Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Womit beschäftigen wir uns?

So, just what have we been up to lately? It has been a hell of a long time since we talked to you the last time.

1. Geocaching
Geocaching is a modern form of a treasure hunt (yar, me hearties!) using a GPS receiver to guide you to your destination. Basically someone hides a container at a particular location with a log book and some little trinkets to exchange. Then the log the cache at one of the many websites from which "normal" people like you and me can download them and go searching for the "treasure". The caches can either be single stage (go straight to the final location), or multi-stage caches where you may have to solve riddles or find clues in order to calculate the GPS co-ordinates for the next location and so on. So far we have tried to find 3 caches, with the following results:

Cache 1 - didn't find the damn thing, but Bel brought about 10 ticks home with her.
Cache 2 - found it, and I brought one tick home with me.
Cache 3 - half-way through a 10 Stage cache, but haven't found Stage number 5 yet. This one is a riddle cache based on fairytales from the Brothers Grimm (at each location you find a picture of a fairy tale, and based on a list of quotes from fairy tales you find out the GPS co-ordinates of the next location).

After trying this out the first time with a borrowed GPS receiver, we decided that we enjoyed in and bought ourselves one so that we could do it more often. This is the one that we have - the Garmin Colorado 300 (just in case you care):Yes, it's very nerdy, but no, I don't care - you can't knock it until you've tried it. :)

2. Work and Residence permits
Yes, that time of year came around again - the time of year when we sacrifice ourselves to the bureaucratic gods at the immigration department. For Bel it was a relatively pleasant affair, given that she had an appointment and a nice person taking care of her case.
For me it was hell, as I didn't get the approval for mine until 1 week before my current one was due to run out. I was informed of this via a postcard on the Thursday, and I was requested to present myself (read into it what you will) at the immigration department before the following Thursday. Now, that was going to be impossible, given that they are closed on Fridays and on the weekend, and that I was going to be in Sweden from Monday through Thursday of the following week. I tried to call my Sachbearbeiterin about it on the Friday, but of course you can never get on to these people when you need them...
So I eventually managed to get on to this chick on Tuesday of the following week, calling her from Helsinki. I explained the situation and got a "well if you are in Sweden, then there is nothing that we can do about it, and I guess if will just have to wait until you are back". I should have known from the tone of the voice that this didn't bode well...
So on the Monday of the following week - 4 days after my permits had expired - I turn up at immigration 1.5 hrs early (6am) to enter my name onto the list, like we had to do in the past, only to find out that the system had changed and numbers would be given out by a machine 30min before the office opened - that is, in 1hr time. Oh goodie...
1 hour later I get my number (the first one - obviously) and wait the 30min until they open, only to then discover that my chick was 20min late for work without informing anyone. Grrr.
Then I finally get called, after all the other people who turned up later than me but had names that are processed by competent people, and proceed to sit through one hell of a telling off by Little Miss Grumpy-britches. Apparently I should have come past and picked up an temporary extension for my permits if I wasn't going to be around when they expired - even though the new ones had been approved. WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE IF SHE HAD HAVE MENTIONED THIS AT ANY POINT IN TIME IN THE PAST! BUT NO!, THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO DAMN EASY, NOW WOULDN'T IT?!?!?!Anyway lange Rede, kurzer Sinn (to make a long story short) - I finally got my new permits - although only for 1 year due to some bureaucratic bullshit instead of the 2 years that we applied for (and that Bel got) - and one hell of a reaming from devil woman for my troubles. Gotta love it. :)