Sunday, April 15, 2018

Leave it to German to be gross

The German language is very descriptive and the culture is also one that is rather direct. As a result, this can lead to what can be a bit uncomfortable for those from a less direct culture.

Case in point? Take a gander at this medication.

English uses the euphemism "cold sores." German cuts straight to the chase. This is a medication for "lip herpes" (Lippenherpes).

Friday, March 30, 2018

Not a cake to be eaten

New German word of the day: Klostein, which comes across as a bit funny because it means "toilet stone." The English name for this is a "urinal cake," which is rather disgusting if you think of it, so let's go with Klostein instead

Monday, March 26, 2018

Too much Moo time

Oops, I was getting too used to being around Moo all the time. My friend J stopped by and we were getting ready to leave for dinner. He was in the kitchen to pick up some bags.

Moo was trying to run into the kitchen so I yelled at him, "don't even think about it!"

J said, "what? What did I do wrong?"

Me: "What are you talking about? Oh, sorry! I was talking to the cat."

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A frighteningly good deed

I wanted to do some good and clean up the neighborhood so I picked up some trash. I was confused why people kept skirting me until I realized that they were uncomfortable with the broken bottle I was carrying. For the record, I did not have aggressive body language; if anything, I was happy, because I was on my way for some ice cream!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

15 years in...

With the turn of the new year, a crazy realization set in: I've been working in my field as a professional for fifteen years. Whoa! I feel old. Or should I say experienced?

People usually assume that my profession is staid and boring. It's not, and can be full of surprisingly bizarre situations.

For example, no one in grad school told me that I would have to write an email to a vendor as such:

"We received a box of [products you sent us] in very damaged condition; the post office had taped it back together and some [products] inside were damaged. We also believe that some are missing but unfortunately can't tell because the packing slip is gone too.

Strangely enough, there were cans of blood sausage, black licorice, and Hello Kitty pencils in the box! That is totally bizarre and I don't imagine that you sent us them; our guess is that someone else's box fell apart and they didn't know where to put the food items so they included them in the wrapped-up box of our items. So, I am sending you the mailing label on the box. Could you please provide us the packing slip for this box so we can tell you what was missing?"

Thursday, January 25, 2018

More disconcerting language learning exercises

It sometimes appears that publishers of language learning materials can't think of some useful example sentences for students to practice. Sometimes the examples they come up with can be downright disturbing, such as talking about a man who follows women, as I wrote about here.

I haven't used language learning materials geared toward the basic consumer market in some time (think Berlitz, Pimsleur, etc.); I much more prefer the more academic approach. However, I recently needed to test the software from one of the big guys in the world of language learning.

Cue the insane example of a sentence to learn, and the corresponding picture:

"The man is reading a burning newspaper."

I had so, so many questions after seeing this, including:

1. Why the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is this man reading a burning newspaper?!
2. Is this some sort of social commentary on the dangers of censorship in the media?
3. Why is he not perturbed that his newspaper is burning?
4. Why does he appear to be standing in the middle of a lane of traffic?!
5. Is his hand not getting burned by the fire?
6. When am I going to say, in German, that a person is reading a burning newspaper?
(From my cultural observations from living here, it doesn't seem that people read burning newspapers.)
7. Why would the course designers think this is a useful phrase to learn?
8. (From my experience in marketing/stock photos): Did they actually do a photoshoot where the man had to hold a burning newspaper? How'd they get him to agree? What kind of liability insurance did they need for this? Or was the fire photoshopped in?

The entire diatribe above is why I'm not a major fan of the "quick and easy" (not) learning without a teacher. A lot of time the CDs or software teach utter nonsense.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mail and the machines of the roadside

On today's episode of Roadside Candy Machines, may I take you to Sippersfeld, for no other reason than randomness?

You can mail a letter in the yellow box, buy a weird bead bracelet or mini soccer ball, or purchase some disgusting looking Bubble King with some sort of weird...growth on the machine containing it.

Num num.