Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Education systems -- and their results

Tonight the students of 5A will put on a presentation on Jamie Oliver, his ideas on food and some of his recipes. They read the recipes in English, translated them into German, and will present in German and English. Some other students will be presenting in French as well.

I would like to point out that these students are in the 5th form, the equivalent of the American 9th grade. In 9th grade, the year I began studying German, these kids are capable of reading, translating, and presenting recipes about unfamiliar food in English and French. Currently, after years more of study and months spent in Austria, I speak/function at about their level.

I blame my education system for my complete lack of ability to function well in any language other than English. And I am deeply annoyed by the fact that these fourteen and fifteen year old students are just as capable as I am. It's also rather humbling, and not in a good way.

Friday, December 08, 2006


On MSNBC.com, there's a newsteam that went to Antarctica to compile a report on ice melt and global climate change based on interviews with scientists there. They're dispatches were really quite entertaining, and of course I find it all fascinating given how great of an impact even a relatively small amount of ice melt could cause.

United States
United Kingdom

One of the interesting questions they raise is the human affect on Antarctica, especially with the great increase in tourism. So, of course, I had to look it up. That's a LOT more people than I thought that are going to Antarctica each year.

Here's a description of what one can do on an Antarctic cruise (virtually the only way to go to Antarctica unless you're a legit scientist who works there or at the base)

"Itineraries vary, depending in part on the kind of vessel you choose. If you want to venture beyond the Antarctic Peninsula, for example, you'll probably wind up on an icebreaker. Cruises can be 1-3 weeks in length, stopping at various points of interest or bases on the peninsula, coast or islands. Activities on the various tours include viewing penguins, elephant seals and other polar animals, as well as ice walks and opportunities to visit research bases and meet the scientists who work there. Virtually every cruise offers the chance for spectacular views of icebergs and you may get to see an ice shelf or glacier calve into a new iceberg. Many icebergs are beautifully colored, showing green, blue or purple ice and crevasses where the sea water has hollowed them out or melted them into fantastic shapes."

This is a picture taken by someone who went on one of their cruises.

Here are some sample prices:
2006/2007 Sarpik Ittuk:
November 7, 17, 27:
Triple: $2995
Twin(Upper/Lower)Berths: $4495
Twin(Lower Berths): $4895
DedicatedSingle: $5995 December 7, 17, 27, January 6, 16, 26 and February 5, 15, 25:
Triple: $3995
Twin(Upper/Lower)Berths: $5495
Twin(Lower Berths): $5895
DedicatedSingle: $7495

I personally find it absolutely amazing that anyone could travel to Antarctica for a 12-day cruise for $3000 (plus excursion costs and airfare). And some people think buying a flat screen TV is better!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sadly, I do have to grub for money

Today was a happy day because I was paid. This means my rent is paid, I can buy yummy food (bratwurst mit senf und kraut, in this case the Austrian skinny style bratwurst with spicy mustard and non vinegary sauerkraut) for lunch tomorrow - since I don't plan on waking up earlier than lunch - and some bio-yogurt, cheese and roggenbrot. It is good to have money.

I find my thoughts increasingly occupied with my concerns about my finances. This is bad obviously for a number of reasons. First, I think it's exacerbating the latent ulcer that I'm slowly nursing into mondo proportions. Second, I would much rather be thinking about something else. Third, I can't change it anyway, so why am I stressing? Probably because stressing is something I do very well.

I will be pleased to be gainfully employed in no less than two years. I will get my teaching certificate as fast as possible. I believe I can finish all the classes in one year, do my student teaching in the fall, and be teaching somewhere within two years. Who knows where, and I have to say I don't particularly care where (okay, Saudi Arabia is right out); as long as I'm making a living wage and can pay $1000/month on my student loans, I'll be happy with my job.

It will be nice to re-enter the safe haven of university life for a short time, although I'm REALLY not excited about taking courses like ANTH 107 (Intro to Anthropology) and POSC 201 (American Politics) with a bunch of undergrads. Shoot me now.