Enter winter, doing a little numerologist’s two-step

Today’s weather report (in that Fahrenheit system): Highs of 60, lows of 44. Tomorrow: Highs of 44, low of 30. Hello, winter.

I particularly like that it’s not even going to bother heating up tomorrow. It’ll just pick up where it left off tonight, and keep on falling. That’s pure German efficiency for you.

Needless to say, today we went to buy warm coats at last.

Melting the ice. And not in that $#^#$ GOP way…

My German teacher (and official saint-of-the-month) Christian says there’s only one way to deal with German bureaucracy. You don’t push hard. You don’t plead, you don’t argue. You melt the ice.

Und jetzt: The ice is finally melting. We visited the Senate office for Business, Work and Women (don’t ask) today, and met with Frau Knispel, who handles media matters. Christian once again came with us to translate, but as soon as she asked us questions, we launched into our own explanations, in tortured German, of our professional lives, income, and interest in Germany. My theory: Speaking is the best defense against not actually understanding the questions being asked.

After about half an hour, she nodded. Ganz gut. Schön. The laws are rigid, but they don’t fit everyone, she said. We should be fine.

And so hooray! We still must trek back to the visa office and go through the final application process. But apparently, if this office signs off, the other one should give us a green light. Looks like we’re in. Almost.

In our next episode, our heroes will get their first look at the tax system, and probably decide they can’t actually afford to live here after all…

Reich online, a Web-style birthday

Last weekend the Whitney Museum in New York had its 70th birthday concert for composer Steve Reich, featuring some of the city’s best new music groups (Alarm Will Sound’s transcriptions of Aphex Twin tunes are a must for anyone who loves geeky contemporary and geeky electronic music). Now they’ve posted the entire 4-hour concert on their site, in high-quality MP3s. It’s lovely music, hypnotic, a look back at much of the career of a composer that evolves like his music, almost imperceptibly, so listeners can never quite predict exactly what’s next.

Did I mention the Web rules?

Pärt dedicates works to murdered Russian reporter

On this side of the Atlantic, the apparent contract killing of Russian journalist  Anna Politkovskaya a few weeks ago has been big news. She has been  consistently one of the strongest, and bravest, media critics of Putin and Russian policy. On the eve of publishing a big story about Chechnya, she was killed.

Much speculation about whether Putin himself had this done, or one of his enemies, to embarrass him. Russia’s that kind of place now, where there is so much atrocity happening, you can’t even tell which side it’s coming from.

Here’s a little connection to the Soviet past. Arvo Pärt, the Estonian composer whose 70th birthday concert series we went to see last year, is apparently dedicating all performances of his work this year to Politkovskaya’s memory. He knows a little about Russian repression, having fled the Soviet Union  decades ago in order to  pursue his own artistic vision.  Now, a little too much of same as it ever was….

We *are* in Mittel-earth

Spotted at the store, and of course taken home: Hobbit cookies. Or biscuits, it was unclear first exactly what they were. Bright orange wrapper, with “Hobbit” written in bold letters. And no, as far as we can tell that means nothing in German.

Verdict: Oh, so delicious, for second breakfast AND Elevensies! Oatmeal cookie goodness. Made in Poland, naturally.