Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Gunther von Hagens Performed his First Autopsy at Age Seventeen

I have noticed a slightly unsettling pattern with myself. I look forward to the end of each week, thinking happily of my days off and how next week will somehow be better, that next week I’ll have just enough time to breath easy so that I can catch up with my sleep and sanity, but then ‘next week’ never seems to get here… Possibly a space-time paradox not uncommon for college life…. Thank goodness I have plenty during the week that does not involve my nose being buried in Shakespeare, Goethe, and Microsoft Word documents. There is always MARRCA, which received a recent spotlight in the OWU school newspaper, The Transcript. It’s great to have some press, even if we were misquoted a bit and come off as not a little cheesy, but press is press, mostly. Tai Chi has also been amazing… I’m clinging to it, and admit that I probably study more for it than any other class. (Granted it’s hard to beat a class that you can study for by just standing a certain way… so awesome!)
More importantly, I was given an unforgettable chance last Wednesday to view a famed exhibit that has stopped by Columbus- Gunther von Hagen’s Koerperwelten (“body worlds,” or the title it has been given for its American tour, Bodies)! This exhibit has gained much press, both for and against it, but I must say that one needs to experience it before running with the critics one way or another. Bodies, for those who do not know, is an extraordinary display of the human body, for it takes actually human bodies that have gone through von Hagen’s unique plastination process, whereby the body’s fluids are all removed and replaced with silicon. Sounds a bit disgusting, a bit odd, a bit out-there the first time, perhaps, but when one sees these gracefully posed and poised forms, a whole new level of appreciation opens up. Walking amongst the displays, I smiled to myself as I watched almost every guest bending and moving their limbs as they studied the corresponding ones in the cases; bending their wrists, feeling at their carpals and tendons; it was moving how much each of them must have been taking from seeing what lies within them on display. The Bodies exhibition in Columbus has 21 bodies and over 200 organs on display, all of which are humbling and inspiring all at once… I highly suggest giving it a visit, or, if nothing else, google it for a bit… photography was not allowed within, so I have no photos of my own from inside, but I did get a couple shots of the line as we left… amazing. It’s very good to see so many people coming out to such an event as this…

~*~ Special THANK YOU and shout out to Dr. Kremling for being awesome, and also for coming up with the idea to go to Bodies and following through with it fantastically. I honestly cannot thank you enough for this opportunity. ~*~

German Word: Also super-secretly embedded above, the original German title of Bodies is Koerperwelten, literally translating as Body Worlds.


Gunther van Hagens, creator of the Body Worlds exhibition

Body „slices“ similar to those one will find in the last section of the show at Easton. Don’t miss the chance to touch a real brain and liver in this area as well!!

The room filled with veins and arteries is probably my personal favourite… Dyed so beautifully and presented so well... It is hard to see how one could not call this art after seeing this room, let alone the rest of the displays.

Watch the amazing line wind around the building…

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Chance of Senior Citizens Falling Can be Reduced by 47.5% with just Fifteen Weeks of Training

A few weeks in, now, and my first exam looms like an adorably pouting storm cloud just above the horizon. It’s in botany, so that shall be exciting. The Friday after that I have several ‘plant spottings’ due for botany as well, but I must admit to hanging my head in dorkiness when Professor Wolverton said that most American’s don’t really take in the plants around them. I go in the other extreme, delighting in seeing how many oak trees I can spot, how many ginkgos I can get to grow in my room, and examining whatever tree or other plant I find interesting along the sidewalk or in the park during sword club. (I do not, however, suggest pausing to see how many seeds are left in a dropped pine cone during a roundel fight unless one is quite experienced in it; it often causes confusion.) Botany, however, though we may seem a perfect match, is not my favourite class this semester. And no, not even the class pertaining to my major gets that honour; tai chi has taken the proverbial cake and run with it like there’s no tomorrow. It’s an amazing class. Absolutely amazing. It’s not for everyone, since one has to have a certain type of patience for it, but it’s so insanely rewarding, and it’s great to have a class based on personal growth, not test grades or other performance things. Just show up, give it your best for an hour, and come out feeling great. I practice the form we’re learning nearly every day, and I still haven’t tired of it, though I wish I knew more.
The first Stammtisch of the year was last Thursday, and it was quite enjoyable. Dr. Kremling rejoined us after his sabbatical, and a few new faces also showed up. The new Smith hall provided the setting, and things were a bit busy, but this did not hinder our conversations, and things even got lively when I reported on the controversial Bodies show that is currently in Easton. Dr. Kremling and I had had a fabulous catching-up chat over some coffee the Sunday before, and the topic of this show came up, and we considered the possibility of seeing this exhibit before it leaves the area as a German fieldtrip, seeing as how the creator of it is German. Very interesting, and I definitely want to see it, but first we need to test the waters on who would be interested in going in the first place!

German Word: Schlafen. A very important verb to any college student! It means ‘to sleep!’

Pictures! One day before tai chi I had a half an hour or so, so I wandered about campus feeling very calm and artsy, as I had just finished going through the form. (Sort of like studying just before class, I guess.)

Slocum; this is a companion piece to the winter shot I got last year. I like the lighting, though the camera barely does it any justice.

Just a shot of a walkway in front of the academic area. I saw some people studying and felt it very ‘college.’

A less traditional picture of University hall… most people like to focus on the wonderfully dramatic tower, but it’s pretty from many angles. One can spot the German room and Herr Kremling’s office from there!

I love the trees in this one.

I adore this tree. Adore it. It has to be one of my favourites on campus, but I probably have fifty of those.

The sulfur spring!! I honestly don’t think the university talks this random little piece of scenery up enough, so I try to tell everyone I meet. Very important. Elliot hall, one of our academic buildings, was originally an inn people stayed at during their visits to what they believed to be the miraculous healing water that just happened to smell like eggs. Elliot used to be where University Hall now sits, but was waddled over and to the side, where it now resides amongst some trees and lilac bushes.

I offer no explanation beyond the fact that I love this thing.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Term ‘Halberd’ Probably Originates From the German Halm (staff) and Barte (axe)

The insanity of the whirlwind first week is complete, and now for week two!! My intention was to get a blog up after day one, but then several things came up, bowed stiffly, and demanded that I promptly deal with them before doing anything else, including sleep. One of these pressing, ever-important matters was getting MARRCA organized for its first meeting of the year and the club fair that took place on Wednesday. The public relations officer of the club, Michele, met with me a few times, and we brainstormed all sorts of ideas that we went over with the entirety of the executive base during the roughly hour-long meeting executive meeting on Tuesday. Plenty of changes this year!! One of the biggest changes is in our meeting days, which are now Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for any and all interested, at five, still at the gazebo in the park next to the fire station across from the SLUs! Other than that, we’re planning to try and branch out this year, hopefully getting into polearms and more hand-to-hand, but we’re also thinking of looking into sword and shield combinations, though that was set aside in the past. Mostly we thought about what to do once we’d wrangled in some willing new followers, and we have managed to interest a few, so hopefully we can implement some of these ideas. I still have some secretarial duties to finish up, including sending out not a few emails. O the insanity of it all…
Class wise things are no less crazy… I still haven’t quite burnt the schedule into my brain so that I may wander on autopilot while the rest of the mind wanders amongst its many and favourite trains of thought. It’s hard to say which class I like the most, but I most definitely most excited about Tai Chi. We’ve only met for practice twice, but I’m totally in love with this slow-moving martial art that teaches one how to use body more efficiently, to give it a short and very lacking definition. I’ve been doing it daily, and it instantly calms and focuses me, which is very hard for me to do sometimes. (Read: extremely hard to do a lot of the time due to the eighty things that I want to and should be thinking about instead.) Botany looks to be, well, botany, and if one is a foliage fan such as I, that’s a very good thing. Our first lab is this Tuesday, and I cannot wait!! My English Renaissance course had me a bit worried at first as nearly every introduced themselves as upperclassmen, most majoring or at least minoring in English. This in itself is really nothing to worry about; all of my German courses have been with almost purely seniors and juniors, and there is absolutely nothing to fear of them. Honestly. A lot of them are very nice and helpful, and once you get past those awkward first-day introductions, what class one is in fades to nothingness, but it always bothers me despite knowing this, mostly because I enjoy being neurotic about everything. The reading load is also intimidating, but Utopia, our first read, was not bad at all, and discussion thus far has been interesting. I look forward to our full-book discussion today in, as Dr. Prindle aptly puts it, “the cool, technology-friendly environment of Beeghly Library.” (Meeting there is nice, particularly when it’s hot out and the normal meeting room is brutally un-air conditioned… We’ll be seeing clips to go along with the lesson, so it’s not as if we’re there solely to burgle AC, though I think that would be cool in and of itself as well.) And lastly I come to German. Again I have Herr Wolber, we’re working with Goethe, and reading Die Leiden des joungen Werther. Great review, but now for the new stuff. We’ve started by reading some of Goethe’s poems in their German glory, and we’ve already hit on two that I’ve done more than once already. Gefunden has never really been on my list of favourite German poems, and the sappy interpretation my high school German teacher suggested for it only exacerbated its low rank. We also interpreted Erlkoenig, which I quite enjoy, and getting to hear a different interpretation made it all the better. And somehow, due to the original work’s wording compared with the translation provided by Herr Wolber, a brief comment about the elf king and a wedding dress came up, which I cannot lie about causing not a few grins as I did a quick sketch involving the version of the king I used in my poster design in a highschool project involving the poem and a wedding dress. Where your imagination takes this, I leave to you.

German Word: Gefunden (geh-fun-den) means ‘Found’ and Erlkoenig, though having no true meaning itself, is often translated as ‘elf king’ or ‘erl king.’