Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Stupid things I do on the internet late at night:

Accurate? What do you think?

You Are Pale Turquoise

Your dominant hues are green and blue. You're smart and you know it, and want to use your power to help people and relate to others. Even though you tend to battle with yourself, you solve other people's conflicts well.

Your saturation level is low - You stay out of stressful situations and advise others to do the same. You may not be the go-to person when something really needs done, but you know never to blow things out of proportion.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
The Spacefem.com HTML Color Quiz

"Those French. They have a different word for everything."

As far as I know, we English speakers don't have a good word for somebody who drives against traffic on the highway.

German absolutely has a word for it: der Geisterfahrer.

Two questions:
1) Is this happening so frequently that they needed to make up a specific word for it?
2) Does said word need to be so specific that it applies ONLY to people driving the wrong way on the autobahn, and not to people driving the wrong way on, say, Berggasse in Stegersbach?
Kinds of tea currently available Chez Moi:

Marillen (Apricot)
Wintergenuß (Apple-cinnamon)
Winterzaber (Cinnamon-orange-rum)
Hütenzauber (Cinnamon-rosehip-rum)
Heiße Liebe (Raspberry-vanilla)
Waldbeeren (Raspberry-blackberry)

Monday, December 29, 2003

Come here, I'd like to remove your larynx

I went to a friend's house today for coffee. She has a 10-year-old son, and he had two friends over. They were running around, playing hide and seek and screaming. Damn, I had forgotten how annoying kids can be.

Note to self: no procreation. Ever.

Sunday, December 28, 2003


Sorry about this mess. I'm trying to get the links to be a less headache-inducing color, but it's just not happening. I'll keep working on it.

Saturday, December 27, 2003

Die Reste der Welt steht auf übergewichtigen alten Männer...gut. Aber die Kinder bei uns glauben an mich. Das Christkindl.

Dude. Christmas in Austria makes you seriously reconsider bulimia as a valid lifestyle choice.

I've basically done nothing but eat since 4 p.m. on December 24. I've had salmon, duck, roast beef, 12 pieces of toast, Kaiserschnitte (a crazy-rich layer cake), cold cuts, pickles, Marillenknödel (apricot dumplings), regular Knödel, pears with Preiselbeerensauce (like cranberry sauce), apple stuffing, stewed red cabbage (How much do I love red cabbage? Totally. Totally much.), pear compote, fruit cake (and let me just say a big "bleh" to that one), tea, hot chocolate, wine, orange juice, soda, and more cookies than Nabisco produces in the average year. At one point last night I walked into the bathroom and just looked at the toilet longingly.

Because the thing is, you can't refuse food here. If you try, you'd better have an iron will unrivaled by that stupid dog, because one way or another, these people are going to try to force you to eat. They'll use guilt. They'll lead by example. They'll get other people to help them. They'll sneak it onto your plate when you aren't looking. I kid you not. They're wily, and they won't quit until you've passed out at the table. Only then are they satisfied.

Next up, New Year's Eve. I hear there's a fondue planned. If you love me, send me a lovely ipecac cocktail.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Right up the nose, I tell you

A quick addendum to the shower post:

I actually broke my shower this morning. The little thing that holds up the shower head snapped in half, and now the shower head won't stay up there. I have to hold it in one hand or lay it on the termperature controller item (which, of course, throws the temperature off YET AGAIN).

The shower gods are clearly punishing me.
Fröhliche Weihnachten wünsche ich euch

Unless you're Jewish or Muslim or something else that's not with the Christmassy fun times. In that case, I wish you a nice day.

I don't know if you've ever been away from home for Christmas. By away from home, I mean not physically separated from your primary place of residence, (i.e., celebrating at Grandma's), but away from family or friends and the familiar rituals of your usual holiday celebrations.

Let me tell you, it's weird.

And I'm not just talking about the homesickness. I am, of course, absurdly homesick, but even when I step away from the emotional to look at the rational, it's strange. I'm spending about 90% of my mental energy on comparing Christmas traditions between Austria and my house. "We don't put candles on the tree, we don't eat fish for Christmas—although, good work, no objections there, go fish—lebkuchen is better than gingerbread, only Philistines open presents on Christmas Eve, and what is up with having midnight mass at 10 p.m.?" The other 10% of my mental energy is going to making sure my stomach doesn't explode. If you were wondering.

I almost wish I could get a nice case of temporary selective amnesia so I could stop comparing and just do. And also so I could focus more on digestion. Seriously, people. I sampled 10 different kinds of dessert tonight. ("Where are the sugar cookies and candy canes here, Leute?") If my stomach doesn't go on strike, my pancreas is going to.

But anyway, I just wanted to say that, as much as the Austrians know how to do Christmas up right—it is, after all, the country where "Silent Night" was written—I miss being at home with you.

Special note to my family: don't think that just because I'm not there to do the numbers this year that I won't be doing it next year and every year for the REST OF MY LIFE. Thank you, that is all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Plus, hello? Skank!

I kind of want to kick Christina Aguilera's skinny, over-exposed ass for recording a song called "Everybody's Home for Christmas." Patently untrue and unnecessarily hurtful!

My next great endeavor

I was in Vienna yesterday, doing some Christmas shopping and general hanging out with friends. It's absolutely brilliant having Austrian friends, becasue they know all the best places to go, including the Running Sushi restaurant on Donauinsel. This is possibly the best thing I've ever seen. I assume we have something equivalent in the States, but seriously, where? Because they should be all over the place: you pay a flat fee and then you get to eat as much sushi (or, in my case, food that's not, you know, gross) as you want off a conveyor belt that goes past your table. Everything's in small portions so you get to try a ton of stuff without wasting everything. And you don't have to get up to get it, like you would at a normal buffet.

How is this not the restaurant that ate New York? It's got everything Americans like: vast quantities of food and no exercise. I'm totally starting one of these restaurants as soon as I get back to Houston. I think mine will be all about dessert. People will go into sugar shock every single day. I'll be the bane of diabetics everywhere, but who cares? I'll be rich!

Saturday, December 20, 2003

I hope not sporadically!

Just wanted to let you know that the blog might be getting a little dodgy as far as regularity goes—not that it's been the picture of consistency lately. But with school out now, I'm going to be bouncing from place to place and maybe doing a bit of travelling, so the updates may be a) sporadic and b) weird. But you're used to this.

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Top Five Best Christmas Songs

1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
2. I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas
3. Carol of the Bells
4. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
5. I'll Be Home for Christmas

Appearing nowhere on this list: "Last Christmas," by Wham.

Because it's the Christmas song from hell, that's why.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

I think I've just severed my Achilles tendon

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but my shower is approximately the size of a coffin. Seriously. I think it's 3x3x7. Maybe.

For somebody who already finds the process of showering annoying (ugh to being wet), this makes things almost unbearably difficult. I'm constantly knocking the shower head down, causing it to spray straight up my nose—funny the first time, but significantly less amusing the 645 times after that.

I can't shave my legs without twisting into a shape vaguely resembling a pretzel. (I wear pants a lot.) I can't lift my arms to shampoo my hair without cracking an elbow against the wall. I've learned to tread carefully when stepping out of the shower, because usually there's a significant amount of water on the floor from where I've knocked the door open with a knee at some point.

Worst of all, though, is the temperature control. It's one of those ones where you turn it to the left to get warmer and to the right to get colder, and you have approximately 1° of "just right" vs. 179° of "really fucking hot" and "fantastically freezing," as Eddie Izzard puts it. I cannot TELL you how many times in the course of a 10-minute shower I end up with burnt shoulders or frozen fingers. Sometimes simultaneously.

I never thought I would miss my shower at home, which had absolutely no water pressure and needed at least 10 minutes for the water to warm up to bearable temperatures. But it was a shower/bath, and that's a luxury I won't take for granted again.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Ah have found mah people

I have pretty decent manners, most of the time. I have mastered European-style dining (fork in left hand, knife in right--although I still stubbornly put my napkin in my lap), I don't belch in public, and I say please and thank you when necessary.

I do, however, tend to talk with my mouth full. I realize that this is unattractive in the extreme, as well as prohibitive to understanding, but I don't care. It's too much bother to wait until I'm finished swallowing to spit out my all-important opinion.

And I'm surrounded by 8 million people who feel the same way.

Oh, Austrian mothers say, "Red nicht mit vollem Mund," but they don't mean it. They probably say it when their own mouths are full of schnitzel or Sachertorte. I actually think talking with your mouth full probably improves pronunciation in German, especially with those glottal ch sounds.

So we all just sit around saying whatever we please whenever we please, with an accent improved by Braten and Kraut, and nobody cares. It's like utopia or something.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Good going, geniuses

If you want proof that the Austrian government isn't really any smarter than the U.S. government, check this out. We had two teachers retire on December 1 because of it. Idiots.
Total Crap, is more like it

I got sucked into watching Total Recall on T.V. last night (I know, you all saw it ten years ago; I want to talk about it now), and I have to say, it's clear that S. wasn't working on this movie in her Fact-Checker Role, because it's riddled with errors.

While I enjoy the scene at the end where Ah-nuld and his girlie get blown out onto the surface of Mars and their eyeballs start bulging out of their heads from lack of oxygen, I'm a little curious as to how they aren't FREEZING TO DEATH, as the average surface temperature on Mars is -60° C. After they magically get an atmosphere, they stand around and kiss in their shirtsleeves. In reality, their tongues should freeze together and leave them permanently attached, which I think would be a fitting fate.

Although if you think about it, everybody in this movie seems to be suffering from the symptoms of hypothermia: irrational behavior, clumsiness, failure to act like a human being.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

-ly is our friend

German doesn't have adverbs in the same way English does. I never noticed this before I started teaching English, but it makes for some particularly hilarious constructions when my kids try to figure out the difference between good and well. Example from class today:

"That was a really good made movie!"

This is a perfect sentence in German: "Dieser Film war echt gut gemacht." In English, it provokes some interesting facial contortions for me to avoid laughing outright.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

You know that's like, flat and stuff, right?

As I understand it, net lights are supposed to save you the trouble of placing Christmas lights neatly on your bushes and trees and whatever else.

This is not how the Austrians understand net lights. Here, net lights are most commonly found draped against walls, making random squares of equidistantly spaced white lights. There's no rhyme or reason to it. They just hang there. My internat is a chief offender, with net lights hanging out the window in two separate spots on the building, which is otherwise unadorned. It looks SO random. I love it.

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