Sorry about that, folks - I guess I finally fot the chance to get some rack-time and took it.
I've spoken more German in the last day that I can shake a stick at. Unfortunately, I don't know how to say "stick" "shake" and I'm not sure which of the prepositions mean "at" (oh, wait, they all do.)
Most of the German that I have been hearing during my trip is in a physics or math classroom. It's pretty easy for me to understand what's going on, because I know what the teacher should be saying. Conversational German is something completely different - like those terrifying moments after class when the teacher asks me what I thought, or where I'm from, or what the hell I've been doing in the back of thier classroom all this time (I can't really be sure.)
So, imagine my terror when Andi tells me that I'll be spending the day in Salzburg with a colleague of his, rather than in the Gymnasium - and that Helga doesn't speak very much English. At all. Oh well, sometimes you gotta run before you can walk, or some such nonsense.
The good news is: I ran. Well, I jogged. Power walked might be the better term - the point is that I made it, and managed to talk to Helga about quite a few things (not just the "Wo ist der Bahnhof?" that language guides assume every conversations consists of.) We talked a lot about the city of Salzburg - famous for Mozart and, well, salt. The money from the salt mines allowed the town to build magnificent castles and cathedrals. I also learned that Salzburg is the birthplace of Christian Doppler - know what he was famous for? I'll give you a hint... nnnnnnneeeeeEEEEOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWwwwwwwwww
While Helga and I were looking in on a theater scene shop, where carpenters were crawling all over a half-completed set, I told her about all the amazing things that Lauren has learned while in theater - welding, carpentry, mime, disaster management, kung fu and the like. About that time, we were swamped by American touists, snapping pictures and listening to the tour guide over a bullhorn. "Entschuldigung!" means "excuse me" in German. After saying it a few times as I squeezed through the crowd, I stopped and said "I suppose I could just say 'excuse me'" to anyone in earshot. I realized that these were Americans, I could just say "excuse me," but my brain's first reaction was to use German. Someone replied "Very good!" - for some reason, that meant a lot to me. It meant that, to that person, at least, I had them fooled. I wasn't a tourist.
...but I did buy some Mozartkugeln