Few random things:
Yesterday I went to the Neukölln outdoor public pool (2 Euros to get in), which is HUGE, with three different pools, including two more oriented towards kids which are shallow and have slides and fountains and things, and one more swimming-oriented pool. I thought it was interesting that the signs were all in Turkish and German (this neighboorhood has a lot of people of Turkish background). It was all really clean, just really busy. And German lap swimmers annoy me because they don't use lane lines, don't circle swim, and the majority of them understand "swimming" as "breast stroke," which includes more jerky outward movements which could potentially injure your poolmates than front crawl. Surprising. I experienced this with children once, too, that they are taught breast stroke instead of front crawl as the first stroke in swimming lessons. Strange cultural difference. Also the pool area includes a lot of grass for families to spread out with their towels, bring picnics, watever. Not sure if this is ever the case in the US since I'm from Minnesota and we don't have outdoor public pools. But my sense is that it is usually pool "deck" with lawn chairs and whatnot.
Today went into "downtown" (Mitte) to go see a documentary about the defeat of Berlin in 1945. Some really amazing images I hadn't seen before.
Germany now has a new President (Bundespräsident), the symbolic head of state, although the chancellor, Kanzlerin (Merkel) is the real politician. The new guy's name is Christian Wulff (above), and he is from the CDU, the Christian Democrats (more conservative). His predecessor stepped down a few weeks ago, which was rather a surprise. Here the BBC explains Koehler stepping down if you are interested.
Today is the second "Fußball freier Tag" (soccer-free day). Germany plays Saturday so people are getting geared up. Actually "Die Zeit," a good German newspaper, made a joke about how people tuned into the election of the new president because it happened to be on the day when there was no soccer:
"Neun Stunden lang verfolgten die Bürger am Fernsehen, im Radio, im Internet und auf der Straße die Wahl des neuen Staatsoberhauptes: Ein Public Viewing mit zwei gediegenen Herren in der Hauptrolle, die vorübergehend vergessen machten, dass die anderen Herren in Südafrika gerade Pause machten. Politik statt Fußball – an diese Wahl wird sich das Land noch lange erinnern."