It’s exam season at college, and that means getting the remaining functional brain cells to work trying to learn things.

KL_02_Erträglich

It turns out I’m a visual learner and I don’t remember abstract concepts very well, so to get some of the ideas into my head, I hit on the idea of making posters for them. The process of making the pictures and drawings helps me retain the information, and I have a visual idea to try and recall during the exam.

That’s the theory. And I get to draw stuff in the class, and call it revision.

I’m supposed to remember the word at the back, ‘erträglich’, meaning ‘sustainable’, as in ‘a job doesn’t cause long term health issues’. I’m using a play on words which I’m sure has German speakers rolling on the floor already;  to allow English speakers to join in the hilarity I should explain the German word for ‘carry’ is ‘Tragen’: so he’s carrying something. (Tragen and Erträgen, gettit?) I’m hoping this will help me remember the point.

I’m also hoping they won’t deduct marks for bad puns…

Occasionally people  who know me through the blog ask why I don’t just ‘become self employed’ as a carpenter, instead of faffing about for another three years learning occupational therapy.

Apart from this showing a highly optimistic view of my abilities, in Germany a carpenter/cabinet maker is under the authority of the Carpenters Guild, which decrees that even after a three year apprenticeship, no-one is ‘permitted’ to be self-employed unless they have completed a master carpenters qualification. This takes another two years and you have to practically be an engineer or mathematician to get through it. It also costs 15 to 20 thousand Euros.

Most of which goes to the Carpenters Guild.

The result is that most self-employed carpenters about are (1) mathematicians; (2) in debt, (3) largely keen to keep the status quo going, having invested so much in it, and (4) paying members of the trade guild and therefore able to keep things the way they are*.

And then there’s the startup costs. Carpentry here is machine intensive and machines aren’t cheap: I’d have to take on a frightening amount of extra debt to set up a workshop. I’d then spend 20 years getting stressed out making boring chipboard furniture to pay it all off. Except that the machines will be ‘too old’ and ‘too slow’ in twenty years time, so I’d have to start all over again.

Or I can learn to be an occupational therapist, which frankly sounds a whole lot more fun.

I’ll also be at least twenty thousand Euros better off…

*Quote from one master carpenter on the subject: “I had to pay to get my Masters’ Qualification, so you should too.”

Porteur_01

 

Well, it turns out there’s a lot to be said against using hardwoods for luggage racks. Sure, they’re nice and solid, but it made the bike turn like I’d cable tied a stack of bricks onto the front forks. As the route to college has a number of those ridiculous chicanes made to slow everyone* down when the cycleway crosses a road, it became a decision between taking up weight training just to get the bike around corners, or taking the whole contraption off. The rack also developed the interesting habit of sliding forwards and downwards, something I really should have expected if I’d been paying attention.

I think I could probably sort out most of the problems: I could make the rack lower, and about 8 cm shorter so it didn’t hang over the front of the bike as far, and add another fixing point to the forks so it doesn’t try to keep going whenever I brake, but at the moment what’s left of my brain is mostly engaged in trying to remember enough of my course to survive the first theory tests, so any bike related projects will have to wait for a couple of weeks until there’s spare capacity available.

*Excapt cars of course, because… er…

We are still in exam season.

The subjects people have chosen are varied and interesting: we’ve had Thai kickboxing, origami, fondu making, and some weirdo who decided to sharpen a plane, but after a while interest wanes. Every exam requires 90 minutes including evaluation and there are twenty students, and we all have to do it twice… That’s eighty ‘school hours’, an official German ‘school hour’ being 45 minutes long -don’t ask me I didn’t write the rules- which means ten solid days of tedium. Fortunately the staff are aware of this and are happy for us to read if we want as long as we don’t disturb anyone, but you can only look at so much about Brexit in German before that too begins to lose its excitement. If it had any at the start.

It’s enough to make you long for a week of education theory, which is good, because that’s what is coming up on Monday.

On the other hand, the weather has improved so I can ride my bike through the forest to get to college, and tomorrow I have pottery class; all day.

Sharpen_003
Finally made the practical exam and got a 1,05, which is a pretty good grade, as the system starts at 1.0 and goes down to 6. This is largely due to the kindness of the College in letting me do the exam without the whole class watching (lovely people, to be sure, but doing an exam with 20 pairs of eyes on me was not going to work), and despite my reprinting the report at the last minute and managing to forget an important section, but I was allowed to bring that on Monday. My tutor is clearly still in a good mood having just become a dad…

Now I can relax, until the mid-term theory exams…

I had several ideas for todays post, and was in fact thinking about it when Beautiful Wife came in and reminded me that I was Supposed to collect Middle Son from his school sleepover at ten, and it was half past nine. And Middle Son’s School is two towns away.

So being a dutiful, if slightly forgetful dad, I set off on the Xtracycle to get him. With fifteen minutes to go. The weather was fine, not too hot, but nice and dry, as in fact it has been almost all week.

As I left the driveway, it began to rain. Hard. Which I think is unfair: it isn’t like I cleaned my bike or anything.

Thankfully, I’m British and pessimistic* so I’d grabbed my elderly waxed cotton rain coat on the way out. This coat is the source of much dismay to those more fashion conscious than I -which is to say, everyone else- by virtue of being as old as me and almost as tatty around the edges. But here’s the thing: whenever I use a jacket that passes the fashion police, it tends to have the waterproofing of a sheet of loo roll. When I took this highly unfashionable item off, I was much drier than my more sartorially aware colleagues.

My nice smug feeling almost compensates for the fact it is still raining…

*There’s some redundancy I can’t quite place in that sentence…

 

 

mess

So, the first exam came and went, and I’m told I did reasonably well. This week I get to do it all again, graded this time, and hopefully remembering all the reccomendations the examiner made.

Oh, and now I have to go and find out what our long-term immigration status looks like thanks to a sizable minority of the UK being tricked into believing it will be a good idea to go it alone. We have a lifelong visa here so we are okay for the time being, but with everything shifting under us I feel the need to plan ahead.

Thse two are taking a lot of time and energy, hence the low posting rate at the moment…

Plane

I spent most of the weekend preparing for my first practical exams, where I have to teach someone something for half an hour. For my first attempt I chose to do a session on how to sharpen a woodworking plane, a choice I since regretted because it means carrying both my cast iron planes into college and back, but there we go. I’ve practiced with several people so I know how to approach the session, and I spent most of the weekend preparing lots of instructions for my ‘trainee’ to refer to. I also wrote a fifteen page report, which either explains my concept in flowing German prose, or fills a lot of paper with utter gibberish. I decided not to get anyone to proofread the first example so I can see if my German is up to the standard the college needs.

The college have very kindly let me do the test with just the tutor and trainee, instead of being in front of the entire class of 20 people, which would just make me freeze up. Of course this means organising an extra session, so they shoe-horned some space into Monday morning.

The test is at 1030 tomorrow. See you on the other side…

Our local town is trying to get us all cycling, because “Cycling is healthy for your body and good for the environment”. If only they’d noticed a few years ago: I can think of at least three major road rebuilding projects in the last few years that could have included provision for cyclists with very little money and some thought, but there we go. There’s still all kinds of things that the town could do, like making a couple of parking spaces in the town hall car park into cycling bays, or putting bike lockers by the tram stations for commuters. Or even covered cycle parking. Or any cycle parking at all by bus stops. Or even enforcing speed limits so roads become safer to cycle on. You know, simple, low-cost things that would encourage cycling. With this new found enthusiasm for our health and environment, what are our elected representatives doing?

They’re running a cycling competition.

Actually, they’re joining a cycling competition, or more accurately, encouraging us to join a cycling competition. Individuals can make teams and compete to ride the most. The most committed can aim to become a ‘cycling star’: someone who (you may want to write this down) actually leaves their car at home for the whole 21 days of the competition and uses a bike instead. If you manage this for three weeks you get a bike bag and a cycle computer. Cycling instead of drving: why didn’t I think of that earlier?

That’s Climate Change sorted then. And in July we can all go back to normal.

Ess_LSE_01

Went on a bike ride with Youngest Son to Esslingen Am Neckar. These trips remind me tha while cycle infrastructure in this area leaves much to be desired, it is possible to do trips like this without riding more than a few metres on a road and I should probably count my blessings.

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