Today's #1 addictive?

Since Friday my house has been without an internet connection and I noticed how addicted to the World Wide Web I’ve become. I can go days, weeks, even months without the internet when I’m travelling or otherwise busy and don’t miss it one bit. But now, being a journalism student quite reliant on an internet connection, my fingers itch each time I start up my computer and I’m tempted to double-click the icon that holds a wealth of entertainment and information. Checking emails, reading the latest news from around the world, communicating with friends in all corners of the world and last but definitely not least updating this very blog used to be possible with a click of the mouse. It’s amazing, really, how addicted I’ve become. Which makes me wonder – does the internet count as a drug? After all, you constantly keep an eye on the connection symbol, your fingers urge to hit those keys and you grow frustrated when the connection is cut. For the time being, I have to walk to the Learning Gateway, the Fusehill Street computer room or Brampton Road’s News Room, PC suites or library to go online. My lovely housemate, (Haha! The deliberate sarcasm in this!) has not paid the phone and broadband bills since March 2008, which is why we got suspended. Although I am sure deep down inside that I can spend my time wisely (I could, for example, finish all those projects I started) I am longing for some distraction. I don’t have a telly (can’t afford the licence), so I watch all my favourite shows online. My communication with home is usually via ICQ, Messenger or Skype – all internet based. Normally, I chat to my friends, including my best friend, every night, like a ritual. Now I realize, how much I miss this connection to home. I’m stuck in a place I don’t really want to be in with people I get along with but who, for the most part, haven’t become more than acquaintances in the 1 ½ years I’ve known them now. Well, my housemate’s gonna get a kicking for not paying up (although he asked for money several times) and I hope for his sake, that our house will be reconnected by the middle of the week!

Can I see some ID please?

First things first: I do not drink a lot of alcohol! I know my limits. Although I bet I could out-drink my British friends if I had to! That's because I am German - which means I grew up with German beer, which has a higher percentage than most of what's on tap in the UK. Furthermore, the legal age to buy beer and wine in Germany is 16, for spirits it's 18. This means, up to today, I have been allowed to buy and drink alcohol legally for 5 years!

In the UK, there's Challenge 21. If you look under 21 (although the legal age here is 18) you can be asked for ID. This only happened to me twice in the one year I have now been living in Carlisle, but still annoys me. I went to Spar today. Earlier in the day, I bought 8 cans of beer, without showing ID. Just a couple of hours later - (it's sunday night, I just want a quiet night in) I tried to buy a bottle of rosé (wearing exactly the same outfit as before) and got asked for ID. The only time I just grabbed some money, not my purse, and I get IDed. Figures. Honestly. Do I look to be under 18? I am 21 and like to think that I don't look too young to have a drink! But here's another problem: I don't have British ID! My German national ID (which functions as my passport in the EU) is not good enough proof of age for some. A barkeeper on Botchergate in Carlisle told me once, I wouldn't get anything with that "fake polish ID"..... WHAT????? It's pretty much my passport, that is accepted at all EU airports and borders, has been my proof of age since I was 16 and somebody who can't distinguish the word "Polska" from "Deutsch" tells me I can't have a drink? I could bet he was even younger than me.

In Germany, you only get asked for ID if you look young and try to buy spirits. As soon as you look old enough to be 20, nobody bothers you. In fact, I have only been asked for ID since I moved to England. In the 4 years prior to that, I never had to show ID. No matter where I went - Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Ecuador, problem. I know people over here face heavy fines when found out, but so do Germans. But buying alcohol from a person, and then being asked by the same person for ID a few hours later, IS pushing it, don't you think?

Re-taking the Oath of Office

Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, had to re-take his Oath of Office on Wednesday, because Chief Justice John Roberts mixed the words up in the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday.

Really all that happened was that the word "faithfully" was put in the wrong place. And reading the transcript, it was really the Chief Justice who mixed it up, not Obama himself. This is the oath as it appears in the constitution:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States

Roberts: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully ...
Obama: ... that I will execute ...
Roberts: ... the off -- faithfully the pres -- the office of president of the United States ...
Obama (at the same time): ... the office of president of the United States faithfully ...

The two got the rest correct, including the nonobligatory "So help you God?" "So help me God."

Which makes me wonder: Was it really that important? Fox News were wondering whether Obama was really sworn in as President with the Oath recited wrongly. It was a mistake anyone could have made. And I would bet that Obama and the Chief Justice were quite excited, standing infront of a crowd of millions on the National Mall (and billions infront of TV's all over the globe).
The oath didn't lose any of its significance, nor did the oath get distorted in any way that would make you think it is not valid. Yes, it's a shame that it got mixed up, but it is also a shame that this is apparently what the world press chose to remember about Obama's inauguration. Instead of concentrating on his (by the way excellent) speech; the fact that a black man became president or the hope he's given America, the one thing they focus on is a word out of order in his oath.

In English, please...

Well, although I've sworn to myself that this should be a German blog, I didn't quite manage to keep it that way. There's just so much I need to publish in English (which this blog serves as an outlet for) that I decided to make it bilingual. There will still be some German pieces but I will make an effort of either translating them or write them in English to start with.
Who knows... maybe that'll even get me some readers =)

Hello, Mr. President !!

Es ist offiziell: Barack Hussein Obama ist der 44. Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika!

Seinen Schwur legte er auf Abraham Lincoln's Bibel ab und die National Mall, die sich zwischen Capitol, Weißem Haus und Lincoln Monument erstreckt war überflutet mit jubelnden Menschen. Es wurden 2 Millionen Zuschauer vor Ort geschätzt, und Milliarden vor den Fernsehschirmen.

Nach 8 Jahren George W. Bush hoffe ich das Beste für Amerika. Obama tritt garantiert kein leichtes Erbe an. Ob er wirklich so gut ist wie die Hoffnung die er in Menschen geweckt hat, wird sich erst im Laufe der Zeit zeigen. Ich allerdings wünsche ihm Glück.

Restaurant-Tipp: "Mongolia" in Solingen

Das Asia-Restaurant "Mongolia" ist ein echter Geheimtipp für Solingen.
Es bietet das Beste der asiatischen Küche, sowie zwei oder drei Besonderheiten, die in Deutschland nicht ganz so üblich sind. Seit August 2008 hat es nun seine Türen geöffnet und erfreut sich immer größerer Beliebtheit.

Von mehreren Buffets kann man sich sein eigenes Menü zusammenstellen. Ein langer Tisch ist voll mit bekannten chinesischen Gerichten, die alle zwei Tage variieren. Auf einer kleinen Platte liegen Sushi-Stücke, die vom Sushi-Meister vor den Augen der Gäste zubereitet werden.

Die Besonderheit des "Mongolia" ist jedoch das mongolische Buffet. Aus mehreren rohen Fleischsorten (darunter Hühnchen, Schwein und Känguru) sowie Meeresfrüchten (Muscheln, Shrimps, Garnelen) kann man sich sein Gericht selbst zusammenstelle. Eine Auswahl an Salat mit asiatischen Spezialitäten wie Bambus, sowie sechs unterschiedlich scharf gewürzte Saucen garantieren für jeden ein perfektes Mahl. Man legt seine Auswahl auf einen Teller und gibt sie beim Grillmeister ab, der dann das Fleisch zusammen mit Sauce und Salat vor ihren Augen zubereitet und an den Tisch bringt.

Alle Gerichte sind "All you can eat" und ein weiterer Gang zu einem von Deutschland's längsten Buffets ist ausdrücklich erwünscht. Dieses Restaurant ist nicht nur in Solingen eine Besonderheit!

Mittagsbuffet: Mo. - Fr. € 7,20
So./Feiertag € 11,80

Abendbuffet: Mo. - So. € 14,00
(Kinder 5 -12 Jahre bezahlen entsprechend dem Alter)

Asia-Restaurant "Mongolia"
Ittertalstrasse 50 (direkt neben dem Märchenwald)
42719 Solingen-Wald

Tel.: 0212 - 3837689
Fax.: 0212 - 3839309

Movie review: "Australia"

Epic love story with socio-cultural undertone
**** Rating

By Cornelia Kaufmann

It was hailed as an epic, an epic romance to be exact. And although it doesn’t quite live up to such classics like “Gone with the wind” or “Lawrence of Arabia”, Australia is an epic in its own right. Directed by Sydney-born Wunderkind Baz Luhrmann, it is an homage and declaration of love to his native country.

Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) and The Drover (Hugh Jackman in the role of his life) have to try everything they can to keep her late husband’s cattle station “Faraway Downs” out of the hands of a greedy competitor. The two, coming from completely different backgrounds, slowly learn to respect and love each other. Drover, such an iconic Australian figure that he does not even need a name, is an independent, hard-working man who meets Aborigines with respect. Sarah on the other hand, is a woman who does not understand the social and cultural differences in Australia right away and lived unaware of hardship until she came to the Outback.

On the farm, Sarah meets Nullah (Brandon Walters), a young “mixed-race” Aboriginal boy she adopts with Drover. While his mother is aborigine, his father is an unknown white man, a fate which was a curse for many children of the so-called “stolen generations”. Baz Luhrmann very cleverly chose Nullah as the narrator of the story, lets it be seen through the eyes of a child stuck between two cultures. Elements from native cultural myths, such as the Rainbow Serpent and Dreamtime are linked to the modern world through the “The Wizard of Oz” and the song “Somewhere over the rainbow”. The patchwork-family of Sarah, Drover and Nullah all risk their lives during the Japanese bombing of Darwin to find where they belong.

Australia is not just a love story. It is a story that rises cultural awareness and directly speaks about the “stolen generations” – aboriginal and mixed-race children who were taken from their families and placed in missions. Only in 2008 did the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologize to them. For Nullah, the boy growing up between two worlds, Australia is a coming-of-age story, which is marked by going on the traditional walkabout with his grandfather, the Aborigine Elder called King George, who is said to be a “magic man”.

Next to a compelling storyline, Baz Luhrmann dazzles his viewers with scenic shots of Outback Australia which leave you longing for more. However, he also makes it clear that such a breathtakingly beautiful landscape like the Outback can also be very dangerous, if not deadly.

Although Nicole Kidman’s character Sarah is involuntarily funny and awkward at the beginning of the movie, the character develops over the course of the movie. The Drover could not have been cast with a better actor than Hugh Jackman. He portrays this character so believingly well, that you start to think he was born to play this role. The Drover is a character as Australian as Crocodile Dundee, and real-life drovers shaped Australia since the first white settlers arrived.

The only thing that could mark this movie down is its length of 165 minutes. Since the story is split in two parts (one establishing the situation on the farm, and the other during the Darwin bombing), Baz Luhrmann could easily have turned this epic into two separate movies without losing the magic of it.

It is a great movie, but you might want to watch it on a long and rainy night.

The same procedure as every year, James! Prost, Neujahr 2009!

Es ist soweit! 2009 hat begonnen!

Fast schon aus Tradition kam Nils gestern abend zu mir, zum gemeinsamen feiern. Leider hatte sonst keiner mehr Zeit - dann wiederrum habe ich mich ziemlich spät darum gekümmert. Zu Abend gegessen haben wir mit meinen Eltern und sind dann in meine Wohnung zum Bleigießen! Wir haben das obligatorische "Dinner for One" geguckt, allerdings in einer etwas anderen Version. "The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?" "The same procedure as every year, James!"Auch beim hundertsten mal ist dieser Sketch noch witzig! Und dann war's auch schon fast soweit. Wir haben etwas ferngesehen und dann auf's ZDF geschaltet, wo der Countdown vom Brandenburger Tor übertragen wurde.

Mit Jules Mumm haben wir auf 2009 angestoßen, in der Hoffnung, dass das neue Jahr besser wird als das Alte!

Draußen auf der Strasse war einiges los. Vor allen ein paar Häuser weiter unten wurde geknallt was das Zeug hielt. Nils und ich haben uns auf 2 Batterien und 2 Riesenwunderkerzen beschränkt. Auch auf der Kreuzstrasse und Cäcilienstrasse war einiges los - in die Stadt gegangen sind wir nicht mehr.

Wieder zurück in der warmen Wohnung (draußen war's richtig kalt - zum Glück hatten wir den Sekt dabei!) haben wir ferngesehen, uns unterhalten und kleinen Feigling auf Freundschaft getrunken. Nils hat bei mir gepennt - naja, er hat sich kurz hingelegt und war sofort eingeschlafen. Ganz süß, eigentlich.

Heute stand erstmal ausschlafen auf dem Programm - Nils hat versucht abzuhauen ohne mich aufzuwecken (die Betonung liegt auf versucht) da er zum Frühstück mit seiner Mutter verabredet war, aber das Abhauen hat natürlich nicht geklappt. Schuld daran war, dass er in meinen Tisch gekracht ist. Natürlich hatte er sich im Schlafsack verfangen und keinen Kater. Ich war selbst erstaunt, dass ich keinen Kater hatte. Und dass, obwohl wir nicht gerade wenig getrunken haben.

Meine Schwester hatte lezte Nacht nicht so viel Glück. Auf einer Party bei Freunden (unter anderem Backhanded Compliment) wurden ihr Handy, Kamera, MP3 Player und €40 geklaut. Zwar hat sie bis auf das Geld alles wieder zurück, dafür musste sie heute erstmal zur Polizei und den Kerl anzeigen.

Für 2009 habe ich viel vor! Ich werde Dieter Nuhr, Ralf Schmitz und Mario Barth live sehen, Angela aus Reno wird mich besuchen, ich werde weiterhin als Freie Mitarbeiterin für's Solinger Tageblatt und Karl. tätig sein. Im Sommer hoffe ich mit meinem Kurs irgendwo im Ausland ein Tourismus-Praktikum machen zu können. Außerdem muß ich 2009 mit meiner Bachelor-Arbeit anfangen! Ich freue mich auf 2009 und die Herausforderungen, die dieses Jahr bringen wird!

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