Friday, May 30, 2008


Hi Y'all. I bought this very entertaining book two days ago when I was celebrating the end of the school year with some classmates by hitting up all the book stores in town that have reasonable English sections. It unfortunately is more Zurich-oriented, but for the life of me I can't find anything on Basel Swiss German, so I'll just have to settle for talking like I'm from Zurich. I'm quite motivated to work on my German right now, as you may have noticed. I think 40 hours a week with two little girls who won't breathe a word of English sounds daunting. I start an intensive course on Monday morning (Hochdeutsch,) with a funny old guy who talks real slow so we can understand him and says things like, "talk less through your nose like an American and more in your throat like a German soldier" (except in German). My class will be from 8:00-11:40 every week day for three weeks, so watch out! My German is going to be AMAZING! :) But back to my cool new book. This is one of my favorite pages (click to see view larger image):

I think the "happy" illustration is particularly helpful.

In about 3 hours I'm heading off to help at the Sunday School camp up in the hills, and I'm quite excited about that for several reasons. First, I get to use my fabulously comfy and beautiful egg-shell-blue-with-stars-on-the-inside sleeping bag. That in itself is reason enough to anticipate the weekend. Add to that crafts, coloring, songs, games, good friends and potentiality for marshmellows, and I'm sure you understand my enthusiasm.

Speaking of sleeping bags, I might go camping with my way cool Williams cousins over 4th of July weekend! I was planning to go to the Rodeo in St. Paul, but camping trumps Rodeo, particulary if it's with such good company. If you're looking for a good way to observe Independence day this year and neither Rodeos, nor camping trips, nor county fairs are at your disposal, let me recommend some good summertime reading on our nation's founding. First, if you haven't already read the David McCullough biography of John Adams, that's a great one. It is a bit hefty and detail heavy for some people, however. For shorter and more theoretical discussions, check out William Lee Miller's The Business of May Next: James Madison and the Founding. Charlottesville: U. Press of Virginia, 1992. Or, if you're specifically interested in a critical work on religion and the founding, see Frank Lambert's The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America. Princeton: Princeton, 2003. If anyone is interested, I can post book reviews written by yours truly on these two books.

Enjoy your weekend!


  1. I have "Hoi" as well, and I wish I had it when I first came. The Swiss kept staring at me like I was crazy, and indeed, I was the last face on that page. I've since learned to not smile and say "Gruezi" and the Swiss accept me much better!

  2. LOL didn't know such a book existed. I wonder though what little secrets are in there.
    A look at a DOs and DON'Ts page never hearts for any particular country.

  3. heyhey, this is starting to get discriminating... and by the way, a biography, two books with the title "founding" in it... are you seriously expecting someone to ask for a review? Unless you're preparing for the next camp...

  4. That's cause we're happy by default and don't need a smile to prove it. Or maybe because we think it's genteel to practice understatement so nobody's envious of our happiness. Or maybe because we've realized that the pursuit of happiness is a great driver for economic achievement, so we fake not having happiness to keep the economy going.

  5. Daniel: Haven't come across too many secrets I didn't already know, but (as you can see) the illustrations are very helpful for the unitiated.

    Dom: Not discriminatory, but true! And just becaue the story I told at camp put a six year old to sleep (which, I might remind you, was the goal) doesn't mean I like (or tell) boring stories!! But if you're so sure they'd put you to sleep, you could put this info to good use and keep a book or two handy for the nights you accidently drink coffee after 4 pm.

    And Stephan...methinks you all just need to quit making excuses and smile more... :) And once the country has that down, we can try adding talking to strangers and hugging.

  6. That book looks funny!

    Just a bit of info: Zurich and Basel have a big historic rivalry going on, so talking Züridüütsch (Zurich German) in Basel might cause some not so amused reactions...

    So I'd rather say "sali" instead of "grüezi" ;-)

    By the way: nice photo on top of the blog!

  7. We reserve our smiles for people we actually like. ;-)