not fucking du and sie – again!

I just noticed over past few weeks – in a baumarkt you ask a worker something; if you have bad german skills and are obviously an auslander, 99% of the time they will “du” you in their reply -even if you used “sie” when you first spoke to them.

Is this “just being friendly” or is it a slight which they assume will go unnoticed? or is it just done because “that’s what everyone does”. Children are du, retarded people are du, and stupid auslanders who cant speak german properly are du – stupid auslanders obviously dont deserve any respect, and if they dont like it they can fuck off back where they came from.

.banner-stupid-questions

embarassed to be with dad

its easy for 10 and 13 year old boys to be embarrassed being with their dumb old dad in public when he speaks german so badly he gets laughed at

people who are nice to others have nothing to be embarrased about; it’s the people who are not nice to other people who have something to be embarrased about – of course this fell on deaf ears.

Should I Upgrade to windows 10?

Fuck no! Dont Upgrade to windows 10 unless you have a laptop with a good battery.

If you have a desktop and you lose power, you are fucked. You will not be able to recover your system.

Trust me, save yourself a lot of hassle and wait until Microsoft sort this out before you install windows 10.

Oh and there are not many drivers that work with it either. On the other hand it does startup quickly.

bicycle brake fail

Went for a short walk to the kanal.  Halfway there I hear a small skid and then a metal on street crunching noise. I look behind me, a pack of kids on bikes  are milling around a boy who has fallen off.

He seemed ok so I kept walking.  About a minute later I looked behind me to check.  He was still on the ground. I went back.

Heroic fail! His foot is jammed in the front forks and he can’t pull it out.  He had been using his shoe as a brake by putting it on top of the wheel and bracing it against the fork -apparently this is the cool way to stop.  Not so cool if your foot gets sucked in though.

I went home for  a spanner and freed him.  Didn’t even take a picture for youtube..

 

Europe is suckered into the consumer ethos; shopping, shopping and more shopping..

When we sit down to have a snack, what else do we do? ‘Ill tell you what we do, we peruse the advertising flyers, the little books of dreams. Why? because they are there -you cant get away from them! They arrive in your post and you have to read them in case there is a special you really “need”.

I never weighed it all, but I suspect we get about 20  kilos of post  a week from  Lidl, Aldi, Penny markt, Netto (red), Netto (black), Real,  Rewe,  Kaufland etc, etc. In actual fact, as well as being bad for the environment on so many levels, all this crap serves no socially useful purpose. People don’t need all this shit that they don’t need!

Lidl palace

There is a new study: teaching your children consumerism is helping to turn them into selfish, immoral creatures without a streak of empathy. You may be making them just like stressed-out adults, whose potential as human beings is killed off as genuine altruism is suffocated by their greed and anxiety.

http://gu.com/p/3pv6p

Psychotherapist Graham Music says we’re more likely to be born big-hearted and kind but then pushed towards being selfish and cold than the other way around.

“We’re losing empathy and compassion in dealing with other people in our society There is a lot of evidence that the speed of life and the resultant anxiety have an enormous impact on how we deal with other people. You live in a dog-eat-dog world and it makes sense to be highly stressed and vigilant to cope with it. From that stress come some really fundamental shifts in behaviour, along with pretty poor outcomes in everything from health to life expectancy and happiness.”

A study last year by Michegan University showed that adolescents exposed to the cruelties of reality television – where nasty spats along with vicious judgements of others is the entertainment – made them even more socially agressive. the casual meanness on shows like X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent is an example of how cold-hearted we are becoming.

Music disputes the notion that children are born selfish. He points to a series of experiments at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, when a group of 15-month-olds were placed in a room where an adult pretended to need help. “There is a proven urge to help. The toddlers love helping, they get an intrinsic reward just from the act, until they start to reward them for that behaviour with a toy. The group of toddlers rewarded ‘extrinsically’ – that is, with a toy – quickly lost interest in helping. The unrewarded children – who don’t know the other group are getting rewards – keep on helping, content with no ulterior reason other than the act of helping.”

Other studies have shown that toddlers feel happier giving treats than receiving them, says Music. “Then we have evidence that adolescents asked to do a good deed once a day become less depressed. We’ve evolved to be helpful and to do things without reward. Rewards don’t make anyone happy and something very fundamental is lost when we reward for certain behaviours. We all know it, but we’ve lost sight of it as we’re suckered into the consumer ethos, the deep insistence that we need that iPhone or that new kitchen to be happy – and we fall for it again and again. Those very powerful drivers of post-industrial capitalism and mass media are brilliant at triggering those needs and, after all, you can’t sell wellbeing.”

Music points to stress as keeping us in a state of “fight or flight”. “It doesn’t make any sense to be interested in others or what they are thinking or feeling if your nervous sytem is in flux,” he said.

The book details several social experiments, including one from 1973, when theology students were told they had to give a talk about the parable of the Good Samaritan. Half were told to do it immediately; the rest were given time to prepare. As they left the room, they passed an actor who was in some trouble. Those who had to prepare quickly ignored him, while the others stopped to help.

“The speed of life has an impact on our altruism,” said Music. “This is going on in schools as well. Stress is seeping into our schools with this heavily academically-based curriculum, an audit culture. I’m really worried about that from the children I see in my clinics.”

Music says there is a desperate need to rethink our materialistic tendencies. “A very monetised western world is going to make us more and more lose touch with our social obligations,” he said.

Maybe it’s not too late to rethink that shopping trip.

The German Halloween Bonfire

There is a German bonfire night after all; Walpurgis.  Same purpose as Halloween, to scare witches and ghouls away, just a  different date.  Exactly 6 months from Halloween -coincidence?

It’s more like the one I remember from my childhood in Ireland than the crappy guy fawkes ones I’ve seen in Britain (a stack of pallets). Walpurgis bonfire has proper tree trunks piled into a pyramidal pyre. Ok, here it’s the Feuerwehr (what a great name) who do it, not a bunch of 11 year old half-feral bogtrotter kids. Ok,  not really bogtrotters, Dublin outskirts – but I like the phrase and rarely get to use it.

Feurwehr  use chip fat, not petrol

 

Why is the meat so big and the roll so small?

Visit the Baumarkt at any time of day and you will see people sauntering around the car park stuffing their face with a huge slab of meat in a tiny roll. From Leberkase to Brarwurst, why is the meat so big and the roll so small?

At first I thought there must be some type of psychological sales aspect to this practice. i.e. look how humongous the piece of meat we are selling you is, it is too big even to fit in the roll.

But it finally dawned on me – there is no psychology going on, it’s really simple: the bread is not supposed to be part of the meal, it’s just a handle for your meat

.wurstwurst2

German Phrases -part 1: Alles Klar

Alles Klar – one of the first German phrases I understood. Alles Klar = Everything Clear i.e. I understand or do you understand, that’s simple enough right?

Nein, Alles nicht Klar, dumm auslander (no, you don’t understand, stupid foreigner). This phrase has a confusing number of meanings; here are three – but I’m sure there are more I don’t know about.

On their way to a BBQ, two friends greet each other: Angela: How’s it going? Helmut: Can’t complain!

On their way to a BBQ, two friends greet each other:

One person puts too much food on his plate at the BBQ, the other person explains he is being a pig and and asks if he understands.: Angela: Do you understand? David: Yes!

 One person puts too much food on his plate at the BBQ, the other person explains he is being a pig and and asks if he understands.: Angela: Do you understand? David: Yes!

After the BBQ, one person lets off some gas and the other person enquires of their health: Angela: Are you feeling ok? Helmut: Yes, but I think the currywurst was off.e BBQ, one person lets off some gas and the other person enquires of their health: Angela: Are you feeling ok? Helmut: Yes, but I think the currywurst was off.f.

 

 

Saudi Arabia WTF #2

It seems I was overly optimistic about  progress in this place.  The religious fuckwits, sorry fundamentalists, are still at it.

Here is a solution in that lovely shade of turquoise we all know so well.

The authorities in Saudi Arabia have stepped up warnings to women not to defy a ban on female drivers by taking part in a mass driving protest.

The interior ministry has reiterated that anyone flouting the ban is likely to face unspecified punishment.

More complaining: Stupid fishing stuff.

You would think  there might be a bit of difference in aspects of fish diet between an Island country and a mainly landlocked country such as Germany. And you would be right. Bivalves are generally called mussels (muscheln)  here -nevermind if it is not a mussel but actually a clam or an oyster -its still a muscheln in Germany. And just about the only sea fish you can find is something called sea-lachs. Lachs is salmon and trout is a salmonoid. So, I figured, see-lachs must be sea trout, right? Wrong again, -stupid auslander. See-lachs is coley -one of the shittest tasting fish in the sea. It’s not white, but a sort of pollution grey colour. It has nothing to do with lachs, it was a bullshit name dreamt up by some dickhead marketing guru. But it worked since Germs now buy 25% of the worldwide catch. Coley is actually one of the two species of pollack; sadly it’s the other one which actually tastes nice. l  suppose it tastes nicer than carp at least… Oh yes, just because it’s traditional to eat carp doesn’t mean it actually tastes nice. It’s termed a coarse fish for a very good reason and island nations don’t eat it  -I could go into further detail but it’s basically because it’s a bottom feeder that eats shit -and it tastes like it.

fish

Since I’m ranting about fish today, I see no reason to stop there; as someone who has fished since childhood, I feel obliged to say that Germany has implemented recreational angling in the most inane way possible. So you wanna take your kids fishing auslander? Well, then you have to  graduate from an angling school and join an angling club, then you can fish on the property where that club is allowed. Oh, is that all? well no actually.

In other countries anyone can just go to the sea and start fishing,  you don’t need a license. In other countries kids don’t need an angling license for coarse fish. In other countries, you are encouraged to throw fish back. Well, this isn’t other countries bucko!

Here, if you catch a fish you have to kill it. Why? I’ll tell you why: how else would you practice the mandatory fish execution skills which you were trained and certified for at fishing school? catch and release is considered inhumane so you have to put a spike in it…  If I were a fish, I’m pretty sure I would disagree.

If they were to apply this policy across the board using the logical thinking Germany is famed for, no commercially caught fish would be allowed in supermarkets since they all die slowly in air. It’s total bollocks and complete hyprocicy but it’s another rule to bash you with and that’s what matters right? In Germany, if there is a choice between logic and a rules, the rules win -even if they are fucking stupid.

I feel sorry for the poor kids, the powers that be are doing their best to legislate all the fun out of childhood, it’s not a wonder so many adults seem miserable. Me? I was born that way but stupid rules help me remember to stay that way.

heaven knows i m miserable now

It strikes me that it is actually quite fun to bitch and moan about things sometimes but the problems start when people take it up as a lifestyle choice. Then it becomes ingrained to your personality and you don’t know when to stop or you can’t stop. When this happens it makes you and everyone around you miserable.

Whether a family or a nation, when a rigid fixation on adherence to minor rules or standards of behaviour or even just implied standards of behaviour is the norm, and where not falling strictly into line and obeying without question, results in being bitched at by friends and strangers alike,  it seems quite obvious to me that the people living under these conditions will be more stressed and less happy than they could, or need to be. 

Saudi Arabia, wtf?

Finally someone talking sense, but from an unforseen direction; Saudi Arabia, that hotbed of tolerance and magnamity.

Abdulnasser Gharem is an artist/warmonger -his hobby and his job. Nevertheless, he has espoused the only sensible cause I have heard from a representative of that particular country: “I have worked out what is wrong with the world: people don’t think.  Horray, someone else worked it out too. He is 100% correct. If people would get off their lazy behinds and formulate their own opinions instead of  parroting those of their friends, relatives and TV personalities, the world would be a far more sensible and pleasant place for all.

[tube] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bWXC4BpXb8 [/tube]

Do I get a badge?

I did expect at least a little sympathy after sanding myself with the belt sander. All I was trying to do was unclog it by banging the belt. Yes, I probably should have turned it off first and avoided a sore hand – a German would certainly have turned it off.  So do I get sympathy? No; my helpful frau informs me that I am a candidate in waiting for a Darwin award. Does that mean I can have a badge?

darw

Holy Shit!

School break: we  left the kids with opa and took a trip to Strasbourg.

It was about 10pm in the old town. As we walked down the road, a middle aged man with a bimbo on each arm stumbled around the corner. As he turned, he looked up:  “holy fucking shit!” he shouted.

Click for a panorama view of what he saw 

There are so many tall buildings and the street is so short, you don’t reailse it is right there until you turn the corner and BOOM! right in your face; amazing.

We had been inside earlier in the day. To the right, barred to the crowds, lies a smaller church. Through the bars you can see a very old, painted wooden statue. The sculpture is unremarkable – except for the expression on the face -it totally blew me away.

mary2mary2

Recovery from this near religious experience entailed drinking lots of neu wein since luckily, opa lives on the wein straße and it’s harvest time. 4.5 abv, cloudy but fizzy. -goes down a treat with the French equivalent of stilton.

 

Báidín Fheilimí

For some reason I’ve been struck with a maudlin yearning to hear schoolchildren singing Báidín Fheilimí as I remember from my childhood. It’s a great little tune and still taught in kindergarten all over Ireland. This is the only version I could find but it’s better than nothing.Báidín Fheilimí 

It’s all about Fheilimí’s little boat sinking with him and his fish. Too bad for poor Fheilimí but at least we got a nice little song out of it.

ff1-125x150

A mugful of Irony

An Irishman moves to Germany, a country famed for exceedingly cheap, excellent beer  – then discovers he is gluten intolerant and can’t drink any of it.

So he looks for some crappy (rice) beer he  can actually drink and finds the only auslander beer in the shop is some disgusting Irish piss lager with a name in the vein of  Begorrah Leprechaun MacO’Paddy.

Ireland is brilliant at making stout but they don’t have a fucking clue about lager- to paraphrase Carlsberg: “the worst lager in the world -probably”.

Satre was wrong, Hell is not other people, hell is a beer lover surrounded by beer he can’t drink  (ok, possibly an alcoholic).

-as the bloke in the Murphy’s ad say’s “I’m not bitter.”

 [tube]jb5IPE3tzXQ[/tube]

the hell I’m not!

Sour Cream

Fajitas for dinner -yum!

Now  – if you went into a shop and bought sour cream you would be pretty confident you would actually have some nice, tasty sour cream to put on your fajitas when you sat down to dinner, right? Well that’s where you’d be wrong mein kleine Pendejo. You would actually have some kind of plasticky gloop to put on them.

My son’s favourite excuse is: “when I said yes, I actually meant no“.  Well this is a bit like that: It says sour cream but it’s not actually sour cream. You put Schmand on fajitas. Pendejo.

Dammit, this is really important. We’re in Germany right? someone should make a law against sour cream impersonation.

I don’t know what this is. I think it’s supposed to be a fajita or a burrito, but it looks like something the dog’s brought up -looks like German sour cream on top too…

Fisherman’s Friends

[tube] Os7RV5N9VLs [/tube]

Ok, I speak as much German as the Banjo picking boy from Deliverance but nevertheless a metamorphis of sorts has begun: I sucked a Fisherman’s Friend today and I didn’t even have a cold.

I just re-read that sentence and realised it sounds like a gay euphimism. Granted, this particular Fisherman’s Friend was tropical fruit not the traditional disgusting flavour – this is getting worse, yes, I sucked a fruity fishermans friend. Anyway, there are about fifty million different flavours of these here and they are sold beside the checkout in racks beside the cigarettes. I don’t even know if Germs use them for phlegm and catarrh but they definitely eat them like sweets.

In the UK  you see these pastilles, ignored and dusty, in a dark little corner of the chemists but here they are given pride of place by the supermarket checkout -what a difference- the packages are even dressed up in bright and merry pastel colours – well there is still the drawing of a sinking fishing trawler but at least the background colours are merry.

ff

 

Sie and Du -yet again!

On the basis of my extremely rigorous and statistically valid study (ok, two people) the consensus seems to be that the best reason NOT to get rid of Sie from the German language (like that’s an option!) and not using first names when you first meet someone is because it can be useful in case you wish to disagree or confront them in an unfriendly manner at some point in the future. e.g. a mechanic who has broken your car instead of fixing it, or a politician breaking a promise -yes, yes, I know – that never happens….

You can then say things like Sie ist ein Fucking Kakakopf or something like that. Now, I realise I am pretty much totally ignorant about these things but I am guessing that if you say Du ist ein fucking kakakopf to a German it has pretty much the same effect as saying Sie ist ein fucking kakakopf, right?

Click here for some examples of phrases you can use to start an argument in German.

In English, first names or formal titles have absolutely no bearing on the things you can say  to argue or disagree with someone. Yes, there is a need to keep a symbolic formal distance in some circumstances e.g. parent / teacher and patient/doctor, but this can be achieved on the basis of Mr. Mrs, Dr. etc.surname. There is no need to complicate it any further. Next argument for keeping Sie?

I would like to acknowledge my children’s invaluable advice on the difference between poohead and shithead.

Advancement through technology

Vorsprung durch Technik – Advancement through technology -this well known Audi tagline should probably be on the German flag.

I’ve come to realize that  I am viewing many aspects of life here from entirely the wrong perspective. The impetus for much stereotypical behaviour can be attributed to a nationwide infatuation with technology and technological stuff. Arseburgers syndrome?

This is not a criticism, I love technology and stuff. In fact I’m probably an arseburger myself; but there is often a price to pay, the ability to relate well to others. Is there a predisposition to arseburgership here? If so, I’ll probably be more at home than I realized…

(-yes,  know it’s aspergers)

This guy is an arsehole which is nothing to do with an arseburger.

 

 

Electric Gates and Bad Haircuts

For some reason electric gates are inordinately popular in Germany and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Do people want to feel like they live in mansions (even if the driveway is only 5M long)? Are they just lazy? Do they have too much money? Did they get one because their neighbour has one? Yesterday I saw Harley rider pull up in front of his gate, stand up, remove a remote control from his trousers and open the gate with it -he was less than 3 feet away…

it would have been faster for him to walk over and open it by hand. I can almost understand it from a car drivers perspective but this was just mad -maybe he wants to get his money’s worth out his expensive electric gate…. or maybe you can’t open them by hand? oops. Ah well, keeps the rif-raff out anyway -oh no, they can use the pedestrian gate…

Motorcyclists seem to go for the Mad Max baddie look here.

In a similar antisocial vein, I’ve just noticed the new style, ‘Hitler’ haircuts -buzz cut sides, long and greasy on top. Apparently they’ve been popular in the US for a couple of years but are only just catching on here.

Is this really flattering?

What we miss about the UK

Yesterday I was asked the question: “what do you miss about Wales?”

Unexpectedly, my answer is not what I thought it would be. The thing I miss most is not being able to deal with the people who make life difficult. I can’t speak German well enough to sort out the problems with bankers, landlords and the assorted villains of modern life. Maybe when I overcome this problem, I will miss being by the sea.

The thing my wife misses most about the UK is people being nice (and she is German). Apparently there are a significant number of people in the service sector here who don’t just think it their God given right to be arseholes, but feel duty bound to do so. If you worked in a bank or shop in the UK, you would expect to lose your job if you were purposely rude to customers, right? Well, not here my little Dummkopf.  It’s almost mandatory to be rude; if you aren’t your colleagues might think you are going soft.

Does this behaviour has its roots in the Sie and Du thing and the way Germs seem to crave respect and status -at least, more so than in the British Isles?

If you are an arsehole to someone, they may not respect you but at least they know you don’t respect them, and that’s almost equivalent isn’t it? In a really twisted and fucked up way, you confer status upon yourself when you are rude to customers without danger of repercussion.  This isn’t just culture clash, it’s culture clusterfuck.

Personally, I think supermarket staff here have actually become much nicer over the last few years. Now 99% of staff will say “schones tag” when you leave the checkout, and even if they don’t mean it, it doesn’t matter since they are no longer going out of their way to be rude. Everyone is happier. I think I remember reading something about people being forced to smile for a study, the upshot was they ended up putting themselves in a good mood; maybe that’s happening here?

MfG

The correct tools

As every proper German knows, it is vitally important to use the correct tool for each and every task. Using the wrong or inappropriate tool will result in head shaking, tutting and possibly even intervention with a lecture aimed at saving you from further embarassment. This is very difficult for Irish people to understand since we were always poor as shit and probably never had the proper tool in the first place. Ask any Irish person what the first tool they used as a child was and they will tell you a hammer -probably for opening walnuts at halloween. I thought walnuts were flat until I was eleven.

Germans probably don’t really consider a hammer to be a tool. If it wouldn’t be considered as less than macho I am sure it would be redesigned: the perfect German hammer would have a laser and crosshairs to aim exactly at the right spot, a guide to make sure it follows the correct path and markings on the guide to ensure it is lifted to the correct height.

How did german cavemen survive without a  lathe for making spears? I don’t think there is even a word for “bodge” in German.

Cool German words, part 1: Zeug

Zeug, what a great German word. It’s similar to the Irish word yoke, as in “that yoke over there“.  In Ireland a yoke basically means a “thing” – when you can’t be bothered to say the word thing -or have forgotten the real name of it.

In German, as I understand it, (which may not necessarily actually be the correct understanding!) zeug means “stuff”.  And when joined to other words, it means different stuff. And Germans really, really like to join words together. e.g. Kreuzschlitzschraubenzieher = cross slit screw puller or as we know it, a phillips screwdriver -which I suppose doesn’t make sense to a foreigner either -who the hell is Phillip and why does he have a screwdriver named after him?

Anyway, I digress, here are some examples of zeug:

  • Feuerzeug =  fire stuff (cigarette lighter)
  • Flugzeug =flying stuff (Aeroplane)  
  • Werkzeug = work stuff (Tools)
  • Zeugmeister = someone in charge of stuff 

And my favourite, although not joined, Dummes Zeug = rubbish or nonsense

To be continued…

Which one is Phillip’s?

 

It’s hot!

Phew! its hot here, 32C today.

Another feature of German living: it is important to know the inside and outside temperatures at all times.

In the UK, it’s normally not really hot or cold so you don’t worry about it. If you guessed rain without looking out the window, you would probably be right.

Aber, in der Farterland not so simple – the diktat: vorsprung durch technik (advancement through technology) is an unwritten rule of life here.

Consequently Aldi, Lidl and every shop in Germany sells inside/outside wireless weather stations. And consequently, in order to be prepared, organised and appropriately attired to step outside, as all good Germans are, every home must have a wireless inside/outside thermometer -sometimes two. Hell sometimes three or four -sometimes one in every room in the house!

Lidl weather station (disclaimer: not an endorsement)

 

 

Pros and cons of living here

It’ s been 5 months now, lets compare the pros and cons:

Germany: a carnivore’s paradise, clean streets, minimal public drunkenness, proper cycle paths, cheap beer, everyone eats cake at 4pm. Snow in winter, sun in summer, relatively small and crowded coastline but nice beaches, you’re only allowed ten BBQ a year or you get in trouble with the stasi, many pretty streets with various house styles, no pebbledash, people say what they mean, small talk discouraged, grossly excessive attention paid to asparagus.

Wales: public drunkeness , dirty streets, crap painted cycle paths on roads, everyone eats cake whenever they feel like it. Snow occasionally, sun occasionally, a huge coastline of beautiful beaches, as many BBQ’s as you want, lots of ugly, pebbledash housing, vegetarian food available but asparagus not worshipped, people often beat around the bush, small talk mandatory.

hmm, seems about even so far….

Ok, time to compare

It’ s been 5 months now, lets compare the pros and cons:

Germany: a carnivore’s paradise, clean streets, minimal public drunkenness, proper cycle paths, cheap beer, everyone eats cake at 4pm. Snow in winter, sun in summer, a decent bit sea and coastline but only in the north, you’re only allowed ten BBQ a year or you get in trouble with the stasi, many pretty streets with various house styles, no pebble-dash, people say what they mean, small talk discouraged, grossly excessive attention paid to asparagus.

Wales: public drunkeness (e.g. St Mary St on friday nights), dirty streets, crap painted cycle paths on roasd (not the barrage, that’s excellent), everyone eats cake whenever they feel like it, snow occasionally, sun occasionally, a huge coastline of beautiful beaches, as many BBQ’s as you want, lots of ugly, pebbledash housing, vegetarain food available but asparagus not worshipped, people often beat around the bush, small talk mandatory.

hmm, seems about even so far….

Ah Wales…

I really miss Wales on days like this when the weather is hot, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be than Marloes Sands. Once but a short drive away, now it seems like a lifetime..

marloes sands

Too bad an idiot minister has just announced scrapping the proposed marine nature reserve at beautiful Skomer Island around the corner.

Live webcam of Skomer Island

Kampfing in Frankreich (La France)

Just back from 3 weeks Kampfing in France. Here are some things I noticed:

  • If you are a passenger in a French car you have to remove your shoes and socks and put your feet on the dashboard.
  • If you are a middle aged French man on holiday, you have to put on a garish lycra costume, aquire an expensive racing bike and cycle up and down steep hills in the middle of any really hot day. This is especially the case if the Tour-de-France happens to be ongoing.
  • They haven’t really worked out how to put electricity wires underground in towns yet.
  • The food is really nice🙂

Teacher throwback?

Yesterday, the eldest told us everyone was laughing in school because the teacher threw a blackboard rubber at a boy who was talking and a few minutes later sellotaped another boy’s lips.

The teacher would probably be disciplined in the UK but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a bit of humorous embarassment as a teaching tool -within reason of course. As a matter of fact, I think it’s a great idea!

 

Britain is not in the EU -apparently

I visited the local vehicle test centre with the campervan today. Having spent the last few weeks installing new headlights and foglights and making it generally neat and tidy, I thought there was nothing more I could do to prepare it for the test.

I didn’t expect it to sail through, but I certainly didn’t expect an outright refusal to test it. According to the proprietor, since it is a U.K. reg van it cannot be tested since Britain is not in the EU and the proof of this is they don’t use the Euro.

Now, I do my own work on cars and I have always thought that, despite the popular opinion that mechanics are a bunch of dumbasses, it requires a modicum of brainpower to diagnose problems and repair them safely.

Thanks for bursting my bubble Herr Mechanic.

                  

Graffitti on the Bürgerbus

Notice on board outside kids school: €200-00 reward for information on perpetrator of this heinous crime.

No, it’s not the local B&Q burger van that’s been sprayed, it’s the peoples bus (and a Bürgermeister is a mayor,  not someone who is really good at making burgers).

Update: I have been corrected on the pronunciation of bürgerbus, its actually pronounced boogerbus. The kids cracked up laughing when they heard this – to stern looks from the correcter.

 

Disgusting name calling

Much to their enjoyment, my kids can now curse in two languages and even better, call me rude names without me realising it.

Ekelhaft schwein-kaka-kopf is their latest: disgusting pig shithead... nice…

Or, is that disgusting pigshit head?

Fair play to them though, I would use it too if I were a kid; I may even use it as an adult;-)

To Du or not to Du.

MfG

This is becoming quite depressing; for the third time in two months I have been snubbed in the same manner: after chatting with a new aquaintence we shook hands and I offered my first name only to be completely blanked and rebuffed by the lack of a reciprocal first name. These are not complete strangers, but neighbours and local people who know we moved here recently and who we are interacting with.

After reflecting upon this, I have come to the simplistic conclusion that the blame for snubbing, cashier rudeness and don’t mention the war, can be blamed on the use of the formal ‘Sie’ and informal ‘Du’ in Germany (in English, ‘you’).

As I understand it, Du is for children and friends, Sie is for everyone else. Du is diminutive whilst Sie has gravitas.

Nobody likes being belittled or made feel unimportant, yet that is what happens every day to German kids. In general, children are only allowed call parents, family or other kids, ‘Du‘. All teachers and adults must be called  ‘Sie’, conversely all children are called ‘Du’ by everyone.

There is a clear association with power, superiority and inferiority in the use of these words, consequently, it is only natural for a child to aspire to being called ‘Sie’. And when a child becomes an adult and is called ‘Sie’ by strangers and children, it does not want to go back to being called ‘Du’ by just anyone because this implies inferiority.

When I asked my wife why people were being rude and not reciprocating with first names, she said that it was probably because they do not want me to call them ‘Du’ which might happen if they give me their first name (this is termed ‘offering the Du’).  Consequently, just because of the words Sie and Du, a natural barrier to friendliness exists.

It’s human nature, those on top want to stay there… and I suppose its entirely un-realisitic to expect evolution (progression?) on this since Sie and Du are central tenets of German identy and culture. Would Mozart and Beethoven have created their masterpieces if everyone had called them Du?

What kind of silly question is that? I’m going mad!

Anyway, I am convinced that only these two words ‘Sie’ and ‘Du’ are the whole reason for German formality and rigidity in business and in fact  in all walks of life; everyone wants to be called Herr or Frau because they are afraid of losing status and being belittled by ‘Du’ thus christinan names cannot be used.

It’s a different culture, and when in Rome do as the Romans do etc. but if I do this I am contributing to the problem. True, it is probably not perceived as a a problem by germs but nevertheless I am severely tempted to use the English ‘you‘ in German conversations, and continue to offer my christian name – just to see what happens;-)

MfG!

To Du or not to Du; Sie vs. Du -the reason things are they way they are here?

MfG

This is becoming quite depressing; for the third time in two months I have been snubbed in the same manner: after chatting with a new aquaintence we shook hands and I offered my first name only to be completely blanked and rebuffed by the lack of a reciprocal first name. These are not complete strangers, but neighbours and local people who know we moved here recently and who we are interacting with.

After reflecting upon this, I have come to the simplistic conclusion that the blame for snubbing, cashier rudeness and don’t mention the war, can be blamed on the use of the formal ‘Sie’ and informal ‘Du’ in Germany (in English, ‘you’).

As I understand it, Du is for children and friends, Sie is for everyone else. Du is diminutive whilst Sie has gravitas.

Nobody likes being belittled or made feel unimportant, yet that is what happens every day to German kids. In general, children are only allowed call parents, family or other kids, ‘Du‘. All teachers and adults must be called  ‘Sie’, conversely all children are called ‘Du’ by everyone.

There is a clear association with power, superiority and inferiority in the use of these words, consequently, it is only natural for a child to aspire to being called ‘Sie’. And when a child becomes an adult and is called ‘Sie’ by strangers and children, it does not want to go back to being called ‘Du’ by just anyone because this implies inferiority.

When I asked my wife why people were being rude and not reciprocating with first names, she said that it was probably because they do not want me to call them ‘Du’ which might happen if they give me their first name (this is termed ‘offering the Du’).  Consequently, just because of the words Sie and Du, a natural barrier to friendliness exists.

It’s human nature, those on top want to stay there… and I suppose its entirely un-realisitic to expect evolution (progression?) on this since Sie and Du are central tenets of German identy and culture. Would Mozart and Beethoven have created their masterpieces if everyone had called them Du?

What kind of silly question is that? I’m going mad!

Anyway, I am convinced that only these two words ‘Sie’ and ‘Du’ are the whole reason for German formality and rigidity in business and in fact  in all walks of life; everyone wants to be called Herr or Frau because they are afraid of losing status and being belittled by ‘Du’ thus christinan names cannot be used.

It’s a different culture, and when in Rome do as the Romans do etc. but if I do this I am contributing to the problem. True, it is probably not perceived as a a problem by germs but nevertheless I am severely tempted to use the English ‘you‘ in German conversations, and continue to offer my christian name – just to see what happens;-)

MfG!

Lets go camping

it’s a really nice bank holiday weekend, let’s go camping? Wow, what a great idea!

Oh no,  I forgot, we can’t; the whole neighbourhood is supposed to be weeding and sweeping the streets tomorrow.

Why can’t they leave a perfectly good bank holiday weekend alone?

I agree, there is something to be said for community spirit, but sometimes it’s just a bit over the top.

 

Ausländer: outsider, foreigner.

I  admit the following opinion is totally unreasonable since ausländer is an official German word.

I find I am unnerved by the term ‘ausländer’. I heard the words ausländer’ and ‘spreche kein Deutsch’ today as I walked past some parents at the local school.

Ausländer, to my ears, sounds like aggressive, like “get out of my land”.  Unlike the English word foreigner, it does not only mean foreigner, it also means outsider, someone who does not ‘fit in’ socially or who is not socially accepted or ‘not one of us’. Why does it have to be used when (according to the dictionary) the nicer sounding word ‘fremde’ is available?

This  can’t really be true, can it? according to an online dictionary, the word ausländer only dates from 1936 (when Hitler was contributing to standards of eitequette).  click here to see it

In Ireland,  the term ‘blow in’ was a popular derogative term for emigrants returning to Ireland during the wealthy ‘Celtic Tiger’ years. You don’t hear it much now that everyone is leaving again -schadenfreude -now that’s a good German word.

Tempting kids with displays of sweets at supermarket checkouts -the adult version.

like most Irish, I am a moderate yet enthusiastic drinker. However, I can confidently state that if the price of alcohol was as low in Ireland as it is here, the country would grind to a halt overnight.

As we see, Germans have willpower. Nevertheless, those temptingly nonchalant tumbles of cigarette packs by the supermarket checkouts are too much even for them…

Whoever thought that tumbling cigarette packs in instead of lining them up in rows would make them so much more desirable? Brilliant!

cigarettes aldi

Englanders are spanners

it seems my self-built campervan, may never pass a German MOT (TUV) since some parts are British and might have been made by people who were not paying attention.

The German word for adjustable spanner is ENGLANDER. I still haven’t worked out if this is intended as a slur..

Update: apparently it is so named because in the old days it was the only tool available for use on imperial nuts and bolts. Well there you go -paranoia unnecessary.

A German lesson

Käse is pronounced kay-ze. Kaiser is pronounced ki-zer.

 Our eldest boy gets a bit mixed up whilst reading and pronounces kaiser as kay-zer causing my wife to crack up.

empnpcheezy

 “it’s Emperor Penguin, not Cheesy Penguin!”

Those heavy metal dots on letters

Our eldest boy gets a bit mixed up whilst reading causing my wife to crack up:

“it’s Emperor Penguin, not Cheesy Penguin!”

cheesy penguin
Kaiser Pinguin <> Käse Pinguin

Putting dots (umlauts) on the letter A changes the sound from ai to aay -apparently…

Houses and planning, Germany vs. UK

Housing

In the UK, we lived in a 1940s, semi-detached, pebble-dashed, ex-council house. All the houses on the street were identical -and all equally ugly. A neighbour wanted to make some changes to his house and applied for planning permission. It was denied; the reason: it would be out-of-character with the street. Now, call me stupid, but to my mind any change to this spectacularly ugly street could only improve it. But that’s not how planning works in the UK. Common sense and aesthetics have been sidelined – why?

In Germany almost every house is different; there is not a single mindlessly-designed, profit-maximizing, identikit, wimpy estate to be seen. Most people build their house on a vacant plot to a design of their choice, resulting in diverse and pretty streets full of interesting looking houses.

There is one thing which detracts from this however: garden fences. For some reason metal and chain-link fences are hugely popular. These metal fences imbue a disproportionate and depressingly negative effect on their surroundings relevant to their actual size – and it would be so easy to use wood-panel fencing instead. It’s probably even cheaper. Suburban garden fences are one place where normally excellent and purposeful German over-engineering completely trample any aesthetic sensibilities.

Whilst I’m on a rant anyway… Ireland’s planning has historically been just as bad, but in reverse, by allowing ugly, ostentatious “Dallas” style houses to be built in the middle of the Irish countryside it has destroyed many a historically beautiful landscape. I hate to say it, but this is the reason that Welsh landscapes beats Irish landscapes, hands down. The countryside is one place UK planning has got it right.

 

No school assembly and an argument about God stumped by a 7 year old

The 7 year old arrives home from school to announce that there are some things about the school he does like, such as no assemblies.

“Why didn’t you like school assemblies in Wales?”

“They always talk about God and stuff like that”

“Whats wrong with talking about God?”

“Well they always try to make you think there is a God at assembly, that’s why all the other children think there is a God.”

“No, maybe they think that because their parents believe in God.”

“No, your parents believed in God and you don’t.”

“Well maybe I’m agnostic and don’t know if there is one.”

“That means you believe in God.”

“Huh ? ! ”

“What makes you say that?”

“Whats the opposite of not believing?”

“Believing”

“Right, and since you don’t not believe, that means you believe.”

He is seven years old, how the hell has he learned to bend logic and argue like George Bush Jr? -actually I’ll just look at it from the other perspective: bush has the mentality of a seven year old…

 

It’s not just a sneeze

Sneezing, what a useful and enjoyable function. In the English speaking world, we make the noise “Ahh-choo” when we sneeze, presumably because that’s what our parents did. This noise has a useful social purpose. We are conditioned from childhod to expect a (potentially loud) “CHOO”  if anybody makes an “Ahh-” sound.

On the other hand…
Often Germs don’t say ‘ahh. Sneezing is accompanied by a loud ‘KAH’ sound from the back of the throat.  It always makes me jump. It’s probably my paranoia, but I suspect many are secretly looking out of the corner of their eye to see if they made you jump;-)

Realistically, I am sure there is an valid social purpose for the this; maybe there is less snot mist from a KA than a CHOO? Maybe you don’t need a hanky?

*culture clash*

Manipulative children

its the first really nice day here, 21c and sunny, -it was -5 last week.

Tons more garden birds than where we lived in Wales. Lots of sparrows, woodpeckers in tree next door, jays. A pack of Cranes riding thermals overhead -really nice.

Kids cycling in the garden teasing and winding each other up on their (ebay) new bikes. The youngest was around the side of the house and didn’t see me watching as he carefully put his bike down and lay on the ground beside it, then started calling out in apparent distress that his brother had crashed into him.

I just had to spray gold xmas decoration paint on his bike since he refused to ride a bike with pink highlights to school. He obviously hasn’t cottoned on that two down tubes make it a girl’s bike -the joke’s on him (yes, I am a mean, cruel dad).

Update: he now has a new bike:-)

 

Stylized image

Whilst explaining the meaning of stylized images to the kids at bedtime, the ten year old announced excitedly that the symbol on a box of kellogs cornflakes was a COCKHEAD!

The two of them them burst into fits of uncontrollable giggling for the next half hour.

I suppose since they hear the phrase at least once every drive -but it was funny:-)

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