Sat Jan 4 16:05:44 CST 2003
I keep getting up so late these days that I only have a few hours of
daylight. Getting on a regular sleep schedule in the next three days
is almost pointless, as I'm getting on a plane travelling seven time
zones east on the seventh ... however, it's all psychological; all
habit. I like having daylight hours; having breakfast, lunch, and
dinner ... as it is, I've been having lunch, tea, dinner, and
dessert. Which is just as good, and perhaps even better, as this
way, I get to eat more cookies (no cookies for breakfast -- it's not
out of some maternal no-cookies-before-food instinct, but it
just doesn't feel right). But it does mean I end up staying up till
two, three, or four, reading and geeking --
much geeking. After three days of working at it, my new computer is
up. Keeping with whatever theme I (that is, Martin) began by naming
my now-dead hard drive orange
(this theme will continue; stay tuned!), I'm going with the Japanese
word for tangerine: mikan, also the name of the little Windoze
app that used to play little anthropomorphic oranges all over my
screen. It being orange, I was quite taken with it. Haven't found
something similar under Linux (well, xroach, but that's disgusting) --
and plus, I've grown more and more away from the GUI aesthetic in the
almost two years since I've been
running Linux. Not so much that I don't like the visual interface
(can see more at once; better size of text; and I'm not totally
devoid of aesthetics!), but I don't want extra things on my screen.
So, mikan is now my computer, and not just a component.
Linux mikan 2.4.18-bf2.4 #1 Son Apr 14 09:53:28 CEST 2002 i686
It took long enough to get it working! I've installed debian before, but not from scratch,
and I'd certainly never partitioned a hard drive or anything. But it
was high time that I make my computer my own, and not just something
Martin had set up for me. So, I did. To full functionality, with
the possible exception of gpg, printing, and sound (which I haven't
had a chance to test yet -- no printer/speakers with me here in WI).
And I'm proud of me.
In other news, much continues the same: tea, cookies, reading, as
mentioned above. Anna was here for New Year's, and we caught up with
a bunch of my old high-school crowd downtown. Revelry, the like.
Now it's the year I've been long slated to graduate ... I dig it.
But I've got to get psyched for a hard semester ... not before two
weeks and Switzerland, though!
Thu Jan 9 13:12:55 CET 2003
There's not much food in this apartment, which is at this point my
fault -- we went shopping last night, around the corner to the huge
department-cum-grocery store, and I was supposed to have picked
up what I wanted/needed to cook. I was circumspect, and ended up with
more staples than had been in the tiny kitchen, but not enough with
which to actually make anything. After five or ten minutes of
staring, wide-eyed and exhausted with travelling, at the newly-stocked
cupboards and refrigerator, I declared myself inept and still
jetlagged, and so he made his usual -- pasta and salad. Tried to
drink the bottle of Heuriger wine I'd brought back from a
grape-picking expedition in Vienna a couple years ago ... either it
had turned, or I just don't like it, but we didn't get that far.
So it follows that there's nothing much for lunch right now. I'm
eating a raspberry yogurt (himbeer - framboise - lampone, says
the trilingual container), but despite its small size and
non-complete-lunchedness, it's quite possibly the best yogurt I've
ever had. Score one more for Europe ... two, counting the multiple
Tho only point against Switzerland so far is the grey weather -- it's
total bewolkt out there, really cloudy and no sun. Snow
fluttering around. And my extremely brief encounters with the local
language so far leave me back in a state of paralysis, like I was when I got into Vienna,
encountering a strange dialect of a language I'd then just learned;
which now has been out of use for a year or so. Martin says even he,
the native German, has a hard time understanding the Swiss (though I'm
going to hazard a guess that he fares a little better than I have
been). It's so crazy and irrational, this linguistic -- and therefore
psychological -- paralysis, but it's happened to me before ... I want
to say it would happen to a lesser degree in cities where I spoke the
language, and that's likely true ... however, here, it's all but
absolute. All I would need would be a few weeks, or a month or two on
the outside, before I'd be comfortable ... but it would take that
long. I'm trying not to let it take over my perception of this place,
but it's hard to not feel as if everyone around you belongs to an
élite club ... I can do German! It's jst the new city in combination
with the dialect ... why oh why was I born American? Damn.
So, I'm eating Himbeer-Joghurt mit Rahm, and boiling a pot of
tea. Watching the trains go by outside his window. Internetless
(firewall problems, I'm guessing; and I don't want to hack into random
machines trying to divine the source of a problem I likely can't fix),
but I have books aplenty (theeeesis! argh), and I'll go shopping again
later for more food, reading more interesting German-French-Italian
titles of foods, and marvelling more at unique (better, in most cases)
packaging. (Milk in carboard boxes with tear-off spouts I'd all but
forgotten about; butter in 100g bars encased in paper; &c.)
Meanwhile, I'm glad to be here.
Tue Jan 14 09:20:47 CET 2003
Dale (the Brit, Martin's "English English tutor") told last night of a
friend whose travelogues read like restaurant reviews. Led by his
stomach, he sampled every variety of fish and chips he could get, and
narrated the tour from a gustatory standpoint. Not such a bad way to
structure a visit. In some way, I'm very conscious of the food here.
As I write this, I'm eating Knusper Schoko, müsli with
chocolate chunks. I've always steered away from breakfast cereal that
made your milk turn brown, but when it's Vollmilch, Swiss
müsli, and alpine chocolate, who am I to say no?
I have also been consuming with abandon all the gruyère and havarti I
can get my hands on.
Three bottles wine last night, between five of us total (I stopped
early). (Small gathering for dinner and then a movie on a projector
from the lab, plugged into a laptop.) Spanakopita that followed the
recipe, but was made with "cut-leaf" (i.e., lacerated and liquefied)
spinach, and instead of phyllo dough, I found croissant dough in
Migros, the supermarket down Hofwiesenstraße from the apartment.
Martin didn't know exactly what I meant, and I didn't know how to
interpret what he was describing was in the package ... but it turned
out amazingly well. Not the Greek original, per se, but a Swiss (?
certainly Austrian, with the fortifying thick pastry dough and
spinach) equivalent. Salad; brownies.
Two days ago, Sunday, Martin made me some form of Käsebrot --
bread with butter, tilsiter (Swiss cheese), and marmelade (not
marmelade; raspberry jam), before I bundled up into about five layers
and was driven to Flumserberg: a mountain in the Swiss Alps an hour or
so away from Zürich.
And I snowboarded. Pictures are forthcoming, as soon as I can
interface my camera with M's kernel here. And only half of them are
me wiping out! It was a beautiful days -- the only sun I've seen so
far, and it was shining on the alps, bright blue sky, bright white
snow, and only about -10 C. We drove up in the mid-morning, bought
more snowpants for M (I wore his old ones, over a pair of jeans, as
they're quite large -- the Swiss do not fuck around with winter gear,
I'm seeing!) and socks for me (the best socks I'll ever wear --
fitted, knee-high, and überthermal ... I've since been wearing them
around the apartment just because they feel so good). Martin put me
on a small incline to teach me how to balance on the front edge, back
edge, steer with my shoulders, move my weight ... more time on my ass
than anywhere there. Pasta for lunch in a restaurant where I still
can't understand Schweizer Deutsch; and we hit the actual slopes.
Martin was impressed that I didn't once fall off the T-bar lift,
though he was holding me ... and I can almost turn and carve.
Really not bad for a first day, I think, and I think M thinks, too. I
would need another day minimum, if not two, to really get the hang of
it (and that's not talking about getting good, mind you), but I was
too physically and mentally exhausted to even consider going on
Monday. I think I wish I had, in retrospect, but there was no way I
could subject myself to that kind of learning two days in a row...
vielleicht bin ich echt eine schwache Bohne. Some day when one or
both of us can afford it, we'll just go stay at a resort and do a full
week of snowboarding. I will certainly learn that way!
So now I've got two days left here, and they must be thesisful, or at
least reading-full, as I'm alone here in his apartment during the day
with no money and I think even no key. I have books to read, music to
listen to, food to eat ... and soon I'm going back to Swat. Oh, one
more semester. I like it, I know and I've said, but being here makes
me want to be in the real world, be in Zürich ... my own
apartment; my own kitchen; my own job ... all the accouterments of a
life. And I mean a stationary life, not schlepping from state
to state and continent to continent. But I have one more semester,
and so it goes -- at least for the next four and a half months.
I can do this. Thesis-ho!
Thu Jan 16 09:34:?? CET 2003
Flughafen Frankfurt am Main
I've barely slept, but that's not because of not being accustomed to
the waterbed (jetzt bin ich es sehr gewöhnt!), but rather going
to sleep after midnight, after the latest James Bond (I haven't seen
the earlier ones, and this one sucked), buying me a Dürrenmatt (Die
Physiker), and coming home through a darkened Zürich on
Straßenbahnen with bells you can step on and make ring -- and then
getting up less than four hours later to fold laundry, cry, pack, and
But this time, only three or so hours since I left Switzerland and
Martin (for who knows how long -- a conference in Tokyo -- and my
thesis -- might make spring break difficult), I feel good. Happy,
rather than ängstig, to be going where I'm going, and a comfort with
the process of transition. --Which is why I'm writing this now,
in the airport, not even waiting till I have a computer back -- this
state of mind in these circumstances is quite foreign to me, and I
want it to stay. This comfort starts with my German -- not great
production-wise, but not in a state of paralysis, either -- and quite fluent
comprehension (of Hoch Deutsch, that is!) -- enough to, without
preparation, buy a postcard, write it auf Deutsch, and sip at a
cappuccino in a pleasantly European-smoky airport café/bar here in
Frankfurt. Travelling light helps, but the good coffee and good
mindset help yet more.
--And it extends to wherever I'm going, physically, and meta-. I got
enough background reading done on my thesis to feel like I have a place
to start; this semester will be full but fun (as Swat always is); and
I'm feeling so calm about Zürich and one certain inhabitant thereof.
I've set up search profiles with online job nets. I've got a German
CV. And he's not going anywhere. We learn a little more about each
other each time 'round, edging closer to a meta-/physical equilibrium.
Es gefällt mir gut.
Side note: I must chop my hair off before I go snowboarding again. Or
sailing (for the first time). Or even dance, maybe ... hm, one P.E.
credit left -- maybe I should chop it now and stop trailing 2-foot-long
hairs around the Wohnung ...
Back to the Dürrenmatt. Which I'm understanding.
Mon Jan 20 20:47:54 EST 2003
I cut my hair! finally. Claire and I were driving to Genuardi's this
afternoon (to ogle cheeses and teas and assorted gourmet brownies),
and I said, maybe I should just do it now. If I were to go to
dance tonight (I didn't), I couldn't dance with my hair like this. It
was a pain in yoga this morning. And you could see Claire rubbing her
fingers together wickedly as she drove on and offered to cut it for me
-- finally, her hair would be longer than mine! For the first time
since freshman year, since which we've had this ongoing battle. Mine
just happens to grow twice as fast as any mortal's ought, that's all.
So, we cut it. After an appetizer of sushi (starving but we didn't
want to go to Sharples, and I wanted my hair off), I soaked my
head (she'd been waiting all night to say that!), and chopped in
layers. I bounced around the room with the removed weight. Now dry,
it's swishing around my ears and shoulders, and I like it a lot.
Still long -- more feminine, Gabe (H.) says -- but short enough
to wear down. Exactly what I wanted.
Back at Swarthmore, I'm ready to begin my work. Classes have started.
Three of them (architecture, theory, and the senior conference) are
just going to be one big senior CS major party. I'm really excited
about my thesis. Now if only my computer would stop crashing! (I
think it's the motherboard ... not the HD and not the memory, what
else can it be?!) Last semester, here I come.
Thu Jan 23 23:30:05 EST 2003
There was a blaze in the fireplace in Sharples today at lunch, taller
than I was at 11:30 when Ginnie and I got out of class and tromped
through the blistering cold down to the dining hall. We ski-logded it, sitting on the
hearth with our backs to the heat -- toasted, but better than cold.
Beethoven Seven in orchestra tonight. reminiscent of many things ...
well, one specific person, really. I love that second movement.
Thu Jan 30 17:31:29 EST 2003
This summer, I walked through the Penn Bookstore almost every day on
the way (to and) home from work. Not only was it directly along my
route, but it also cut a diagonal off a whole block, and -- most
importantly -- was ridiculously air-conditioned, something desperately
needed during the sweltering days when all Eve and Jenny and I could
do was lie around the apartment half-naked dreaming of fresh fruit and
ice-pops that turned our tongues purple, green, and orange.
Because of the heat, the bookstore had a section right in the middle
aisle (of course the most direct path through the store) of books on
smoothies. (I was reminded of this today in Senior Conference,
talking about "smoothing algorithms" [for n-gram models], when Mark
asked, smoothie algorithms? Mmm ...) I must have read half of
them. I became inspired and made many smoothies (fewer than I should
have -- they took work, and the blender in these Penn girls' apartment
had clearly never seen anything thicker than mixed drinks -- and
certainly not the hummus I once subjected it to), the base recipe for
which I largely forget, but which went something like this:
- Use a banana, unless you hate them -- the flavor goes well with
almost any other fruit you're going to put it, and -- more
importantly -- does wonders for the texture.
- Yogurt is your next staple -- vanilla for smoothies, though if
you have plain on hand because you were eating müsli or granola
with it, just add sugar. Maybe a cup of yogurt?
- More fruit. Buy out the fresh strawberry section.
- Orange juice. A kind of weird ingredient, especially if you
were envisioning a more homogeneous smoothie, but again, it
holds flavors together well, and combines well. A half cup?
I can't remember the exact proportions -- which were important -- but
a little experimentation in warmer weather should yield something
excellent. And I mean above-freezing weather -- I just bought myself
a hat, which I've been meaning to do for a while, at one of those
sales outside of the bookstore. Wool, of course, so I'm allergic to
it -- but how could I not?
- I'm freezing;
- orange and brown; and
So between that plus my new Swatch that just came yesterday -- sleek,
Swiss, and it tells time! -- and my haircut,
I'm feeling quite stylish. Or at least accessorized.
Also this summer, also on my path to and from work (mostly to for this
one) I ate many doughnuts. Dunkin' ones, to be specific -- double
chocolate ones -- chocolate, with a chocolate glaze. Good on their
own; amazing with a cup of
darjeeling. I've been craving them recently -- and there are
several within a five-minutes' drive ... but Claire and I have found
recipe to end all scone recipes, and they suppress most of that
urge. Flaky and crumbly like the huge flakes of snow that were
falling yesterday; the perfect scone. And we learned what currants
all this ©nori heikkinen, January 2003