Uncertainty can be happiness

"Security is a false god," or running around the world as an FSO

Archive for April, 2009

Update on the socks…

Posted by quirksalight on April 23, 2009

I have to make another pair, b/c I don’t have them anymore. They’ve been appropriated by my mother….


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A random bit of amusement

Posted by quirksalight on April 23, 2009

N.Koreans Love Choco Pie
Image from The ChosunIlbo

Uh huh… that’s what I said…

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Oops… the poker…

Posted by quirksalight on April 20, 2009

After Rothenburg, I crashed and fell asleep on the drive back to Wurzburg. But we didn’t have all that much downtime, as we were supposed to meet a couple of his friends at the Standard for poker. Apparently Wednesday night is poker night in the U Wurzburg Physics department. H invited us to join them last night at the beer hall, which we of course accepted. Texas hold’em style, 5 euro buy in, tournament with the top two splitting the pot. Sure, why not? A little poker never hurt anyone. 🙂 MH was more amused at the potential for trash talking between some of his collegues and I – apparently there was a high potential for his amusement.

Heading to the Standard bar, we meet up with H from last night, J and his wife C, and F, the postdoc. Some initial chitchat, though J was extremely dismayed upon hearing my reasons for leaving grad school, “There’s no difference! No matter where you go, it’s all the same! IT’s exactly the same!!” Uh huh. Yeah… he’s trying to finish. I think my reply was, “Sorry, dude. Grad school is grad school.”

We start out, and the guys (F and J) told me that the weekly poker night had been going on for about 6 months, and H is playing for the first time. At their question if I had played before, I answered, “Well, I haven’t played regularly for a long time.” Their answer: “Oh, regularly? Hmm…” hahhaha…. of course, at this, MH is just sitting back with a grin on his face. Honestly, I haven’t played at all since grad school, but then again, the first two years of grad school did have the weekly poker nights, mainly at my house, which MH was very well aware of. 😛

so we continue playing, and I’m playing pretty conservatively, with a couple random plays to see how the others were reacting. And I noticed a couple patterns. F had a tendency to lean back when he had a decent hand, and J would sit up straighter and almost brace himself when he had a good hand. Almost as if one is bracing for battle. MH’s eyebrows talks WAY too much, and twitches when he’s not sure. H was the hardest to read, but then I found out later that he had never played before, which makes sense that there was no pattern to read; he doesn’t have any established to read. And C would always play conservative.

With the knowledge in hand, I pushed and bluffed my way to being in the top two for both tournaments we played. Funny, sometimes I would ask them if they wanted me to explain how I won a specific hand, which they did. J quipped that he wasn’t sure what was worse; that I won the hand, or that would win and explain what I was thinking and how I won. Though all of them asked me to continue explaining.

I think I paid for my dinner and drinks that night with the poker winnings! hahahah!!! F wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to be around for next week’s game, as they all joked that they weren’t looking all that forward to playing with me again. Oops. MH did get his wish for some trash talking, though.

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Rothenburg and poker

Posted by quirksalight on April 20, 2009

Wednesday (April 1, 2009) was our road trip to Rothenburg, a town about 45 minutes away and well known for their old town area, where entire structures and the city wall from the 1500s are still kept up today. Also, they have the medieval crime museum there.
Waking up is hard to do on anyday for me, but the later the previous night, the harder it is. I don’t think I went to sleep before 2am on any of the nights in Wurzburg, so getting going was a bit tough. Knowing this, and my penchant for being a grump, MH informed me that it was already 9:30am and that I had said that I wanted to be on the road 30 mins ago. (which was true, as it is a 30-45 minute drive to get there) Thinking, “Oh crap!” I jumped out of bed and quickly took a shower and dressed. Out of the shower, throwing my stuff together…only to see that it was then 9:15am. WTF?? I looked at MH and he’s laughing his head off. dork. 😛 Hey, if you’re reading this, I bet you’re still laughing. Just remember… there’s always payback. 🙂

The old part of Rothenburg was visually amazing. It’s been kept in great condition over the years, including the old city wall, which is still nearly encompassing the entire part of the old city. Scattered at regular intervals along the wall are towers, which also allow access up to the wall itself. Which is really nice, as you can walk along the city wall around the Aldstadt and get a great view of the old and new parts of Rothenburg. As you can see, MH is demonstrating that the ledge that you walk along is not all that high. 🙂 Walking around, several places had already put up decorations for Easter, which at this point was about 10 days away. There were plenty of evidence that the town were very focused on tourism, with the shops, decor, and the multiple tour groups roaming around in multiple languages. Though the shops were rather interesting. We saw a shop that sold replicas of medical armor and weaponry… man… there were some neat items there….and may be a little difficult getting on the plane back with.

The architecture is a mix of styles, but one that you see a lot is the Tudor style, from the late 1400’s – 1500’s, where you can see the contrast between the wall and the wood frames on the outside of the buildings. I do have to admit that I preferred the stone buildings with the statues, gargoyles, and carvings scattered about the exterior. Such character… and as some of y’all can attest to, I’ll stop and stare at the building for a while to take it all in. 😛

One of the things that I really wanted to see was the Medival Crime Museum, which is supposed to be the only museum devoted to crime and punishment in the medieval era. I heard a lot of interesting things about it, and one of MH’s friends, H, had been there before and told us that it was a really interesting. Which, yes, it was, but also very somber, as the chronicling of the past has some resonances throughout history to the present.

But, the peak of the trip (literally) was climbing to the top of the tower of the Rothenburg Rathaus and seeing the entire city and the surrounding lands. About 93 meters high, you have to climb a series of stairs to the very top of bell tower, the last two sets of stairs being more a ladder than stairs. Then, you pop open the hatch (seriously) and climb out to a very narrow ledge, right next to the large bell. I’m generally not afraid of heights, in fact, usually I love them. However, maybe it was narrow ledge, or the extremely brisk wind, but I definitely felt a bit wary of being there! MH commented that I didn’t let go of the railing much…. which was true. In all the pics of me up there, I have one hand on the rail!

And the food, of course. For lunch, MH and I sat in the main square at a Bavarian restaurant, and split a schweinehaxen, which basically is
roasted pig’s calf. (Yes, I noticed that it was the lower leg when there was a tibia and a fibula…. anyhow…) Rather large, and I was very glad that I split it, and was very yummy. The Trollinger I drank with lunch was rather sweet, and not really “trocken” (dry), which is what I do like. But the best part was the dessert we had later! Apparently the region is known for a pastry called “snowball”. It’s a long strip of sweet dough that been twisted and formed in to a ball, which is either fried or baked – I couldn’t tell. After, it’s dusted with sugar and/or covered with other toppings, such as chocolate. mmm….

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My first socks!

Posted by quirksalight on April 16, 2009

On another side note from the Germany trip recap, I finished knitting my first pair of socks today!
Using the basic pattern in the Summer 2007 edition of Interweave knits, a set of size 5 (3.75mm) takumi bamboo, double pointed needles, and skein of worsted weight Peace fleece wool. I actually needed about half the 4 oz skein… then again, I have very small feet.
Here are the photos:

I think I’ll make some more…

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Posted by quirksalight on April 13, 2009

I was hoping to avoid this pattern I have of coming home from vacation/long trips abroad sick, but alas, I have fell prey to it once again. Blargh… At least I didn’t come home sick this time, but just got ill a couple days later. Nothing major, just a sinus/cold issue. (again)

Another thing that the trip really drove home was the infrequency of the future. That all the friends I have made around the world, I’ll be lucky if I see them once a year or every two years. Which really freakin’ sucks. Can you imagine how much harder this would be, to keep in touch, prior to the internet?

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Work + Fortress + Beer + Karoke = Wurzburgr

Posted by quirksalight on April 9, 2009

The next day was a bit annoying as I had to work. Uh huh.. not a complete vacation. Still had to do some editing and I was a bit behind. Considering that I need the internet, MH and I went to his lab at Univ of Wurzburg (He doesn’t have an internet connection at home! Ack! Talk about detox… ), which is on top of one of the hills surrounding the river valley that the city sits in. Great view. Met a couple of his friends including F, his officemate, as I was using their office to edit in.

Of course, the paper was an extremely dry paper…. on Ostriches. Yep. Large flightless bird. So as I am working, I’m throwing out raather grumpy comments out loud, which is entertaining F and MH (as he’s running in and out of the office). As I finish, I tell F that I wanted to eat ostrich, just to kinda get back at it. Much to my surprise, there’s a place serving ostrich in Wurzburg. Heading there for lunch, we were too late, and the place had already finished serving lunch for the day. So we took advantage of the sunny day to grab a burger before heading to the Festung Marienburg (Marienburg fortress).

Built on one the many hills surrounding the city, the Marienburg Fortress is a rather imposing structure overlooking the river and the city. In the past it has been a residence, chapel, and the local defenses against warring neighbors. Now, it’s been restored and the grounds and building are beautiful. I definitely have to come back when the gardens and the vineyards on the slopes are in bloom…
Of course, the whole on top of a hill thing meant a bit of a hike up… but the views of the city and the hills surrounding it was well worth the climb. Great pandoramas!

And the structure itself! I loved the little details – the gargoyles, the janus faces, and the carvings that abounded on the building. Some of it historical, others following superstition. I think a good percentage of all the pictures I took in Germany were architectural; just so neat!

Later that evening, a couple of MH’s friends were meeting us at a local beerhall that evening. Wurzburg is really known for its white wines, not beer, but this was one of the better places to drink beer in the city (according to my friends).

Funny, it’s was karoke night. Serious. No, I didn’t sing. MH was signed up to sing ABBA’s “Dancing Queen”, but what do you know… it came up and someone else grabbed it! Hah… boy was he relieved. Two of his friends from the physics dept, H and F, did sing. I even have it on video. 🙂

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Posted by quirksalight on April 9, 2009

Yay for internet ! Hahah… I realize now how much I got used to the constant internet access of Korea. If there wasn’t wireless, there was an internet cafe (“PC bang”) readily available, no matter how small of town you’re at. Germany.. not so much. And WiFi… not so much. 😛 Probably a good thing…an internet detox? hahah… yeah right. I do need to for work.

But the DeutchBahn had internet via T-mobile! Whee! I got caught up on some convos with friends as we sped past fields, salt mine tailings, and through tunnels. Popped a call to MH, saying that the train was 5 minutes late, and chilled from the 2 hour ride there.

Please note that a lot of the German is spelled incorrectly because I’m not putting the umlauds…. yes, i know…Anyhoo…

MH was waiting for me at the train station as we pulled up. Pretty packed train for a Monday, but I guess it was also when any commuters took it. Monday night was more planning and catching up then anything else. Oh, and I had to do my laundry. Didn’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothes, and was definitely at the edge. 😛 Still, between laundry and just talking and catching up, I don’t think we went to sleep before 2am. OMG – MH has a streak of white hair at the top of his head a couple centimeters wide. It took a bit for me to notice it, but it’s pretty shiny in the sun. 🙂 No, he wasn’t too keen on this being documented, but someone’s got to.

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Rats, Hannover and to Wurzburg

Posted by quirksalight on April 9, 2009

As painful it was getting up after going to bed past 6am, Sunday was our day trip to Hamlin. Yup, like the Pied Piper. Apparently the story is from the 1200’s.
Funny… when you arrive in the old part of Hamlin, you start seeing white rats painted on the sidewalks. Yup… like the “Red line” in Hannover, there’s a “Rat path” in Hamlin. Funny – we got to the Hamlin Rathaus (the city hall) and we see in the main square a guy dressed up in leggings, a girl’s bathing costume with a ruffled skirt, snorkel, and flippers cleaning random stuff in front of the steps. Next to him was a sign that stated that his name was Simon, was his 30th birthday, and would a girl kiss him to free him from this mess.

Honestly, the architecture of the Altstadt (the old town) was amazingly well kept. There were several buildings from the 1500’s and a handful from a couple centuries earlier. But the highlight for me was the glassblowers. In a renovated tower of the old city wall, there was a glassblowing demonstration and participation for an extra 9 euro. Thank goodness MR was there- he was a good sport about the translation… he translated the demonstration and the hands-on bit. I got to blow a multicolored glass globe. It was pretty hard to get a gauge of how much air you’re actually blowing – I made a mistake and the artist had to quickly fix it… whoops.

On the last day in Hannover

Between packing and sleeping in, I barely got to meet up MR for lunch at his lab and hop to GO’s lab to check out the place. Funny… we went to lunch with T, and saw the oddest thing on the side of the street.
Uh huh… weird….see below…

No trip to Herrhausen Gardens, which was a pity, because it’s supposed to be rather amazing and the day was clear and bright. Then again, the Monday was also the first sunny day in my German trip, so I wouldn’t have seen all that much on the grounds. I did take several repeat photos just to give a contrast between the sun and the gloom of the previous days. I also found a yarn shop where I bought some sock yarn, then MR took me to the train station and I hopped on to Wurzburg.

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Back in the USA

Posted by quirksalight on April 9, 2009

Whoa… after an amazingly hectic 15 days in Germany, I’m back in the US. Still in the process of updating and chronicling the trip (just about to finish with Hannover!), but I’m chugging away. 🙂
For the people in the States that I haven’t seen yet, we’ll be meeting up soon.

For the guys and gals in Germany – I had an amazing time, and I miss y’all already. Can’t wait until we meet again! To the German physicists, remember that Octoberfest = Lederhosen or Dirndl….

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