Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Leipzig Objects

Another set of random and unscientific observations, this time about various objects in Leipzig:

HELMETS. Everybody bikes, but nobody wears bike helmets.

TV: Even in the two English channels I get, the BBC and the European version of CNN, there is a cosmopolitan slant that is missing back home. After all, when on American TV do you hear a consumer-oriented commercial start with "Thinking of banking in Africa?" Nobody I know in Rochester, NY is thinking of banking in Africa. Nobody.

SCREENS: Like bike helmets, these seem rare to non-existent. All windows open directly into the air. Since Leipzig is a sizable city, there aren't a lot of critters about to zoom inside, but I have observed a few interesting-looking flying insects in both my apartment and office. One was similar to a dragon fly, with delicate green wings.

LIGHTS: My apartment is on the third floor (no elevator). If I come home after dark, I press a light switch on each landing, which then stays lit long enough to get me to the next landing, unless I'm so tired and dragging that it doesn't, quite. I've also seen this frugal arrangement in England and France.

CHESS SETS: I went to Karstadt, a big department store in the city center, to buy a cheap chess set so I can play by email with my long-time chess partner, Marty. The cheapest set, with plastic pieces and a folding vinyl board, was 16 Euros, or (by today's Barclay conversion rate) $21.49. Consumer goods are expensive here.

CHOCOLATE: It is wonderful. Beyond wonderful. To die for.

CONSTRUCTION CRANES: There are a lot of them, and they're not stopping work in the current global financial crisis. Leipzig is building a subway. The university is expanding. Buildings are being renovated. I walk past a dozen construction sites on my way to work. Scaffolding is always going up, coming down, being moved. Parts of LiebingStrasse resemble an obstacle course.

TAP WATER: It comes out really hot, hot enough to scald lava. Care is necessary.

The writing SF class met this morning, and we discussed, read, and wrote descriptions, focusing on specific and on point of view. Next week the students turn in to me their first written work, and I'm very interested in seeing how they do. I now have three students auditing the class "for fun," which is always good.


cd said...

Well, now I'm thinking about banking in Africa.

Can you bring me back some brochures?


Nick A said...

TV - my favorite observation during a recent business trip to Germany was channel surfing to a German-dubbed episode of Hogan's Heroes.