On wearing nice socks

I wear odd socks. Odd, as in not matching, rather than intrinsically odd.

Sometimes they’re brightly coloured, sometimes dark, sometimes stripy, sometimes spotty, sometimes plain, sometimes patterned, sometimes with pictures. Sometimes they’re thick, sometimes thin, sometimes long sometimes short, sometimes in-between. Sometimes they’re boring socks, sometimes they’re just socks, not in need of a description.

Sometimes someone mentions them, mostly they don’t. If they do, they mostly only notice that they don’t match.

I notice other people’s socks occasionally, mostly if they aren’t wearing shoes. Sometimes I comment on them.

“Hey! [Those are] cool socks!” Smile. End of conversation.

What I have never done, is ask if I can wear them.

No one’s ever asked if they could wear mine either. If they had, I would have thought they were very very strange.

I have to admit that I’ve also never offered..

If someone told me I have nice socks, I would say thanks and probably move on to something more exciting. If I thought they were really interested I might say something like: “Yeah, I thought they were pretty cool too, I found them in a market in….blahblahblah..”

“Those are nice socks!”
“Thanks! Want to try them on?”

is not a conversation I’ve ever thought about having. Not in a million years.

***

Yesterday, while waiting at the airport, I flicked through a magazine.

Apparently, according to the magazine, 

“Hey! You’re wearing nice socks, can I try them on?”

made it onto the list of top 3 chat up lines for the next season.

(!!!!!)

Apparently that’s a thing.

I don’t claim to be an expert on chat up lines, I didn’t even know there was a list, but even assuming one exists, asking to wear someone else’s socks would never have occurred to me as a candidate, never mind one of the winners.

I have no idea how they choose what lands on it. Have they been compiled, thought up, tested? Do people write in with what worked for them?? Are there contests?

Several hours later I still can’t imagine a situation where that would be a good thing to say.

It’s entirely possible I’m missing the innuendo or a reference to something else because I miss a lot of references.

But I’m curious:

Is it me, or is the whole idea really really weird?

Do people really want to wear other people’s socks? Especially when the other person’s been wearing them..

Have I been missing out? 

On driving several tonnes of memories across Germany with no brakes

Wrote most some of this during the breaks in Friday’s adventure. I originally wanted to write about each step of the journey as it happened, but sometimes it was more important to participate than observe so I missed some lots of bits out, or wrote fragments instead of sentences. I thought about posting as was, but I had some time to kill on the flight and wanted to make it more readable so I’ve chopped and changed and added as necessary..

***

13:00 – motorway services carpark (where I bought my coffee)

S and I arranged to meet at the rental office at 8. I missed the train I wanted to catch so by the time I arrived she’d already sorted everything out and was raring to go – the helpers were booked to arrive soon and she had a couple of things she wanted to sort out before they turned up. All I had to do was hand over my driving licence (they gave it back afterwards)) and pick up the keys and then we could go.

***

The van is huuuuuge!! And has the turning circle of a block of flats. (Or at least a middle sized house). The place we borrowed it from has a lamppost directly next to the exit. Guess who dented the van before they’d even driven 200m….

Ho hum. We luckily have a good insurance policy.

Then we got a tiny bit lost on the way to S’s house so the helpers had to wait for us and S had to work round them.

They worked quickly and we were on the road half an hour earlier than we’d planned despite everything.

And now we’re on the first loobreak.

It’s windy and there are roadworks and it’s looking like rain, but there are no traffic jams (yet).

Wheeee!!

***

15:00 ish – Supermarket logistics centre carpark.

We’ve stopped because we have no brakes. Or at least dodgy brakes. Or not enough brakes. Or something.

We were driving along a motorway, minding our own business when the dashboard suddenly lit up like a rather monotonous Christmas tree (or a traffic light party).

I had no idea what some of the symbols and abbreviations meant, but some of them were red and I know red lights mean you should stop. The display screen told us to consult the handbook, but I didn’t fancy reading while driving and I’m against my dashboard telling me anything while I’m on the motorway, so we took the next exit and stopped in a logistics centre carpark.

According to the display and the guide to dashboard lights, we have no ESP, no ABS, no ASR, no hill holder…. Nuffink.

We consulted the handbook.
The handbook was almost entirely useless – it basically told us that a) it was something to do with the brakes and b) we should consult someone knowledgeable.

That we had no brakes can’t be quite true because I did bring it to a halt.

S is on the phone to the rental company to find out what to do next.

I used the time to smuggle my way into the logistics centre to use their loo. (If you don’t close the main door properly behind you, there will be someone who uses opportunity to follow you into the building..).

Life is never boring…

(Also, it didn’t just rain after we set off again earlier, it feels more accurate to say the sky fell down).

***

16:15 ish – still in the logistics carpark

A repair man is apparently on his way.. he is supposed to be here by 5… We originally wanted to be at the new house by then. That was honestly unlikely to happen, but we could have probably made it for just after 6. No chance of that now.

***

16:50 – still not going anywhere

I wrote: “New loo – lorry driver shed – renovation and lots of dust”

This was good. I walked up to the gatemen at the edge of the lorry park and asked if I could use the loo. They said they didn’t have one and they couldn’t let me onto the grounds to get to the main building. I asked where I should go instead, and they pointed me in the general direction of a garage. When I asked how far away that was and said I was on foot because my car had broken down, they admitted that they did indeed have a working toilet but that it was very dirty due to the renovation work going on. I was welcome to use it if I didn’t mind the rubble.

It was very rubbley, but still a lot better than a lot of motorway loos ๐Ÿ˜‰

***

19:00 ish – van repair workshop

The repair man arrived (at the carpark) at 17:something-late.. He’d got caught in a motorway closure and resulting traffic jams, and a journey that should have taken just under half an hour took him almost two.

He was friendly and helpful and thorough and unplugged things and tested things and checked things with a computer.

It turned out that something to do with the ABS/rear brakes was broken. I could either sign something to say that I was personally responsible for any accident that occurred on the rest of the journey, or we could get it repaired before continuing Essenwards. We were already so late that the unpacking helpers would be gone when we arrived, and I really didn’t want to be responsible for any more accidents, so we decided to get it repaired.

He couldn’t repair anything in the carpark in the dark, so we followed him back to the workshop.. slowly and carefully.

We now have a drinks machine with free cocoa/coffee/water and a couple of sofas to play with ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m going to sleep for a bit while they work on the van.

***

Midnight – at S’s parents’ house.

We got in, alive and well at 23:15 ish.

The last entry was as I was trying to sleep at the workshop…

No such luck. Or more luck, depending on how you look at it. Just as I was getting close to sleeping, they came back and said we could go – everything was mended :).

We drove the last 270something km in approximately 4 hours (including refuelling and getting lost in a car park). That’s incredibly slow for German motorways, but I’m a wimp and it was windy and I didn’t want to overtake all the lorries. I’m not good at overtaking on a good day in my car. On a crazy day like today in a 20something foot van, with less than enough sleep, I was even more reluctant than usual.. It’s amazing how much wind you don’t notice in a car..

S’s parents waited up for us, and we had soup as a kind of midnight snack while we recounted the days events.

***

I think, on balance, we did really well, considering, even if we could theoretically have done better..

On buying expensive coffee and smiling

Smile – you’re drinking overly expensive cold coffee out of a plastic cup!

I don’t often drink coffee, but for long distance driving I find it good to have a cup or two with me, just in case. In my shopping spree, I bought 3 pots of iced coffee and put them in the fridge to keep cold.

In the rush to get out of the house I left my coffee behind. (Out of sight and all that)

What costs 50ct in a supermarket costs 3โ‚ฌ at a motorway service station.. (!!!)

However.

I figured getting there in one piece was worth it… Just about! ๐Ÿ˜‰

On self-sabotage and sandwiches

[Mostly written on] Friday morning, 7:00 ish – on a train. 

*Yawn*

I’m driving a friend across Germany today. (Friday). She’s moving house and I offered to drive the moving van for her.

I’m setting out from Berlin (North East Germany). Her new house is near Essen (West Germany), I am going to a party (the late-night/early-morning kind) in Stuttgart (South Germany) on Saturday evening and I need to be in England on Monday evening. There’s no realistically viable way to go from Stuttgart to Berlin before I fly towards England, so I’m flying directly from Stuttgart. That means packing everything for all 3 trips into one small suitcase. The kind you can take on a plane as handluggage. The kind that takes more thought to pack than the kind you put in the hold.

I have been known to enter my house, pack a suitcase and leave within half an hour. That was a long time ago and I am quite out of practice. I am also exhausted from everything else going on. I decided last week (/whenever I got back and booked the new flights, I have no track of time at the moment) I needed to leave myself longer than usual to pack and get myself ready and to sleep. The sleep part was especially important because I’ve never driven a removal van before.

That was the plan. The reality was a little bit different.

***

Yesterday evening (Thursday) I worked later than planned because I got in to work later than planned. I got there so late because I woke up so late, and I woke up so late because I was up so late the night before (Wednesday), working on a present for one of the people I’m going to see in Stuttgart. I didn’t get it finished because I ran out of time and so won’t be able to give it to her this visit. That means the evening wasn’t used effectively. Or at least not in the most effective way.

Whatever.

Back to yesterday evening.

I worked until I’d clocked up the minimum hours needed to count as a day.

Just as I wanted to go home I remembered that I hadn’t printed my boarding card(s) yet so I stopped to do that.

Just as I was finally locking up the workshop, my friend (the one who’s moving) phoned to ask if I could make her some lunch for the journey because she’d left later than planned and wasn’t going to get to a shop before they all shut.

Ok. No problem – I was going to make myself lunch anyway. She doesn’t eat what I’d been thinking of taking, so I went shopping on the way home.

Once I got home (several โ‚ฌ later – shopping hungry is never really recommended..) I did the following:

  • Washing – all the things from my last trip which I needed for the next one (had to run the machine twice because I forgot the washing powder the first time). Hung it all out, rethought and draped some of the thicker clothing on the radiators to dry
  • Reheated/finished baking breadbuns (you can buy them half baked. That way they’re fresh when you want to eat then) and made sarnies (posh ones with ham and cheese and tomato puree and miniature bell peppers and basil leaves)
  • Decorated and cooked 2 [frozen] pizzas, ate 1, chopped and packed the other one
  • Washed and/or chopped and packed many carrots, apples, tomatoes, peppers, a kohl rabi, and a fennel (given the choice, S eats more like a rabbit than any other person I know ;))
  • Packed my suitcase (except for the clothes which were still drying)
  • Packed all the lunch things (fruit&veg box, sandwiches, pizza, apples, satsumas, bananas, biscuits, chocolate raisins, …) plus 4 bottles of water into a huge carrier bag. It was a picnic to do Ratty proud*
  • Did the washing up
  • Tidied the kitchen so I wouldn’t be embarrassed by my landlord feeding my fish.

I got loads done, but it took longer than I expected (quelle surprise) so I went to bed later than expected (not late by my standards, but not nearly as early as intended). And even though I was exhausted, it took me ages to get to sleep. That really was surprising – usually I sleep as soon as I’m horizontal.. like one of those dolls with the weighted eyes.

***

My colleague says there are days when gravity is stronger than other days. Today is one of those days: First I couldn’t get out of bed. Second I couldn’t carry the lunch bag.

I found a backpack for the water bottles and waddled down the stairs, laden much like a Sherpa, only much less fit/strong/capable. I dragged and lugged my suitcase and picnic bag towards the train station, stopping every few hundred metres to change hands.

***

The first train I managed to catch left almost 20 minutes later than the one I intended to catch. That coincides almost exactly with the 20 minutes I spent lying in bed not getting up. Funny really.

***

I’m now tireder than I ought to be for a drive across the country, despite the fact that I’ve known about it for a while and also aimed to get enough sleep. It seems I’m my own best saboteur…

..but at least we have a good packed lunch! ๐Ÿ™‚



* see: Wind-in-the-Willows

On getting posh chocolates

Look what I found when I got to work this morning!

A very posh looking bag, containing..

.. even posher looking chocolates!

It’s the thanks for the prizes I made and donated to a competition in the summer. There’s all kinds if things in there I’d never buy for myself – I’m looking forward to trying them :).

Today was a chocolate munching day – the kind when you already think about how to break the next chunk off while you’ve already got one in your mouth and are holding a spare. I consider it a suboptimal, though sometimes necessary, way to eat any chocolate, it would be practically criminal to munch through the posh stuff. I’m going to save them for a day when I can eat them slowly enough to appreciate them.

On flying like a puffin-billed-penguin-y-puss*

My sister is always adopting animals. This time she must have decided it was my turn. She left a small animal with my parents for me to collect and look after.

Unfortunately I don’t know quite what it is. I thought it was a baby puffin, my parents said it looked more like a penguin and my sister is adamant that it says it’s a cat…

Whatever it is, this was its first passenger flight. The trip is quite a long one, made longer by various delays, but it was very well behaved. 

I’ve documented the journey for the photo album ;).. If you have better captions, let me know in the comments

Always wear your feetbelt on the train

Dance if you make it through check-in undetected
Remember to bring chocolate if you think there’s any chance of delays
Get excited when you can finally see something happening
..but hide before they can see you
Too late to turn back now
“please attend to your own oxygen mask before helping your puffin..”
Isn’t flying exciting?!
Fast asleep..
..or not, as the case may be
“I’m bored! Are we nearly there yet?!”
Land in sight!
Finally reacquainted with the luggage ๐Ÿ™‚ EasyPeasy!
Oops – must’ve missed the partial escape
Time for bed

* Like a duck-billed-platypus only different…

On planning (at least) 31 things to do (before the end of the year)

Today is my birthday.

I wanted to write a list of things I was going to do over the coming year as a kind of birthday post.

I am very naive.

I sat down last night and within a very short time I had a list of well over 31 things which all have to be done before Christmas.

Perhaps, if I get them all done, next year will be really relaxing. (And no. I’m not holding my breath on that one)

On learning how to program a snake

I’m not particularly keen on snakes.

I don’t have anything in particular against them, but I have less for them. I have no desire to be bitten and/or poisoned and possibly even less desire to be squeezed to death.

This isn’t about that kind of snake.

***

Recently I started learning Python. That’s a programming language. One of many.

Luckily for me, my brother is a multilingual programmer.

He’s teaching me how to write python.

Or trying to.

He’s very knowledgeable and mostly incredibly patient.

I am not knowledgeable. At all. And I’m not patient enough when it comes to listening, testing and understanding. I feel like I’m not progressing fast enough but simultaneously not going slowly enough for it to really sink in.

He keeps trying to tell me I’m not totally rubbish, but my head keeps telling me otherwise.

There are so many opportunities to get completely and utterly lost. There are so many commands and functions and strings and lists and dictionaries and tuples and maps and syntax and arguments and types and loops and iterators and keys and indexes and classes and sets and definitions and numbers and ranges and braces and brackets and immutable things and sums and and….

… I don’t even know some of the words in ordinary daily use (and have forgotten them already) and have to have them explained before I stand a chance of understanding their role in the program.

The guy sitting across from us on a train home heard us talking, and watched us tapping away on my laptop. When he got to his station he stood up, gathered his things together, took a step towards the doors, paused, turned back and told me it’s fun when you get the hang of it. That makes sense. Most things get better as you get better.

I don’t give up easily, and I know it’s ridiculous to want to learn a language in a few days, but it’s frustrating floundering about in the simplest instructions.

We’ll see how I get on between now and next year/decade/century/millennium…

Wish me luck!

On being the weirdo who doesn’t like tea

“It’s in a cup so you don’t look weird” – Dad.

I was drinking apple juice. Everyone else was having tea. Black tea. The English sort with milk. The sort the sanity of the country, or at least my family, depends on. The sort everyone makes and offers you whenever anything happens, big or small, births, deaths, celebrations, calamities, meetings, visiting family, waking up, getting home from work, going to visit anyone, being visited by anyone. There are so many opportunities to drink tea that some people I know drink it purely because it’s easier than trying to refuse it. Peer pressure on a countrywide scale.

“Nice to see you – I’ll put the kettle on.” It is an integral part of social interaction.

And I don’t like it. I never have. Not really.

I used to drink my own version of tea when I stayed with my grandparents when I was very small. Grandma used to make it very very milky, and very very sweet – for me anyway, everyone else got theirs so strong you could stand the teaspoon up in it (as they say). I never made the jump to grown up tea. (Warm milk with honey still trumps tea any day, by any reckoning. I don’t drink it all that often though because heating milk is a faff, much more than putting the kettle on.)

I also don’t like coffee, unless it’s in icecream or cake or occasionally chocolate. I don’t like green tea either for that matter. That’s about the limit of choice, if there is any choice at all.

I drink herbal tea (“infusions” – my mother refuses to acknowledge it as an alternative, in her mind there is only real tea, or wasted hot water). I like mint and ‘mixed herbs’ and various fruit mixtures. I like drinking squash, hot or cold, although it’s considered a little kid’s drink. I like milk, hot or cold. I like hot chocolate and milkshakes and smoothies and most fruit juices. I even like orange juice with bits in.

But I don’t like tea.

And don’t get me started on alcohol.

Good job I like apple juice – you can disguise it in so many different cups and glasses!

๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

On irrational numbers

I finally registered my glass molecule making company yesterday.

I’ve wanted to sell my glass (molecules and other artistic glassware) legally for a while – I had the original idea back in 2012, it seems I need a long time to process my ideas.

Whatever. It’s registered now, and ready to go. If anyone wants anything, yell :). I can’t guarantee it’ll be finished before Christmas, but I can certainly try :).

***

Everything that needs registering has to be registered at the town hall. The town hall is only open 4 days a week during the hours I usually work. This year I needed so much time off for all the school related things that I don’t have many days left to take and I don’t want to them for ‘frivolities’. My brother was over to visit for the week and we were going to fly back to my parents together. We (mostly I) wanted to go to see an exhibition before it closed so I’d taken the day off to spend with him and to see the exhibition (and to tidy the flat so that my landlord can feed the fish in my absence). I’m not going to get another chance to go anywhere during weekday opening hours until next year. Next year’s still a long time away. I left my brother to eat his breakfast and headed to the town hall.

Less than 45 minutes later I’d registered the company, deregistered my second accommodation (xDB’s house) and got a new statement/proof of address issued from a different office in the hall (since I was there anyway).

In the past, everything official has taken me ages and heaps of paperwork to complete. Official paperwork daunts me the way maths problems daunt lots of schoolkids. In reality, it was probably the easiest official thing I’ve ever done in Germany.

Turn up, hand over 26โ‚ฌ and some simple information about me and my intentions and sign a form. That’s it! You even have the chance to say when you want to start.

My company is my birthday present to myself, so it would have made sense to save the start date until next week. It’s my birthday on Monday. I’m going to be 31. I think it sounds much cooler to say you started a business when you were 30 than when you were 31. That’s ridiculous. I realise that. Especially when there’s only a couple of days difference. And yet I still feel it to be true.

Yesterday was Thursday. The date was 16.11.17. I could have asked if it could be registered from the 17th (today) because the date would have been cooler, and more memorable, but that would have meant it started on a Friday not a Thursday. I generally like Thursdays. I’m a Thursday baby, lot’s of good things happen on Thursdays and I wanted my company to be a Thursday baby too. That’s probably ridiculous, but I don’t mind being ridiculous sometimes.

Ridiculous or not, I’m now the proud owner of my own part-time company :).
Wheee!!