Hi! I'm forty2. In the case of an emergency, there are lifepods scattered around on most of the decks of this ship. I hope you enjoy your stay here on Starship Forty2. I'm a fan of Star Trek in most of its forms, and, as indicated by my name, I'm also a fan of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Most of the stuff here relates to those topics, though I hope to add some new and exciting stuff in the future!
Gospels in Concert
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (06/17/2003)

Well, it's now been two weeks to the day since the big choir concert that I know I've mentioned before. For the entire two weeks, I've been wanting to write something about my experience, to let you know how things went, and, of course, to entertain you a little. But as you can see, I haven't done that until now (which means I've probably forgotten a couple of things, but certainly not anything very important). For some reason this is the most difficult story I've written so far, though the weekend was absolutely wonderful.

Für die Deutschen, die das lesen, soll ich zuerst sagen, dass ich es für meine Website geschrieben habe. Die Website ist so was wie ein Tagesbuch im Internet, das meine Freunden zu Hause lesen können, um zu sehen, wie es mir in Deutschland geht. Deswegen habe ich auf Englisch geschrieben. Hoffentlich wäre das kein Problem. Wenn ihr schon wisst, was passiert ist, kann der erste Teil vielleicht auch ein bisschen langweilig sein :o).

Two Quickies
Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (06/09/2003)

Here's two quick entries from the "Huh??" category. First is
this one from amazon.com's shipping and delivery estimates page.

Um, who actually needs that graphic? Am I supposed to believe that anyone who might actually not have gotten the concept on their own was actually capable of placing the order in the first place?

Here's the other one, and I'm telling you, I don't know that I can even come up with something sarcastically funny to say about this one. I mean, it's just plain absurd. A patent on the wheel?? What's going on in the Patent Office? I mean, talk about prior art!

Cool TV news
Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (06/09/2003)

Ok, maybe this isn't news to those of you still in the US, but I just found out and it's pretty cool in my opinion. Click here.

How cool is that?

More Photos
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (06/09/2003)

I've added several more photos (15 or so) to the photolog. Go on over there to check them out (complete with comments). Of course, previews are on this page.

On another note, I'm planning to post my writings about the choir trip to Göttingen last weekend at some point. It's taking me a while to finish it, though, because it was a long and rather eventful trip. Not to worry, you'll have it soon and you'll enjoy it :o).

Too bad no one really cares...
Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (05/20/2003)

So, it looks like some moron got his IT stolen. You can also have a look at the police report.

Surely you remember the big craze two or three years ago, when info started leaking out about the "fantastic new thing" that was going to "completely change the way cities are designed" but subsequently utterly failed to impress anyone except the people at the post office and various other people who have demonstrably too much money? (Oh, but don't worry about those stamp prices, the postal service is getting a discount....of some sort.) No doubt you'll also remember how we all called it the IT, then Ginger, and we were convinced it was going to actually mean something. But when it came out, we had to call it the Segway Human Transporter, which is just a synonym for "fancy scooter with a gyroscope and no readily obvious reason why someone should want to use one when they're perfectly capable of walking as fast or riding a cheaper bike even faster." Oh, and don't forget the part where it's only available for purchase from amazon.com. What's that all about?

Two extra points if you noticed that the names in the two links are different. Two more points if you noticed that, while the people who posted the police report made sure we couldn't get the dude's telephone number, anyone who cares to have a look now knows exactly where he lives. But the big bonus goes to the people who noticed that the word "unique" in the phrase "unique two wheeled walking machine" was put in as an afterthought. As though the guy was standing there telling the cops "But I'm special! I'm the only one in town who has one! It's unique, I tell you! Put that in there! Put in there that it's unique."

I wonder if anyone other than this guy (and the people who spent in excess of $100,000 each for the "official" first three ever) are actually interested in these things. I believe this quote from slashdot sums it up pretty nicely: "Here it is! Right where I left it, in the pile of stupid, overhyped inventions!". This particular one was probably stolen by a band of this guy's neighbors who'd gotten sick of him riding pretentiously around town on the thing. I mean, the IT.

I don't get England.
Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (05/14/2003)

Ever wonder or think about what sort of things get discussed in the British House of Lords? No? Unsurprising. I, on the other hand, have, as I've been told it's really rather amusing. For instance, one of the members, a Baroness, has the last name "Strange."

Interestingly enough, though, this has nothing to do with my actual poing, which was, you'll recall, what they actually talk about. Continue reading for a short exerpt. Maybe you'll enjoy it as much as I did.

Yep, I'm here
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (05/14/2003)

I think it's a pretty strong sign you're in Germany when they're giving away free beer in the student cafeteria (yes, I know the website's in German. I couldn't quickly find an English equivalent.) It was pretty good, too.

Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (05/13/2003)

This is stupid. American money should be green. None of this silly European "money should be colorful" nonsense! Yes, I realize it's still mostly green, but in by opinion, this is barely money. Here's a guy who agrees with me, but sadly he uses the word "icky" in his article, which neatly destroys any credibility he may previously have had.

On an unrelated note, this is just plain funny. Oh, come on, it is! I'm going to make a few comments now in the "Read More" section, but I want you to read the article first. Yes, yes, I know, you'd rather hear my comments first. Well, sorry. Read the article. Ready? Ok.

Posted by zb in Odds and Ends (05/05/2003)

So, apparently there's a town near Buffalo, NY that's called Hamburg. I didn't know this. (Astute readers might mention at this point that there's also one in Germany. I wonder if the following has also happened to them.) It's been called Hamburg for a long time, since 1812. But now, according to the couple-of-weeks-old article I'm going to link to at the end of this little rant, A Particular Group Of People want that to change.

They're prepared to make the city an offer, too. They're going to offer $15,000. Or, stated more correctly, the equivalent of $15,000. To the city's schools. In non-meat patties. Which they seem to be under the impression that the students in the city's schools would enjoy eating. And all this, because they don't like the name. So, what would they prefer the city to be called, you ask? Veggieburg, of course! According to Joe Haptas, a spokesman for The Group, "the town's name conjures up visions of unhealthy patties of ground-up dead cows." Thankfully, Hamburg officially declined.

But, just when you thought you'd heard something incredibly odd, I'm going to tell you that something really incredibly odd happened several years ago.

Now, any of you who have traveled at all in upstate New York, particularly in the Hudson Valley, have noticed that a lot of place names there end in the word "kill." There's a perfectly logical explanation for this, too. It's Dutch for "stream." The area was settled by Dutch. See? It makes sense.

Well, the small Hudson Valley town of Fishkill received way back in 1996 a request, from the same Particular Group Of People, to change its name to Fishsave, because the original name "conjured up violent imagery of dead fish." I, on the other hand, feel the Particular Group should change its name to Pathetic Whiners.

So, who's responsible for all of this nonsense? Go on, take a guess. You're probably right. I'd just like someone to tell me where all of their vegetables magically appear from.


New Weblog
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (05/05/2003)

I seem to really be getting into this weblog thing, so I've gone and created Yet Another Blog for the random things I feel like sharing that are completely unrelated to my being in Germany. It's called (for now) "Odds and Ends" and it'll be located at http://www.forty2.com/odds/. Enjoy!

Jena Trip
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (05/01/2003)

So, I've decided it's finally time to write about last week's trip to East Germany. It's going to be a long one, so get ready to read a whole lot.

The day got kicked off when I got up at around 7:30. I needed to be at Universitätsplatz (which is where the student center is) at 8:30; that's when the bus was scheduled to leave. I was among the first to arrive, as I was worried about making sure I was on time, and I wanted to go up to the center first to check my mailbox. (I didn't have any mail.) We ended up leaving Heidelberg around 9:00, after stopping to pick up Amy, who'd thought we were supposed to be leaving at noon.

Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/28/2003)

In other news, I now have a roommate (this is news to me). I just heard him open the front door. His name's Edgar (he said to call him Eddie, though). I just had a bit of a short conversation with him. He wanted to know if he could use the cabinets, refrigerator, etc (I think I'd have just done it, myself, but it's nice that he asked).

Lots of New Stuff!
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/28/2003)

So, there's a whole lot of new stuff I have to post here, when I get the time.

To start off, I went to the gospel choir rehearsal last night, which went well. Very well. There were only five other people there (the choir is small, but there were a couple of people missing, I'm told) and they just let me jump right in. They haven't had a rehearsal for almost two months, because of semester break, so yesterday was a sort of "let's try and remember the songs" meeting. I also started learning them, and actually, I already knew I think three of them from my time in the Touring Choir. For one of them, the director (and piano player and bass. Yes, the bass) asked me if I knew it already, and when I said yes, he said "I thought you must. You kept singing this part correctly." The practice started around 7:30, and I'm not entirely sure how long it actually lasted (probably until 10:00) because apparently they have a tradition of going out to a pub afterwards. Of course I couldn't say no, so I didn't get home until about 12:10 or so :o). It was a great night, and I'm incredibly happy and excited that I get to sing again for a couple of months. It's going to be wonderful. Apparently they've only been singing together since December, and their first big concert is going to be at the end of May in Göttingen (which I may well have spelled wrong) with two other choirs. There's also going to be a big concert here in Heidelberg at some point in October. It's too bad I won't be around for that one :o(.

On a completely unrelated and pointless note, I've recently discovered that what I find to be the best brand of dairy products I've tried here yet (and I've tried a lot. They do this rather gross thing where they super-pasteurize the milk or something so you don't have to keep it in the refrigerator and it lasts like 3 weeks. It tastes like crap, so you have to find a brand of "Frischmilch" (fresh milk) so it's actually drinkable) also makes very good strawberry yogurt. Yum :o)

Maybe later today or tomorrow you'll get an account of the Jena trip, or maybe even my first day of classes. You never know! You might even get more pictures! Anything's possible...

A bit of travel
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/16/2003)

This morning began when I woke up to my alarm clock at 5:35a. You might very well be wondering what on Earth I was doing up so early, even though I'm supposedly on vacation. Well, I had somewhere to go. Specifically I was going to the Hauptbahnhof (train station). I had a train to catch: I needed to be in Mannheim by 7:39.

Great things are afoot!
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/14/2003)

I'll say more either tomorrow or the next day.

Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/08/2003)

bestanden -- past participle of bestehen, meaning, in this context, to pass. Which is to say, I found out at about 2:30 this afternoon (8:30am in the Eastern time zone) that I passed the DSH exam. I don't even have to take an oral exam. This means it will officially be easy for me to take any classes I want to this semester. I guess that means I should put some effort into deciding which classes I'm going to take sometime soon :o)

Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/06/2003)

I've uploaded a lot (31, if my count is correct) of pictures to a new weblog. It's located at http://www.forty2.com/de/pics, so be sure to look through them and let me know your opinions in the comments section there! I'm going to also be adding links to the appropriate entries in this log soon. For now, the five most recent entries are displayed in the side panel of the index page, as well as a link (under "(photolog)") to the entire weblog.

München, days 2 and 3
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/05/2003)

When I left off last time (almost a week ago!) I'd just finished tellling the story of my first day in Munich. The second day was really quite a bit less eventful, but I'll do my best to keep you entertained. I'm also going to write about day three in this entry, instead of giving its own entry, since it was cut short by having to catch a train home.

The big test day
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/05/2003)

started with me waking up at around 6:30 (my alarm was set for 7:00). I got up, got ready to go, and went to the student center (most of us were meeting there at 8:15) We were supposed to arrive at the test building at 8:30, and we were going to walk over there together. We walked over, and through the door,

Die deutsche Sprachprüfung für den Hochschulzugang ausländischer Studienbewerber,
Posted by zb in Semester in Germany (04/03/2003)

or as we usually refer to it, the DSH, is tomorrow. This is the language exam I have to take to be able to take classes at the actual Uni (well, I guess it's not 100% necessary, I think we can get around it somehow, but it would be hard). This is a standardized test that will last somewhere around 4 or 4.5 hours. If I pass, I'll get a certificate that says I'm certified capable of speaking German.

I think I'm ready for it. If my score is borderline, I'll have to take an oral exam on Tuesday afternoon. The kicker is, I won't know until Tuesday morning whether or not I passed. They say, though, that the graders of the test tend to give students in the program I'm in a much easier grading, because they know how good our preparation course is. I'll tell you tomorrow how I think I did. Wish me luck!

Oh, btw, I'll write another entry about Munich either tomorrow or Saturday. I didn't forget! And I'm going to put up some pictures, too. I have a couple of very nice time-lapse exposures that I'm anxious to share with you guys.