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An Institute Christmas Story

The last week, which I will call ‘The week landing up to the arrival of Andy in Germany’, has been pretty much filled with cake, and other fatty delights.

On Wednesday we had cake- just because Wednesday is Cake Day in the Bock Department- where all the hungry Phd students line up at the door of the tea kitchen, and then swarm all over the foodstuffs the second the clock hits three.

I’m pretty much calling last Wednesday’s cake time as The Beginning of the End of the productive working week.

That evening, there was much Christmas decoration of the window in Alix’s office:

Actually, not so much Christmas as seasonal- note the Menora and Dreidel, courtesy of Gal. Anna and Etienne look somewhat pleased with their efforts- or are possibly doing Blue Steel. Adam is searching for pictures of ants on the computer to convince people that his Santa on a sleigh is being pulled by reindeer and not ants. Note my beautiful Xmas Kiwi under the Dreidel. See how I am so supportive of our little cousins in NZ?

And here is an extra large picture of Grinch-tienne, who does not like Christmas (markets).

Thursday was the Intitute Christmas Party, which began with the traditional address from the acting director. As some background, we have three directors, who each ‘direct’ a department (one on each floor of the building). The directors are Mark, Lothar and Ralph Bock- my boss. Within these departments there are smaller groups (working groups- Arbeit-gruppen or something in german= A.G), each with a group leader. Incidentally Ralph is also a group leader.

So I’m within Ralph’s group in Ralph’s department (and Ralph is also my only supervisor- probably best to not piss off Ralph then…)… but, for example Sabine is in Mark Schottler’s group in Ralph’s department… etc.

On top of this all, one of the three directors has to be ‘acting director’ of the entire institute for a two year period. At the moment it’s Lothar.

And so, we began with the traditional address from the acting director, which mostly consisted of thanking all the great work of the people who keep the whole thing running.

Then we went on to the not-so traditional ‘Christmas Pantomime’:

Our Beloved Leaders


For those of you playing at home, from left to right: Mark, as the sugarplum fairy, Ralph as Santa and Lothar as Rudolph.

(Ian- if you’re looking for a way to spice up the Centre a little- it is clear from my time here that an ability for Important Persons to wear Silly Costumes is key!)

After we were told the story of the mean old german government who tried to steal all our scientific funding and heard how the three christmas spirits saved the day and the mpi, and after everyone had had sufficient time to laugh at the directors in their pretty outfits, we went Full German and stampeded towards the Gluhwein.

Or, if a wuss like myself, ambled slowly in the direction of the kinsderspunsch, for which there was a much shorter line.

And then, in the true spirit of Christmas, we proceeded to eat (and drink in many cases) ourselves silly:

Two French, Two Aussies, Two Chileans, a Spanish and A Kiwi… and all of us eating the traditional Potatoes and Red Cabbage!

I have to say, that it was the two Chileans who managed to inject the life into the party… they’re really very skilled:

I was not able to get a photo where JuanK was smiling whilst juggling.. but probably both Pauli and I standing with cameras in his face and shouting SMILE SMILE JUGGLE JUGGLE is not the best incentive.

Paulina, looking photogenic and charismatic, seems to have wandered into some sort of awkward scientist photo.

We had live music from two bands.. the first featuring a very very heavily pregnant woman….

The very first thing she ‘sang’ was this loud scream.
Someone whispered that the baby was coming.
(it wasn’t me- seriously, if I had been that funny, I would claim it!)

Although, honestly- that is a LOT of Baby…
But they were really very good!

Band Number Two definitely won points for Cool:

And then the dancing began:

Gal doesn’t realise he can never win a dance-off against JuanK

All in all- a pretty good night.


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  1. Kaisa says

    I agree: academics in silly costumes is beneficial to the working environment! Christmas in academia = time for group leaders to cross-dress.

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