Earlier this year I seemed to rather suddenly lose my motivation for cycling: suddenly the daily commute went from being a highlight of the day to a chore. I think this was because my new workplace has a more direct connection to the local tram stop, so even though riding all the way to the edge of Stuttgart was undoubtedly keeping me youthful, fit and good looking,* it was a bit of a drag after being on my feet all day, especially as I have a 15 minute walk after I get off the tram.

So over summer I have generally got into the habit of abandoning the commuter bike at the local tram stop, which is only about 15 minutes from the village. This wakes me up and also saves about 24€ a month in bus fares.

Anyway, I had a few days of this week and used them up sorting out paperwork and running errands, this being as exciting as life gets these days, and the local parcel company informed me that they couldn’t deliver my package and had therefore abandoned it at a post office 2 towns away. I decided to take the Xtracycle down the scenic route and reminded myself that this isn’t such a bad place to live really. I even found myself wanting to go further when I had planned to turn around and come back, and the parcel that had been the reason for the ride was now a minor concern.

Which was a good thing because it wasn’t at the post office, and nor has it resurfaced since…

*It’s my reality, don’t mess with it…

This box represents an big step forward in the InGermany household.

We’ve bought a new microwave.

Our previous Microwave was given to us by some friends with a slightly apologetic comment of “My Granny was throwing it out: It’s a bit old.” and it was, in fact it was ancient, but we needed a microwave and we figured we could replace it later.

That was about seventeen years ago.

People have commented at times at the age of the microwave, but we’d always had other things to do and it still worked, after a fashion. It was noisy and the light packed up several years ago, but we got used to that.

Then someone pointed out that the power consumption on the thing must be pretty high: I believe their actual words were “I can see the lights dimming whenever you cook something” so we started looking around for a replacement -until something came up, and then something else… you get the idea.

Anyway, Beautiful wife got fed up and went online last month. It took ten minutes to order a new one, and finally we have a microwave made in this century.

If things go on like this we may all have a smart phone by 2050…

Every now and again Beautiful Wife expresses the opinion that German food, while certainly filling, lacks a certain gastronomic variety, and that it’s time the boys experienced a little more of their maternal heritage. So last week we went of to visit the Asian supermarket in Stuttgart.

The catch-all Asian supermarket, like the informative bus stop, is a fairly new development in Stuttgart. Despite being an engineering centre the city doesn’t have an east Asian community anything like as big as the cities to the north, and it’s only recently begun to have a cosmopolitan feel. Last time I bought some Marmite I even had to order it from Cologne.

Possibly a bad example there.

The supermarket is on the main shopping street in the centre but hidden inside a large sportswear shop, of all things. Once  got past the piles of 2018 German football strips being sold off at reduced prices, we go down into the basement and landed in East Asia. Beautiful Wife went off in search of Green Tea ice cream and I went for a slightly nostalgic wander through shelves of “Healthy Boy Brand Chilly Sauce”, packed in what looks like glass lemonade bottles and source of some epic endurance contests amongst some colleagues in Thailand.

There were also assorted items I was quite glad to leave behind in Japan like the unfortunately named ‘Calpis’ sports drink, sold in concentrate, with the English boast that “with 1.5l you can make 7.5l of Calpis”, which never failed to amuse our boys. Not far away is the dreaded Natou (“Na-chow”) sticky beans, made -let’s be honest here- by allowing beans to ferment, ie, rot, packaging the result up and selling it as a delicacy.

But then being British means you can never be too cocky about other people’s tastes in food. As I was wandering about the cooking section which has the largest collection of woks I’ve ever seen, Beautiful Wife came around the corner waving a pot of Marmite.

The theatre I work at is currently closed because it’s summer and nobody wants to sit in a stuffy theatre all evening when they could be out having a nice barbecue. The sound and lighting technician is away and to keep me out of trouble I’ve been given the job of making sure both stages are sanded down and repainted.

This involves removing all 72 flip up seats from the tiny downstairs theatre & hauling them up the narrow stairs into the bar. As the seats are normal theatre flip up seats with stainless steel frames this job takes a considerable amount of time and foul language to accomplish.

Then we realised we needed the fridges in the bar for an outside catering booking. So all the chairs needed to go into the basement, which due to the strange geography of the place is higher than the theatre (and universally known as “the chicken shed” but that’s another story).

Then two days later we needed to use the basement for something else, so all the chairs had to be moved back to the bar.

Of course this meant that the people who were supposed to be sanding and painting were in fact hauling chairs back and forth and swearing, so after a week the painting still isn’t finished and the theatre is an empty shell with ladders across the stage.

We’ve got a week until the next show…

Much excitement in Stuttgart this summer: the bus company has fitted real time information panels on their bus stops. I appreciate that other cities in the world have had these since before the turn of the century -I can remember them in Tokyo back in 2000- but for Stuttgart a lag of eighteen years in public transport technology is pretty good really. We live one kilometre outside of the city so I expect it’ll be a couple more decades before our local authority hears about them.

Now that’s a great idea as far as it goes, but the information panels are tiny things to fit into the normal bus stop signs, so you can’t see them from a distance, for example as you get off the tram to catch the bus to work. On top of this, someone realised that when you have information panels you can put all kinds of useful messages onto them, so the actual bus times are sandwiched between lots of other helpful advice.

Because of the peculiar geography of Stuttgart -the city founders, in their wisdom decided that a series of steep sided malaria ridden river valleys was the ideal place to make a city- the bus wiggles back and forth for a leisurely ten minutes down the hill, taking in several other parts of the city and crossing the path of every confused, lost, or otherwise distracted driver around. The pedestrian route from the tram stop to work takes 12 minutes, which means that unless the bus is about to come through the stop, it’s as quick to walk.

Unfortunately, by the time I’m close enough to read the information panel, and it has finished telling us about engineering works and the flower festival in the park, then finally remembers what it is there for and imparts the information that the bus is due in ten minutes, I might as well just walk straight down the hill…

Ever since we had the ‘Brexit’ vote, the UK government has been pretty cagey about what it means for us and the other 1.4 million Brits in the EU and 3.5 million EU Citizens in the UK. (although if this is the best they could come up with, perhaps that’s a good thing).

This wasn’t quite as much of a worry for us in Germany as it was for EU citizens in the UK: we haven’t been attacked, told to “go home” or had anything shoved in our letterbox; our local immigration office was almost comically horrified when we asked if we may have to leave after 2019.

This week the UK Government made a heroic effort to “claim the moral high ground”*, by leaking some papers suggesting they might perhaps allow EU residents to stay. Maybe. They were pretty unclear exactly what rights EU residents would have, who gets them, the time and cost involved (you can bet it won’t be free) and a whole heap of other niggly but important details, but one thing was for sure:

…former Brexit minister David Jones said: “It’s got to be reciprocal.

Which is a bit different from their response when The EU unilaterally suggested this solution in 2017 and it was rejected by the UK…

Only a really cynical person would suggest that the UK gov deliberately rejected those proposals last year, so now they can try and claim the credit…

*Possibly having had someone explain what ‘moral’ meant

Work has been a bit busy over the last week or so and although there’s been plenty of blogging interest happening it soaked up the energy for the actual blogging, so as a bit of a cop out this week, here’s an entirely normal occurrence at work:

One day last week the kitchen/restaurant had a had a a big catering contract, so very unusually the chef turned up at 0800, while I was having a quiet cuppa with the business manager (who deals with paperwork). The Chef saw the manager, grabbed an invoice that had just come with an early delivery, and wordlessly attempted to wrap it in a bow around the managers hand. This didn’t work so he proceeded to stuff it down the back of the managers shirt.

The manager had remained silent for this operation, but as the chef tried to walk away as if nothing had happened, he retrieved the crumpled paperwork and calmly observed: “You really aren’t a morning person are you Stefan?”

Holidays this week, so hopefully I’ll find something interesting to blog about…

As I mentioned last week, we had the big summer concert at work recently. Like lots of social organisations we occasionally do something like this, even though it means that for a couple of days we have to drop the treehuggy therapy side of our work and just put on a show. As an Arbeitserzieher/Occupational Therapist is essentially there to do the treehuggy therapy thing, this renders me pretty useless but fortunately there is still a need for someone to be a vaguely reliable gopher.

Being generally useless was an advantage as the rain came pounding down at eight in the morning and kept going until early afternoon. I ended up being the designated Holder-up Of The Other Tent Pole so I managed to stay mostly dry, while all the people who knew what they were doing ended up getting soaked doing the complex techy stuff outside.

The rain got bored and went home before the artists turned up, and when the audience arrived I was the Ironic Stage Door Bouncer and spent most of the evening persuading merry people that no, the entrance to the building is that way and there really isn’t anything interesting behind this door, and if they genuinely had an important message for someone I could take it to them et c. The rain held off until just before midnight when the band played its final encore: we have a strict 1200 finish, mainly because one of the largest police stations in Stuttgart is three doors down the road and the boys in blue apparently get really grumpy if their midnight doughnut round is disturbed.

The tidying up part of the operation was simple enough even for an OT: It doesn’t matter where the cables are plugged in, you just tug at it until it comes loose and then dump the whole soggy mess onto our indoor stage to dry out by Monday. We were finished in two hours much to the disappointment of two very well lubricated festival goers who thought they’d finish off the evening listening to a band. After briefly considering turning into rowdily aggressive festival goers they decided that trying to annoy a dozen tired stage shifters was probably a bad idea and wandered off into the night.

Stuttgart’s transport system goes to bed at about eleven, so the organisation laid on taxis for us, which sounds like a quick way to get back, except that our driver was afflicted with the problem of taxi drivers all over the world, of being unable to drive anywhere in a straight line. so I finally arrived in our village at 3am on Sunday after a very informative tour of the surrounding towns…

This week the theatre/social enterprise I work for was part of a big summer festival in our part of the city, which meant Saturday was full of loud music, crowds, lights, more loud music, and more crowds. Pretty much the standard town festival formula really. Oh, and it ran to midnight and after that we had to tidy everything up. And someone decided it would be a great idea to put the 5’3″ (168cm) Brit on the rota for the stage door bouncer.

Still, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night than trying to keep people on the public side of the stage door by sheer force of personality and a step. Besides, I got to hang out with some of our clients and hear their stories and as soon as enough time has passed that I can tell them without the people involved being identified you’ll read them here.

Alas you won’t ever get the full experience of the Tale of the Announcers Dentures, to name but one, because that requires the announcer themselves to be recreating the situation and audiences reaction, but I’ll do my best.

In the meantime, I’m going to stop writing before I lose the ability to use sentences and fall aslpffrrrrzzzzzzz….

I have issues with cell phones. Mind you, I have issues with most electronic devices. If it can’t be fixed with a hammer then it wasn’t properly built is the way of thinking from this grumpy Luddite.

Cell phones are especially bad because they are not only breakable they are also small and have to be carried around all the time. As such mine usually spend most of their working life held together with Gaffer tape. I also long since concluded that smart phones are not good things for the organisationally challenged, especially serial readers who discover Ebooks.

The latest example/victim of this was a cheap ‘traditional’ cell phone which suddenly decided it only needed to bother connecting for a couple of minutes a day. This was just after Beautiful Daughter got hold of the phone and spent five minutes changing all the settings and deleting most of the ring tones, so it may not have been me this time. Personally I could see the advantages to this situation, but society in general and my employer in particular have unreasonable expectations about contacting me, & if I’m paying the phone company for the privilege of making phone calls it seems a bit daft to keep using a phone that refused to do its main job.

In an effort to find a phone that survives longer than six months I ended up looking at “Building Site Phones”. To my frustration the only one I could afford was made in China but it is built along the lines of a brick and so far doesn’t seem to mind being dropped, so I’m hoping the environmental damage caused by shipping a collection of rare metals halfway around the world will be offset by its long service. It also has a torch powerful enough to signal helicopters which proves very useful for navigating around a dark theatre, and a thoroughly obnoxious and apparently unchangeable ring tone which may eventually annoy me enough that I actually look at the instructions to see how to replace it.

Or maybe I’ll just give it my daughter to play with instead.

 

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Contact me

"]

Archives

Categories