Monday, March 27, 2006

The New Summer Hit Movie from America: The World Has Had Enough!

Another goodie e-mailed to me by from friend in San Francisco..Thanks, David:

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Day at the Races in Duesseldorf!

Today we spent a nice, warm afternoon in Duesseldorf strolling in Old Town along the Rhine and catching a quick view of some race cars zipping around Konigsallee. Even all the shops were open in Old Town today. YES! On Sunday, all the shops were open here in Duesseldorf. It was great!

There were so many people out today due to the race and some concert where Melanie C was performing. I didn't know who she was, but found out she is a former member of the Spice Girls. She was in Duesseldorf for the DTM Auto Racing event held at Konigsallee today. I tried to capture some of the racing action via snapshots, but I was never able to capture the cars because they were just zipping by. I have a few Google Videos uploaded of the action that I was able to capture. It is mostly video of a few blurs of them wizzing by...

Today it was so warm out. It definitely was the warmest day yet since I have moved to Germany three months ago. I love the warm, sunny days. Today it reached a high of 63 degrees F or 17 degrees C. After the races, we went to Old Town to stroll along the Rhine and we found a nice table where we could sip some beers and do some people watching. Afterwards, we walked into the middle of Duesseldorf and visited a cool lounge for a few drinks. Finally, we went home for the evening. Overall, today was a very nice, calm Sunday.

Here are a few impressions we had today.

Waiting for the race cars to zip by:



I have seen this billboard all around Duesseldorf and today I had my camera and wanted to share this cute ad with you all:


Killepitsch! If you can find this where you live, I highly recommend that you try it! It makes you all warm and fuzzy:


This was our last stop today before heading back to our apartment:

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Spring Has Sprung!

The above photo was taken last weekend. It is so warm and sunny today here in Duesseldorf! It is 57 degrees F or 14 degrees C. It is great! Now I am going out for some more sun....enjoy your weekend!

Important update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC of Atlanta

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease. The disease is contracted through dangerous and high-risk behavior.The disease is called Gonorrhea Lectim and pronounced "gonna re-elect him."

Many victims contracted it in 2004, after having been screwed for the past four years. Cognitive characteristics of individuals infected include: antisocial personality disorders, delusions of grandeur with messianic overtones, extreme cognitive dissonance, inability to incorporate new information, pronounced xenophobia and paranoia, inability to accept responsibility for own actions, cowardice masked by misplaced bravado, uncontrolled facial smirking, ignorance of geography and history, tendencies towards evangelical theocracy, categorical all-or-nothing behavior.

Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed at how this destructive disease originated only a few years ago from a bush found in Texas!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Am I The Only One?


Have I completely lost it or am I the only person on Earth that really has a problem with this illegitimate government that has hijacked the US? Did you believe in the bullshit they tought you in school about the grand ole US of A? About freedom and justice for all??**

I sometimes question my sanity when I think about what the US government has done and are still doing in the name of democracy. It is a sham. The Bush administration should be tried and convicted for international war crimes. I am dumbfounded that they are still in control of all branches of government. Where is the outrage? When are we going to protest in the streets and surround the White House like those admirable students in France demonstrating for their rights?

I don't know what else it is going to take? How many lives have to be cut short for the hording of natural resources? Ok, enough of my soapbox. I probably should just create a new blog for political commentary. Thanks for listening....

**unless your of a minority race, gender or sexual orientation
Link

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SPIEGEL Online wants content from expat bloggers living in Germany

I learned of this via an e-mail I received from Spiegel Online:

A quick note to our friends out there in the blogosphere. As you've probably noticed, we began a partnership last fall with Technorati to provide citations and links to blogs that write about our stories. The feature has proven incredibly popular with our readers and we're hoping to expand our cooperation with them in the near future. In the meantime, however, we have another new opportunity for expat and German bloggers here. On Friday evening, we launched a new project at Spiegel Online: The Germany Survival Bible (http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,k-6896,00.html). The plan is to create an irreverent online guide to German culture -- the good, the bad and the ugly. It'll cover the shit shelf, the appallingly small selection of products at grocery stores, weird cultural traditions like greeting people in elevators or the absolute taboo of crossing the street on red. But our aim here isn't just to have fun at the expense of Germans and our adopted home country. We also want to include the cool quirks -- like the fact that things actually work here. Public transportation is reliable, obsessions with the environment, clean energies and the environment. We'll be posting contributions from our readers regularly, but we would also like to open this up to bloggers. If you have any existing blog entries that would be interesting to SPIEGEL Online, please submit them to us. If we republish the blog, we will also include your blog's name and a link back to your site. You've got the content and we've got the traffic and the platform. If you're interested in participating, please send your links and editorial contributions to spon_feedback@spiegel.de. Also, I don't have email addresses for everyone in Germany and would be grateful if you could pass this on to other bloggers in Germany or post it to your site. Thanks and happy blogging!

Daryl Lindsey Editor, Spiegel Online
Link

Monday, March 20, 2006

Earthquakes in Duesseldorf?

I felt an earthquake here in Duesseldorf no more than five minutes ago. It is now Monday, March 20, 2006 at 16:10 and my desk and apartment was shaking back and forth ever so slightly. I know for my apartment building was shaking. We are on the top floor, the 6th floor in the terms of a US count and the 5th floor for a German count. It was rocking back and forth. I am going to locate online some type of recording of the seismic event and update this post later.

I never thought there were earthquakes in Germany, but a friend of mine that lives here in Germany says he has even felt them. So I know they exist, but I didn't believe it until today. Amazing. I thought when I left San Francisco I would not feel another earthquake. Wrong.
Link

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Zapata


Zapata, originally uploaded by James in Germany.

We ate at this Mexican restaurant last night in Oberkassel, a neighborhood in Duesseldorf located across the Rhine. I was pleasantly surprised how authentic the food was. The chips and salsa was very tasty. We ordered guacamole for the chips and even that was delicious. I ordered a fish burrito which was sehr lecker! ('very delicious' auf Deutsch) The fish was a white, flaky variety grilled to perfection. It contained black bleans and a delicious creamy sauce poured over the flour tortilla. Even their margaritas were good! They were made exactly the same way they're made in the US and Mexico. I mention this because I have ordered margaritas at other bars in Germany and they never come out right. For example, one time the waitress brought the margarita and it was green, no ice, in a martini glass. It looked like a green cosmopolitan and didn't taste anything like a margarita. So the ones made at Zapata's are authentic.

I now have a new, favorite restaurant. If you're ever in Duesseldorf and you're missing some good Mexican food, go to Zapata.

Anti-War Protests Around the World

This weekend marks the third anniversary of US-led invasion of Iraq. Anti-war protesters marched around the world including San Francisco. End the occupation now!
Link

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I am off to my German language class now. It starts at 9:00 AM. Today is my last day at the Sprachcaffe. I am going to miss it. I have been attending class there daily since January 9th. If you're looking for a good language school in Germany, go to the Sprachcaffee-Duesseldorf.

By the way, Monday is the first day of Spring! I am ready for some sun and warmth.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK's DAY!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Genographic Project


I have learned of a new project, the Genographic Project. I am going to participate and have my DNA analyzed. I encourage everyone to become involved. You can learn about yourself and where your ancient ancestors came from.

1. What is the Genographic Project?

National Geographic and IBM are embarking on a landmark five-year study that will assemble the world's largest collection of DNA samples to map how humankind populated the planet.
The Genographic Project will use sophisticated computer analysis of DNA contributed by hundreds of thousands of people—including indigenous populations and the general public—to reveal man's migratory history and to better understand the connections and differences that make up the human race.

The Genographic Project has three core components:Field Research—The core of the project is the collection of blood samples from indigenous populations, whose DNA contains key genetic markers that have remained relatively unaltered over hundreds of generations making them reliable indicators of ancient migratory patterns. Dr. Wells and a group of 10 scientists from prominent international institutions will conduct the field and laboratory research. One additional research center will focus on analyzing DNA from ancient remains. The Waitt Family Foundation is funding this component of the Genographic Project. An international advisory board will oversee the selection of indigenous populations for testing as well as adherence to strict sampling and research protocols.

Public Participation and Awareness Campaign—The general public can take part in the project by purchasing a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit and submitting their own cheek swab sample, allowing them to track the overall progress of the project as well as learn their own migratory history. These personal results are stored anonymously to protect the privacy of participants. National Geographic will regularly update the public and the scientific community on project findings, including through the website and through National Geographic's many other media platforms worldwide.

Genographic Legacy Project—Proceeds from the sale of the Genographic Public Participation Kits help fund future field research and a legacy project, which will build on National Geographic's 117-year-long focus on world cultures. The legacy project will support education and cultural preservation projects among participating indigenous groups.
The 10 research centers are located around the world and will represent their respective regions. The centers are located in Australia (Australia/Pacific), Brazil (South America), China (East/Southeast Asia), France (Western/Central Europe), India, Lebanon (Middle East/North Africa), Russia (North Eurasia), South Africa (Sub-Saharan Africa), the United Kingdom (Western/Central Europe), and the United States (North America).

2. What makes this project so different?

Most of what we know about anthropological genetics is based on DNA samples donated by approximately 10,000 indigenous people from around the world. While this has given us a broad view of the patterns of human migration, it represents but a small sample of humanity's genetic diversity. Over the next five years, The Genographic Project will attempt to collect and analyze DNA blood samples from over 100,000 indigenous people making it the world's largest study of its kind in the field of anthropological genetics. The resulting data will map world migratory patterns dating back some 150,000 years and will fill in the huge gaps in our knowledge of humankind's migratory history. This data will eventually comprise the largest database of its kind.
In addition to the field research component, the Genographic Project is reaching out to the public. The general public around the world will be invited to participate in the study by purchasing a Genographic Public Participation Kit. By sending in a simple cheek swab sample, a participant can learn about his or her own deep ancestry while contributing to the overall Project.
Link

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

World66 Travel Site

I recently disovered a travel website similar to TripAdvisor. It is called World66. It has open content and you can update places you have visited to help others. You can even update a world map identifying where you have visited, lived and where you would like to visit. Check out my page, click on the link in this post.

(You can also check out those detailed maps at the bottom of my blog, scroll to the footer at the end of this blog page.)
Link

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Modern technology vs. jobs

Recently we ordered some books on Amazon.de. After my exhausting German language class today I returned home and checked my mail box. Inside was this green postcard from DHL. It listed an address for a Packstation on my street. If you're now wondering, "What is a Packstation?" I am about to explain. I had no idea either until today.

I entered the address on Yahoo.de under Routenplanner (map) so I could figure out where in relation to my apartment I had to go. Thankfully it was only two short blocks away. I schlepted out in the cold with my notice and my camera. I knew I had arrived when I saw there were two large yellow, metal machines that looked like a futuristic vending machines. I stood numbfounded in front of these two machines for about 10 minutes hitting every button and even realizing there was a barcode reader about the level of my belt. I placed my card in front of this reader, nothing happened. I looked at the screen and realized through the glare from the sunglight that their were fingerprints all over the screen. In that flash of conciousness, shivering in the cold, I decided to touch the screen. Presto! Like magic the screen had newly illuminated instructions, however in German of course--I guess that makes sense because after all, I am in Germany. Luckily, once again, the Germans have provided instructions in English by simply pressing the large British flag on the screen. Now I knew what to do. The on-screen instructions asked me to place my delivery notice in front of the barcode reader, check. Then it instructed me to type in my first and last name, check. Suprisingly it instructed me to sign for the package using my finger on the screen, just like you do at the check-out counter with the stylus at say, for example, Trader Joes. I scrolled my signature with my finger, check. Pressed confirm, check. Then off to my right I heard a click a door began to open very slowly and there was our Amazon package. I retrieved the package and the soon thereafter, the door closed. It was an interesting way to retrieve a package.....

I can see some day UPS, DHL and Fedex installing these machines in central locations and you will have to retrieve your packages this way. If you do not, you will have to pay extra for delivery to your door. Considering the high costs of fuel, the congestion in major cities and in the interest of reducing air pollution, maybe they should implement this system sooner rather than later.

I remember at the end of the process the on-screen guide suggested if I liked this system to log online to enroll in the service. For more info, click here.

I will upload photos as soon as blogger is able to do so....

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Sunday afternoon around Duesseldorf

Today we went for a walk around Duesseldorf. Here are some impressions:

All of these round bulletin boards around Old Town have people or a person on them and I always do a double take:

This is one of the public toilets:

This church is near our apartment and I thought the modern art in front of it would make a great contrast:

Airline meals online



If you're like me, you love to travel. Well, in our March issue of Conde Nast Traveler there's an interesting article about airline food. The traveling public is invited to take photos of their food served onboard the aircraft and then upload the photo to the website. Check it out. It is pretty interesting.
Link

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Tip: Get your own ESBN

There is a new system for identifying electronic media similar to the ISBN system for print. You can get your own ESBN for your blog. Check it out!

Join the (R)evolution and tag your (C)opyright!

This is from the website:

Numly.com assigns Numly Numbers (Electronic Serial Numbers / ESNs) for digital content and media. These unique identifiers provide digital rights management capabilities as well as third-party, non-repudiation measures for copyright proof via real-time verifications. Numly Numbers are simple and quick to generate and can also allow you to track content viewership, monitor ratings, and can be used as permalinks.

My number is: 95529-060309-872429-66. If you scroll to the very bottom of my blog, in the bottom footer, you will see my ESBN or now called Nuly Number citing possible trademark infringement claims, ESBN.ORG has changed its name to Numly.com.

Lastly, there is a blog about the Electronic Serial Numbers. Click here.

UPDATE: To find out how to add DiggIt! and Del.icio.us at the end of your postings, visit this great blog.
Link

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Interesting tidbits about Germany

I have some interesting tibits of information about Germany that you probably do not know, unless you live in Germany:

1. Almost ALL homes/apartments/condos in Germany do NOT have closets.
Yes, it is true. I do not understand it, but there must be a reason for it. Of course, everyone must own an armoire in this country.

2. If you buy a home or even rent an apartment in Germany, it may not have a kitchen!
Yes, hard to believe, but true. Of course there's a room where you must install your kitchen. When someone owns a home in Germany and if/when they move, they take their kitchen with them. They take the cabinetry, the appliances and even the kitch sink.

3. Recycling your garbarge is not an option, you must recyle and sort the items by type.
For example: green glass, brown glass, paper and organic waste. Otherwise, the garbarge collectors will not pick up your refuse.

4. Germans will share a table with strangers in a restaurant.
As an American, I find it a bit unnerving, but I have gotten use to it.

5. You must bring your own bags to the grocery store or you have to pay for them.

6. In order to use a shopping cart you must insert a 1 Euro coin into the slot to release the cart.
I guess it is a good idea beause everyone returns the carts where they belong and they're not rolling around the parking lot denting and scraping all the cars.

While I am on the subject, I read a very interesting book titled: "Germany-Unraveling an Enigma," by Greg Nees. (ISBN 1-877864-75-7) I read on page 92 about the Germans' sense of distance. Gree Nees writes,

"Because Germans dislike spectacles and prefer to remain formal and reserved in public, they will usually wait until they are in close proximity before greeting someone on the street. Hollering or waving to catch a distant person's attention is something only younger or impolite Germans do. If fact, loud foreigners irritate the more traditional Germans, which causes considerable resentment and social tension."

No wonder I got some stares on the streetcar yesterday after class. My German language classmate (she's from Barcelona, Spain) and I were riding home and there was an announcement on the streetcar, obviously in German. She and I both looked at each other because the announcement sounded ominous. We both started laughing and of course we got the stare down from this elderly man seating across from us. The situation made me think of the movie, "Speed" with Kenau Reeves. Remember, if the bus had slowed down it would explode. Well, we went on to make up a story that if we got out of our seats the streetcar would explode. The story just snowballed from there and we laughed all the way home. I guess the announcement had nothing to do with an explosion because when we exited at the Hauptbahnhof we all lived to tell about it.

If you have any other interesting tidbits about Germany feel free to use the comments section. I am sure there are more things I am forgetting right now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Billet/Bahnkarte/ticket



Our train ticket from Paris to Nice arrived in the mail today. We got a special deal online at tgv.com which allowed us a free upgrade from second class to first class. I am assuming it was because we booked and paid for our ticket so far in advance. The train is one of those double decker trains. The trip will take 5 1/2 hours from Paris to Nice. I love trains. They are such a better way to travel than getting on an airplane. Your stress level is almost non-existent compared to dealing with airport security, the RUDE airline employees, the other passengers, crying babies...I could go on and on about how much I do not like to fly. I use to like flying. I was even a flight attendant for three years so I have flown quite a bit, but after taking trains in Europe, I realize that is the only way to travel!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cote d'Azur and Cannes Film Festival


We had no idea when we booked our vacation yesterday that we would be in the Cote d'Azur at the same time as the Festival de Cannes or the Cannes Film Festival. I checked online today and it runs May 17th through May 28th. The opening film this year is the Da Vinci Code*** directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks. I am loooking forward to seeing this film. The book was excellent and I hope the movie will be, too.

Any way, if anyone has any great tips for Nice and the Provence area please let us know.

***This is a great website for the movie, but takes about one minute to load (using a high speed connection) so be patient.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Time to book vacation, any suggestions?


Well, now that my partner's vacation time has been approved for 2006, it is time for us to decide where to go. I am open to any and all suggestions. Any secret place you've been to and would like to share? I want it to be in Europe or the near vicinity. Right now we are leaning towards Paris for a week and then take an overnight train to Barcelona. Then staying there at least 4 nights and fly back to Duesseldorf. If you're providing suggestions I would appreciate links to websites, for example apartmentsinparis.com....something like that. Thanks in advance!
UPDATE: Further clarification...1. 2 weeks; 2. in May, 3. Preferably larger cities, 4. Somewhere not too hot, like maybe Scandinavia. We are leaning towards Scandinavia and a side trip to St. Petersburg, Russia. Finally, I am very sensitive to water. I get sea sick VERY easily. We took our first cruise in November 2004 and I was sick the whole time. If I am getting on a boat I have to take medication so we will avoid any water trips. I hate it, because this is a fairly recent development. I use to love boats and water. I'd rather be at the beach than anywhere, but not any more. We considered easycruise.com and try to see the French Riviera really cheaply, but I cannot imagine getting on another cruise ship.
SECOND UPDATE: We have already booked our flight from Duesseldorf to Paris. We will be in Paris for five nights and then we booked a train from Paris to Nice where we will be staying for eight nights before flying on dba back to Duesseldorf.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Do Germans smile enough?

I have read about this on other blogs before, but I've been thinking a lot about it lately because everywhere I look in Duesseldorf there are billboards asking Germans to put their best face forward during the World Cup. Here's one of those billboards I passed on my way to the supermarket yesterday (click to enlarge):

I am not trying to be judgemental or berate Germany or Germans*** in any way, however, I have to agree, Germans rarely smile in public. It seems to me like they are all pissed off at the world or very, very sad. Of course, I am comparing my experiences in Germany to my life in America. Americans smile more. Yes, granted, they may be fake smiles, but I have to say it makes me feel better. I don't really expect to see more smiles on the faces of those around me during the World Cup either. It is what it is....

I found a story on Spiegel online about the subject. Here is an excerpt (click the excerpt to go to the main story) :

Germany's reputation is hardly that of a world leader -- neither in friendliness nor in customer service. Indeed, Germans themselves often refer to the country as a "service desert." But with the World Cup offering Germany a once-in-a-generation opportunity to turn on the charm for the world, the German tourism industry is desperate not to pass it up. Indeed, with the launching of several "friendliness initiatives," the World Cup has already become a powerful excuse to get Germans, and especially the dour-faced Berliners, smiling early and often.

***Disclaimer: I know there are exceptions to every rule. The love of my life is German. I am just saying that in general, on the street, Germans appear to be very mad or sad.