Monday, November 28, 2005

Wir haben Schneefall in Darmstadt! :)

Hallo lieber Leser und Leserin!

Wir haben Schneefall wieder in Darmstadt! Es ist sehr schön (und kalt)!

Am Wochenende sind wir zu dem Darmstädter-Weihnachtsmarkt gegangen. Der Weihnachtsmarkt ist auch sehr schön. Er besteht vielen Verkaufsstände daß verkauft der Glühwein, der Eierpunsch und der Lebkuchen. Ich denke Lebkuchen ist sehr Lecker, aber Belinda denkt nicht! :)

So, I am pretty sure that I screwed a lot of that up, but here is what I mean to say:

Dear reader,

We have snow falling again in Darmstadt! It is really pretty (and cold)!

On the weekend we went to the Darmstadt Christmas Market. The Christmas Market is also really pretty. It consists of many stalls that sell Mulled Wine, Egg-Nog, and Lebkuchen (no translation for that one). I think Lebkuchen is really delicious, but Belinda doesn't.


Friday, November 25, 2005

(S)no(w) good reason to post...

Guess it must have been cold last night...

EDIT - Turned out to be somewhere between 5 and 10cm of snow on top of my car. Had to get most of it off with a plastic water bottle that I had in the back seat of the car. I pity the guys at BMW who had to then work on my car with all the snow fallling off it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


According to my "friendly FE" (FE = Sales Guy), the longest word in German used to be Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän. Apparently the word does not exist any more, and you will see why as we decode it...

Donau - The Danube River
Dampf - Steam
Schiff - Ship
Fahrt - To drive
Gesellschaft - A company
Kapitän - A captain

So, throwing all of that into the big-German-cooking-pot, adding some spices, and mashing the living shit out of it, we come up with Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän which means The Captain of a Steamboat, who works for a company, who sails on the Danube.

Crazy Germans... :)

Bis zum nächste mal! Tschüß!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

How many things can break around here?

A few weeks ago we bought a DVD player (all very exciting - hours of entertainment, and an adventure in itself as we had to return the first one we bought because we couldn't change the region on it - and the guy in the store didn't speak English and wasn't at all interested in trying to understand our German). Our collection of DVDs is still floating over here so we purchased a few (do I hear gasps - yes we paid money for DVDs). After a while we realised there was a DVD rental place near us so we joined (for €5) and have rented a few movies (another adventure as we didn't initially realise that they charge by day rather than by night so if you hire it tonight and return it in the morning you pay for two days - we were stung a few times and just thought we had rented more expensive DVDs than we realised).

Tonight we decided that we would rent a movie, and then to save some money we would return tonight. GREAT PLAN!!!

So an hour or so into the movie it stops. '"Odd!". We get up to investigate, and discover that the DVD player has died! Turn it on\off\on\off, nothing. What a pain in the arse. Then we realise - we can't get the DVD out... We have tried everything we can think of, short of opening it (which we couldn't do anyway because we have no tools of any kind).

So then I thought perhaps I could ring the DVD rental place and tell them what had happened, and they would allow us to come to some sort of arrangement that wouldn't mean we pay a fortune for this DVD. (My dad thinks I live in a fantasy land where people are reasonable.) Apparently though this place likes to keeps its number a secret. It's not on the membership card, or their internet site, or in the phone book. Eventually I drove down there and spoke to them. I have to go back on Monday to talk to the manager... And I guess I also need to go the store we bought the DVD player from and try to get them to give us a new player....

Can anything else break? We will keep you posted...

PS - did a perfect parallel park when I got home - it's only my 4th attempt on the other side of the car (1st one was a disaster!!!!).

PPS - it got to -3 today when we were out. WTF!?!?!?! It's only the beginning of winter.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Was ist das?!?!?!

Anyone for a bowl of maggots? Really, they ARE tasty!
Nah, just kidding. They aren't really maggots, they are Spätzle. Spätzle (pronounced Sh-pets-la) is a Schwäbish kind of pasta that is made of eggs, flour, and salt. They are kick arse, and especially good when made into a Bavarian dish called Käsespätzle (cheese spätzle).

A bitchin' stylin' vest that we found in Karstadt (a store in Darmstadt). This would be ok if it was in the chicks section, and they wore it kinda small with their shirt haning out the bottom (it was the style of the time), but this was in the DUDES section! Ivy-league rowing crew, anyone? Shall we adjourn to the smoking room for a snifter cognac and a fine cigar?

Sideways hanging jeans. Why not just use the frickin' top of the jeans so they hang like they wear? Or would that just be too easy?
But if you think that is bad, they do it with jumpers too! I didn't get a pic of it, but picture one of the sleeves all bunched up over the top of the coathanger, the neck kinda parallel to the floor, and the other arm pointing straight down at the floor. Surely it is easier to hang it the Australian way, right?

Hehehehehe....noblesse mens' jocks. If they are knobless, then what is that lump in the front?!?! Bratwurst mit kartoffeln anybody?

Who is that sexy man?!?!?!? And where did he get such a wonderful hat?!?!?! Gotta love a good winter baseball cap, complete with ear flaps! :)

Yeah, it's unfortunate, but my name is actually a German word. What have I become?!?!?!?
So far we have found me as a Schneiderbrett (chopping board), Surfbrett (surf board), a cat scratching board (can't remember what it's called), etc... It is important that I introduce myself as Ich bin der Brett, and not Ich bin das Brett. May seem very similar...but it has VERY different meanings.


Mmmmm..Schokolade mit Voll-Nuss (chocolate with full-nuts)... It must be healthy because it says "Sport" on it! DON'T TELL BELINDA!!!!

Anyway, that's enough of that for now.

Bis später. Tschüß!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ich bin glücklich...und unglücklich...

To follow up from Monday's post, here is a picture of my lovely new Beamer!

Let me tell you how great this car is. It has full leather interior, nav system, seat heaters, dynamic stability control (for fast cornering)...
So, now picture this. It's a nice brisk November afternoon. You've had a customer visit in the morning in Münster (about 220+km NW of Frankfurt), and you're dying to get home. So you're banging down the Autobahn at a lazy 180km/h and you hear this BANG! from your car, followed by a rhythmic thumping from the back end. Your first thought is "Shit! There goes a tyre!", so you cross the 3 lanes and pull over on the side of the road. You carefully get out of the car, with traffic screaming by, and check all of the tyres...everything seems ok. You walk around the back of the car and find this...

That's right...that's my $%&$!§ MUFFLER DRAGGING ON THE $%&$§§! GROUND! WTF! I mean HONESTLY! WHOSE MUFFLER BREAKS OFF AND STARTS DRAGGING ON THE GROUND? REALLY!?!?!?!?! So much for German-$%&$§§!-engineering!
So, if this had happened to me in Australia I would have freaked out enough, but at least I would have known who to call. But this time I am in a foreign country, where I don't speak the freakin' language, and I have no goddamn idea who to call...and I have no goddamn idea where I am!
Anyway...I put a call in to one of the admins at work, and once she got over the "What happened?", and the swearing Australian on the other end of the phone, she asked me where I was...good question! All I knew was that I was on the A45, and the Ausfahrt (exit) ahead of me was saying U25 and U37. What the $%&$§§! does U25 and U37 mean? Are there submarines down there?
So the admin puts in a call to the lease company while I go firstly for a slash (up a very steep hill, in the bushes) , and then secondly to see if I can find out any more info on where I am. The nav system was good enough to tell me that I was near Olpe, about 10km past the nearest rest stop, and about 5km from the nearest BMW dealership, but other than that it was useless. I walked back up the A45 (kinda scary with traffic doing between 120-200+km/h), and managed to find a distance marker reading 83,5km (83.5km from where I still don't know), and a sign naming the towns you could reach on the exit...I am SO Sherlock freakin-Holmes!
Anyway...long story short (too late)...I get back into the car, turn the seat heaters on (it was about 9C outside), and wait. BMW service finally turns up, tears the muffler clean off the car, and then gets me to follow them the 30km to their service center (What about the one only 5km away!!?!?!?).
At the service center it turns out that they don't have the new part in to fix the car, so they "repair" it for now, and I have to take it to a dealer in Darmstadt tomorrow to get it fixed properly. On the upside, I did manage to get a quote on a new BMW 120d, including a €3000 discount, that I will submit to the leasing company tomorrow. (Do I really want one now, after all of this?!?!?!).

What is God's name will happen next???

PS: Bel bought me snacks to make me feel better...and is looking forward to eavesdropping tomorrow when I tell our German teacher what I did for the last few days...and attempting to do it in German. :)

PPS: Good thing it wasn't the tyre... :)

Q: How does one say "And then my $%&$§§! MUFFLER FELL OFF!" in German? Tansy? :)


Monday, November 07, 2005

Trauma has a new name...


I took the train from Darmstadt Südbahnhof to Herrenberg today. Purpose of the visit was to pick up my new pool car, and start the "configuration" of the car that I want to get in a few months, that Agilent pays the lease on.
The two cars that I am looking at are the VW Golf Sportline (6 speed, 103kw, Turbo diesel), and the Audi A3 Ambition (6 speed, 103kw, Turbo diesel). Both of them are the sporty model, though the A3 is a bit sportier, with 17" rims, etc. The VW comes in at about €27k, and the Audi at about €30k.
While I was there I also picked up my new pool car. This one is a BMW 320d (Turbo diesel). I think it is a 77kw Turbo diesel, and all I can say is that if this is 77kw, then the 103kw in a smaller car is just going to be dangerous! (Read as sooooooooo much fun!).

When I got home from picking up the BMW, Bel and I headed up to the Frankfurt airport to return the piece-of-crap Mercedes. I say "piece-of-crap" because it has a top speed of around 170kmph, whereas the BMW does at least 200-220kmph. :)
Apparently, a "colleague" (the Germans love that word) of Bel's was telling her today that they most important keyword to listen to in the German traffic updates is not stau (meaning traffic jam), but Geistfahrer (Ghost/Spirit Driver) or Fahrfalsch (Driving Wrongly). These apparently mean that someone is driving the wrong way down the Autobahn.
Now, you might think "What has this got to do with the price of fish in China?" we were approaching the rental car return at the airport we noticed a car coming towards us. I didn't think too much of it - I thought that we were on a two-lane road...and then I remembered that we were on the Autobahn, and that they shouldn't be where they currently are!
The car in front of me managed to get out of their way, and so did I, and so did Belinda (in the Merc behind me). Funny thing was that the dude just kept on going down the exit ramp, and onto the Autobahn, IN THE WRONG FREAKIN' DIRECTION! Hope they made it home alive....stoopid heads.

And back to T-Mobile.
Bel has purchased a pre-paid card from T-Mobile, and also purchased an XtraCash card to add another €30 to her account. We weren't quite sure how to go about this, and we were going to ask our German teacher to help us out, but we forgot. It surely can't be that hard, so we decided to give it a shot ourselves.
On the back of the card there is a 13 digit number, a value amount, a use-by date, a bar code, and what looks like a hologramatic security strip. There are also instructions, in German, on how to load the cash onto your account.
So Bel gives it a shot by entering *101* 13-digit number # and then dialing. It comes back and tells her that the card number isn't valid. After a few more shots - all unsuccessful - we decide that it's my turn.
It also mentioned on the back of the card that you can call 2000 for I thought I would give that a go. GOOD IDEA, DIP-SHIT!
I managed to work my way through the options in the menu (in German), and pressed 2 to load the credit. Something was babbled at me, and I was transferred to an operator.

ME: Hier ist Brett White. Entschuldigung. Ich spreche wenig Deutsch. Sprechen Sie English, bitte?
ME: Haben Sie ein Kollege...?

So we start working in some broken English and some SEVERELY broken German. He asks if I want to load the card, I say yes, and he asks for the number. I give him the 13 digit number off the back of the card (using the German numbers, of course!). A few seconds later I get:

T-MOBILE: Nein. This is not right.

More broken English, and more decimated German, and we work out that it's not the use-by date, or the 13 digit number. Process of elimination, people!
T-MOBILE dude tells me that it's under the 13 digit number, but the only thing here is the bar code. I ask if it is the bar code "bar code?", but he doesn't know that English word. Lots of silence on both ends as I flick through the dictionary to find Registrierkode, and he says yes, so I read it out...but that ain't it either!


Lots of confusion...Lots of silence...Lots of nothing really going on...
I look again at the card, and the hologram strip is staring back at me... Surely that couldn't be it! I remember that when I got my T-Mobile information for my work phone that I had to scratch something off to find the PIN and PUK I start to scratch at it...and it starts to come off!


Apparently he can hear the scratching, and either I am on the right track, or scratching really excites him and we are into some wierd phone-sex thing...

T-MOBILE: What are you wearing?

Nah...just kidding...

So finally the code is revealed, read out, and the credit is loaded. All three of us are laughing, and now alles gut. Next time it's Bel's turn. :)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Oh shit!

I just upgraded MSN Messenger to 7.5. Intelligent Microsoft determined that my machine is configured for Germany, so now I have MSN installed in Deutsch! Apparently a number of my logged on Kontakt are Abwesend at the moment...which I think means Away. Oh well, what better way to learn, huh?