Archive for May, 2010

Endless Fun: Karaoke, Foosball, and Punk Rock Dancing

I’ve pushed my endurance this past week, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Actually it’s been longer than that considering the little sleep and general madness of last weekend. As I wrote, I almost fell asleep at dinner on Monday and was eager for bed. But with work the next day, I didn’t sleep quite as much as I would have wanted. And work, despite, or perhaps because of it only being four days, took a lot out of me. Between issues (hopefully resolved) with some of my standing duties, a veritable Three Stooges sketch with one of my bosses over unclear instructions, and a new assignment to write fifty plus captions that will actually get engraved on metal plaques next to the picture they describe around ESO headquarters, it’s been stressful. We have a new intern though, a nice Romanian woman named Oana (pronounced like Juana), ostensibly a graphic design intern but really more of a public relations and promotions intern. I’m still the only science-writing intern at the moment.

Though I was still fatigued, I did go to Shamrock Tuesday night. I nearly missed my stop when I bemusedly observed an attractive woman, probably in her thirties, sitting on the train and reading a Playboy. I checked, she was actually looking at the articles, but she wasn’t hiding what magazine it was at all. In America she would have been getting dirty looks from some of the families on the train but here everyone seemed to take it in stride. One young mother was even reading over her shoulder. Not many people were there when I arrived but there was a gradual trickle of people coming in, Adam, Melon, Sarah, and others filling in the seats with me near the stage. Jennie, the Canadian I had met on Thursday showed up as well. As it was her first time there, she was nervous about doing karaoke but I said I would do it if she would so we put in “Hit the Road Jack” by Ray Charles onto an entry slip. Melon as usual did Sinatra’s “My Way,” although the karaoke DJ knows him so well that he didn’t even need to submit it, he just got called up to do it. Kerre showed up a little later and I introduced her to Jennie, telling them both that I thought they would get along. Happily, I was right and they hit it off immediately, with only a brief moment of confusion when Kerre asked Jennie if she was “ghetto” (meaning open to things like walking around town drinking as a cheap option to overpriced club and bar drinks).

Jennie and I finally got called up to sing and we did a creditable job I would say, although we didn’t realize that the female vocals lyrics wouldn’t be up there. She still sang with aplomb, while I tried not to embarrass myself too badly. Of course I’m glad I didn’t have to follow, Melon, Prashant and Becky’s impassioned rendition of “On a Boat,” a truly epic occasion. I’m surprised how long it can be between submitting a song and getting called up, and Jennie’s second song took so long to get called that she left before it was, at the same time that Melon, Adam and I did. Of course, first Jennie wanted to exchange phone numbers with everyone, though I don’t believe the numbers ever actually got successfully exchanged despite the many attempts.

I caught the train home and went to bed, somehow making it through work on Wednesday. I had various different meet-up plans for the night but for better or worse (depending on when you ask me) a combination of circumstance and thunderstorms put paid to that notion, and I spent a fairly quiet evening and hoped to recover some of my energy.

It seemed to work somewhat as I felt more Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Have You Seen My Golem? Adventures in Prague

Flight and Arrival in Prague

Friday morning at four, with the sun still hours away, I arose from the spare mattress Kerre had generously allowed me to use that night so I could get to the airport, and with a brief word of goodbye and the nice present of a bag of peanuts from her, I wandered through the rain to the bus and then took the train to the airport. The Munich airport is fundamentally easier to get around in than most I’ve experienced in the United States. And, at least for flights around Europe, less stressful due to security restrictions feeling less like an insane Kafkaesque dream (although as I will explain later, Kafkaesque would have been apropos for this particular trip). You don’t even need to remove your shoes to get through the metal detector. It is weird to need to take a minibus to the plane from the gate though, but I assume Lufthansa makes it all work out economically. Once aboard the plane, I quickly fell asleep, awakening only as we touched down at Prague airport. The flight attendant had been kind enough to leave my in-flight snack (a pre-packaged waffle-type thing with cinnamon-sugar on it) on the seat next to me, so I munched on that as I took another minibus to the main terminal and walked to the bus stop.

Traveling alone makes me both excited and anxious, but luckily, I learned well since January that you’re never truly traveling alone with a Rick Steves guide in your hand, in this case a chapter from his “Best of Europe” book about Prague. As Rick recommended, I took a bus and train to the area near my hostel, then followed my hostel’s directions to find them. The bus was so crowded that the driver just waved me on without making me buy a ticket, which was nice. I had some Czech crowns from an ATM, but annoyingly, train and bus ticket machines only take coins, a small downside to the relative cheapness of doing things in Prague (It was about 20 crowns to a dollar or 25 to a Euro, but the actual absolute cost for things except in the most touristy or deliberately fancy stores and restaurants was extremely reasonable, especially compared to Munich). I arrived at my hostel, the Little Town Budget Hotel, appropriately in Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Peachy Keen Evening

I am in Prague, taking a break from the heat and while I will write extensively about my time here, I thought I would take the opportunity to write a bit about the week before my trip.

For the most part the week was pretty calm. I went out Tuesday to Shamrock but it was a fairly laid back night. It was of course fun to find out facts of secret dates (revealed inadvertently) and to see everyone. More of Melon Shady was of course also rather amusing, but I called it a night early on.

On Thursday though, things were a bit…crazier. The Toytown night was at Peaches, which I hadn’t been to since my birthday because I remember hating Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Toytown Thinking

May 19, 2010 1 comment

A humorous (and entirely fictional) look inside the head of an attendee at a Toytown “Indecisive 20-somethings” meet up.

First meet up: Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

The top internet searches that lead people to my blog

May 18, 2010 1 comment

Top Searches

“amy’s kitchen”, toytown meet up indecisive 20, eric hal schwartz, science journalist germany

I love that amy’s kitchen trumps my own name so thoroughly

Categories: Personal

My Mellowest Munich Weekend: Still Not Very Mellow Really

May 17, 2010 1 comment

The week has begun and I am excited for in just four short days I shall be winging my way to Prague, just my backpack, a Rick Steves guide and me for a weekend exploring the capital of the Czech Republic. It will be tough to concentrate this week I think, but luckily I had a pretty mellow weekend and should be rested enough to get a lot out of the upcoming trip.

Work on Friday was splendid. I don’t know why having no one around made me so productive, but it did. Not only did I get all my work done and then some, I even fired off some job applications and got other miscellaneous tasks done. Roberto was gone the whole weekend so I had the apartment to myself. Not that that really changed my activities at home, but it did mean I didn’t have to worry about being quiet when I stayed up late as I did on Friday. I was invited to a movie watching evening but frankly felt too tired and lazy to make the effort for what seemed likely to be a very short trip. Instead I stayed up late talking to people, falling asleep around two in the morning and not awakening until one in the afternoon. A lot of people had taken advantage of the day off on Thursday to have Friday off as well and to travel about so there weren’t a lot of the normal Saturday night crew around.

Kerre had been inviting me to Saturday evening get-togethers for a while but I had rarely taken her up on them, but with the very unsettled state of the night ahead I decided to take her up on going to Amy’s apartment to drink and hang out with people before going to a concert at Jaeger’s later that night. I went out and met her at Haubtbahnhof and together took the tram out to where Kerre thought Amy’s place was. Much to our confusion and amusement, the address Kerre thought was correct led only to a parking garage. Barring the unlikely possibility that it led to some sort of underground superhero hideout, we decided it must not be quite right and Kerre called Amy to get the right address, which was close by, across the street. We went over and up to the fourth floor where Amy, her two roommates, Ken, Melon, Melon’s visiting friend Tom, Charne, Adam and Brooke were already starting to drink and hang out. Charne, was using Amy’s kitchen to cook a real spread for herself, noodles and chicken and more as apparently she had just forgotten to eat earlier in the day.

Everyone was in a good mood it seemed and eager to have a good night. And the decreed method to reach that good night was to be drinking games. The games were not themselves complicated, consisting mainly of guessing types of cards to be drawn and based on guesses right and wrong drinking and nominating others to drink certain amounts of alcohol. Drinking went quickly whether the drink was beer, wine, or a cocktail. Kerre, in a bid to avoid drinking too much too quickly, at one point opted to eat a packet of sweet and sour sauce instead, not the wisest choice perhaps judging from her exclamations of disgust and the need to actually drink more beer to get the taste from her mouth. In the same vein of poor decision-making (at least in my and everyone else’s opinion), Charne went onto the porch for a cigarette and decided to climb around on the railing, four stories above Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal

Disjointed Week

I’m sitting at work and I’m nearly the only one here because yesterday was Ascension, the Catholic holiday celebrating Jesus going to heaven. I’m not sure how this translates to people cooking cheese on the sidewalk but that was a particularly…pungent reminder that it was a holiday.

It’s actually rather nice to have it so quiet at work, though with all my bosses and supervisors gone I’m not exactly sure what to do when I finish assignments. Oh well, I can at least enjoy the fact that I will be in Prague this time next Friday. As for this week, I rather enjoyed most of it, and the parts I didn’t enjoy were Read more…

Categories: Germany, Personal