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29 November 2006
If you haven't noticed, I've not posted in some months. My blogging hiatus has turned into the end of blogging for me, at least for the time being.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be downloading the entirity of "a sop in wyn" for myself then will delete the page. So, if there's anything you want, take it now.


it's about time

08 August 2006
From the Department of Stoopid

I'm not going to lie to you. The allegations are really quite true. I am a card carrying member of the Cognocentri. (Not to be confused with cognoscenti.) We're a bit like the International League of Pedants, but our robes are cooler. At any rate, my fellow cognocentric brothers and sisters, today is a day for unfettered jubilation. I give you the anti-stupid pill.

Quoth Reuters:

A German scientist has been testing an "anti-stupidity" pill with encouraging results on mice and fruit flies, Bild newspaper reported Saturday.

It said Hans-Hilger Ropers, director at Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, has tested a pill thwarting hyperactivity in certain brain nerve cells, helping stabilize short-term memory and improve attentiveness.

i've seen the wurst of it

02 August 2006
The score is now Germany 3, Sloane 0.

I have less than 48 hours left in this country and, over the past nine weeks, this country has killed my iPod, my digital camera, and my computer (though the good folks at the Apple Store in Göttingen fixed that in short order). So, to be fair, we won't count the computer as a point for either side. But, at this point, it doesn't seem like I'm going to manage to win this one on penalty kicks like some twisted replay of the World Cup final.

You see, I've been a vegetarian for four years. Knowing I was coming to Germany where finding vegetarian food (other than baked cheese, fried cheese and bread with cheese) is a challenge, I started eating fish again a few months ago. That was fine. I couldn't be quite the sanctimonious twit I was when I was strict ova-lacto veg, but then I could never muster the sanctimony to become a vegan either.

But when I decided to start eating fish again, I was working on the assumption that I would still be able to find sufficient quantities of iron rich foods in Germany, like spinach and legumes. Spinach is findable, but it's always so over cooked that there's hardly anything left for the body to extract. And finding legumes? HA.

In Göttingen, I went to four different markets before I could actually find something that resembled a bean. When I finally found them, they were dried. Now, when you've got a hot plate and one pot to work with, dried beans are not what you'd call feasible.

Even the "authentic" Mexican food joints don't serve beans. Yeah. Well, on that score, Bowling for Soup is right, all Mexican food sucks north of Texas. (This from the man who's live in Jersey for coming up six years.)

So, yeah. About four days ago, I started feeling anemic as all hell, even with the vitamin supplements. My choice was feel like crap for the next five days and then bong spinach when I got home, assuming I didn't manage to get sick before then, or, go eat cow.

I ate cow.

The good news is, the stuff I've been taking for the acid reflux from hell seems to have taken care of the problems that lead me to becoming vegetarian in the first place. The funny news is, I'd not consumed that much protein in one sitting in four years, so I actually had a "beef buzz" for an hour or so.

terrorizing tourists

25 July 2006
From the Department of Things Plagerized from My Own Correspondance

Recently, I was in Köln (Cologne), home of the origional Eau de Cologne and a really, really cool Dom (Cathedral). During my foray in that wonderful city, I inadvertently managed to horribly offend a pack of American tourists in a Roman Catholic bookstore.

You see, at every Dom/Cathedral or great church I've been to, I've searched for recordings of the Cathedral organ and choirs singing in the church. It finally occurred to me that the place to find these things is not in the cathedrals themselves, but in stores around the cathedrals. Sure enough, the Roman Catholic bookstore about a kilometer from the Dom had what I wanted, so I picked up one for me and one for a gift and some German lit on the Dom. When I went to pay, I noticed they had credit card machines, so I asked, "Nehmen Sie Credit Cards?" "Do you take credit cards?"

"Tut mir Leid. Nein. Es ist kaput." "Sorry, no. The machine is broken." Now, for those not in the know this means, "Yeah, we've got the machines, but I'm not going to take a credit card from you because you're not spending enough." As I've found out this summer, it's really quite common. Whatever, I had the cash so it wasn't a big deal.

"Kein Problem. Immer der Amerikaner mit dem Credit Card, ja?" No problem. Always the Americans with their credit cards, yeah?

As the shop keeper was laughing heartily at this, I heard a horrified gasp behind me. As I turned to see where it was coming from, I found myself face to face with a trio of American tourists (camera's slung around necks, fanny packs in full force, and gigantor American flags plastered across their chests). One of the women was scowling at me. Apparently she thought I'd said something tacky about Americans.

Frankly, I had said something tacky about Americans, but I was rather implicated in that statement. Hell, I carry a New Jersey driver's licence. I'm supposed to be tacky, right?

I paid for my stuff and headed out of the shop. On my way out, I entertained the notion of telling the tourists that I was also from the States, right up until I heard them talking to the shopkeeper. The woman who was scowling at me was shouting at the shop keeper in a strong Midwestern accent, gesturing wildly, "Do you know where I can get camera batteries?" At which point, she gestured as though she were taking a picture followed by an impersonation of the Energizer Bunny. Even louder, "You know. CAMERA BATTERIES."

Unfortunately, she assumed that the shopkeeper (a) did not speak English and (b) was stupid. She was neither, as her perfectly accented Oxford English suggested, "But of course, madam. We don't carry them but if you walk around the other side of the Dom, you'll find a photography store."

I remain baffled as to why, if the tourist lady was so convinced the shopkeeper didn't speak English, she didn't just pop the batteries out of the camera she had around her neck and point. But maybe common sense isn't as popular as it was when I was a young 'un.

I was standing just out side the store smirking at this point. I made up my mind I wasn't going to help the tourists when they came out and the shouting woman's husband said, "What the hell is the Dom?"

I shot the shopkeeper a sympathetic look and shrugged, refusing to take accountability for my misbehaving fellow Americans, took out my newly purchased German guide book for the Kölner Dom (that had a big ass picture of the church on the front and a big fat red title, Der Kölner Dom) and slowly ambled past the Americans with my nose in the book, walking directly to the Dom. Incidentally, the Dom was really reather hard to miss, what with a measly four story museum building between us and the positively mammoth structure that is Cologne Cathedral.

Yeah, I'm a bastard like that.

lavish me

18 July 2006
From the Department of Yuppie Greed

While it would take the reincarnation of Torquemada to get me to reveal the actual date to the whole damn internet, I will say that the anniversary of my ontological debut is neigh and I am accepting gifts, especially this.

So the knives probably suck, but who cares? It's just so wonderfully twisted and cool.

10 things i learned in amsterdam

1. Never take automotive advice from a Norwegian who has never driven an automobile.

2. The Red Light District is, in fact, bordered by red lights.

3. Germans may love sauce, but they don't really care for turn signals on the Autobahn.

4. You never quite appreciate sinks free of toilet water until you've lived with a sink that fills with toilet water every time you flush.

5. When in doubt, join a Dutch auto club. It will save you money.

6. Somehow, when your car is broken down and the mechanic is futzing with the engine in the middle of the street, switching the alternator on and off at 12 second intervals makes everything better, at least until he takes apart the sub wuffer in the trunk and then starts playing with exposed wiring eight inches away from your head.

7. The Heineken Experience is not a brewery tour. It's Disneyland for drunks and for 10 €, you could do a lot worse, especially when you consider the three free beers and toy surprise they give you at the end. Remember, at the Heineken Experience, you are the beer bottle. The only down side is that you don't get to meet Surly Duff on the way out. (Heineken does in fact taste much better in the Netherlands.)

8. Laser light shows do not improve Rembrandt's "Night Watch." Please, somebody, send this memo to the Reijksmuseum.

9. Yeah, I know that kid over there is smoking a joint in the middle of the park on the bench next to the police man. It's really okay here. Get over it.

10. You may be able to get some weird stuff in Amsterdam, but you've got to go to Hungary for the Viagra flavored ice cream.


17 July 2006
From the Department of Stolen Things

Let me be perfectly clear, German toilets are evil. I shan't go into a lengthy explanation here, but for the uninitiated, have a look at this page. (Don't worry. You'll not be faced with anything more disgusting than the reality of the German toilet. It's quite safe for work.)

Perhaps the only way to make German toilets more annoying is to have to remember to bring your own soap, towel and toilet paper with you every time you go to the bathroom. Even after a few weeks, this can be a challenge at 2 am. Yet, there is something worse than having to remember your toilet paper when you go to the bathroom, and that's forgetting your toilet paper when you leave the bathroom only to come back five minutes later and find that it has been stolen.

Yeah. Stolen.

You see, at the Institute, I'm given one roll of rather shoddy toilet paper every Monday. Though since I moved to a new place on July 4, the maid hasn't come with the weekly toilet paper ration and clean sheets, so I've been buying my own and laundering my sheets. But, on Thursday night, I was down to my last roll. No problem. Leavening for Amsterdam on Friday back on Sunday (when everything's closed, and I do mean everything but restaurants), so I'll buy more on Monday. Right. That was the plan until around 10 pm on Thursday night when my toilet paper was stolen.

Seriously, how low do you have to be to steal a man's last roll of toilet paper?

10 things i learned in paris

11 July 2006
From the Department of All Things French

Yesterday, I returned from a three day weekend in Paris. I genuinely didn't want to come back to Göttingen. My journey back was not without consolation, however, as upon gaining internet access this morning, I found this and this. Surfen Sie jetzt! You'll thank me.

At any rate, the trip to Paris was great fun and was most educational. In fact, I believe Paris taught me 10 things...

1. Die Deutsche Bahn ist immer besser. Immer. Keine Fragen fragte. Okay, so that's not entirely fair. The Germans aren't so up on the Deutsche Bahn, but it's a hell of a lot better than Thalys.

2. Sometimes, it just doesn’t matter how may times you ask politely for napkins in French. Neither shall you be given bread with your escargot or water of any kind, no matter how many times you ask for them, politely and in French. You’re just not going to get them, you so called asshole American tourist. Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

3. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t avoid the Awful Eiffle Tower.

4. Quasimodo had some bitchen’ quads. Seriously, climbing to the top of Notre Dame kicked my ass.

5. Even with shitty service, the food is beautiful.

6. When in doubt, find the man with the biggest gun and ask for directions.

7. Two days in Paris costs more than 6 weeks in Göttingen (damnable shopping).

8. Gay Paris is really quite, well, gay. And let me be the first to tell you, it's "fabulous, darling. Absolutely fabulous."

9. When you walk into a French pharmacy in considerable pain and ask for something good, don't be surprised when they hand you small doses of narcotics. The corollary lesson is, gay Paris is a lot more fun when you're high.

10. High tea in France is actually better than high tea just about anywhere else. Best blinis ever.

kitsch or?

06 July 2006
According to the New York Times, a 72 foot tall adaptation of the Statue of Liberty has been erected in Memphis.

I suppose they don't know she's French.

cross cultural observations

30 June 2006
Quoth Nick the Norwegian:
I find that American women say very many things to which you're not supposed to reply.

20 June 2006, in some pub or another in Göttingen, Deutschland