Thursday, April 06, 2006

Cars, noise, the State Department, wine and bad sex

Wow, I can sum up my last few days in just 5 terms! But I suppose a bit of explanation might be helpful…

DaimlerChrysler (DC) was our first stop on Monday morning. We learned about everything from the car market and “social corporate responsibility” (no German equivalent) to Daimler’s extensive modern art collection. As a Detroit girl, I was especially interested in how the speaker answered my question about the effects of a GM bankruptcy on DC. He said a bankruptcy would be bad for the whole industry but he also said that DC is making a conscientious effort to encourage the media to speak about the “Big 2” and not the “Big 3.” Apparently they feel DC’s economic situation has been greatly improved since the merger and the “Big 3” is too often used in reference to the economic problems of Ford and GM. I was also interested to learn that the art collection was exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Art in 2004. Apparently it was a bit controversial because some employees worried that displaying the collection in Detroit at a time when employees were being laid-off would send a negative impression. Best of all, the curator pronounced Detroit, “DEE-troit” and with a cute German accent.

bad picture of me, nice picture of the spaetzle:-)
“Noise” refers to what I was forced to sit through on Monday night. After a full day of meetings, we were “treated” to a 2-hour long modern piano concert. The concert was one of the most painful experiences I have ever sat through! The music had no identifiable rhythm and was played by a man who had a surprised expression on his face, as if he was questioning every note. TERRIBLE! The evening was saved, however, when the kitchen in the hotel agreed to make me cheese spaetzle at 11pm, even though it was technically closed:-)

We stopped at a well-preserved community from the Middle Ages in Maulbraun

Seth with a freaky witch in Maulbronn

The exciting news of the last few days is that the German part of my background check for the State Department has begun. I spoke with the embassy between meetings yesterday. The investigator then interviewed 2 of the other fellows while we were on the bus. Maybe my clearance will actually be completed by the May 9 target date!

“Wine and bad sex”… okay I admit, these terms were intended to peak your curiosity;-) The last “meeting” on our agenda yesterday was a wine tasting in Baden. The owner of the winery was awesome… during our welcome toast, he played a giant horn (like the Riccola cough drop commercial). Before the second wine, he explained that if you don’t look a person in the eye while toasting, you are destined to have 7 years of bad sex. After the 3rd wine, he read a poem that he wrote about all the nice “B” words he could think about referring to wine from Baden. Before the 4th wine we learned that the term “legs” in English (in reference to wine) is called “church windows” in German and “women’s legs with pantyhose” in Russian. While sampling the 5th wine, the Russians sang. And before wines 6 and 7, the winery owner and his wife sang a song in Swabisch to the tune of “Downtown,” but replaced “Downtown” with “Neuenbuerg,” the town where we were.
As I am typing this entry, the sun is setting over the Belgian countryside on the way to Brussels. I can’t believe we are entering the last part of our study trip. It has been exhausting, but lots of fun. The European Commission and NATO are the last two stops on the trip.

a constantly revolving elevator at city hall in Stuttgart... could have kept us entertained all day long!


At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are going to have to find some spaetzel in Boston so I can understand what you keep talking about. I'll bet I can eat more spaetzel then you next Monday night! We are looking forward to seeing you soon.


At 1:01 PM, Blogger Erin said...

I challenge anyone, anywhere to a speatzle eatting contest!

Can't wait to see you soon too:-)

At 11:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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