Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Once upon a time, there was a lovely little sausage called `Baldrick', and it lived happily ever after.

Just like the novel above, although personally one of my favourites, my attempt at NaNoWriMo is once again a dismal failure. In fact, just about the only part in which my novel surpassed Baldrick´s autobiographical work was length, and even then not by much.

Just li´l ol´me, sitt´n alone in the darkness

In the toilets here we have motion detectors which turn the light on when someone enters, thus saving electrictiy and the whole effort of flicking the light switch on when you enter. Since I started, the one in the girls toilet hasn´t worked, so we were forced to turn the light switch on anyway. And since this is a different type of switch, with a little toggly bit underneath which is difficult to find in the dark, this necessitated much more effort than a normal light switch would.

Yesterday, finally, the man came to fix it. So when I entered this morning, arm outstretched, fingers automatically searching for the little toggle, the light magically switched on. Great! It works! Modern technology at it´s best.

I entered the cubicle, removed the various layers of clothing necessary and made myself comfortable.

The light went out.

I was sitting in pitch blackness with my pants around my ankles and the toilet roll was empty.

The only thing I could think of was to try and get the light back on again. How else was I going to find that replacement toilet roll?

I kicked my shoe off and threw it under the door. Well actually, I tried to throw it under the door but had somehow misjudged the gap and the shoe rebounded in a random direction. I tried again with the other shoe, which this time did manage to go under the door, but somehow did not flip the sensor.

Reaching forward I could just turn the handle on the door, pulling it open towards me although for some unknown reason the sensor also failed to pick this movement up. So delicately balanced on the edge of the toilet, fingers gripping the handle of the door for support, I lent forward and waved my arm up and down.

Miracle of miracles, the light went on again.

There was the spare roll of paper, hidden behind the toilet. There was my right shoe in the middle of the bathroom floor. There was my left shoe, in the next cubicle, having somehow slid under the wall on it´s random flight. There was I, about to fall off the toilet.

I sat back. I closed the door again. I fished the toilet roll out and replaced it. I was ready.

The light went out.


Now is the time when I gripe about those little things that drive me banana´s when Germans speak English.

1. Not being able to distinguish between borrowing and lending. Two words actually exist in German, and interestingly they start with the same letters, but they´re used interchangeably.

2. Vary. Based on the logic that the word variety is pronounced var-eye-ity, vary is invariably pronounced var-eye. As is var-eye-able.

3. Wideo

4. Months. There is an S there. USE IT!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Monday, November 28, 2005

On the joy of marrying Germans #27

"Come and snuggle to me....Hang on, is that smell me?"

"Seems so."

"Should I go and have a shower?"

"Well I haven´t brushed my teeth so we can have a stinky competition."





"Maybe spoons would be better."

"Think you may be right."

Me and The Big Man

So to prove that I actually met a real live astronaut, here he is! (note the terrible hair)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Pimp My Scientist

Went and got a haircut today. Decided that this funky red, yellow, orange, brown shit that´s been going on for the last year just HAD to stop. And I need a style. Like, ANY style. Seeing as it´s been years since I last had one. Hell, anyone who knows me well would say I never had one and, well y´know, they´re undoubtably right.

So I was there in the chair, discussing with a young and typically bored and uninterested Berlin hairdresser what I wanted done. SHe sighed several times, disagreed with me several more times and finally shrugged and pulled out her assorted cutting apparatii. After about 10 minutes of her fussing around and yanking out handfulls of hair with attached scalp, I looked up from my book to discover that all she´d managed to do so far was trim the bottom. So I stopped her and pointed out that I wanted it shorter.

"Like this?" she asked boredly, showing me about 2cm off the bottom.

"No. Shorter."

"This much?" adding an extra 3 millimeters.

"No. Here," I said grabbing a handful and holding up about half the length of my hair. "Cut it off to here. And layer it. And give me some sort of fringe." She looked at me with a bit of a `it´s your funeral´look and went to work.

30 minutes later she started dyeing my hair, once again only after a long and protracted discussion over my choice of colour, insisting that dark brown would make me look pasty and wouldn´t suit at all. About this point DrH walked in on his way home. We talked a bit, he touched my hair but made no real comment at this stage as it was half dyed and half in foil and I looked like a big chicken with a silver comb, and then he left. Importantly this conversation, as most of ours, occured in English. After he left the hairdresser found her voice again.

"What did he say about the cut?"


"No, really. He touched your hair."

"I mean it, he didn´t say anything."

She gave me a disbelieving look, one combined sneakily with a self satisfied look of "told you you shouldn´tve done it. Now see your husband thinks you look stoopid, Should´ve taken my advice. Hahah I was right." I´ve got a suspicion that the slight lip curl to the left may also have indicated a certain "Bloody foreigners, no fashion sense at all", but I may have just imagined it. And anyway, I happily admit that my fashion sense starts and stops with the first thing I find in the pile of clothes at the bottom of my closet, so she wouldn´t have been entirely wrong.

Another 30 minutes later and we were both staring at my reflection in the mirror. Hair half the length it was, dark dark brown and a semi, swept to the side fringe. I said nothing. She said nothing. I turned my head to the side. She cleared her throat.

"Well it looks better than I thought it would."

And that, dear readers, is high praise from a Berliner. High praise indeed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Where are all the good blogs?

Bill mentioned on his blog on Monday that his stats counter went beserk the day that Dooce linked to him (who I found linked to from Loobylu, who was linked to from Sublime Stitching, who was linked to by, well, I can´t remember that far back). That was the day I found his blog, and man am I glad for that. Between Dooce and him I get the most giggles for the day. But where are all the rest?

It seems to be playing with links. Each links to someone they like to someone they like etc, but I haven´t really seen a direct writing style relationship between the writers I like to read and the people they link to.

How can I find more? I need more, my current Bloglines list is normally done in about 15 minutes a day. That´s not enough!

With the millions of blogs out there I simply don´t have time to search them all for the few gems. I need a super list of funny, quality writers.

The joy of marrying Germans #54

They always put the toilet seat down.


Monday, November 21, 2005

I believed, but there was nothing

Oh woe is me! I have been left alone in the darkness! Cut off from civilisation! The years of undying faithfulness have been thrown back in my praying face!

I can´t connect to Google!

What shall I do? How can I continue with my lifeline hacked through and thrown back into the ocean of uncertainty? How shall I answer those daily questions of necessity such as "Who was that song You´re So Vain really about?"

Google is my link to knowledge and understanding. It is Dr Google in times of pain; Wiseman Google in times of suffering; Brother Google who answers those questions of religon and faith. It is Telephone Book Google, Old Friend Google, Boredom Fighter Google, General Knowledge Google, News Google, Put-the-name-to-a-face Google.

Oh Google, why have you left me?

Please, please, please get it up again quickly. My fragile soul cannot endure this much longer.

When I gwow up I wanna be a astwonaut

Back from the week away. I wish I could say it was a great, relaxing event, but in fact it was 10 hour days of standing in high heel shoes trying to find potential clients in a completely non-target audience. In it´s defence though, part of it was damn exciting and my childhood dream of going into space has been reborn.

My company is one of several representing the European Space Agency in trying to find commercial partners who may want to run experiments up in the International Space Station. So we were at this convention as part of ESA.

Do you have ANY idea how thrilling that was? We had real russian space suits there. And a model of the space station. And movies of flights and experiments. And little astronaut pins. And low gravity shampoo.

And a real, live astronaut.

Frank de Wille gave an hour long presentation on going into space and what it was like. The years and years and years of training beforehand. The week long headache when you first get up there as all the blood goes to your head. The stink of the space station when they first open the doors. Floating in a tiny metal container in the middle of space.

And damn it, I want to do that.

I gave up the dream of astronauthood when life and interest pushed me towards biology. But it´s back. The dream. And it turns out I´m not completely out of a chance. They´re apparently hiring in the next few years to make up the Astronaut Core, which is down to 12 instead of 16 now. And they look for highly educated, very practical, hands on people about the age of 30. That´s me!

All I need to do now is lose about half my body weight, get really fit, learn Russian and outcompete the 40,000 other applicants. Oh and become German.

It is the European Space Agency after all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

There will be a break in our regular programming

While I´m off handing out business cards at a convention for the rest of the week. Hah! Got a suit and everything. If I get access and have anything interesting to say, I may update but don´t hold your breath.

Meanwhile, enjoy the fact that this is my 101st post.

Note to self

When trying to rapidly write a reasonable novel in an unreasonable time frame, avoid all frivolous enjoyment reading, especially when said read is a) completely different in style to your own writing and b) good.

Damn you Iain M. Banks. Damn you.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Three good reasons why I didn´t study chemistry

1. 1,1''-([4,4'-bipiperidine]-1,1'-diyldicarbonyl)bis[1'-carboxy-, compd. with N,N,N',N'-tetramethyl-1,2-ethanediamine

2. 7,13-Methano-5H-quino[3,4-c][1]benzazepine, 5,8-diacetyl-6,6a,7,8,13,13a-hexahydro-, (6aa,7b,13b,13aa)

3. Difuro[3,2-b:3',2'-b']cyclobuta[1,2-c:4,3-c']dipyridine-2,11-dione, 4,9-diacetyl-4,5,6,6a,6b,7,8,9-octahydro-, (6ab,6bb,12aR*,12bR*)

I need some Girlie influence

I don´t have many female friends here. I guess it´s not surprising as I´m in a male dominated field but still. Not many. I go shopping on my own. Hairdresser, buying new makeup, shoe shopping. All alone. Then I go out drinking with the guys. Where´s all that girl talk I need? The one about bra´s and period pain. Boys, men, Boys. Sex. Hair. The role of the modern women in today´s society. Accessories.

The important things in life.

I realised this was becoming dire yesterday.

After a passionate Sunday afternoon with DrH I felt no desire to chat. Didn´t want to start a conversation about our relationship. No amateur analysis of our feelings.

I wanted to fall asleep.

And when I closed my eyes, this is what I saw:

Thar she blows

Are you familiar with Eddie Izzard? Have you seen his Glorious video? The one where he talks about floatation vests in aircrafts? About how you have the extra little mouth valve for a “top-up”, because that´s how they always describe it, and yet it makes him think of a very English cup of tea. Swimming over to your fellow downed comrade saying “Oh Hello, fancy a top up?”

Or that there you are, having just crashed into the ocean, floating.

1000 miles to England, 2000 miles to the US.

You´ve got your whistle.

I have small backpack I bought about 2 years ago. In that time I´ve used it, oh, approximately 3000 times. Taken it on, taken it off. Opened the various zipper compartments. Admired the firm support with the special breathable back. I even –shock horror- use the little strap across the chest as it sits more comfortably. Not to mention that it gives me a cleavage Dolly Parton would be proud of and damn if I don´t just wanna have that occasionally.

This strap is black. The “receiving” part of the clicky thing is black. The insertion part of the clicky thing is bright orange. So it´s something I´ve looked at thousands of time. I´ve noticed it. I´ve handled it. I´ve pushed it in and out of it´s partner piece.

And yet, I looked at it the other day and realised it has a built in whistle. Yes, a whistle. In the orange plastic clicky thing. The thing I´ve looked at a thousand times and never seen. How could I fail to see it? Its BRIGHT ORANGE. It sits in the middle of my cleavage. I guess it is quite possible that a percentage of Berlin males could assure me that they noticed it years ago, but I missed it.

I´m like a kid with a new toy. A man with a new large breasted girlfriend. I can´t stop playing with it. Don´t worry about the unsightly boob squishing, you´ll hear me peeping long before I come into view.

Friday, November 11, 2005

All it´s missing is dried fish on a stick

Joy of joys the new IKEA catalogue has arrived. I know it´s pathetic. It´s an addiction. I can´t control it.

Hello, my name is DrJ and I´m an IKEA addict.

That Swedish design. The bright colours. The little Allen key screws. I´m getting shivers just writing about it.

Last night came the small Christmas edition. I would add it it too my pile of IKEA catalogues but, get this, I THREW THEM OUT. I was trying to move on, get over my reliance on the thick books that lived permanently next to the television. To stop leafing through them, rearranging our apartment in my head, repeating the soothing sounds of BEKVÄM, GRUNDTAL, UTSAGA.

So now all I have are the pathetic remainders that get sent out for the seasons. Summer´s bedroom. Spring´s kitchen. And now Winter´s Christmas Wonderland.

40 pages of IKEA shopping bliss with all you could need for the holidays. Even the freaky looking moustachioed Swedish guy cutting up tablecloths on page 6 could do nothing to diminish the thrills that were running up my spine as I started turning the pages slowly, revelling in the clear lines, the sharp edges.

I found the first necessity on page 9. Who could think of celebrating Christmas without a JULEN straw figure in the shape of a reindeer? Better yet, skip ahead to page 21 and there are the coordinating paper serviettes, completer with an artists impression of the selfsame reindeer. Really, what Christmas dinner table could call itself complete without these?

Hang on, page 24! The complete TABLO kitchen arrangement now 60% off! We definitely need a new kitchen, my love. Really. I can use the old one as a desk. Complete with a handy sink that I can put the harddrive in so it doesn´t take up space. See?

Hold the phone. What´s this? Page 33. ANNAS diy gingerbread house. All the pieces you need, just stick it together. That´s a must. I wonder if it uses those Allen key screws?

This isn´t going to work. 7 pages later and it´s over. My IKEA catalogue was just too small. It was a teaser. A let´s get her all worked up and leave her hanging. Where´s the satisfaction? The closure of reaching the monthly deals and maps to your closest location? The handy index?

I wonder if I can get the old ones on Ebay.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

But it stinks so GOOOOD!

Leon Dog Wonder, like probably most dogs, likes to roll in shit. ANd I don´t mean shit in the general modern day usage suggesting "stuff" but in the traditional usage of "excrement coming from the behind of a living creature". In the year and a half of having him, I have become familiar with an amazing variety of shit including general size, colour, smell, common locations and difficulty level in removing it from the fur of a white(ish) dog.

First is the rabbit. This is the least of our worries actually as Leon prefers to eat it than roll in it.

Next comes the hedgehog. Very small amounts, but a sort of slimy dark green/black and extremely fragrant. This normally ends up behind his left ear for some reason.

Third is the duck. Definately slimy, not as stinky. Found generally around ponds so often easy to avoid.

Horse shit. Oh my how he loves this. In fact he has memorised the forest paths where it is most commonly found and will bound ahead, making sure he can get at least two good mouthfuls in before my projectile hits him in the head. Doesn´t tend to roll in it though.

The unidentified but extremely stinky shit. Brown, as all good shit is. Difficult to remove and we haven´t yet been able to work out the source. Quite possibly wild pig.

Finally the worst one of all. This stinks to high heaven and the dog enjoys BOTH eating it and rolling in it. It´s almost impossible to remove the smell, even after three baths and copious amounts of shampoo. I´ve even tried my Herbal Essences Forest Flowers but it does nothing to disguise the stink. But I do now know the answer to that ages old question: Do people shit in the forest and public parks?


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Daylight, what daylight?

The clocks have changed again which of course means that it is now a 10 hour time difference to Oz, not an 8 hour one. I want to emphasize that again. TEN HOURS NOT EIGHT.

Just for those who may want to call me instead of reading my blog. PICK UP THE DAMN PHONE.

Of course, what the time change primarily means is that it is now dark in the middle of the day. And by the middle of the day I MEAN THE MIDDLE. Very soon it´s going to be dark at 4pm. That´s LUNCHTIME.


And so it means that walking the dog, something DrH must do on a daily basis now that I can´t have the mutt here with me, has become an adventure in facing all those childhood fears of big scary things rustling in the darkness. Together on the weekend, DrH and I go into the Grunewald (the world´s best park, it being not really a park, but a bit of leftover forest that´s slap bang in the middle of Berlin and really huge). It´s always getting dark when we make it there and most of the conversation is made up of:

"What´s that?"


"Up there. Can´t you see it?"

"Ummmm. Maybe another person? No, I think it´s a tree. Yes, it´s a tree"

"Hang on, there´s someone coming. Get the dog would you."

"Wait, what´s that noise?"

"What noise?"

"That rustling in the bushes."

"You mean the one that sounds like there´s a wild boar right behind us?"

"Yes that noise."

"Well, I´d be guessing....look, get the dog would you, I think we should back away quietly."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

And she´s off and writing

I have signed myself up for Nanowrimo after all. I´ve decided to try an amusing story about the life of a female grad student. Well they do say write what you know. It´s probably going to be along the style lines of Janet Evanovich, as that´s a style which comes pretty easy to me. Hell, I just want words on paper, not Shakespeare worthy prose. You don´t get that on this blog, you won´t get that in a hurridly thrown together story.

And with only 27 days to go, I´m going to be pushing it big time to make the 50 000 words. Even crap words.

So far I´m off to a powerful start with 897 words. I´ll update if I keep going. If this subject trails away and never sees the light of day on this blog again, then you´ll know that I´ve failed. Again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

My Little Pony, I Love My Little Pony

Yesterday was a public holiday here, some kind of Catholic celebration. No idea actually, but lots of people were visiting cemeteries and it gave me a day off. I took the opportunity and went and visited my ex-student at her parents place not far from here. The really cool part was that her parents breed Icelandic horses , so she took me out for a ride.

They have 13 horses at the moment and they are all just horrifically cute. Their backs are at about my shoulder height, perfect for someone like me who hasn´t been on a horse for 15 years and has all the balancing aptitude of a slumbering cow in a paddock full of drunk teenagers. I got to ride Phoenix, who was a champion and her Dad´s prize possession. Nicely enough he didn´t seem to mind having me on his back too much.

These horses have one of the weirdest runs, called the Tölt, which normal horses don´t do. It´s a really smooth gait between a trot and a canter. Apparently one of the competitions is to have a race where all the riders hold a glass of beer and whichever rider has the most left in the glass at the end has won. Phoenix and I did a bit of it, but, being the inexperienced rider that I am, I couldn´t actually keep him in it and he either sped up or slowed down, depending on what he felt like doing. In the end we had a great ride through the forest, where I pretty much sat like a lump on his back and he did whatever he wanted, but hey, he got the exercise and I got to sit on a horse: win-win is what I say.

How NOT to ask someone out

Monday night I was invited to join a friend at a party in one of the most amusing ways I think I´ve experienced. Firstly it was casually slipped into a list of things he wanted to discuss:
1. Weather (or something equally as interesting)
2. Fashion (actually, I can´t really remember what point 2. was)
3. Are you busy tonight?
4. Tomorrow´s weather.

Nicely slipped in, I thought. But he lost it all on the follow through.

Because what then came was a list of all the reasons why, maybe, he wouldn´t go after all. And the reasons why perhaps it´d be difficult for me to get there or get home. And maybe a bit later on he´d decide, and maybe, let me know.

I mean REALLY. Regardless of the fact that I´m married and we´re just mates, you don´t ask ANY girl out in that way. Invite them, then tell them no, actually I don´t think you should come.

I may have found the reason he´s single.