Monday, December 24, 2007

Embracing my Polish Roots

While at the University of Warwick (after Liverpool) I met some Polish mathematicians who explained to me how I must change my last name to return to the Polish roots. Of course I can't remember exactly what was supposed to happen, but it was something about changing the second "b" and the "h" to unknown letters, and thus it really would translate to "little apple."

During our first night in Berlin, we came upon this shop. Sadly it wasn't open, but perhaps later we can visit Pigasus Polish Art Gallery.
As you might guess it was the pigs that first caught my eyes. Such a pleasant surprise to see so many pigs that are not on a window display of a butcher.

Just in case you forgot... we are in Germany

Our first night in Berlin we spent listening to some wonderful late 80s-early 90s music. We then realized that most of the other people in the bar probably were not born when these songs were first popular. It was almost as awesome as the above portrait.

Christmas in Berlin - Berlin Weihnachtmarkts

We are spending Christmas in the most wonderful German city of Berlin. We arrived on Sunday and then with Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day, not as many places are open, but we are having a wonderful time. We've seen the Berlin Weihnachtsmarkts (similar to those in Köln) and for the first time tried the German marzipan speciality of potatoes (sadly there are no marzipan sausages to go with them).

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I'm a little UK math tour presently. I spent a few days in Liverpool, giving a talk and visiting with mathematicians there. As usual, the only pictures I took were of the city and not the math. I was not up on my Beatles history at all, and it wasn't until I got off the plane and entered the Liverpool John Lennon Airport and saw the murals did I learn of Liverpool's most famous band. During my time in the city there was absolutely no way I could forget it was "Home of the Beatles." Instead of visiting the Beatles Museum in my free time, I checked out the Tate Liverpool, housed in the beautiful new Albert Docks. Liverpool is one of the European Capitals of Culture for 2008, which as far as I can tell, means it gets a bunch of new buildings and cool exhibitions, like the showcase of the finalists for the Turner Prize at the Tate Liverpool. I'm slowly acclimating myself to the British vocabulary and soon may only respond to the name "Love."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Recently Played: Otis Redding

Not to turn things too morbid here, after that Stockhausen post, but I think it's worth mentioning that yesterday (as in Monday) marked forty years since Otis Redding's premature death. It seems that with every soul legend's death comes some great mystery, but in this case I tend to think - or, maybe, choose to think - that the mystery is mostly hype. At the very least, the circumstances of his death and questions associated with it are, to me, far less interesting than the pop music F.A.Q., What would Otis have recorded after "Dock of the Bay"? A whole lot of "who knows," that. But sticking to what we do know, please enjoy a couple early Otis slices:

Otis Redding - These Arms of Mine (1964)
Otis Redding - Come To Me (1965)

May lightning strike me if I'm mistaken, but I believe "These Arms of Mine" was his first solo track. I couldn't swear that this version, taken from his debut album Pain In My Heart, is the original version but, I dunno, do me a favor and just pretend....

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Weihnachtsmarkt Zwei

As promised, a second installment of Kölner Weihnachtsmarkt - this time the one in Heumarkt. Here we find me in front of some previously mentioned chocolate heart cookies Gruß vom Kölner Weihnachtsmarkt (Greetings from Cologne's Christmas market). This was my first time attending the Heumarkt market (though Chris had visited it last week).

Heumarkt's Weihnachtmarkt has a few specialities, like an ice skating rink and Opa's Kneipe (Oma and Opa are German for Grandma and Grandpa, but it is also what my sisters and I have always called our dad's parents, so I think of them every time we see cards or gifts for Oma and Opa).
Also for sale is chocolate.... including chocolate bottles of kölsch!?!
Similar to the others were the mobs of people (especially since it was Saturday). But we did get to enjoy some delicious Belgian waffles and some warm Glühwein.

This is Why I'm Hot

We've tried to describe the hair and clothes of the young and not so young men here. A busy Schildergasse provided some opportunity to inconspicuously take some pics, however they still don't quite show it all. Yes, we see the awesomely styled hair, the writing and embroidery work on the rear. But what you really can't make out in the second photo, is that this gentleman's jeans were made to look like they were sagging, ie the real waist-band was on his waist, and another one was sewn a few centimeters down. That and the fact that his skin had a fantastic orange hue from many trips to the solarium. Hot!

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)

Köln's own Karlheinz Stockhausen, I just learned, has passed away. Stockhausen was born just outside of Köln, he studied at the Universität zu Köln (like Kelly), and he created and in 1956 debuted one of the most famous pieces of early electronic music here in Köln, which you can enjoy below.

Karlheinz Stockhausen - Gesang Der Jünglinge (1955)

Interestingly, Stockhausen's death fell on the same day of the year as Mozart's - which I know only because my German teacher, Herr Kunert, burned a candle in class Wednesday in Mozart's honor. I've discussed Stockhausen with him once before, and let's just say I'd bet against next year's candle being shared with he of the Helikopter Streichquartet.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Christmas season is in full swing here in Köln. The main attraction being the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). There are at least five large markets in the city for us to visit (above is the Weihnachtsmarkt on the Dom), as well as one that we've been to in Bonn. Quite a different shopping experience than shall we say Pacific Place. For one, there is no chance of hearing yet another rendition of Santa Baby.
For over a week we could see construction workers assembling the booths (each looking like a little cabin). Now they are filled with vendors selling everything from cute handmade ornaments to gigantic chocolate heart cookies with frosting messages like "ich liebe dich" (which girls wear proudly around their necks like they would carry a gigantic stuffed animal prize that their boyfriend won for them playing some funny game..... sad to say Chris has yet to give one to me). The above picture is what I'm talking about (just don't look too close because you will see that it is from a Weihnachtsmarkt in a different city and that in fact it was a picture I found doing a google image search).

One might wonder how you can spend hours outdoors visiting these booths. Well, Germans have an answer for that - Glühwein. Each market has multiple places where you can buy the special mulled wine, and because it is Germany, you pay a hefty deposit for the mug, but then you can take it with you as you shop. The mugs too are quite cute, and so far the mug is really the only difference I can tell between different stands offerings. Don't worry, there is still also the kölsch option (which we've even seen in seasonal glasses).
I had been waiting to post this until I got some better shots of the hubub (especially at night), but in classic Kelly form, when I tried to do this, the red "low battery" light on my camera finally decided to change to "no battery" and hence no documentation could be made. Stay tuned though.....