Saturday, February 02, 2008

Germany Blog - Day 3: 2/2

February 2, 2008

I awoke first at 6 AM and then again when my cell phone went off at nine. I spent thirty more minutes fruitlessly trying to get connected to the internet, but was at least appeased when my sister’s boyfriend sent me a text message letting me know that our Mets had indeed signed the extension with Johan Santana at a staggering seven years/$150 million dollars. I am now VERY happy that Barry Zito is not a New York Met, because this deal would not have happened. I don’t know if they voided this current year of the deal, or if he will be a Met for the next eight years (although I assume that this year was voided) and while the length is staggering, $21.4 per year is less annually than what I thought Santana would command. I was thinking a minimum of 5-6 years at $23-$25 million, per. Even if he is over the hill at the end of his contract, chances are that seven years of Santana will be more beneficial to the Mets than five years at the same price tag. Wow.

At ten, after a shower and a shave (and realizing I didn’t bring my beard trimmer so three weeks of unchecked goatee growth should prove oh so stylish), I made my way upstairs. I immediately met Gideon, who is tall and slender (and it makes sense now, his passion for basketball) and Beatrix for breakfast. It consisted of the same basic meal from dinner. I had a hard roll and butter and two slices of thinly cut German ham. It was accompanied by some very strong German imported Brazilian coffee. It had some kick. I will definitely need to purchase some before I leave. Beatrix forewarned me that Gideon’s who studies Business Administration at Ahkand University (my best shot at the spelling) was not the greatest speaker of English. He immediately offered me the local newspaper and asked if I required something special to eat. I noted that I would like to read the newspaper, even if by reading it, I mean looking at the pictures. He responded that in the morning, looking at the pictures was probably more realistic and beneficial to the brain that reading, anyway. We discussed briefly the Super Bowl, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. Beatrix told me that when they visited American some time ago, that they went to a Boston Red Sox game, but did not understand much of what was going on. Instead of trying to give a baseball tutorial, I did try to explain the rivalry and animosity that exists between Boston and New York sports teams, explaining that my hope that the Giants win the Super Bowl was based more on a dislike for New England than support of the New York Giants, even after my Washington Redskins were eliminated by Seattle.

Soon after, Gideon departed for back upstairs and Beatrix and I sat in the kitchen watching the snow (or shnee) coming down hard (a rarity in the Moers/Kamp-Lintfort region) and discussing a wide variety of topics from education to teenage drinking issues. We also talked about the influence of mass Turkish, Russian, and Polish immigration and how it has changed culture. She noted that she liked the film from the night before so much because it showed both the German slang that was created by immigration, mostly from the Turks, as well as the relationship French Monastery that was a remnant of the one that established Kamp-Lindfort and then a dinner at a popular German restaurant in town. Herr Schwich had not made it home as of yet, so I said that I would like to retire to the basement and get some writing done. Beatrix said that sounded good and that she would alert me when her husband came home. I called Frau Canavan to try to figure out how to call home as my attempts last night were unsuccessful (note, Herr Kramer, it is TWO zeroes, not ONE zero: 001- 518-***-****). Frau Canavan was sleeping at the time and was somewhat groggy and confused. Not having had the kaffee that I had just consumed, I sympathized with her condition and told her to call me later on. She had offered for me to meet up with her, and at the time I though the monastery trip might be cancelled because of the weather, but since the sun has come out and all of the shnee is melted.

I am looking forward to meeting Herr Schwich. From what Beatrix has told me, he is a regional manager for a large corporation and spends time all over Germany, in Holland, Poland, France and even India. He sounds very important and like a no-nonsense businessman. Given my laid back personality, it should be interesting talking to him. I understand that he has excellent English, so at least I won’t embarrass myself with my two German phases (doubled the vocab in 24 hours, baby): Ich sprechen kein Deutch and Das ist OK. The Schwichs seem pretty well off and have a beautiful home with some great books on the shelves in their living room including the works of Marx, Twain, and Durkheim. So far, despite my lack of German, I am finding that I understand more that I thought I would. I was even able to glean some information from the newspaper, noting that Microsoft has apparently purchased Yahoo! and that Parkinson's Disease was a current topic of interest in the science section of the Newspaper. I even smiled and shook my head at the title of one article when it had the word “Terminator” at the end. Sure enough, the Austrian born “Govenator”, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was shaking hands with a German politician.

Since I have a little time now, I think I might read a bit. The thought of an angry Leah G. can be quite intimidating.

So I met Herr Schwich. He is an interesting man. He is an engineer who works for an international firm and is both the vice-president and COO (depending on which country he is in). He commands 30,000 people under him, which is amazing since Kamp-Linfort only has 50,000 residents, when you consider it. He has a pretty good grip on English, and also knows Russian, Polish, French and German (obviously). I also had a chance to watch Foosball with Gideon, Hannah, and Kevin, Hannah’s boyfriend. During the afternoon, Beatrix took me to the French Monastery, Kolister Kamp, and we walked around and I took pictures. Unfortunately, my camera was acting up (again) and I lost some of the earlier pictures that I had of the trip, so Nicki is lucky because the video of the German and teen and herself in the airport was one of the many casualties of the memory card massacre.

The monastery was amazing. It was wild to see the French influence on German architecture, and even learn about Frederick I first hand, since I taught about him in Global History 9. I enjoyed seeing it very much.

At 6:45 I accompanied Beatrix and Dr. Schwich, Hannah and Kevin to a German restaurant for dinner (Gideon and a friend had gone to Carnival, which in honesty, looked like a lot of fun). The meal was unbelievable. We had deep fried fish as an appetizer and then I had (as best I could understand) Fisch Zuppa (fish soup) and, as it was explained to me, sautéed cheek of an ox with parmesan mash potatoes and zucchini. Accompanying the meal was several wines that Herr Schwich selected. He has a very good taste for white wines and has been feeding them to me since I returned from the monastery. He also wanted me to try several German reds, all of which I found satisfactory. Dinner conversation was varied, but it dealt mostly with American industry as compared to European industry and touched on learning language and culture while abroad, often. I also spoke with Hannah and Kevin about a variety of subjects, including use of cannabis among German teens and which beers Kevin found most enjoyable. His favorite American beer being Miller, I began to understand the age gap between us, even though it appears to be much less than the one between Herr Schwich and myself.

Upon returning to their house, he handed me another red which he referred to as “the last drink” (at least for me) and I sipped it while we watched figure skating championships, which Kevin and I made fun of relentlessly.

Today’s Words:

  1. Gooten Tag - Hello
  2. Box Legende – Boxing Legend (referring to Muhammad Ali)
  3. Auf weidersehen – goodbye
  4. Das ist OK – That is okay
  5. Kaffee – coffee
  6. Toilette – bathroom
  7. Fisch – fish
  8. Esen - eat
  9. Mamma – mother
  10. Hund – dog
  11. Shnee - snow


Anonymous said...

the texts are so great but you have write some german words wrong and Laya ;)
mb Jill (germany)

Pete Mody said...


This was only my third day, so you will have to forgive my poor German skills. Hopefully they improved by Day 23!

How have you been?

Anonymous said...

Lovely text
and seems, nice people of a nice family.
But one does not undertsnad what author's relations with these people are - so the story comes to be a little bit "as if starting from the midst" - vague and not so clear.