Friday, August 11, 2006


I flew to Dublin, Ireland today so I can rendezvous with my parents and sister tomorrow morning. We are all going to Kilkenny where we will attend the wedding of a family friend. I have been stoked about the trip all week long! At the moment, I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve night… too excited to go to bed, but know that if I go to bed, I will wake up in the day I have been waiting so long for!

Traveling a day after the latest terrorism scare was not a problem. My Ipod cord caused the security guy to give a big “ah-oh” and search my bag, but after that things were just fine.

I didn’t really expect much from Dublin, so was pleasantly surprised as I walked around this afternoon and this evening. Trinity College is gorgeous and Temple Bar is a lively and picturesque part of town. I had a great dinner on the Temple Bar Square. As I listened to street performers play Irish music and a musician in a local bar sing Mrs. Robinson, Ring of Fire and Leaving on a Jet Plane, I enjoyed a dinner of fish and chips, mashed green peas with mint and squash orange juice soup. An Irish guy who seemed to have already spent the better part of the day at a bar added to the experience by singing along with the songs.

Let’s see, what else do I love about Ireland? The people are unbelievably polite and friendly! If you just barely brush past someone on the street, he stops, looks you in the eye and says sorry. I also love that Oprah is on TV in the afternoon. (I really miss Oprah!) Other cool discoveries included extra large Kinder Schokolade bars and sandwiches with “sweet pickles.” Sweet pickles seem to be little chunks of pickles in a dark spiced sauce—YUM!

Well I am off to bed so I can be at the airport bright and early to greet the rest of my crew.

As they say on the BBC, “bye-bye for now.”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

No Berlin link

This posting has no link to Berlin, Germany or Europe, but I am so amused and disturbed by something I came across on Monday, I have to share...

I was sending an e-card to a friend and discovered that it is now possible to send not only birthday and anniversary greetings, but also marriage proposal e-cards. What!?

This was the card I found most funny and horrifying. Nothing says, "I want to make a life-long commitment to you" like an e-card featuring underwear. What does this lead to, a video conference ceremony?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A breath of fresh air

For as progressive, technologically advanced, Kyoto protocol-loving and organic food-conscious as Germans are, there is one area where they are stuck WAY back in the past... smoking! 37% of adult men and 28% of adult women smoke in Germany.

As I have not so diplomatically stated before, I am grossed out by this! Smoke is practically unavoidable here and is the one thing that all of my visitors (even a German who lives in the States) has complained about during their stay. I read today that only 30% of restaurants in Germany offer non-smoking sections. (And as my sister likes to say, a non-smoking section in a restaurant does about as much good as a non-peeing section in the pool!) Americans my age have all been through the DARE program in school (Drug Abuse Resistance Education.) We've seen the diseased lung, cancer plagued tounge, been told that kissing a smoker is like kissing an ash tray, etc... Unfortunately, one German I spoke with said there is no comparable program in German schools. What's more, German teens and teachers smoke between classes!

Anyway, to my great delight, a major debate is beginning here about raising the legal smoking age to 18 and banning or curbing smoking in public places. The German version of "Meet the Press" debated the issue on Sunday and there have been lots of articles in the papers. The chancellor has put her support behind the ban. She said she sees that other counties: France Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, and, and, and, are all still "free" despite the implementation of smoking bans in recent years.

Smokers and the tobacco lobby won't go down without a hard fight, to be sure. I once had a German intern tell me that smoking actually saves the government money because people die sooner, saving health insurance and retirement costs. He also flatly rejected the notion of second-hand smoke. My favorite argument during the debate show was that banning smoking in public places will only cause adults smoke more around their loved ones at home, so really how would a public ban aliviate second-hand smoke. Interestingly, the ban has come out of the consumer affairs ministry and not the health ministry. The health ministry has yet to comment.

It is my most sincere hope that by the time I return to Germany there will be nothing but fresh air to breathe! Come on Germany, try it, you know you want to!

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I have had some issues with motivation this week… like I haven’t had any. So I decided to change all that last night with a 5K "fun run" up and down the Kudamm. Sponsored by the power company, the idea behind the event is that you enjoy either a roller blade race, 5K or 10K as the sun is setting over Berlin and then enjoy the nightlife on the Kudamm afterwards. I, of course, chose the 5K because I haven’t run in a month and really just wanted another “unique” Germany experience… and a free t-shirt. BUT THERE WAS NO FREE T-SHIRT! What kind of fun run is this!? I did get an official certificate stating that I completed the race (like my “schein” from taking the Dreamweaver class,) but no cool shirt to wear back in the States:-(

Other than that bummer (and the rain,) the race was great fun! The music at the starting line was a riot—they played “Eye of the Tiger” before each race began, along with other cool German and American dance songs. Also adding to the fun atmosphere were groups of drummers stationed along the race route. (As an aside, the drummers got me thinking I have never seen a German high school marching band.)

Here are some random thoughts:
1. it was nice that people were not overly competitive during the FUN run.
2. Most people in running outfits wore a cool max shirt and spandex Capri pants (men and women.) I don’t understand the pants. I feel like they would bunch behind your knees. Furthermore, it's interesting that American and German runners would have a different idea of what makes for the most comfortable outfit.
3. the post-race drinks were water, bubbly water, sweetened ice tea and non-alcoholic beer. I actually chose the bubbly water… I think I am turning German!
4. It is a nice feeling to say that I have run further down the Kudamm than I have shopped:-)

So I completed a race in Europe. It’s cool to still be experiencing Germany “firsts” 24 days before departure!

Rudy Rude smoking at a race!!!