Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

'Bout them Germans...

Posted by reader Heika:

Hi Ulrich, I just finished reading a review of Michael Lewis's book "Boomerang," which discusses the current financial crisis country to country. The reviewer made this comment, which for me rang very true, admittedly based on my very short stay of two years in the country:

“There was no credit boom in Germany,” an official told Lewis. “Real estate prices were completely flat. There was no borrowing for consumption. Because this behavior is totally unacceptable in Germany.”

I don't know if you can address the prices of real estate to verify the unnamed official's accuracy, but what do you think about the claim that "borrowing for consumption" is totally "unacceptable." My personal experience is that Lewis got this right, and this is one very good reason the Germans continue to do well while all around them are in despair.

Loved your latest drawing. Heika

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Words of the Month: Hausdrachen, Pantoffelheld

So far, I have resisted posting WoMs that could be viewed as sexist—I briefly alluded to this when, in a discussion about maulfaul, I was asked about an antonym, i.e. a word referring to someone who can't shut up, and I had to answer that these words do exist, but tend to be clearly aimed at women and therefore could be considered sexist. I do not intend to feature such words, but today, I'm making an exception. It was simply too tempting to illustrate the word in question, sexist as it may be. But in order to be an equal-opportunity sexist, I paired it, upon the suggestion of Laraine, with a word that's sexist w.r.t. the opposite gender.

So, here goes: Haus means "house" or "home", and a Drachen is a dragon. A Hausdrachen is a woman who tyrannizes her family, especially her husband—she's a shrew. A Pantoffel is a bedroom slipper, and a Held is a hero (as in Heldentenor). A Pantoffelheld is a guy who talks tough, but takes to his heels at the first sign of danger—he's a hero only in the safety of his own home, unless, of course, he meets a Hausdrachen there. One could say that a Hausdrachen and a Pantoffelheld are a perfectly matched pair, in more than one respect.

[Source: Wild Things in the German Language: Kindle version | iBook version]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

We dodged a bullet

Snowfall on Friday caused more damage to our trees than hurricane Irene did in August—it also left us without electricity for 75 hrs, which meant no water from the well, which meant the toilets stopped working once the water in the tank was used up. But things could have been worse: A white oak behind our house split and one half fell on our roof, but didn't damage the roof itself as far as we can see without the tree being removed.

Why am I reporting all of this? Because the word of the month will be delayed by a few days—I'm too busy dealing with the aftermath of all of the above.