On timing

Life could be so frigging easy!

And yet it isn’t.

Yesterday I received notification that I passed the project part of my last exam, and am invited to defend it on the 29th.

That means sorting out a presentation. It’s almost 2 weeks away. No problem.


I’m away for a long weekend at a glassblowing convention starting from Thursday morning. And I had 2 boxes of aquarium plants waiting to be planted. And I promised the secretary I’d translate 4 pages of text for her.

So. Yesterday I planted the plants. All the plants. All evening.

This morning, my alternater belt jumped off its wheels.


Or something.

This evening I’m going to work on the translation.

On saving the world, a pint at a time

This morning started the same way most mornings do – in a bid to stay in bed and pretend the world wasn’t actually expecting me to get up and be useful.

I spent longer than I meant to looking for the paperwork I needed to take with me, which resulted in missing the train I originally wanted to catch and in turn having to wait almost 10 minutes for the next one. On the plus side, I got to the final-station without missing any stops and so having to go back (that happens more often than I want to admit.. especially when I’m reading ;)).

So anyway. All was as it usually is. Nothing told me it was going to be a special, heroic, Jesska-saves-the-world sort of day.

When I reached my station, I walked along the platform to the steps…





Not the sort of smoke that cigarettes or cigars produce, this was the sort of unwelcome plastic-bag-in-a-bonfire kind of smoke.



The kind of smoke that makes the end of your nose wrinkly and your mouth go all scrunched up.


Ah! A dustbin on fire. Joyous.

Everyone else walked past it, either oblivious or unconcerned or busy or late or whatever causes people to not care about what’s going on around them.

I had no water on me, and nothing else in the way of fire-stopping material (odd that ;)) and there are no taps and no Security People at this station.

Now what?

On the one hand, I think the Fire Brigade have enough serious problems to deal with, without being called out to put out smoking dustbins on platforms.

On the other, I didn’t know who else to call*.

By this point I should have been at work already. I’d spent 9 unnecessary minutes waiting at the first station due to missing my train, and I was getting later and later with every thought about smoking bins. I very nearly went to work and ignored it, but there’s something in me that can’t do that.

When all else fails, find a baker.

Most train stations in Berlin (and a fairly high percentage in the rest of Germany) have at least one ‘resident’ bakery. I haven’t ever bought anything from this one, but I generally smile on my way past, or wish him a good “Feierabend” (literally: “Party-evening” = evening of not working = what’s left of the day when you finish work) depending on whether I’m coming or going. This morning, instead of smiling and walking past, I went in and asked him what he thought I/we should do about the burning dustbin. He just shrugged, which irritated me for a couple of seconds until I realised there wasn’t actually much he could suggest, restricted as he was to his 6m² of shopfloor and oven full of half-baked breadrolls. Not to mention the steady stream of customers.

I asked him if he had a bucket, and if so if he could fill it with water so I could do my best firefighting act. He is a very obliging baker, even if he did look at me as if I was the strangest thing he’d seen all morning.

This is the closest he came to having a bucket:

As jugs go, this was a fairly big one. As buckets go…. well… *sighs*


Neither beggers nor Jesskas can be choosers when it comes to buckets, so I thanked him and made my way back down to the platform.

A couple of trips up and down the steps later, and the bin had stopped smouldering and was now standing in a puddle.

I gave the baker his jug back, wished him a good day and started out in the direction of my workshop.

A few metres up the road (where the lift is) I saw this:

A brand new, shiny, dustbin, presumably meant as a replacement for the one that had been on fire.

Someone must have phoned the train company (something I hadn’t thought of doing… :S).


When I came home this evening, none of the bins had been replaced. I feel almost heroic 🙂





* Ghostbusters didn’t seem right either…

On how to travel by train without annoying everyone else

(A rant, please excuse me, I need to let off steam ;))

Travelling by train is quite easy, really, as is travelling by train without irritating your fellow passengers. At least I think it should be (although maybe I annoy everyone else without knowing it).

There are signs up everywhere telling people not to smoke, drink, eat, shout, put feet on the seats, listen to loud music and a few other things which aren’t particularly irritating.

These are a few as yet unwritten rules, which I would love to see implemented to save my teeth and my good temper:

(Please bear in mind that for the most part, I’m not aiming these rules at doddery old people, or people who are travelling by train for the first time in 35 years (for example) or people who can’t see, or are injured, or have some other legitimate reason for whatever they’re doing. I’m not even really talking to/about people travelling during the day when everything’s empty, they can probably do what they like without anyone caring. I’m talking to/about capable people using trains during morning or evening rush hour.)

  • if you are walking along a platform or across the flow of foot traffic in the station or in front of a lift or up/downstairs, DO NOT STOP WALKING (unless you know no one’s behind you and that’s unlikely). You will most likely cause a pile up, and if you don’t, it’s because of the split second reaction time of your fellow travellers. Find somewhere out-of-the-way instead. Looking for where people aren’t walking helps you find a suitable standing spot.
  • if the train or the lift is already stuffed full of people, DO NOT SQUISH THEM FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR BIKE! People don’t like being squished any more than necessary. Wait for the next one.
  • if you are wearing a [huge] backpack, CHECK YOU HAVE SPACE TO TURN ROUND – you are liable to wallop someone without realising it. Also, taking it off and putting it on the floor will make it easier for more people to squeeze themselves into the carriage.
  • if you get on the train and someone offers you a seat DON’T DITHER ABOUT – either sit down or decline (politely). If there are 2 (or more) of you, come to terms with the fact that you might not be able to sit together during rush hour. The chances of someone else jumping up and offering your travelling partner an adjacent seat is remote. Especially if there is a vacant seat in the next row. You might well be lucky, but it isn’t a right. Say thank you, even if you are facing the wrong way and you didn’t get a window seat.
  • if you need to sneeze, COVER YOUR NOSE, even if you don’t have a hanky or tissues, the chances ate pretty high that you still have a shoulder and/or hands. Use them.
  • if the train’s full and you need to get out at a central (or otherwise busy) station, the chances are huge that other people do too. DON’T BARGE PAST THEM ALL TO GET TO THE DOOR WHILE THE TRAIN’S STILL MOVING. They exist. They can’t disappear to satisfy your need to be the first off the train.
  • if you’re playing with the ticket machine to get prices for imaginary journeys while you’re waiting for your train, and someone is standing close by waiting to buy a ticket, cancel the imaginary journey and STAND BACK TO LET THEM BUY A TICKET. You can carry on when they’ve finished.
  • if you see a person with crutches or a white stick or even an ordinary walking stick, or a buggy, DON’T GET IN THE WAY. They probably need a little bit more room to manoeuvre than you do.
  • if someone gets off the train to make room for you to get out, SAY THANK YOU.

(I won’t continue, I’m cross enough as it is!)

Is it really that difficult?!