Saturday, February 12, 2011

Of time to sit and think

So, we're a little over a month into the Munich adventure and many of the teething problems have now been solved. I have a phone, I have a flat, and thanks to a huge forum of English speakers, called Toytown (named by its instigator because Munich, though a large city, doesn't have many of the things that we associate with such places - it's really a collection of posh villages welded together with cafes and bookshops), I also have furniture.

My place, as many places in Germany do, came unfurnished but I managed to organise a week of pickups from around the city, collecting bookshelves, cupboards, sofas plus some miscellaneous and probably not necessary additions (a soda maker which I will be using for high pressure marinades, though in a dream I figured out a way to do this even more easily...ok, I dream about some weird stuff!) either free or second hand, and now have a pretty presentable looking flat. Although there are only two rooms (plus kitchen and bathroom) there's bed space for seven (double bed, double futon, double inflatable mattress, plus a large sofa) and I expect to be putting up friends over the coming months.

Unfortunately, somewhere in the move the cable needed to transfer photos to my computer has vanished and so photos of the new place will have to wait.

On the work front, things are amazingly busy. I'm currently working very actively on three projects which seem to be making exciting progress, plus another three or so which are all on the back burner. It'll be good to get some meaty papers out after a year of networking but little sit-down-and-calculate time last year.

The other hugely nice thing about the flat is that there's no internet in sight, and no television, so I spend my evenings reading for hours and hours and catching up on the teetering shelves of books which I sent from Spain, or bought while I was in China last year. Read last week and thoroughly enjoyed: Harpo Speaks, Waiting for Barbarians (ok, enjoyed isn't the word, but appreciated), Suffer and Survive, and having got my parcel through from China, I went back through Landau Lifshitz on classical mechanics, a wonderful book, and one which I'd love to put into a Mathematica format to make it interactive.  This video from the Wolfram blog, describes just the sort of thing I'd like to spend some time on in the future:

Previously, while in the guest house of the MPI I read Plato and a Platypus walk into a bar, a brilliant little book of philosophy told in the language of jokes plus Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, a book that had been recommended to me as I'm interested in finding out more about the KIPP system of education, having previously been a little disappointed by the lack of detail on the actual process in Bill Gate's TED recommendation Work Hard, Be Nice.

Language progress is still in its infancy, but after next week, when I'll be in Valencia for the Iberian strings meeting, I'll be starting morning lessons in German for an intensive couple of weeks, followed hopefully by Chinese lessons in the evenings. I'm reaching a bit of a plateau with my Chinese and feel that now's the time to give it a bit of external help.


Aihua said...

Kids Chinese Podcast uses the method that learning a foreign language like a kid to build a solid Chinese pronunciation foundation and start your journey to become a fluent Chinese speaker and Chinese master!

Nyc Labretš said...

Just discovered your blog through CouchSurfing, as I just subbed to CS in anticipation of my move to Berlin from Munich.

Your name completely leaped off the page for me because I attended College in Annapolis, MD in the US with a John Shock.

I'm a little shocked that he's got such a near-name Doppelgänger out there. Who knew?

Total shame that we didn't meet earlier, my father was a Nuclear Physicist that was on the Design Team that built the Isar 1 Reactor that Merkel just shut down in the wake of the Fukushima Tsunami Incident.

I'm sure we'd have a lot to talk about F2F on just that, but I'll be Berlin by week's end.

Fair Warning about the ToyTown website, it's diametrically opposed to the energy I see on CS, ToyTown great for shopping for deals and goings-ons about town, but unless you're a Goose Stepping Reich Winger I'd avoid the Discussion area of that site like the plague, there's something congenitally wrong with those people.

Showed my GF the post with the pic of your Flat and we both lolled pretty hard, since your hardwood floor and windows look identical to the ones in her Flat here in München. Looks like it's Standard Issue here.

Look me up on CS, if you ever make your way up to Berlin I'd be glad to meet you for a cup of coffee, and once I'm settled I'm sure I'd be glad to have you as a Flat Guest.