Random Tuesday – To Infinity and Beyond… and Back.

It’s another Random Tuesday, and it’s a good thing because my brain is waaaaay tooooo scattered for coherent thought right now.

If you are of a like mind, go check out Keely… she shows us how it’s done.

Let me just say that moving sucks and we aren’t even really starting yet. The floors have all been sanded down to the beautiful wood and now the staining begins. My gawd it seems to take forever for stuff to dry. One room’s walls have required three coats of white to cover up the brightest/ugliest/saddest green you have ever seen!

Tonight we get our new basement cleaned and set up for the big move. Hopefully we can get everything shifted over as well. Let’s just say that I’m increasingly surprised exactly how much SCUBA diving CRAP we have. But this cellar space is larger than the last one, so we’ll be able to spread out a bit and hopefully have more than an area 6 inches wide to park my bike.

We had a fantastic time in Munich for the Whiney Expat Bloggers Meetup 2009. A great group of friends in a beautiful, clean, if a bit stuffy city. Munich has many claims to fame of course, but the one I found the funniest was the “We built our opera house on the world’s first beer tax” to be a bit over the top. I had my first Maß which as far as I can tell is just a HUGE mug of watery beer. Give me a Guinness any day.

The more I travel, the more I realize that cool/sexy/poor Berlin was the right choice for me. But the people are great in Munich and I would go back for a visit any time.

As of this moment I haven’t had enough time to read the instruction manual for my new camera. Unfortunately I think that this will be required. I’ve started twice but the thing is almost incomprehensible. WHY can’t someone actually write a manual that is in simple language and actually gives the owner some value?

Today Mimi and I turned over 3,500 KM on her odometer. I’m really loving the sweet little scooter and will really not be happy on the day she needs to be put away for winter. 😦

I didn’t get the filing gene – no matter what, I always need to go back to find things and am continually surprised by where things end up. If something were to happen to me tomorrow, I pitty the person who has to find things in my work filing system. Let’s not even get into what the folder with my photos looks like.

Now that gray hair has finally started to make its appearance on my head I don’t seem to be too happy about it. In fact, I caught myself standing at the bathroom mirror this morning pulling individual hairs. Am I crazy trying to fight against something which is going to happen no matter what?

Been reading:
Priorities Are Clear as Mud in Germany – With elections coming up it is interesting to see what Merkel’s administration is up to… or not up to.

Deutsche Bahn to Cut 75% of Berlin Train Services – There must be some nasty politicking going on here. WTF? This is the second maintenance “emergency shutdownthis summer! Somebody should hang pay! Where is our Mayor? Partying in Fuerteventura?

Astronauts pack Buzz Lightyear for ride home – OK, so he didn’t quite make it to “Infinity and Beyond”… but he was on the SPACE STATION! He’s probably my favorite cartoon character of all and knowing that astronauts think he’s cool too is a like a rocket boost for me. 🙂

OK, I’ll leave you with the Mean Kitty Song!
Every time I pass a “Sparta Bank” this song starts playing in my head.

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On Harry and Hairy German Situations

I’m so excited that I’m a bit afraid I will burst. (well, not literally… come on… stop TAKING ME LITERALLY!)

Harry Potter and his crew of meddling Gryffindors are coming to a big screen near me… and I have tickets! Yeah, yeah I know it is a bit childish to be so excited, especially when this movie is about the book I liked the least out of the series. But I really enjoy Harry’s world, and I look forward to stepping back into it this evening.

Tonight will also serve as another milestone. This evening after work as I make my way to the Harry Potter flick, Mimi (the name of my Vespa Scooter… don’t you name your vehicles? you don’t? silly you, it’s more fun) and I will have logged a total of 3,000km (1,184 miles) since we being rescued from Scooter Hell in the fall of 2007. As we rolled to a stop this morning, her odometer read 2,999.06. All of that and my butt isn’t even sore!

Speaking of Mimi adventures (and really, there are many although I don’t chronicle them here for fear that my Sweet No will read them and forbid me from riding.), this morning I was getting petrol/gas/benzine (yeah, one five liter tank lasts over a week – love it!) I pulled up alongside a sexy-looking Mercedes two-seater. Behind slinky and brown was a 50-ish looking man holding a gas nozzle in that position which I’ve always thought was slightly suggestive.

As I hopped off and stowed my helmet I realized that he was scrutinizing me. When I reached up for a paper towel to help control drips while filling I stole a glance his way and I caught him unabashedly staring at me. OK, no worries… I just stared right back at him as I returned to the scooter. Mimi got her fill of gasoline and I went inside to pay. Walking out I was shocked to see that he was strolling directly toward me, still staring intently, with his body between me and the scooter.

With a raised eyebrow I asked him (auf Deutsch of course) if I could help him, as he was now in my way. He told me that he had something to discuss with me. I motioned to follow and then walked around him in an attempt to get back to Mimi and a possible weapon if need be – just joking there.

Soon I was listening to a long diatribe about how I had picked the wrong type of gasoline to put into the scooter. It seems that Mimi was getting the store brand which was designed for “special vehicles” with a number rating of 100 (who knows if it is an octane rating or not – Germany doesn’t have “must display octane ratings” rules like America) and it simply would not do to put it into my Vespa. I didn’t know the word for Octane so my response was probably rather cloudy to him, but my explanation centered around the fact that my scooter gets high octane gas (as recommended by the manufacturer) so that it goes faster and starts more smoothly.

Mr. slinky car seemed to accept my not-necessarily coherent explanation and went on his way which relieved me as he was really intense and even though he was nicely dressed, his way of acting was a bit strange to me.

Which begs the question… Why do Germans feel that it is their right – no, duty – to tell me what they think I am doing wrong? Crossing the street against the light, standing on the bus in the wrong area, queuing incorrectly (perceived) for the grocery store, biking on the sidewalk on my way to park, all of them are a reason for telling me what they think I should rather be doing. Ask any Ausländer Mother (from another country) about walking the streets of Berlin and being told that her child needs a hat, doesn’t need a hat, should have a coat, shouldn’t have a blanket, too much wind will give the child who knows what ailment, or even just that they shouldn’t have a child that small on the back of a bicycle regardless of the efficiency of a child chair.

What makes Mr. I drive a piece of German engineering perfection such an expert about my Italian scooter when I’m quite positive that he’s never been on such a low-tier vehicle in his adult life?

– Random Tuesday Thoughts

Kinda fun thing this Random Tuesday Thoughts. I found it through Blogging Mama I believe, which took me to The Un Mom who actually hosts the thing.

Since I felt like being totally random today it seemed a great time to try this out.

At lunch yesterday a friend said that she doesn’t like blogs with too much personal information. I know blogs like this, where you get to read the absolute minutiae of someone’s life. In some ways for me it can be a bit disturbing. In others it makes me feel closer to them. Either way I don’t think I’ve ever done this with the Snooker blog, in fact while reading afterward sometimes it seems a bit impersonal… eh fuck it, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I can be personal, but just don’t want to get THAT personal. Maybe I should try this personal thing… eh? As far as I know there has never been a direction with the Snooker blog. So hey, I’m random… get it?

This morning seemed perfect to ride Mimi the Vespa even though the sky looked grey and icky and the hit or miss parade (weather forecasters on the radio) talking about nasty weather for my ride home tonight. Aw heck, ya only live once… and I like living it with fresh air! Who cares if there are little water spots on my face shield… it helps to clean the bike! This morning we (yes, WE… Mimi and I… you got a problem with that?) went up onto the bicycle lane again, passed about 3 km of cars which were at an absolute standstill and giggled the whole way! Nobody tell Sweet No, OK?

Tonight I’ll have a blogger dinner with Adam who is coming to Berlin for a quick visit along with Yelli and her Scientist, and never forget the cute and cuddly (he probably wouldn’t appreciate this terminology) Baby Bird!

Last weekend was the birthday party of my Mother in Law. They had a big shindig complete with enough Italian snackies to feed twice as many people as attended. YES, I had my fill of antipasti and then some.

I had a lovely time going from couple to couple laying down my shitty German and seeing them try to understand. Nah, actually it wasn’t too bad. Somehow or another I manage to have decent conversations with folks even though I must admit to having a lot of trouble understanding accents. One guy is from Freiburg and OMG! WHAT language is that!? It is very much like someone from a northern city in America trying to understand the babble which is the language spoken in New Orleans.

Really it shouldn’t be too bad for me, I have an Austrian friend (and we all know THEY don’t really speak German) and a Saxon friend (and she even ADMITS that she doesn’t speak German). But that Freiburg accent always throws me for a loop.

My boss is out of town again… and I love it. Of course it sounds bad to say this, but when she leaves, I finally have time to do all the back work which never seems to get done when she is within eyeshot. She’s a great gal though, and I really like working for her.

On top of regular work duties I also edit all English texts which go out to more than five people. The hard part… we use mostly British English.
Oh yeah, let’s have the American speak a different language for work.
How in the world did we get to the point of the Brits and the Amis spelling so many words differently?
Favorite vs. Favourite?
Center vs. Centre?
Meter vs. Metre?
Catalog vs. Catalogue?
How did we get to spelling Medieval differently? Mediaeval
Program vs. Programme
Traveling vs. Travelling
We won’t even get into the whole language pattern differences and how this confuses me.

Let me just say this… I NEED a haircut. My bangs are now hanging to the bottom of my glasses. It has gotten so long that there is no longer any shape. One of my colleagues wants me to go all girly, but dammit, I’m a dyke. We have special hair needs!

Cliff wanted to get his traditional (I’m away from home haircut) when he was in Berlin but never got it done while here, I wonder if that has changed since getting home.

Looking onto my Google Calendar I see that Thursday is “Corpus Christi”. WTF is Corpus Christi? Some goofy city in Texas gets its own day? I want BERLIN day! Yeah, yeah I get it. I’m sure it has a religious connotation, but it can’t be TOO religious or Germans would have the day off!

Speaking of calendars – I am sooo geeky that I have the perfect calendar set up. Sweet No and I share an online calendar through Google Calendar. Totally cool because at a glance I can see her schedule and mine and know if what I’m preparing to schedule will have a conflict with something she already has. Then we take the geekiness up a notch. We link Google Calendar with our Outlook Calendar… but it doesn’t stop there. THEN we sync our Blackberrys with our Outlook. Is that geeky or WHAT!?!

Speaking of all things GEEK… I am in love with a camera. You might question that someone could seriously be in love with a camera, well the answer is yes. Ladies and gentlemen I am ready to move away from the simplicity that is the Nikon D40x and get into something really complicated. Nikon D90. BUT before she went to Egypt in April, my Sweet No bought a super duper underwater camera along with kickass light system and funky arm set to hold it all together. Just this past week she added to this kit a huge wide angle lens which cost more than my D40x AND my first two lenses put together. Ahem. This effectively means that our budget for such equipment is shot to shit. Prepare for the unfair angle. She uses this camera ONLY for underwater shots which means that she pulls it out twelve times a year maximum. I on the other hand, take pictures every day, 10,000 in the first year of ownership. Where is the love!?!

In the past two weeks both ZZ Top and The Eagles were in town but I couldn’t go to either one because of scheduling conflicts. Sometimes life sux.

OK, I think that is enough for Random Tuesday madness.
Your Disobedient Servant
– Snooker

Manic Monday

Ah… I love it when things just seem to go right for me. Over the years I’ve noticed there are times that everything just sort of works out and other times it all goes to shit. Of course I know that most of the time how well things go for me is in direct relation to the decisions I make. Monday for instance, was one of those days.

Sweet No woke up at 5.45 in the morning. My first thought was, “Should I go to the gym?”. My decision was tempered by the fact that my head was still swimming from not enough sleep over the weekend, made worse by a genuinely lazy heart. “Um… no.” Rolling over and catching another hour/hour and a half of sleep certainly seemed like the better course of action, and so it was.

At 7.30 I was faced with my next decision. Should I get up now, or skip the shower (come on, I had one at 9.00 last night) and cuddle up to the cat for another 30 minutes? Yeah, you guessed… the cat was unmercifully squeezed until the alarm went off again.

It’s 8.00. I must get my shit rolling. The job starts at 9.00 and it is a 25 minute commute in the best of times… and hitting the city at 8.25 is NOT THE BEST OF TIMES. Out the door at 8.20, this doesn’t look good. The ground is wet, it’s been raining. Damn. You don’t have your umbrella. Double Damn. Well, it isn’t raining NOW, that is cool. YEA!

Next decision. IF you take the bus leaving at 8.20, you will get to the office at about 9.00. Um, and that is if things go well. IF you take Mimi (the Vespa scooter – yeah, she has a name…. you got a problem with that?), you will hit city traffic at its worst, but get there about 8.45. Oh… and do I hear it? Yes, that is what I think it is… the bus is now pulling out and away from the bus stop. Right on time wouldn’t you know it? And I am two blocks away. Bye bye bus, and the next one would get me there late. Oh well, so much for that decision. Alrighty then, Mimi is looking better and better. Of course it COULD be raining between here and there. Um. F**k it. Take a chance.

Hop on Mimi and within two blocks come across cars standing in line… in an area they NEVER stand in line. They are simply trying to CROSS a major street. Whoops, it looks like it will be a VERY heavy traffic day.

No problem for Mimi and I. We just pop out of line and pass the group (yes, in the oncoming lane… no, there were no cars coming… yes I know this is a bit iffy, but you have to know the neighborhood I am talking about to know that this is no problem). The cross street was crazy and it looked as though the problem was the highway interchange. Maybe it had to be closed for some reason, and folks were confused about that. Either way it was a mess and I was happy to be crossing that street, not driving down it.

About eight blocks later I ran into the next problem. Another long line of cars, backed up way beyond the normal locations and blocking the way for me to even see if the highway at the crux of the problem. I skipped into the bus lane (yes, you are guessing right… this is not something people should be doing) to go around the majority of the stopped traffic but eventually had to merge back into the regular lanes because the bus lane ended.

I was now sitting at the traffic light seeing the winding line of stationary tail lights stretch out for as far as I could see. The last two green lights at my intersection moved our line three car lengths and had me considering what my boss would say if she actually beat me into the office (she’s always at least 30 minutes late – one of the perks of being the boss). I was giving myself the “you should know better” speech when I heard a scooter approaching my position from behind. I expected to see him in my side mirror, creeping up between the cars… but NO… he was cruising by me quickly on the bike lane! YES, he had jumped off the street and started down the sidewalk-based bike lane to get away from the traffic. Oh baby THAT’s the ticket!

At the next opportunity I was cruising down the lane right behind him, it felt just like Amsterdam where the scooters use the bike paths all the time. We passed at least three miles (almost five km) of bumper to bumper, immobile traffic. There is no way for me to express my happiness while speeding past all of those cars. Elation is probably the only word which really fits.

(Now before you think I’m very bad, remember that the skies looked like it would pour rain any moment, and there simply weren’t that many bikes out. Throughout our entire little trip, we didn’t pass a single bike.)

When the bike path ran out and there was no bus lane anymore, we were forced to get back into the regular traffic lanes although we were very lucky and slipped right in at the front of the line. Thankfully here is where the worst of the traffic jam ended, sweet! As we sat there with him in front and me to his rear I noticed that he was looking in his mirror at me with the most cute look of “ha ha, we did it” on his face. I must have had the same look because may I say I was really feeling it. Then we gave each other the thumbs up sign and at the next green light we cruised off to our respective destinations.

Oh yeah, I made it to work with 10 minutes to spare… and yeah, the subway would have had me there about the same time. But it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

“Blame it on the train, but the bus is already there.”

Been reading:

Seasons Greetings!

I would like to wish you and yours a happy Holiday Season.
May peace, love and joy be yours during this wonderful time and follow you into the New Year.

It has been a quiet season so far around here. I’m in preparations for a trip to see my Mother in Phoenix. It is the second trip back to the States in as many months. I feel like a real jet-setter!

While I’m there my oldest brother and I will pop up to Pasadena, CA to watch the Rose Bowl. It should be an experience!

Poor Mimi the Vespa. Today the sun actually came out for a few moments. Before it could disappear completely I thought I would hop on Mimi for a little ride. BUT, she wasn’t feeling well and wouldn’t start for me. Poor little girl. Mommy didn’t have enough time to get the bottom of the problem so she will just have to wait until I get back.

OK, I’m going to go pack up the rest of my stuff. Maybe I’ll set a record and be completely packed within twelve hours of my flight… NAH!

Random Babbling

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas… but watch out for the knives.
One of the clients where I work sent us a two foot tall chocolate Santa. The first day it came he stood at the reception desk in all of his delectable glory. But there were so many other tempting treats around, Santa wasn’t even bothered.

Yesterday morning that all changed. As I walked to my office I saw that Santa had been taken out of his plastic and a murder weapon was stuck in his back. Poor guy. Rather sick group of people I work with, eh?

Changing tracks:
The strangest thing has been happening to me of late, and I’m just weird enough to have noticed it. As I come home on the subway in the evenings I realize that as the train I’ve just exited prepares to leave, the train coming from the other direction is just pulling into the station. After the third time this happened I started paying attention to it, now I am up to seven consecutive occurrences. With trains coming every five minutes or so, and only sitting still about 30 seconds, I would think the odds are really low for this to take place so often.

It is not as though I notice this at the same time every day. My timing is always rather varied. Sometimes I get off work on the hour straight up, sometimes 10 minutes or even an hour late. It even happened to me this last weekend. Surely other people experience such random coincidences. The question is… are they abnormal enough to have actually noticed that it was happening to them? Reminds me of something I did a long time ago about the 20 most amazing coincidences.

I am a personal assistant at my job. This means I do all kinds of things, my job is always changing. No, my boss is nothing like “The Devil Wears Prada“, she is a sweetheart who is almost apologetic when she needs to ask me to do something. Just recently she’s been horribly busy with the job and with life and was talking about how she needed to buy a Christmas present for her young son. She hinted at it a bit, and then I ran with it… I suggested that I could pick it up for her. The cool thing… I got to go buy a Wii and a game and some other cool gaming stuff. AND I didn’t have to PAY for it. But then I don’t get to play with it either. Dammit.

Interesting side note:
About four months before I bought my baby-blue Vespa (Mimi) my boss had asked me to prepare an information sheet on a gift she was buying for her boyfriend. It was a special edition baby-blue Vespa very much like the one I ended up buying just a short time later. Maybe history will repeat itself? Maybe Santa will bring me a Wii too? Eh, something makes me doubt it.

Speaking of presents. How well do you have to know each other to not only decide to secretly buy the exact same present for each other… but to figure out that the other person has decided to buy it for you? N. sat me down a few days ago and by process of elimination confirmed her suspicion that my present to her would be tickets to a show starting soon at Theater Des Westens, “Der Schuh des Manitu“. After she came to the conclusion, she mentioned that she too had been working on that same plan. Oh man. Coincidence or just cool? I hope that my request for tickets to see the Eagles at the O2 Arena in June will not fall on deaf ears.

The average German’s nose turns up at the mere hint of an objectionable smell. The ironic thing is that the average German toilet seems to be purpose-built to hold any solid waste open to the air and thus spread any smell. My office toilets thankfully are the “normal” kind which can be found almost anywhere else in the civilized world. BUT, the whole German nose thing comes into play nonetheless. Why MUST we open the windows in the water closet in the middle of winter?

May I just say that when the temperature outside is hovering in the freezing range that it isn’t such a nice thing to walk into a toilet stall with a wide-open window? This allows the super-cooled outside air to proportionately super-cool the marble on the walls in the room. Not to mention the feeling of being close to a sub-zero “Porcelain God”.

Another track:
It sucks to be on the eastern edge of a time zone in December. The shortest day of the year is approaching and I can’t wait to get beyond it. This crap of sunrise at 8.30 and sunset at 4.00 is bad enough. BUT! Remember that the sky is completely gray most days in this part of the world, which obscures what little sun we might get. This makes it FEEL like sunrise is about 9.45 and sunset 3.15. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a SHORT day.

Thanks for letting me bitch babble.
Now on with your regularly scheduled programming…

Been reading: