Wednesday, February 27, 2008

amendment (now spelled correctly!)

Two notes on my previous post:

1) Mine and Chantelle's (facetious)theory on why our teacher was wearing dark glasses and the story about the eye surgery being all a clever ploy to cover a hollywood-caliber drug abuse fell through. My teacher had normal glasses on today. She's was just as crazy as ever, but I mean that in a relatively good way: crazy in the way that only English professors and artists usually are. For Fox people, think Ed Higgens, except a woman. Ed Higgens was known to jump on tables while teaching a class if he felt it illustrated his point better than more conventional tactics such as writing on chalk boards.

2)I think you'll have to copy and paste the barge launch link into your browser for it to work (see comments on previous post). I seem to not know how to make links work right in blogger...

Monday, February 25, 2008


Classes have been underway one week now and I like all of them. I'll have a few more papers to write this term than last, but I generally like papers once I get going on them. My topics broadly speaking will be Sociology of Relgion, Int'l conflict and globablization, Civil Society, and Governance and the role of non-state actors. I am also looking forward to my two literature classes this term, even though the teacher is a bit crazy and spastic and wore sunglasses the whole time supposedly due to eye surgery (but Chantelle and I are thinking drugs! :)) She seems to know her stuff, which is largely African American literature and English literature relating to Africa. I also am delighted to report that I only have 3 days of school each week! Last week I made good use of this by doing most of my homework Thursday and Friday, and then exploring old castle ruins with Janet and Miriam Saturday. We Rode the tram to Fluh, asked directions from a nice old lady and set off up the the hill to find the old fortress. The first part was built in 1297 and they added on at various points after that. Read all about it here (Sorry these aren't real links. Blogger is having fits and wont seem to recognize proper links):
There are lots of good pictures of the castle on these sites; it's saving me tons of time uploading pics.

Apparently Landskron is in France. Who knew!? I thought we were still in CH!! That probably explains why the brochures were only in French and not also in German and Italian like everything else in Switzerland. My video clip I was going to add doesn't seem to be working, so that will have to come later. Here are some pictures from our day though:

This way!

Picnic lunch on the way up the hill...

Steeper than it looks here, trust me. (and look how blond my hair looks grandpa! kinda makes one reconsider the "brown-haired little girl" nickame, don't you think??)

A good view of the tram I ride every day...

Basel in the distant background...

Chatting up a very large horse...

Fresh milk!

a post within the day..

hi! just checking in to assure those who might be wondering that I am alive and well. I have pictures to upload after classes today, and a lovely sample of some Swiss German (complements of Miriam) to share with those of you who haven't heard it before. So watch for that within the next...oh...say, 10 hours or so. And in the mean time, I'm off to learn about apartheid and epidemiology. have a good day!


Monday, February 18, 2008

School Schmool

(Blogger's working again, so here's the picture I would have put up in the first place! Left to right, it's Janet, her new housemate Miriam who we all just met that day, me, and Rebekkah. To the Oregonians: please pardon the California Sweatshirt I'm wearing. I promise I only borrowed it and harbor no secret california loyalties [except, of course, to Emily])

School started this afternoon. Yesterday after church a bunch of us were lamenting this fact and the girls decided to have a "school schmool" party and bake chocolate chip cookies and commiserate together. We sorta forgot to check to see if we had all the ingredients first, so we endded up having to call Valda and run over to her flat, let ourselves in with Janet's key, and "borrow," aka pinch some baking soda, salt and two eggs. Then we ran back home and finished our dough, but we didn't quite get around to baking all of it, so I baked this morning too. I was going to add a picture of us up to our elbows in flour and chopped chocolate bars, but I think blogger is slightly broken at the moment and the 'add image' option doesn't appear to be working. I had my first two classes today. The first was a lecture on the rise and fall of Apartheid in South Africa with the afore mentioned fantastic Patrick Harries. The class had well over a hundred people in it and probably 15 or 20 of us sat on the floor. (Note to self, get to class a bit earlier!) Then I had a lecture at the Tropical Institute, which I thought was the beginning of the Current Topics in Epidemiology lecture series, but it turned out to be a farewell lecture by...well, I'm not sure who he was exactly. But a very funny, cute old guy who has been working with the tropical institute for more than 40 years. The lecture was in German. So were most of the slides. I didn't really follow everything. I'm afraid it may be a bad omen for my semester, too, since I have 2 lectures in German (Tuesday and Wednesday). Both professors know about my linguistic handicap. They say I can find some translations or read some supplemental stuff, and I can take my exams in English, so I'm going to give it a shot. Nothing like a little challenge to keep the semester interesting, right?! and if nothing else is gained, at least my English/German dictionary and I will be very good friends by the end of the semester.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back in Basel

Hello again from Switzerland! This is a midnight blog for all the Oregonians who are wondering if I made it alive, how I managed my 100+ pounds of luggage, and whether I’ve adjusted to the new sleeping schedule yet. In short, "yes, fine, and sort of". I’m here, safe and sound. I managed my luggage just fine, thank you very much, but my shoulders and arms are grumbling about it a bit today. And ok, I might have maybe asked a few guys to help me a little bit along the way. But not much! I was mostly self-sufficient this trip, and you’ll be pleased to know I have finally mastered the long distance trains. Did you know that there is a way to tell which car your seat will be in and where you should stand on the platform to be able to get onto the right car the first time?! I didn’t know either until yesterday, which made for some confusing and frustrating train trips, believe you me. But it turns out there are letters hung along the platform and a nifty little map showing which car stops by which letter. Who woulda guessed? …and I know for all the Europeans reading this, figuring out the trains seems like a small victory indeed, but for me, it made a world of difference to know where I was supposed to be!

Once in CH, I hit the ground running: I got home to my house at 2:30 yesterday afternoon, took a shower, sent some emails and was back in town before 5:00 to buy train passes and deliver some stuff to a friend. That took a couple hours, but I was still feeling pretty energetic despite my measly 2.5 hours of sleep the night before. I was going to unpack and read the last 60 pages of Heart of Darkness last night, but I sat down for a few minutes at 7:30 and woke up an hour later, so I decided the book and the bags could wait till I'd slept.

This morning I was WIDE awake by 5:30 so I sent some more emails before heading off to meet Janet and her parents at the train station at 7:30. We spent the day in a town called Murten (which is deceptively difficult to pronounce correctly). We followed a walking tour from a book and went tripping through the ancient Ramparts (Janet’s mom and I both had the Star Spangled Banner stuck in our heads afterward), looked out over the field where the Swiss-to-be fought the French in 14-something-or-another, attracted the attention of a sweet tabby cat and a whole shop full of bakers, and drank coffee in a tea house while sitting on some fabulous canary yellow leather covered chairs and catching sly glances from opposite table (presumably for our very American English).

Janet and me, looking like tourists!

Cannon balls lodged in the walls, as a reminder of the battle. "Like the Alamo, with a better ending," according to the guide book.

Ramparts, over which there were no broad stripes or bright stars gallantly streaming. But they were fun to walk along anyway.

More of the same ramparts, this time from up above in a tower.

After that, we went to raclette dinner at the house of some people from church. I don’t know them very well yet, but they’re very kind and gracious people, and Janet knows them better. And then I came home to finally write you all this brief, yet blow-by-blow account of my last 48 hours! I do hope you have enjoyed this update! I have to go to bed now. I have a meeting in the morning, bright and early. No time for dilly dallying!

Talk to you all soon! More pictures to come. Oh, and I learned an interesting fact at dinner. There is not a single mosquito in Wisconsin!! They're all married and have large families. :) har har...funny stuff! 'night!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

weekend thoughts

One of my favorite personal rituals is Friday night book shopping. After work, which always goes late on Fridays for some reason, if I don't have anything pressing to do and my concience is not feeling too pricked about either the books I should be reading for school or the ones I've bought in the past and have yet to read (and occasionally when my concience loudly protests and when it's not in fact Friday) I make a beeline for the nearest bookstore with a coffeshop attached. I don't always buy something. More than half the time I'd say I stand at a shelf for 30 or 40 minutes skimming a book, put it back, go sit in a big stuffed chair and read some poetry, eavesdrop on some conversations (inadvertently), ask the clerks to look up books that I can't remember the titles of ("It might be called How We Talk, or maybe The Way We Talk? Nothin'? Ok, well, how about this one, I think it's called..."), and then after an hour and a half or maybe two, I go home bookless, but feeling quite content. If I do buy a book or three, it's bound to be either old fiction, short stories, or history, although theology, art, and travel books tempt me too. I almost never stand around the bookstore reading new novels, and I buy them even more rarely. As Charles Lamb put it,
Rather than follow in the train of this insatiable monster of modern reading, I would rather forswear my spectacles, play at put, mend pens, kill fleas, stand on one leg, shell peas, or do whatsoever ignoble diversion you shall put me to. Alas!...I die of new books, or the everlasting talk about them...I will go and relieve myself with a page of honest John Bunyan, or Tom Brown. Tom anybody will do, so long as they are not of this whiffling century.

But of course sometimes I do find an author well worth reading who happens to be of this century, or perhaps late century last. Friday I discovered At Large and At Small, a book of essays by Anne Fadiman. She writes about ice cream and coffee and staying up all night to read books, or to write them. She draws on outside articles and essays and stories in each essay, and my vocabulary is expanding at a rate of about 5 words per page ("Panegyric", for instance, as in "[all your reasons for getting up early] are not going to make me jump out of bed at five any more than a panegyric by a white water lily on the splendors of the morning is going to make the evening primrose transplant itself in Linnaeus's 6:A.M. flower bed.") In fact, Fadiman employs a great number of words to argue the case for night owls in an essay on the subject:

"When I write after dark," observes Cyril Connally, "the shades of evening scatter their purple through my prose. Then why not write in the morning? Unfortunately in my case there is never very much of the morning, and it is curious that although I do not despise people who go to bed earlier than I, almost everyone is impatient with me for not getting up."

A very excellent point, in my opinion, and a very enjoyable book. I recommend it.