On swapping stereos when the music stops – in practice

This is the new one:

And this is mine:

Both freshly dusted with the airgun:

And wiped down with a damp rag.

This is the beginning of a good day 🙂

(Also of note but not worthy of a separate post: I achieved a personal best on the rowing machine, remembered to put the rubbish out for the dustbin, I’ve been at work 2hours already and it’s not even 9am yet! 🙂 So far, today has been a success..)

On swapping stereos when the music stops

I took the dud stereo to work with me today (by train, after bringing my bike to the bike-workshop ;)) so I could swap it back with the seller for a working replacement after work.

Read that sentence again. What stands out most? Work work work!

And it does! Nothing broken, nothing dropped, nothing lost or soaked or dismantled. In fact nothing to laugh at at all…*

The new stereo is very dull, but it works (!!! Whee!!!) and it was pretty cool that the guy was willing to exchange it, and that he even had a second one for sale at all.

I’m going to take it to work tomorrow and swap it for my original one (because that one’s programmable and has a remote, and is properly mine!).

And when I get home with it, and the world stops making me dizzy, I will sit back and enjoy the music 🙂 ..

…and then clear up the chaos that ignoring my house for a few days has let ensue.

* Albert and the lion

On the difference between days

Yesterday I mended the tip-ex mouse, helped the secretary with some tricky stuff on her computer and maybe taught a year 8 kid some maths (“maybe” because I’m not sure how much stuck.). I feel those are 3 good uses of a day.

Today I have nothing of note to mention. I assume I must have done something because I’ve been awake for many hours. When I try to remember my achievements, all I can think of are the things I still haven’t done yet. Things that need doing, things I could have done earlier, things I should probably be doing right now instead of writing this.

Funny how different days can be. Or at least one’s attitude towards them.

On socialising

It was the Christmas party at work today.

3 ½ social interactions and a couple of plates of buffet food later and it’s time to curl up in a ball under the duvet.

I still feel the evening was a success, I just need to hide for a while and recharge :).

Quote: on coming alive

“Don’t ask what the world needs, ask what makes you come alive, and go do it.

Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

– Howard Thurman
***

One of my favourite people told me today that she sees me as a “PowerFrau”. That translates literally as “power woman”, but kind of loses something in the translation. She means she thinks I’m always doing/achieving something. She occasionally has a point. In the last 6 months I have, among other less noteworthy things, dug a pond, been to evening classes, survived a breakup, sat exams, moved house, set up a 350l aquarium, written and presented a dissertation, driven across Germany, visited my family in England twice, produced the prizes for a chemistry competition, helped a friend pack the contents of her house ready to move and worked more or less full time.

I don’t feel like a PowerFrau at the moment though. I feel like someone’s stolen my batteries, and maybe filled the space with lead. There are some days where life is just hard. Everything seems heavier than normal and it counts as an achievement to survive the entire day intact. It doesn’t help that it’s damp and dark for most of my non-working hours.

What I need to do to feel alive is probably sleep more. My sleep dept might not be as obviously well-recorded as my sister’s, but it’s still made it’s mark and left rainbow-coloured suitcases under my eyes. I look forward to a time where I’m not dragging myself to work, where I feel up to cooking, where I can imagine going anywhere non-urgent, for pleasure, instead of curling up on my sofa. Where watching the fish is something I do between activities instead of the main attraction. Where washing my hair isn’t a hassle and going shopping is something I can be excited about.

That’s a vision for a future in which I am slightly more alive than I am now. The future beyond that will hopefully be even better, I just can’t picture it yet.

Baby steps.

And sleep.

Lots of sleep.

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 rainbows and double ended candle burning

I’m trying to finish my ‘book’* before Saturday evening. Or at the very very latest by Sunday morning. That would mean I can send it off to be printed before I go on holiday. ‘Holiday’ is used in the loosest form here – it’s more a chance to revise ALL the things than a chance to relax.

But anyway.

Book.

It’s taking me considerably longer than I expected and I have been distracted considerably more than I’d hoped.

Most, but not all, of it self inflicted distraction [obviously]. Things like vacuuming the house or hanging out washing or putting up Christmas lights. Things like new fish and new filters and borrowed dogs and fish illnesses. Things like friends and Committee Meetings, and Forum-riots, and birthday travellings. Things like life.

I have written hideously long emails and forum entries instead of reading my course books, and spent time on the phone instead of on the computer.

I have started sorting my unruly collection of photos, instead of taking the ones I need and ignoring the rest.

I have even watched useless programmes on TV instead of revising or proof reading.

On the other hand, after several years of dossing**, my computer objects violently to having to work so hard, and crashes my writing programme every so often – just to make me appreciate its hard hard life. My brother helped pacify it, but it’s still not totally happy.

Rewriting or reformatting the same thing multiple times can make one mutter things like, “well isn’t that irritating”….

***

I have to work during the day and I have school every other evening during the week and at weekends, so when it comes to doing things I want to do, I’m left with lots of scraps of time squished between all the other things. Lots of those scraps are either too small to use, or occur when I’m nowhere near my computer.

Neither schools nor work is prepared to go away and let me write, so the answer is [obviously] to write at night when I would normally be asleep.

That’s not necessarily a problem – ​I work well, probably even my best, at night.

The problem is, I don’t work well at work if I’ve worked well at night.

I don’t even work well at getting up when I’ve worked well at night.

Not that getting up was ever easy. I’m not a morning person at the best of times, and when I’ve slept an average of 5 hours a night for a week or two, I am decidedly less so.

I can’t function at work without sleep and I can’t function at writing without work (to keep me in chocolate and heating). I can’t function at sleeping when I know I won’t finish writing in time.

Vicious circle?

Maybe. Maybe I’m just stretching the bow a little too far (German expression).

Maybe, hopefully, if I stretch it just right, it can be like a rainbow, and I’ll find there’s a pot of something sparkly at the end of it..

In the meantime, I’ll look more closely at all the colours emerging from the grey fog in my head.

Luckily DB is prepared to cook for me.

Luckily my colleagues understand  (a bit) when I’m unfocused.

Luckily I’m almost (!) finished with the book.

Luckily it’s almost Sunday.

Luckily I have ten days of recovery (and revision)*** in a warm country to look forward to.

Luckily I have the luxury of choice, even if things seem unchangeable.

* book = a project I’m working on for my grandparents

** nothing to do with MSDOS

*** R&R ??? 😉

On leaving without saying goodbye

Ok, I get it.
You don’t like goodbyes. I don’t think I know anyone who particularly enjoys them.

You were – and are – well and truly finished here, you did your time, you ate the cake, you packed your coffee cup, you were ready to leave.

There’s no real sensible reason to hang about waiting for people to appear so you can finally say bye and get the hell out of here.

I get that.

It’s just… I would have liked the chance to say bye. And thank you. You’ve done so much for me that you probably don’t realise. It would’ve been good to tell you I appreciate it.

Not that there were no chances. I just thought there’d be more.

More chances. More time.

Time to go the loo quickly while you finished packing.

Time to dig your prezzie out of my bag while you carried your boxes to the steps.

Time to say bye before you drove off to seek more fortuitous fortunes.

(I hope you find them.)

Today was a good day. I hope you thought so too.

I learned a lot, as always, when I work with you.

I’m going to miss those days, the ones where the goal was work, and the way there was fun. Pretty much everything seems possible when it’s fun. Even the tough projects.

***

I suppose the take-away-message is ‘don’t assume’.

Don’t assume they’ll always be there.

Don’t assume they’ll wait for you to say bye.

Get in there first. Say what you want to say well before they’re due to leave, even if it seems weird to say bye hours in advance.

***

No, no one’s died. I was just a bit shaken (and a bit mad) that one of my favourite colleagues not only resigned, but also disappeared without saying goodbye. I wrote it directly after he left, but didn’t want to post it while it was so fresh. I never sent it. Maybe I should have done. Maybe I still will.

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 things I really need to stop getting angry about

  • Holes punched on the wrong side of the page and therefore filed upside down (standing on my head is bound to be good for my circulation and flexibility)
  • Papers filed in chronological order, except when they aren’t (looking for the 9th between the 6th and 7th will be second nature soon, and everyone needs more games of hide-and-seek in their lives).
  • Brand new rolls of bubble wrap, unpacked and stood upright to collect dirt on and in both ends (cleaning your packing materials before wrapping things is therapeutic – almost meditative).
  • Files saved under false names and dates (see hide-and-seek above).
  • Papers joined together with paperclips although they should be separate, or not joined when they should be (it’s like a huge free-for-all game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, with multiple donkeys).
  • Finding spelling mistakes in posters, AFTER they’ve been sent off to be hung up (we could offer a prize to anyone who finds them all)

***

Can you tell I’m working in the office today??

On perfectionism

Today, walking back through town from a meeting, I was asked about my course, what it involves, why I’m doing it etc etc etc.. Meandering further, we moved onto work in general, and where I work in particular. Work is a difficult topic for me at the best of times, and inevitably I started complaining about some people I work with (but pretending not to*) when the guy I was talking to stopped me and said this:

“You know what? It sounds like you’re a perfectionist. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it probably means you’re really hard to work with.”

He’s someone whose opinion I value, so I think I have something to chew on for a while….

* apparently less effectively than I’d hoped…

On Crumbs for Christmas

This morning, after breakfast, DB and I made up some biscuit bags:

image

More accurately, I put the biscuits in the bags and cut the ribbons and DB tied the bows. Partly because he does that better than me, and partly because we were already running late.

I placed them carefully into my satchel, filled my 1,5L bottle and, in a typical Tuesday morning rush, crammed it in on top, squashing most of the biscuits in the process – nothing like giving someone a bag of crumbs for Christmas…

As it turned out, two of the secretaries I was planning to give them to weren’t in today.

I ate most of the worst bashed packet, and handed out three more (newspaper salesman, secretary, colleague).

I’m on the way home now and there’s one bag left, I wonder who’ll cross my path looking hungry on the way home…

***

Here’s hoping the recipients find them as tasty as I do 🙂

***

Edit: I gave the last one to a homeless guy selling Motz magazines in the train 🙂

(First part 18:00, edited ca. 21:30)

On new telephones

Once upon a time there was one glasblower, one phone and one number.
A little while later, a second glassblower arrived. Shortly after his arrival, there was a small argument resulting in a second phone and a second number.

Time passed.

Last year, I strolled onto the scene and used the first phone without so much as a ‘by your leave’. The first glassblower wasn’t there much, so they didn’t complain. Although to be honest, I don’t think they even noticed.

The story would have probably stagnated about here…

…except that at some point between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning, the powers that be turned both our phones off at work.

No one said anything to us about it, it just happened and we noticed it once it had finished happening.

Three days and several emails to The Phone Man later, a very jovial chap appeared in the workshop and installed two shiny new phones.

***

One would think new phones ought to be much the same as old phones but these weren’t. They have close to 3000 buttons (give or take a few) compared to the 12 the old ones had for a start, some have pictograms and others even change their function depending on what else you’ve pressed.

Obviously we had to try them all out 🙂 (in that respect, and in many others, I am very grateful for my colleague – he says he hates technology, but gets quite excited by the prospect of pressing buttons to see what happens).

We each have a private number and share the workshop number. We can switch between the two so we can decide if we want to call on behalf of ourselves or the workshop.

We can’t just talk to people (how boring would that be?!), we can now look up their numbers, find out how many people share our names (13 and 16 respectively), redirect all calls, redirect a specific call (“oh, you want to talk to Mr Soandso, hang on, I’ll put you through”), turn the microphone off (“psst, it’s that idiot again – are you here?!”) or the speaker on, add people to the conversation or put people on hold.

We can see who phoned who and when.

We can choose from 30 ring tones, 8 volumes and a dozen background pictures (this is a landline phone, remember?).

We can place requests for the phone to let us know when people are available and we can let them know they should phone back if they aren’t.

It’s quite exciting really.

It took us almost an hour with both phones and my mobile to figure it all out – now all we need to do is wait for someone to phone us!

On taking time to save time

The computer guy at work spent at least three hours updating our computer and connecting us to the main server.

The idea behind the hassle is saving time when things go wrong in future – he can fix problems from his office….

It takes less than 5 minutes to walk from his office to my workshop and back again.

The mending or sorting out part presumably takes as long regardless of where he sits.

That’s 36 breakdowns required to get the time back…

On hoping for the best

I hope the paramedics got there in time.
He was crouching on the ground holding his hands over his heart and his eyes were wet with tears.

I was on the way to the platform, on the way to work.

I pointed him towards the doctor’s door (10m further) and then remembered she doesn’t get in until late on a Monday. I reached for my phone, but before I’d taken it out of my pocket, two ladies bustled out of a café and towards the man. One of them was holding a phone.  I asked if they’d call for help and they nodded and rushed past me, one to the man and one to the side of the road.

I left them to it and carried on towards the platform.

I really really hope they can do something for him…