Eric's Germany Journal

This is part of a journal I wrote while living in Ulm, Germany, from December 12, 2002, to September 17, 2003.


Tuesday, February 4, 2003

Two road signs, one with a slashed circle and an arrow pointing left, and one with a double-slashed circle and an arrow pointing right
Do not go left a little, and do not go right a lot?
I have another package! The notice is on a different form, and in orange. It is not a registered letter but is a Postpaket, which I suspect is a small parcel, not something big like a Päckchen. [Nope, that's wrong. See below.] And there is Zoll (duty) due, €9.98. That is a lot if it is the Buffy DVD set, around 22%, but it is more reasonable, around 11%, if it is the FFT book. Obviously, I would rather have the Buffy DVDs, but, if it is the book, that could mean the other packages Kathy sent to me are right behind it. Maybe I should stay home tomorrow and wait for them. If they do show up while I am home, it will save me a good deal of time and hassle going to the main post office and taking a taxi home with the packages.

A road sign with a big line curving to the right and a small segment going straight
Main route curves right, small street goes straight.
Dad tells me the road sign to the right means no parking to the left and no parking or standing to the right. Speaking of road signs, the bottom sign to the left indicates the main route goes right but the road continues straight as a "lesser" street. I know some places in the US that could benefit from signs like that.

Lars sent information on the German taxes I am paying. SolZ is Solidaritätszuschlag, East German solidarity surcharge. RV is Rentenversicherungs-Beitrag, pension insurance. And AV is Arbeitslosenversicherungs-Beitrag, unemployment insurance. I suppose paying to help East Germany is better than paying to help bomb Iraq.

Wednesday, February 5, 2003

I have had enough experience now with the Tetrapack boxes to say I don't like them. Some are called Tetra Pak, and some are called Tetra Brick. I suppose that is just a trademark issue; different manufacturers have to use different names, but they are essentially the same—and a bad design. I have learned to hold them by the corners and not the sides to avoid squeezing the package, which forces fluid out when it is full. However, the opening is too small to permit a good flow of fluid out and air in, which forces it to glug, which spatters drops for quite a distance. Also, the opening is not at the edge of the package, so there is a margin around it that fluid remains on after pouring. When you close the lid, the loose fluid spills as you move the container to put it away.

Six Buffy the Vampire Slayer DVDs
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Third Season on DVD. Willow, Xander, Buffy, Angel, Faith, Spike.

It's the Buffy DVDs! The duty was only 3.5%, but they charged it on's total, including shipping and handling, and they also charged the regular VAT (value-added tax, like a sales tax), which is 16%. The two taxes combine to 20.06%.

Well, now I am set for entertainment for at least three weeks. I was thinking I might order more movies, but, if I have to pay shipping and handling and 20% tax, I do not think I will. I haven't seen English movies in the stores here, but maybe I should ask. If nothing else, I now have 56 Buffy episodes, so, if I watch the new ones and then watch all of them twice more, that will keep me until mid-June. Then season four comes out on DVD. Plus I have the soundtrack of the musical episode. Here is the first song, Going Through the Motions (95 KiB). The song is set after Buffy was brought back from the dead. Her friends believe she is disassociated due to a horrible experience in Hell, but actually she is extraordinarily depressed due to being yanked back to grim reality after experiencing bliss in Heaven. It isn't as entertaining without the visuals, like Buffy singing figuratively about "penetrate my heart" just as she thrusts a wooden stake into a vampire's heart, but it's still nice.

The guy at the Deutsche Post said a whole lot to me in German after I told him I don't speak German. I don't know if he was quoting a mandatory statement about the imposition of tax or was just blabbering at me in annoyance. The customs office used an odd dollar-to-euro rate, several percent below the going rate, and in my favor.

The 16% VAT is huge compared to US sales taxes. I don't notice it much since the stated prices in stores include the VAT and are comparable to US prices, but I wonder how much of a drag it is on Germany's economy anyway. (The German economy is in the dumps right now, partly because they insist on giving gobs of money away to Americans.) mailed the DVDs on January 18 and estimated they would arrive between February 4 and February 13. I was thinking five to eight days, but that must have been a delivery time I saw somewhere else. The first delivery attempt was February 4, so was right on target. Now, where's the rest of my stuff?

I did get another notice about another package. The Deutsche Post is on a roll now, delivering a package a day since Saturday, so, if it is one of my boxes, I really should stay home and wait for the rest. No Zoll on this one. If it was the new FFT book forwarded from, there probably would be tax, but that is the only lone package I am expecting. Maybe they classified it as a used book since it was (re)mailed by a human being instead of a corporation. The notice is marked for a Postpaket, not a Päckchen, so it is something small [I thought at the time] and wouldn't be any of the boxes I packed at home. Oh, wait, Angela is sending me a German language training CD. I think that is the best fit.

The three notices the Deutsche Post has left me have said I could pick up each package the next workday after 9, after 7, and after 8. What's that about? Maybe they give people random times so they don't all show up at once?

Thursday, February 6, 2003

One of my boxes is here! They have been separated from each other, but I am working at home today in the hope the rest will arrive. If they arrive while I am not home, I will have to either make several trips to the Deutsche Post downtown or relay them from the Deutsche Post to the nearby taxi stand and then take a taxi home. With one of my five boxes, I am now only 80% mad at Tom and Evelyn.

For six weeks, my boxes disappeared into an alternate mail universe. The laws of physics are apparently different in the mail universe. How can the entire viscous contents of 250-milliliter (8.4-ounce) bottle:

  1. Leak out of a strong, still-closed, and unbroken bottle?
  2. Not leak out of an identical adjacent bottle?
  3. Vanish from the universe leaving some residue on nearby objects but not nearly enough to account for 250 milliliters?
  4. Be completely emptied in spite of the container not being upside-down?
The two bottles were inside a solid container, so they were protected from pressure on the box or its other contents. The contents of one bottle simply took it upon themselves to leave. They did manage to ruin an entire ream of 8.5"x11" paper (using just the tiniest amount of fluid to run one small streak down the entire side of the ream), which I can't get here. Using European-sized paper will cost me some time fiddling with document templates. I was careful when setting up my letterhead to ensure it would adjust if I changed the margins. Now we'll see if I got it right for different pages sizes too.

Two similar shampoo bottles
Pert Plus and Wash & Go.
I mentioned before that Wash & Go seemed to be the European version of Pert Plus. Here's a picture, what do you think? Same colors, same "swoosh" used in different ways, same "2-in-1" phrase. (This isn't the bottle that leaked.) I expect products like this are the result of one development project that is handed off to different teams to customize it in their own countries. That gets you similar initial versions, and then I suppose they diverge for a few years and may be brought back to similar tracks by later conferences about new developments.

In other cases, I think convergence comes from the outside of a company or government agency. For example, consider the practice of stores using "customer cards" with small discounts or other incentives as a means of measuring and influencing customer behavior. Somebody somewhere had to invent that first, and then I bet it spreads like any other model of contagion: Another company sees it, thinks it is a good idea, and implements it. Also, some ideas will get written up in trade journals and become a part of the professional field of package development or marketing or warehouse design or whatever. There are a number of little things like that that I haven't mentioned, just particular ways of doing business or whatever that have no special reason to be the same in different countries.

Another box just arrived. I wonder if Deutsche Post is doling them out one at a time? This one was delivered by a carrier with a handcart. I have seen groups of carriers waiting at the bus/Straßenbahn stop near the main Deutsche Post office with carts or bags of mail to be delivered. But if you are delivering multiple packages to the same address, surely it makes sense to use a vehicle? Maybe the carrier had a vehicle nearby, or only brought the box from the nearby small Deutsche Post office?

Anyway, with two of my boxes delivered, I'm only 60% mad at Tom and Evelyn. This box contains clothes. There are some dress clothes, some gym clothes, some shorts I won't need until spring, a good Buffy t-shirt, my Boole Orders Lunch t-shirt (George Boole points at the menu and tells the waiter "no, no, yes, no, no, yes, yes, no, no, no, yes"), and more.

Argh, more mail from the EBU! It isn't much better than the first bill; they are charging me for the basic garbage fee (€67) and the 4-week Restmüll fee (€31). The original bill had the basic fee and the 2-week Restmüll fee. The Restmüll fee is fine, but I'm not happy with the basic fee; it's paid in my rent. They may refund the unused portion when I leave Ulm, so it may not be worth dealing with this. Perhaps I will both pay the fee and fight:

Last week, I forgot to mention that while I was shopping for groceries, I picked up a couple of cans of sauerkraut to try: red cabbage sauerkraut and pineapple sauerkraut. I did mention the size of the canned cabbage aisle before. Going through all the varieties available will take a while.

A trip to the grocery store can still yield so much. I want to make the Indian potato recipe I got from Eliza, but I forgot to translate the English spice names into German, so I had to guess. There's not a chance the pocket dictionary would have spices in it, except salt and pepper. Ginger was easy; there's whole gingerroot in the produce section, so I just had to look at its label: Ingwer. Fennel and turmeric were problems. Some of the spices had clear bottles, so I could get some hint that way. The only whole seeds I found that I couldn't distinguish were Kümmel, which I found out at home is caraway. So I am without fennel. I found a yellow powder called Kurkuma, so I took a chance and bought some, and it is indeed turmeric.

In the produce section, I figured out the red number in the prominent yellow circles on the produce placards is the number you press on the scale to get a label for that item. There are even instructions in the circle, "You please press number." Now I don't have to hunt and peck to weigh my produce. The sign is obvious once you know what it is, but I was suffering information overload the first few times I was there. I guess now I am learning to filter out some of the irrelevant stuff and make sense of what is left.

I also went looking for tuna (Thunfisch). (I'm not 100% vegetarian.) The dry foil packs we have in the US haven't reached here, but there are more varieties of canned tuna than were ever available in the US: tuna in water, tuna in oil, tuna in olive oil, tuna without oil, tuna fish natural, and tuna in picante dressing. The ingredients of tuna in water and tuna without oil are both tuna, water, and salt, so I don't know what the difference is. They are from the same company too, so they seem to be two different products, not just different wording.

Like the reversed book spines, some of the tuna fish cans are labeled so the writing on the side is upside-down when the can is positioned to be opened on the top. Above the tuna fish is Tintenfisch mit american sauce, which is squid with American sauce. Hmm. By the way, Tint is ink, as in tint; the Tintenfisch is ink-fish.

I bought some Kräuterspätzle, herb pasta. (Geez, Spätzle isn't in my translation software. What planet did they get their German dictionary from?) I have been ignoring the candy bars at the checkout counter, but I noticed one with a picture of banana pieces on it, so I bought one to see what that was about. It is labeled Müsli-Riegel mit Banane in Milchshokolade, Muesli bar with banana in milk chocolate. Hmm.

Friday, February 7, 2003

Foo, no packages from Deutsche Post today.

Saturday, February 8, 2003

Warning sign about disposing of trash improperly
No toxic material. No household waste, no bulky waste, no special waste. Only weekdays 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fine up to $1,655.
I started the morning by looking for the neighborhood scrap glass and scrap paper containers, which Herr Kling told me were south of here, by the cemetery. I found them, and the warning sign confirms my earlier speculation that the limited hours are for noise control (Lärmschutz). I habitually plan most of my chores for the weekend, and I almost headed for the recycling containers with my accumulated paper and glass.

The Deutsche Post is tormenting me. First, they deliver one package a day, causing me multiple trips to the downtown office for one package at a time, and at a different time each day. So I fooled them and stayed home to receive a package. The very day after they learn I have done that, they deliver no package. Today, I went out briefly and got home by 9:45 to find they had come while I was gone and left a Postpaket notice. I have to wait until 8 a.m. Monday to get it, and, while I do that, the Deutsche Post will sneak in and leave another notice at home.

Sculpture of sparrow with bellhop uniform
Bellhop Sparrow at Hotel Ulmer Spatz.
I happened across the bellhop sparrow to the right while I was out. The poor thing has been standing in the cold so long it has icicles. The Hotel Ulmer Spatz is right downtown and not expensive, so it might be a good choice when you stay in Ulm.

After dropping off a couple of purchases, I headed back out to look for the Recyclinghof for my part of the city. It isn't where the map says it is. I have four batteries I cannot put in any of the household disposal barrels or the scrap paper or glass containers, so I am stuck with them.

Road sign with arrow pointing to Blaustein and with Ulm crossed out
Where not to go.
Car with New York and Vermont bumper stickers
Car that didn't go to New Hampshire.
On the way to where the Recyclinghof was supposed to be, I noticed the sign to the left. It is interesting because it tells you where the road doesn't go. The road to the left goes to Blaustein (Blue Rock). It doesn't go to Ulm. Of course, there are many places the road doesn't go to, like New Hampshire, but they only put Ulm on the sign. I suppose people around here are more interested in not going to Ulm than in not going to New Hampshire. You can't be too sure, though; the pharmacist near where I live seems to have gone to New York and Vermont but not New Hampshire. By the way, the license plates appear to indicate the owner's city. "UL" is Ulm, "NU" is Neu-Ulm, and so on. [More specifically, these signs indicate where city boundaries end.]

Sculpture of green sparrow with rake, watering can, smock, and boots
Gardener Sparrow. All the real gardening enthusiasts pierce their wings.
A little further up the road, I found this gardener sparrow.

I looked for cookie sheets that would fit my tiny oven. The only fit I found is an expandable (or, in this case, contractable) sheet. It fits in my oven at 11"x16", which is small but usable. Should I make chocolate-chip cookies or deep dark chocolate cookies first?

Sidewalk billboard advertising beer
Ads are the same.
German is seeping into my brain. I saw this ad and automatically thought, "Time for Molson Gold," without consciously translating, as I have been doing until recently. I couldn't even tell you consciously whether Molson is the brand that uses that slogan, but I presume so because my subconscious made the connection. Damn, if I understand German, then the advertising can creep into my brain. It was nice living in an advertising-free world for two months. This is the second time I've recognized that language comprehension. The other day I saw a Kein Durchgang sign and only wondered about why the passage was closed without thinking about the English translation.

Monday, February 10, 2003

The Postpaket was the third of my boxes. Tom and Evelyn now stand at 40%. The box is not small or light, so I do not know what the Deutsche Post is calling a Postpaket and what they are calling a Päckchen. [I was thinking a Paket is like an English packet, but it is a package. Päckchen is a small package.] I am learning more German, though. There are two reasons it is better to order 200 grams of chocolate in German rather than 100 grams: Anyway, this box contains a few DVDs, so I have something to watch other than Buffy. Some of you out there may think I need a Buffy break, and I would be happy to watch something else. Not because I need a break, but because comparing something else to Buffy will refresh my sense of how good the show is. The box also brought some nice reference books and some technical books to fill the non-Buffy time. I packed a box of science fiction books for entertainment, but, since they might be hard to replace, I decided not to send them until the other boxes arrived safely. If I have them sent now, it will be seven weeks before they arrive. It may not be worth it, since I seem to be filling my time.

The remaining two boxes in transit will bring my printer and some more clothes.

Establishment with neon hearts
The establishment all lit up.
After the gym, I had to go out to buy rechargeable AAA batteries, so I was on Blaubeurer Straße in the evening and got you this picture of the establishment at night. It's all purdy lit up like that, but the camera doesn't capture the color and vividness of the scene.

While I was buying batteries, I investigated the DVDs. It was pointed out to me that many DVDs have alternate sound tracks, and US movies dubbed into German would likely have the original sound track available on the DVD. Sure enough, many of the DVDs have English soundtracks, and some even have English menus. They are marked for region two, but that should be no problem since the DVD player on my computer is software, and I can alter the Registry at will. I might buy Ice Age, which I haven't seen, and Three Kings, which I have. The Stargate series is also on the shelf, but not, I think, beyond the episodes I have seen already. I did buy Miss Undercover, which I think was called Miss Congeniality in the US (Sandra Bullock plays a federal agent undercover in a beauty pageant).

They have Buffy seasons four and five on DVD here! But it is horrible; the price is exhorbitant, €63.99 for half a season, and there is no English soundtrack! The full third season in the US is only $44.99, so the German DVDs are three times as much at the current exchange rate. That's outrageous. It's much cheaper to buy the US version and pay the shipping, customs, and VAT on it. Even if I were tempted to buy the German version, I wouldn't be able to understand it. It might be interesting to see the musical episode in German, but I'm not going to pay €63.99 for that. Still, it is horrible having the new seasons right there on the store shelf. Other DVDs were reasonably priced, so the Germans must recognize the true value of the Buffy series.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Tree with many yellow and some blue sacks piled around it
Gelber Sack day.
It's Gelber Sack day. I do not know what the deal with the blau sacks is.

One more package arrived, this one the FFT book. Too late to be useful, I'm almost done writing the FFT. The tax on books is lower, only 7%.

My landlady, Frau Moser, came by to help me with the EBU fees. Apparently I must pay the €67 basic fee but not the €31 four-weekly Müll fee. She is going to straighten that out with the EBU. So, hopefully, I can forget about the EBU, and a €31 refund will show up someday.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

No package today. I spent half an hour translating an EBU information form that Frau Moser brought me. From what I gather, every household (people sharing finances in a dwelling unit with a kitchen) must pay the basic rate of €67. That pays for sewage and such. Everything else is an optional add-on, like the Restmüll service, and can be shared in partnerships. I hope that's finally settled.

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Sculpture of pierced by Ariane rocket trailed by exhaust flames
The sparrow gets it—an Ariane rocket pierces the sparrow in the belly.
Sculpture of blue sparrow painted with silver stars
Starry Night Sparrow. If the sparrow is high enough to be among stars, the sky should be black, not blue.
This is the sparrow at the EADS cafeteria. The plaque explains the sparrows were auctioned to raise money for Münster restoration. If the sparrows were auctioned, I am not sure how the Tow Sparrow ended up at the auto club, the plane and rocket sparrows ended up at EADS, the gymnast sparrow ended up at the gym, and so on.

Sculpture of sparrow with backpack, hiking boots and socks, and a hat
Hiking Sparrow.
After work, I went into town to locate the classroom at Friedrich-List-Schule, figuring it was better to do it during the daylight and when offices were open so I could ask if I couldn't find it. The classroom is in building zero. You may recall that the egg codes started at zero too. You don't see that much in the US, although Nashua does have a building at Zero Kinsley Street.

Coming back from the school, I visited a game store on Herrenkellergaße and encountered more sparrows.

Sculpture of sparrow painted with flags in shapes of land masses on a globe Sculpture of sparrow painted with flags in shapes of land masses on a globe
Cartoon Forest Sparrow. On the left, you can see a bird, a butterfly, flowers, and leaves. On the right, you can see a tree branch and the snake's head.
Sculpture of blue sparrow painted with flags in shapes of land masses on a globe Sculpture of blue sparrow painted with flags in shapes of land masses on a globe
World Flag Sparrow.

My printer is in town. It is at the Zollamt (customs office), and I have to go there and give them more information so they can figure out how to tax it. The notice says to see the marked reasons they need information, but nothing is particularly marked, and the list seems to be simple things that should be obvious. I shipped the printer in its original box, so it is clearly labeled and even has a picture. The value is plainly printed on the customs form. The only thing that's a little complicated is the reason for importing it. I included a note in English, with a translation done by software, saying it was for personal use and would be returned to the US, but maybe they need some clarification. Maybe they need to know how old it is. It's more than a year, and anything over six months should qualify as used household goods and not be taxed.

So, tomorrow I go to the Zollamt. It isn't very far away, but it is further than I would like to walk with the printer, and the route is perpendicular to the bus routes that radiate from the city. I have to study the bus map tonight and decide what I want to do.

More stuff to translate. There was an armed robbery at the nearby post office, and the police are looking for people who may have seen the perpetrators scouting the post office or the getaway car. I don't know what the crime rate around here is, but this is the first criminal activity I've heard of, and the neighborhood has the look and feel of a good community, so I think this incident is unusual. I was also handed a flyer when I entered EADS this morning. I suspected it was a union notice, and I translated enough of it to confirm that. Nothing I can do about that even if I wanted to; the meeting they are announcing is going to be in German.

Friday, February 14, 2003

I went to the Zollamt to get my printer. I got there on a nice express bus from the transfer station, Ehinger Tor. When I got off on Daimlerstraße a little after 8 a.m., I checked the times for the bus going back to Ehinger Tor. The first bus back was 11:51. The Zollamt is in Donatal, an industrial zone, and the buses mostly bring workers there in the morning and back in the afternoon. I was expecting that and knew there were several bus lines running through the area, so I checked another nearby stop before getting the printer and lugging it all over the area looking for a bus. It took me several minutes to figure out the situation, because the schedules posted at the stop did not match the schedules in the transit system directory I have. One bus route that included Ehinger Tor had a bus arriving in a few minutes, but careful reading showed that it went to Ehinger Tor only in the early morning. The rest of the day, it drove in circles around Donatal. So I figured out I had to wait for the other bus, 12 minutes later. Otherwise, I might still be in Donatal.

As expected, the Zollamt just needed to know the printer was used and for personal use, although I had to communicate that to a woman who spoke very little English. I expected the customs office to be one of those places where English is common. Fortunately, I had a statement prepared in German. When I packed the boxes, I wrote a statement explaining what was in the boxes and why I was importing them, and I translated it into sort-of-German with software. I had taken a copy to the Zollamt, and that seemed to satisfy her. After I got the printer, I found it still had its copy of that statement attached. And somebody had noticed it—there was another piece of paper inserted with it. Why was the one right there on the box not enough, and the one I schlepped across town enough?

Well, now I have the printer, and I remain only 20% mad at Tom and Evelyn. One more package to go. No delivery notice today, though, so they'll have to suffer through the weekend at least.

Saturday, February 15, 2003, Galileo's Birthday

Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei.
The Galilei coat of arms, a red stepladder on a gold shield
The Galilei Coat of Arms. A red stepladder on a gold shield forms a pictograph of the word buonaiuti, which literally means "good help."
Today is Galileo's Birthday. It is a good day to celebrate the power and benefits of science. Science deserves a holiday because it has contributed greatly to our lives. Science explains our world, and that understanding gives us enormous power to control it.

Science is a philosophy—a philosophy of reasoning and comparing our reasoning to reality by doing experiments. Unlike many other philosophies, science uses experiments to ask, "Is this right?" By interrogating reality in this way, we correct and improve our beliefs. Often corrections are slow because humans are stubborn, but the power given to us by science accumulates. It has grown over the years to an astounding level today. Galileo in particular showed the necessity and power of performing experiments and using them to improve theories.

This past year was a good year for Galileo. Two of his experiments were named to the "Top 10 Beautiful Experiments," collected by Robert P. Crease and published in Physics World, September 2002. Among the criteria considered was the transformative power of the experiment—its ability to change thinking and behavior.

Most of the experiments have at their cores a simple test that answers a question. Rutherford's experiment, for example, fired particles at gold foil and asked what the resulting paths told us about the atoms in the foil. Most particles went straight through and a few bounced. That showed atoms are mostly empty space with a solid nucleus. The numbers and angles of the bounces showed how big the nucleus is. The experiments selected as the top 10 beautiful experiments are:

  1. Young's double-slit experiment applied to the interference of single electrons
  2. Galileo's experiment on falling bodies (1600s)
  3. Millikan's oil-drop experiment (1910s)
  4. Newton's decomposition of sunlight with a prism (1665-1666)
  5. Young's light-interference experiment (1801)
  6. Cavendish's torsion-bar experiment (1798)
  7. Eratosthenes' measurement of the Earth's circumference (3rd century BCE)
  8. Galileo's experiments with rolling balls down inclined planes (1600s)
  9. Rutherford's discovery of the nucleus (1911)
  10. Foucault's pendulum (1851)
If the television show Rough Science is repeated (on PBS), I recommend you watch it. Inspired by the trend in reality shows, Rough Science put five scientists on a deserted island with simple tools and gave them daunting tasks to perform: Create an accurate scale map of the island. Make a sound-recording device. Make a radio receiver and a transmitter. Create a light source that works underwater. Make fireworks. Find your latitude and longitude. The scientists succeeded at most of the tasks.

If you open common consumer electronic devices, you will find featureless black chips. However, Rough Science shows we are still able to see how our complex technology is the product of a chain of knowledge in which each link is quite simple. The ways that complex ideas, behaviors, and devices are constructed from simple things are beautiful.

Saturday, February 15, 2003, Continued

Wow, I almost had a whole conversation at the chocolate store. Several successful questions and answers at least: Fünf hundert Gramme Schokoladen auswahl, bitte. Fünf hundert? Ja. Für Geschenk? Ja. Gemischt? Ja. (Five-hundred grams chocolate assortment, please. Five hundred? Yes. For a gift? Yes. Mixed? Yes.) On the other hand, I went to buy pencils for class and ran into another language problem. Pencils come in hardnesses of H, B, HB, and 2B. Not a chance any of those will be in the dictionary. Which one is for general purpose? That wasn't a big problem; the large packages of pencils were HB, so that's the general-use pencil.

I finally found the big game store in Ulm, Spieleladen Morgenland. I had checked it out Thursday, and I went back today to purchase a game. But I ended up with three games, because I also saw Bus, which was well reviewed and is by the same people who did Roads & Boats, and I saw a game called Müll + Money. I thought a game about Müll would give me something to remember the EBU by. Heh, the store's cash register can't print the ü character. There are just blank spaces where it should be.

I stopped by a newsstand to buy some English newspapers. They also had Playboy in English. That is no good because Germans who do not know English will not be able to read the articles.

Geese and ducks in a stream
Geese and Ducks.
These geese and ducks I saw on the way to the grocery store held still long enough for me to get a sharper image of them. Most of the geese and ducks I see in Ulm are hurrying on their way somewhere, but it's a Saturday afternoon. What are they doing in Ulm for the winter, anyway? I also saw some geese and ducks in the Danube this morning, and they were chugging right along, leaving some pretty impressive wakes for birds.

Che Guevera's face on a red sparrow sculpture
Che Guevera.
I also got a closer picture of the face on the red sparrow. I couldn't place the face, but Simone did. It is Che Guevera.

People keep asking me for directions, although I stopped reporting it here after the first three. While waiting for the bus after the Zollamt yesterday, a guy stopped and asked me where Siemens is. There are a lot of people who have trouble getting around Ulm. It can't be hard; I haven't had any problems even not knowing German. Today, a delivery driver for an Asian restaurant stopped and asked me where Fünf Bäume Weg is. This time, I was able to help him! Luckily for him, Fünf Bäume Weg is near my gym, TSG Söflingen. I was able to convey to him that he should go to Harthauser Straße (within pointing range), turn right, go about 500 meters, and look for Fünf Bäume Weg on the left. Giving directions makes me a bona fide resident, and I used fünf hundert twice in one day.

Incidentally, Weg is just Way. The letter g often acts like our y. I think Fünf Bäume Weg is Five Tree Way. Hey, that makes a connection for me—at Café Ströbele last week, I asked the names of the two chocolates I prefer there. One is Royale, and the other is Baumstamm. I didn't have the spelling though, just the pronunciation. But it is a slice from a chocolate and hazelnut roll or log. Baum is tree, and Baumstamm is tree trunk. Perhaps Stamm is related to stem.

For dinner, I tried another restaurant, nearby. One item on the menu für unsere kleinen Gäste, for our small guests, is Käpt'n Blaubär (Tintenfisch mit Pommes). That is Captain Bluebear (squid with potatoes). While squid is on the kids menu, pasta and cheese is on the grown-up menu (käsespätzle).

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© Copyright 2003 by Eric Postpischil.