Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Cold War

This weekend, I took a couple of day trips to explore the state of Hesse (where I live).  On Saturday, a couple friends and I headed to Point Alpha, on the border between the states of Hesse and Thuringia.  Normally, an internal border between two states would be no more interesting than the "Welcome to Nebraska - The Good Life" sign.  But, this is not just an internal German border, it is the former border between East and West Germany.  And as the most western point in the Soviet Bloc, its location was considered a prime place for invasion (the terrain also made this more likely).  So, for forty-five years, we stationed troops there to watch the East Germans and the Soviets.

Outside the (former) base

This flagpole is not actually buried in the ground - it is attached to some i-beams,
symbolizing the US was there as a guest and not a conqueror.

Some old tanks

US Army tent

The Iron Curtain

East German bunkers just across the border

The border between East and West
One of the coolest things about the trip were all of the frosted trees.  The fog rolls in in the morning, freezes to the trees and then rolls out.  It was so cold (about 20 F) that the frost on the trees never melted off the trees.  It was absolutely gorgeous

On Sunday, I went with a friend to Hessenpark.  This is an outdoor "museum" where they have reconstructed a number of (really) old buildings from all around the state of Hesse that would otherwise have been torn down.  The oldest building I noted as a church first built in 1480.  Most were from the 1800s.  They do demonstrations on how sausage is made (literally, not just part of a pun about legislating) and cheese.  Really cool place that would be a great place to take kids.

The "town square" (note - these buildings are completely reconstructed)

Other side of square - actual old buildings

My favorite

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Goals

I've been having a great trip in the U.S.  Vegas trip, Christmas with my family in AZ, engagement, New Years with Sara, relaxing and sleeping in.  I'll have a post with some pictures once I get back to Germany, but here is my annual post about my New Year's goals

First, let's take a look back at my goals from 2013 to see how I did.
  • Learn German at 3/3 level - this took two tries at the test, but I did pass.  Sadly, I doubt I am still at the 3/3 level.
  • Watch two sunrises and two sunsets - This goal is pretty easy in Germany where the sun doesn't rise until 830 am in winter and sets on my way home from work. 
  • Weigh under 220 pounds by New Years 2014 (this is losing an additional 35 pounds) - Excluding any holiday weight I have put on this week, I beat this goal by 11 pounds, reaching 209 when I left Germany.
  • Read 25 books - I failed at this one miserably.  I might have finished 10 books at most for the year.
  • Visit at least 6 countries (not counting USA or Germany) - Italy, France (barely), Belgium, Austria, The Netherlands (drove through), USA, Germany.  Didn't hit this one either, probably because I came back to the USA more than I probably expected when I made this list.  Totally worth it.
  • Attend at least one Bundesliga soccer match - Went with Shelley
  • Attend at least three concerts - Fun., Flobots, and Counting Crows
  • Run a 5K in under 30 minutes - Did this one twice - Lawyers have Heart 5k and Turkey Trot 5k
  • Complete a 10K race - Ran the Capitol Hill 10k
  • Complete the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and at least one other long race (10 miles or more) - Pretty much destroyed this one.  Not only did I do the Cherry Blossom run, but I also ran a half marathon and a full marathon.

2014 Goals

  • Get married
  • Complete at least two races over 10 miles.  Improve on times from my prior races of same length.
  • Get tenured and promoted at work
  • Visit at least ten countries, at least four of which are new countries.
  • Watch at least two sunrises and sunsets
  • Read 15 books
  • Don't go more than 60 days without seeing Sara
  • Do a pull up
  • Do 50 sit-ups in 5 minutes
  • Attend at least two concerts, two soccer matches and one football game