The Not So Grand Intervention

I’ve been in my beloved & missed #Americant during the worst pandemic in a hundred years for a week now. I received my first covid shot within hours of arriving. Should be getting second shot within the next three weeks. I consider being able to fly here and get vaccinated an awesome privilege–and for that I am humbly thankful. But get this, dear worst-reader. I’m kinda shocked that this whole pandemic thing ain’t just a touch worse. I mean. Come on. Check out some of the numbers. Officially almost six hundred thousand brethren have died from this disease. Many many more refuse to even recognise that it’s a problem–even after so many deaths. Yet what do I observe after being here for only a week? People are utterly clueless as to what is going on. They don’t understand six feet distancing. If they were giving cartoon directions they couldn’t wear their masks properly. And #Americants young and old are obsessed with returning to a normalcy that contains EVERYTHING that lead to this problem in the first place. Obviously I’m generalising and there are those who do have a clue. But then there’s that other post Reagan new-fangled #Americant way of life: the gluttony and sloth greed $hitshow. Indeed, baby. Greed is good, eh? (Sarcasm off.)

cases/deaths/rates/death per 100k;
source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_death_rates_by_country

Ok. What is the result of not handling covid from the get-go? Indeed. For my widowed mother, it’s obviously not been good, although she’s vaccinated and safe for now. Hence, this trip ain’t about covid distress per say but instead is a family intervention. Of course, without divulging personal family matters, allow me to worst-write that the ageing matriarch of my family is not well. Put another way, not only has she not done well with widowhood, she’s given in to the demons of sloth and gluttony that are personified by everything that worst-writer despises and ran away from so many years ago, namely the ugliness of white trash galore. Although she has not fallen off the edge, certain activities around my mother’s life and lifestyle have raised alarms. As far as my siblings and I are concerned, something needs to be done. Hence, I have travelled here from afar–during the worst pandemic in a hundred fcuking years and I’m pissed. I mean. I don’t know about how you were raised, dear worst-reader, but are we now in times where parents, after fcuking up both their kids and the world, simply throw in the towel and treat their remaining years as though they were the crud and slime below the sandals of Caligula?

With that in mind, in the past few days things have escalated where the first casualty must be registered. After returning from a short hospital visit, I found our front door knob lock busted (see pic above). Obviously the locks have been changed but the situation does beg the question: WTF Mom!

Rant on.

-T

Safe than sorry with good views

I can feel it dear worst-reader. The contempt. The disdain. The disrespect. It’s everywhere here, don’t you know. Of course, what better place to actually see the origin of it all–the all that is contempt, disdain, etc., than to be in the lower canal bowels of the bellied beast that is my beloved & missed #Americant. Indeed. I mean. I’m actually here and I still refer to Her in the past tense. But let’s not get to far off worst-subject. Let’s just stick with contempt & co. For. Don’t you know, dear worst-reader, it’s a good thing #Americant is vaccinating people as fast as it is. Every time I look around, no matter where I am, someone with a mask hanging half down his/her face is hugging someone who has a mask hanging around only one of her/his ears. And then there’s all the touching. People literally go up to other people and get in their face. I saw this really tall, fat American lean over one of those clear guard panels in order to point to a clerk with his long arms and fingers that his papers were in order. As he pulled his hand back over the guard panel he almost hit the clerk in the face. Perhaps social distancing hasn’t registered here even though there are lots of markings on grounds and floors detailing six feet social distancing. Hence. #Americants hate what is happening to them post Ronald Reagan and the dipshittery of thirty or whatever years of wars of choice. So what should they care about pandemics? But I digress.

The plan was to self-test after three or four days of arrival. You know, check and see if the airports, the planes, the pretty stewardesses, didn’t pass on the covid worst-moi. According to the result above, I reckon I’m in the clear. Then again, this morning I did spend well over an hour in a department of motor vehicle facility waiting to get my new-fangled state slash federal driving license. I mean. I’m not really sure what it’s called or what it’s actually about. But ever since early 2019 (pre-pandemic) I’ve been itching to get me this license on account I was approached in an airport on a connecting flight that inquired about my driving license and that to avoid any sharper scrutiny I should renew my license to this new fangled one. But. Again. I’m not really sure what these government agencies post Homeland are actually up to with their enhanced bureaucracies. All I know is, like the comforts of home (or underneath one), I prefer traveling and talking to as few people as possible about who/what I am. Which means, I got no issues showing an identification here or there. So I went and got the damn new fangled license this morning and after being crowded into such a low ceiling building with so many people–even though you couldn’t get in unless you had an appointment–I’m thinking I need another antigen test. Speaking of which. Time to go wash my hands with lots of lather for twenty or so seconds.

Other than that, dear worst-reader, at least there are some nice fews when taking walks in a beach town.

Rant on.

-T

Pfizer, jet-lag and no pictures

My scheduled appointment was at 10am. I arrived at the vaccination centre and 9:56am. Although traffic cones by the thousands were prestigiously aligned, most certainly capable of guiding hundreds if not thousands of cars, there was no vaccinations being given in cars. In fact, the only cars there were those parked at reserved spaces. So we drove up to the entrance of the old concert hall. A concert hall, btw, where I saw Judas Priest back in the day (forty years ago, perhaps). Turns out that the authorities had changed the office-hours for that days vaccines. It wasn’t open till noon. Bummer, I thought. If only they would have told me that earlier I wouldn’t have put all the effort into driving the 40miles to get their on-time. Heck, they even sent me a reminder the night before–I guess to make sure as best they could that I would show up to get the shot. For don’t you know, dear worst-reader, there really are #Americants that refuse to get vaccinated. As simple minded as that sounds, I suppose for any admirer of #Americants past, you know, where it actually did things and built things and maybe, just maybe, fought wars that had some semblance of merit… But I digress.

Turns out while I was killing the two hours instead of driving back home that I finally gave an earnest look at the previous reminder email I had received. And guess what, dear worst-reader? I screwed up. At the bottom of the reminder email they had actually included a new appointment time. So it’s all on me that I wasted the morning. That worst-said, the two hours went by pretty fast as I drove around Salisbury, which I hadn’t done in at least ten years. But I won’t bore you with that.

When I returned to the vaccination centre two hours later things were hopping. Although clearly under capacity, I was somewhat relieved that people were getting vaccinated at all. And since I was at the Pfizer facility, which only recently had been approved for young people, it was nice to see the youth was there en masse getting their shots. Indeed, dear worst-reader. All the newz about how #Americants and their misconstrued skepticisms could actually prevent if not delay the eradication of this obnoxious disease really turns my pickle back into a cucumber. But let’s not go there.

Needless to say I got my first shot with ease and it couldn’t have been easier. With that in mind, does this mean that I might have to consider alternative nomenclature for my beloved & missed #Americant for the success of making this available? Does the success of vaccinations–at least for those willing to get vaccinated–warrant perhaps going back to calling HER America? Now. Now. Calm the fcuk down, baby. Let’s not get out of hand. Instead, let’s wait things out. Let’s give it all a bit more time. I mean. Who knows what these MRNA thingies are doing with me right this sec as I worst-type these words. Even though I’ve felt nothing since receiving my shot, things could be happening behind the scenes. My cells might be changing and dancing more. My DNA could be adapting–or not–better forms of anti-body-cells and whatnot. Are my brain cells swelling to where I might actually and voluntarily watch faux newz? I think not. And with that in worst-mind, it’s approaching that hour where I must cope with jet-lag. So too does my beloved & missed #Americant for which I’m grateful that I could get a shot in the arm today.

Rant on.

-T

PS No pictures allowed on the entire grounds of the vaccination site.

Doozy flight if it weren’t for the mask thingy

Have to admit something, dear worst-reader. I was a bit nervous about my first flight in so long. And then there’s that silly (sarcasm) COVID thingy. Of course, after getting tested negative, the only thing left was to actually get through with it. Yeah, it’s worst-true. I thought once or thrice about cancelling the whole thing. But family does call–especially when one has a rather rampant if not rabid family. Anywho. So I had to rush off with a rash decision to travel the high skies during the worst pandemic in a hundred years. With that in worst-mind, all is not lost and it’s time to appreciate the little things in life. For example. The couple sitting in front of me in economy class had booked the higher priced economy seats where you can stretch your legs. When the cabin crew announced that bording was complete they both got up and occupied two empty centre rows so they could sleep the eight or so hours to the east coast of #Americant. That’s when I jumped up and asked if they’d mind that I took the seats they were vacating. Before you know it, I was cheeping out like a mobster, baby. Beyond that, I heard one of the cabin crew say that the entire economy cabin of an Airbus A300-300 had 57 passengers. It was most certainly the emptiest Lufthansa flight of my life. With that in mind, hats off to the cabin and crew and the airport workers and the ghosts that occupy the skies between #Americant and #Eurowasteland. And. By-the-buy. If it weren’t for the requirement of mask wearing through out the entire flight, LH418 on May 9, 2021 would have been just a touch niftier. And so goes the cheep-o life of a loser-writer, baby. Yeah. It’s all about lucking-out for the little leg stretching things. Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

Such and odd view

Mega empty terminal. Or did I just snap the picture at the right moment of terminal emptiness? #Nomatter. As usual I’m an early bird kinda traveler. Since this is my first flight in 1.5yrs and there’s all these extra precautions and protocols to confuse me and and and… say, how is it that this world ever functioned? Oh wait. This is worst-writer. My pseudonym is dysfunction. And on that worst-note. Even though I snapped the pic at the right empty moment, I’m surprised how much traffic there is in Frankfurt. It’s certainly not the bustle of the past but things/people are flying.

Rant on.

-T

Well, that’s a good sign

My first COVID negative test

And with this I can board an airplane that will most definitely be pointed in the direction of my beloved & missed United Mistakes. And so it shall be… in a few hours.

Rant on.

-T

The first batch of stuff

It’s the first time, since I can remember, dear worst-reader, that I’ve gone more than a year without visiting the country where I was reared, raised, braised and ruined. But that’s what love is all about, eh? #Nomatter. On this quest to find the home that I will have to (eventually) leave again, here’s a few things I take with me for $hits & giggles. Nothing like fresh Haribos, baby–from the source. Of course.. This is the first batch. Getting my Mom some German (European) coffee tomorrow. Thank goodness I could afford to pay the extra amount for the airplane fare that allows me to 1) check in luggage and 2) luggage that may or may not weigh 25kg. Oh. Shame I didn’t take better care with the pic. Under the Haribos is a box of chocolate for Mothers Day.

Rant on.

-T

Preparation has begun, baby

Well, there you have it. After a year and a half of quarantine and only touching my direct family in the confines of two households, it’s my first PCR test. Reason? Not what you think. Instead. Worst-Writer is flying home on Sunday—to enter a third household—and like anyone else flying I have to be negative. Everyone in my family has already received all their shots (back home). And get this, baby. Worst-writer has an appointment next Tuesday for my first shot. And it’ll be Pfizer, don’t you know. Looking forward to MRNA entering my system. For, again, don’t you know, dear worst-reader, worst-writer can certainly use a bit of DNA mutilation—or whatever conspiracy BS it is #covidiots have put in their tattered minds. And so. Most certainly looking forward to whacked out micro stuff doing its science. (Sarcasm on/off.)

Rant on.

-T

Tourist Advice From A Croatian Olive Grower

Pics:

  • Passed a rock that looked like it had a blood stain and I was riding around without a helmet
  • Three rusted wheelbarrows
  • Charger GX Touring in front of a Croatian village sign
  • The fifth largest Roman Colosseum in the world is in Pula
  • James Joyce was here!

Although unable to snap a few pictures of the olive farm we went to yesterday on account it was raining like crazy, at least we now have eight bottles of delicious Croatian olive oil to take back to Germany, which we will use for salads, flavouring and, as recommended, for toping vanilla ice cream. That’s right, dear worst-reader. Did you get that? That’s the advice from our friendly olive grower after I asked what I should do with olive oil that is too good and too expensive for cooking. She said to get your favourite vanilla ice cream and eat it with a few drops of olive oil on top. Since I’m not a big vanilla fan I immediately asked if it will go well with pistachio ice cream. Although she never tried it with pistachio, she thought it a good idear. Btw, between the olives, the grapes and the truffles–and the things you can do with all three–Istria, Croatia, has got to be one of the finest places to hang out if you’re into all things fine that won’t break the bank. Even though the weather has kind of turned on us the past two days–it rained cats & dogs last night–we’re still enjoying it here. The air is fresh, the views are brilliant and if a neighbour gives you a few fresh Anchovies all you have to do is slightly coat them with flower, add a touch of salt and pepper, and fry them up in olive oil. After the little fish are browned to perfection, all that’s left is to add a fresh salad and glass of local red wine. While enjoying it all, though, I couldn’t help but think of the one more piece of advice we received from a very friendly olive grower.

“Don’t come here in the summer. It’s hell here in the summer. Too many tourists. Too many!” -A Croatian olive grower

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post:

Speeders Beware

speeding ticket Croatia

I should consider myself lucky, I guess. I mean, if the Croatian police officer with the fine penmanship could read my mind about what I was thinking at the moment I received my first speeding ticket in this really, really, beautiful, picturesque country, I’d be in jail right now. But I kept my cool. I paid my fine by credit card and I moved on heeding the officers warning as he returned my papers and gave me the receipt: “you drive slower now.” Indeed. After driving around Istria for a few hours the other day, on the return to our villa, after about a five kilometre downhill trek, penmanship police officer waved me over at the base of the mountain. Of course I was going too fast. I was driving down a fcuking mountain! Although I can’t remember how many times within that five kilometre downhill stretch the speed-limit changed between 40, 50 and 70 km/h, I was obviously in a 50 zone doing 74 when his speed-gun caught me. Yeah, he was even kind enough to show me the speed gun. Did I mention that I was only a few hundred metres away from the base of the mountain? Oh well. So that’s what they do in Croatia, eh. Be warned those who might come here by car. They wait for the tourists to struggle between engine braking or over-heating your disc brakes and if you let go of either for a just a second or two, perhaps while conversing with someone in the car, the downhill slope of 10-15% degrees will rocket your vehicle to excess before you know it. There were at least four other cars behind me doing the same speed but not one of them was pulled over (Croatian plates?). In fact, at the top of the mountain I was passed by at least two cars doing excessive speeds and not one of them was pulled over at the base. Dumb me, eh, for getting caught and/or not knowing how the police fill the coffers of the state here. Oh well. No hard feelings.

Rant on.

T

First Time In Croatia

Although there are lots of Das Volk out there that don’t mind long car drives, I ain’t one of them. So. On our way to Istria, Croatia, for a bit of R&R we stopped for two nights in Salzburg. Perhaps more on Salzburg later. Exhausted from the drive from Salzburg to Istria, we eventually found our way driving up and through winding, barely paved road-ways to a luscious Tuscany-like villa with heated pool and a view of the Adriatic that is to die for (pic not included YET). The only problem is the heated pool can’t get heated enough with the chilly fall winds that have suddenly turned on. In fact, after one or two tries and my better-half catching a cold we’ve given up on swimming in here. But enough bitchin’ and moaning (ranting).

Istria is gorgeous. Can’t recommend it enough. Even though you have to drive to get around, if you stay in the outer hills, as opposed to a village or resort hotel, there’s very little traffic–other than a few minor delays due to road work–to stop you from getting around. The only problem is, once you start driving around and looking at all the little walled-in, mini-towns built waaaaay back atop rolling forever hills (mini-mountains?), like Motovun (above), you’ll want to stop at them all.

And then there is the food. Or should I say: the truffles. If you like gorging on truffles, this is the place to be. I only wonder how long it’s gonna last as an affordable place to hang out for a week or two and eat this delicatessen–as opposed to how expensive it is in Italy or France. If you find the right place along one of them hill roads, all you need is a few Euros for plate of perfectly cooked noodles in a butter-wine sauce and then topped with dark truffle shavings (above). The cats seem to know what they’re begging for under your table, too.

And by-the-buy, check out the arrogant über corporate message from LA Times when I was trying to read up on some #SCOTUS bull$hit this morning. Even though the message is trying to be sympathetic and show interest in problem solving, any rational mind knows that what they’re really trying to say is that my grand & missed United Mistakes of #Americant is having a hard time getting-on with the EU’s attempt at reigning in on digital greed and abuse. The whole point of what the EU is trying to do (I hope!) is to right a long standing wrong–as long as the attempt is about users being the ones to decide what happens with their data. FB, Twitter and even the LA Times have no business whatsoever thinking they can own and manipulate what I do on the Interwebnets. That’s right, baby. You may own your software, you may own your website, but if you put it out there on a public network–which is what the Interwebnets is–then you have no right to own, sell or manipulate my data–even if it’s going through your website (or software).

Or something like that.

Rant on.

-T

Paris Pic 2018

IMG_4469.JPG

Dabbling in smartphone photography. Have no idear what I’m doing. Yet every once-a-once I nail it. Well, almost nail it. Street art from Spring 2018 Paris visit.

-Rant on

T

#UnitedAirlines In Your Monopolies @ 30k Feet Below Laughter Of Automaton Galore Bigly Greatness

Hilarryus, dear worst-reader. Seriously. I’m laughing my ass off right now at #United Airlines gettin’ in the newz. Of course, it need not be mentioned that more than ten or so years ago, I also got booted from a United flight. The good newz is I didn’t actually get booted like this guy did. No. I never actually made it onto the plane that was supposed to connect me to my destination. I got booted from the international transfer terminal because I was so unruly at the ticket counter where an automaton United employee turned on her corporate trained behaviourist defence mode and literally shut down her station to avoid facing reality. I was connecting at Dulles Airport from London to Orlando. When I got to Dulles though there was no record of my ticket even though I had just flown from London on a United flight with a ticket that had a destination of Orlando. When I told the automaton worker that I wasn’t gonna leave the line until she did something about what was obviously her, i.e. United’s mistake, she left the counter and told the people behind me that they should find another line. Of course they all did exactly that. I stood there dumbfounded, angry, but not surprised. I was in #americant. The land of in-order-to-get-ahead you MUST fail upwards. It was/is indeed some God’s country of monopolisation or die trying (to get there).

Long story short.

It turns out that #United had actually allowed me to board in London without noticing that they had put the wrong name on my ticket. By-the-bye, this was post nine-eleven! And so… I boarded in London as Thomas (wrong-name) and flew eight hours to Dulles. When in Dulles the #United automaton said there was no record of me, according to the name on my passport, nor was there a ticket for me from London to Orlando. There was a record of “Thomas (wrong-name)”, though–as printed on the boarding pass I received in London. And because that name didn’t match my passport they said it wasn’t their problem.

“But I just flew with you from London with or without the right name. Now I’m stuck in the transfer terminal in Dulles. What the hell do I do now?”

An airport employee ended up telling me that I had to exit the terminal and deal with United from the outside. The whole ordeal cost me a night in a hotel, a missed flight to my destination and the undue stress of having to deal with corporate #americant where “corporations are people too, my friend.” (Mitt Romney.)

So it’s no surprise to me that a monopoly industry would resort to this type of behaviour in its daily activities. And who facilitated the airline industry turning into a monopoly? That’s right, dear worst-reader. You guessed it. #Americant did. Now go vote your feelings and allow the conservatives to turn your country into the politburo corporate moneyed governing entity that it was always meant to be. And don’t forget:

Make #americant greatness again. Suckers!

Links that motivated this post:

Rant on.

-t

Twenty Bucks To Fly Across The Atlantic And Other Industry Antics Indicative Of How We Are So Thoroughly Screwed

screen-shot-lh-flight-receipt

No reason to be shocked. This flight, technically, I guess, has a “price” of “20.00 €”. And why shouldn’t it? Talk about a bargain. But then again, I did fly once across the Atlantic about thirty years ago–and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of the airline–that costs somewhere around a hundred dollars. Back then that was THE BOMB. It was the coolest flight ever, too. Everybody bought their own brown paper bag full of lunch and other munchies because there was neither service or stewardesses available. There were only these nice ladies dressed in purple that would provide water because there was some kind of regulation requiring the airline to at least hydrate passengers. Since the the entire fuselage was filled with economy class seats there was nothing but the boring sound of an a nine hour flight and the crunching of plastic bags, chips & doritos, and a few cracks of beer cans during the entire crossing. I think, if you paid (lots) extra, you could get those weird  tube headphones and watch a movie from a drop-down cathode ray tube. And there is one other thing I can’t remember about the past (where my expatriation began). How much “Taxes and carrier imposed fees” did we have to pay for flights back then? Nomatter. I suppose if anything does matter anymore it’s where all the money goes that we have to pay to consume to survive. And by-the-bye, the “OPC” charge is for the use of a credit card. But I digress. Rant on. -t

Passage To India: Tea, Panama, Missing Rain And Tech

india tech travel equipment and the tramp
Tommi’s travel tech krapp for when in need of things digital.

Never thought I’d say this. But I miss the rain. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t miss it much. But I haven’t seen cloudy skies since leaving good ‘ol Germania just over a month ago. Wait. Scratch that. Just writing about rain reminds me of how much I hate Germania weather. The sky there is always grey. The sky hangs just over your head. It’s like living in your own private bubble-like greenhouse that follows you wherever you go. Such depressing weather has to be part of the reason Germania is the automaton pseudo-democracy that it is (has become). There’s nothing else to do there but work work work. Now that I’m living in  place that has too much sunshine all I think about is leaving for the middle of the ocean and sailing around the world in a fifty-foot Beneteau. But I’m off subject (again and again and again). §Speaking of Germania and automaton pseudo-democracy: how ’bout those Panama Papers, dear worst-reader? I mean, Germania is the catalyst for this world renowned data leak (sarcasm off). It started in Munich at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung and now it’s gone viral like a video of a girl in overheated spring loosing her top while trying to ride a wave at a crusty beach. But enough about Tommi’s conspiracy theory that there’s something else about leaks being leaked through Munich and from the country that has so graciously given the world Deutsche Bank. But I digress. §I reckon I should say a few things about our move to India. Or should I leave it? Here’s the thing: we’ve been here just over a month. It’s hot as hell here. I love the sunshine–on account it makes my nails grow like crazy–but I’ve never been under so much sunshine without having some water to either scuba in, dive in or just plane stick my head in while contemplating The End. The nearest shore to Bangelore is something like three hundred kilometres away. Nomatter. I’ll get there soon enough. And I hear there’s pretty good sailing in Goa, too. §Which brings me to the issue of how we’re actually getting along in our new home. Well, as you can see in the pic above, we’re prepared. I like to think of our travel tech system as a kind of godsend. During our move from Germany–in fact, right when the last few packages were being packed–I thought that maybe we could take most of our media with us because we knew that we’d be without a real home for up to three months. And since we don’t watch TV*, all we have is the digital world to keep us preoccupied in those down-brain moments of the day. The idea was to just pack up the MacMini along with an AppleTV, a mini 3TB HDD, a HDMI cable and hoopla! Unfortunately our initial hotel stay couldn’t accommodate our needs since I couldn’t get access to the HDMI ports of the hotel room TV set. And, like I said, we don’t watch TV*, which means that in the hotel we weren’t able to watch our digital world at all (unless we used my MBA). The hotel secured the TV to the wall so that all its ports were unaccessible. Bummer, eh! But when we moved to a temporary furnished apartment, we got all kinds of bingo! As you can see there’s plenty of tech to go around while in limbo–as we wait for our new home to be finished so we can move in. It’s also proof of what one can pack away into luggage. Obviously I’m a big MacMini fan and this is why. Binge watching The Closure here we come. §All in all, India is a continuing adventure. Yeah, baby.

Rant on. -Tommi

PS I’m surprised at the lack of tea in Bangelore. As a earl grey guy, I was hoping that India had more tea choices. Oh well. And as the song goes: I will survive.

*What I mean by not watching TV is that we don’t watch commercial television. TV has gotten so bad in my life-time–whether in Europe or the US or India–that I can’t bear it for even a few seconds. That so many people still watch commercial TV is shocking to me. But then again, look at how it effects people. Look at how #americant might elect The Donald as president–he’s a reality TV star. As far as what I watch from the digital world? I watch stuff that informs me, teaches me and sometimes provokes me. After that I watch shows that I choose, pay for and are without commercials. Bingo.

Passage To India, Legal, House Hunting And Cat5 Ethernet

wall-mounted-ethernet.jpg

The first week in India has been a challenge. Not sure I can communicate it fully in this status update. But have no fear, worst-writer will try.

  • Big day today. Started very early where we had to go to immigration authorities to get legal docs regarding our visa. After about two hours of sitting around it all worked out. We’re legal till Jan 2017.
  • After legal stuff it is time to get serious about apartment hunting.
  • Better-half is in the middle of lots of work, getting initialised in her new position and new organisation. There should be some domestic travel between north India and our new home in Bangelore. But luckily that hasn’t started yet.
  • As far as worst-writer living in a hotel for up to two months, here’s what I can come up with so far. I’m a bit perturbed with the trepidations of taking care of a dog that finds our living quarters cramped. Luckily our room is attached to a basketball-size garden where he can run around outside as though he owns the place.
  • As far as the hotel goes, it’s a five-star facility in the middle of Bangelore. Although I haven’t the time or courage to try out the pool–it’s in the middle of main dining area, I have tried the sauna, the gym and the bar where there’s this cute India chick that loves Beckett the-killer-pug so much she’s offered to watch after him if we need a dog-sitter.
  • “But that’s my job, sweety,” I thought to myself. It’s not so obvious that rolls have been switched in our household.
  • Our über-friendly bar-maiden also serves a mean Kingfisher beer along with some seriously hot n spicy bar snacks–which I’m still struggling to avoid. And one last note on cute India chicks.
  • As you know, dear worst-reader, Indian chicks wear Sari’s and depending on their mood or their posture there is always something revealing in their dress. Why does that shock me?
  • Apartment hunting. After a week of delays we finally got around to some serious apartment hunting today. So far it looks like we’re not going to be living in a “expat” community–something we initial thought we should do. Due to travel times across the city, though, the preferred community is just too far out of reach. In Bangelore it’s not the actual distance that’a a problem. It’s the time needed to drive. Needless to say, traffic here (third world?) is horrendous–or should I say it’s almost as bad as traffic in Cologne (first world?)
  • One of our apartments favourites has its own pool. Can you believe that? I joked with the agent showing us the place that a pool is good, I like places with extra bathtubs. The bathtub comment turned into a running joke. In my heart of hearts, though, having a private pool is a bit too bourgeois and decadent. But my better-half liked it.
  • Another apartment, that was brand new, btw, was wired with CAT5 ethernet. Stop the presses! That’s some pretty modern stuff and would make any on-going, wannabe systems analyst and potential self-web-hoster like me, drool.
  • Yeah, I’ll take CAT5 ethernet over a private pool any day.
  • Enough for now. We look at more apartments on Saturday. Decision should be pending after that.

Rant on. -Tommi

Tale Of Two Killers Or Movies To Kill Time, Tears and Flugangst

whitey bulger and blofeld

The only thing I could think about during recent FRA > BLR flight was my little dog in his crate attached to a palette. I could see him from the lounge where I tried to drink my sorrows away with free bier, wine and nuts. Just before we boarded I could also see the ground crew shoving my dear little friend into the rear fuselage of our B747-8. Pronounced: seven four seven dash eight. The tears started brewing that moment while walking down the gangway into the opposite end of the fuselage. I tried to gather my thoughts while boarding, refocus on what’s at hand. Not even the cute, slit-skirt stewardess could take my thoughts away. I walked down the aisle looking for 11D. What a fancy plane, I thought. I then adjusted my stuff, putting carry-on in the upper bin, loosening my belt for the long haul, catching my breath. But the angst for my dog started to set in even deeper than before. Luckily take-off was a blast. I think the pilot was in a hurry because we were at cruising altitude in no-time. Did my dog feel the powerful ascension? All the emotion made my already hyper bladder want to do some business. Or was it because I had too many drinks in the lounge and had to get to the loo to wipe my eyes which were soaked during taxi and take-off–and missing my little friend. Besides, I didn’t want anyone seeing me balling my eyes out because I was worried sick about my dog–who had never been stuffed into a fuselage before. Thank goodness for all the room in business-class where I could hide my tears. Or? In fact, since we were at the end of the business-class section, there was this huge space between the back of our comfortable seats and the bulkhead that separated us from coach. Actually, let me put that another way since LH has changed seating configurations in coach over the years in the name of profits, profits and more profits, I guess. Directly behind the bulkhead was LH’s new premium economy class. It’s the class I’ll probably be flying from here on out. The only time I get business-class is when I fly officially with better-half and her company pays for it or I upgrade using her miles. I think LH premium economy is only a few hundred bucks more than regular economy and the seats look as big as upright business-class seats. The difference is that you can’t recline as far back and all the other amenities aren’t available. After flying business class a few times the past few years, I would gladly give up on “amenities” for roomier, more comfortable seating. As I was saying. Behind our business-class seats was a space big enough to accommodate my best friend in the world. Although our crate wouldn’t fit there, he certainly would have. On the other hand, even though it rips me apart thinking about him stuffed in the fuselage, I know LH took care of him and that if we were safe, he was safe. Besides, I’m sure once the hectic of take-off and ascension was over, he would just buckle down in his blanket in the crate, drink from the supplied water as he needed, and sleep till landing woke him–in eight hours. And that’s pretty much how it worked out. Except for my weeping like bitch worried sick about him. And speaking of bitches. To help cope with worrying tears, which also meant I was too preoccupied to read anything, I decided to watch a movie. Of the numerous films to choose from, I picked Black Mass. Upfront? I thought it was a pretty good movie. It was so good I don’t understand why it wasn’t up for Oscars. Or maybe it wasn’t that good. Hold a sec. (Pause.) §I love it when Johnny Depp acts and doesn’t entertain. You know, he’s done some serious big screen thuds recently. I guess that’s the byproduct of being so successful (financially) with those pirate movies. Just afford to make another movie–even if it sucks. I guess he can make any movie he wants after that. I’m always interested when I hear he’s doing a real film–as opposed to some big screen, kill two hours entertainment orgy. But don’t get wrong. I enjoyed the pirate movies Depp made. They are perfect for getting rid of two hours. Black Mass, on the other hand, is a serious film and a pretty serious story. I entered adulthood in the 1980s and I vividly remember hearing the name Whitey Bulger in the news. I especially remember, by the late 80s, when I was clearly on my way to becoming an expat, hearing about the (love) triangle Bulger had between his brother and his former boyhood friend turned FBI agent. Even then I thought the whole thing to be an unbelievable #americant entertainment story. I’m amazed that it’s not being written about more–especially the part about Bulger’s state senator brother. Does that mean worst-writer should have a go at such a story? Nomatter. §Black Mass is worth seeing and I’m planning on seeing it again on account I think I missed a few things. With that in mind, it’s no grand film-making effort and I don’t quite know why I’m thinking that way about it. As a film, it simply gets the job done. Although it won’t go down as one of my fav Depp (acting) movies, after watching it I’ve concluded it probably doesn’t deserve the accolades that my initial instincts conjured. Or? I was seriously hoping, when I saw the initial trailers for it, that this would be Depp’s time. But allow me digress on that note. Writing my thoughts about Depp only serves as filler at this point. Moving on. §Like I worst-said, I was hoping that the/a movie would take my mind off my dog being stuffed into a cargo hole–but it didn’t. Both during Black Mass and after I was still thinking about my dog. Maybe that’s why Black Mass came across as mediocre or why I found it to be unfocused. Yeah. Unfocused. That’s the ticket. Was Black Mass about Depp/Bulger or one of the other two in the (love) triangle? I hope a second viewing will change how I feel about this movie–because I’m rooting for Depp. I’m certainly not rooting for Leo who just won the friggin’ Oscar. I want Depp to win an Oscar. Why isn’t Depp winning Oscars? Oh, yeah. The movies he makes. Anywho. §After Black Mass I was still needing to get my mind off things so I scanned through other movies on the LH inflight entertainment system. Could I get through another movie–at my age? Boy, does LH have a lot of movies to choose from. And some pretty new ones, too. I considered watching a few of the ’15 Oscar nominated films but quickly gave up–nothing interesting there. Luckily, getting toward the end of the movie list, Spectre popped up. So let’s bring that one behind us, shall we? I still had six hours of flight time. §My mind was occupied with tears and thoughts of cute little dogs that grow on ya and a bit here and there about moving to India for up to three years while my wife tries to expand her career in an ever-shrinking globalised world. With that in mind, why not hit the play button. §There were two interesting things about this new Bond film. One: Monica Bellucci. She didn’t get enough screen time. Two: the regurgitation of Blofeld and how he got that scare is a grand idear. And that’s it. That’s the whole movie. I don’t know if it’s because Craig is struggling with his characterisation of the great killer-spy or if the producers are running out of writers. Heck, all the desert scenes looked like they were shot at the same time as Quantum of Solace. The explosion of Blofeld’s facility looked cheap and underfunded. And the big goon that almost kills Craig on the train? I found myself rooting for him for a sec or three. But let me leave my worst-criticisms at that. I’m just not a big fan of Craig’s blue-eyed, tough guy 007. I prefer elegance, grace, wit and hidden manliness. That the producers are able to get all these actors to play him differently is worth praise, but at some time, I think, these nuanced differences get old fast. Yeah, bring back the British navy commander who doesn’t act like he’s feeding a pack of millennial spoiled rotten babies. But then again, even if a Bond movie is bad (Brosnan), they’re still good (Dalton). §Bye-the-by, after a second film on the flight, I still had four and half hours to go. I de
cided to give in to some tears and went to the loo to have them. Rant on. -tommi

Passage To India Update. Finding Love Of Bureaucracy. Jitters.

Dom and Sky

Last Wednesday

Moving company arrives to begin packing. They’re an hour and half late. I order them sandwich rolls from local bakery and also get them some Cola. After a few hours of boxing, rolling glasses, listening to the screams of packing tape, I surprise them with an offer to buy lunch at a Greek diner a few doors down. They reluctantly accept but when they return they are very pleased. After that they immediately start working again. Six and half hours later about three quarters of our stuff is either packed or taken apart or prepared to be packed–except for our Ikea kitchen. That night we moved into an apartment-hotel in centre of Köln as there’s no way to sleep in our place.

Last Thursday

The movers arrive in the morning on-time, a little after eight. They stayed the night in a local worker-hotel and by the sound of the foreman’s voice they splurged the money they saved by not having to buy lunch Wednesday. His voice sounded like expensive Aldi Schnapps. Yeah, that was part of my generous plan. More on that here. They finish packing all the furniture and deconstructing the kitchen. I’m amazed at how little damage the kitchen has sustained considering my cooking art which includes but is not exclusive to excessive alcohol priming. Of course, the floor is a mess.

Another very important thing happened on Thursday. We got the required paper work for Beckett, the killer pug–a huge relief–that allows us to import a small dog to India.

Another important happening: During the chaotic packing and apartment removal, we heard from our new employer in India that they changed our temp housing in Bangelore. We’ve been moved from the outskirts of the city to a hotel in the city centre. Reason for change? According to sources it has to do with the first hotel not willing to accommodate us for such a long stay. Either that or our company started to consider the bill of staying in a five-star hotel for up to two months. The good thing is, they moved us to another five-star hotel. So that doesn’t make much sense. The bad thing is, it’s the middle of Bangelore and that might not be good for walking Beckett, the killer pug. Of course, all of that is mute if we don’t find a place to live fairly quickly. Who knows how that will work itself out. We’ve been warned that in India things move rather slowly.

And while we’re on the subject of places to live, luckily there’s lots of info available on the Internet about housing and there seems to be plenty of houses, townhouses and condos to choose from. In hindsight, we should have had housing arranged or at least picked out some objects to choose from before our arrival. It would have been easy to do after our visit last November. Of the places we looked we could have directed our Relocation Officer (that’s right, such a job title exists) to pick out a few houses so that we pick from them as soon as we arrive. Oh well.

Last Friday

Be lazy. Have a cocktail at 11am. Worst-write. For example:

During the next few days we’ll be cleaning up our flat, prepping it for return to rental company on Monday. Btw, in Germany there is no clear legal distinction between landlord and renter. This is due to the simple fact that Germany is a collective. It is also a socialist, pseudo communist state. But that political ideology nonsense is neither here nor there. What’s important is that the collective state of Germany’s first priority is to offer the appearance of égalité. The Germans don’t even bother with the other parts of the French idear. The appearance of égalité is enough for the powers-that-be to keep the hard-working, BMW-driving riffraff at bay. Indeed, the German Mittelstand (middle class) is a passive and submissive bunch. Where the lie does shine, though, is when you move out of a rental apartment. For you see, dear worst-reader, (sarcasm on) in Germany, a landlord should not have any costs when it comes to owning real-estate–other than, of course, the costs it must pay to reimburse the bank for loaning money to buy the unit (sarcasm off). When you move out of an apartment in Germany you’re supposed to leave it renovated, hence the burden of ownership cost is transferred to the measly (riffraff) renter. This is reminiscent of how much of the German economy actually functions–or should I worst-write dysfunction? At the least, Germany is not the efficient machine that it projects to the world. If, on the other hand, the burdens/costs of the rich can’t be put on the shoulders of the Mittelstand riffraff or the poor, then all the collective does it raise taxes. That’s how Germans cook their books and pay for pensions and free university and tax havens in… wherever. So. There you have it. Germania explained. But before I get too far off track…

There’s also some paper work that needs to be done for Germany i.e. cancel GEZ (German compulsive TV tax), cancel land-line phone and ISP and also cancel cell contracts. In fact, once we got our Abmeldung (unregistration) notice (which was a pain in the ass and worth a separate post) and forwarded copies of it to all to these for-profit agencies, we promptly heard the following.

  • The land-line phone company and ISP immediately accepted the cancellation.
  • We’re still waiting on GEZ and will be notified while in India.
  • Vodafone immediately told us that they won’t accept our cancellation. Cell phone companies are a bit nit-picky, aren’t they? And that brings us to our next bureaucratic dilemma.

Telekommunikationsgesetz §46 (Telecommunication Law)

The Germans passed a law not long ago that if a cell company can’t maintain the original contract when someone moves, they HAVE to let the customer out of the contract. Since Germany is a collective state, i.e. everyone is tracked and watched and observed, it’s easy to know if a person HAS to move and under what circumstance. Even the German collective sees the burden of the riffraff having to deal with stubborn and greedy cell phone carriers. This in part relates to what I write about above regarding Abmeldung (deregistering). It works something like this:

You are required to register when you move from one residence to the next. I suppose the equivalent of this in the US is when you have to get a new driver’s license moving from one state to another. The difference though is that German residence is decouple from a German driver’s license. Of course, it doesn’t matter if you move within a state. So allow me to reiterate this very, very strange dystopian reality of the German collective. Whether you move from one corner of a city to another or from one part of the state to another you have to register at a state registration office notifying the collective of what you’re doing. The information you provide, though, is not just about your new address. You also have to provide proof of a rental contract or home ownership, proof of a job and income and proof you have children, if applicable, etc., etc., etc.

How this relates to a new telecommunications law is the following: As Germany struggles with globalisation, which equates with riffraff workers having to both work & live across large distances, too many people were getting screwed as the cellphone craze took shape. Buy your phone with company A in city A but then move or work in city B and find out that your phone service suddenly sucks bat balls and you screwed. Obviously Vodafone can’t fulfil our contracts where we’re going so we want out. Or can they fulfil them? I suppose non of that matters because cell phone companies, for whatever reason, seem to wield a lot of power over getting money out of people–and thereby doing very little for those people. Our situation will probably be something like this: Vodafone is already delaying our request because our contracts run out in July 2016 anyway. Unless we fight them through legal means we don’t have any chance of making them stop collecting money from us. And don’t get me started on bank transfers that are controlled by the cellphone company. Oh well.

Yesterday (Saturday)

Say goodbye to family, drink heavily again.

Sunday (Today)

Finish prepping old apartment, final clean, discard/throw-away plants no one wants, clean mess/floor left by kitchen deconstruction, fill holes on walls from hanging stuff, and put throw-away Ikea stuff on the street where I ordered special trash pickup for Monday, etc.

Monday

Even though I’m writing this on Saturday night and Sunday morning, I’m gonna go out on a limb here. After our last weekend in Germany, sweating paperwork and bureaucracies and worrying about Beckett, the killer pug, and how he’ll handle the eight hour flight in a box, I’m finally getting the jitters. Ok. Maybe I’ve had them all along. But we’ve been so busy doing krapp, it hasn’t had time to sink in. Or? Anywho. All we have to do during our last hours in Germany is turn over our apartment, turn in our company car (goodbye Audi A5 Quattro and that shitty transmission!), turn in work assigned computer equipment and then spend our last night staring at the Kölner Dom!

Alles wird gut!

Rant on. Tommi

Awash In Ethernet Jacks, Dübels And Bad Jokes

OJ and German Pickles
Screenshot from US HuffPost that caught my eye yesterday. Can you buy Salz=Salt, Gurken=pickles in US now?

The movers finished yesterday around 17:00. Paperwork followed and I eventually signed. My wife asked that I double check the list of packed stuff before signing it so I did that first. Of the hundreds of items listed on about six sheets of paper I only took notice of whether or not my office equipment, especially my Mac, was on it. It was. My wife asked if something of hers was on the list but I can’t remember what that was as I’m worst-writing this post in the wee-hours a day later. Nomatter.

Everything is on its way to India now. Well, it’s kinda on its way. Other than a lamp the movers forgot, we also got notice that the Indian authorities haven’t approved our shipping container for arrival on their shores. It’s just like when you board a plane from PHL to FRA. Airline at PHL has to get consent from FRA before it can even start. “A slight delay,” is all we got from the moving company. “Normal procedure,” they added. Oh well.

Since we don’t leave for a few more days, we’re staying at a corpo apartment hotel in the centre of Cologne. A very compact, one bedroom flat. It has a full kitchen but no dining area–which means meals from the couch and its “coffee” table. The last two nights we’ve come home pooped, opened something fancy to drink and rolled around the couch listening to music or reading. Of course, as usual, WIFI sucks in the hotel but then I noticed two ethernet jacks on the wall above the desk. Since I try to travel prepared, I whipped out an ethernet cable from the plethora of tech equipment I’m taking on our flight to India, where we’ll stay in a hotel for up to two months, or until our stuff arrives from Germany–and we’ve found a place to live…

Full stop. Breath. Start thought anew.

I plugged the Ethernet cable from my MBA into the jack. Btw, there are two jacks available and they are both labeled DV26. Jack-left is labeled A534, jack-right A673. Quickly I found out that jack-right doesn’t work. I plugged my cable into jack-left and got an immediate IP address. A few configurations on the hotel homepage–which doesn’t know the difference between WIFI and Ethernet–and we are up-n-running. Cool! Moving on.

No. Wait. Something more about ethernet jacks. Luckily this hotel has plenty of electrical outlets. When I joggled plugs for charging this or that device I noticed, next to an electric socket that I found under our bed, another set of Ethernet jacks. That’s strange, I thought. Why would a hotel suite have more than one Ethernet jack? The jack under the bed, btw, is on the floor, not on the wall. I then proceeded to look around the suite for more jacks. Surprise. There’s a third Ethernet jack under the kitchen sink. I looked more. There’s a fourth Ethernet jack in the closet, behind the safe. This boggled my mind for a few minutes. But then I looked to my wife and said, now I know why this suite is so oddly shaped. It used to be an office. Yeah. They converted an office building in the middle of Cologne to a hotel. But enough of my useless discoveries that are of interest to worst-minds.

Let’s worst-write about the movers and while doing so I’ll try to work up the courage to tell a really, really politically incorrect joke!

We pay movers a krapp load of money to move our stuff. In fact, part of our stuff goes in storage for up to three years in Germany. The rest is being shipped to India. Unlike a “normal” move from one German town to another, everything has to be packed and prepared for either storage or shipping. Hence it took two complete days from 8:00 to 17:00 to get it done. There were a total of four men working round the clock. Two to four more men came depending on the truck that was being filled. I have to admit, all-in-all, the mover’s logistics, i.e. timing between packing and moving stuff into trucks and vans, is worth commending.

All of the men were Polish and only two of them spoke broken German, one spoke broken English.

At around 12:00 yesterday they had finished all the packing. Our eighteen hundred square foot flat was full of boxes, wrapped furniture and two crates with a flatscreen TV and a our only original painting. I’m a little nervous about that constellation. At 14:00 the flat slowly began to empty-out. At 15:15 there was mostly dust and four years of grime–and a few things undone. The foreman was finalising papers that we would sign so they could finally get down the road. They were obviously eager to leave. The only problem was, undone things bothered me.

Moi: (to foreman) When we picked your company we were told that you would not only move everything out of this place but you would leave nothing behind. What’s that? (I point to a curtain rode hanging above the terrace entrance.)

Foreman: Not job.

Moi: What?

Foreman: Not job. Nicht mein Arbeit. (He mimics me pointing to curtain rod.)

Can you believe it, dear worst-reader! They thought they could leave the friggin’ curtain rods on the walls. The one over the terrace entrance wasn’t the only curtain rod still hanging.

Moi: Come on, dude. You’re not finished yet. I’m not signing any papers if you don’t finish the job. There’s two more curtain rods upstairs and, btw, you haven’t removed a wall cabinet from the upstairs bathroom.

Foreman: Part of bathing room.

Moi: What?

Foreman: Upstairs. Oben. Toilet. Cabinet part of bathe room.

Moi: No, it’s not. Remove it. Oh, and there are still some items on the terrace that ned to be packed and shipped.

Foreman: Work done. Here sign. (He points to papers and tries to hand me a pen.)

In the mean time, one of the young apprentices is up a ladder cursing in Polish at the curtain rod over the terrace entrance. I deduce that he stripped out a screw and is now complaining that he can’t remove the screws from the anchors in the drywall. Seriously? I stood there dumbfounded.

Moi: You do realise that you’ve packed all my tools and my ladders. If you don’t remove those curtain rods, who is going to remove them? By the way, we don’t own this flat, we rent it. Our landlord requires that when we move out it be returned without curtain rods and lights and all, I mean ALL, screw anchors.

Four Polish adult males and a lot of broken German starred my way during a long, thoughtful pause. I put my hands together like a mother-teresa and told them that I’ll not be signing any release forms until the bathroom is done, curtains are removed and…

Moi: …that broom, that bike trailer (for my dog), that silver flower pot are packed and all, I mean, ALL screw anchors–Dübels!–are removed.

Someone cursed in Polish but in a few minutes electric drills where working, aluminium ladders were being unfolded, the forgotten bike trailer was being put into the last remaining moving  van. When I finally signed the papers releasing these men from their/my burden, I walked around the flat one last time. Would you know it, in the entrance foyer they forgot to remove a lamp from the ceiling.

With that in mind, dear worst-reader, I’m gonna go out on a limb and tell a really, really bad, politically incorrect joke that I learned when I was kid. But first, full disclosure. I was raised by a first-american born Polish stepfather. I experienced a lot of the Polish world in America during that time. This is just a joke.

Question: How many Poles do you need to change a ceiling lamp light bulb?

Answer: Three. One holds the light bulb and the other two turn the ladder.

Rant on. -Tommi

Useless Eater From 30k Feet First Class Adoring The View Of #Trump2016 Rampage On…

first class useless eater
I’ll always consider it a fluke being upped to first class last year but I’ll never forget it. What a grand bourgeois experience it was. But I’m almost always fine in eco. Or maybe not.

As I’ve worst-said before, #americant doesn’t deserve #Trump2016 but it has earned it/him. With that in mind, dear worst-reader, I really enjoyed reading the news this morn about the Bush family dropping out of the 2016 race. For that I’m forever grateful to The Donald. And here’s my (ir)rational as to why I’m grateful. As far as I can tell, the Bush family has done at least two generations of damage to my beloved #americant. Alone dipshit Dubya’s tax cuts for the wealthy–an astonishing political achievement when one considers who, i.e. blue collar white people, voted for this guy (twice). The reason two generations are screwed is because–along with these batshit tax cuts–we are stuck in a perpetual war in the middle-east. The reality of paying for both has yet to even be approached. If millennial’s are angry about their future because they are ridden with student debt and can’t get jobs valued enough to pay-off those debts, well, that’s screwed generation #1. Screwed generation #2 is anyone under sixty working for a living. “Prosperity” for the masses who work for a living is simply non-existent. Of course, since I jumped ship over twenty years ago where I said out loud that the results of Reaganomics is an unmitigated disaster, I’ve learned to live a life of comfort, be a father to my son, take care of my hard working wife and live comfortably within rational, debt-free means. Does that make me better than anyone else and worthy of the feeling I’m trying to transcribe in this silly blogpost? Of course not. But it does make my 30k foot flight over my beloved #americant that much more painfully sweet. I found refuge in socialist states on pastures that are less green and thereby the whole time kept peeking out that fuselage window to the grand happenings below–always with tears running down my face because of how much I miss home. And so. All I can (still) say is this: how the hell do the same people that elected dipshit Dubya twice, i.e. angry white blue collar workers + greed monger baby-boomers, now think that The Donald is gonna save them? Seriously? Really? (Short pause.)

Hold a sec. Cough. Gurgle. Chip off shoulder. Go…

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha…

I’m just glad that this morn some pretty bad people with a track record of being awful and ugly and evil and war-mongers and murderers… are gone. Hopefully it’ll last and the evil womb of the Bush family can fade away. Go Donald. Go Bernie. Go Hillary!

Good luck suckers.

Rant on.

Links that helped motivate this post:

What Will Be Missed: Brötchen Not Bureaucracy

german roll brotchen

Actually I prefer Mehrkornbrötchen but every once-a-once I splurge and have a (regular) Brötchen smeared with a minimal amount of Nutella. Minimal! The splurging on my diet, though, will change soon because in India there is no Brötchen. I’m sure there’s plenty of Nutella. (Aghast! Short pause.) Oh. And. No! Bread Rolls are not a substitute for Brötchen. Remember: what the baguette is to the French, Brötchen is to Germanins. As far as this Amii living in Germania goes, I have to admit–even though I’ve refused to go 100% native during my twenty-plus year here–I have grown to adore the incredible assortment of bread. I will miss it.

And while I’m on the subject of grandland Germania

Due to early rising and the gloom of forever bureaucracy I missed my Brötchen by spending the morning at the Cologne registry office (Meldebehörde) trying to get de-registered. That’s right, dear worst-reader, in the grandland of modern Germania one has to register with a register office in order to live–or leave. That is, if you don’t register:

  • No bank account
  • No TV
  • No landline phone
  • No ISP
  • No cell phone contract
  • No insurance
  • No this or that and more of NO to everything.

The problem is, since we are leaving the country for a few years we have to also de-register because, well, we want to stop paying all that money for services that we no longer need (see bullet list above). Problem? The only way to cancel these services is by proving that we no longer live in Germania. Problem? The only way to prove that we no longer live in Germania is to de-register at the Germania registry office. That’s a pretty simple concept ain’t it? No. It’s not.

Obviously the bureaucrats of Germania have their reasons for this level of civil control. (And, yes, that’s exactly what registry is.) It’s just that when bureaucracy exceeds what should be a certain level of decorum on the part of automaton administrators of that bureaucracy, how is one supposed to react? The experience of de-registering was so bad this morning that I thought I was going to die because of over-heated blood. But before my blood starts to boil again by simply recalling what we went through this morning, allow me to share my (in)ability to type properly while I tweeted something as my wife (better-half) took care of things.

(There used to be a twitter link here but I’ve since erased all my tweets.)

We sat in front of a mindless automaton this morning attempting to de-register from Germania. This entails being able to “prove” that we are moving out of our apartment. In order to “prove” such a thing we must have a document from our landlord stating that we’ve moved out. But get this. We are leaving before our lease runs out–two months before it runs out, to be exact. According to the rules/laws established by Germania and its registry offices, legally our landlord can’t prove whether or not we’ve actually moved out before the end of our lease.

Let me put that in other words. Our lease is up at the end of April, 2016. We move to India March 1, 2016. Actually, we move out of our apartment Feb. 25, 2016. But none of that seems to matter to anyone in the register office. Nor does it matter that we are required to pay two months rent to our landlord although in that time we will not be living in our apartment. Yeah, that’s our problem, as well. Keep in mind, notice of our move was given in January 2016. Because Germanin laws protect landlords (and, of course, stiff renters) we’re screwed out of two months rent. Who cares about that at the register office. But you know what? That’s not even the worst of our troubles.

As stated above, Germania, for whatever mindless reason that can only remind one of a world transcribed by Dostoyevsky or Gogol, we have to get proof of our moving out in order to stop paying for things that we no longer will be using (see button list above). But we can’t legally get proof because we’ll already be in India when our lease runs out. According to Germania law, our landlord can’t say we’ve moved out if our lease isn’t up. You got that, dear worst-reader?

When we sit with the automaton to clarify this, does she offer us a solution to the problem of moving out before the lease is actually up and getting proof of our move? No, of course not. Using a demeanour reminiscent of a scrooge or an evil stepmother, she insists that our problem (proof of moving out) is not her problem. The good things is, while all this mindlessness goes on and my blood boils and I almost die, my (Germanin) wife–who is facing this level of her own country’s bureaucracy for the first time–handles it well. Indeed. Just before I was about to explode, my wife–using the skills that obviously rocketed her career to where she is today and where she’ll be in India soon–was able to convince the automaton across from us to wake the fuck up. A call was made to some dipshit high-level automaton at a bigger registry office in the city centre. All the while yapping and zapping goes on and on and we sit impatiently. (Or is it just me that lost patience?) After about thirty minutes of yapping the news comes back that an exception will be made. Well good for us, eh.

There really is little positive I can say regarding my experience as an ausländer in Geramania. Alone the bureaucracy and rudeness I’ve faced is worth all my wrath. But I stuck it out for two reason and two reason alone. One is my wife and the other is my son. Now that my son made it to the ripe and legal age of eighteen and he’s in the process of ending his studies, a better time couldn’t come for trying some new horizons. Hence, India here we come. Indeed. And btw. I will not only miss Brötchen. I can’t wait for my son to come visit us in India asap.

Rant on.

-Tommy

PS I know. I know. But we can only hope that the bureaucracy in India that we will face is a bit more human than that of Germania.

Contradictions In The Skies Of Greed

Can’t believe what I heard this morn while listening to a BBC News podcast. Get this, dear worst-reader. The “news” is promoting the idear that airlines might have to raise ticket fares on account of climate change. Climate change is gonna mean they have to fly longer and burn more fuel to get through the/our dirty atmosphere. I say “news” because in other news something completely different is being reported–and I’m wondering if these are two different things. Now, I don’t know about you, but something is up. For example, is it possible that airlines–practically a monopolised industry these days–are a bit pissed that they had to release info about their high profits due to low oil prices? To counter that, I guess, they have to blame climate change for not giving us (passengers) a bit more than krappy peanuts.

Rant on. -T

Links that motivated this post:

Last Coffee Bean Bag Is A Telescope On Our Passage To India

Screen Shot 2016-02-08 at 14.33.12
Empty Coffee Bean Bag Is A Window To Our Passage To India

Saw something strange this morning after what might be the last coffee bean bag I empty in #eurowasteland for the next few years. The count down has begun. 10. 9. 8… We’re at around 7 at this point. The moving company is chosen. Vaccinations have been given. Dog paperwork fulfilling bureaucracies almost done. Our passports are at India Consulate in Frankfurt awaiting stamps. Yeah, this is gonna be a trip–to say the least.

Rant on. -Tommi

In Praise Of Dr. Capital And His Ism

Special leg room economy class
Got kinda lucky the other day. Extra leg room in economy class. Along side some good conversation.

Disclaimer: Names and some of the issues discussed but not places referred to have been changed in this blogpost to protect the innocent. §I told him right before we exited the plane at the terminal in PHL that I found our open and at times heavy inflight conversation fascinating. And then I thanked him with as much sincerity as I could muster and I put my hand out. Indeed. I was a bit flushed, a bit embarrassed, it was a long flight. §But before that, a bit on the travel. Flying over the Atlantic I sat in row 18D, the aisle. My new soon to be friend sat next to me inside the row at seat 18F. We were on LH426, an Airbus A340, departure Frankfurt, Germany. My new friend was connecting from Beirut. He was on his way back to school, and not just any school. He attended The University of Pennsylvania and during our conversation took the time to school me on Ivy League. But, wait, I wanted to worst-write about the plane. §We were on a discontinued Airbus—not unlike how a company may discontinue making a vacuum cleaner or a toaster. It seems that the airline manufacturing industry is getting away from four engine planes. Yet Airbus seems to have put a lot of their hopes in the A380, the successor of our A340. I had the pleasure of flying an A380 a few years back while traveling from Bangkok to Dubai. “Big” doesn’t begin to explain the size of this aircraft. But, as some people tend to note, size doesn’t matter. I’m not one of those people. I prefer the size of the greatest plane ever made: the 747. The problem is, last I read, Boeing hasn’t sold a 747 in two years. Everybody who is still fyling four engines buy the A380. But that’s another post. Oddly, or not, our A340 had a strange seating configuration. First, the cabin had no seats labelled E. Is that the same as skyscrapers not having floors labelled 13? Is the letter E a skeptical, mystical, ghostly letter? Second. The reason for the odd seating configuration–beyond the letter E–was due to the seats directly in front of me. Unfortunately I didn’t capture it in the pic above. But because the seats are from Lufthansa’s new premium economy class, which look like a cheap subset of business class seats. There are only three seats in the middle row and compared to sheople economy they are roomy as hell. Row 18 is where regular economy begins. Hence the pic shows the extra leg space I lucked out in getting. Oh. How ’bout those shoe laces! Ok. Enough about the plane. §On this 8 hour transatlantic flight I sat next to an ivy league grad student who just finished a semester in the middle east learning Arabic. If I had to place this kid somewhere to be able to size him up, I’d place him right in the middle of Occupy Wall Street–even though his elite demeanor could have placed him somewhere else. He wore his beard well, he exuded privilege, and he clearly had a big heart. And since I was sitting next to a millennial, I couldn’t help but be curious, the more and more we talked, about how his generation is destined to be the first generation that will end up in the historic dustbin named: wrong place, wrong time. Whatever. §After we reached cruising altitude and got our first round of cocktails, our transatlantic conversation started when I asked about the type of iPhone he was using. I was planning on getting a new iPhone once I landed where I would cross the border from PA to DE. DE has no retail tax, which means when purchasing the phone without contract you can save fifty friggin’ bucks. That started us talking about technology, Apple Computer and the legacy of Steve Jobs. It turns out we are both fanboys. He was impressed when I told him that my Apple experience goes back to owning two Newton devices. Eventually, though, it was inevitable that he notice how I used certain terminology combined with a cynical bent in most of what I had to say when it came to any discussion that required either depth or emotion. For example, he took notice of me using the term The Homeland whenever talking about the US. He also noticed how I always praise corporations for turning automatons into the consume-to-survive slaves occupy wall streeters didn’t know they were protesting against. And then there was the issue of the patriot act and the subsequent government expansion under the Dubya administration that rivalled the government expansion of FDR. Alone this act is a major determining factor for the welfare of millennials–and I don’t think, after this conversation, they are aware of that. Which means, it never crossed my new friend’s mind to refer to his world as Disney World, i.e., the united mistakes of America, or… The Homeland. Obviously, dear worst-reader, talking about Apple always leads to talk about politics, policy and #americant. With it all the company would never be the greed monger monster its become. Which brings me to another worst-writer term that caused him to blink more than thrice. §My young friend was sharp. I wish I was as experienced in and of the world at twenty-three. In order to cool down a potentially heated debate—during sleep-time of the flight—he wanted to know why I referred to it as The Homeland. I responded thus: “I also call it #americant.” (Pronounced: hashtag-american’t.) But he wanted to focus on The Homeland. This gave me the opportunity to switch from the frivolity of Steve Jobs—and his drug-ridden tech delusions and obsessions—to a subject that was closer to my heart: talking about the downfall of… we’re #1. Or, at least, the downfall of the pseudo middle class that is as much at fault as the upper class for all the demise. But the young collegiate whipper-snapper was not very enthusiastic about the subject matter. I can only assume that was due to his youthful optimism–which is a much his bent as mine is cynicism. This brought us to the issue of education and not because he was right in the middle of it. “Education serves no purpose, it is pretty much useless these days,” I said. “Look at The Homeland and how it’s run,” I continued, closing off his attempt at rebuttal. “All the managers, executives, pawns, automatons, etc., they are all higher educated. From the president, to cabinet members, to CEOs, the middle class, all educated to the hilt. Yet the only thing they have learned is how to cheat, lie, steal and cheat again. Where does that come from?” My young friend would not be disillusioned. He believed whole heartily in the American way of life albeit without considering how it got that way. For him–and I can only assume this was due to his proximity to one of #americants most notorious neo-liberal business schools–American capitalism was in turmoil but there was a way out (of that turmoil). And then I added, “You know, dear grasshopper, Das Volk can’t differentiate between politics and economics. That’s a real problem. It’s one of the reasons I call it #americant. Seriously. It cant differentiate. Cant. Cant. It’s not Ameri… can.” (Short pause.) “So it doesn’t matter,” I said. “Capitalism isn’t only in turmoil it is the essence of being American–and it doesn’t even exist. There is a difference between capitalism being an economic system and democracy being a political one.” (Shorter pause.) “Btw, get this, it’s almost 2016 and where I’m about to go after we land there are still front yards with “Bush/Cheney” signs on them, not to mention all the polished bumper-stickers bearing the same nonsense.” My little friend got a word in. He said that he was aware of the twisted politics in America. But then he added that regulation could somehow prevent a lot of the turmoil. Regulation? Yeah, he said regulation. A young man from an ivy league school used, with utmost sincerity, the word regulation in the context of a discussion about how to change the world. The only response I could come up with was to s
mirk and show-off more cynicism. Indeed. My cynicism vs youthful twisted optimism–regarding capitalism. And so, for a few hours of the flight we went down that road–we talked about capitalism, Marx and how it all can be fixed–with regulation. And I couldn’t help but notice that there was this growing monster in the form of a pseudo neo liberal from the Wharton School of Business. To say the least, worstwriter was freaking out about the youth that will assume the roll of rulers of a world I wasn’t about to consider leaving. (Unless, of course, a terrorist act takes us down. But I digress.) Somehow I couldn’t help but connect our talk about capitalism with education. “Look what these places of higher education have given us,” I said in a demanding way. He responded with the names of Wharton alumni. Which brought me ’round to The Donald who was business schooled there. Indeed, this young whipper snapper might be a study in the confusion of neo-liberalism and drunken optimism–devoid of reality. §With that I’ll end this worst-post. Except for one last thought. When we landed and were about to depart the aircraft we said our goodbyes. I introduced myself as worstwriter and he smirked unsurprisingly. Then he introduced himself as Dr. Robert Ism Capital. And with that, I entered Pennsylvania and it was good to be home.

Rant on.

-Tommi

In The Land Of Jack And The Bean Counter

911 60 cent charge
Pre-paid bill with 911 surcharge.

Depending on circumstance, I can get away with wifi usage on my phone when I enter the US. On the drive from PHL to Eastern Shore MD there are a few places one can stop to get a cup of earl grey, yawn from the transatlantic flight and check messages. And since the powers that be can’t seem to do the right thing when it comes to getting rid of “roaming”, it makes no since using cellular on a German contract while visiting the Homeland. Wait. Pause. I throw up in my mouth every time I use that Orwellian word. Nomatter. The reality is, and as most folk know, living rural in the US also means bad cell coverage. At least that’s the way it was up till last year. And so. If the circumstance warrants it, sometimes I buy a pre-paid SIM and then go with that for the time I’m here, which rarely exceeds two weeks. Btw, I highly recommend t-mobile’s pre-paid stuff. Nomatter. Here’s the thing (circumstance) with this trip. Since my birthday and xmas kinda intertwine my better half went ahead and allowed me to splurge this year. She too was gettin’ pretty perturbed with all the bitchin’ & moanin’ regarding my dilapidated iPhone 4s. And so. Upon entry into the Homeland (sniff, gulp, breath) I headed from PHL south to the infamous DE Apple Store. Infamous because this particular Apple Store holds spot #2, after the flag ship store in San Fran, of selling the most iphones in the country. I reckon duty-free shopping will cause folk from New York, New Jersey, PA, DE, MD, etc. to buy their fun here. As far as coming from Germany, not only do I save the tax but, for whatever reason, German iPhones are priced almost one hundred dollars more than in the US. Plus, German tax is sixteen percent. But I digress. §I went ahead and picked me up a new iPhone 6s last night. Went around the corner in the mall and also got a pre-paid sim. Unboxed my new jewelry device, slipped the sim in it and BOOM-baby. Have to get used to the new size and texture of the device. Quite different than a 4s. I’m not really feeling the love of the rounded corners and the slippery finish, but I got a case to cover that. All in all, first impression, this is one heck of a phone. I’m really digging the force-touch thing. And although I fiddled around with the 6 model in Germany a bit, the 6s doesn’t actually feel all that much faster–except for the fingerprint reader. Enough with the pseudo product review. Two things happened with this new consume-to-survive purchase. §First. Check out the pic above. I asked the guy at the t-mobile counter what the .60cent was all about and he said it’s required so that carriers can cover the cost of being forced to enable all cell phones to access the emergency number 911. What? I couldn’t believe what he was telling me. You mean, cell carriers can’t get together and find a way to finance something as simple as this, even though it’s obviously mandated by law? Wow, dear worst-reader. It is truly astonishing to witness first hand how low the corporate mindset can sink. It also proves that there is no bottom to all that sinking. Yeah. .60cent. This is how you nickle and dime a country to death. §Second. Once I paid my bill for this life of luxury and digital enjoyment, I hooked my new phone up to my car charger to give a full charge during the two-hour jaunt south and thought: Gee, I’m still in relative proximity to civilization, try out Siri to help navigate to the proper highway exits and then get me on Route 1 which would take me to my destination (the tax-free liquor stores of Rehoboth.) Obviously Siri worked flawlessly. But then I was waiting for the cell signal to start waning. I used to be able watch the bars drop one by one the further south I drove. They did drop, too. But get this. I averaged two bars and LTE coverage the whole way down the coast. And I can’t help but wonder if it’s because of .60cents. Rant on. -Tommi