On breaking the old and dropping the new

From Friday.

Once upon a time, when I lived by myself, I bought myself all manner of things and used them as required.

Then I moved in with xDB and stopped needing most of my things. I sold some and gave lots away. The rest were put in the garage or the cellar or hidden stowed away in boxes.

Recently I moved out and back into a flat of my own. I began buying or being given things to replace what I was missing. I assumed that the things I already had would continue to work as expected.

However.

Nothing is ever as one assumes. This is probably why assumption is something to avoid.

***

I went out to pick up a stereo system after work this evening.

My old one wasn’t as good as xDB’s and so had been rehoused at work when the ancient radio there decided it had had a good life and wanted to go to wherever good radios go when they die.

When I moved, I no longer had any way of playing music besides my alarm clock, my phone and my laptop. None of the three have spectacular speakers, especially the alarm clock. I’m not especially fussy about these things, but I’m quite happy if I can recognise who’s supposed to be singing or what song is playing.. I suppose I could theoretically take my old stereo back from work but I can’t imagine my colleague working without a radio, so I decided to leave it there and procure a newer one for my flat. Almost 6 months later I still haven’t. It hasn’t fought to the top of the priority list.

While I was browsing the free section of the small ads the other day, I found someone getting rid of a ‘micro stereo system in top working order’. I wrote to say I wanted to pick it up. The seller said it wasn’t free after all and named his price. I said he shouldn’t have put it in the free section if he actually wanted to sell it, but named my maximum and we agreed on a time and place to meet across town.

I decided, possibly foolishly after Wednesday’s adventure, to take my bike with me to save having to make a detour via work to pick it up afterwards.

I got the two trains with no problems. I found lifts and even found somewhere to change my large(ish) banknotes into smaller ones. I reached the designated meeting point at the designated time with the correct money and was feeling very proud of myself.

Even picking up the stereo was no problem. I didn’t want to leave my bike outside, so when the seller suggested he brought it out to save time I readily agreed

The man had packed it very neatly into two carrier bags. It was bigger than expected, and heavier, but I thought that must be a good sign.

One of the carrier bags was plastic, one paper. I’m probably a bit overly cautious but it’s January and the current weather forecast doesn’t make for overly joyful reading. I think potential rain and paper bags are a bad combination (though not as bad as actual rain and paper bags) so I carefully repacked my new speakers into my panier. The subwoofer in its plastic bag hung on my handlebar. It was much too heavy to balance while cycling so I pushed the bike.

The journey back was less simple. There’s a very large station in Berlin where a lot of S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains travel on different levels. It’s a station I usually quite like. I’ve been there a lot and changed trains there many times in many constellations….as a footpassenger. As a passenger with a heavily laden bicycle, stations turn into something quite different. I rode at least 4 lifts and spent a long time trying to find out where each of them were hidden. What takes me a maximum of 5 minutes by foot, took me at least 15 with the bike.

When I could finally see the platform my train was leaving from, but not the lift I needed to get to it, I gave up on the lifts altogether and used the stairs. My bike is fantastic, but it is not a light thing. There is no way I can carry it downstairs onehandedly, so I kept the front wheel in the air and let the back wheel bounce slowly on each step.

Approximately halfway down there was a sudden, strange noise. I looked behind me and saw the panier hanging from one of its clips. I was on the middle of a relatively well used staircase, a I had a subwoofer under one arm, the other hand on the crossbar with my elbow and wrist keeping the handle bars halfway steady. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t adjust my grip of anything, couldn’t even use my knees to push the panier back up to level because it was on the other side of my bike.

The only way out was down. I carried on going.

The second and final clip flew off before we reached the platform. The panier holding the newish stereo fell down and rolled the last few steps. It seems plastic clips aren’t up to being ignored for several years and then bounced.

I walked home with one bag on each side of my handle bars.

And the stereo didn’t even work when I got it home.

Before, I just wanted clearer music, now I also need new paniers.

ARGH.

On days without news

Usually, the radio goes on when my colleague gets to work, and goes off when I leave. He can’t stand adverts, so we listen to ‘Deutschland Radio’ and ‘Deutschland Radio Kultur’  which generally makes for a good mixture of news and interesting information about a huge range of topics. Anything from book reviews to current scientific research to new films to phone-ins about illnesses to the latest in-depth reports about bombings or shootings or fires or whatever’s going on in the world, generally including interviews with multiple important, knowledgeable people.

Usually, I quite enjoy the mixture. There are obviously topics I’m not that interested in, but none of the programs run longer than 90 minutes, lots of them only 10 minutes or so.

Usually, we talk about what we’ve heard. I have a million background questions, and my colleague has a lot of excess knowledge.

This week, I am alone in the workshop.

I haven’t turned the radio on once. I’m playing CDs and enjoying letting my thoughts do their own thing, rather than be directed by the radio. Enya doesn’t have lyrics you need to listen to, sometimes not even any you can listen to accidentally. For someone who generally pays more attention to lyrics than the music, it’s quite nice to tune them out. To tune out all the words. There are so many words. All the time. The world is full of words.

When I think about it, it’s weird not knowing what’s happening, but on balance, I don’t miss the constant input.

At least this week.

Next week my colleague comes back, and the radio will go back on.

In the meantime, I’m going to sail away from it all.

🙂

On writing it out

– or “don’t write back in anger”

(Written yesterday; I fell asleep in the middle if the last sentence..)

Yesterday (Monday) I was mad at a situation involving several people and several opinions.

Today (Tuesday), I wrote them all an email. It took me a good part of the morning to get it into something that I could send, but work was out of the question as long as I was still cross. Glass, hard and brittle as it is, is very susceptible to feelings.

***

I took a copy to my favourite secretary to proof read for me. I needed to know if it was still too aggressive for posting. She asked lots of questions about the situation in general, and pronounced my email adequate for the circumstances.

I left it for a while, and when I came back to it and reread it, it made more sense read backwards, so I changed it round a bit, added a couple of new sentences, took out others and pressed send.

Finally it was gone, and with it, most of my anger.

***

I am now a whole lot calmer, and no longer feel the need for pointy instruments or punching bags.

I read the mail to DB when I got home. he said he wouldnt have been able to write it as well, and he’s German. 🙂

***

So far I have received two (or three if you count two from the same person separately) emails from people who support me, my plan, my ideas and my way of getting stroppy while staying mostly neutral.

I think this might be the way forward. (Loud music – sleep – writing)

On getting unangry

Getting angry is easy.

Getting unangry isn’t. At least, I don’t think it is. 

Yesterday was an angry day. (And I also didn’t post, so this is a catch up).

I asked three people what they do to get rid of their own anger and all three of them said they listen to loud music. One added that if it doesn’t work, they listen to more music (and/or more loudly). Additionally, one suggested screaming and one admitted to driving very fast.

I tend to want to hit things. I don’t actually hit them – I need my hands uninjured – but the wanting is still there. I also tend to cry. The sort that is uncontrolled and hot and loud and results in puffy eyes and an entire binload of used tissues.

Yesterday I went for music instead. It’s not the first time I’ve listened to music when angry, but it was probably the first time I have done so purposefully, with getting rid of my anger the only motivation.

It helped. I probably need a couple more doses 😉 but I am, a day/night and several hours of loud music later, down to a level of anger that isn’t, probably, going to involve injury to myself, anyone or anything else.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll find something creative to do with all this imbalanced energy soon.

In the meantime I will prescribe myself another dose of the Dixie Chicks’ “not ready to make nice (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=IHH8bfPhusM) at full computer-speaker-volume in the workshop.

Luckily my colleague is on holiday 🙂 🙂 🙂

On musical confusion

Dear musicians, band managers and English-lyric writers,

Please (PLEASE) help me.
I have colleagues who listen to the radio. Even though there are several German bands, most of the music on the radio is currently sung in English. As the only “native-English-speaker” in the place, it’s my job to tell them what’s being sung.
I wouldn’t mind, really, if they accepted what I said, and went on with their work. Instead I find myself involved with in depth analysis and advanced linguistics.
Yesterday, for example, I was asked to explain and or translate half a dozen songs (including ‘I am the walrus’, ‘stay with me in the yellow’, and the band name ‘down2five’)
I could provide neither satisfying translations nor explanations. I don’t have a clue what the walrus is about, I don’t know how (or why) one stays in the yellow (or even what it is or what happens when one does), and I don’t know whether they used to maybe be 6 or if its actually supposed to be 25.

In future, it would be good if you could stick to band names, song titles and lyrics which make immediate sense, especially to non native English speakers. It would also be good if you only sang real words (God forbid the producers ever decide to recite The Jaberwocky.)

It can’t be all that hard, when you next write a song or name a band, you just need to think like a German. If you eradicate the need for the following questions you’re on the right track: What’s it about? What does it mean? What else could it mean? (Try using words which don’t rely on the context (words should only have one meaning each)) Why did they write such ridiculous songs? How does that work? Couldn’t they have said XYZ instead? How do you pronounce that? Why bother singing if no one can hear the words? (sing clearly, dammit!)…..

Thank you!

Jesska

On bright lights (and hospital beds)

Sometimes, I think I should just stop making plans.

I mean, I know they never work out the way I intended them to, so I could save myself the bother of making them in the first place.

Also, maybe God would stop laughing at them/me.

***

This year, the company I work for closes between Christmas and New Year. This means I have ‘ZwangsUrlaub’ or compulsory holiday.

I was planning to relax until Sunday, doing jigsaws and folding stars and making Gingerbread houses (which I still have to post, sorry) and other Christmas Things, and then spend the compulsory week off work (Mo-Fr) tidying up my corner, finding the bottom of the washing box, hopefully finally getting some paintings finished, maybe even getting some pictures on the wall, before flying away with DB on Saturday for 2 weeks of sunshine and more relaxing (dear theoretical burglars, please note – we have housesitters with a dog).

We were also going to visit a couple of DB’s friends and celebrate the new year with fireworks and copious amounts of food (me) and alcohol (DB).

What I wasn’t planning on doing, was spending time in hospital. Not as a visitor, not as an outpatient and most certainly not as an inpatient.

***

Turns out I have Keratitis and have the dubious privilege of at least one, probably two, possibly more, overnight stay(s) in hospital where the night-nurse has the dubious pleasure of waking me up every couple of hours to drop eye-drops into my sleep-deprived eyes.

***

This is my bed:

Hospital bed with fairy lights
“I want to see the [fairy] lights tonight” – adapted from Richard Thompson’s ‘Bright lights’ lyrics
Apparently I’m the first patient to bring fairy lights with them.

However, it appears to be a Good Thing because it means I can leave them on and the nurse doesn’t have to turn the main lights on and wake everyone up.

***

According to the doctor I saw after 4 and a half hours in the waiting room, and who shined multiple very shiny lights in my eyes, it (Keratitis) can be a dangerous thing to have.

Mine doesn’t seem too bad, but I could use any spare prayers you have…

(Eyesight is crazily important, and I’m going to do all they say I need to do to get better, but they’re contemplating cancelling my holiday – to ensure that I can be monitored – and that would suck big time. DB needs a break, and we chose not to book cancellation-insurance, so the money would be gone too…)

***

Thank you 🙂

***

P.S. I’ll write some of the background story tomorrow..

On the upcheeringness of good music when nothing works out

I can’t work well at work.

I have a problem with people watching me, and since a lot of people seem to want to spend their day sitting at my workbench I spend a lot of time not working at my best. It’s not my workshop, so I can’t banish them, but I can’t work with them either. Sometimes I’m actually glad of their company – it helps spread the load my colleague can be. I don’t have such a problem with making easy stuff with people looking on, so I save the ‘easy’ tasks for when they’re there. When I don’t have anything tricky to do, or a deadline to meet, it doesn’t matter so much. It’s the stuff that needs to be in the oven today and which involves concentration and perseverance that gets me. I officially start and finish an hour later than the rest, but they regularly stay to talk and drink (less hassle than going to the pub ;)), which doesn’t help much. I often find myself staying on once everyone’s gone home in order to get things finished.

Having the workshop to myself doesn’t always make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.

I hate it when my glass doesn’t co-operate. I hate having other people watch it not co-operating. And I hate said people asking questions about said non-co-operational glass. As if that wasn’t enough hate for one paragraph, I also hate them giving advice.

This rant is for everyone who wants to watch me work:

At the risk of sounding incredibly stuck up; I generally already know what I SHOULD have done differently, or how it was supposed to work. Sometimes it just doesn’t. I don’t need to hear it from backseat glassblowers. Or other pestilential nuisances. I don’t need to hear the tutting noises as you watch the piece I’ve been working on for an hour fall to bits. I don’t need the sharp intake of breath or the sideways “how-could-you-be-so-stupid” glances. I don’t need you to start a lecture, only to have you interrupt yourself to tell me there’s no point telling me since I’m not prepared to be helped. I don’t need the sighs of supposedly long-suffering teachers. I don’t need you to watch me forget to put corks in the tube ends and then laugh as I blow through, instead of into, my glass. I don’t need you to helpfully point out that the glass is bending while I’m holding one end between my teeth, balancing the other on some precarious pile of boxes, and struggling to put the graphite-paper back into a joint-holder that’s just come loose. I can’t simultaneously pay you and my glass 100% of my attention. I probably don’t need reminding that I still have something to finish for tomorrow, I probably know and am waiting until you go elsewhere so I can start it. I don’t want you to ask me if whatever I’m currently struggling with is Meister-worthy. I don’t want to talk about whether my jeans are in or out of fashion while I’m melting frits into tubes. To be honest, I don’t think I’d care much even if I wasn’t trying to concentrate at the time. I don’t care that you know all-there-is-to-know-about-glass. I don’t care that you ‘have-my-best-interests-at-heart’. I don’t care that you get goosebumps from watching me being so rubbish. I don’t care how much you feel for ‘the poor maltreated glass’. I don’t want to know. If you’re so great, either go and do something useful with your greatness, or make me feel great enough to attempt something more demanding in your presence. Making me smaller doesn’t make you bigger. And the more you have to tell me you’re great, the less I’ll believe you actually are. The people I consider great are great without telling me (or anyone else) about it. You can’t help but notice greatness.

Sometimes I need to be left in peace to figure it out. I need the space to test things out without anticipating your reaction.

Rant over.

Today.

I spent most of the day faffing about, leaving the tricky stuff for after work. I was accompanied into my evening by one of the non-glassblowing watchers. He didn’t stay long, maybe half an hour or so.

I had a complicated glass filter to repair. I did the main work yesterday but had forgotten to melt the broken ends of the spring-hooks. The oven wasn’t full enough to turn on so I hadn’t yet tempered it. Frits are temperamental at the best of times so I didn’t want the gas-air flame to accidentally reach the frit while warming them. So I didn’t warm it at all. Neither before nor after. Idiotic really. Thing is, I wanted it finished by Monday, so I took the risk. Idiotic, like I said.

Moving the shards of several hours’ work aside, I started on the next task: replacing an NSK14,5 with an NSK29 on the end of a 3 way tap set at an angle to a litre flask. Not easy to hold, but not [very] hard to do. I wanted to make my own flask though. The one I altered was made a couple of years ago by my colleague to show me how they were done. I’d made one afterwards and given it to the Doctorand who needed it. This one was kept in reserve. I knew I had been able to make it, this attempt was to see if I still could, and to give my customer something I’d made and not just adjusted.

I made all the preparations. Then I remade the central piece because I’d forgotten the Kernel needed an extension. ARGH. Then I reshaped the top of the central piece because it was too wide. Then I started putting everything together. So far so good. Litre flasks are heavy, and I’m out of practise. I’d also used a holder that was far longer than necessary for the right hand. The main join was okay, could have been neater, but as 30mm Einschmelzungen go it wasn’t bad, especially when you consider I haven’t done one in months. The problem was the tube on the other side. After fighting it for a while I decided to take it off completely and join a new piece on. In the time it took me to prepare a new join, the old join had got cold enough to break when I reheated it. ARGH. I tried to mend the ever lengthening splits, but it was a bodge-job and not a worthwhile one. I finally gave up when the glass pulled itself together and holes appeared. I tried rescuing the groundjoint but it fell off the holder and onto the floor where it smashed.

At this point, almost 3 hours after I could have gone home, I had had enough.

PendantI turned the radio off, put a CD on instead, and spent a good 3/4 hour swivelling on my swivel chair watching the walls whoosh past. (random thought: I have no idea if anyone else remembers this but back in secondary school, we said “go swivel [on a duck]” when people were stupid or annoying or whatever, haven’t heard it said in ages but I had to think of it while spinning). By the time the CD was about halfway through I was a lot happier. When I finished spinning, I mixed some coloured glass ready for next week, made a pendant and went home. I guess I could’ve gone home as soon as the flask broke, but I was too wound up.

Like I said, having the workshop to myself doesn’t make the glass work better, but it helps me to deal with it going wrong when it does.