Archive for the ‘Germany’ Category


Every morning I try to get out early and wander on foot in different directions. I’m trying to learn my way around the area, plus I prefer sunrise to sunset for picture taking. Since I’m an early riser, this works out better for me.


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Amerika, ich komme! 6000 Kilometer will Bernd Barthel bei seiner Amerika-Durchquerung mit seinem Fahrrad erfahren.

Amerika, ich komme! 6000 Kilometer will Bernd Barthel bei seiner Amerika-Durchquerung mit seinem Fahrrad "erfahren".

I’m coming, America!

Bernd Barthel is a retired school teacher from Hassfurt, Germany. Hassfurt is right next to Knetzgau, the little town where we will be retiring to soon. Mr. Barthel is planning a cross-country bicycle ride from California to New York this summer. Gerda met a young niece of his when they shared a hospital room in Hassfurt a few years back. When we read about his planned trip in the Hassfurter Tagblatt recently, we thought we might invite Mr. Barthel to stop by if he was passing through the area. So she looked up the name in the phone book and called Germany this morning. She ended up speaking with another niece, whose mother knows Gerda from the time she was in the hospital with the younger niece. This lady was probably pretty surprised to get a call from America, offering help for her uncle’s road trip before he even gets underway. But it is a small world, at least in some respects. I rode a motorcycle across the country once years ago, and that wasn’t easy. I don’t think I would make it on a bicycle, but this fellow has made other long-distance tours in Europe so he knows what it’s like. 

I don’t know yet what route Mr. Barthel is planning to take in this 6000 kilometer journey, but if he’s planning on crossing the Appalachians, Cumberland Gap is just down the road from here. Daniel Boone found this a convienient path across the mountains. Maybe is still is. We’ll see.

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The Bild Lilli Doll

The Bild Lilli Doll


Barbie is a fashion doll and American icon who turned 50 this month, but her heritage is German. You could even say Barbie’s mother was German.

In the beginning Lilli was a German cartoon character, created by Reinhard Beuthien for the tabloid Bild-Zeitung in Hamburg, Germany to fill space in the paper. In 1953 the Bild-Zeitung decided to market a Lilli doll and contacted Max Weissbrodt from the toy company O&M Hausser in Neustadt/Coburg, Germany. Following Beuthien’s drawings Weissbrodt designed the prototype of the doll which was on sale from 1955 to 1964.

Ruth Handler’s husband, Elliott Handler, and his business partner, Harold “Matt” Matson, had formed a small company to manufacture picture frames, calling it “Mattel” by combining part of their names (“Matt” and “Elliot”). Ruth was on vacation in Europe, where she saw the “Bild Lilli” on sale in a Swiss store. She had wanted just such a doll for her daughter Babara, and bought three of them. Barbara got one, and the others went back to Mattel. The rest, as they say, is history. 

As a cartoon character, Lilly had attitude and was popular with adults. In one cartoon, a policeman told her that the two-piece swimsuit she was wearing was illegal, to which she replied “What piece should I remove?” Can you imagine Barbie saying that?

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My first experience with this Bavarian “liquid bread” was in 1973 and involved a late night trip to the Bahnhof with my buddy Reginald, six half-litre bottles of Salvator doppelbock, and a crippling hangover.

Bock is a strong lager which has its origins in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck, Germany. Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Roman Catholic monks in Germany. During the spring religious season of Lent, monks were required to fast. High-gravity Bock beers are higher in food energy and nutrients than lighter lagers, thus providing sustenance during this period. 


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March 1: Independence Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992); Saint David’s Day in Wales; Mărţişor in Romania and Moldova; Martenitsa inBulgaria

  • 1562 – The French Wars of Religion began with a massacre of Huguenots by Catholics in Wassy, France.
  • 1781 – The Articles of Confederation, the first governingconstitution of the United States, was ratified, legally uniting what were originally several sovereign and independent states into a new sovereign federation.
  • 1872 – Yellowstone National Park, located primarily in the U.S. state ofWyoming, one of the first national parks in the world, was established.
  • 1896 – Ethiopia won the decisive Battle of Adwa over Italy, ending the First Italo-Abyssinian War.
  • 1975 – Brian D. Kilgore and Gerda Hannelore Else Denninger (pictured) were married in Schweinfurt, Germany.2007-09-10-004

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Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

The newly appointed German Minister for Economics and Technology has one of the longest names I’ve ever seen. He only uses Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, which is enough. His family history is aristocratic, but he seems like an ordinary type. He is pro-America, something I expect we will see more of as times goes on. And he is friends with Tom Cruise. Well, no one is perfect. 

What’s in a name? A lot, in this case.

Karl – from Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus, Karl the Great, Charles the Great), a king of the Franks and of the Lombards and of Rome.

Theodore – comes from the Greek name Θεόδωρος (Theodōros) meaning “gift of God.”

Maria – usually a female name, but is sometimes used as a male middle name in many Central European countries where it signified patronage of theVirgin Mary.

Nicholas – Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and is often called upon by mariners who are in danger of drowning or being shipwrecked.

Johann – is the Germanized form of the originally Hebrew language name “Yohanan”(meaning “God is merciful”). 

Jacob – in the Hebrew Bible means deceiver.

Philipp – is a given name, derived from the Greek Philippos (Φίλιππος), meaning “lover of horses” or “friend of horses”. 

Wilhelm – William is from the Norman language (although Norman French was Latin-based and the proper name is Germanic) and is a cognate from the German Wilhelm, and of Germanic origin: wil = “will or desire”; helm;”helmet, protection.

Franz – German version of Francis, a French, English and Scottish first name and a surname ultimately descended from the Latin name Franciscus, the name of Francis of Assisi.

Joseph – a name originating from Hebrew, recorded in the Hebrew Bible, as יוֹסֵף, Standard Hebrew Yosef, Tiberian Hebrew and AramaicYôsēp̄. In Arabic, including in the Qur’an, the name is spelled يوسف or Yūsuf. The name can be translated from Hebrew as signifying “The Lordwill increase/add”. 

Sylvester – means “wooded”, from the root sylvania meaning “forest land” in Latin. (more…)

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Police say the car, a Skoda Octavia, flew some 30 meters (98 feet) before landing in the roof seven meters (23 feet) off the ground.

If you are going to wreck, you might as well do it right. Police are awaiting tests to see if alcohol was involved. My guess is it was probably a factor, along with luck. If the church roof hadn’t caught the car, the landing might have been a little rougher.

Police on Monday were trying to figure out exactly how a 23-year-old driver in a town near Chemnitz managed to crash his car into a church roof seven meters off the ground.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

polymath (Greek polymathēs, πολυμαθής, “having learned much”) is a person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. In less formal terms, a polymath (or polymathic person) may simply refer to someone who is very knowledgeable. Most ancient scientists were polymaths by today’s standards. 

 410px-hildegard2Saint Hildegard was a German abbess, author, counselor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist, poet,visionary and composer. I guess that makes her a polymath. As an herbalist, she was fond of spelt. This is a grain closely related to wheat but considererd healthier. I use spelt flour in my bread. I suppose it’s healthy, I just like the taste. Hildegard’s parents donated her to the church. Things were different back then.

Leonardo di Vinci was a polymath, Albert Einstein wasn’t. This illustrates the difference between a genius and a jack of all trades, so to speak.

I never met any of these people. I’m not that old. Well, except for Einstein, but I was only three when he died and I probably wouldn’t remember him anyway. But I do know a polymath.

Wayne was an infantryman in Vietnam. He never mentioned it, but I imagine this made him very knowledgeable on things like keeping your feet dry and your head down. He was also a homebuilder and cabinett maker. This made him very knowlegeble in business, as well as in practical trades like plumbing and carpentry. Wayne is an especially knowledgeble (and still licensed, I believe) electrician, who wired his new house with the care and joy of an artist. He was a shop teacher for many years, and half the people I know here remember him from the classroom well and fondly. Wayne is also a musician who plays guitar and sings in a local bluegrass band. He and wife have raised two daughters, and that I imagine will make a man knowledgeable. Wayne enjoys a cold beer on occasion, and a good Scotch, too. And he knows how to catch a fish.

Wayne is a blue-collar polymath.

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bush460I am not a big fan of President George W. Bush, and I don’t understand German politics well enough to form an opinion on Chancellor Angela Merkel.  But I do wonder which of the two is more realistic in their policy on climate control.   

In a speech at the White House on April 16th, 2008, President Bush discussed climate change.  As usual, he was derided for his remarks whe he said –

Climate change involves complicated science and generates vigorous debate. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change on our environment. Many are concerned about the effect of climate change policies on our economy. I share these concerns, and I believe they can be sensibly reconciled.

In an  article in the mass-circulation tabloid Bild, Merkel said that she will not approve any European Union climate rules “that endanger jobs or investments in Germany.”

I agree with Bush – climate change is complicated science.  And I believe Merkel when she says she opposes climate rules which would hurt the German economy.  After all, there will be elections next year.  Merkel is a scientist with a degree in physics from a good university.  Bush, by any stretch of the imagination, is not a scientist.  But both are politicians.  Bush has been elected as President twice, while Merkel heads a coalition government which may not survive next years national elections.  Some might consider Bush to be the more successful politician, but few would say he is smarter.  Merkel, with her comments seemingly favoring the economy over the environment, sounds a little like Bush these days.  But no, I don’t believe Bush is smarter than Merkel.  But I do believe he has been more consistent.

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gotthart1In 1549, the Gotthard family came from France to settle in Freiburg im Breisgau, a German city near the edge of the Black Forest.  There they opened a store selling towels.  Since then, more than 18 generations of this family have operated a textiles store where a tradition of quality and service was a way of life.  There is no one left who wants to run the business anymore, and so they will close at the end of the year.  We have the Walton family.  I wonder if Wal-Mart will be around in 460 years.

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