On making the wheels go round

(or: on letting go of what is not yet broken)

If it’s working and you know it, leave it alone!

If it’s working and you know it, leave it alone!

If it’s working and you know it, and you really want to keep it that way,

If it’s working and you know it, leave it alone!

***

I cycled to work again today.

It’s been really cold lately and it was still around freezing when I left the house, late.

The wheel was stiff when I tried wheeling it away from the bike stand and towards the road. It felt like the brakes were jammed on tight, but they weren’t. After a bit of gentle persuasion and a few angry words it unstuck itself and off I went.

I assumed (see, there’s that bad word again, almost as bad as “planning”) there must have been ice in the works somewhere – it did get thoroughly soaked last week and it was icy this morning (never thought I’d have to scratch ice off the saddle, but I did).

***

I left work while it was still light to cycle to my maths/English/German student. As it turned dusky and got darker and darker I realised I was riding without lights. Argh. As a car driver, I can’t stand cyclists without lights.. as a cyclist, I try to be car friendly, in the hopes that they won’t run me over. Also, as I found out on Wednesday, lights are useful.

***

After we’d talked about adjectival attributes (?!) for as long as we could concentrate, I borrowed a front bike light from my maths kid’s mum and headed home.

Except I couldn’t. The front wheel was stuck again. It took me several metres of pushing and kicking and cajoling before anything happened. When it finally did start rolling, the nut holding the front wheel onto the forks starting turning too..

I stopped and did it up as best I could with gloves on. Another couple of paces and it was loose again.

At some point I noticed that the cables from the dynamo were hanging in the breeze and the box they’re supposed to join into was riding round in circles, presumably enjoying unknown freedom.

I prodded it a bit, retightened the nut and rode home, very very carefully.

***

It would appear that my dynamo has died.

When I said I was thinking about getting new lights, I didn’t mean I no longer wanted the old ones.

Tomorrow, I will have to find a bike doctor before work. Even if I was willing to buy new lights and ignore the dynamo, I am not willing to hurl myself at the pavement when the wheel falls off.

I expect I will have to leave my bike there and then walk to work or at least walk to the train station.

Sometimes I really love my life.

***

I think it’s time for a new motto/mantra:

If it’s working and you know it, leave it alone! Do not touch it, use it or think about it. Do not criticise it. Do not think about changing it or replacing it.

Instead, be thankful for it..you never know when it’s going to stop working..

On complicated coffee

I went out for coffee with a guy from school and his wife today. I’d borrowed some books for him and he was returning them now that school’s over. It was too cold to stand outside the library for long so we decided to find a café. Most cafés don’t appreciate cards, so I went to find an atm while they went to find a suitable café. By the time I joined them, they’d already chosen a table and ordered.

Turns out you can’t go up to the till and add to an existing order, no, that would be too simple. Instead you have to go through a rigmarole involving going to the cake counter to choose a cake, getting a piece of paper with a number instead of a piece of actual cake, going back to the table, giving the paper to the waitress when she comes to take your drink-order, then waiting for her to bring whatever you ordered. You can’t go to the waitress, you can’t get your own drink, you can’t carry your own cake.

Life is complicated. I knew that. I also know that I don’t go out very much ans haven’t had much practice at placing orders in posh cafés. I didn’t know how complicated simple things like ordering cake could be. I also didn’t realise that it’s normal for a slice of cake and a cup of hot chocolate to set you back more than 10€.

In the end my friend from school paid for all of us to say thanks for the books. With the money I didn’t spend in the café, I bought approximately 3 months worth of fish food and 18 plants for my house and balcony, and still got change back. That seems to be a much better way to spend money, even though I really enjoyed meeting up with them and appreciated having a place to sit out of the cold.

On the moment of truth

I wrote here almost exactly a year and a half ago to say that I was starting school again.

I’m writing now to say that I’m [hopefully] about to finish school.

My last exam starts in less than half an hour (ARGH!).

It’s an oral defence of my thesis, followed by a whole lot of questions.

By midday, I’ll know if I passed….
See you on the other side! 🙂

On the magic of new books

Nothing like a brand new book or two to cheer one up, even if they are ‘only’ school books.

This pile of brand new school books arrived today. I received them in exchange for a small fortune.. 

They contain – I hope – the knowledge I need to pass the next lot of exams AND – at least theoretically – figure out how to advise companies to keep improving…. That’s pretty magical.

Now I just have to read them! 🙂

Advanced warning

Baby-Essay is finished and handed in. Presentation has been presented.

I now have excess writing capacity and two months of repressed ideas – you have been warned  🙂

On eyesight and hindsight

My brother says hindsight is a wonderful thing. I think eyesight is better. Which doesn’t at all negate the wonderfulness of hindsight..

I am currently in the joyous position of having both.

The hole in my eye has healed itself (with help from the drops and gel), and I have survived the exams. Both of which are Good Things, even if the waiting, both for the check up and the results was and is (respectively) a nuisance.

In future, I will aim (as I routinely promise myself after almost every exam) to start revising earlier, and to actually learn the parts I want to (and unfortunately usually do) flip past, dismissing as, “not exam-worthy”.

I will also orientate myself around the questions we work on in class. I don’t appreciate rote learning, but it seems thats what’s expected here. When in Rome and all that…
Here’s to 4 schoolfree weeks! 🙂

On going back to school – part 2

So….. that was harder than expected.

4 hours is a long time to sit still and listen (never mind learn), especially after a full day at work*.

After filling in a million forms and going through the details of what happens when and where, and introducing ourselves, and collecting our textbooks, and filling out yet more forms, we were taken on a whirlwind journey through the course content. It was intended as an overview, but the teacher/lecturer got carried away and gave examples and asked questions and made me (/more likely all of us) realise how rusty my knowledge is after not-quite-3 years on standby.

Also, that I am unable to explain the difference between terms** without giving examples.

* and it wasn’t even a strenuous day at work…. I hate to think about summer when it’s hot and the workshop’s full of people wanting things.

** in this case renting and leasing.

On going back to school (again)

In half an hour I go back to school.

You would have thought that 13 years of normal school, followed by 3 years of glassblowing-school, followed by several months of Meister-glassblowing-school would be enough for anyone.

You’d be wrong.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, but you’d still be wrong.

Although it depends, I suppose, on what constitutes ‘enough’, really. Maybe it would be enough for most people. Probably.

Thing is, I’m not most people, and I don’t like not knowing things I ought to know. Which is why I’m going to add another 680+ hours (spread over 15 months) to the above list.

At some point in the distant future, there is a chance of my taking over a glassblowing company. Legally,  anyone with a “Meister” in glassblowing under their belt can own a glassblowing company. Theoretically anyone who feels brave enough can run a glassblowing company. Practically, I feel a lot out of my depth. Especially which it comes to things like planning…

Despite knowing that it’s not going to happen for a while, if ever. Learning-by-doing is fine, but I’d like to learn by learning first, so that I know what to start doing…

In a few minutes I start a course of practical economics and company management (or words to that effect, I think it translates as “business studies”).

I even have a pad of lined paper and brand new biros with me…. 🙂

On the wonders of chewing gum

I don’t remember coming across chewing gum as a little kid. By about year 4 I’d discovered bubble gum, but wasn’t ever very good at blowing bubbles (glass is much better than bubblegum in that respect, even if it doesn’t taste as good ;)). A bit later, maybe in year 8 or 9, someone told me you produce digestive juices when chewing, and if you aren’t eating, you can end up digesting your stomach walls. That didn’t appeal much, so I stopped. It was probably a good thing, because I was a little bit of an addict. Once I decide on something, though, I’m usually pretty consequent about keeping to it. I must have gone 6 years without a single piece.
Then I did my stint as an aupair. I was offered some by one of the kids, and that was that – my chewing-gum-fast was broken. I stuck to sugar free, and only after meals as a way to clean my teeth without actually cleaning them.

It wasn’t until I cut myself in glassblowing school that I realised how awesome it is.
I’m not good at blood. I don’t watch violent films, I don’t watch documentaries about hospitals, I lie down when I have injections or when they have to take blood samples*.
When I cut myself, I’m usually fine until the cut is washed and bandaged (or at least wrapped in paper towels), and then I go all dizzy and fall over. This particular cut wasn’t even that severe. It wasn’t deep, but it did involve blood and a small flap of skin. The teacher noticed me go white and made me sit down at his desk. Everything sounded incredibly far away, and all the colours got mixed up. Then he gave me a piece of chewing gum. I concentrated on keeping it in my mouth, then on chewing. As I chewed, the world slowly came back into focus and regained it’s normal volume.
That was the first time.
I have used the chewing gum trick several times since then, mostly on myself, but occasionally on someone else. I try to carry a small packet with me at all times. If I don’t have chewing gum on hand, then gummi bears or boiled sweets will do, just not as well.

Even if I’m not hurt, and I’m not liable to black out, if I have to concentrate on something, I function better when chewing.

Maybe I was a goat in a former life – they chew cud while they think too.

* you can’t fall over if you’re already lying down.

On writing Revision Cards

I have decided to be super organised.

Not as organised as I said I would be in October, but still a good sight better than I sometimes am.

I have exams in the last week of July.

My last ‘block’ (46-50 hours of lessons) is the first week of July.

Usually I would finish the last block, realise I’m 2 weeks away from the exams and panic – locking myself away from the world and living on frozen (and baked) pizza.

This time I have decided to revise all the things I’ve learned in the last 3 blocks, so that I know ‘everything’ 😉 by the end of June. That way I only have to revise the new stuff in the 2 middle July-weeks (thus locking myself away from the world for 2 months instead of 2 weeks ;)).

Having done a lot of exams to get this far, I know I revise best when I get to talk lots ;).

I’m not such a fan of talking to myself so I need people to help me.

I need people to find their way into a subject they most likely have less than no idea about.

I need people to ask me relevant questions and be patient with me while I squirm about on my seat working out what they want to know.

I need people who are willing to try and work out what I mean when I finally have an answer, and to decide if it fits the question.

Because most of my questioning-victims aren’t so well versed in Glass-Theory, and because my school-notes are a huge mess of brightly coloured scribbles and arrows, I’m going through them and writing the most important things onto A7 cards. I’m even making it easier for them by writing a question on one side and the condensed answer on the back.

Now they just have to be able to convert my squiggles into writing and add the correct grammar.. 😛

That’s the plan anyway.

The practice looks a little different.

I can’t concentrate enough to actually write the stoopid things..

Even knowing I have to finish writing by Tuesday doesn’t help me much.

It’s Sunday. That gives me the rest of today and 2 more days.

2 more evenings really, because I work until 5pm.

I have such a short deadline because I don’t actually want to lock myself away for 2 months. I want to continue to do all the things I love doing and be able to read the cards in the gaps. There aren’t many gaps as it is, but I want to be able to use the ones life throws at me, even if they’re short ones. It’s amazing how many A7 cards you can read in 5 minutes.

It’s also amazing how few you can WRITE in the same timeframe.

It’s practically the end of May already. Here are [some of] the things I want to get done round my revision:

A work colleague (a nice one) and I are going to visit a super-glassblower for a couple of days and be shown how to do clever things with glass. I want to bring him and his family a cake to thank him for his time and for organising the whole thing.

I’m going to spend 8-9 days on a boat with another glassblower. I will hopefully not only learn to drive a motorboat, get through [canal]locks, and sleep while bobbing about on the water, but also find time to learn the stuff I’ve written on the cards. I do have the added bonus of a questioner-with-background-knowledge though :).

2 lovely ladies from school are coming to see me and my town. I really want to have loads of time for them and show them all my favourite places and introduce them to my favourite people so I don’t want to be revising then.

My mum, my gran, my [parents’] house and my [parents’] garden are celebrating assorted birthdays and anniversaries so I’m going home to celebrate them. None of them speak German so the cards would be useless even if I found willing victims.

And then it’s the beginning of July and I’m back in school.

I’d better get back to the books/cards I guess…

OH YEAH!!