Our grocery shopping usually works like this:

  1. Go to Aldi and get most of the stuff for super cheap.

  2. Go somewhere else for what they don’t have at Aldi.

Aldi is a German institution. It is no frills shopping. If you can’t find it, it doesn’t really help to ask the kid stocking the shelves because he doesn’t care and probably doesn’t know where it is even though he stocked it. Everything is in a cardboard box of some sort on a pallet and when that box is empty you just grab the next one under it. There are no price tags on the items themselves, no baggers, no electronic methods of payment. As of right now in Germany they only take cash. They will supposedly introduce debit card payments in 2005. They’ve been saying that for years though. It’s like vaporware. They just got electronic scanners last year. Up until then the checkers had to memorize product codes and they would type it all in lightning fast. If you can find one of those empty cardboard boxes mentioned above, grab it because there are no free bags to put your purchases in when you are done. I have no idea what they cost because I have never bought one. “Paper or plastic,” as far as I know, is a completely unknown concept in Germany. Most people bring their own bags to the store.

Like I said, the basics are usually there and whatever they don’t have, you go somewhere else for. There are some other comparable supermarkets but in the end you really only go there to get what the don’t have at Aldi.

Aldi is also the great leveler of sorts. Everybody goes there. Ladies in fur coats, guys in suits, junkies, whores and everyone in between. Not only are the products cheap but they are of pretty good quality. I know a few people who have bought the “Aldi Computer.” It and most of the other products get pretty good reviews from various consumer products groups. I can also recommend the yogurts and frozen vegetables, the Blattspinat being my favorite. The Atlantic salmon filets are also pretty good.

Oh my God. The Golden Girls dubbed into German just came on television. I’m about to Elvis the TV set.

I remember seeing Aldi in America but the only place I remember seeing it frequently (okay, twice) was in Chicago. It basically works on the same principal of super no frills shopping experience and pass the savings on to the customer.

I went to an Aldi on Chicago’s West Side once and it was pretty scary. It looked like it had just been plundered before a natural disaster was gonna strike. Everything was dented or ripped open. Wires were hanging out of the wall and ceiling. The fluorescent lights were flickering menacingly. There had to be some serious building and health ordinance violations going on there but the prices were right on. I can’t remember exactly but I think I went there for milk. In hindsight that seems pretty stupid but I lived to tell about it.

Here is more info about the founders of Aldi, Theo and Karl Albrecht (the two richest men in Germany and third in the world). Here is the page for ALDI USA.

On the weekend we went to Phantasialand in Brühl near Cologne and visited our friend Sash (sounds like Zosh). She’s the girl in the Apple a Day movie M and I worked on a few years ago. I went on some roller coasters and ate a hotdog. I also risked great damage to my Rock & Roll credibility and saw the Kelly Family perform. Please don’t tell anyone. Even worse is that it wasn’t the first time and unfortunately probably won’t be the last.

Update: To be honest the Kelly Family is quite talented and they have quite an interesting history. The teeny-bopper fans however suck. There I said it.

Traffic there and back was a bitch and next time I’m taking the train. The iPod made it tolerable though. Something about doing 110 on the Autobahn in Germany while listening to Merle Haggard, George Jones and David Allen Coe is just surreal.

I work with a bunch of scientists. This is their idea of humor:

From a chemistry exam at the University of Washington (this was an ‘A’)


Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat).


“First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls will go to Hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1) If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2) If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you,” and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having an affair with her, then #2 above cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze over.”

It is pretty funny though.

I am not a journalist

Today M and I went to the Kulturfrühstuck which means literally, “culture breakfast.” This was an event put on by the Ausländerbeirat which is the advisory council for foreigners here in Lüneburg. Umm, it was okay. The food was excellent. It was a pot-luck type of thing and I ate some awesome food. I’m on some crazy eggplant kick now so I was chuffed to see it prepared there in about 4 different ways. Yum. There was a great Opera singer, a so so tango dancing couple, a belly dancer (Grrrr) and an asian woman karaokeing the hell out of “I Will Survive” while jumping on the tables and dancing provocatively for the Mayor and others (Hmmmm). There was also a gospel choir that was, well, really really white. Don’t get me wrong, they were good. They could sing in harmony and carry the notes but it was so lacking in soul. So Lawrence Welk. It was, shall we say, unsettling.

At one point I was introduced to the lady organizing the thing and it was made known that I was American. She was really excited about that.

“Oh I should have introduced you to the crowd”

“Uh, no that’s alright.”

After that I went to get a cup of coffee and she cornered me.

“Are you a journalist?”

“Umm, no.”

“Oh, you are?”

“I am not a journalist.”

Then she proceeded to introduce me to the mayor and city council of Lüneburg and other politicos.

“This is Nate. He’s an American journalist living in Lüneburg.”

“Uh, Hi. I’m not a journalist. Nice to meet you.”

I didn’t really know what else to say. In hindsight I could have cracked a joke about not voting for them. The joke being that I can’t vote here. Ha! The look on their face made it clear that they didn’t know what to say either. So I busted out my secret ninja vanishing trick AKA turning around and walking away and got my coffee. I’m not really comfortable in those kind of situations. I’m not really sure what kind of situation that was, but I just wasn’t feelin’ it. I was glad to leave. Dude, I am so not a journalist.

Last night in Lüneburg was In-line night. The streets were blocked off and hundreds of rollerbladers skated around Lüneburg at around 10pm. I had a lot of fun. Afterwards went to the pub and had a few pints.

Not much new. Last night went to Lüneburg’s Oktoberfest. It was an interesting experience as usual. By that I mean lots of drunken people standing on tables and singing bad German drinking songs. I’m sure, had I more to drink, I would have joined in. Being that I was not so drunk, I had a real great time watching people.

That was the high point of the weekend though, unless you count doing laundry. Ah clean socks.