05 December 2010

Crêpe-flipping Twins

Lee and I are twins. Lots of people, particularly one high school teacher, had trouble telling us apart and of course we took advantage of this to play some pranks. These mostly happened while we were both still at East but I did pretend to be her visiting from Carleton for fall break once. And it worked.

I noticed that Lee's Facebook profile picture was of her flipping a crêpe in the air, which is something I also enjoy doing (which proves that we really are twins!), so I thought it would be fun to replicate this photo as much as possible. My roommate and her fancy camera helped me create what I think is an impressive duplication.

Here are the two pictures. See if you can tell which one is of Lee and which is of me. (No cheating and looking on Facebook!)

04 December 2010

That's the Spirit!

The last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting. The holiday season is upon us, and strangely enough, I'm thinking more than ever of Switzerland. Most people away from home during the holidays are homesick, but it's like I'm homesick for a place that doesn't even exist, as my friend Grace so eloquently put it. Even though I've been back for almost a whole semester, I'm still not entirely used to being in the States. I still think in Celsius upon occasion and still have trouble remembering words, except that now all of my languages are worse off than they were, instead of just my English being worse.

I've had two Thanksgivings this year because Watkins Hall had our own before break. Experiencing an authentic Thanksgiving reminded me of the poor approximation of Thanksgiving I tried to create last year. First of all, it was about a month late because we had to find a weekend day when everyone would be home. (Remember, I had to go to school on Thanksgiving last year!) Just for fun, I've included pictures from my Swiss Thanksgiving last year and from my family's Kansas Thanksgiving this year.

Small turkey, small family.
Big turkey, big family.
Notice that my brother and I are wearing matching sweatshirts, because we are just that cool. Also, we think it's fun to confuse people about whether we are twins or not. Katie, a friend from Nevada studying in Chicago whom I met in Switzerland, came to stay with me in Lawrence for a few days and then at my family's house during Thanksgiving. My roommate Leslie from Texas also stayed with us. She's the one who made the rolls and folded the napkins.

We drove around to look at the Plaza lights and also stopped by that one house that always has all of those lights and decorations. It was early enough in the season that it wasn't very crowded so we had a good view. It was chilly, but it could have been worse.

Leslie from Texas thinks this is as cold as it's going to get (and is being loomed over by the others).
This week has been pretty relaxing after I finished presenting my physics paper and lab. This morning I spent an hour and a half ringing the bell for the Salvation Army in front of the JCPenney in Lawrence. It was a chilly job but I managed until my shift was over. I realized from doing this that the Salvation Army's stratagem is to make people feel guilty that they get to be inside of a warm store while the bell ringer has to stand outside in the cold. This is why people make donations; it's to make the bell ringer at least feel like there was a reason for them to stand outside in the first place. I mean, if people rang bells for the Salvation Army in the spring they wouldn't probably get any donations since the people inside the stores would rather be outside ringing a bell anyway.

So when I got back home, I was chilled to the bone and had to do something to warm myself up. I decided to make a special kind of tea that is especially prominent in Switzerland around the time of St. Nicolas and Christmas. It's called thé à la cannelle and consists of black tea brewed with cinnamon sticks and has honey mixed in. It's pretty much my favorite tea ever. This weekend, the holiday of St. Nicolas will be celebrated in Switzerland so I thought I would recognize it myself by making some of this tea!

Mmm...thé à la cannelle!
in a really cute mug that I found in the cabinet
After enjoying my tea (and finally warming up) I joined in on decorating Watkins for the holidays. We put up a tree, lots of garlands, a wreath, etc. I thought it looked really nice and hopefully the decorations will brighten our finals week a bit.

20 November 2010

Four Roomies and a Pseudo-Roomie

It's almost Kayla's birthday!


Seriously. This has been a long week. And now I'm done with that physics exam, so all I have to do this weekend is write my term paper. Ugh...

But I'm really excited because my friend Katie from Nevada who is going to college in Chicago is coming to visit tomorrow and coming home with me for Thanksgiving because she's too far from Nevada to go back for just a few days. And my roommate from Texas is coming with us for the same reason. So it'll be really fun to show them around Kansas City next week during the holiday.

Monday is another of my roommate's birthdays and we already started celebrating today by going shopping and then ordering pizza, playing Boggle, and eating the cupcakes another two of my roommates made.

If all this talk of roommates is confusing you, let me state it more clearly.

I have three official roommates, Hailey, Kayla and Leslie. And then we have two psuedo-roommates, Ramona and Kerra, who just hang out in our room a lot. That makes six of us, so there's never a dull moment.

18 November 2010

Hot / Cold

I live in a house that was built in the 1920s. Of course there have been some repairs done since then, but our heating system is still pretty old-fashioned. We have steam heat, which, once turned on for the season, cannot be turned off. And this is some intense heat. We "voted" to have the heat turned on a few days ago, when the 25th person out of the 49 that live here signed the petition.

I was cooking today around lunchtime and when I finished I was so warm from the combination of cooking and the radiators that I literally couldn't stay inside. So I left with nothing but my ID card to get back in and walked around for a while. Eventually I was starting to feel comfortably cool, so I went back and it felt like a sauna when I walked in the door. I guess some people like it this warm, but I don't. At least not yet. We'll see how it goes once the weather starts actually getting cold, i.e. snow.

Another special thing about Watkins scholarship hall is that our fire alarm goes off pretty frequently. This happened again tonight, for reasons unknown to me, but probably because of something burning in a kitchen. Determined not to lose time waiting outside for the all-clear, I grabbed my physics notes and book, tagged myself out, and went to the library to study for my test tomorrow.

I think the fact that these two items are what I took out of a presumably burning house (although fire alarms go off often enough that I didn't really expect a fire) is a sign that physics is taking over my life. Unfortunately this is all too true, at least until Monday when I turn in my term paper.

After that, I'll be home free.

17 November 2010

Practical Praktikum

The most exciting thing that happened today is that I had my interview for an exchange / internship program in Eutin, Germany that is offered through KU's German department. As I understand it, Lawrence and Eutin have many exchange programs, and this is one of them. It would involve doing an internship in Germany for six weeks in the summer. I wasn't sure whether I would be successful in my application because I'm a freshman and I think they are looking for juniors. But I am a year older than most freshman and I can already speak German, so that can't hurt. I'm not expecting to be able to do this this year, but I thought that I might as well give it a shot and see where it goes. If if doesn't work out, it's possible that I could try again in the future.

So I walked in to the interview not knowing whether it would be in English or in German, but the professor there greeted me in German so I just went with it. Even though it's not much of a problem to hold up a conversation and answer questions and explain my views in German, I can tell I have gotten worse since I returned. Use it or lose it, as they say. Hence my main reason for wanting to do this internship anyway, which is to use my German.

Since I think my roommates are some of the only people that actually are reading my blog at this point, I will throw in another shout-out to them. They often say I am too practical when I shoot down their great, yet impractical ideas (but only in the most friendly way, of course). It just so happens that the German word for internship is Praktikum. So if the people making selections for the internship could hear from my roommates, they would know that they should choose me for the Praktikum since I am so practical. Get it? Practical, Praktikum. Okay, I'll stop now.

So the other most exciting thing that happened today was that I am the proud new owner of a hat and gloves made of alpaca wool! From Bolivia! Another roommate shout-out: the four (sort of five) of us from 104 are all Bolivian-friendly and have alpaca items. If we had taken a picture of ourselves with our alpaca wool gear, I would have posted it. But alas....

And the last most exciting thing of the day is that I got free food from the honors symposium! The honors tutorial classes were supposed to present their projects at this, but my group didn't have to do a presentation because it's sort of impossible to present what it was we did all semester. This mostly involved standing in front of one or two works of art and making connections with other ideas for an hour and a half per week. At the beginning we were all a bit confused about this, but once everyone got to know each other we decided it could be fun. And it turns out that it is fun, but the ability to look at that kind of detail and make those connections is something that came from practicing, strangely enough. And it's not really a format that can be presented in three minutes. So we didn't present, but I did get some food!

16 November 2010

Lenk im Simmental

For my honors tutorial project I am considering the Thomas Cole painting In the Simmenthal from the Spencer Museum of Art, which happens to depict the general location of my first host uncle's house in Switzerland. I have actually been to the area so the painting was particularly interesting to me for that reason. Below is a sketch I did of it so I would have a nice black-and-white version to compare with this photo I took there:

Lenk im Simmental
Thomas Cole In the Simmenthal

It's such a beautiful area. I wish I could go back right now and go skiing, but unfortunately I still have to focus on school for another few weeks. Also, plane tickets to Europe are super expensive.

15 November 2010


You've just wasted another perfectly good hour listening to Car Talk.

And by listening to Car Talk, I mean designing a title image, color scheme, and layout for your blog.

And by you, I mean me.

Hooray! Now for some physics...there's nothing like a few thermodynamics problems to make you forget you ever wasted time designing a blog.

The only reason I wrote this was in order to procrastinate.

Also because I just finished reading through the recent posts on the blogs of two of my roommates. What an inspiration you are, my friends!

I've heard it said that when you are procrastinating from doing a particularly nasty task, it seems like you actually get a lot of things done--they just happen to be things that you don't really need to do, at least not yet. And certainly not as much as you need to do that particularly nasty task. For me, the nasty task is all of my school-related work this week. I have a math project, a paper and presentation for my honors tutorial, a term paper and presentation for physics, a physics test to prepare for, not to mention my regular physics homework (probably the most difficult assignment of the year, according to the professor).

Physics is particularly stressful this week because 25% of my grade will come from this exam and paper. But if I could just stop writing on this post, and doing all of those other sort of unnecessary tasks I have been occupying myself with, I might actually have a chance at success.