Monday, December 13, 2010

'River' Rematch, Big Christmas Trees and Blue Santa

       Last weekend marked the half-way point in the season, so on Saturday we had a rematch with our opening day opponent. This time when everyone was talking about what sounded like the 'river' match, I knew they meant rivalry, and the sold out crowd and rowdy fans confirmed this. Thankfully, we jumped out to an early lead, got the crowd behind us, and ended up with a 40-point win.  We are still in a 4-way tie for first, with one game left before Christmas. We play Friday and I fly back to the States on Sunday. Can't wait to get home!

    Our fair-weather fans were all cheers after the rivalry win and after the game, we did some kind of chant with the crowd where we sat on the ground and basically yelled back whatever they yelled at us.

As you can see, Marcus and I lack the intensity and passion of our teammates in the front row, probably because we have no idea what is going on.
     On Sunday, Marcus and I were invited to the under-12 team's Christmas party, where we had to dress up as Santa and a reindeer. As is pretty evident, I got the worse of the two costumes, and before the last minute addition of the antlers, I looked more like one of the three wise men with a bath mat on my back than Rudolph.

 I also made it to Dortmund to see one of the largest Christmas Markets in Germany, and supposedly, the largest Christmas tree in the world. It is actually 1,700 Christmas trees combined on multiple levels to create one tree over 150 ft tall. That is one tree I would not want to have to decorate.

  While the Christmas tree and the rest of the market were impressive, the spelling was sub-par...

   I was also informed that Santa Claus used to be blue until Coca Cola started marketing it with their red logo. The facts behind the transition from red to blue are hard to confirm, but my research does indicate that Santa's rosy red cheeks didn't always match the rest of this outfit.

     I am sure everyone will be very disappointed to hear that this will be my last post until January. I have spent the last 3 months camped in front of my computer, so I plan to do as little of that as possible over break. You can however keep checking the blog if you like, so that I can feel cool about the number of views I get!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back On Top, Christmas Markets and Scrubs

        Despite a few moments of frustration...
  We were able to take care of business this weekend, and with a little help from Stansdorf, who took an unexpected loss, we moved back into a three way tie for first place. We jumped out to an early lead, ahead 20 after the first quarter, and never really looked back. It was great to get a win after last weekend, and especially nice not to have to travel (both on the court and off it).

    Apparently it has never been so cold, so early, here in Germany, so I guess it is just a case of good timing on my part.
         In another stroke of luck, the fuse in our windshield wipers broke. This made driving in blizzard conditions even more difficult (don't worry mom we got them fixed so we are safe now!).

         One of the best things about December in Germany is the Christmas Markets that spring up in every town center. The size of the markets are relative to the size of the towns, so Marcus and I decided it would be best to get out of tiny Herten to see a real Christmas Market. We drove down to Essen and were not disappointed. The Markets are open every night and have all sorts of Christmas shops and food. Every third store sells chocolate, beer or the traditional beverage of choice, gluhwein.

Me with my gluhwein outside an ornament store. It is basically warm red wine with cinnamon, honey and nutmeg. I am glad I tried it, but I'm not going back for seconds.

    My job at the hospital got very exciting this morning. I was casually washing my hands before entering the operating room for the second case, when the Chief of Surgery told me to wash them extra well because I was going to be assisting with the next patient.  As he walked out of the room without further explanation, I thought that he must had been joking. All I had done so far was stand up against the wall and try not to get in the way, how could I have shown any indication that I was ready to help him?
      However, I didn't want to look like an idiot if he was genuine, and thought it would be better to be fooled being too eager than too lazy, so I scrubbed my arms down and came into the room with them raised up near my shoulders like all the other surgeons were doing. Waiting for laughter from the others in the room, I was instead greeted by one nurse holding out a gown to put my arms through, and another waiting to tie me up in the back. It was exactly like they do in scrubs, except way cooler. 
     As soon as I got over how excited I was, I became nervous that I might actually have to do something.  These guys did realize that I had no practical medical experience right? 
     I ended up just holding open wounds and cutting the ends off the sutures, but it was still awesome sitting next to the Doctors, watching exactly what they were doing, and having them thank me for my help (in English) afterwards.  In only my third day there I was getting more hands on experience than I have ever had in the U.S. I don't know what this says about the safety precautions of German hospitals, but I am not complaining. And you better check in next week, because at this rate I will performing solo surgeries by then.  I even bribed both the surgeons with tickets to the game this weekend, so brain surgery before Christmas is not out of the question. Wish me luck this weekend because if I show an unsteady hand under pressure, I may be relegated back to the corner observations in the operating room!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Turkey Day, Turnovers, and Too Many Fouls

       We are 2 for 2 in Berlin, but not in any positive statistical categories. In both games, we had 17+ turnovers, and more impressively, had 4 people foul out of each game (this had to be some kind of record). Thankfully, this time we brought 10 players, so we didn't have to finish the game with 4, but it was still ugly none-the-less. The game was for first place in league, and after an early wake-up call and a 6 hour van ride, we weren't exactly begging for any more challenges. When Marcus and our big man, Hack, both picked up two fouls in the first 2 minutes, I knew we were in for a long night. Despite losing three starters to foul outs, and gifting some egregious turnovers to the other team, we managed to stay in the game down the stretch. Stahnsdorf had the ball up 1 with 16 seconds to go and for some reason it took us 12 seconds to foul them. The refs managed to give us over 30 fouls that we didn't want throughout the course of the game, but for some reason, swallowed their whistles the one time we actually needed one. Their point guard made both freethrows, and we were out of timeouts, so we just chucked the ball in to Vince, he took two dribbles and swished a three from 4 feet inside half court. The refs initially said it was no good, and the other team tried to shake our hands real fast and run off the court, but we refused to shake their hands, and the refs had to change the call after even the home team's scorekeeper said Vince clearly let the ball go before the clock went off.

Me trying desperately not to foul.
      Mike quickly picked up his fifth foul in the opening seconds of overtime, leaving me (barely, I had been playing with 4 fouls for 10 minutes) as the only starter not fouled out. After our first basket, our offense, and defense for that matter, completely broke down and we ended up losing by 4. The good news is that we get another shot at these guys at home, but that didn't make the 5 hour ride home much better. The city of Berlin has been one of my favorite places to visit, but has not been too kind to us from a basketball standpoint. We have to go back one more time after Christmas so hopefully it will go better, I guess it can't go much worse. Next weekend we play the last place team at home, but if I have learned anything out here it is that anything can happen. Apparently the team just brought in a third American last weekend, tough timing for us...

    Two hilarious quotes from our Coach during the game and my hypothesized translations:
"If we all pull on the same string we will WIN!"
-If we are all on the same page/have the same goals, we will win.

"If he shoots another three from the corner I will make you a head shorter!"
-I will cut your head off if he shoots another corner three.

These are especially entertaining in the heat of a mid-game timeout. All Marcus and I can do it look at each other and laugh.

    Last Thursday while everyone was enjoying delicious feasts of everything that is Thanksgiving, I concocted a little meal of my own. Obviously no one out here celebrates Turkey day, and Marcus decided if he couldn't do it right, he wasn't going to do it all, so I was left to fend for myself. Knowing the limits of my culinary skills, I kept it simple: smoked turkey from the deli, homemade rolls (from a box), and a quart of milk.

Thanksgiving of Champions
Nothing to brag about, but it got the job done.

   I started working at the hospital this morning. I think it will be cool to see how hospitals and doctors operate over here, but the language barrier is definitely going to be a problem. The Doctors can all speak at least rough English, but I feel bad asking them to translate all of their interactions with patients. Hopefully I will at least get to watch a few surgeries.