Monday, February 26, 2007

A fortnight

we were wondering what a 'fortnight' was in German so we looked it up in Leo

fortnight = vierzehn Tage = fourteen days
= zwei Wochen = two weeks

I guess the Germans don't have much use for the term - but I think its a very useful term that we will have to find a way of introducing...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Night out with the Girls

So the next night (after Brett's story below) I went out shopping with a couple of girls (M & T) from work. One needed supplies for a six month trip to Africa and the other for a few week trip to Africa.

Because one of the girls had to work late myself and M went into town to start the shopping expidition and T was going to meet us there. She called us she got into town and we said we would meet at H&M (a crappy department store) in the women's section. After a while T calls to say she is in teh women's section, where are we? We hang up and start searching for her, with no luck. Then we realise that there is actually 2 of these stores in the shoping strip so we decide to run across to the other one. We get there and start searching for her - no luck... I decide to call her but am informed by the computer lady from Tmobile that I only have €0.36 credit left... finally T calle du to say that she thought we must have been at the other store so she had run across there - somehow we had missed each other...

Finally caught up we shopped until the stores closed. The other girls wanted to go get a drink - but I was tired so decided to go home. By this time though I really needed to find a toilet so decided to go at the station as the next train was due in about 10 mins. In Germany you almost always have to pay to go the the toilet, but I hadn't thought about that - until I got into the toilets. This set up was oen where you paid at a little machine on each loo door but they were all open because they were being cleaned. I already had my wallet out but couldn't see the lady so headed into a stall, and hear 'It's 30 cents...' I poke my head back out the door and see that the lady was down the end of the room and say 'i will just go, and then pay after.' I come back out, and start looking through my wallet and realise that i don't have 30cents!!!! Scraping together 1, 2 and 5c pieces i have about 22c. Profusely appologising I give her the money - sure that she thinks I did a dodgy and knew I didn't have the money...

By now I must have 3 minutes left so feeling bad I rush to buy my ticket - at which point I get change from the note i used. Delemma - do I run back and give her more miney, or do I get the train... I check the train board and lucklily the train is delayed so I don't have to choose and run back and give her the extra money. I think i made her night!!!

I wanted to let Brett know that I was on my way home (later than I told him I would be), and I assume I have enough credit to at least send 1 text message "train in 9 mins - no credit" but NO, it won't go through. Looking around I discover that there is a phoen box on the platform, but i have no idea how much a phone box in Germany costs, and have only €1,30. AS i examien the phone I realise that it has an SMS button - and it only costs 30c to send an SMS!! Although not as simple to use as a mobile to text message it worked. It was very slow and i was worried the train would come while I was typing, and I couldn't work out how to delete so all my mistakes had to stay in the message, which then was a bit confusing, but 1 minute later my phone rings and I hear 'how did u send that message?'

While I was talking to Brett on the phone the train before mine pulled in. On these trains the doors autonatically close after 30 secs so the train stays warm. As the doors closed on the train a back pack came flying out of the door onto the platform. As I saw it I assumed that soemoen on the train was just being a dickhead and had thrown a friends bag out, but no one came out of the train to get the bag, then I thought maybe they were throwing it to someone on teh platform, but no one grabbed it. By now quite a few people on the platform were paying very close attention to the bag. Normally on the platforms is a place where you can either get train information or call for security - I started to look for it but there wasn't one on this section of the platform. THen I realised there was a small cafe trolley on the platform so I went over to tell them so they could call security. As I got there someone else was there tellign her about the backpack, which she already knew (you could see the backpack from there) but that she had no phone (which is totally rediculous that they have no way to call security although they are sitting there with cash). I asked where the info/security buttons were and she pointed randomly. I started walking in the direction of the stairs, but as I got there a man came down the stairs with two cops telling them about the back pack... At this point my train pulled in so I walked as far up the platform away from the backpack as i could towards the front of the train and jumped in, thinking 'go, go, go'...

A few minutes later Brett called back to see if I was still alive, at which point my phone gave its sick sounding going very flat sound - so now i was out of credit and had a flat battery....

Brett met me at our train station and after the previuos nights driving experience and the possible back pack bomb I was very gald to see him...

Wishing all of you that I love, and those that you love all the best

Exit? What exit? Car? What car?

On Friday night we headed into Frankfurt with one of B's colleagues, to see some hippy movie at some hippy film festival. The film was about people working in Call Centers in India, and how screwed up their perspective on the world becomes...but we can talk about that later.
Before the film started, we snuck into the discussion that was being held at the end of the previous film (Yes! One of THOSE film festivals!). The previous film was about people in China working in sweatshops, and their appauling conditions...more on that later. Anyway, film sounded interesting, so we decided to head back in on Monday night to see it.

So, now it's Monday night, and we are driving into Frankfurt to the cinema. We are banging along the A66, and the navi starts counting down to the exit. I am kinda calm about it, because I think I am in the right lane...which I turn out not to be.
Anyway, exit gets VERY close, and I realise that I am in the wrong lane. Quick look... no car... quick lane change with meters to go... honking... hard braking... harder braking from me... renching at steering wheel... more braking... more honking... back wheels sliding a little... corrective action... made it around the exit. Needless to say, the lady behind me that I cut off wasn't very happy about it... and I was shaking like a leaf.
A bit further down the road I realise that she is still behind me and flashing her headlights at me. So, I pull over and get out. I don't remember the full details of the next 10mins, but it roughly goes that I am a dick, she wants to call the cops, I apologise profusely, she still wants to call the cops, more apologising, more "what did you think you were doing", more "I really am sorry, I don't know what more I can say" etc. We eventually convince her not to call the police, and she drives off. I was so shaken up that we didn't end up going to the movies, rather back home to drink some tea to calm down.
Turns out that in the whole vehicular ballet, I managed to brush the barrier of the exit ramp, but only just so lightly that we had some white paint above the wheel-arch on the driver's side, but I could rub it off with my hand.

Yeah, I know - I am a dick, and I have learned a BIG ARSE lesson from this one. I am just thankful that nobody got hurt and that everything is ok. I guess in the future I will go with the "fuck the exit, I'll take the next one" approach, and I recommend that you all do the same too.


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trains, Planes, and Arseholes...

I guess with the amount of travel I do, one is bound to bump into the occasional freak or arsehole along the way...but I seem to be becoming an freak-and-arsehole-magnet of late.

A few weeks ago, I was taking the train to Bern, in Switzerland. On the way down to Switzerland, there was a lady sitting across the aisle from me with her 3 children. Nothing strange so far. The two eldest were her daughters, and they seemed to behave like normal sisters...playing together, fighting, playing, fighting. The son - who I think was around 3 years old - was being a normal son by playing with cars, etc. What was distinctly abnormal was that this kid, who could already talk, was still being breast fed by his mother (wierder would have been by his father...but he wasn't there). Now, I am sorry, but if you are old enough to ask for it, then it's time to ween the litte bastard. And surely if he is old enough to ask for it, then he should ask for it, rather than trying to latch on through her jumper! FREAKS!

Once we crossed the border into Switzerland, a new freak jumped into the train with us. I have no idea what language this guy spoke, but I am sure that it wasn't French, Italian, or German. But that didn't really matter too much, as he only really spoke to himself...and a lot.
He had also brought a big f' off loaf of bread on the train with him, and proceeded to eat this out of the paper bag for the rest of the journey. That wouldn't have been too bad, if I couldn't literally hear the complete inner workings of his salival system while he was doing it. Made me wanna boff. FREAK!

On Friday I was catching the train to the airport in Norway. I had got on at the first stop, so had a pleasant few minutes in the train to read my book etc. After a few stops, this choad gets on, and chooses the seat behind me. He then proceeds, for the rest of the 1hr journey to the airport, to drive his knees into the back of my chair every 60 seconds or so. ARSE!

Good news was that I didn't notice him for much of the last part of the journey. Why? Well, this other arse-hat (borrowed from Josh) sits next to me with his roll-on suitcase and his laptop bag. It appears that he has lost something (not just his manners or his mind), so proceeds to rifle through his suitcase and bags at least 5 times each, if not more. This would not normally be a problem either, if he didn't keep elbowing me the whole time, putting his suitcase back on the floor on top of my foot, and slamming said suitcase into my shins repetitively. ARSE-HAT!

Then I lost the arm-rest battle with the guy next to me in the plane, but luckily he decided to move seats to get some more ball-room somewhere else.

Maybe I am just to sensitive.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Schönen Schneetag wünsche ich euch...

So, we woke up this morning to the first snowfall in Friedrichsdorf since we moved here. Well, maybe there was one day while we were in Oz, but we weren't here, so it doesn't count.

It was quite nice driving to work through snow covered fields surrounded by snow dusted trees etc. Unfortunately most of it had melted again by this afternoon, but hopefully we will get a little more tonight...if the weather is nice to us.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Why are Germans so sweet?

We really do like germans - despite their bad reputations they really are lovely, sweet people. And, today we finally found out why...

...because they eat so many sweets

The average german per year eats

8kg chocolate
4.5kg ice cream
4 kg sweet buscuits
3.5 kg gummy bears/jelly babies

Now hanging around germans for a while we had noticed that they do eat this stuff fairly regualrly, but that is STACKS!!!!!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Party, Piste, Pulverschnee!

Last Thursday Bel and I piled into a bus with around 30 other people, and headed to Austria for a 3 day ski trip (4 days, if you include the drive down on Thursday). The ski trip was organised by one of my big Customers, and 3 of us from Agilent, and Belinda joined the crew, along with a few others from various other companies. The trip cost €350 per head, which included the bus, the hotel accomodation - which included breakfast, and a 4 or 5 course meal each night - lift passes, and all the drinks for the bus on the way there and back. Not bad, if you ask me!

In the bus on the way there and back we got to experience some German Folk Music of a different kind. This is more Germany Folk Party Music, which is quite common in the Ski Huts on the mountains, and in the Apré Ski Huts later on after the sun has gone down. The songs included classics like:
  1. 20 Centimeter (a song about a girl who likes big guys)
  2. 10 Naked Hairdressers (about a guy who wants 10 Naked Hairdressers)
  3. Antonia (about a girl with big boobs who likes guys from Tirol)
  4. Cowboys and Indians (a song about getting your Lasso out...just like the first time)
  5. etc...
These songs were aboslute classics, and I think the Germans enjoyed seeing the looks on our faces as the lyrics clicked in our heads. On the way back, I was given one of the CDs so that I could bring the songs back home to Oz and spread the joy. :)

The first day of skiing was at Hochgurgl and Obergurgl, which is between 1900m and 3082m high. On top of the mountain it was somewhere between -15C and -20C (was around -12C in the valley). I must say that I have never felt so much pain in my life as when the feeling decided to return to my feet and fingertips - man that burns!
Unfortunately the conditions on this mountain weren't the best, as it had been fairly warm in the week leading up to the trip, which means that the snow base would melt during the day and freeze at night, creating some nasty ice patches. Still had fun though. :) Probably the best part of that day was all 30 of us meeting for lunch in the hut on the mountain - great atmosphere.

The second day started out with the plan to ski at Sölden, but the weather was pretty ordinary, and all the lifts in Sölden were on hold. We decided to continue along to Hochgurgl, because it is usally a bit more protected from the weather, but the lifts were on hold there too. Finally we decided to take a quick break in Sölder to eat lunch, and then headed to Ötz for the afternoon.
When we first arrived at Ötz, the conditions were pretty shitty - icy, etc., but only just below 0C. We did a few runs, and the headed into the hut for some food. When we came back out, it was dumping snow, and there was already a heap of fresh stuff on the ground. That made for a fun afternoon.

On the final day we headed to Sölden for a sunny day of skiing. Here the conditions were good up the top of the mountain (3058m, but there is a peak in this ski area at 3300m) we pretty good, but the further down you got into the valley, the icier it became. Anyway, we still had a ball here too.

The trip back was like the trip down - long - but a little quieter as most people were too tired to get too heavily into the beers. We got back home around midnight on Sunday, just in time for me to get about 5hrs sleep, and head to the airport to fly to Denmark for the week.


PS: Will link to some of the other photos taken by the team later.

PPS: Here are some of the other pics...

You can find more pics - including Apré Skiing pics in Matthias' album.