A Summary of Our Week

Apparently, the trend is to only blog once per week. Better than nothing!

So, for the first half of last week we followed Gunther Demnig around while he installed Stolpersteine all over Berlin. This proved to be a little difficult since he had a car and we were on foot! At some of the installations there was a big crowd, and at some it was just us. At the very first one we went to a school class that had done research for the project was there along with an elementary school choir that performed several songs. At the other one worth noting, the family of the people being memorialized were there and had a ceremony. They thought we were very nice for taking group photos of them, and gave Matt a commemorative yarmulke that had been specially made for the occasion:


On Thursday we met up with Matt’s class from UT and went to visit a Flakturm, a former Nazi air defense tower and bunker. Unfortunately it was too dark inside to get many good photos, and it was also freezing, being halfway underground and all. Our guide, who was very funny, pointed out that they had included windows in the tower and asked us if we knew why that could be since they obviously made it more vulnerable. Apparently the Nazis were so confident they would win the war that they built the towers with the intention of turning them into restaurants and movie theaters afterward! Obviously, the presence of windows is all it takes to up the ambience factor of a reinforced concrete bunker.

On Friday we went to do some observations in Spandau, about thirty minutes away on the far west side of Berlin. On the way back we stopped at the Olympiastadion, built for the 1936 Olympics complete with a special Führer’s box. While we were there it started raining, so we had to come up with some kind of indoor activity: the perfect time to go see Body Worlds! I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to see ever since I heard about an exhibit in St. Louis. This is not the kind of thing you would enjoy if you’re creeped out by looking at, well, bodies…especially without skin on them. The exhibits use real human bodies and organs preserved by a special process called plastination, whereby, in a nutshell, fluids are removed and replaced with resin. The particular exhibit that we saw focused on the heart and its relation to different parts of the body. If you’re interested you can read all about it at their website. Personally, I was completely fascinated and would highly recommend Body Worlds to anyone at all interested in anatomy. I don’t think I can say the same for Matt. But if an exhibit is coming somewhere near to you, you should go – and take me too!

We met up with Matt’s class again on Saturday to tour the Museum of Musical Instruments. I think the most interesting part was our tour guide, who seemed to be able to play every instrument in the museum! I took videos of him playing some of the more interesting ones, like the organ built to replace an orchestra for silent movies, and they will make an appearance on flickr soon. He also said that the museum housed Bach’s personal harpsichord, but we didn’t get to see it.

We decided to take the day off on Sunday because thunderstorms were forecasted all day…unfortunately, we didn’t see a single drop of rain while sitting around being lazy.

Earlier this week we went with the class to see Hohenshönhausen prison, used as a holding place for perceived “threats” against the government first by the Soviets and then by the Stasi up until 1990. It was very interesting, and I took lots of pictures. Most of the prison was left in the exact condition it was in when it closed. Seeing the interrogation rooms like this was particularly interesting: two tables, three chairs, and curtains obscuring the window. The prison was designed so that no inmate ever saw another; they even had a traffic light system to alert the guards if another prisoner was near by. Also – nobody ever escaped.

So, that just about wraps up what we’ve done in the past week! We have four days left here, and on Monday we’re taking a short plane trip over to Paris (it was cheaper than the train and about six hours shorter…how does that work out?). It probably wouldn’t take me so long to write these posts if I didn’t have a whole week to talk about…maybe I’ll try that next time.

I’m still blogging!

This post would have been posted sooner had my entire draft not somehow deleted itself! NOT COOL. Now I have to try to remember all the stuff I said…it was a collection of several days…let’s see…

I know I started off by saying that nothing very eventful had happened in the past few days, hence the lack of interesting updates. We’ve been around and about, looked at sites for Matt to conduct some of his observations, etc. We did go to one museum that was…unimpressive. Maybe it was just me. We’re planning on seeing more things that are actually interesting next week, when a class from UT comes that we’re going to tour around some with. We had our own walking tour of Berlin the other day, in which Matt played the part of the tour guide and I played the part of the tourist with the camera. It will be much more interesting to see it in pictures, so I’ll save the details for flickr.

Speaking of flickr…there is actually a reason why you haven’t seen any photos so far. I must be having some bad luck in the photo/blogosphere right now, because as well as having drafts disappear, I cannot log into my flickr account. Yahoo (who owns flickr) has a myriad of ways to access your account whether you’ve forgotten your password, email address, or whatever, but after trying every imaginable combination I still can’t seem to get in. I emailed their support people a little while ago, so hopefully I’ll be able to log in soon. Because my photos are all edited and pretty, and I really want you to see them!

Now I remember what I said in that deleted draft! I was very sure that there was much concern about the state of our shower curtain, so I thought I would tell you that I fixed it. With magnets. I originally did look for the kind of curtain with magnets already in the bottom, but ended up with a stupid one instead. So we made another trip to Ikea, because, having 99.9% of their catalog memorized, I knew that they did indeed have magnets. We went to a different Ikea, for fun, you know. While we were there we also picked ourselves up a couple of pillows. It is another European thing to do, apparently, to sleep on a big, uncomfortable, square pillow. We decided we’d had about enough of that, so we got some small, significantly more comfortable, rectangular pillows. And green pillowcases, of course. I can’t think of anything else I wrote about before, but think it used to be a lot longer than this. Maybe I’ll think of it later. On to more important things – what we did today. Because, as you know, today is a very important day. My birthday!

On this so important day I requested to do one thing: go to the Berlin zoo. Either I wasn’t the only one with a birthday today or Sunday is the best day for German animal-watching, because the zoo was packed. It was fun to go to a zoo I’d never been to before (in a country on a continent I’d never been to before), but Memphians, you are not missing out on anything. Their large cats exhibit vividly reminded me of how much better off the Memphis Zoo’s old cat house is as a cafe than as a giant litter box. Unfortunately for Matt, he does not understand how to NOT BREATH THROUGH HIS NOSE. But really, other than the near-asphyxiation in the cat house, the zoo was fun. I even got to pet a penguin. We couldn’t really figure out if you were supposed to or not…but when the exhibit is design such that the penguins can swim close enough to easily be picked up and taken home with you, aren’t they just inviting you pet them? Besides, the penguin must have liked it or he wouldn’t have kept doing laps around the edge of the enclosure so that everyone could pat his head! It was interesting that the zoo did not seem to be fond of putting signs in places where you were likely to see them at the same time as the animals they went with, but Matt pointed out that this wasn’t a big problem since I could identity every obscure animal I saw. I did not realize that I was so talented.

So that’s what we did on my birthday. And then we went to the bakery down the street and got an eclair. The end!

Story – I have heard that you are being “good”. I am tempted to say that this behavior would be better labeled “deceptive”. If so, I would suggest that you either 1) give up this charade immediately or 2) continue pretending to be a “good” dog from now on.
Who knows, maybe it will stick.