Beer on the Train, After Work or Otherwise

Lovely (I thought) scene on the train. It’s Friday afternoon. I was returning from a very successful dissertation defence where I was an external examiner at Potsdam University. It’s about a 35 min ride back into town. Across from me on the suburban train was a man (maybe around 30) hacking away on his laptop….

P.S.: Milieuschutz Politics

Following the fall election in Berlin, the new government is forming in December. One of the more interesting appointments is Andrej Holm as deputy minister (Staatssekretär) for urban development. His nomination initially made waves because he had signed up for the East German secret police as a young man just before the end of the…

The Joys of a Repat with Family

Many of the over 50 posts here so far have been inspired by conversations with my family and those conversations have been a great joy of the sabbatical experience. Obviously, I am somewhat of a serial re-pat, returning to Germany many times over the years and also taking a bit of Germany with me to…

A Charming Legacy of Pre-War Housing Developments

I continue to explore housing developments around town with some curiosity. One of the most visible elements of developments in Vancouver is their names. Generally, these names range from the inane to the tackily-faux-English. Sadly, the same holds for contemporary developments in Berlin. However, there once was a time, perhaps a Golden Age, of development…

Grading Scales

Obviously, E and Ingm have had a fair number of tests and quizzes in their schools by now. There are a number of things that are quite different around test-taking. First of all, there is a certain formality around examinations here that seems to be less in Vancouver. The very notion of a Klassenarbeit that is only…

Dinosaurs of the Internet Age: FotoFix

Early on during our stay, we were getting ready to buy monthly transit passes for the girls (yes, the second one at a reduced sibling rate!). That would require a student id, even for elementary school. That id in turn requires a passport photo. When everyone (else) is taking selfies and carrying their cell phones…

Reading Young World

Recently, I wrote about the relatively exotic choice of Neues Deutschland as a newspaper. I continued this self-experiment by purchasing Junge Welt (young world). Where ND was the East German Pravda, jW was the publication of the Freie Deutsche Jugend, the youth wing of the state-socialist party. And yes, amazing as it seems to me,…

Barbers

[Note that this is post #50 on this blog!] In Vancouver, I get my hair and beard cut at a simple barber on Broadway. But finding a place that shaves is not that easy. By contrast, there are lots of shaving opportunities in Berlin, in part because barbers appear to be that much more common…

Public Pools

I recently wrote about Vancouver vs Berlin public libraries. Now, let’s turn to swimming pools, another city service that we use quite a bit in Vancouver. We are partial to the Hillcrest Community Centre pool where the lazy river is great fun for kids and I sometimes swim laps with a friend and then use…

Hatze

Ah yes, another “after 30 years…” hockey post. One of the teams in our division is stacked with very strong players who have spun-off a team from a different club and are strong favourites for promotion to a higher league. This team has been employing a full-court press in games swarming defenders who are taking…

German Social Democracy

In a post for the Direct Diplomacy blog that I’m involved in, I recently wrote about German perceptions of Canada as a likeminded, social-democratic middle power in the context of the CETA back-and-forth. While that perception of Canada has only recently caught up again with some version of political reality since the Liberals election win…

Beautiful Residential Architecture

There are lots of beautiful examples of turn-of-the(-last)-century residential architecture in downtown Berlin. That’s our favourite so far. Another example, more grand. Here’s a very fancy design around a door. Part ribbon, part guardian butterfly. This whole block looks a bit stark, but certainly has a unified architectural statement to make. Here, a wonderful tree…