg Braurei, which is light, subtle, refreshing and citrusy. MMMMMMMMmmmm! Just the thing after a long wander in the woods.

The interesting news is that I've been roped in to singing in an a capella group for the theater group in which Lisa is participating. We're singing a Billy Joel Song, "And So It Goes," which has been arranged for/by the King Singers. Currently, I've even been assigned the solo! I've really had to scrape the rust of my sight-reading skills as well as my actual tenor voice...singing punk music is forgiving from an accuracy perspective as long as you have the right attitude. But this is back to choir singing, and BOY! I sound like a hinge! Nor does punk music make demands on whether you sing an 8th note or a dotted 16th. I find myself thinking "Wait! I used to be able to do this. Really! Um, how many hectares in a cubit again?"

We've got another couple of weeks to improve, and I'll need all of that. Lisa says everyone in the theater group usually gets a DVD of the performance. So I hope to have a recording of the song. Let's just hope I don't have to apologize profusely to posterity. "Ouch! Sorry about that posterity! Didn't mean to make you cover your ears and howl like that!"

Also, tomorrow morning Lisa and I head to Amsterdam for her Linguistic Conference. We got a good travel book that will help me plan my itinerary for the times Lisa is listening to pedants wheeze painfully on about vowel shifts and such. I think I'd rather be taking the Heineken Brewery tour and visiting the Rembrandt museum. I'm sure that comes as a surprise to those who know me.

I'll be sure to post a complete rundown of the trip...I HOPE

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Return to Heidelberg!

Yesterday was the last day for my German 151 class. That means I can now return to Heidelberg and to my beautiful wife, who I miss terribly! My wonderful and faithful brother Steve has once again returned to Portland to mind the house and our doggies/kitties while I'm gone. Many thanks to him because without his willingness and ability to house-sit, I would have had to stay in Portland the whole time Lisa was in Heidelberg. And THAT would have really, REALLY sucked. But now I can scamper back to be with my sweetie on Wednesday, June 8, and be with her there until we both come back to Portland on August 2.

So, Lisa and I get to spend almost two months in Germany together, albeit she has class until mid-July. She already plans to attend a linguistic conference in Amsterdam from June 23-25. If that happens, she'll be attending her conference, leaving me time to poke around the city...hmmmmm...two days in Amsterdam, what to do, what to do? I hear Amsterdam is pretty boring...not much fun stuff to do.

I also hope to go see Lance Armstrong and the Tour de France during the Tour's trek along the German/French border, which will be in early July. I'm thinking we could just take a train to a town somewhere along the route and have a little picnic on the side of a country road and watch the peloton go past. It will all be an opportunity to have a bit of a European honeymoon, which we wanted to do after we got married, but where cheated out of due to the calamity. (The third anniversary of that event was last Thursday, and this mention is all the thought I plan to devote to that.)

Anyway, for my last German class, I recorded "Ich Habe Keine Angst" for extra credit points. Since that wasn't punishment enough for me or my nice German instructress, I did TWO songs this time in a little CD that I titled "Leider Lieder," which translates roughly to "Unfortunate Songs." Here's the crappy cover art and the lyrics, which you can copy and paste into Babelfish if you like. Click on the song titles below to download the mp3s, or to play them. I should also note that the cover art is of "die Loreley," a mythical Rheinmaiden who lured boatmen to their doom with her singing, much like the Sirens in "The Odyssey." Unfortunate indeed!

Bett aus Nägel
Auf meinem Bett aus Nägel ich liege. Ich denke, vielleicht soll ich aufstehen, aber ich zusammenbrechen, weil es ist so sehr bequem. Ich liebe den wunderbaren Schmerz. Ich finde er passt mir! Ich liebe meinen Bett aus Nägel! Auf meinem Bett aus Nägel ich liege. Ich denke, vielleicht sollst du mir besuchen. Wir können unser Schmerz teilen, es ist nett and rostig!
Und so weiter...
Andere Tag passieren, und gehe mit sein Stunden über die Welts Rand, nie zurückkehren. Wo kann ich wahre inspiration finden, und so funkeln wie ein Stern? Und so weiter bis in alle Ewigkeit. Im mein Geist wachsen einen Garten von Idee, aber sein Obst dahinwelken, weil ich bin ein schlechter Gärtener.
The special track is Homer Simpson singing "99 Luft Balloons" in German. Pretty funny.

Finally, I plan to take Lisa's Mac with me in hopes of finally buckling down and getting some writing done in Germany. I just need to find a good spot for it in the Heidelberg 'hood -- perhaps a nice, quiet little pub with some comfy chairs, good food and few tourists. That LAST part will be the tricky bit, I reckon.