Thursday, 28 October 2010

Three things I’ve learnt lately…

One: Punctuation is important
The coffee machine at work, after producing a paper cup and filling it with a concoction of hot fluids purporting to be coffee, water and milk, displays the following message:
GETRAENK IST FERTIG BIS BALD
For the first six or so months of my time here (i.e. up until a week or two ago), I read this as “Your drink finished until soon”, which I took to mean “your drink is almost finished”, so I would stand around for a while, waiting for something to happen, or until someone standing behind me got impatient and started muttering.  Nothing ever happened.

Things changed however, upon my parents’ purchase of a plastic telephone on wheels for Matilda, which sings songs in German upon the mash of a button.  Why?  Because when switching the infernal machine off, it cries out “tchüss, bid bald”.  Now tschüss means “bye”, so “tchüss, bis bald” means “see you later” – as does the coffee machine, or at least it would have had the machine display been able to display a comma.

Two: The scariest folk in Germany are little old ladies
Elderly women constantly accost Matilda, telling us how cute she is and all the other nonsense that comes with wheeling a small child around town.  They seem nice enough when they’re aiming for flattery, but encounter them in a “queue” and it's a whole different story.  I say “queue”, because old woman, at least in Bayreuth, do not queue.  Instead, these women appear to believe it is their divine right to be served upon demand, regardless of how many people have been waiting for service, or how insignificant their request is.   

Punks, and scary tramps with huge dogs look intimidating, but they tend to leave you alone.  Elderly women here, on the other hand, are not afraid to barge and elbow at a moment's notice, and it’d be a brave, brave person who’d put up a fight eh.


Three: It’s always best take an inventory before starting any DIY
The radiators, which serve to provide heating in our apartment, had been rather erratic of late, so, on the advice of the internet, I proceeded to check the pins for sticking (none were), and then bled the radiators.  Both tasks were completed without a hitch, but in the process of bleeding the radiators, the pressure in the system dropped to a point where we, in the top storey apartment, were left without any heating at all.  Nothing, at night, with a one year old child, and with an outside temperature of about zero.

No problem I thought, all I need to do is refill the system using the filling loop (again as recommended by internet experts).  This plan was a good plan, but unlike 95% of condensing boilers on the market, it turns out the Veissman 300 does not come with a filling loop (it’s recommended one be purchased in the manual though)!  Coupled with less than urgent landlords, our apartment is no longer as cosy as it once was.  Due to forces beyond my understanding, some of the radiators appear to have kicked back in of their own volition, but the south side of the apartment, which includes Matilda’s room is still bereft of heat.  The lesson?  Always make sure you can finish a project before you start it!

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